Archive for December, 2008

A success story.

Eighteen year old Zanelle van Zyl who attends the DF Malan High School in Cape Town is a very hard worker. But the reward at the end of it has been to come 11th of the top 20 list of Matriculation students in the Western Cape.

Zanelle says “It’s very, very, hard work, studying many hours each nights and going to sleep late”, but she says that she received a great deal of support from parents, friends and family. All the teachers, were also always prepared to give me extra help.”

She took 11 subjects: Afrikaans and English home language, mathematics, life orientation, accounting, information technology, applied computing, physical science, life sciences, Xhosa second language, and “additional programme” maths. She also wrote an optional extra maths paper on geometry and probability theory.

Zanelle interspersed her studies by playing for her school’s first hockey team for the past two years, in both of which it had won the Western Province League title. She also sang in the school choir, and been a member of its wind orchestra.

She had also been chosen as a South African youth representative for climate change conferences in both England and Kobe, Japan.

All this puts a little more truth in the saying “If you want to get a job done, ask a busy person”.

She plans to study accounting at the University of Stellenbosch next year and is hoping her 10 A’s and being in the top 20 will win herself a bursary.

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The Middle East

As I see it, there can be only one solution to bring peace to the Israeli and Palestinian population.

  • Lets begin by analysing the present Israeli solution. Put very simply, it is not working.

  • Let us now cast our mind around the world for a similar problem in the past where hitting hard incensed the minority population and by doing so, the aggressor acted as a recruiting sergeant for the minority. We don’t have to look far… Britain versus The IRA.

  • Let us now assess what happened when Britain stopped over-reacting, improved security and just went after the individual bombers. After a couple of decades peace broke out.

Mmmmmm… not rocket science is it?

I am certainly not anti-Israeli, or pro-Palestinian. But neither am I anti-Palestinian or pro-Israeli. But I hate Hamas with the same fervour as I hate all politicians all over the world.

When speaking to a Palestinian in London recently, one who has now settled in Britain and has no wish to return, we had a long discussion on this subject and finally came to the conclusion, jointly, that it was six of one and half a dozen of the other!

The Israelis need to change their whole approach to the matter but this will not be possible as long as they retain their particular brand of proportional representation. It is geared up so that the right-wing minority war-mongers always retain a strong hold of the country.

Rather than using any of their jets and tanks, they need to develop a guerilla army, akin to our special forces, and to be on constant alert so that when a rocket is fired into Israel, they take out the gunners with a surgical strike. If they spend their military budget mainly on intelligence, security and special forces for this situation they may get more value for their American dollars than wasting it on great numbers of tanks and jets.

They also need to offer to rebuild Palestine once there is ever-lasting peace and offer work for all the inhabitants. This will have no immediate effect but as Arab babies start to grow towards adulthood, and only the war mongers are attacked, that could be the beginning of a change of attitude towards the Israelis.

There is no immediate solutions but if they adopted the methods Britain adopted with the IRA problem, they could begin to see a change within twenty years.

I will leave you with one last thought. Hamas wanted this. They are run by the Iranian government and however much many in the West may despise the Iranian government, they are not stupid.

Think of this – Israel is approaching its general elections. Any Israeli government needs to be strong with military might. So Hamas knew if they attacked Israel with rockets just before an election, the incumbent Israeli government will hit back hard, very hard, as the Prime Minister seeks to impress his voters.

You must ask cue Bono?, “who benefits?”. There are two people who benefit. On the one hand we have the sitting Israeli government, from the point of view of being re-elected, and on the other hand we have the Iranians, from the point of view of turning the world against their enemy, Israel.


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Political Correctness:

Today, I have a longer post for you. It is a paper written on the above subject and makes very interesting reading…

The Scourge of Our Times

Agustin Blazquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton
Monday, April 8, 2002

Does anyone know the origins of Political Correctness? Who originally developed it and what was its purpose?

I looked it up. It was developed at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, Germany, which was founded in 1923 and came to be known as the “Frankfurt School.” It was a group of thinkers who pulled together to find a solution to the biggest problem facing the implementers of communism in Russia.

The problem? Why wasn’t communism spreading?

Their answer? Because Western Civilization was in its way.

What was the problem with Western Civilization? Its belief in the individual, that an individual could develop valid ideas. At the root of communism was the theory that all valid ideas come from the effect of the social group of the masses. The individual is nothing.

And they believed that the only way for communism to advance was to help (or force, if necessary) Western Civilization to destroy itself. How to do that? Undermine its foundations by chipping away at the rights of those annoying individuals.

One way to do that? Change their speech and thought patterns by spreading the idea that vocalizing your beliefs is disrespectful to others and must be avoided to make up for past inequities and injustices.

And call it something that sounds positive: “Political Correctness.” Inspired by the brand new communist technique, Mao, in the 1930s, wrote an article on the “correct” handling of contradictions among the people. “Sensitive training” – sound familiar? – and speech codes were born.

In 1935, after Hitler came to power, the Frankfurt School moved to New York City, where they continued their work by translating Marxism from economic to cultural terms using Sigmund Freud’s psychological conditioning mechanisms to get Americans to buy into Political Correctness. In 1941, they moved to California to spread their wings.

But Political Correctness remains just what it was intended to be: a sophisticated and dangerous form of censorship and oppression, imposed upon the citizenry with the ultimate goal of manipulating, brainwashing and destroying our society.

PC Cuba

My first conscious exposure to Political Correctness was in 1959 – the first year of Castro’s revolution in Cuba – while attending an indoctrination session at a neighborhood elementary school in Havana. There I learned for the first time of the claimed superiority of life in the Soviet Union vs. the U.S.

There I also learned that the word “compañero” (filtered version of the communist “comrade” – Fidel was denying his communist preferences) was the correct way to refer to the other members of the new Cuban society-in-the-making.

Mr., Mrs. and Miss were no longer acceptable, and their further use could reveal that you were not a Fidelista. Since repression and violations of human rights came roaring in right behind Castro’s sweep down from the mountains in 1959, objection or rejection of Fidel Castro’s revolution would (and still will) land you in a lot of trouble. You could easily lose your life in those summary executions at La Cabaña prison under the direction of Che Guevara.

But don’t worry about Che. Che was later transformed and cleansed by the masters of Political Correctness. His likeness became a revered icon of the far left, with T-shirts and posters still adorning the campuses of America.

The same techniques were used to cleanse one of today’s “heroes,” Mumia Abu-Jamal (even if he was convicted, by overwhelming evidence, of killing a cop).

And under the pervasive guidance of Political Correctness that took hold from elementary school to university, from the media to the arts, from the country fields to factories and offices, Cubans learned to say what it was safe to say. Always in line with the overpowering state. Always following the dictums of the only political party left: the Communist Party.

The self-censorship resulting from Political Correctness easily trampled freedom of speech. Political Correctness has succeeded in Cuba by creating a uniform political discourse that has lasted for 43 years.

Political Correctness has given the state (Castro) complete control of speech. That is the main reason why the U.S. media cannot extract the truth of what Cubans really feel when they interview regular citizens and deceptively present their comments as valid to the American public.

The same was true in the former Soviet Union and the former satellite countries. The same continues in the remaining communist world.

It’s nothing new. The U.S. media must know that, so why don’t they openly report that fact instead of misleading the public? Perhaps that is the reason why the American people are so uneducated about the Cuban tragedy and acted regrettably during the Elian Gonzalez affair.

The PC U.S.

With profound dismay, I have seen how the scourge of Political Correctness has taken hold in the U.S. It is very well entrenched in our educational system, at scientific, religious and community levels, the media, the workplace and even our government. It is changing the American society from within, and the citizens of this nation are increasingly censoring themselves and losing their freedom of speech out of fear of Political Correctness repression. It is the nature of Western Civilization to be civilized – respectful of others and concerned with correcting injustices. We don’t need Political Correctness to make us think we are not civilized on our own and must have our thoughts and words restricted.

In December 2001, in Kensington, Md., an annual firefighters Santa Claus festivity to light the Christmas tree was objected to by two families. The city council, in the name of Political Correctness, voted to ban Santa from the parade. Fortunately, due to citizen outcry, the decision was reversed in the end and many people protested by dressing up as Santa.

Logically and respectfully, how can one person’s benign icon be objectionable to the point of banishment? Offer to add other people’s icons. Make it a broader celebration. That’s the Perfectly Correct American way.

The rulers of Political Correctness reach absurd levels when they refer to the betrayal of America by the spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg – executed in 1953 – as “non-traditional patriotism”!

We see shameful situations created in our schools and universities in America that have fallen prey to Political Correctness. Some professors, students and publications are being attacked for expressing a point of view that differs from that imposed by a fanatical far left, under the guise of Political Correctness.

In schools and workplaces we see that “diversity” has degenerated into reverse discrimination, where often the less qualified are admitted and the incompetent cannot be fired. We have seen characters like Rev. Jesse Jackson shamelessly blackmailing and threatening to boycott entire corporations if they don’t hire those selected by him or simply make “donations” to his organizations.

The Double Standard Emerges

Our Constitution requires the separation of church and state, which has always discouraged our public education system from teaching religion. However, in December 2001, while Christmas cards, symbols and decorations were being objected to for the first time in American public schools in Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oregon, in an elementary school in Texas, a girl was allowed to give to her classmates an overview and show a video about her Muslim religion.

And in January 2002, a public middle school in San Luis Obispo, Calif., had its students pretend to be warriors fighting for Islam.

Another school near Oakland, Calif., also encouraged 125 seventh-grade students to dress up in Muslim robes for a three-week course on Islam.

This arbitrary double standard was applied in the name of Political Correctness following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

According to Ellen Sorokin’s “No Founding Fathers?” published by the Washington Times on its front page on Jan. 28, 2002, even our Founding Fathers have fallen victim to the travesty. The article says of the New Jersey Department of Education’s history standards, “The latest revisions to the state standards have disappointed educators across the country, who said the board’s exclusion of the Founding Fathers’ names is ‘Political Correctness to the nth degree.’ “

Sorokin points out that “the standards specifically note that students should identify slavery, the Holocaust and modern Iraq as examples in which ‘people have behaved in cruel and inhumane ways.’

Conveniently, communism is absent from that short list.

In another article by Sorokin, published by the Washington Times on March 10, “Report Blames Anti-Americanism on College Teachers,” she presents two examples of upcoming courses for next spring and fall.

They are ” ‘The Sexuality of Terrorism’ at University of California at Hayward; and ‘Terrorism and the Politics of Knowledge’ at UCLA, a class that, according to its course description, examines ‘America’s record of imperialistic adventurism.’ “

Recently, a historic photograph of the New York firefighters raising the American flag over the ruins of the World Trade Center was going to be made into a sculpture as a memorial.

But history’s revisionists used Political Correctness to dictate that other minority faces replace some of the faces in the historical photograph! Fortunately, in the end that didn’t fly either, due to the outcry of firefighters and the public.

The Goal of the PC Dictators

For people with the background and firsthand experience of living inside a totalitarian communist society, the tilt and goal of the dictators of Political Correctness in America are obvious. The beneficiaries in the end will be the fanatic believers in the totalitarian state, who, in spite of the dismal failure of communism and the 100 million people exterminated pursuing that criminal system, have not given up.

Political and religious fanatics, as demonstrated by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the subsequent war in Afghanistan, are extremely dangerous in today’s world.

All citizens who cherish liberty must reject the scourge of Political Correctness. Freedom of speech must be preserved in America if we are to continue to be free.

Let’s say it: Castro is not a ‘president,’ as the U.S. media’s Political Correctness calls him. Castro has not been democratically elected to anything in Cuba. The correct word to define him is ‘tyrant.’ He is not just a ‘leader,’ as the U.S. media also calls him. He is more of a criminal Mafioso-type character.

Why criminal? Because he has caused the deaths of more than 100,000 Cubans. Thousands have died through his support of guerrillas in Central and South America. Thousands of blacks were

killed by Castro’s soldiers in Africa. Castro in the 1980s introduced the use of bacteriological weapons to kill blacks in Angola.

How many thousands have died in America as a result of his drug trafficking into the U.S.? How many thousands have died all over the world due to terrorists trained in Castro’s Cuba?

Former Soviet colonel Ken Alibek, who defected to America, was once in charge of the Soviet Union’s production of biological weapons. In Alibek’s 1999 book, “Biohazard,” he revealed that with the help of the Soviet Union, in the 1980s Cuba created laboratories to produce chemical and bacteriological weapons of mass destruction – just 90 miles from U.S. shores.

The information about Castro’s involvement with bacteriological weapons also comes from various independent sources. We must not forget either that Cuba is on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist nations.

Why Mafioso? Well, Castro is like an untouchable godfather, surrounded by bodyguards and thugs and a private army of about 40,000 soldiers for his personal protection (roughly the size of the entire army of Cuba prior to 1959).

He stole foreign and national properties in Cuba. He has become one of the richest men in the world, according to Forbes magazine. He has created a despotic and corrupt elite to exploit the Cuban people and keep himself in power. He has made the Cuban people hostages and slaves of his corrupt regime.

The U.S. media do not call Al Capone “the former leader” of the Italian Mafia. Why the double standard with Fidel and other far-left regimes? The answer can be traced to where the sympathies lie – with the elite dictating Political Correctness in America.

It’s one thing is to be educated, considerate, polite and have good manners, and another to be forced to self-censor and say things that are totally incorrect in order to comply with the arbitrary dictums of a deceiving and fanatical far-left agenda.

Let’s preserve our freedom and say NO to the scourge of Political Correctness.

© 2002 ABIP


The Google Phone

I have been wanting a G-Phone ever since I first heard of it but am holding back. Not just because the off-contract price is £399.00 either.

The present version of the phone is 1.0 and so is the operating system. Those of us who have been involved in the micro-computer industry – and I have since 1977 – know that something in “beta” test mode is really “alpha” and when version 1.0 comes out it is really in “beta” test mode. The wisest amongst us wait until version 2.0 is released as we know that this is really the first “proper” release – or “true version 1.0”. Version 2.0 is the first release that has had extensive testing and, by then, 90% of the “idiosyncrasies” have been “put right”.

I tend to use most of the Google applications so a Google phone seems the sensible route to go. I have also been informed that, in the New Year, there will be several others arriving on the scene so this may also bring the price down. There is nothing like capitalist competition for bring prices down.

One or two of my friends are astounded that I trust Google with my data. I hate to admit that I have some foolish friends, but they are very nice really. It is just that they haven’t thought it through properly. After all, they trust their ISP with their email data don’t they? What’s the difference? Please tell me! In addition, one’s email travels through the Internet via a dozen or so ISPs before it arrives in your mail box.

In addition, with Google being so large, I would imagine they take especial care with people’s data. Let’s face it, it would be the end of Google if they allowed hackers to steal their data. I trust Google a darn sight more than I trust the British Government with my sensitive data! GCHQ and their American, Russian and Chinese counterparts know everything you say even before you think of it!

And, remember, you are not paranoid – they really are out to get you!


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My Boxing Day message

I often come across people referring to “common people” as the “working class”. But this is totally wrong.

Yes, there are types of people we can legitimately refer to as common. However, to refer to these people as “working class” shows a lack of understanding of what these words mean.

The problem with Britain is it concerns itself too much with class.

The aristocracy, middle upper class, lower upper class, upper middle class, middle middle class class, lower middle class, upper working class, middle working class and lower working class.

It is a real nightmare.

It all started over a couple of thousand years with just working classes. Everyone was a peasant roaming the lands, surviving as best they could. Then over the centuries some of the peasant gave themselves airs and graces and this was how the Aristocracy was born.

A thousand years ago we had the aristocracy and their hangers on who referred to themselves as upper classes. Then as the centuries flew by more working classes did a little better for themselves and the middle classes were born. By the twentieth century the middle classes were the working classes who had done better for themselves with trade, and some upper classes who fell from grace through wives with children divorcing their husbands and falling from their upper class positions accordingly.

This now brings me to “common people”. Common people are those the BBC and ITV seem to cater for. These are not just working class, they also include middle and upper class people These are people with no real pride in themselves or their community. Those, for example who either collapse in front of the “box” every evening or wander down to the pub, rather than help their community and neighbours.

I tend to think of people who have this pride as decent people, and those who don’t have this inner pride as common people. Nobody should be proud of being working class. Nobody should be proud of being middle class, and nobody should be proud of being upper class. All this does is to create division amongst us all. And, inverse snobbery is every bit as harmful as snobbery itself.

What everyone needs to develop is an inner pride in themselves and then in their community. If they create the inner pride in themselves, they will endeavour to build up their community.

Times are going to get hard for everyone. (See my blog of 18th December) Those living in a tightly knit community will be the ones with the best chance of surviving. Get to know your neighbour, invite them for morning coffee or evening drinks. Organise and take part in neighbourhood watches. Get your neighbours involved in keeping an eye on your house when you are away. These are just a few suggestions of how a close community help each other. Nothing here costs money (apart from coffee or a glass of wine) to get to know people. Involve your neighbours – take part yourself. This will help all of you take pride in your community.


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It’s Christmas Day

I would like to wish all my readers, now in 54 different countries, a Merry Christmas if they are Christian, and merry greetings to all who like to join in with the traditional Christian Christmas. And I also wish them a prosperous New Year although, with the way the various politicians are fucking up the world, perhaps that should read a survivable New Year?

For those who treat today as an ordinary day, then may your God go with you and I wish you the best in 2009.

And, I’ll leave you with “All I want for Christmas is you” – a clip from the Hugh Grant film, “Love Actually” (A young schoolgirl singing with a schoolboy band – and the young drummer is madly in love with her.)


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Going on holiday?

This is about one of the more traumatic parts of going away on a long holiday. What to take and what to leave behind as you are only allowed so much if you are flying. With the information on this blog you will be able to pack in minutes!

Pam and I have decided mutually, not to fly again. Under the excuse of catching terrorists the authorities are making it as uncomfortable as possible to fly. I mean, everyone knows they don’t bring their guns through Customs – they get a mate in catering to smuggle them aboard and hide them in the toilets! We now take the Eurostar to Paris, Lille or Brussels – and for longer trips, we go on cruises from Dover or Southampton.

Anyway, to get back to our packing problem. I timed us the last time we spent three weeks in the Cape and it took us eleven minutes to pack both cases. How long would it take you?

Well, OK, we do cheat a little. I have drawn up a packing list each.

____ Casual shoes ____ __/__
____ Casual socks ____ __/__
____ t-shirts ____ __/__

and so on

The first part is for what we will be wearing, the second part is the actual item, the third part is the quantity we actually pack, and the fourth is for an outbound tick and an inbound tick when the item goes in the case when we return (to make sure we return with everything). Our list takes up a whole A4 page in two columns and we have everything listed which we may want to take on every conceivable holiday.

There is a second page for things we have to do before the holiday with the date (visas etc) then a section for the day before (charging batteries, camera cards, checking travel docs and money) and a section for things to be in our pockets, (handbag in the case of Pam), etc on the day of departure.

When we travel we always ask what facilities there are for washing clothes and ironing them. We stay in a flat in Stellenbosch when we go to South Africa so only take a week’s underwear and t-shirts etc. as the flat has a washing machine, tumble dryer and an ironing board. This can make a big difference on the extras you can get into your suitcase.

OK, you are now fully packed and your suitcase is full. Oh dear! You haven’t left room to bring back presents from that far off land have you? We buy our Christmas presents abroad so we can give something different.

And did you remember to use a huge colour marker to put some sort of mark on both sides of your case? So you can immediately recognise it when it arrives on the airport carousel? This makes it very easy when many cases look identical.

Remember, it will take you a little time to think of everything and to make the lists, but it can be used again and again. We first compiled our list over twenty years ago. It has been tweaked over the years but very little.


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At Christmas one thinks of home

My home is in London now, but many decades ago it used to be in South Africa. There is one special school in Kwa-Zulu (old name: Natal) high up the slopes of the Drakensberg Mountains. The school choir, known as the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir is famous throughout the world – come see for yourself – play the video.


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A case for Facebook

A Polish neighbour next door decided to go onto Facebook so I invited myself around to check her security as Facebook used to leave your data available to everyone to see. I was pleasantly surprised that now, in the first instance, only friends can see your information and that every aspect of it can be altered to show to: Nobody, Friends only, Friends of Friends, Network and Friends, and lastly, everyone. The last two should never be used!

I explained that she should keep the majority of her information for friends only, but sometimes it is good to allow friends of friends to see a limited amount so they may eventually become your friends in time.

I was 67 years old when I opened my Facebook account. I didn’t expect many of my friends to be on and was only looking at it from a journalist point of view. I now have 47 contacts on my account. Bearing in mind that these are only people I know and want to contact, I am well pleased. So many younger people on Facebook are in the “numbers game”.

What has been really fantastic for me is that, over the two years, I have found six old friends I had lost contact with over the last thirty years. There is nothing more valuable than re-acquainting oneself with a lost friend.

I have arranged my page so that people searching through the contact list cannot click on the link to request to be a friend. But they can send me a letter from the list.

If I do not know the person, I ignore the request, I do not reply! It may seem rather rude but the way Facebook works is, if a non-friend drops you a line and you reply to the note, Facebook allows each person a view of all your private information. Or did at the last investigation. This can be bad as people may pretend to become a friend so they can get your personal information.

I like Facebook, On a Sunday, I spend an hour or so browsing through my pages seeing what all my contacts have been doing over the past week, sending messages, looking at videos sent and sending some of my own. And, generally, keeping in touch with everyone. It is so useful to be able to do this from one web site.

If you decide to join, you need to think of the name you want to use. It has to be your real name, but doesn’t have to be just your real name. Let me explain. My name is Andrew Taylor. My nickname is Ampers. So I joined as “Andrew Ampers Taylor” If you search for Andrew, Ampers, Andrew Taylor, Ampers Taylor, or Andrew Ampers Taylor, my Facebook entry will show up on the list. However, if you just search for Ampers, it will probably be the only one that comes up as it is very unusual.!. So if you have a family name or a nickname, put it in as your middle name when you join up. If you have middle names as well, include those if others’ know of them. But don’t expect me to reply to any messages on Facebook if I don’t know you!

Like everything else; when using the Internet you need to keep your wits about you. When you come to think about it, you need to keep your wits about you in our “civilised” 21st century society!


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Restaurant wines

What a difference between two people having a meal out in Paris, compared to London! Paris wins hands down for me as they know how to cater for couples and single people.

In France it is quite common to see a single person in a restaurant. But I want to talk about a problem that couples have in British restaurants.

Over here, it is assumed that couples have no taste and will therefore have the same wine with their first course as with their main course. Ergo, they only offer whole bottles of wine. Occasionally you can find a restaurant who will have half bottles but these are always the cheapest wines. Why do they assume that a couple eating together are poor or with no taste?

In France it is assumed that couples will have taste and will want the proper wine with the meal. So when the wine list is presented, often the house wine will be available by the bottle, half bottle carafe and glass. But many of the better wines on the wine list will also be available by the bottle and half bottle and even, in many cases, by the glass.

Last March I took my wife to Paris for a three-night weekend to celebrate her 65th Birthday. On the day we ate at “Le Train Bleu” – a well known Parisian restaurant, and we had half a bottle of Champagne – a good one – followed by half a bottle of excellent Burgundy with our main course. Something I have never been able to do in a British restaurant.

Also, in nearly all the little boutique bistro style restaurants which abound on nearly every street corner, all the wines are available by the bottle, carafe, half carafe, large glass and small glass. This is an excellent way to ensure that patrons have just the amount they desire without having to drink more than they need at the time.

I looked in Waitrose for half bottles for our Christmas meal. We have four courses. A smoked salmon salad with quails eggs, roast pheasant, asparagus, beans, new potatoes and all the trimmings, a roulard for our sweet, followed by a cheese board.

We don’t drink a lot, I restrict myself to three units a week, so I wanted half a bottle of good Sauvignon Blanc, half a bottle of a good burgundy style red wine, half bottle of desert wine and half a bottle of vintage, or late vintage, port. Once again, they had cheap wines but nothing that I would accept for my dinner table. They had a reasonable dessert wine – but only because most dessert wine comes in half bottles! But no half bottle of Port. If we opened four bottles for the one meal, by the time we got to the end of the bottles the wine would be off. At least with half bottles, we could get through them finally before they get “oxidised”.

Does this mean that Waitrose is going to lower themselves to Tesco’s level? Surely they have directors with a little more intelligence than a school leaver from a council estate? Or is this the background they seek out when promoting staff to the higher echelons?

It isn’t rocket science to work out that, with an incredibly fast aging society, there will far more ”well off” couples who want to have the right wine with their meals.



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Where the money goes

I read today that Ferrari receive $80M more than the other teams from the Formula One (F1) motor sport.

If they receive $80M more than the other teams, one wonders exactly how much all the teams put together receive from Bernie Ecclestone. The F1 receives its funds from sponsorships. Gate takings probably only cover the rental of the grounds and other local expenses.

As we are talking about such huge amounts one has to presume that it costs a lot more than an arm and a leg to purchase even a small F1 sponsorship.

Think about this, then consider the latest sponsor Bernie has managed to recruit for Formula One. I am referring to the Indian motor manufacturer Tata who own Jaguar and Land Rover.

According to ITN:

Trade ministers have been in talks with carmaker Jaguar Land Rover over a possible £1 billion Government bailout.

I suppose one may now assume that the British Government is contemplating indirectly supporting Formula One? This is the company whose CEO shafted the Labour government by paying a million pounds for the rights to continue tobacco advertising for a few more years knowing publicity would eventually force the government to pay the money back. Well done Bernie!

This now leads my cynical mind to wonder whether any of the owners of the companies the Labour government are bailing out will donate large sums to the Labour party prior to the next general election? But of course, Peter Mandelson would never countenance any such wicked plan, would he?


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Crafting an article

This is not about how to write your article, but how to present it. It applies whether you are publishing on paper, or to the screen. This also includes how you present your article when sending it to your editor. You don’t want him to take one look and bin it! It also applies to reports, letters, blogs or anything else you may write.

It is not enough, as many intellectuals believe, to have something important to impart to others. The finished work has to be a joy to read. The reader, when taking a quick look, has to feel he or she wants to pick it up and browse through it.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
It has to be
a joy to read
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Whereas “pull-outs” may not be suitable for reports and letters, they help grab attention to longer articles. Unless it is a more learned article among, for example, academics. However the following applies to all.

You need plenty of white space in your work. Wide margins, if multi column you need reasonably wide gutters between the columns. Bear in mind that a justified right hand margin is a little old hat and really doesn’t look as nice.

Now, as most of my readers know, your paragraph should be as long as a single thought. However, for today’s people who are constantly in a hurry, long paragraphs are enough to put people off. Try and rationalise your thoughts into sections and put each section into a paragraph. Not correct English but it will keep your reader interested. This is of particular importance when presenting on screen.

Please, also bear in mind, that long sentences which ramble on, and on, and on, without ever seeming to come to an end, are very irritating and sometimes lose the reader half way through, if you get my meaning here? Keep them short. And choose your phrase. For example:

Long sentences which ramble on are irritating. Shorten them to keep reader interest. That is much better, isn’t it?

Sometimes it is better to intersperse longer sentences with shorter sentences. It improves comprehension. Keep the longer sentences to between ten and eighteen words.

Sometimes what you are thinking you are saying is not what the reader comprehends. If your article is important, write it as short as possible pretending it is costing you £10 a word. Narrow it down to its bare bones. Then read it. Is it what you mean to say? If so, use it as a guide as you flesh your article out. Bring in comparisons, new thoughts etc. But keep to the original script.

Finally we come to proof-reading. Normally two people are required for successful proof-reading. There are computer programs available that can read out to you. The method I use is to go into an empty room and read it out very loudly. And I mean very loudly. If it doesn’t flow it will jar right down the spine! I do this first until I get an article that flows.

After I have amended it, I use the spell-checker. But spell-checkers will only find certain words. It won’t catch out a “their” when you should have typed a “there”. So I read through the article once more before sending it out. When I have time I sleep on it and read it again in the morning. I often find other errors.

The first paragraph of any article or report should be a précis of what lies ahead, and the last paragraph should always sum up what has been read. When writing a letter, the last paragraph should always inform the reader as to what action you now expect. I am amused at the sales letters I get where the writer doesn’t do this. Naturally if I am not asked to take any action I just bin the letter. Nine times out of ten I would bin it anyway, but salesmen earn a good living out of the “one time”.

Choose your title carefully. It should tell you what the article is about. Bear in mind that people search on the Internet so make your heading contain at least one keyword.

People writing blogs often get the first paragraph appearing to readers who use “RSS feeds”, so make sure the paragraph explains what the article is about.

I hope you will find this article of interest. I have tried to cover all those points which will enable you to ensure that your masterpiece (whether an article, letter, report or blog) is a joy for your reader to peruse.



Zimbabwe, my thoughts

I have just received an email from Hennie who has asked me, as I come from South Africa, why I haven’t mentioned anything about the state of affairs in this tragic nation.

It is simple really, I know when I am licked. Nothing I can write is going to make a damned bit of difference because there is no oil in this wretched country.

The West will huff and they will puff and will do nothing. They (the politicians) don’t really care at the masses dying of cholera, or being ill-treated by Mugabe’s regime.

Africa itself will not intervene because of Mugabe’s past. In the old days when Mugabe was fighting the Rhodesian Government, he was a hero to black Africans everywhere. He is still cashing in on that hero status. To black politicians in Southern Africa, that is much more important than the millions dying of starvation, AIDs and now cholera. So Africa will huff and they will puff and will do nothing. They will make no physical attempt to unseat the “hero”. Mugabe knows this only too well!

This is, my friend, the reason why I do not write about Zimbabwe. However, for those of you who, like me, would like to see a solution, pray that oil is discovered in the country. If this happens, Mugube will be deposed within three weeks.


Footnote: The bank of Zimbabwe has just issued a new Z$10,000,000,000 (ten billion) note to try and ease the desperate cash shortage. These are being sold on the black market for US$20.


Our economy is shot to hell

We have a very real problem in Britain. And, by the looks of it in the EU and the US.. People are reacting to the little problems and nobody is addressing the underlying economic structure.

Our previous problem, over the last hundred years, has been that money has been created out of debt. This is a complex issue but the 40 minute video hot-linked above will explain it far more clearly than I can.

However, our present calamity, although brought on by this, is not being correctly addressed because of the world problems caused by the population explosion. In 1970 there were three billion people on earth. Now there are six billion and, within forty years, there will be over twelve billion people on this planet.

Then there are problems with the earth’s resources, such as copper, oil, uranium etc. Already these are not as plentiful as they used to be, and are costing more to extract them from the earth. Within 40 years most resources will cost too much to extract from the earth. So we have too many people chasing too few resources. And all this is without any problems with climate change.

As far as I am concerned, it matters not whether the problems of climate are natural or man made. It is happening and we do not seem to be able to reduce it. One of the problems caused by climate change is the problems with food production.

So we will have too many people, with less food available, having to live a reduced lifestyle because of ever diminishing resources.

Whilst you are getting your mind around this, do bear in mind that I haven’t even come to our economic problems yet.

To put it in simple terms, our economy depends on growth. In other words, because of our economic model, nothing can happen, more money cannot be created, until we have growth. The Bank of England (and the Fed in the USA) are printing money for the government to use as if there is no tomorrow. This means the value of our existing money has to depreciate. Already the value of the pound is at least 25% less than it was six months ago. As our government pours more money after bad (Jaguar, and talk of more for the banks) our money will continue to depreciate. And, as you can see from the above, the possibility of growth in the longer term looks less and less likely.

Our problem is that the politicians of all countries concerned are not addressing the longer term issues. This could possibly be because governments only look for solutions for the present and never further than the next general election.

I have mentioned Chris Martenson’s Crash-Course before and this will explain a lot behind what I have said so far.

With regard to the UK, the main problem can be laid at the door of Gordon Brown, but to be fair, although a Conservative Government might have done things a little differently they would also not be addressing the root, or underlying causes. The reason is, the public would not countenance the measures that need to be done and no politician could ever be brave enough to try and force such solutions through.


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English is a racist word – Official

As most of you know, I occasionally enter a topical joke on my blog for a little humour and readers can be excused for thinking the following is a joke. But, alas, it is true.

The following appeared in a newspaper called the Daily Star Sunday 14th December 2008 on page 28.

Bank’s slur on English

A Bank refused to open an account with the word English.claiming the term was racist. The Bexley branch of the English Democrats – who campaign for England to leave the EU – wanted to open an HSBC account in Sidcup, Kent.

But Chairman Laurence Williams was astonished when a bank worker refused to process the application. Mr Williams, 45, said “The word English is not racist and the English Democrats are not racist”

When the party’s regional chairman Steve Uncles called HSBC’s area manager to protest at the treatment he was told the bank stood by the decision because anything English was considered racist. An HSBC spokesman said “We do not comment on individual cases”

As a footnote to this article the English Democrats are an official political party registered with the Electoral Commission – and they allow the name!


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I like quiz shows

They exercise the brain and like most people approaching seventy plus, I worry about losing my marbles or even of getting Altzheimers.

But I hate this time of year as they have, instead of members of the ordinary public who manage to give me a little sport, bleddy celebrities. Now, as most of my readers know, celebrities in the UK are usually very arrogant, rather lacking in the social graces and incredibly stupid! There is no sport in beating these people in the knowledge games.

Quizes fall into two groups. With multiple choice and with no choices.

One of my favourite games without multiple choices is 15 to 1. This is serious but also a fun game. I do also watch University Challenge and Mastermind and am usually happy at the reasonable but small percent of questions I manage to answer.

One of my favourite multiple choice games is Eggheads. I guess I like this one because sudden death means they don’t have multiple choice. I did enjoy Millionaire when it first came out but feel it is getting a little jaded now.

But around Christmas (am I allowed to say that word?) we get many of these stupid celebrities having a shot for their favourite charities. For me this is a total turn-off. Roll on the middle of January!

But don’t get me wrong. Celebrities have an important part to play. They earn huge amounts of money and, because they are so stupid generally, the great British public always feel there is a chance also to be incredibly rich. In most cases, you don’t need real ability, you don’t need real intelligence and you don’t need real talent.

Television should concentrate on people who can be good role models for the young.

In other words, instead of just getting a name somewhere, they should also have the type of attributes we would like to see passed on to our children. “Viva la celebrity.”


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Prosecute the innocent?

I saw in the paper yesterday that David “Call me Dave” Cameron is calling for those guilty in our economical disaster to be prosecuted.

Prosecute the guilty? Reward the innocent? What a bloody novel idea. But I can’t see it working in the UK, can you? The police, for one, would be appalled if this took root.

But if it does take root, I think Gordon Brown should watch out. He has set a precedent by letting the police into parliament. They may be coming for him next if Cameron gets his way.

There is a certain similarity between Gordon Brown and Moses. It took Moses forty years to lead the Jews out of the wilderness.


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Climate change is not the problem

The whole world is going mad. Am I really the only sane person? Everywhere I look there are articles, news and comments about “climate change” and nothing about the fact that the earth’s resources are drawing to an end or that the population will double in forty years!

Oil, copper, uranium just to mention a precious few. Already these are no longer plentiful and are already costing us more to get them out of the earth than they did twenty years ago. It is estimated some of them will be too expensive to mine in twenty years time and by forty years time they will all be too expensive to mine.

In January 1970 there were 3.91 billion people. In December 2008 there are 6.868 billion. This is an exponential graph and therefore is estimated to double in forty years time.

(To my friend who said nonsense, people are killing and dying all over the world, it won’t happen, all I can say is, yes, they have also been doing this since 1970 and it doubled.)

Do look at Chris Martenson’s presentation, then you will be forewarned and will be an expert on economics, the earth, and population explosion after 20 easy chapters. Apart from knowing more about what is happening, you will be in a better position to plan for the future. That has to be a plus… doesn’t it?


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A song for the twenty-first century

Often, when we listen to songs, we seldom actually take in the words. Yes, we do, slightly, but not as much as we do when we read the words. Here are the words of “Eve Of Destruction” sung by Bob Dylan in, I believe, the sixties.

With our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, maybe it could be a good time to remind ourselves of wars futility. And, in addition, ponder on the fact that it is the bravest in society who go to war and fight, leaving the timid behind to run the country’s government and corporations.

Perhaps, if the brave were here to run our institutions, our country may have turned out differently. Now enjoy the words of the song…

The eastern world it is explodin’,
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’,
You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’,
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’,
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin’,
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Don’t you understand, what I’m trying to say?
Can’t you feel the fears that I’m feeling today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no running away,
There’ll be no one to save with the world in a grave,
Take a look around you, boy, it’s bound to scare you, boy,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Yeah, my blood’s so mad, feels like coagulatin’,
I’m sittin’ here, just contemplatin’,
I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
Handful of Senators don’t pass legislation,
And marches alone can’t bring integration,
When human respect is disintegratin’,
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China,
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama!
Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space,
But when your return, it’s the same old place,
The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace,
Hate your next-door-neighbour, but don’t forget to say grace,
And tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.
You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.


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Do you have written goals?

Or, let’s put it another way. Are you reactive or proactive. What I mean by this is, does life keep on throwing wobblies which you have to sort out in-between trying to sort out the big picture? Or do you plan, on a regular basis for ways of dealing with any wobbly that might crop up, so you can spend more time on the big picture?

Goals are a kind of plan. There are several types of goals but here I want to deal with the goals you need to plan your entire life on.

And, these have to be written goals. But, before I go into this more deeply, let me try and describe how helpful goals can be.

Imagine leaving home, getting in your car to drive to “Much Binding-in-the-Marsh”. You couldn’t be bothered to bring your map, your SatNav is on the blink and you drive, and drive, and drive. Eventually you return home, never getting within a hundred miles of your destination. The SatNav gets repaired and, next time, you take a road map for backup. Question: Will you get to your destination this time?

Of course you will, and written life goals are just that. A map to guide you on your life’s journey. You won’t make it without one!

There are many ways of dealing with Goals. I have listened to many experts’ opinion, including “Anthony Robbins” and “Zig Zigler” and have come up with a simplified but powerful method which should be easy for anyone to adopt, no matter their age. Naturally the earlier you start to do this, the better off you will be on retirement.

The most important thing to do before you start, is to enter into your computer diary, a recurring task that comes up every month. Call this “Update my written life goals” Do it as I have suggested as you may, as time goes on, develop other goals for specific purposes.

Now discuss with your spouse, parent or mentor (but someone who knows you well) whether you are the type of person who would benefit by retiring early, or would get more out of life if you worked on. After this, decide on a retirement age. This is where we will set our life goals for.

Whilst you are discussing the age of retirement, think also whether you are a person who measures their success by material considerations, or the esteem of your peers or perhaps true knowledge?

Whatever it is, you need to firm up in your mind exactly what you want in life before you start. Incidentally, if you get this far and no further, you will have firmed up something of importance.

Now, take a sheet of paper and put the age of retirement at the top. 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, whatever you have decided.

Underneath, leave room for a short paragraph, and then add diminishing numbers in five year intervals – each with room for a paragraph. When you get to the five year division above your present age, carry on but with one year divisions.

Look at the following example for someone of 26 who wants to retire at 60.

As you can see, you should be able to keep it onto one sheet of paper.

When you first do this, be wild with your dreams. Don’t hold back. Practicalities will come into this but not for the first few months. The idea is to be as wild as possible for month 1. On month 2, as you update the sheet, a little practicality will enter into things, as will it with month 3 and so on. It will not settle down until month 10, 11 or 12. Then after the first year it will have firmed down into something practical.

Revising it each month is important. The revision is of secondary importance. But looking at it and refocussing on it, is of primary importance.

Asking you to look at it every month is my way of making a task acceptable. However, the successful look more often.

I know of one successful businessman who looks at it every morning when he wakes up. And, his ToDo list has a horizontal line half way down. Everything he has to do that fit in with his goals go above the line, and everything he doesn’t goes before the line. Guess which items get done first? He retired well under fifty, and swans around the world enjoying himself. Even now with interest at 2%!


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Lending money

Many of our problems have been caused by the greed of banks, and the government is intervening hand over fist.

During my experiences in Sales and Marketing, I learned about the KISS principle. This stands for “Keep it simple, stupid”.

Have you noticed, in life, how everyone tries to complicate things?

The Government is trying to rearrange our monetary systems to try to make the institutions more responsible. Rather than interfere, I would leave it up to the banking industry to police themselves.

Ah! I hear you rolling on the floor with uncontrollable laughter. But I must beg of you to hear me out first.

I would pass a simple law, along the lines of:

No institution may be permitted to accept a person’s first or main place of residence as collateral for any debt unless it is a mortgage where the deposit has been an amount of 20% or over.

Hey Presto! All problems with the banking and finance industry would be over. All mortgage lenders would insist on at least 20% deposit so 100% mortgages would be a thing of the past. Credit Card companies would not expand your credit limit automatically each year but would base it on your earnings, how secure your job is, and what other debts you have.

Personally, as a libertarian I don’t believe in central government at all, but I am also a realist and think we are going to be stuck with them for years to come. So the next best thing is to provide a framework which focusses the minds of errant institutions, whilst at the same time K.I.S.S!

Ampers for parliament.

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Learn Texas Hold’em Poker

There is a commentator and poker player with a strange name of “Grub Smith” who has put together 12 steps to learning poker for “Poker Heaven”. These are twelve short 10-15 minute videos and even if, like me, you regularly play in tournaments (five table, 50 seats) and, like me, win a place much of the time, and come first a few of those times, you can still learn. Incidentally, I do not play for money, I play on the practice tables for the sheer fun of the game.

I suggest you take these lessons seriously and start as a rank beginner at number one. Although elementary, there are still good points that may be picked up.

My suggestion is to group these lessons into six groups of two, and make sure you play at least a couple of hours poker before moving onto the next group. This way you can put into practice what you have learned, before you forget.

Follow this to see the first video

After you have watched the first video, you will see the rest of the videos in a list on the right. Occasionally you will find you have to watch an advertisement first. To bypass the advertisement, all you need to do is to double click on the picture of the correct video which is repeated underneath the main screen. Doesn’t happen very often.


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Fairytale of New York

Recorded by Shane Macgown and the Pogues, with guest Kirsty MacColl, There are many “posher” versions of them singing the song, but this version captures the whole essence of their, in my view, “masterpiece”. Listen, and if it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you have no soul.



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Working with data files

A little tip for keeping unwanted files off your hard disk. It is so simple but it saves me a lot of aggro.

Quite often you work on your word processor, spreadsheet or DTP program to prepare a data file. It might take you a few days to finish what you are doing, but you know that you will not want to keep this file on your computer after a few more days.

Simply add the word DELETE before the file name, and put it in CAPITALS..

For example, you are working on a letter asking for more details about an invoice or bill. Once you get the reply, there is really no need to keep the letter as the matter has been dealt with.

Instead of calling it: “Letter to Amazon re invoice 123456789” you can call it: “DELETE Letter to Amazon re invoice 123456789”

To save time having to remember to delete the file when it is no longer needed, you could go through your data files, once a month, checking out all files starting with the word DELETE to see whether they are still relevant.

If you use a computerised diary, make entries for all the routine stuff you have to do a private entry which won’t show up if you allow others to access your diary. For example, on the last Friday of the month you could have an entry: “4pm – Computer (DELETE) file removal”.

Pam and I use the private section for all sorts of reminders which occur every month, quarter or annually. This is so handy, especially when you have so many more important things to remember. But we put those in our diary as well!


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D-I-Y Christmas Cards

This only applies to any of you who are either feeling the pinch of our financial meltdown, or suspect they may suffer a little in the months to come.

My wife and I have made – for email – our own Christmas cards. The cards are sent out as a PDF and the recipient prints it out, folds it into quarters and plonks it on their mantelpiece. In other words, at the other end, it becomes a real card.

The first thing is to design your card. To ensure the card is not distorted the other end, make sure you have a 15mm border on each of the card’s four sides.

Draw four boxes for each corner of the card, ensuring there is a 30mm gap between the top and bottom boxes and the left and right boxes. Number each box 1 to 4. This ensures that 99% of printers will be able to print the finished result without too much leaning the wrong way. If you get my meaning. If you are technical, without too much offset.

Print out your draft and fold it into quarters. Note where each number is and what way up the numbers are. This is important and you will refer to this as you go along.

Whatever number is the front of the card is where you put the main design on. If the number is upside down, make sure your design is turned upside down as well. You can download a Christmas image from the web – in my case, my wife painted one and we scanned it in. On the back we mocked up a design advert to make it look like a proper card.

In the inside, one page has our address and phone number in 9pt and the other side has the Christmas message in large fancy print.

Then the boxes are removed – unless you want a border {best without as it makes any offset become apparent, I thought). Make sure the numbers are also removed.

Now print the card and test it and proof read it. When it passes all your tests, print or export to a PDF document. If you haven’t got one, there is a free one on the Internet.

Now you are ready to send out your Christmas cards.

We also send out a desk top published newsletter to all the friends we have had little contact with over the year, detailing all the major things we have done. Since we started well over a decade ago, many of our friends have taken up the idea. This can also be saved as a PDF and sent out with the cards.


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Do you ever get one of those days?

The following video illustrates just what I mean…

If you are a white male, living in England, this is not a dig at any of my black friends, look on it as a dig at the government, and you are on an average wage (who works seven days a week) that, thanks to Labour:

  • It will be okay to discriminate against me in the jobs market – new rule

  • special booze offers are to be banned – Queen’s speech

  • I am to subsidise savings schemes for people on tax credits

  • my tax and NI are to go up soon – pre-budget report

  • I will be asked as a taxpayer to guarantee other people’s mortgages even though I (wisely) refrained from buying a house myself

  • I am still subsidising Northern Rock and B&B as well as other banks

  • My pension has been destroyed by Brown’s stealth tax

  • not only have the very few shares I own have collapsed in value but the interest I receive on my savings are dropping through the floor.

Can’t we all sympathise with those poor people at that lovely wedding?



Ampers’ Rants

I really enjoy writing my blog. Ideally, I would write something every day but it is pointless to do so if I have nothing to say. This is why I only write four or five a week mostly, although I do, occasionally, write each day.

Today I was going through the map inlay of Google Analytics to see where my readers come from. (Google Analytics analyses my website and tells me a lot about my visitors, but never their addresses alas!)

As far as I can tell (it is a little difficult to check very small countries) my visitors come from the following:

Alaska, Canada, USA, Mexico, Venezuela, Columbia, Peru, South Africa, Ghana, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Romania, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Great Britain, Eire, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, India, Mongolia, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia and Australia.

An interesting list, and one that surprised me. I was surprised that New Zealand isn’t on it, and now know that John, in North Island, doesn’t read my words of wisdom 🙂

Another thing that surprises me are all the visitors from Eastern Europe – you know, the guys that seem to do all the work! Also Mongolia? I don’t know anybody in Mongolia!

But I am so pleased that so many people are coming to my site from so many different countries. It has really cheered me up. And I promise to keep my blog going.


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Paying low wages in developing countries.

I used to be horrified at children being sent to work by their families to work for a pittance, and for countries getting less for their products on the world markets.

However, on talking to people from some of these countries I am beginning to change my view a little.

First of all, if these companies in developing countries had to pay a Western level wage they would not be competitive, nobody would buy their goods. Then they would go out of business, and their workers would starve.

Then families who send their children to work. As horrible as this is, and as reprehensible as it appears to all of us, these children live rather than starve. And their families live rather than perish.

I spoke to one Indian lady who said it was not unheard of for a large family (eight or nine children) to pick the most intelligent and send that child to school while the rest of the family toiled to support the bright child, who may then go on to university. He or she, usually a he, would then get a good job and support the family with their brothers and sisters for life. They aren’t going to drive Lamborghinis but they will survive, and India is changing day by day, life will get better.

Is it better for children to work, or is it better for us to take the moral high ground and ensure that these children die of starvation to support our pious views? You may answer!

Here is someone else’s view of this.


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NuLab double standards.

I wonder if anything will be made of this?


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