Monday, March 16, 2015

Entertaining the Norskies

We’ve just had our Norskies (son and granddaughters) here for a couple of weeks, and very nice too. The exit was not so pleasant, because of our local Airport Management’s policy of pissing all over people who schedule their departures on Saturdays and Sundays. What a shambles it was last weekend.

It reminded me of Athens airport in 1976 when I met my Mum off the plane from Australia. Poor Mum thought she’d died and gone to hell. Passengers and greeters and farewellers in mobs; cases and packages strewn around getting trampled underfoot by goats and camels and who knows what-all. It was like wandering in the wake of an earthquake. Being trapped in the middle of a thousand milling sheep back on the farm was much less dusty and disorganized, she reckoned.

It was like that on Saturday at our international airport. Two (count ‘em!) airline ground-staff were on hand to guide five or six hundred milling sheep (as it were…) to their respective check-in desks as well as the TSA security line that stretched the entire length of the building both inside and outside. For the record, the two ground-staff were employed by Jet Blue and Delta.

Nobody from American that I could see, nobody from United, nobody from Cayman Airways. Shame on the absentees: credit to the unflappable reps from the two good guys. What a slap in the face to all the tourists and businessmen whose last impression of Cayman was of Third World incompetence.

Except for the departure shambles, it was a super holiday for our family. Linda took time off from her part-time job, and swam with the girls every morning at the little cove down the road. Ross and I did it a couple of times with them, but we were poor substitutes. The girls adore their father, and tolerate me; but Mamma Linda is the main attraction in all circumstances. She cooks with them and takes them up to the Turtle Farm and the Dolphin place, and the Agricultural Fair, and even a tennis knock-around on a friend’s court on the south side.

She it was who dug out the Scrabble and the Boggle, and taught them all the English words and spellings. Ross and I gave an exhibition of Championship Monopoly (Ross’s World Championship appearance was the subject of my January 2013 blog Monopoly Money). Fortunately, the younger one is old enough now not to mind getting thrashed in table games.

The highlight of the vacation was a one-day “resort course” Scuba lesson. For one day back in 1993 Ross would have been the youngest PADI instructor in the world, and he has never lost his teaching skills. But after leaving Cayman he let his insurance lapse, and without a current card he can’t rent tanks and equipment for others. So he wore Linda’s gear and watched a young professional diver give the lesson.

He (Ross) never seriously considered making a career as an instructor. Piloting our local tourist submarines was the closest he ever came to an underwater career. Above my chair as I write this is a head-on photograph he took of a turtle in the wild when he was thirteen. He’s quite proud of that, but only in a “been there, done that” kind of way. Linda and I would never part with it.

The girls take their father at face value, the way kids do. His exotic history is only half-listened-to, when we refer to it. Maybe it’s a bit too exotic to appreciate, for youngsters raised in the protective custody of a Scandinavian welfare-state. The older girl has had her own exotic adventures – Mayan minders in Guatemala and Peru, and the tropical diseases associated with a hippy lifestyle in those parts – but they are lost in the mists of toddlerhood.

There aren’t many opportunities for Scuba divers in Norway’s frozen waters besides the offshore oil wells. But - who knows? The lesson here in Cayman may have given our two the taste for more diving – and maybe, even, the taste for a life in places without frozen waters, one day.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Global Warming, Global Cooling

Ross and I agree on most things in life, but the fuss over the changing climate isn’t one of them. We’re not scientists or climatologists, so our opinions are based on what’s reported as being the opinions of those who are. The real question for us is: which of the two competing sets of scientists and climatologists do we believe is telling the truth.

Every thinking person in the world believes in “climate change”, of course. Who could not? Winters and summers are colder than they used to be, in places – and hotter than usual in other places. Droughts are dryer: floods are wetter. Hurricanes are fiercer but fewer, except when they’re not. Sea-ice at the Poles is shrinking, or it is expanding, depending which set of observers is telling the story.

Unless we lower our consumption of oil, the planet is doomed - also our consumption of spray deodorants and Windex. Yet politicians and their sponsors all fly off to faraway conferences in their private planes once or twice a year, staying in centrally heated luxury hotels, so perhaps it’s doomed anyway. Fuel saved by conscientious households is all diverted to Imperial armies and their suppliers; won’t that doom the planet anyway? Better (for the world) to deny the armies than the householders, wouldn’t you say? I would.

My son and I both distrust liars. We don’t tell lies ourselves, and become distressed when we encounter blatant liars. We’re never quite sure how to handle them. He has been a wonderfully forgiving person all his life, and tends to give second chances - sometimes even third chances. I’m not, and I don’t. For me, once is enough. Life’s too short to tolerate habitual liars.

I remember the manufactured panic over Saddam’s WMDs. We were 45 minutes away from a mushroom cloud over London, the liars told the Western press, and the press told us suckers. The politicians and bureaucrats thirsted after war and bloodshed, and had a vested interest in those things. The sheep didn’t doubt the mass media, and let the bloodshed proceed on the nod. A million civilians died; millions more were traumatized, physically or mentally or both, and most of them will never recover. The perpetrators shrugged, and have never felt remorse.

How can such a monstrous lie and its enablers be forgiven by anyone with any moral values? Hitler’s willing executioners (that was the title of a book about them) have as much claim to respect as those monsters.

The same monsters and the same obedient reporters are today pushing another Big Lie in respect of the world’s changing climate. Instead of WMD, today’s selected enemy is AGW. The pushers don’t care whether AGW is true or not; they only care that the sheep can be manipulated to the point of believing it.

 In October of 2013 I wrote a blog-post called SUM TING WONG. Google will lead you to it if you search for that title with my name in front. That was the name of the captain of a Korean passenger jet that clipped the perimeter-fence at San Francisco’s airport, announced to the nation in all solemnity by a TV network reporter on the day, reading from what was typed and shown on the screen. The other officers in the cockpit were solemnly reported as WI TU LO, HO LEE FUK, and BANG DING OW. I kid you not.

The same degree of diligence goes into all that they do. By and large, only the “alternative media” questions the official versions of events - from Saddam’s nuclear weapons and the names of Korean airline pilots, to the casual defeat of the world’s most sophisticated national defence-system in 2001, by nineteen barefoot Arab boys with a dozen fifty-cent box-cutters.

It is independent researchers who genuinely seek alternatives to suspicious narratives – the Malaysian Airlines planes, the Charlie Hebdo shootings, the Ukrainian civil war, the threat of Global Warming. Mind you, the independents’ conclusions aren’t always right. Sometimes – when it suits Big Brother – the official versions are right.

One day, Sum Ting Wong really will be the name of an airline pilot. One day, either Global Warming will be proven to be the fault of mankind, and all the billionaires’ private planes will be grounded for the common good; or, Global Cooling will be proven, and reckless fuel usage will be encouraged. Hasten the day.