I have never had an urge to visit Scotland. The landscape is unattractive, the weather is mostly bad, and the traditional food is unappealing (Deep-fried Mars bars!). There are too many places that are more-appealing and more-attractive for me to waste any of the short time I have on this earth.
Scotland is mentioned often in the news these days, especially on those channels emanating from the “United” Kingdom, of which Scotland is a (partly) unwilling member. The current “royal” family owns a lot of real estate, which their ancestors plundered from the local people, not unlike what Americans did to the original owners of the country. Native Americans seems to have been given less rights and powers than the folks in Scotland, who are being given the chance to decide their future with or without English overlords. It is surprising that two peoples that hate each so much have been able to live in relative harmony for so long. Many English are deluded in believing that members of the “royal” family looking silly in kilts and tartans have endeared them to their neighbours to the north.
If Scotland leaves the “United” Kingdom, how great will “Great” Britain be? Not that it ever was. Or, at least, not for a long time. Perhaps, the split will send signals to people in other countries. Will the Flemish and Walloons, who dislike each other more than the Scots dislike the English, finally kill Belgium…which no one would miss. Will Catalonia split from Spain? Or will Bavaria become an independent country? Bavarians already feel superior to other Germans and think that they can go it alone. The list is long and the future uncertain…
The mess that Bush created continues to rage in the Middle East. Citizens of the former Soviet Union continue to shoot at one another, despite a cease fire. People continue to die in Africa, because drug companies are not willing to invest in discovering medications that do not turn a profit. The Dutch continue to ignore the truth about who killed hundreds of their citizens with a surface-to-air missile, despite having the evidence in their hands. Scotland continues to hope of freedom from their English overlords, despite having lived peacefully with them for centuries. The United States Government continues to not function, despite the ability to talk ceaselessly. Humans continue to lose every battle with Nature, despite copious evidence proving that they should not try.
But, hallelujah, there is a bright spot in news. An untalented young woman, who married a privilege, untalented young man, who will inherited a huge plundered fortune, has been forced to stop working. In this case, "work" entails dressing up, smiling foolishly, and shaking one or two hands. But, hordes are rejoicing over the reason of her sloth: she is pregnant with a child, who will also be born with immense privileges and will someday inherit a large, unearned fortune. Along the way, he or she will, like his nearest relatives, become a tourist attraction and be drooled over by countless girls or boys, who all want to marry into that life of privilege. For anyone living in the Commonwealth, no other news is of any significance....
If you want to lose some money, London bookmakers will take bets on the child's sex and it's name.
Articles appeared in English newspapers and news programs reported that a recent survey showed that most parents chose a girl in procedures that can be manipulated. The reason given was that girls are “easier” than boys. None of these people must have had experience with a teenaged female.
The desire is in stark contrast to china. Reports suggest that most abortions are targeted at girls. The Chinese tend to refer male descendants.
If these trends continues, the future might hold a lot of eurasian marriages, with an imbalance of sexes in different parts of the world.
Of course, there is no news on this subject from the United States, where everyone is crazy…
There is a saying about blood being thicker than water. Although this makes little sense, I guess it means that relatives stick closer together than friends. History has proven that this is not always the case. One statistic that comes to mind is the number of murders and gunshot wounds of relatives in the United States.
This phrase came to mind when watching a trailer for a program on World War I. This is the one hundredth anniversary of a really big and stupid war (unlike some the more-recent small and stupid wars...which were big for all involved, but you get the point).
The word thick has different definitions. It can mean solid or viscous. It can also mean lacking intelligent or stupid. I pick the later definition to plug into the above saying about thick blood. The principle players in World War I were related. The King of England, the Kaiser of Germany, and the Tsar of Russia were first cousins. They had played together as children and met in later years. The wife of the Tsar was a German princess. The father of the King was German. Instead of sticking together, they squabbled and cost the lives of millions and led to the suffering of many millions. The Second World War is almost certainly a consequence of this thick (lacking intelligence) blood.
Reports about global warming and rising sea levels had made me suspect that the Maldives would sink below water first. Watching British news reports, it seems that England will be the first nation to be covered with water.
Of course, the government is incapable and incompetent, despite what politician spout. The army has finally been put to good use filling sand bags. That is a bit more useful--but not much--than warm words from government officials. Politicians are able to produce only sound bites and take part in photo opportunities. They seem to believe that their words can affect weather and assuage human suffering. Times of crisis reveal the worthlessness--or not--of governments.
The River Thames is rising upstream, but I wonder if people in London will get wet feet...
Here’s a program recommendation for anyone with an intelligent sense of humor or intelligence and a sense of humor or a desire to chuckle about something sad but true...more or less. This is an old British sitcom, which might be difficult to find. Reruns often air of obscure British channels. I doubt that this ever aired outside the United Kingdom, because it is so quintessentially English. Still, it is some of the best comedic writing ever aired.
I am talking about Yes, Minister. This parodies the workings of the British government, displaying the daily interaction of ministers, government staff, colleagues, and the press. I am certain that most governments operate in a similar manner, with the staff running the show, running circles around elected officials, and fooling the public.
Whenever I hear politicians--primarily from US or UK--tout their citizens as the “best workers in the world”, I smirk. First of all, a good portion of those toiling in any country are foreigners, which surely skews the score. Second, and more important, nationality has little or no effect on worker performance. Foreign manufacturers (no English automobile firm has survived) erect factories in England not because workers are superior, but because of favorable taxes and cooperative unions.
Human traits are universal. People are either diligent or lazy, conscientious or indifferent, intelligent or stupid, healthy or impaired, loyal or false, etc. Nationality plays no role. People work hard for a variety of reasons: out of fear of losing a job, because few are offered; because of his or her character; to curry favor, etc.
I have seen a report comparing productivity in Germany and England. Guess which nation loses! One never hears German leadership (political, union, industrial) boast about their workers, but the numbers tell the story. Germans understand the importance of caring for workers, not the need for empty words.
In most instances where people claim/pretend to defend “liberty” and “freedom”, they are actually protecting or increasing their turf.
For example, during the War of Roses in England, princes fought with intrigue and then weapons to increase landholdings (many now enjoyed by the latest generation of aristocrats).
On the other side of the Atlantic and a few centuries later, the “princes” of Washington battle to increase budgets and clout. The best way to accomplish this is with war, phony or otherwise, so wars must be drummed up and sold as Freedom Fries.
Two headlines in an English newspaper caught my attention. Both reveal that national rivalries in Europe are not dead or even diminishing.
1. National Express to show Germans how to run a railway
The English, who decry participation in Europe and the opening of trade barriers, seem happy to bask in a bit of success permitted by the European Union. Because two cities chose an English bid does not imply that all of Germany is now inferior to the Third World country lying off the coast of Europe. They have obviously selected price over quality.
Anyone that has ridden in a train in either country will know which one produces a superior product.
2. Victory for David Cameron as EU budget faces cuts for first time
French and English are still fighting past wars. Both seem to forget that they were allies in 20th century. Newspapers and politicians maintain inane rhetoric for domestic audiences (who forget or do not know history).
One man’s offal is another man’s awfully good. This becomes evident by merely comparing menu items in different countries around the world.
Americans react with horror, when they learn that their favorite pets would end up on the table in many Asian countries. Animals, which dwell in zoos in Western lands, are seen as delicacies...and, often, necessities to survival in less-developed countries. Although rare in the United States, internal bits of animals are enjoyed daily in Europe, and can be very pricey in better French restaurants. All this leads me to the a controversy raging in England. Someone discovered that cheap, supermarket hamburger patties contain bits of horse meat. Supermarket chains have been forced to issue apologies and run newspaper ads.
People wanting cheap meat should not ask about its origin or content. Who wants to know what’s in a sausage, as long as it tastes good? Americans would surely be as horrified as some English folks seem to be about eating horse meat, but Europeans do not understand the ruckus. A butcher in my town hangs a sign in his window advertising horse meat. A major supermarket I patronize on each visit to France offers cheval in the meat display between beef and lamb. I have not knowingly consumed horse or dog, but bit might have been in food bought at public events or even rare supermarket purchases. I suspect any meat handled in the back and wrapped in plastic. We buy most meat at our local butcher (who does not sell horse meat), where we watch him grind the hamburger in front of our eyes.
Hungry people--and gourmets--do not attach romantic visions about pets to the food they eat. One man’s trusty stead is another man’s mmm, mmm, good, just as one man’s best friend in the United States would be someone’s bulgogi in Korea.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.