Egypt Air Hijack – ‘Don’t Call Me Shirley’

That hijacking the other day is starting to look like a remake of the film Airplane.

Imagine the scene, first you have the smiling Brit from Leeds playing it cool and arranging a ‘selfie’. Then you have the person who who took the video footage of him having that selfie getting the best angle from a few rows back. Finally a selfie from one of the stewardesses comes to light – after all the crew can’t be outdone by the passengers!

Then use your imagination. Everyone on the plane suddenly whips out their iPhones, pods, pads – they all want a selfie to commemorate the occasion! You can just picture the scene in the cabin. Row upon row of panic stricken passengers, arms outstretched trembling fingers gripping mobile devices as the hijacker looks on. Every detail of the drama is captured, the black box suddenly becomes redundant and leaves the plane in a disgust. Every detail of the unfolding drama is captured from multiple angles, each shot has its own hero/cameraman. Everyone is suddenly a movie star, what a day for the ego!

I dread to imagine the situation in the cockpit! Perhaps the pilot kept muttering “Don’t call me Shirley!” into his iPhone as the drama unfolded?

No wonder the hijacker guy gave up he must have had stage fright!

Anyway, good to see a return of the British stiff upper lip in the face of adversity. Glad it all turned out okay in the end.

Treasures of Tuscany – The Piccolomini Library

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Above: Close up of the vaulted ceiling of the Piccolomini Library

The Piccolomini Library is located within the magnificent Duomo di Siena in one of my favourite cities in all of Italy.

I used one of its illuminated manuscripts to give a bit of colour to the article I posted yesterday. Today I thought it would be good to show people more of the library’s cultural treasures. It also gives me the excuse to showcase some of my photos.

Wikipedia describes the library as follows:

“Adjoining the cathedral is the Piccolomini Library, housing precious illuminated choir books and frescoes painted by the Umbrian Bernardino di Betto, called Pinturicchio, probably based on designs by Raphael.” (1)

The library is named after Enea Silvio Piccolomini  who became Pope Pius II. The frescoes on the walls by Pinturicchio depict his life. According to an article at DiscoverTuscany.com:

“The Library itself was built by Pope Pius II’s nephew, also a cardinal who also later became Pope Pius III…, the library was in memory of his uncle and to conserve the rich collection of manuscripts he had lovingly collected.” (2)

The Illuminated manuscripts on display are impressive in and of themselves but the library’s delights don’t end with the books. The vibrancy of colour is a veritable feast for the eyes.

Untitled Above: Illuminated manuscripts (choir books) on display

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Above: Close up of an example of the illuminated manuscripts

Untitled Above: Vaulted ceiling and statue of the Three Graces with Pinturicchio’s frescoes in the alcoves. People looking at the choir books at the bottom of the shot.

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Above: Piccolomini receiving his cardinal’s hat from the Pope

Untitled Above: Part of the fresco where Piccolomini introduces Eleonora of Portugal to Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III

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Above: Part of the fresco depicting the Diet of Princes at Mantua where Pope Pius II (Piccolomini) proclaimed a new crusade in 1459

If you are wandering around Italy and find yourself in Siena be sure to check this place out, it is well worth a visit.


Notes:

(1) Sienna Cathedral: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siena_Cathedral

(2) The Piccolomini Library, a Treasure within a Treasure https://www.discovertuscany.com/siena/piccolomini-library.html

Academies to Educate and Politics to Govern

I’ve just read an article in The Independent entitled  “Overwhelming number of school leaders ‘opposed to Government’s new academies policy’“. What this and most articles on this subject ignore is the incontrovertible though much denied fact that education is a political football.

The reason for the move to academies is purely political, just as setting up the old comprehensive system was political. The existing system was set up to empower Labour Party ideology. The new proposals are put forward to benefit Conservative Party ideology. Politicians always want to shape the minds of the next generation because doing so gives them the power to control the future agenda.

The Labour Party have effectively controlled education for decades and have dumbed it down by subjecting it to tis own unrigorous world view. This worldview is based on an idealism that often ignores and sometimes actively resists reality

Those who joined the teaching profession during that time obviously favour the existing system and they are highly resistant to change. However, the existing system has failed. Proof of this is that businesses claim that they need to import skilled staff from oversees. They claim British people lack the skills! If true this is a clear indication that the education system is currently not fit for purpose and must be changed.

People may complain that the education system should not be a political football. The reality of the situation is that it is! The status quo will complain about supposed politicisation despite the fact that their own positions are themselves the direct result of politics. This point is something they never acknowledge.

The main problem with politics is that it’s practitioners believe that if something is initially a good thing then ‘more of the same’ is better. This is not true, more of the same makes a system extreme and imbalanced. This has happened with the Labour Party model for education and has left us with a system that is not fit for purpose.

Radical change is now required to restore the balance. Unfortunately while the current proposals are necessary to bring an end to Labour’s tight grip, the Conservatives will ultimately, after many years of making it better, take it too far in the opposite direction. Perhaps knowledge of this problem combined with wise decision makers may ensure we ultimately have a balanced system – but don’t hold your breath!

Don’t Listen To Politicians Or Media Talking Heads!

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Janus, the two faced Roman god – perhaps a suitable patron god for politicians and journalists?

I just responded to an article in The Spectator by Theodore Dalrymple. The article was a bit of an excuse making exercise for the current migration crisis. The title of the article is “Why Britain (and Europe) depends on migrants: It’s not about economics. It’s about our snobbish, slobbish culture

Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to sensible levels of immigration or for providing a safe haven for those fleeing persecution. The problem I have is with poor planning by our so-called leaders.

Matt with whom I agreed, and to whom I replied likened the argument for the current epic scale of immigration as a giant Ponzi scheme.

The following were the ideas that I put forward:

I think your Ponzi scheme analogy is a good one. The real problem has been the short term thinking of our political establishment and media. They want one thing one minute and something different the next and don’t think anything through to its logical conclusion. They always think in the short term and they all have the same snobbish, slobbish attitude to the British people as Mr Dalrymple.

If larger populations are important then why have people in Western countries being encouraged to have fewer children for decades? The situation reminds me of the “Millennium Bug”, people knew the year 2000 would eventually arrive, just like they knew that the baby boomers would eventually get old. Nevertheless, they were still at it as recently 2014 as the following Guardian article about how to save the planet by having fewer children attests http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/28/how-save-planet-stop-having-children-doctors As I said they want a smaller population and a larger population all at the same time.

Dalrymple complains about a British population that is unwilling to work. This pompous attitude towards the British people is offensive. What does he know about the unemployed as he looks out from his ivory tower[?] It’s like politicians and media pundits saying that we need skilled workers from abroad. The same talking heads simultaneously claim that standards in education are improving every year. If skilled workers need to be imported then our education system has failed big time! Bad planning at the highest political levels is obvious, but they now want us to believe that mass immigration on the current epic scale is necessary.

If we need anything then it is for the entire political and media establishment to resign or retire and keep their unhelpful opinions to themselves. They have failed us b[y] creating the world as it is but they somehow want us to think that problems are down to us rather than to their incompetence. Now is not the time to reinforce failure by listening to their crackpot ideas yet again.

If you only take one thing from reading this blog post it is this: Don’t Listen To Politicians Or Media Talking Heads! They are the two faces of policy making incompetence.

Boris, The EU and Lessons From The Bubonic Plague

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The burial of the victims of the plague in Tournai. From Wikimedia Commons

A School Assignment

Yesterday I was involved in an interesting Facebook discussion about the positive things that arose as a result of the Bubonic Plague. My Australian friend’s daughter had been given the task of listing such positives as part of a school assignment.

At first glance such a project may appear rather sick for very obvious humanitarian reasons. From a personal standpoint while considering the interests of ‘number one’ the prospect is also horrific. Who in their right mind would want to die or watch others suffer while such a holocaust did its grisly work.

Lessons to be Learned

From a purely intellectual perspective, considering the long term impact of an event long past can be useful. Lessons can be learned that can help shape policy in order to maximise human well-being and social stability.

Such consideration is particularly relevant for our own age of controversial mass migration to the West and the dramatic demographic impact that this creates. It is also useful in explaining the lack of economic and political well-being in overpopulated parts of the poor world.

It could help policy makers to maintain both democracy and economic fairness in the rich world while at the same time increasing or creating democracy and economic fairness elsewhere. With power and money spread more widely in the poor world, the poor might even become rich.

Boris Wades in…

Right on cue and in characteristic fashion, MP for Henley, figurehead of the campaign to leave the EU and Mayor of London – Boris Johnson unwittingly joins the debate.

The TV news this morning drew attention to some recent remarks from the London Mayor about how mass immigration lowers wages. A headline by The Independent read as follows: “Boris Johnson says ‘uncontrolled’ immigration from EU is driving down wages and putting pressure on NHS”

Of course this is a no brainier, but previously discussion on this aspect of immigration had been suppressed. It was simply not polite the refer to this elephant in the room.

Lord Rose and the Horror of Increasing Wages

An article by The Telegraph demonstrated the effect from a different angle. This time in relation to remarks made by Lord Rose, a leader of the pro EU campaign. Lord Rose argued against Brexit on the grounds that leaving would push up the wages of British workers.

You can certainly see where his priorities are – with the latter day barons and not with hard working families. Reading between the lines and paraphrasing in the context of our discussion, he could have been saying that leaving the EU would be like the plague but without the loss of life! It would be bad for the rich but good for the poor.

Lessons Taught by History and by Economics

Just as decreased population at the time of the plague gave economic and political power to the poor, increased population has the opposite effect. It’s the simple economic principle of supply and demand in action.

After the Bubonic Plague supply and demand in relation to labour meant that the underclass had a much stronger negotiating position. In short the poor gained economic and political power and the rich, who had loads of both anyway, lost a bit.

Under globalisation, or the EU, if Boris and Lord Rose are to be believed, we have the direct opposite situation today. This is why the super-rich of our own day simply adore large population movements. Perhaps this is why their political stooges appear willing to precipitate wars to facilitate such movements as we have seen in Iraq and Syria.

Living standards in the Western world, amongst both the already poor and the soon to be poor middle class, will inevitably decline. Political freedom will follow into this descending spiral.

Bring on them buboes?

I am certainly not advocating a return of the plague to make our lives more fulfilling on the basis of these conclusions. I am not making a judgement on the issue of immigration. All I am saying is that immigration, if it is necessary, has to be done in a thoughtful managed way. There are great economic and political benefits for both rich and poor in the maintenance of a fair and stable society.

Anne Boleyn, The Most Influential Woman In English History?

A few years back there was a big debate about the under representation of women (other than the Queen) on Bank of England banknotes. It was just before they decided to put author Jane Austin on the next £10 note. This all got me thinking about who could be regarded as the most influential women in English history and be worthy of a similar memorial.

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If I were to name such a woman it would not be the first woman Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, it would not be that famous Briton of Roman times – Boudicca, and it would not be that glorious of Queens – Elizabeth I. In terms of having the most dramatic and far reaching impact it would have to be Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn.

More than anyone she was responsible for one of the most momentous events in English history – The Reformation.  After this key turning point England and indeed the world would never be the same again.

Henry VIII just wanted her for his ‘bit on the side’ after the shine went off his relationship with his wife, the formidable Catherine of Aragon. The intelligent and capable Anne thought otherwise.

She insisted on marrying Henry and used her feminine wiles to fill his head with some of the most cutting edge theological innovations of the day. Without her this would not have happened.

If Henry had succeeded with his ‘plan A’ of establishing her as his mistress the break with Rome would not have been considered let alone implemented. That would have been the customary solution for the age and history would have proceeded without upheaval.

Anne Boleyn is a case study in the application of feminine power to achieve political ends. She already had a Protestant  worldview before meeting Henry. She arguably used her ‘influence’ to push a Protestant agenda at the pinnacle of state power. During the Catherine of Aragon Divorce Crisis some of these Protestant ideas would be crucial in getting the upper hand with the Pope. She would undoubtedly have made a formidable politician in our own day.

They say behind every great man there is a great woman. The case of Henry VIII was no exception to this rule. Surely she deserves banknote status.

Climate Change Hysteria Strikes Again!

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Above: Glaciers in the Alps taken from high above in a jet airliner.

Yesterday, I read an article (1) in The Guardian about the dire threat to civilisation as we know it posed by Global Warming. Don’t get me wrong I know for a fact that Climate Change is real. I also know that it is highly likely that humankind is having an impact on our global climate.

What I don’t get is how people can know for absolute certainty whether this is a good or a bad thing. I also dislike the tone of the current debate and how dogmatic it has become. Things have got so bad that some on one side want to deny their opponents freedom of speech. Not only is this a danger to human rights, it is a danger to science.

The Guardian article (1) continues “February 2016 was likely the hottest month in thousands of years, as we approach the 2°C danger limit.” Notice the word “likely” which of course makes what is being said completely meaningless. I suppose it could be read as grudging acknowledgement that the facts don’t come out on any side of the argument.

It  (1) goes on to talk in terms of temperatures in “pre-industrial times” and of “the Arctic’s “warmest-recorded winter”. What part of the 200 thousand years that Homo Sapiens has walked the Earth is regarded as “pre industrial”? It should be all of it except the last few hundred years. What part of the pre-industrial period does the ‘Little Ice Age’ of the Middle ages represent? What does The Guardian make of the Mid Holocene Warm Period? There were no jet planes or gas guzzling humvees darting about back then.

Actual records began only a few hundred years ago, though these have been supplemented with evidence derived from ice cores. In geological terms records began only nanoseconds ago. During my days studying geography and geology at university timescales of millions  and not hundreds or thousands of years were the norm.

It is therefore probably too early to say whether any potential human influence is dangerous or beneficial. It could be that human influence has prevented the natural cooling of the Earth with all the impact that such cooling could have on things like food supply.

The current debate on climate change focuses on the last few hundred years of formal records. It focuses on the impact that human beings have made since the Industrial Revolution which also represents a period of a mere few hundred years.

The debate, if done honestly and without recrimination could lead to the development of technology that may ultimately allow humanity to actually choose an optimal climate.  We would then be in a position to live in a world that has never existed, a world of a stable and unchanging climate.

This would certainly make the Anthropocene the most unique and radical epoch of geological time. What wonders could follow? – the terraforming of other planets where the air is currently unbreathable and of expanding the reach of Gaia across the Galaxy? This could thus allow humanity to realise its ecological destiny and ultimate purpose.

Notes:
(1) Current record-shattering temperatures are shocking even to climate scientists. By Dana Nuccitelli. The Guardian. Monday 21 March 2016 10.00 GMT http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/mar/21/current-record-shattering-temperatures-are-shocking-to-even-climate-scientists

The Spectre of the Cashless Society

I have just been reading a rather well written article by Tyler Lonergan about the virtues of a cashless society. He is quite in favour of it and points out many of the genuine benefits that would derive from such a society. You can read his article HERE, and perhaps join this important debate yourself.

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Above: The Bank of England – The Central Bank of the United Kingdom

In this article I will argue that a cashless society would be a very dangerous development. I will do so be referring to two issues. The first is that it would lead to officially legalised theft. The second is that it would lead to tyranny. I will then make some conclusions on the basis of these issues. But to start off, I will set the scene by doing something unexpected and discussing the virtues of optimism and pessimism. This is an important part of the discussion as you will come to see.

Setting the Scene: The Continuum of Optimism and Pessimism

Tyler is obviously an optimist, he says so in the header of his blog. While optimism can help you achieve things, it is a state that others can use to manipulate you. It can cause you to sign up for things that are not in your best interests. It can also cause a person to engage in wishful thinking and to ignore obvious dangers.

Optimism is not bad, just like pessimism is not bad. Both exist on a continuum, like yin and yang.  Problems can emerge at the extremes of any continuum because that can, though not always, lead to imbalance with the other important variable – the surrounding environment.

Sometimes the surrounding environment might necessitate extremes of optimism, but normally it would necessitate some sort of combination of optimism and pessimism. As the environment is in constant flux, the amount of optimism or pessimism also has to be in constant flux to adjust to the changes in the environment.

A cashless society is certainly a good thing for an extreme optimist that has complete faith in the goodness of humanity. But humans are not just good! They can be nasty, manipulative, greedy, suspicious and self serving. That is the reality of the environment in which a cashless society would exist.

Legalised Official Theft

While a cashless society would create wonderful convenience, efficiency and ease it would also create very serious problems. It would be the equivalent of the Pacific Islanders of an earlier age being bought off with shiny beads, cuckoo clocks, and liquor when visited by European explorers. It seemed like a good idea at the time but led to their subjugation.

Much has been written about moving towards a cashless society since the start of the current recession. The financial crisis was caused by banks practicing casino capitalism. They were of course bailed out by the public, but that was not enough for the long term!

Already central banks can manipulate economies so that their interests, and not the public good, predominate. They can create new money by quantitive easing and thus reduce the value of the money that already exists. People’s savings lose their value as their money value is transferred to the central banks. This is already a form of theft but a cashless society would make this more blatant and extensive.

The reason the powerful, the governments and the bankers who corrupt them, want a cashless society is that they could move us to a system of negative interest rates. Instead of banks paying to use your money via interest, you would pay the banks for the privilege of having your money under their control.

In a cashless society all your money would be in the bank by compulsion.  If the gambling bankers had made some losses, they could recoup those losses by increasing the negative interest rate. In other words they would steal from you to pay for their bad decisions and incompetence. In turn this would lead to more bad decisions and ultimately to systemic collapse.

A New Tyrannical Age

With a cashless society big government would get bigger and be even more intrusive. Every transaction would be recorded and judgements would be made about what you bought. You might be approached for having too much fat in your diet or for reading books that the government did not want you to read. You might have driven your car more than they would like in a particular week. Like a disciplinarian parent, the government could cut you off in a second.

This situation would allow the rise of tyranny to a level unprecedented in the whole of human history. Prison would no longer be necessary, the government could simply cut off your food supply or restrict your freedom of movement to walking only. Health care could be restricted if you were deemed to be eating the wrong foods. Ultimately your diet could be restricted to government issued gruel that you would have to consume in front of your iPad video camera. If you were cut off by the government you would have only two options – become enslaved and have your needs met by your owner, or resort to crime.

No government should have this level of power. A cashless society would given them that power. They are incapable of using their existing power wisely so why should they by given such absolute power?

The Rise of a New Barter Economy and a Moral Black Market

Of course, people would not stand for the theft and tyranny outlined above. As thinking beings they would make their own adjustments. They would create alternative systems just like they did during the era of Prohibition when they turned to gangsters. What’s more, they would be right to do so.

To survive or to maintain their privacy and dignity people would move back to a barter economy. Just like with the continuum of optimism and pessimism, adjustments would be made in the context of the continuum of the cashless and barter economy.The black market would flourish and gangsters would gain new status and legitimacy.

The new black market would be a moral black market, a justified black market, a necessary black market. It would be an antidote to theft and an antidote to oppression. The only way this alternative economy could be stopped would be via the application of force and coercion on a hideous scale.

Is that the sort of society that would be worth living in? I say no!

Piri Reis – A Name for a Ship

On the news this morning, there was a segment about a new Antarctic survey ship that is being built at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead. They mentioned that they wanted the public to suggest a name so I suggested the name Piri Reis.

This was in reference to the Piri Reis Map (below) copied by the Ottoman Admiral Piri Reis in 1513.

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What is remarkable about the map is that it shows an accurate representation of the Antarctic coastline, currently invisible beneath the ice sheet and only visible via remote sensing techniques. It is also remarkable because the copied map was produced before Antarctica was even discovered.

Of course this presents a problem for modern science and has let to speculation that there was a civilisation that predates our own that developed in the Fertile Crescent. It has caused some to suggest that the map may even have been produced by Extra Terrestrials. (see article HERE that covers both explanations)

Nevertheless, I still think Peri Reis would be a good name. I emailed them with the following (with a couple of typos corrected in the version below):

“I have a great name for your survey ship. I would call it the Piri Reis[.]

This would mean that the ship would be named after the famous ice free map of Antarctica[. T]he map dates from before the discovery of Antarctica and therefore creates a bit of mystery. The idea of an ice free Antarctica also raises the topical issue of the changing climate. It is inclusive in that it uses the name of a Turkish admiral. The map also demonstrates cartographic excellence, something on which good exploration relies[…]. In short it captures the imagination and potentially opens minds to new possibilities.”

If you want to suggest a name for the ship click HERE. For more about the Piri Reis map there is a article HERE and HERE.

Davos Man’s War on Trump

I first came across Harvard social scientist Samuel P. Huntington while I was doing my masters degree in the field of international relations. My friend from Libya had decided to do his dissertation on the Clash of Civilizations, Huntington’s article published in Foreign Affairs. In other work Huntington coined the term “Davos Man” to describe the internationally orientated elite who, in contrast to ordinary people, have no fixed geographical loyalty.

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Above: Hiding behind the flag: The New York Stock Exchange – one of the redoubts of Davos Man

It now appears that Davos Man is now at war with Donald Trump. This can be seen with the outrageous scaremongering from that is being put about by The Economist Intelligence Unit in THIS article:

“The research firm warns he [Trump] could disrupt the global economy and heighten political and security risks in the US.”

Perhaps this so-called “intelligence unit” has not been paying much attention to world affairs?

  • The worst economic and financial crisis since 1929
  • Destabilisation of the whole of North Africa and most of the Levant due to the foreign policy incompetence of world leaders and their ill conceived invasions
  • The worst refugee crisis since the fall of the Roman Empire
  • Divided societies and social polarisation
  • The serious reemergence of piracy on the world’s oceans
  • Failing education systems across the Western world that has caused business to look elsewhere for talent
  • The first major attack on American soil since Pearl Harbour
  • A resurgent and expansionist Russia
  • The undermining of human rights including the right to freedom of expression and political dissent
  • Decreased influence of the Western World
  • Proliferation of nuclear weapons to unstable parts of the world, and the likelihood of Iran getting the Bomb
  • Political leaders and political systems held in complete contempt

The catalogue of failure and incompetence by the supposed safe pairs of hands is as endless as it is inglorious! All these and more happened when political leaders who are not Donald Trump were at the helm.

No wonder people are now desperate for real change! They have long since passed the point when they said they have had enough. If the establishment really wanted to improve things they would have done so already. They have been in power for decades so can’t blame anyone else. They have failed and done so spectacularly and have no qualities that could possibly redeem them for the harm that they have done.

The biggest danger to the economy, to politics, to security, and to society in general clearly and incontrovertibly is the corrupt, comfortable and complacent status quo! The EIU is clearly part of that status quo of vested interests and therefore part of the problem. Like the BBC, that unsurprisingly propagated this story, it is yet another propaganda agency of the globalist interests of Davos Man and Davos Culture.

Davos Culture together with the clandestine groups and methods that it utilises, do not have the interests of ordinary people at heart. Don’t be gullible, don’t believe them or their propaganda. They use it and pay for it to pull the wool over people’s eyes in order to rob them of both resources and freedoms. Their goal is simple, they want to enrich and empower themselves further at the expense of the wider community.

Even if Trump turned out to be simply crap, he would still be an improvement on the incompetent dross that preceded him. It is frankly, impossible for him to be any worse!