Archive for February, 2009
The Looming Collapse of European Banking
by Gary North
The banking system of Europe is at the edge of the abyss. A brief story by The Telegraph revealed this last week. The original was almost immediately deleted. A new version was substituted.
You can see the original headline on Google:
European banks may need £16.3 trillion bail-out, EC document warns …
There are dozens of these links. I read the story last week. I saved the link. But, lo and behold, when I clicked my saved link on Monday morning, the story did not mention a specific figure.
There was a reason for this. The editors at The Telegraph had taken out the following paragraphs:
European Commission officials have estimated that impaired assets may amount to 44pc of EU bank balance sheets. The Commission estimates that so-called financial instruments in the trading book total £12.3 trillion (13.7 trillion euros), equivalent to about 33pc of EU bank balance sheets.
In addition, so-called ‘available for sale instruments’ worth £4trillion (4.5 trillion euros), or 11pc of balance sheets, are also added by the Commission to arrive at the headline figure of £16.3 trillion.
Fortunately, web sites around the globe have posted the deleted paragraphs.
It is a sad case but now, when I leave the house with my camera I am afraid to photograph Terrorists, Gangsters, Feral children, child molesters and policemen.
According to new anti-terrorist laws you could, if the police decide to prosecute, be interned at Her Majesty’s pleasure, for up to ten years for photographing a policeman.
It is sad that the general photographing public have to categorise the police with terrorists, child molesters and gangsters but I guess you can blame the present government for this.
I use Gmail, or as it is known to people in the UK, Googlemail.
I use my address to roam constantly all over the Internet and have had the address for as long as Google have offered email through Gmail. I have six other email addresses, one of them has been in operation for about twenty years. They are all fed into Google.
Why do I do this? Simple, because Google has the most useful anti-spamming software around and although I get in the region of a hundred spams a day, Google traps most of them and I doubt if I get more than one spam a month in my IN Box.
The reason spammers are stupid is that they do not weed out all the Gmail addresses from their lists of addresses. Whenever they send spam to someone with Gmail, the recipient never sees it, but it does give Google extra chances to hone their software to perfection. Surely Spammers must fear Google eventually releasing their anti-spamming software to ISPs all over the world?
If they do, the fact that it is almost 100% accurate will mean the end of spammers everywhere.
Slowly, day by day, the Government is bringing in new laws that insidiously take away more and more of our freedoms. Nobody notices, and it will be too late to fight back when we wake up and there are no more rights left.
I am reminded of Pastor Martin Niemöller who wrote And then they came for me. It is interesting that this man died in 1984. when Eric Arthur Blair’s book, written under the pen name of George Orwell; 1984, describes what we in Britain, and in America, are now facing. The “thought police” add to the loss of our freedoms (Carol Thatcher and Prince Harry). Incidentally, if you are left of centre the darlings of the intellegenzia let you get away with it (Jonathan Ross).
Niemöller’s poem is listed below. There are several versions but this was his favourite and the one he preferred to see quoted:
“In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”
The essence of Niemöller’s words were put to music by Christy Moore, an American fold singer, in his song Yellow Triangle–which I append below:
It is unfortunate, but the few who are aware of what is going on are not able to fight it, and those who are unaware are too busy fighting to keep body and soul together in these troubled times, so can only in part be blamed for the loss of their independence and freedom. It’s all very tragic.
I read, many years ago, that the EU have plans for switching riot police to different countries to counteract any reluctance of the police to fire on their own kind. For example, the British police will serve in Spain, The Spanish in France, the French in Britain and so on.
The bad news is, switching to voting Conservative at the next election may slow things down a little, but it will not stop this onwards encroachment of our freedoms. Although most of our laws come from the EU, our politicians, unlike those in mainland Europe, don’t pick and choose what is best for their people, ours obey every single instruction from the unelected commissioners in Brussels.
Anyone for a bent banana?
I only realised, a little while ago, that my two favourite songs from the Contemporary age (for me, at 69, anything after the sixties is contemporary) were both sung by Whitney Houston.
This video of a song was one of those adopted by the 1988 Seoul summer Olympics on their CD of music of the games. It is called One Moment in Time and although showing the dedication of an Olympic participant, I would think it might have also been an example of her own dedication of reaching the top of her profession. Enjoy:
Apart from the singing, the music, in the middle, is lovely.
Now here’s a fascinating subject. People love it or hate it, but first a potted history.
Astrology has been around, on earth, for about 10,000 years. In the days of Alexander the Great, Ptolemy wrote a book on the subject (I have read this but 90% of each page consisted of footnotes so I never really got to grips with it). Several astrologers of renown existed in the middle ages and the fact that it has been around for so long indicates that there must be some elements of truth in the subject. This is very potted but a full history can be found in Wikipedia!
I first got involved when I acquired a TI 59 programmable calculator and the attachable printer (PC100C). The calculator had 1,000 program steps and 100 memories and tiny magnetic cards could be used to save your programmes. A friend suggested I wrote an astrology program after I complained I didn’t really know what to do with it. I laughed, Astrology, no way! He explained that drawing an astrological chart was astronomy and the astrological part only came into being when people tried to interpret the chart. OK I said and set to work. In the end, using twelve magnetic cards, I had built a program to work out the planetary positions, with the help of an American nautical ephemeris. “What do I do now?” I asked.
He suggested I came to a meeting and learned to interpret the chart. “No way!” I retorted. “Astrology is not for me!”. When he explained that, in Astrology meetings, there was a ratio of seven girls to one bloke, I was immediately hooked and came along that every evening.
That was how I became involved in this very fascinating subject. After drawing up my chart, the first thing I learned was that I was a Leo and not a Cancerian. It seems that the uninformed go by their sun sign but that is the secondary sign amongst those in the know. It seems that a sun sign is easy to work out, but that divides the world into only twelve groups. The Ascendant is the most important sign, but as there is a new Ascendant every two hours this is too difficult for most to work out. My Ascendant is Leo so, astrologically speaking, I would be known as “A Leo with sun in Cancer”. This then divides the world into 144 groups. A little more accurate than the original twelve.
The third sign that is important in one’s make-up is the moon. This now divides the world into 1,728 groups. Then we have the Moon’s node, the Mid-heaven, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Pluto. Taking the position of each of these factors now divides the world into 8,916,100,448,256 groups (nearly nine trillion and there are only six billion people in the world).
Then we have the house systems which multiplies the above by another 12, and all the specific angles between the planetary bodies which could then give many dozens of extra amounts to multiply our base 12 by. So the short answer is NO, astrology does not divide the world into twelve groups of people. Only people unaware of the subject do that.
It is my own believe that the main problem with astrology is astrologers or, to put it in a kinder way, I just don’t think the human race is ready for the accurate knowledge that astrology may one day put at our fingertips. Mind you, when I was younger and went to parties, I always had all the woman surrounding me asking me to guess (usually very accurately) what they were like. Alas my knowledge, much to Pam’s relief, has all but disappeared.
There is a group in America called Clairvision who have built a web charting service which is both accurate and free. But bear in mind that you need the place of birth data (town or village is usually enough), your date of birth, and your accurate time of birth. Bearing in mind the moon moving through up to three signs in a day, and the Ascendant moving through twelve signs in a day, the more accurate you can make this the better. Certainly try and get it within at least a quarter of an hour. Go on, build your chart here! Clairvision also run a free on-line astrology course. When downloading the interpretation of your chart, bear in mind that it requires skilful interpretation. However, it will give you an overall picture of yourself. Tip: The tighter the aspects the stronger the trait may be applied. Don’t worry, that will make sense when you start to read the interpretation.
Carl Gustav Jung allowed his counselling staff to use astrology. But only as a guide for asking questions. Nevertheless, a skilful councillor could ascertain as much about the client within an hour’s session as others not using astrology could ascertain in three sessions.
It has to be remembered that the astrological chart is a map of the heavens at the moment of birth only. During one’s upbringing, factors could change through the interaction with parents, siblings, friends, teachers, colleagues and employers. Not to mention one’s physical environment.
Changes can also come from within when one realises they have a trait which they are not entirely happy with. Think of your birth chart as a map, without which you could not find your way to your chosen destination. The chart shows you which traits you may want to change.
My blogs are kept short as they are on the Internet and it is not beyond a reader investigating further if my jottings have awakened an interest for further knowledge. So, dear reader, don’t be lazy and as “Sergent Carter” said to “Inspector Regan” in The Sweeny, in the sixties, “Let your fingers do the walking” although in this case it referred to the printed Yellow Pages!
Jacqui Smith’s second home – I will let yesterday’s newspaper tell this story…
Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith has claimed more than £116,000 in Commons expenses for a ‘second home’ while effectively lodging with her sister.
Ms Smith claims the maximum parliamentary second-home allowance, currently a tax-free £24,006 a year, on the detached house in her West Midlands constituency, where her husband and two young children live and which she bought for £300,000 five years ago.
She is able to do so because she has told the Commons authorities that her ‘main home’ is a house in London owned solely by her sister, Sara, where she stays on some weekdays.
Clint Eastwood – has just made another successful film; Gran Torino. Clint, at 78 years of age, is showing no signs of slowing down! Long may he reign! His career spans 53 years of acting and 37 years directing! This film is what Hollywood terms as a low budget film ($30M) and, amazingly, only took 32 days to complete. It almost recovered its cost on the first weekend ($1M short) and its debut was at number one! It has since gone on to make over 300% profit in a matter of weeks!
The film doesn’t make a big deal with continuity, and in one scene there is a doll used for a baby, instantly recognisable. Clint looks, believe it or not, 78 years old! He doesn’t care about much other than making a good, no great, film!
Google and read the reviews, you will see this is a film to go to, and ladies, over 50% of the audience are women. And whenever Clint does something great, just listen to the geriatric audience cheering! I’ll be amongst them soon!
University of the Third Age, or U3A as it is called for short. No, this is not something that Tony Blair thought up with his “third way” ideas! U3A started out in France but has now become international. It is for people who have retired and the general idea is that those who have good knowledge of any particular subject impart their knowledge to others who wish to learn more about the subject.
Pam and I attend the Hampstead U3A group which hires the basement of the old Belsize Park Town Hall. They have dozens of subjects which range from learning languages, to art and drawing, to politics and history and a huge gamut of other subjects. Each class lasts for one hour and classes start and around 10:00 am and go through to 4:00 pm Mondays to Fridays.
A huge lecture theatre is hired on Monday mornings and lectures this year have been by the Alison Weir (author and Historian), Tony Palmer (film-maker) Steve Norris (politician) Peter Shore (writer-critic) Lord Butler (civil servant), Lord Adair Turner (climate change) and so on. There is an old African tribal saying “the death of an old person is like the burning of a library” (Words slightly changed to be more meaningful.)
Authors and Google – Are you thinking of writing a novel? Then why not use Google Maps to portray accurate information if you are writing about a country or a city you have never been to. Google Street Scenes will help you bring your article to life and convince those who have been there that you have as well. Use the Google search engine to find out more about the area you are writing about. Use Google Trends to find out what the masses are thinking on any particular subject. Everyone has one good book in them, start writing!
Racism – I think we make too much fuss about racism. I don’t hate people from the Indian continent because of the Pakistanis hated for Indians, or because of the caste system of segregation both in India and Iran. Or the hatred between the Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims in Iraq. Or the apartheid situation between tribes in Africa, such as the Mashona hating the Matebele in Zimbabwe, or the mass extermination of the Tutsis by the Hutu in Rwanda (500,000 killed in 100 days in 1994).
But if one white Englishman says “damn you” to one militant black in this country all hell breaks loose. Incidentally, was the apartheid in South Africa worse than the one in Zimbabwe or Rwanda? Yes! According to the media.
The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass killing of hundreds of thousands of Rwanda’s Tutsis by Hutu militia. Over the course of approximately 100 days, from the assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana on 6 April up until mid July, at least 500,000 people were killed. Most estimates indicate a death toll between 800,000 and 1,000,000.
Last but not least; Esperanto – Many of you will have thought Esperanto is dead. But it isn’t and the reason why it has never made the mainstream is very much the same reason why Linux has not become more popular as a computer operating system. The reason is quite simple, it is controlled by the Geeks.
The geeks do not want the “great unwashed” to take part. Yes they want it to grow, but slowly so they can keep control.
So if it is not widely used, how do they benefit? The answer is quite simple really. Because it is a small community, people are more friendly. Someone who speaks Esperanto can go anywhere in the world without knowing the country’s language. They contact the local Esperanto group and the attend a meeting when they get there. People at the meeting welcome them and offer to show them around. They only need to know Esperanto which is the easiest language in the world to learn. For example, There are no irregular verbs or having to think if a word is masculine or feminine – remember trying to learn French or Italian?
If you type “Esperanto” into your search engine you will get up to 2,500,000 hits! More than enough to show you the language is alive and well, and living on the Internet!
You can learn the language through books, CDs or web courses and once you have learned, you can email like-minded people in every country in the world. And visit them on holiday!
Many years ago an experiment was tried. Two identically bright classes of school children were chosen. One learned Esperanto in their first year, and French in year two and year three. The other class learned only French for the three years. Guess which children could speak French better? Yes, the ones which learnt Esperanto first.
This doesn’t mean that knowing Esperanto helped them learn French better, but by knowing two languages (English and Esperanto) they had more knowledge of language differences to draw from as it is well known that a third language is always easier to learn than a second language.