Warblers

May 1, 2013

I am lucky to have a rural property that is relatively close to a large state forest in SE Ohio.  I get to see lots of cool birdlife.  I heard this guy singing his heart out this evening, as I have the last few nights.  This time I got more than a quick glimpse, he stuck around for a photo session.  Definitely a yellow warbler.

DSLR 009 cropped

DSLR 008 cropped

A few days ago I saw this other warbler, which I think might be a yellow rumped warbler.

DSLR 024 cropped 2

I splurged on a decent DSLR last Summer, a Canon, and have to say I have been very happy with the results….  Different experience from using my old Pentax K1000…..

Thatcher’s Ultimate Legacy

April 8, 2013

I grew up in Lanarkshire and left school within days of her being elected. Over the next few years, one by one, I saw friends’ fathers and brothers being laid off as, one by one, the steel plants all closed; I was active in the campaign to “Save Gartcosh” (a rolling mill serving Ravenscraig). As the steel industry was gutted, related businesses/industries went with them.
As did so many of my friends, I was constantly struggling to find work. After 9 years I emigrated. But I witnessed communities turning into shells, rampant youth unemployment and epidemic substance abuse; the products of the deindustrialisation that occurred during Thatcher’s administrations.
People of my generation took the brunt of her policies. I never felt she had the slightest concern as regards the ramifications of what she was doing.
She owed her reelection in 1983 to Galtieri, and the ineptitude of the Labour Party. But maybe her greatest legacy is the alienation of people such as myself that have zero faith in the governing institutions of the United Kingdom.

“Independence isn’t a constitutional nicety, it’s an economic necessity”

March 26, 2013

So it’s September 18th 2014 then. Would I vote “Yes”? Of course.
Maybe my memory has let me down here, but I think it was Jim Sillars that summed it up best for me in the 1980s. “Independence isn’t a constitutional nicety, it’s an economic necessity”.
As an adolescent, I did my first leaflet drop for the SNP in 1974 in Lanark for Tom McAlpine. I well remember the “It’s Scotland’s Oil” campaign theme and the optimism that was generated. I really couldn’t have imagined that only 14 years later, after combining a PhD in the physical sciences with an intense political activism, I would be packing my bags for work. After a spell in Canada I eventually settled in the United States and, in a quirk of fate, ended-up working on research topics related to oil. This experience has fully confirmed my old suspicions about eminent politicians peddling propaganda about the imminence of dwindling production and revenues. Sure, reservoirs are depleted. However, a great deal of the original oil in place in the North Sea remains, well, in place. Technologies for its production continue to be developed. Secondary and tertiary recovery becomes feasible for implementation. Oil, produced for the last four decades, can continue to flow for the next four decades.
However, continued development of North Sea oil will have to rely on competent decision making from Westminster. Comparison of the words and deeds of successive UK governments with those of the Norwegians gives a clear idea of the model that should be followed. Recall that in 2011 the Cameron government hiked tax rates on North Sea oil production, thus threatening future investments in the sector and local employment. In 2007, foot-dragging by Westminster lead to the abandonment of a carbon capture and storage (CCS) project centered at Peterhead. Successful implementation of CCS, with BP playing a major role, could have had the potential to develop as an enhanced oil recovery project utilizing anthropogenic carbon dioxide in the North Sea. But where was Westminster?
Given I grew up in Lanarkshire, I was always fully aware of the role of the steel industry in the local economy. A trip up to Glasgow on the train from Carluke took you past Ravenscraig, Hallside and the old Clyde Iron works. I knew plenty of steelworkers, from laborers to metallurgists. I also knew that the flourishing North Sea oil industry had a voracious appetite for steel, not just for platform construction but for pipeline transmission systems and related infrastructure. When the Ravenscraig steelworks was being threatened with closure, and Tom McAlpine was busy with the “Save Scottish Steel” campaign, I well remember feeling the ludicrousness of the entire situation. So many of my friends’ fathers, and elder brothers, were steelworkers; at one time I expected to maybe become a metallurgist, too. I saw the offshore industry demanding steel. Yet Ravenscraig and the Scottish steel industry were essentially euthanized. Had Scotland become independent in the 1970s then I am convinced that, to this day, domestically produced steel would be being used for North Sea infrastructure. Families and communities would not have been torn apart. If we really are “Better Together”, why was this deindustrialization allowed to happen?

Michael Steele Should Feel Aggrieved Today

November 7, 2012

If I had to pinpoint the key moment when Mitt Romney lost the election, it would long pre-date his eventual securing of the GOP nomination.
In January 2011, Michael Steele was essentially fired and replaced with Reince Priebus. As time passed, it became increasingly clear that by taking this decision the RNC was dicing with electoral disaster. Michael Steele had articulated and taken an inclusive approach that paid dividends in the 2010 election. By dumping him and installing Reince Priebus as the new Chair of the Republican National Committee, the GOP had put in place a person that had no interest in adopting the sort of inclusive approach that would hand victory to Mitt Romney on a silver platter.
My evidence? The treatment of Ron Paul and his supporters by the RNC was atrocious.  All the way from the Iowa straw poll to the Convention in Tampa.  The Republican Party also totally failed to address big issues relating to the role of the Federal Reserve, Civil Liberties and the immediate need to drastically cut Federal spending on programs such as Medicare parts C and D.  This lead to the alienation of natural, small “l” libertarian, Republican supporters such as myself and, shock horror, the chickens came home to roost.  Obvious or what.  I had the opportunity to vote for Gary Johnson, who was similarly poorly treated by the RNC, and took it – in the swing state of Ohio, too.  Many others just did not vote.  Political blowback.

As Chair of the RNC, Reince Priebus executed appallingly bad judgement; a charge of which he will certainly not be alone.  For that he, and his cronies, should immediately quit.  They were instrumental in delivering an epic fail.  Or maybe they prefer to fail rather than do what we all know needs to be done to restore fiscal sanity.

Why I will vote third party, and for Gary Johnson, on Tuesday

November 4, 2012

I live in the swing state of Ohio. This means I have been inundated with Democrat and Republican propaganda. I have had up to 6 mailers from PACs in my mailbox in a single day. Being a “swing voter”, I guess I am of pretty high value to the duopoly. If I read all these mailers, other than to view them as a propaganda analysis exercise, I would be in danger of being less well informed than if I hadn’t received them at all. The latest stormer was from “Freedomworks”, a guide slamming Sherrod Brown. This amused me immensely as much of the information therein, or subtle variations thereof, could equally be applied to almost every Republican Congressman and Senator, Paul Ryan included. Remember that Paul Ryan was begging Congress to pass TARP. Also, in all these mailers big issues are totally absent – the role of the inflationary role and cronyism of the Federal Reserve, erosion of the Bill of Rights, and unending overseas adventurism.
I will vote for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, in large part because he addresses these issues. But also because he was not given a fair shake during the Republican primary process, and not just by the GOP itself but also by their shills in our corporatist propaganda organs.  A form of political blowback if you will.

“Hello Chaz, Ogi told me about your new car.”

July 9, 2012

“Hello Chaz, Ogi told me about your new car. A vintage Avenger, too!!! Not a lot of them about!”
“Yes Stu, only a couple of quid from Craigy boy.”
“Quite the steal, eh Chaz?”
“Maybe so, but it’s been a bear to fix. Brutal to get parts. Craigy told me Big Donkey would see me right with the documents though, but he couldn’t. Something about the Avenger’s VIN numbers. Ogi didn’t do a good enough job catalloying around the welds.”
“Can I take a look Chaz? I do like that white rose on the sun strip, looks rather spiffy. Reminds us of home, eh?”
“Yes, sure does. Do you want to give it a drive and we can go see Big Donkey and Muiry at Hampden? See what they think?”
“Sure, that’s great! Who’d have thought I’d get to drive a vintage Avenger! Great stuff! I hear it is eco-friendly and runs on ethanol?”
“Yes, that’s right. The finest red wine and succulent lamb. Only the best for my vintage Avenger!”
“Got to say that it runs well for an 1872 Avenger, was a vintage year Chaz. You are a fortunate man!”
“Hey, there’s Big Donkey and Muiry at the bottom of the Hampden steps. Look Stu, they are arguing with somebody. Who is it?”
“Oh, that’s some muppet from Raith. I’ll roll down the window and invite them for a test drive. Neil, David, Turnbull – you want a run in Chaz’s Avenger?”
“Haw Donkey, whit you think. Fancy a birl? Hutton’s a feartie and he’s no comin’!”
“Sure, I’ll come. Four can comfortably ride in that Avenger David. Hutton can just walk for all I care!”
“Allright lads, get in – this is the four door model.”
“Look guys, sorry. But something isn’t right here. The Avenger that Craig got from Minty was a two door. This is not the same car.”
“Och Turnbull ya muppet, yer heid’s nippin’. Same motor, ya jealous git. Green wi’ envy, eh Chaz!!!”
“No, sorry David you are wrong. Look Stewart and Neil, contrary to what David is saying this is most definitely not the same car. OK, the VIN number at the front match’s Minty’s and Craig’s Avenger, but the front was cut-off and then welded to the back of another right-off. This is not the same car! You been at it Charles? Cutting-up and welding together write-offs and passing them off?”
“Look Turnbull, only you would bring that up. It’s perfectly road worthy! And lots of people like Avengers, I’m doing this for the greater good.”
“Charles, this vehicle is not roadworthy. Craig’s car was a right-off. Hector put him off the road. It is not safe and you know it. Hector is mad enough as it is. Craig tried to take it to Europe and wrecked in Malmo. It’s a mystery why Hector never impounded it and broke it for spares, and could still. Parts of a vintage Avenger can command a good price!”
“Ah shut it ya big feartie. C’mon lads, let’s get gaun. Am in the back wi’ Donkey. Chaz you drive and Stu navigates. Yer just a muppet Hutton. Lets go frighten yer pals.”
“Look guys, I appeal to your better judgment. Driving old Avengers welded together from a scrapyard is not safe. When the welds fail, don’t come crying to me!”

For Part I of this story:

http://hydraargyrum.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/nice-car-you-got-their-craigy-boy/

More parts to follow!!!!

Randorsement of Romney: Gradualism in Politics

June 8, 2012

Few events surprise me, but one did yesterday – seeing Rand Paul endorse Mitt Romney on FoxNews. The resultant apoplexy from certain segments of the “Liberty Movement” is not surprising, and regrettable. I did think an endorsement would happen, but not until much later. Paul Jr is seeking to advance his limited government agenda. Given the nature of politics and the innate conservatism of the public (to maintain the status quo) this will occur at a snails pace – rather than by a rapid process. This does not suit plenty of people, but gradualism is usually the most sustainable path forward in politics. So I may disagree with this “Randorsement” at this time, especially when his father Ron Paul is still collecting delegates for the Republican convention, but I commend him for his thinking.

Plausible Deniability: The Rangers Fiasco

June 1, 2012

The Rangers fiasco is now all about “plausible deniability”. I generally don’t do conspiracy theories, but I cannot shake the feeling that prospective owners and the administrators simply don’t want to be seen to put the final bullets into the corpse. Rather, they’d have others do the dirty work for them and – such as with the transfer ban (in actuality about the mildest sanction imaginable) appeal – are seeking to expedite the process. The response from the SPL/SFA has been (at best) feeble. Now its going to come down to UEFA/FIFA diktats to the SFA. This gives the prospective owners/administrators(/liquidators) plausible deniability as they attempt to rally the Rangers supporters around a “Newclub” or “Airdire United II” whilst attempting to legally escape from their straightjacket, plus make a packet in the process. Might just work, given enough complicity (and desire for plausible deniability, too) from the SFA/SPL(/SFL), connivance from other clubs, succulent lamb, and sufficiently gullible supporters (of which Rangers appear to have thousands even after all that has happened). But given that this situation is now on FIFA/UEFA’s radar and the potential level of moral hazard (particularly for HMRC) it’s getting increasingly hard for me to see how this isn’t about to get even messier.

“Nice car you got there Craigy boy”

May 31, 2012

“Nice car you got there Craigy boy”.
“Aye Chaz, braw eh? Took it aff Big Davie’s hauns, gied us a deal. Bit o’ a steal.”
“Chassis looks a bit bent.”
“Aye, but no bad fur a quid.”
“One pound, you got quite the deal!”
“Mare than the chassis bent, hale motor. Helluva expensive tae run an’ aw…..”
“4 star?”
“Naw alternative fuel – succulent lamb and finest red wine.”
“How’d you get the MOT on it if it’s so bent?”
“Dawdle Chaz, nudge and a wink tae big Donkey an’ he sees us right. Aw in the haunshake in these pairts.”
“Very patriotic paint job I see.”
“Aye – red, white and blue. Big Davie did a braw joab. Redid the inside, used tae be loads mare orange. Changed the number plate frae FTP 1690 tae EBT SDM. Pure dead classy. See the braw wee bear hingin’ frae its neck frae the mirror?”
“Hillman Avenger?”
“Aye, dinae see monay oh them nooadays. Oh, an’ talking o’ Avengers, he tried tae get that burd frae that TV show in the back o’ it wan time. Didnae go fur the flute music blaring out the windaes. Thought the beat o’ the Lambeg drum would get her goin’.”
“That tax disks looks a bit dodgy. Been at the clipart again?”
“Och, Hector’s oan ma case aboot it……gieing us grief the greetin’ faced get”.
“Penalty points?”
“Oan appeal. But got third party fire and theft oan it. Mibee torch it. Big Davie didnae want me tae break it fur spares. Loadsa memories.”
“Torch it! A vintage Avenger! What if your caught red-handed?”
“Aye, suppose so Chaz. That widnae dae. The wee bear an’ his pals might come get me an’ gie me a doin’.”
“Tell you what Craigy, lets do a deal. I’ll take it off your hands for 2 pounds. I’ll get some chums to loan us some cash to do it up”, after all it is a vintage Avenger. You can then get to drive in it occasionally.”
“Brilliant. A birl in it wid be braw. Big Donkey will see ye right oan the MOT. Just dinae take it tae Europe. These Krauts and Frogs will be all ovr ye.”

“The Producers” as “The Rangers”

May 7, 2012

I recently read a remake of Mel Brooks’ 1968 classic “The Producers” playing out in Glasgow. Renamed, “The Rangers” the major roles fall to mysterious past, present and future owners. In cahoots with their accountants, they hatch a plan to rip off Scottish football supporters, played by “Little Old Ladies” in the original.
The plot involves secretive accountants coming in to audit “The Rangers’” books. They soon realize that madcap schemes have left them over a hundred million pounds in debt. The amount is so implausibly massive that it dawns on the accountants that executing administration for the benefit of the creditors is futile. However, they realize that their client is no ordinary business, with tentacles firmly gripping the highest level of governance for the sport. By being able to access these cronies, they can attempt to eliminate their client’s toxic debts. The connivance of witting or unwitting co-conspirators becomes essential to execute their plans. They draft in a mysterious American to lend credibility to their scheme.
The owners, accountants and wannabes launch their bail-out scheme, ably assisted by an all-star-cast performing and pandering across Scotland’s media outlets. A skeptical Scottish Football Association baulks, but the Scottish Premier League – promising manna from the Sky – saves the day for their heroes.
The story concludes with the perpetrators smirking smugly on the steps of the SFA offices at Hampden, after they have again fleeced the “Little Old Laddies.” However, as they leave the scene Michel Platini enters from UEFA and suspends the SFA indefinitely, as the bang of Lambeg drums is heard in the distance. Scottish professional football withers and dies.


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