Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Tian Tian "raped" (aka artificially inseminated) to justify having pandas at Edinburgh Zoo

Call me old-fashioned but what is going on in Edinburgh, under the guise of furthering scientific knowledge and perhaps also of trying to justify the significant cost of keeping two Giant Pandas 'on loan' from the Chinese Government for a time-limited period in the Scottish capital, is nothing more nor less than rape.

We are told that whilst the male, Yang Guang, was "in the mood", his female semi-companion, Tian Tian, apparently is not, despite her hormone levels having been tested and found to have risen to a level appropriate for mating. Despite being "interested", Yang Guang has it seems behaved like whatever is the Giant Panda equivalent of a "perfect gentleman" and not attempted to force himself on Tian Tian and in any case she would probably have resisted his advances if he had tried - despite their cuddly appearance, pandas are apparently quite aggressive creatures.

We are vouchsafed the information that, apart from swapping the two around between their normal quarters, they were "able to interact with a grate keeping them apart" - but still Tian Tian has avoided giving Yang Guang any come hither signs. Like it or not, she seems simply not to be interested. However, the "scientists" (aka "torturers") in charge of this mixture of barbarity or so-called scientific endeavour, are in reality hauling these two unfortunate creatures from one side of the world to the other, courtesy of the tyrannical Chinese Government, thereby colluding in a political game with the two Giant Pandas being no more than pawns in Beijing's influence-peddling. If there was real interest in enhancing to the maximum the chances of these animals breeding then they would be left alone to their own devices in their natural habitat, or at least as close to their natural habitat as possible, not hauling them around the world to be gawped at by the public and forever probed by "scientists".

If these were two human creatures this would rightly be classed as slavery and gross mistreatment of both of them and rape of the female in particular. That is the truth, however much the scientific cloak surrounding this whole circus seeks to mask it.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Farage: EU is the New Communism

I am no supporter of UKIP (the party that wants to take the UK out of the EU), far less of their wilder flights of policy fantasy designed to appeal to the worst instincts of their supporters (notably their rampant homophobia), but Farage is 'on the money' appropriately enough with his remarks on the Euro, the currency currently used by 17 of the 27 EU member states:

- although before the Euro was launched I was attracted by the idea in principle, I was of the view then (as I am even more now) that the idea of tying such widely disparate economies into a common currency and interest rate regime could never work in the long term. The last 5 or so years, in particular, have amply demonstrated the shortcomings of this currency experiment and the increasingly desperate measures to shore up the edifice (confiscating money from people's bank accounts in Cyprus and proposals to levy additional property taxes on those deemed 'wealthy' in any future bail-outs) reveal how flawed this whole experiment has been. As Nigel Farage rightly observes, these measures will only lead to many sensible investors taking as much of their assets out of the Eurozone as they can. The real longer-term solution for many of the Eurozone countries is to take themselves out of the currency union and to revert to using resurrected domestic currencies. None of the options available to the troubled Mediterranean economies (Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and some others) is particularly palatable in the short-medium term, but if any of these countries is to avoid the increasing pauperisation of their populations the immediate need is to re-establish their own currencies and at least as importantly their own interest rate regimes - the short-term result of such a policy would likely to be extremely painful as there would be a dramatic revaluation (i.e. devaluation) of domestic asset values in all categories, but within 5 years and with policies designed to harness natural entrepreneurial flair I feel certain that countries prepared to take the difficult decisions in the short term would begin to see a real economic resurgence. A continuation of current policies will only make matters worse as the months and years pass, and make the eventual need to face economic reality all the more harsh and difficult.

Will any of the affected countries have the courage and vision to take the painful steps required, though?

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher - Obituary


Margaret Hilda Thatcher (née Roberts)
13th October 1925 - 8th April 2013



Rest in Peace
It was announced around lunch-time on Monday 8th April that Baroness Thatcher had passed away earlier in the morning.

Margaret Thatcher was undoubtedly the greatest British Prime Minister since Winston Churchill. She is also, so far, the only female British Prime Minister, but so far as I am concerned her gender was immaterial (as I rather think it was to her) - she had the capacity to do the job and she did it splendidly, although the fact that she was female equally undoubtedly meant that in order to overcome this "handicap" she had to be (and was) better than the other leading (male) politicians of her generation.

On becoming Leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, in succession to Edward Heath MP (of whom I was, and remain, a great supporter, however controversial that may appear to some), Margaret Thatcher successfully took the Conservative Party to electoral victory in the 1979 General Election.

At the time of her election as Prime Minister I was living in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), having last lived in the UK in early 1973, during the dying days of the last Conservative Government of Edward Heath. I vividly recall from those days when I lived in London the regular electricity cuts and the difficulty of merely getting to and from the office as a result of the intransigence of the then-powerful (over-powerful!) unions and their tactics/policy of bringing chaos to the country to further their (nefarious) aims by carrying out regular strikes. On election night in 1979 I was one of about 10 British colleagues and spouses who gathered together in one of our houses to listen to the unfolding events back in the UK on the BBC World Service on short-wave radio (this being some years before satellite television became a reality, or even imagined, except for very special occasions). At around 5am Jeddah-time (or 2am UK-time, so far as I recall) it became clear that the Thatcher-led Conservative Party had succeeded in turfing out the discredited Labour Party under Prime Minister James Callaghan so we thought it time to crack open the half-dozen or so bottles of champagne we had jointly acquired (at relatively-vast expense, given that that any type of alcohol was officially prohibited in that country, even though our supplies had come from impeccable [Royal] sources - quite literally) to celebrate what we all saw as the possibility of a change of direction in Britain's fortunes, from being what it was widely-viewed then as being - the "sick man of Europe" and a country on an unstoppable spiral of decline, managed by successive governments over the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. By the end of the 1980s no one talked about Britain that way any more - she permanently transformed both the reality and perceptions of the UK very substantially for the better, however much her critics hated what she and her government was doing, even though when one tackled them on the economic mess that the then current "managed decline" had left the country languishing in they had no practical solutions to offer. I regard her and her government as quite simply the saviours of post-war Britain, but like any human being she was not infallible, most notably with her insistence on introducing the economically sensible, but politically disastrous Community Charge (which is often referred to as the 'poll tax'). However, the balance of what she stood for and did was overwhelmingly in her and the country's favour.

You can read a fuller obituary for Baroness Thatcher in the Telegraph here.