Tag: EU

This is rocket science!

A timely video from the International Space Station (ISS)

Little did I realise when I posted yesterday’s item that a couple of subsequent actions would make today’s article easy to write (trust me it isn’t always this easy!).

Mike T., a flying buddy from my old days in England, sent me this link to a 5-minute video made up of a series of films shot from the ISS.  DO WATCH THE VIDEO IN FULL SCREEN MODE!

The details of how the film was taken and much more interesting information is at the very end of this article.

Then Martin Lack who writes the blog, Lack of Environment, submitted a comment with a link to a piece that he had written on the 19th August that I would like to re-publish in full.

Why are we still waiting for the EU to act?

What can we learn from the fact that the EU has still not stopped buying over 90% of Syria’s oil exports? If nothing else, it tells me that we need fossil fuel too much!

But I think the problem of wrong priorities goes much deeper than that… This is because the Limits to Growth argument (which underlies my concern over AGW) is, even though the protestor-in-the-street may not realise it, the root cause of all the problems we are now seeing in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Cairo, Damascus etc., etc… right through to Zimbabwe: Treating the symptoms of food shortages or corruption (or whatever they may be) will not succeed unless we address the root cause, which is the inevitable consequences of perpetual growth in consumption of resources and/or waste production on a finite planet [see E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful (1973)].

This 5 minute video makes sobering viewing, but it also perfectly summarises everything I have learnt in the last 12 months; and all I have posted on my oldMyTelegraph blog in the last 5 months!

It may not be rocket science, but can we reach Escape Velocity?

This stuff is not rocket science, but it is very unwelcome news to people with a vested interest in the continuance of “business as usual”. Unfortunately, we literally cannot go on the way we are; something has got to change…

The fact that AGW may suffer from issue fatigue, and the fact that I sometimes feel like an old-style street preacher being completely ignored by passers-by, does not change the fact that, on well above the balance of probability, we face an environmental catastrophe if we fail to take significant action within the next 5 years. Furthermore, every year we fail to act, makes taking effective action much, much harder. This is because it is the total (i.e. cumulative) amount of fossilised carbon that we (have and will) put into the atmosphere that will determine the temperature change we will see over the next 50 years or so.

Extract of paper presented by Dr Myles Allen at 4 Degrees and Beyond Conference (2009)

So a big thank you to Mike T. and Martin Lack for a number of lessons:

  • how clever man is in terms of space technology besides much more
  • the beauty of our planet – it’s all we have to live on
  • the amount of electric light that shines into outer space, as seen by the ISS.
  • how much of that lighting might be generated by coal and oil!
  • if we don’t learn to live in harmony, as in sustainably, with this planet of ours, the implications are going to be very serious.

Finally, as mentioned earlier the details of that video on Vimeo.

Time lapse sequences of photographs taken with a 4K-camera by Ron Garan fragileoasis.org/​bloggernauts/​Astro_Ron and the crew of expedition 28 & 29 onboard the International Space Station from August to October, 2011. All credit goes to them, who to my  knowledge shot these pictures at an altitude of around 350 km.  I intend to upload a FullHD-version presently.

HD, refurbished, smoothed, retimed, denoised, deflickered, cut, etc.  All in all I tried to keep the looks of the material as original as possible, avoided adjusting the colors and the like, since in my opinion the original footage itself already has an almost surreal and aestethical visual nature.

Music: Jan Jelinek | Do Dekor, faitiche back2001 w+p by Jan Jelinek, published by Betke Edition janjelinek.com | faitiche.de

Image Courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center, The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth eol.jsc.nasa.gov

Editing: Michael König | koenigm.com

Shooting locations in order of appearance:

1. Aurora Borealis Pass over the United States at Night
2. Aurora Borealis and eastern United States at Night
3. Aurora Australis from Madagascar to southwest of Australia
4. Aurora Australis south of Australia
5. Northwest coast of United States to Central South America at Night
6. Aurora Australis from the Southern to the Northern Pacific Ocean
7. Halfway around the World
8. Night Pass over Central Africa and the Middle East
9. Evening Pass over the Sahara Desert and the Middle East
10. Pass over Canada and Central United States at Night
11. Pass over Southern California to Hudson Bay
12. Islands in the Philippine Sea at Night
13. Pass over Eastern Asia to Philippine Sea and Guam
14. Views of the Mideast at Night
15. Night Pass over Mediterranean Sea
16. Aurora Borealis and the United States at Night
17. Aurora Australis over Indian Ocean
18. Eastern Europe to Southeastern Asia at Night

Whither the Internet?

A Force for Good may be becoming less good?

The Internet is clearly an extraordinary revolution, one almost as big as the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg. Amazingly, it also started out FREE and totally democratic – a fantastic boon to humanity.

However – as with everything else – it has inevitably become abused by the selfish minority that we seem unable or unwilling to deal with effectively, and for this we all must suffer.

So, because of this minority abuse the majority can expect more and more controls and bureaucratization and no doubt in the end it will be taxed as well. Indeed, I am astonished that greedy, incompetent, reckless governments haven’t already got their nasty paws on it as the next milch-cow to satisfy their insane rapaciousness.

But it is the potty EU (another giant institution that is currently sowing the seeds of its own demise through its arrogant grasping for power and control) where the most control-freakery is being displayed.

Firstly, we are apparently to have a new EU organism to “oversee” the Internet, and Estonia and France are currently vying for this lucrative (for its staff – not the EU taxpayer) little gravy-train.

Secondly, it seems that the EU now wants to log everyone’s Google searches for two years in a bid to ensnare paedophiles. Thankyou EU, but much as I hate paedophiles to be honest I do not want my Google searches logged, not even actually by Google. I have no faith whatsoever that someone, somewhere, sometime will not exploit this data even though I am completely innocent.

And anyway, as is pointed out in the above-mentioned article, this bit of overkill bureaucratization (no doubt another EU organism will have to be set up to actually do this – not of course in some run-down bit of Sicily but some posh and extremely expensive suburb of Brussels with loads of staff, secretaries, expenses and all the rest) will be totally ineffective anyway since paedophiles are far too cunning to use Google.

As for Google, is this yet another example of an organism overreaching itself? Have they gone too far for their own good with their street-level photography – amazing technology but one snoop too many nonetheless?

And returning to search monitoring, I am not sure I want to be the constant victim of oh so-clever targeted marketing all the time.  There comes a point when I simply want to be left alone and unmonitored. Sometime this data juggernaut has to be stopped, or where will it all end?

PS Is the Internet changing our brains? It is claimed people are losing the ability to concentrate. I certainly notice this in schoolkids I teach. This poses me three questions. If anyone out there is clever enough to provide answers I’d be most grateful.

A) Is it TRUE or another urban myth?

B) Does it MATTER?

C) If it does, can we DO ANYTHING about it?

By Chris Snuggs

The Foreign Policy Handbook

An outsider’s view of the European Union

Recently Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian organization that I write for, published the second issue of the Foreign Policy Handbook, a magazine on foreign policy written by and for students.

However, the fact that it’s “for students” does not mean that others aren’t encouraged to check it out!  (Who says you need to be in school to be a student, anyways?)

The European Union

My article in this issue, “The European Union: Eurocrats and the Eurosphere,” discusses a few problems that I see with the European Union.  The article begins:

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, European governments came under attack for their colonial policies in the African continent.  One of the primary claims made by pan-Africanists and other anti-European individuals was that such European policies denied the peoples of Africa the right of self-determination.  For example, the Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World, drafted at a 1920 convention of the Universal Negro Improvement Association led by Marcus Garby, stated, “We believe in the self-determination of all peoples.”  Through policies ranging from direct rule via military force to indirect rule via forced economic dependency, European governments were holding African countries back from determining their own course.

While the modern “third world” certainly is not free from the tethers of traditional western powers, the situation has greatly improved from what it was a hundred years ago.  However, the modern European governments now are directly denying the right of self-determination not to the peoples of other continents, but to the peoples of Europe itself.  Considering the rhetoric surrounding the European Union, such as a commitment to “sustainable development” and the goals of “peace, prosperity and freedom” for the people of Europe, this is a sad irony indeed.

Other articles in this issue of the FPH include:

  • “The War on Terror and Sun Tzu: Is American Strategy Sound?”,
  • “Why Conservatives Should Hate Our Foreign Policy,” and
  • “Law or Hoax? Disproving Democratic Peace Theory.”

Check out an entire digital copy for free here.

By Elliot Engstrom

Merkel Suffers Greek Bailout Backlash

I told you so!

From the BBC…

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party and its coalition allies have been defeated in regional elections in North Rhine-Westphalia.

North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

German Chancellor Merkel appears to have lost the state vote in NRW and may see her control of parliament reduced or eliminated. It’s her own fault.

Germany and in particular NRW (the industrial powerhouse of Germany) are in a serious economic situation with enforced cuts left, right and centre and yet she has loaned (aka given) billions to feckless, idle, corrupt and shambolic Greece.

The Germans have had to tighten their belts and are still paying vast sums to bring East Germany up to speed, yet Merkel feels she can fritter away her people’s money to “save the euro“. It won’t save Greece or the euro.

The Greeks fully deserve to go bankrupt and are incapable of complying with the degree of “cuts” the Germans are demanding. Other European countries will lose money if Greece defaults. Tough.

Better to suffer a one-off loss than an endless shelling-out into a black hole. No bailout of Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland or Britain. Did the PEOPLE of ANY of the rest of EU countries have ANY say in this at all?

It seems the French pushed hard for a bailout. What a coincidence that some of their insurance companies have invested heavily in Greece. TOO BAD. Greece’s problems have been well-known for years; which moron poured billions into their black-hole, retire-at-53, inherit-your-sister’s-pension, go-to-work-if-you-feel-like-it economy?

And the Greeks? They seem to feel it is the fault of the REST of us that they have to make cuts. Was a reality check ever more fully needed? Sadly, but inevitably, there will be social breakdown in Greece from which something new will emerge. What that is, one cannot say, but I do not believe it can include membership of the Euro.

The Brussels Overlords think differently. Their little Euro brainchild must be saved at all costs. But they are all personally very well off and have no problems with money, unlike the majority of their constituents thanks to the despicable fraud perpetrated on them by the banks under the appallingly-negligent supervision of a multitude of governments.

I have written about Greece several times in recent weeks since to me it is a symbol of the combination of arrogance and utter folly of many of Europe’s governments – and in particular Brussels – who have overspent wildly, who have allowed their banks to make fraudulent loans and have imposed an ever-increasing burden of bureaucracy, Human rights, paperwork and regulations on the peoples of Europe.

How we are supposed to compete effectively when we A) price ourselves out of the market and B) wildly overspend is a mystery.

Has Europe now to prepare itself for a long period of decline and retrenchment in living standards as Asia maintains its inexorable growth and raw materials rocket in price? I fear so, but it’ll be the ordinary people bearing the brunt of all this, not the increasingly-remote politicians in national governments and Brussels.

Greece is a warning for the rest of us. There is no law that says we cannot go the same way. The UK and France in particular have bloated, feather-bedded public sectors. The chickens always come home to roost, and they are now flocking rapidly towards the hen-house.

By Chris Snuggs

Greek Farce – Act IV, Scene III

P’sst!  Got a dime?

This bloke needs a reality check. If he is not going to ask for the dosh “formally” how IS he going to ask for it? Over a pint

George Papandreou

at the pub?

And what exactly are “preparatory moves”? A long sidle up to the Treasurer standing at the bar?  And how do you “prepare” to ask for 30 billion euros? Either you ask for it or you don’t? Oder?

Perhaps something is lost in translation ……

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has said his country is making “preparatory moves” to take advantage of a multi-billion euro rescue package.

He added, however, that Greece would not necessarily make a formal request for help.

STOP PRESS: Alex Brummer of “The Daily Mail” makes a very serious charge here in relation to Goldman Sachs and Greece’s financial status before entering the euro.

STOP PRESS TWO:  The BBC are reporting that Greece has formally asked for the dosh!

By Chris Snuggs

Europe Uber Alles, Pt 2.

A Guest post by Patrice Ayme

Part One ended saying:

The euro, long in planning by some European institutions, was introduced minimally, namely without the governmental apparatus generally associated to a currency. This is the way Europeans have found to progress peacefully towards greater harmony: do what is necessary, and nothing more than that, and do it with total consensus.

Everybody knew that a currency without a government to create and anchor it had never happened before, and was unlikely to endure.

The European Union

Part Two continues

That fit the European federalists just right, and could not have escaped the understanding of Paris and Berlin. As it turned out, the PIIGS’ crisis is putting back Paris and Berlin, the historical engine of Europe, back on top, and this, for an excellent reason.

“PIIGS” stand for Portugal Ireland Iceland Greece Spain. All of them ran bubble economies, partially propelled by taxes from the richest European countries (including France and Germany). It became ridiculous as, for example, Ireland was getting European subsidies while the Irish were already way richer than those subsidizing them. (OK Iceland is not in the EU, yet, but it begged to enter the Eurozone, and it has disappeared the savings of countless Brits and Dutch, which means it has some outstanding business with the rest of Europe, that it will have to sort out, after executing a few more whales, guilty as charged.)

Some acknowledge the convenience of a common European currency and easier border transits, while remaining obsessed by what they view as gigantic differences between European countries. Those quaint nationalists and parochial types obsess that core differences between countries are so strong and deep-rooted that any form of real European union is a ridiculous concept. This is triply erroneous.

Read the rest of this Post

Europe Uber Alles

Welcome Patrice Ayme

On the 22nd March, Learning from Dogs had the pleasure of a Post from our first Guest Author, Elliot Engstrom.  We were then doubly delighted to have Per Kurowski join us as our second Guest Author with his introductory Post.

Now we have the additional honour of welcoming Patrice Ayme to the growing ranks of Guest Author to Learning from Dogs.

Patrice, like Elliot and Per, also is a prolific blogger.  He describes himself as:

I was born in Europe, raised in Africa, and lived in America. So doing, I learned to compare different cultures, even during my early childhood, and to appreciate superiority of many of their traits, even the most surprising. I consider myself Senegalese, and proudly so. I studied, and know, several languages, not just Latin, and several cultures, deeply, by living through and inside them for years. I have done formal studies in mathematics and physics at three leading Universities receiving the highest degrees, and putting me in a good position to learn to differentiate between hard knowledge and wishful thinking, differently from many a common philosopher. I am a specialist of non commutative geometry, arguably the most abstract field of knowledge in existence (even hard core logic, model theory, is used in my approach).

Here is Patrice’s first Guest Post for Learning from Dogs.




The European currency, the euro, is, foremost, a solution to a problem. War. All other problems, and the euro solves many, pale in significance relative to this one.

Many talk about “problems” with the euro, and, oozing with glee all over, perceive weakness. They are right, there is weakness, but it is not European weakness. Just the opposite.

What those skeptics are seeing with their uncomprehending neurology is the further construction of the European imperium, according to its core principle: fix what needs to be fixed, but with complete consensus of the parties concerned, which means do it just so. It appears messy, because it’s democratic, and before the people (demos) can use its kratos (power), it needs to think right, which means it has to argue thoroughly. It looks like squabbling, but it is thinking aloud. Europe is not built for some parties to gain advantage anymore (as it was with Napoleon, or Hitler), but to solve problems and gain opportunities for all.

The euro is, for the first time, used as a weapon against Europe’s enemies. Hence all the squealing. Far from weakening Franco-German resolve, the recourse to the IMF adds another layer of authority to the European Communities. When the IMF, speaking in the name of Franco-German taxpayers, tell restive exploiters in Greece that they have to pay more taxes (only 6 plutocrats declare more than one million euro income in Greece, and more than 500 professions can retire at 50 years of age, whereas Germany just brought up the retirement age to 67!), they will have to submit under orders (imperare, to use the Roman notion)

The European Union

Read more of Patrice’s fascinating article

The EU and the European Taxpayer

Integrity? Here is your quiz question for today:

Which international, taxpayer-funded organisation has an unelected crony of the British Prime Minister in a high-level post (though not the highest) who earns more than the President of the United States and double the salary of Hillary Clinton?


Yes, you’re right. It is the European Union. This is an organisation of member states that in principle is supposed to be

Baroness Ashton

about creating a free, democratic and open market in Europe. It has turned into a proto-state (in the eyes of the Brusselocrats) which – therefore – has to have a “Foreign Minister”, in this case Baroness Ashton.

This is a person with very little knowledge of international affairs sent by Gordon Brown to Brussels because he couldn’t afford to lose Peter Mandelson or David Milliband. This is a person never elected to any public post, yet who receives a vast salary and benefits package higher than that of ANY of the Presidents and/or Prime Ministers of ANY of the member states of the EU.

As “The Daily Mail” points out, in addition to this very large salary the Foreign Minister also enjoys an extraordinary raft of other benefits:

“Her basic pay of £250,000 is double that of her U.S. counterpart, Hillary Clinton (who’s on £124,000). And on top of that, Lady Ashton is entitled to a raft of benefits including a £38,000 yearly accommodation allowance, £10,000 annual entertainment budget, two chauffeurs, plus thousands of pounds more in sundry allowances and – if she survives – a pension of £64,000 pa (three times the average salary in Britain) plus a “golden handshake” of over £450,000.”

All this goes hand-in-hand with billions spent on the new EU “diplomatic service”.

But hang on a minute! The EU is NOT A STATE!

The EU has no army! Baroness Ashton as “Foreign Minister” can decide on practically nothing that the key heads of government do not agree to. So what is going on here? Is all this vast waste of public money in a time of financial crisis either A) the bloated pretention of Brusselcrats who have a delusional idea of their own importance or B) another brick in the wall which one day WILL be a United States of Europe.

One can see how the thinking goes: “We’ll set up a “Foreign Ministry” so big and powerful that one day they will just have to agree to creating a single state to justify it. And of course the more it costs, the more important it obviously is and therefore the more powerful we ourselves will be. And naturally, the more jobs there will be for us to go to on the Brussels merry-go-round.

Of course, it is both A AND B. And how can they afford these humungous salaries? Well, because they can get away with it. In theory they are accountable, but in reality? How many people even know who their European MP is? Once you get onto the Euro Gravy Train it disappears out of sight. Nothing the voter says or does seems to stop the bloated upward creep of salaries, allowances and pretentions.

How ANY Brusselocrat can justify such a ludicrous salary for an unelected and essentially unimportant  “minister” is a mystery. The main justification seems to be “self-interest”. The EU is NOT A STATE. States have Foreign Ministers.

It is dishonest and amounts to theft of public funds. But that is not the WORST of it. The saddest thing is that it damages the morale of those who – like me – used to believe in a Europe united but not “statefied”. I want a free and open market. I do NOT want a United States of Europe. But this is where they want to lead us, and – like a black hole – each year sees a tiny creep in that direction, or in the above-mentioned case, a BIG creep. I also do not want a venal, money-grabbing, bureaucratic elite in Brussels which makes 80% and rising of British law.

Once again, one wonders if delusional pretentions will bring the whole edifice crashing down and the baby go out with the bathwater …

By Chris Snuggs

Greece – sick man of Europe

A looming low point in the long history of the Greek empire

It seems the EU is considering whether to bail out Greece, in danger of defaulting on its loans, so high is its debt.


A spokesman has been quoted as saying “it is unthinkable” that Greece should default and that “something would have to be done.”

I imagine the rest of the EU countries (their citizens at least, those who actually pay the taxes) are not exactly slavering over the prospect of their money being used to bail out yet another organism living beyond its means.

And this is the point, we ALL have to start living within our means: individuals, countries, the planet. ANY other course leads to doom. And as an EU taxpayer I feel very hesitant about bailing out ANY country. Not though lack of fellow-feeling (it could be us next time) but because IF you bail them out then they WON’T change their habits. We bailed out the banks; have you seen THEM change their habits? I certainly haven’t, except that they won’t lend small businesses (the TOTALLY INNOCENT VICTIMS of all this) any money. The obscene fat-cat “bonuses” are starting up all over again like mushrooms in the meadow. No, let them go bust; only that will concentrate their minds.

And let us not forget that Greece LIED about its finances in order to qualify for the EU in the first place! An end to lies! An end to the easy option. An end to my taxes bailing out an indisciplined over-spender!

By Chris Snuggs

More French Anglo-Saxon Bashing

Pres. N Sarkozy

“Do you know what it means for me to see for the first time in 50 years a French European commissioner in charge of the internal market, including financial services, including the City (of London)? I want the world to see the victory of the European model, which has nothing to do with the excesses of financial capitalism.” (As quoted by The Daily Telegraph.)

“Victory”? So we were at  war, then? Oh dear ….. you are 60 years out of date old boy, or perhaps 500 years! Does Agincourt still hurt so much?

One has for some time had the feeling that Europe’s leaders are a mediocre lot, with “statesmen” being very thin on the ground. Unfortunately, this impression has just been reinforced by Nicholas Sarkozy’s outrageous, finger-wagging gloating about the appointment of Michel Barnier to the EU post of  Internal Markets Commissioner.

From this lofty position this mighty expert on world financial markets threatens to regulate the City to “European” (aka French) “‘standards”.  The rationale will be to avoid another financial crisis by “reining in” the banks. The not-so-hidden agenda will be to sap the vitality of London so that Paris and Frankfurt in particular can cream off some of the rich pickings.

This is stupid and reprehensible for a number of reasons.

Firstly, any cutting-off of the City at the knees will not result in financial firms emigrating to sclerotic, over-regulated, pretentious, high-cost, overblown Europe but to the USA or elsewhere. True, the US is reeling at present, but I for one won’t bet on the mighty beast remaining on its knees for very long. And when it does rise up again, Europe will still be the same old bureaucratic, state-interfering, suffocating, high-tax business and financial environment that we know and hate.

Moreover, Sarko’s diatribe is extraordinarily partisan. If London’s City is a world financial centre, then this is to Europe’s advantage as much as Britain’s.  Sapping its vitality will hurt Europe, ensuring that more financial business flows elsewhere. In the electronic age, it is not fine French wines or German Wurst that will keep these companies in France or Germany.

And what sort of pro-Europe message are such comments going to send to ordinary British voters, who all polls suggest would actually vote to leave Europe if given a choice, which of course they will not be? Britain has lost almost all its once-mighty fishing industry, still pays to support French farming, has almost no indigenous motor industry any more … but at least we have the City. If Sarko’s hatchet-man gets his way, it will be regulated to its knees …..

Sarkozy’s comments were the most prattish, partisan, nationalistic and stupid comments ever made by one of the principal leaders of Europe. And apart from anything else, Barnier has to swear to uphold the interests of ALL EUROPE when taking up his post; the fact that he is French should be IRRELEVANT. The nationalistic cynicism of Sarkozy’s comments are breathtaking. There have  been frantic efforts by Barnier himself to backtrack in recent days, as London seethed at Sarko’s comments. But you can’t undo the past. Sarkozy said what he said; one has no reason to suppose he didn’t mean it.

Yes, there have been terrible excesses, but not all the City is to blame. And German and Franco banks hardly kept their snouts  out of the trough, almost ALL European banks having been clobbered,  so inter-connected is the banking world. And I for one haven’t forgotten the shameful fiasco at French Credit Lyonnais a few years ago, nor the recent £5 billion loss ($8 bn) by a rogue trader at Société Générale two years ago.

“The European Model”? It is laughable ……. Continental Europe has nothing to teach us about creating a healthy economy and sustainable jobs.

Sadly, Sarkozy’s narrow-minded nationalism have been matched by the stupefying incompetence of the British government in failing to block the appointment of Barnier, a well-known regulator à la française and the last thing Europe needs. We need reforms, yes, but throwing the baby out with the bathwater was never a good idea, and nor is it now.

And Mr President – less of that finger-wagging please …..

By Chris Snuggs