Sunday, November 12, 2017

You know it makes sense

America does not want gun control.
Gun satire

This much is obvious. The right to bear arms is enshrined for ever in the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and as such can never be changed. The word “Amendment” does not mean that the Constitution can be amended. Keeping and using deadly hardware is a Right, and is as important as other Rights such as freedom of religion, speech, and the press; fair trial; no cruel and unusual punishments; liquor outlawed; liquor legalised.

Motor vehicles are also items that are potentially deadly hardware, yet these have to be registered and insured, and the driver has to have passed a test of competence and have a licence. But driving a motor vehicle is a privilege that has to be earned through passing a test; keeping and bearing arms is a right that shall not be infringed. Any and all American citizens are allowed to have guns.

The bit about a well-regulated militia is largely irrelevant, coming into play only during a general mobilisation of true patriots against an oppressive regime.

If the government takes away everyone’s guns, it is obvious that the next step will be such an oppressive regime and the consequent re-education, internment, and eventually death camps. Just like in Britain and Australia.

So when The Man, as personified by the uniform and “License and registration please” stops a true patriot who is going about his lawful business, the correct response must surely not be to declare that “I have a permit and yes I am armed” but to use that weapon to avoid being dragged off to a death camp.

Control through the law obviously cannot work because criminals, pretty much by definition, do not abide by the law. And anyway, criminals who are American citizens retain their right to bear arms. It is a right; not a privilege, remember? The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Witness how the hundreds of people at the recent Las Vegas massacre so effectively took down the lone shooter. See how good guys with guns effectively prevented mass shootings in cinemas, schools, and churches. And the police, now not part of the oppressive regime, are always glad of valuable assistance from this impromptu well-regulated militia and can easily tell the difference between civilian bad guys with AR-15s and civilian good guys with AR-15s.

There is no way a criminal will rob someone when he knows that the victim is armed. That is why robbery never happens in the USA. Whereas over the Pond, unarmed citizens are mown down by the thousands by the armed criminal masses; something the unarmed police are powerless to prevent.

One final thought. The ease of access to firearms of many types makes successful suicide more likely than with pills. But gun suicides don’t count towards the firearm death toll. Neither do deadly shootings involving criminals shooting other criminals. Nor extrajudicial executions by the police for apparently reaching for a weapon, or running away, or being shot after being arrested, or having a tail-light out, or looking at me in a funny way. So the actual number of firearm deaths, in which otherwise law-abiding citizens shoot people, is tiny; no cause for alarm, and certainly no reason for legislation.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

What a job

Marshalling at Yas Marina Circuit
The Goat had a call out of the blue in early September regarding Paid Employment. An actual proper job, and not merely a per diem for marshalling motorsports. Excellent news: he's not done any real actual work since finishing the flat in Budapest.

One long telephone interview later, and the job was his, barring some paperwork. Just resubmit his CV in the Client's required format for the rubber stamp and Robert would be his mother's brother.

The job itself is right up the Goat's alley. It is design management and not the project management that the Goat knows and loves so well. The Goat does not fancy living and working in Lahore away from home, and the employer agreed that provided that the Goat would Roam for a few days at a time to design offices in Lahore and New Delhi, with the occasional trip to the project site up in the Hindu Kush - yes, Afghanistan - he would largely be able to work from home, co-ordinating the design teams an writing the technical reports. And as the employing firm is Australian, being paid every fortnight would be a bonus.

Start date mid-September, or so everyone thought.

At this point, the client approved the Goat's CV, that far exceeds the Terms of Reference: a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering and at least ten years experience in a relevant field. The said relevant field is not a level playing field, but a mountain. Exactly like the Hajjar mountains in the UAE but writ much, much larger. At his prospective employer's suggestion, he made a PowerPoint presentation to show off his relevant experience and, to be honest, his presentation skills. But this sits on his home computer gathering virtual cyberdust.

But, and here comes the big but, the international bank that is financing this huge project doesn't like the Goat's BSc. The previous candidate, who was approved and then for personal reasons ("Afghanistan? Are you out of your mind? I forbid my husband from...etc") withdrew has a MSc. Now the bank requires a Master's.

How careless of the Goat not to go to Oxbridge University and get his Master's automatically a year after graduating.

It is as if the Bank specified a Yaris, was offered a Patrol, and then turned his nose up at a Pajero.  

The firm is, as the Goat writes this, trying to talk sense into the Bank. However, here we are at nearly November. The site is now covered with snow and will be inaccessible until about May 2018. The firm doesn't have any realistic alternative projects, so the Goat sits at home kicking his fetlocks.

And not being paid.


Friday, September 29, 2017


The Goat is fed up with deleting spam comments from his blog. All comments will now be moderated, because the Goat is not interested in hosting sleazy adverts for Russian and Indian/Pakistani call girls.

Yes, Arooj Malik. I am looking at you.

Apologies to genuine commenters for the inconvenience.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Emporium of Expensive Epidemiology

There comes a time in a Goat's life when he has to accept that he's no longer young, and really ought to have his body checked in case anything is starting to go wrong with the plumbing.

The Goat's local clinic offers a "Male Executive Health Check", comprising 16 tests plus a consultation, all for the special package deal of a mere one thousand of your American dollars Grand: screening for possible issues with blood, heart, kidneys, liver, thyroid, prostate, bowel...

Except that the Goat's insurance provider will only cover the cheapest five of these. And by paying for the rest 'à la carte' the total cost would be over $1200. Is this price gouging by the clinic? Possible answer below.

One thing that seems certain is that this is an insurance business plan that is nothing to do with healthcare and everything to do with making money. By not covering the test for, say, prostate cancer, which is usually undetectable by its owner, such a cancer would go undetected until later when symptoms appear and "I'm sorry, but it has metastasised and you will be dead in six months."

The insurance company avoids the relatively small cost of dealing with early onset cancer, and is faced with the huge cost of cancer treatment. But the latter is time-limited. A few months following diagnosis they stick the Goat in a box. Win-win for the insurance company.

If the Goat were really worried, he'd pay for the tests. And one of the Goat's diving buddies has indicated where a full commercial diving medical can be had for a fraction of the $1000 quoted above at the Emporium of Expensive Epidemiology. "Believe me," he says, "If there was anything wrong with your body, a commercial diving medical would find it."

Hmmm, $1000 to $1200 versus $400 for a more comprehensive set of tests? We have an answer regarding price gouging. But what of all those who can't afford even that?

Those who are so keen to slag off or even dismantle the NHS or similar government-funded medicine really ought to try living in a country where there isn't one.

They might find themselves dying in a country where there isn't one.

Of treatable conditions.


Tuesday, September 05, 2017

No Fuel like an Old Fuel

Cough, hack, cough, etc.
Ecological Armaggedon is upon us, and it's all our own fault for using energy. Having spent the past several tens of thousands of years eating raw food and freezing to death in the winter, Mankind was given the gift of fire by Prometheus, much to Zeus' disgust.

For several thousand more years there were open fires and candles, and then fossil fuels were discovered and exploited. Coal, oil, gas. Enter the Industrial Revolution, releasing ancient carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in vast quantities, causing either a new Ice Age or Global Warming. Unless that's all due to sunspot activity and Anthrogenic Climate Change (or perhaps Bovogenic if cow farts are to blame) all turns out to be a politically-driven myth.

What are we to do? The petrochemical industry produces a lot of our electricity; our food (tractor fuel, fertiliser, pesticides); our drugs; our plastics; anything that needs energy to be made (so everything, then); and of course transportation.

The obvious political decision is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. In practical terms, this means discouraging private vehicle use. As banning cars would have a ruinous effect on the world even if it were possible, a first stage is to encourage motorists to buy and run more economical - and thus more ecological - vehicles. Tiny-engined cars such as Nanny Goat's Aygo sips petrol, and she is rewarded by Her Majesty's Exchequer with a vanishingly tiny annual Vehicle Excise Duty ('VED'; it hasn't been 'Road Tax' in decades). Meanwhile, gas-guzzling polar-bear-drowning bourgemobiles get hammered by the taxman when they're imported, sold, and annually taxed. Plus, of course, thirsty cars use more fuel and thus the owner gets to pay more fuel tax.

So far, so good. Loads of people cash in on these tax advantages. They get wads of cash under scrappage schemes, buy titchy cars, and pay less VED and less fuel tax. And the environment is saved: huzzah!

But with all these bribes to the motorists, the total tax revenue heading to the Chancellor of the Exchequer is reduced. "Oh dear, I hadn't thought of that," says the Exchequer. "What are we to do now?"

Simple, really. We will increase tax on everyone, so now everyone gets punished for complying with the government's wishes. Consider the huge U-turn in the UK when diesel, the erstwhile environmental saviour, is now the demonised Fuel From Hell.

And now the second part. A move to totally electric cars. Ignoring the not insignificant environmental impact of digging lithium out of the ground and turning it into batteries, where is all the additional electricity going to come from? There must be massive investment in power generation - without a corresponding increase in carbon emissions otherwise what would be the point? Renewables, yes, and nuclear fission. Fusion would be better, but we're not there yet.

Somebody is going to have to pay for all this additional infrastructure, and it won't just be the motorist. Electricity prices are the obvious target, so if the Goat charges both his cars and his bike overnight while the little old lady next door boils her kettle for a nice cup of tea while watching 'Strictly' on her gogglebox, we're both paying more for our power because of my desire for personal transport.

Is car (or motorbike, come to that) ownership going to go in the direction of "You may only have a car if you have off-street parking"? If not, expect extension leads in enormous numbers being strewn across the footways of cities. Also anticipate late-night revellers unplugging cars for a laugh to make people late for work.

The answer lies in part with electric public mass transportation. Discourage private car use by discouraging ownership. Who has a car in Manhattan? Or in central London? Or Tokyo? But the system must work well for almost everybody almost all of the time. Not everyone is a commuter into and out of the Central Business District. The Goat is reminded of nightmare trips to and from IKEA Budapest, and he's a reasonably strong and able-bodied pack beast...

Electric aircraft currently seem an unlikely proposition, though. However, wind-powered ships could actually work if some boffins put in sufficient R&D.

Or go back to some Arcadian agrarian society where all two billion of us live, work, and die within walking distance of our birthplace. We have been there and done that.


Monday, August 28, 2017

This Post is Dark and Full of Spoilers

Thrones! Now Game of Thrones now.
Game of Thrones now. Game of Thrones now.
Gonna watch it. Gonna watch it.
Gonna watch it. Gonna watch it.

There are Lannisters and Greyjoys.
In a pie you'll find the Frey boys.
Little Arya can be Faceless;
Ramsay Bolton's always graceless.

Littlefinger can't be trusted:
He's a slime-ball - that's enough said.
Little Tyrion killed his papa
With a crossbow on the crapper.

Cersei's scheming didn't aim
To have her take the Walk of Shame,
And her revenge on the High Sparrow?
Much more special than an arrow.

Jaime needed some first aid.
Now he's less handy with a blade.
And Ser Bronn just wants a castle;
Quite a lot for hired muscle.

Cross the Narrow Sea to Essos.
Watch the rise of Queen Daenerys.
'cos it surely isn't easy -
Rise from chattel to Khaleesi.

The Dothraki and Unsullied
And her dragons. Are you worried?
Missandrei/Grey Worm are besties:
Such a shame he has no testes.

In the North, at Castle Black
The Night's Watch waits for the attack.
There are doers; there are talkers;
There are zombies and White Walkers.

If they ever breach the Wall
It will be curtains for us all,
Though White Walkers hate to feel
A blade made of Valerian steel.

Plus the dragon-glass, of course,
To knock the Night King off his horse.
When the battle is upon us
Lots of people will be goners.

In the meantime, Samwell Tarly:
He learns who Jon Snow is really.
Will there ever be some marryin'
Of someone from House Targaryen?


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Watch those Air Miles

Of the numerous loyalty schemes out there, the Goat has stuck with Air Miles for many years. To clarify: these are not the frequent flyer miles dispensed by airlines, but something from "The region's most exciting loyalty programme."

Collect the miles by buying stuff or by using the credit card supplied by Red Triangles Bank; the bank that is both local and global. Actually, buying stuff with a VISA card from a shop that does Air Miles doubles up the number collected, so is even better.

Enough with the free advert.

The Goat bought his first diving watch when he started scuba diving in 1996. very quickly he upgraded it to a similar model but in titanium. A Casio DEP-610, since you ask. And very good it was too. And then, in about 2003, Beloved Wife gave him a new watch. This Casio SPF-100S has proved to be excellent and the Goat's been wearing is almost continuously ever since. And, incidentally, the guy to whom he gave his DEP-610 reports that this one is still running, although it does admittedly now look rather tired.

But because nothing lasts forever, he's been looking for a replacement so that he can still tell the time when the SPF-100S ultimately dies. Or the irreplaceable O-ring gets damaged during a battery replacement and the watch fills with salt water. Or it gets dropped, lost, or stolen. The story of the Goat's life is that when he finds something that's perfect, it gets discontinued and, sure enough, the only SPF-100S that he can find is on FleaBay priced as 'rare' and 'collector's item'. But new in box, allegedly. And in Brazil.

At around $1300, which is almost AED4800, the Goat can find something newer and cheaper that will do the job.

There's a Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Aqualand, priced at around AED 4000, or maybe a bit less, in Dubai. The Goat spotted one in Budapest for around AED 2850, and Amazon sells them for about AED 2750 plus shipping  and the inevitable 5% import duty. Solar rechargeable means that the back should never have to come off, and its analogue, so arguably looks more 'professional' than a digital LCD. However, the thing is massive, would do well in hand-to-hand combat, and would probably allow the Goat to dive without a weight belt. Anyway, it went on to the Goat's wish list for when the Casio finally slides down the curtain and joins the Choir Invisibule.

And then at last, after years of the Goat being told by various Casio retailers that "The SPF-100S is long obsolete, and no; Casio does not make a diving watch" the new Casio G-Shock Frogman GWF-D1000 popped on to the local shelves. It is, for practical purposes, an updated replacement for the SPF-100S, having the same date and time functions, the same diving functions and memory, and a whole load of other bits and pieces that the Goat would never use.

But the Frogman (which is a smaller watch than the Citizen but what isn't?) is solar rechargeable so the back should never have to come off. And the compass might be useful under water or in the desert. It's also got the atomic clock radio receiver, so should stay spot on. Except that last bit only works in Japan, North America, and Europe. A bit expensive at around AED 4000 to AED 4300 dependent on the colour of the case: inter alia vile turquoise, nausea-inducing yellow, dark blue, black and silver, black and blue. So another for the list of Definite Maybe on the Goat's wish list.

Then Air Miles dropped the Goat an email that essentially advised, "Dear Mr Goat, You have an absolute shitload of Air Miles accrued over the last several years, and they're going to expire really soon. Use them or lose them."

It turns out that Arabian Centre, one of the shopping malls near the Crumbling Villa, will redeem Air Miles for vouchers that are worth actual cash money to spend in any shop in Arabian Centre. And there's also a Casio G-Shock shop. And they had the range of Frogman watches in sensible colours. And the sales staff clearly knew the casio brand: "That's an SPF-100S you're wearing, sir. They're really good and a shame Casio discontinued them several years ago."

As if the Air Miles vouchers weren't persuasion enough, the salesman pointed out that there was 30% discount until 12th August. Sold. Less than AED600 out of the door.

Happy tenth wedding anniversary from Beloved Wife.


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