Friday, 25 November 2016

Introducing Mac

This is Mac. He's a Dogue de Bordeaux, also known as French Mastiff, and four years old.

There is something strangely fortuitous about the arrival of a Dogue de Bordeaux in our home so soon after we'd taken our very enjoyable holiday in the part of the world from which the breed originated.

Anyway, Mac came to us by way of our contact with the breed rescue society. He was an emergency case, since his owners were days from emigrating and his planned re-homing had fallen through, not as a result of any fault of his.

We were allowed to foster him immediately and to convert that into permanent adoption after a home inspection.

Mac has settled in wonderfully well. He enjoys long walks on the moors where he can practise all his doggy skills and run about off the lead. In fact he runs so much he's already building up new muscle in less than a month since his arrival.

In the house he's very well behaved and friendly, but he has a good 'I spy strangers!' bark and a set of jaws that should prove very effective in deterring any trouble.

He arrived with an unhealed wound from a recent operation, but that's now cleared up, leaving him superbly athletic and full of bounce, if inclined to get rather dirty!

Dogue de Bordeaux having fun!

Thursday, 10 November 2016

US Election Hysteria

Everyone please take a deep breath, sit down and count to ten.

In the great scheme of things, the success of a protest candidate in a reasonably democratic election should not rank very high on the scariness scale.

It has been my feeling for a long time that democracy was decaying into a shell of itself with the rapid growth of a class of professional politicians that had little or no idea of the problems confronting the folk they allegedly represented.

Brexit came as a shock to this class when if they had being doing their job properly it might not even have happened, let alone come as a bolt from the blue.

The Beltway politicians in the US are similar in this respect to the London-centric UK political elite, a similar class in France, Germany, Holland etc. In Scotland the SNP are riding a wave of inchoate (and innumerate) populist revolt against the system.

It's forty years since Lord Hailsham drew attention to what he called 'Elective Dictatorship'. The re-energising of the whole process is overdue and sadly the professional political classes would not listen any other way.

Of course it remains to be seen if they will listen this way. 

In the words of the old Chinese curse, we live in interesting times.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Writers of the Future 33 Q4

Here's a piece of UK news which only accidentally coincides with the US election.

No seriously.

I finally managed to break my streak of consecutive Honourable Mentions and one Silver Honourable Mention in the Writers of the Future competition. My entry for Quarter 4 of Volume 33 made semi-finalist, which means I can look forward to a personal critique from David Farland, the coordinating judge.

The exact numbers of the international field for this contest are not published, though it is believed to be comfortably into four figures. In a typical quarter there are 8 finalists and 8 semi-finalists.

So near and yet so far!

The irritating thing is, I have more than a suspicion I know the precise paragraph that let me down. I can't think why I didn't cut it on the final edit.

Nevertheless, as Hitchcock said of his lifetime achievement award: This has encouraged me. I shall go on!

Monday, 7 November 2016

A Weighty Judgement

We live in a representative democracy, not a popular one. At least such appears to be the basis of the Appeal Court Judgement insisting parliament be consulted before the triggering of Lisbon Article 50 can initiate the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

The European Communities Act of 1972, we are told, conferred rights upon UK citizens which only another parliamentary decision can remove.

Now my understanding was that UK Common Law is framed upon a different basis from Roman Law. The latter, as applied in continental Europe, grants citizens specific rights with the state held to be the source of those rights. The former operates upon the assumption that the citizen has the right to do anything that the law does not specifically prohibit - in other words the state is the servant of the citizen not vice versa.

The meld of these two systems during our membership of the EU has been an uneasy compromise, but I for one would be reluctant to accept that the Roman system has entirely superseded our own superior one.

Accordingly I would argue that the Act in question confirmed rather than conferred UK citizens' rights and hence the citizens can themselves determine whether they wish the continuance of the same.

Given that the citizens have made such a determination, it seems superfluous (to say the least) that parliament, which in the UK holds its sovereignty from the people, should be required to confirm that the people have made the correct decision.

Everyone knows that the people were denied a say in this issue for forty years because all major political parties supported the principle of EU membership. Even the formation of UKIP did not end this at the parliamentary level because our first past the post electoral system is so heavily weighted in favour of the status quo.

Therefore it is obvious any parliament would inevitably hold a majority of Remainers and that a referendum would be the only way for the popular will to be expressed.

The Referendum Act was framed in such a way as to make the plebiscite advisory rather than mandatory, but it was also clearly the will of parliament that the people should decide.

The EU has already set several dangerous precedents by insisting on the overthrow of democratic decisions in other countries.

The danger is now that the letter of the law will be used to thwart its spirit. Parliament should think carefully before bringing UK law into disrepute in this way.