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Seedy
Golden Oldie
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Joined: Feb 21, 2012
Posts: 6243

Location: Sofia, Dupnitsa, Lincs

PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2018 10:51 am 
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Xanthos wrote:

*the 80's babies are turning into the most obese Brit cohort ever, and will all die young!


See - every cloud has a silver lining! Wink
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Xanthos
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Joined: Sep 15, 2016
Posts: 370

Location: UK p/t + Bg p/t; Bg f/t in 09/17

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2018 2:27 am 
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Well, we've come full circle in the riddle of the human ripples affecting Europe and particularly the Balkans! I've previously referred to Thucydides and his legacy in the context of the Peloponnesian wars; his role as the first 'paleo-realist' and scholar of geopolitical thought. That work has since spawned a considerable body of academic study, perhaps only matched by similar work concerning Machiavelli or Hobbes. Referring back to my last post, the 'Thucydides Trap' is a political metaphor that's been utilised in various centuries since the time of his writing. Thucydides thesis proposed that in order to maintain the empire, it must be expanded, although he was referring to city states of the 5th Century BC, the descriptor applies equally to nation states and unions thereof! From Thucydides perspective, if the growth stops, the ruling city will turn in upon itself.

I also bounced around Morgenthau's political realism in relation to Rudd's approach in Australia, and for the European powers in other matters like the 'Eastern Question'. Many writers and researchers have questioned the issues during the intervening 2400 years since Thucydides penned his original ideas. Has our understanding of how nation states relate to one another and why conflict erupts really changed in the intervening time? From Thucydides perspective, as long as the 'city' expands, the citizens don't focus on domestic power struggles; citizens and rulers will not be happy with changing their strategy from expansion to preservation. It was ever thus, but does it remain so?

The problem with an empire according to Strauss is that it must expand, but it will ultimately expand beyond its capacity to maintain itself. At some point, the city begins to lack the capacity and manpower in order to extend its rule, so says Leo Strauss in his provocative series of essays entitled 'The City and Man' , his last chapter about Thucydides was first published in 1964. The decline of the British Empire illustrated this perfectly, as did the Roman Empire and many others both before and since. Strauss returned to Thucydides work several times over the years, commencing with a brief mention in 1954 and a posthumous publication was made of his last work on the subject of Thucydides in 1989 - a tumultuous year for yet another 'empire', if the Soviet Union can really be described in that way.
https://tinyurl.com/ybwfasv4

It's questionable what the next natural stage for the US may be, after batting most adversaries aside since WW2 (except where it lost or ended in a score draw), especially given the steady rise of China, and more recently the resurgence of Putin's Russia causing mayhem on the international stage. It's for certain that the two land and air campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq refined US COIN tactics, but they also sapped the nation's youth, and to some extent its resolve in committing large ground forces again (at least for a while). It proved a useful time for China to observe the weaponry and tactics employed by its adversary of many decades, whilst Russia has also adapted from its routine 'rain of steel' approach as displayed in Chechnya, choosing to adopt more subtle unconventional warfare tactics in Crimea and the Donbas region.

The US has just reformed its 2nd Fleet in order to counter potential Russian threats in the North Atlantic, and it will soon be joined by other NATO vessels and personnel, probably based in Norfolk, Virginia. However, the current worth of NATO allies is questionable, as evidenced by their declining defence spend against GDP, despite Trump's harsh words. On current projections the US will be overtaken by China in GDP terms, and possibly able to matching their military capability by the middle of the 21st Century (if the mid term elections go badly for Trump his own military expansionist spend will be stalled in both Houses), whilst the 'coral bones' of the South China Sea offer just one zone of their potential conflict. Let's see how things go for the Iranian nuclear deal after the 12 May 18 decision point and Trump's meeting with the NK leader, the geopolitical winds can soon blow hot or cold in both these zones. Other players like France are also dabbling in this heavyweight arena attempting to harness the growth of India's capabilities, but for the lightweight Macron punching above his weight, it remains just that - dabbling!
http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1100667.shtml#.Wu1uG8wwapM.linkedin

My belief, is that the real folly of the British Empire was triggered by involvement in the Crimean War. Much of that fighting took place on the Crimean Peninsula located on the Northern coast of the Black Sea; the same location of a modern land grab by Putineers wresting it from present day Ukraine a few years ago with his 'little green men'. It certainly took less time and less cost for Putin to recover Sebastopol than the 11 month siege by GB & Co. Its name notwithstanding, the Crimean War was a global conflict that featured several different theatres of battle. Earlier clashes occurred in the Balkans and in Turkey, whilst the focus only shifted to Crimea once the Allies launched their invasion of the peninsula in September 1854.

While most of the famous battles took place on the land in Crimea, there were also naval actions and intermittent fighting erupted elsewhere e.g. the Caucasus, the Black Sea, the Baltic and the White Sea on the North West coast of Russia. In August 1854, French and British forces managed to launch an attack on Petropavlovsk, a port city on Russia’s Pacific coastline near Siberia, although the outcome was unsuccessful for the Allies. Despite the location of these battles, in essence it remained a dispute between the British and Russians, as to who would control the Dardanelles, the channel of water in Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea (popular with the human traffickers in the present day) with the Sea of Marmara.

Russia and France were also in conflict over the guardianship of Palestinian holy sites, although that was something of a made up rationale for state bloodshed in joint enterprise. Turkey was also objecting to the demands made on it by Russia, a consequence of the last throws of Ottoman rule in the region and shortly before Russia sought to turf the Ottomans out of the Balkans. Whilst it wasn't considered important to the ageing Lords and Generals creating the wholesale manslaughter of their men in the Crimea (or their horses for the more refined gentlefolk amongst you) through incompetent leadership, there was a considerable 'butchers bill', although it required little effort from the enemy to achieve it!

During the fiasco that became the Crimean War, Britain felt that it was essential to maintain control over the Mediterranean sea routes, whilst preserving the Ottoman Empire as a barrier against the Russian expansionist tendencies viz my enemy's enemy and all that! These considerations led to hostility against Russia, but it was borne more out of political ineptitude and military incompetence with the possible assistance of our favourite spirochete, likely busy in several military brains, and certainly present in the 'body' politic of that era, so to speak.
https://www.19.bbk.ac.uk/articles/707/print/

However, the British Army did learn from their Crimean campaign, at least from a heath and hygiene perspective, and the beginnings of a logistical branch. Apart from establishing the military nursing concept having observed the effectiveness of French efforts, it subsequently stimulated an embryonic profession for 'drain sniffers' who were employed in future military campaigns (subsequently they became Environmental Health Officers in the Royal Army Medical Corps).
https://tinyurl.com/yb6d9w5n
During transit to the Crimea British forces stayed in Varna, one of the logistical staging posts, whilst the soldiery 'prepared' themselves, so I did enjoy this quote from Hibbert - 'a soldier could get drunk for 6d and Syphilis for 1/-.'

They still do in Kenya (allowing for inflation*), a favoured 'playground' for UK ground forces, where they undertake intensive training and live fire exercises (often as part of their pre-deployment programme). It's usually concluded by an Adventure Training package and some R&R, the latter often encompassing a dose of something and not just an aspirin for the hangover! This provides an interesting analysis on the training return for NAO overseeing the MOD's investment when 2 or 3 soldiers achieve HiV positive status (or another delightful STI) on each overseas trip to Kenya - invariably 'gifted' through a 'cultural exchange', and soldiers (Royal Marines and RAF Regiment also participate in such events) are immediately transferred on later diagnosis to the elite 'PUD team' (the British Army's Personnel Unable to Deploy statistic)!
https://tinyurl.com/ybj3d2sn

*you see what I did there, no that's far too seedy? Wink

As to the '1/-' cost in Crimea, some lessons were not learned by the time of WW1 either, when the cost benefit analysis of war really began to bite the nation (there's a metaphor there someplace). The statistics peaked in 1917, whilst the greatest number of 'venereal' patients in hospital at any one time in 1918 was estimated to be 11K i.e. enough men to supply the 'effectives' of a full Army Division. For reverence (nil sic), more than 2 Divisions worth of 'effectives' were killed on the first day of the Somme offensive - approximately 21K men (more British casualties than the Crimean War, the Boer War and the Korean War combined).

STIs or 'VD' - the contemporary descriptor, caused "a huge and preventable drain on the army’s resources" according to 1916 military reports - that did so make oi larf! This also made me smile - "all too often, military counter-measures were poorly conceived or hampered by moral objections from home". Christian ethics really hampered a soldier's right to practice procreation hygienically in those times too!
https://tinyurl.com/a6j2fz5

The 'Manual of Military Law 1907' applicable in that time, dealt only with concealment of the 'VD' for punishment, not catching it, whilst those hospitalised (each averaging a about a month) for the available treatment - back to variations on the mercurial delights etc. Soldiers were liable for ‘hospital stoppages’, and these were not of the constipated type or bad plumbing! These were obviously pre-NHS days, so anyone hospitalised for reasons unconnected with their military Service, became liable to have money stopped from their pay in order to help defray treatment costs.

This practice (unlike the robust indulgence of soldiers) was not discontinued until late 1917, but fines were still applied for soldiers admitting to contracting 'VD' (by their own efforts) or diagnosed as 'alcoholics' (being their own fault of course)! Concepts of PTSD and the impact of trench warfare on mental health were never reconciled in this time, despite evidence from the Crimean War providing the first real statistics pointing to the effects of trench warfare; the latter developed at Sebastopol and later 'perfected' in WW1.
https://tinyurl.com/yaak2zcr

Whilst 'Seward's Folly' was being purchased for just two cents (US) an acre, it ensured the then unknown energy and mineral resources of Russia laying beneath the surface, were transferred to become the new US State of Alaska after the civil war (US and Russia were best buddies then of course). This Russian firesale was a feather in the US Secretary of State's cap and enabled the Tsar to pay for his own end of the Crimean War, as the state coffers were empty. On the Russian side of the lines at Sebastopol, Leo Tolstoy spent months as a Russian artillery officer, sharpening his sword and blunting his quill in the lulls (lots of them) during the siege, whilst penning his notes about the siege, later having them published as the 'Sevastopol Sketches'. He was amongst the last defenders to be evacuated and as the the city fell on his birthday 9 September 1855, and he turned 27. Despite significant editing by the government censors before their publication, their popularity launched his post war literary career, although it was 10 years before he incorporated his war experience from Crimea into his epic novel 'War and Peace'.

Just as Leo Tolstoy's epic was being serialised in the 'Russian Messenger', Lewis Carroll published his book 'Alice in Wonderland' in 1865 and the Crimean War was promptly dubbed 'Britain in Blunderland' by 'The Times' newspaper. Tolstoy's own book was finally published in full in 1869, and by the time anyone had actually finished reading it, the unsuccessful Bulgarian revolution of 1876 had concluded. Not long after this, however, the Russians were on the offensive once again and Bulgaria received its freedom thanks to the Russian-Turkish Liberation War of 1877-1878.

The Bulgarian state was subsequently separated into three parts following the Berlin Conference in 1878, so it certainly wasn't all good news, but from that point everything looked rosy for the Bulgarians, at least as far as Kazanlak! There's a certain irony to their present path, and perhaps another metaphor - according to legend the Valley of the Rose was established with plant seeds brought to the region from Persia by Alexander's returning army.

Whilst the Bulgarian roses have allegedly faired much better than in their native Tunisia, it can be a prickly customer, and one my grandfather cultivated with pride in his front garden for many years. In truth he 'liberated' some varieties (allegedly), whilst on his ARP warden rounds during WW2, from the 'Italian Sunken Garden' in Mayesbrook Park at the end of Lodge Avenue near his home in Wood Lane. The Italians were part of the Axis Powers and the Sunken Garden was planted when the park was created in the 1930's, but with its 'Eytie' link the roses were legitimate war booty according to family lore. My uncle also had a flair for growing roses, much to the disappointment of my brother and our cousins playing in his back garden, because the rose thorns routinely burst our light plastic footballs, which were popular in the 60s, especially at the time of the 1966 World Cup!
https://tinyurl.com/m245rap

The Syrian victims of their uncivil war make claim that - "the West doesn't care that we die only how we die"! These are the words of the increasingly youthful Middle East embroiled in conflict, but at least they're breeding quicker than the slaughter eradicates their capacity to do so. It's a regular feature of war, in death people are caught in the eternal survival struggle and to find meaning in their loss of family and loved ones, generally the only solace to be found is to create new life. Syria will lose a generation to the slaughter, but these will constitute the elderly, the infirm and the youngest innocents, the majority of survivors have already fled Daesh, whilst others will join them and a few may return; the country's infrastructure is shattered along with urban devastation and this is replicated in Iraq, Kurdistan, Libya (and perhaps Lebanon again soon)! At the moment Iraq is the only country that's beginning to stabilise and recover, but there's a long way to go for Abadi to maintain cohesion and progress!

Ageing widows are also the only surviving inhabitants of several Bosnian villages, matching the images of many depopulated villages in Bulgaria, although the Bg numbers are substantially thinned for different reasons linked to the insane urbanisation policies of the Soviet era. In ZZ's original post, the 70 year old character 'Boyan', when interviewed, states - "We are abandoned," .... "Abandoned from everyone - from rulers and from God. ... "Politicians will not do anything for us. They're just interested in their own interests. They don't care about the people - especially the old people in the villages. They don't even care about the young people because the young people are abroad. ... "So the politicians don't care at all and the Bulgarian state is disappearing."

Meanwhile the younger guy in his 30s called Stoyan says - "It's impossible to find someone to marry here in the village, or the villages around, simply because there are no young people. The only chance for me to find someone is in the town," ... "It would be very sad and hard for me to leave the village, but I will have to do it at some point."

It's perhaps the former statement by Boyan, that emphasises many of the points I've made in previous contributions on this thread. It's the primary 'go to' configuration of the country that assumes the problems can only be fixed from outside of the country, and that the blame must also be attributed externally for generations of poor decisions, whilst reliance invariably tracks to the 'least worst option' approach for Bulgarian democracy. In addition, emigration, low birth rates, and a high death rate are all contributing factors to the declining population in the country. This roughly translates to a birth every 8 mins, a death every 5 mins; one net migrant every 111 mins, collectively resulting in a net loss of one person from the Bg population every 11 mins!

I don't wish to appear disingenuous, since I've no party line on any religious beliefs, and remain respectful that everybody is entitled their own God/s, a decent set of Pan pipes, a regular latte or none of the above, whatever works best for them! However, there's no omnipotence, religious deity or otherwise wannabe messiah that can fix the Middle East, in fact it's entirely the opposite. Less energetic action in 'defence' of a faith or 'enforced compliance' of a particular branch of faith, may actually alleviate some of the human suffering present in the region.

It would also appear there's no omnipotent power presently engaged for moral profit or faith ratings in the woes of Bulgaria - you reap what you sew etc., except the Bulgarians have never independently sewn anything of lasting value apart from the roses perhaps. Returning to the original BBC article referenced by ZZ - "Bulgaria doesn't need uneducated refugees," says Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov, a leader of the United Patriots, an anti-immigrant grouping forming part of the coalition government. Nor would Bulgarian society accept educated and skilled migrants, Mr Simeonov says. "They have a different culture, different religion, even different daily habits," he says. "And thank God Bulgaria so far is one of the most-well defended countries from Europe's immigrant influx."

If only the Deputy PM actually checked his facts and specified which particular deity was to be congratulated, and more specifically, indicated where all that Defence is coming from and why they've only slowed the numbers a little. Bulgaria was never their intended destination, just a wayward branch of the journey for a few migrants from the East, mostly Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. Certainly the only reason there are any migrants at all in Bulgaria, is because the criminal fraternity has engaged in the lucrative human trafficking market to bolster their other smuggling revenues. Turkey has long been the real control valve for any refugees / economic migrants seeking passage to Greece or via the Black Sea routes and the land crossing in the SE. However, Erdogan has been selective in his own way with migrant talent to assist his delivery of a new community health service.

In the meantime, a trick is lost by the deficient Bg government with its strategic myopia. By way of consideration to its own population collapse, it cannot have escaped the attention of the more insightful politicians and policy makers that being proactive is the only salvation for the country. In turning to the issue of faith, there are many religious 'allies' that Bg could and should seek out. More especially amongst the younger elements, possibly working along Australian lines of selective immigration, because that may be the political realism necessary for Bg to survive. In choosing to do nothing, it will inevitably fall victim to its own ineptitude and unconscious incompetence. To bastardise Corbyn, after his pitiful strategic error in the Commons vote regarding the transparency of BREXIT briefing papers last week and followed by an average show on Friday - 'For the few, here are the many'!

Christians in Afghanistan -
https://tinyurl.com/y7oe7wsj
https://tinyurl.com/yauk3u5y
https://www.vomcanada.com/afghanistan.htm
Christian Kurds -
https://tinyurl.com/y87jyj58
Syrian Christians -
https://tinyurl.com/pa3ajvk
Armenian Christians -
https://tinyurl.com/y898a74l
Macedonian Christians -
https://tinyurl.com/ya4z3j67
Ethiopean Christians -
https://tinyurl.com/yamtpkpw

Bulgaria has a stable position in Europe hoovering the bottom of the GDP pool, but with little national debt and great natural resources. Despite the criminality abundant on the coast and particularly in the cities (excluding the rural burglary and petty crime), it has peace and can offer agricultural benefits in terms of sustainable growth to many who already have farming skills, but lack water / personal security in their own lands.

Although there are many professional development gurus who could offer far more detailed analysis and propose a way forward for the country, these brief outlines may just provoke some Bg thoughts beyond next week. It's the rural areas of the country that primarily require the restart, so nationalise some / all of the empty villages as a start perhaps, whilst offering compensation or peppercorn rents to surviving Bg property owners to incentivise their cooperation, maybe entice them to retain their Bg links as they've likely emigrated by now. Select migrants on a points based system only and with a young family + skills focus; set up partner groups of Bg environmental NGOs, health and educational institutions through EU partner programmes or seek out organisations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Smallholdings can be rejuvenated to aid self sufficiency, whilst shared ownership of property should only be offered to the children of migrants, if they remain resident and achieve Bg nationality (if they leave there's no tenure for their parents). Utilise a tithe system to the 'host' district thus seeking a return from migrants, that's inwardly invested for them and other Bulgarian communities in the medium to long term for the country. More cooperation and mutual support from Bg nationals in nearby villages triggers rewards through increased investment. A market economy requires just that, seeding the local economy by introducing diversity, thus creating markets for trades and goods that have disappeared through depopulation and urban migration.

Like the town twinning system evident across the EU, empty Bg villages repopulated with migrants could be 'twinned' (or partnered) internally with other Bg ones through incentive schemes for cooperative ventures - trade exchange, cultural events, community education projects. Development of 'train the teacher' programmes and self help healthcare services based on imported skills; IO matched funding sought for state medical schemes and the strongest focus placed on language development for the 'new kids on the block' to educate their parents; linking nationality / EU status for migrants to positive return on Bg's investment.

In the late 1980s I lived in a village in Kent called Elvington. It had a high proportion of families descended from Yorkshire miners who'd been relocated there earlier in the 20th Century, in order to operate the new coal mines in the East of the county. There were two other villages nearby in Sheperdswell and Tilmanstone where descendants of tin miners from Cornwall, and other coal miners from South Wales had also been settled. These people were relocated en masse to create new villages, thus importing relevant skills and expertise; they were supported by the coal mining companies of the day who'd invested in the county.

Their descendants are fully integrated into the Kent community now, especially as the coal mining died away after Thatcher broke the back of the unions in the 1980s (not a good time for those villages I might add), but the younger generations had diversified their occupations. The mines of Kent had a horrendous history with fatalities higher than most other collieries in the country due to the particular geological conditions. For anyone who followed the news reports through the miners' strikes, then they'll have noted the names of Snowdown, Tilmanstone and Betteshanger collieries cropped up frequently. They were bitter times and left their scars on the people as deep as the closed pits did on the landscape.
https://tinyurl.com/yasc35sd

In time there may be some economic prosperity in Bg, but it must not be left to stagnate in its own cesspit of political waywardness or corrupt myopia. In the 1989 film 'Field of Dreams', Kevin Costner's character interprets the 'voices' he hears as a direction - 'If you build it they will come', so he constructs a baseball diamond on his failing corn farm in Iowa; once built, the ghosts of the 1919 Chicago White Sox team arrive to play. A distracting piece of movie trivia I know, but nonetheless relevant to the state of play in Bg.

Seeding these villages with young families, whilst ensuring that neighbouring villages contain a mix of migrant groups with common interest (and belief systems compatible with Bg society), but different country regions can offer mutual support to other Bg rural areas. In time with variation on a theme, such social engineering may offer a way forward. For certain if the country does not look up and smell the coffee, it's for certain the outcome on its present track will not result in a field of dreams, just a criminal backwater!

As I believe I've referenced elsewhere on the site my InBg 'tagline' is a partial quote from Samuel Johnson and his analysis of metaphysical poets. Johnson wrote about these men of learning, comprising a diverse group of poets such as John Donne, Robert Herrick and Andrew Marvell. It was their particular hallmark to use unusual imagery and shock readers with their 'poetic conceits'; their intent was to startle a reader into understanding. They only wrote verses, but these could only be discovered by counting the syllables. As poetry goes, it was hardly elegant, but the cleverness was shrouded within the lines and provocative in its manner.
https://tinyurl.com/ybzj2kyg
 
One example with the carpe diem theme, penned by Andrew Marvell was an amusing poem - 'To His Coy Mistress'. He suggests his lover should stop playing games and get down to the love business -
"They beauty shall no more be found,
Nor in thy marble vault shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
Thy long preserved virginity."

Marvell is yoking very different ('heterogeneous') ideas, including the passing of time and development of love, but with gruesome physical decay. He does this through the creation of a violent image, that of virginity being attacked by worms. In Johnson's view, it may be witty and shocking, but ultimately proved too grotesque for the reader! It's probably just as well Johnson never lived to assess the literary contribution of characters like Dizzee Rascal or his 'Grime' lyrics!
https://tinyurl.com/ycabnlz4

However, Johnson argued in his treatise on the metaphysical poets that their particular wittiness ultimately violated the reader's sense of the orderliness of the world. In other words, it presented a shock for shock's sake and didn't further an individual's understanding of poetry. He expressed it like this -

"But wit, abstracted from its effects upon the hearer, may be more rigorously and philosophically considered as a kind of "discordia concors;" a combination of dissimilar images, or discovery of occult resemblances in things apparently unlike. Of wit, thus defined, they have more than enough. The most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together; nature and art are ransacked for illustrations, comparisons, and allusions; their learning instructs, and their subtlety surprises; but the reader commonly thinks his improvement dearly bought, and, though he sometimes admires, is seldom pleased."

I don't make any particular claim to bright ideas nor any intellectual insight to the complex problems of Bulgaria, and particularly with no Bg language skills for broader reading or news media engagement. However, numerous discussions with different Bg individuals, both inside and outside the country over the years seem to revolve around similar themes, it's evident that the indigenous people of the Bg are stuck. Much like a vinyl record (they're making a popular return apparently), but one scratched by discordant nationalism, which the people seem unable to harmonise.

I've deliberately avoided the issue of the Romani, and my only comment here is it's a seemingly unsolvable problem — a fundamental cultural misunderstanding, tinged with racist undertones, separating the Roma people with those they live among. They are limited, but there have been some success stories across Europe, and many are hopeful that with the EU's increased focus on cooperation and human rights, that the Roma will find a place in the new, united Europe.

Repeatedly sinking shafts deeper into difficult strata like the coalminers of Kent, whilst risking more cave-ins and floods, is not for those of faint heart. I would emphasise, neither are Bulgarian people, they're a tough crowd (not overly trusting or venturesome though), but it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realise when seams are tapped out or become inaccessible, so does the future!

Likewise Bulgarian domestic politics is mired, democracy more fragile and disengaged from a dwindling youth vote (despite those overseas voting), whilst borrowing increases and the economics remains unpredictable. The future is guided by economically inactive, but increasingly dependent elderly who continue to outnumber their insufficient progeny. Ultimately, the GDP will decline and the options are reducing - the young who can, leave, this directly affects security much like the UK's own Defence shortfall, whilst the EU back door swings open to uncontrolled ingress!

Continually seeking external solutions to their internal problems and likewise apportioning blame for repeated failures, Bulgarians seem unable to grasp their own nettle and ensure the prosperity of future generations. Content to sit and bemoan their lack of power, yet willing to be led by ex-security field donkeys or corrupt oligarchs, but still psychologically chafed by their Ottoman chains. They lack only imagination and the gumption to exploit a better future without fearing their non-existent tether or seeking the comforting habit of Linus.

OK, I'm done with metaphors and metaphysical verses! I finished Matthew Syed's book - 'Black Box Thinking' last week, and I'm off to read the first few pages of Hans Rosling's book - 'Factfulness', to give my head another wobble and hopefully cure my insomnia!

I'm all done here folks!
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Last edited by Xanthos on Mon May 07, 2018 11:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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Seedy
Golden Oldie
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Joined: Feb 21, 2012
Posts: 6243

Location: Sofia, Dupnitsa, Lincs

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2018 11:05 am 
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Thank you once again for your sterling efforts, Mr X: I'll be putting you forward for another gong* - or possibly a chance to shake the fragrant Princess Meghan's paw at a tedious Garden Party Cool

I'm not sure that I entirely share your somewhat jaded view of what one might loosely call "The Balkan Mentality", firstly because there's an aspect to it that requires being born into the situation - or perhaps "inculcated in a way of thinking" is a better description. Secondly, there's no shortage of latter-day Bai Ganyos, of all nationalities, who have one eye on the main chance and another paranoiacally watching for someone who might be trying to do them down in some convoluted manner.

The issue with the Roma is rather more complex than a mere "fundamental cultural misunderstanding, tinged with racist undertones", albeit our (current) masters in the EU would like to pretend that this is the case, even as they deport these ostensible EU citizens back to more "comfortable" (although perhaps not for all parties) milieus. Interestingly, Ms Swaraj, the Indian Minister of External Affairs**, was recently(-ish) happy to acknowledge them as "children of India" while showing no great relish for killing a few fatted calves and welcoming them back to their ancestral homeland.... Wink

The various flavours of British miners migrating to other regions of the UK is hardly analogous to the influx of a flood of illegals from other cultures, races and religions - all sharing a clear disregard for the rule of law and order while claiming to be entitled to the purported universal rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, to be supplied and funded by law-abiding people of other cultures, races and religions of course. I'm rather taken myself by the complaints of the activists in Ghouta, who don't accept that their country has a legitimate and duly-elected government, and who by and large have chosen to live under - and support - a "government" run by jihadists and hard-line Islamists. Nonetheless, they also claim the right to oppose the "regime" and complain when that nice Mr Assad attacks the fighters who have taken up residence next door to them; their "defenders", of course, all carry copies of the Geneva Convention and are required to not only learn it by heart but to chant verses from it while planting IEDs and dismembering opponents. These are the kind of folk who hop onto dodgy inflatables to zip across the Med or Aegean in search of a better life that they lack at home due to their internecine wars with others of their own kind who have a different idea of who should feature in the List of Succession of some geezer who decided to cobble together his own religion out of odds and ends swiped from previous ones. At least Loony Ron dreamed up his own nonsense when he invented Scientology to massage the egos of those Hollywood stars smart enough to realise that disappearing Yellow Pages featuring a spurious gospel was clearly not a credible path to salvation and that a billion-year contract was something that even Mr Weinstein couldn't offer to those willing to bend over backwards for him.

If you bung in a few million chancers from various African and Asian countries, replete with negligible skills, other than procreating and stealing, I'd say that we have an excellent foundation upon which to reinforce the cultures and fortunes of our various European nations wilting under a lack of young people and prospects for those that we do have. Interestingly, the much-maligned Hungary seems to have an interesting approach to solving their population crisis - but of course, it's "racist" to encourage Hungarians to have more children when they should be toeing the party line and taking in those who are of no use to Gauleiter Merkel....

Something certainly needs to be done but the change needs to be associated more with doing - and making - things for ourselves, while reducing our "needs" for more status symbols, and less with diluting what makes Europe such an obviously attractive place for those who will change it by their very presence. Personally, I find it infinitely sad that "Progress" seems to have resulted in the twin evils of an increase in believers in Imaginary Friends and the notion that modern-day Europe is responsible for everything that the rest of the world has managed to get wrong. As if dumbing ourselves down isn't enough, we have to ensure that everyone else has the opportunity - or indeed the right - to drag us down to their level and we are required by law these days to help them in this endeavour. I too find it amusing that "we" are stupid enough to not only provide the technology to irrigate the crops that are going to poison our own people, and economies, but also offer sanctuary to those who are unable to grow enough poppies to make their lives worthwhile. I'm even dubious about taking in interpreters, not because we don't owe them a debt of honour (which we clearly do) but because if we don't then maybe others will be less keen to do this dangerous work and perhaps our Lords and Masters would think twice about getting involved in ridiculous foreign adventures for no discernible logical reason.

There's much that's wrong with the world but it seems to me that criminalising those who wish to even speak about what they feel to be the problem is merely alienating the majority of people and goes nowhere towards actually fixing it.

Apropos of nothing very much: does anyone else read the news about the current spate of gun and knife attacks in London - seemingly due to quite an extent to the actions of the offspring of previous waves of immigrants - and think about whether those blood-drenched streets are indeed starting to resemble the River Tiber that another ex-Army Wallah mentioned a while back?

* One day I may get round to boring forum members with my own, none-too-illustrious, involvement with deciding who gets such geegaws doled out to them.... Wink

** Who at least has been involved in politics for a while longer than her BG counterpart, having started her political career when the ineffectual Zakharieva was a child of two.
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Xanthos
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2018 4:06 pm 
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Actually the last garden party I attended at Buck House was on a sunny day much like it is today, also bloody hot, rather humid with no breeze, whilst protocol required me to enjoy being bloody uncomfortable wrapped up in full dress uniform, gongs and all (thankfully, no sword required to trip me up or accidentally stab a royal), along with the other 100 or so military guests. Apart from sitting by the pond and enjoying the shade of the trees for a while in the company of two delightful female teachers from the Outer Hebrides - they were dipping their toes in the water as I ruefully imagined I might, but obviously couldn't! Sad

I learned from them that the pond was fed by the Serpentine, which must have amused open water swimmers who used it if they'd known they were p*ss*ng in the Queen's back yard when they took a leak during their exercise in the lido. If you opened the 'Barking&Dagenham Post' link yesterday, you may have read about the fate of the exotic pink flamingoes in Parsloes Park, but I also learned from the ladies cooling their ankles that HM's lake was once home to a flock of flamingoes too, however they were slaughtered by an invading fox - there's a moral there somehwere!

I also recall having a conversation with two older Gurkha officers about the proposed changes to their pensions and their ability to remain in the UK post service. Surprisingly (at least for me as a believer in equal opportunities), their view was that it would disrupt everything back home, despite Joanna Lumley's best efforts to promote the Gurkha cause. At the time Gurkhas only did 15 years for 'full pension' (against 22 years for their British born counterpart), but they were paid less, couldn't bring their families to live in SFA in the UK and their pension was considerably less than other British Army veterans.

However, the argument of these two seasoned officers, was that they didn't like the idea of family joining them in the UK, because it would reduce the cultural bonds. The levels of pension earned by Gurkhas on return to Nepal back then, was the equivalent of most Nepalese ministers, so they would also be seen as a threat if they retired there post service with higher pensions. I did find this an interesting conundrum though, and one that had not really entered my mind, especially the older mindset vs new Gurkha recruits.

The concept of denying future Gurkha personnel the opportunity for equal pay, family support, education, health and retirement planning like their Regular Army comrades. It felt more akin to the approach Britain adopted in the Crimean War, using Swiss mercenaries and other nationalities in their land campaign. Of course the two Gurkha officers had a particularly good point that has since proved correct, at least in part.

Rather than returning to Nepal most Gurkha families remain in the UK, as do other Foreign and Commonwealth ex service families. Their children grow up here, so no longer follow family traditions of seeking selection as future Gurkha soldiers either. Moreover the '£sd' theme re-emerges, and so the Gurkha numbers have been cut over time, because they're no longer seen by HM Treasury as value for money. They've become too costly compared to home grown talent and less of their services are required, although we will be seeing the 'Reversometer' activated shortly for Gurkha and F&C recruitment, as Army recruiting targets continue to be missed!

I don't find much disagreement with several of your erudite points raised there Seedy, but as to the inculcated mindset of Bulgaria, I do perhaps try (and prefer anyways) to see things through the lens of those not yet born and those making the innocent discovery that walking is merely (a complex psychomotor process of) controlled falling. The latter is exemplified by the numerous failures at bipedal robotic competitions, whilst attempts are made to walk across uneven ground, open a door and walk through it or negotiate stair climbing. Actually descent is technically more changing, both for humans and robots (momentum being aided rather than impeded by gravitational force), and much like relearning an ingrained motor-skill using a different technique or reversing using a mirror, perspective is everything.
Human discovery learning -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA9rvB-6vrA
Robotic oops moments! -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0TaYhjpOfo

I actually had a lot of time for old Enoch too, but specifically in terms of his incisive analytical mind, and even while I don't necessarily agree with his views, his general willingness to speak truth to power showed integrity (both within the military and in his political life), rather than becoming a fawning sychophant for personal advancement like many other sheep. There were certainly some aspects of his 'Rivers of Blood' speech, which I've referred to previously, and were framed in the context of culture clashes. Uncertain he was right or just apprehensive for a nation required to change tack on its views and its place in the global scheme of things!

Your reference to the present violence exhibited on the London gang scene, is nothing new, in the sense that post WW2 criminal gangs were no less violent, they just didn't have the numbers or media attention. It wasn't necessarily about enforcing street cred or reaction to being dissed on social media, but the 50s in particular were not without their share of gun crime, knifings or scraps. Present day violence is predominantly confined to local black youth on black youth, another overdose on US social media sh*te, not exactly Powell's perspective except where there's collateral damage. In the round not an exceptionally high rate proportional to the real London population statistics rather than the government underestimate. Still not good for society!

It would be fair to say that much like triage on the battlefield, the present population of Bulgaria can loosely be separated into - 'go with your god', 'pick up your arm and get yourself back to the dressing station', 'stop right there you're in a minefield - remember your Immediate Action drills', 'IA will save them and recovery worth the manpower ROI - plug or tourniquet, patch, prick, scribble "M" and remove within the "golden hour" ', lastly and much rests on these untouched 'dash, down, crawl, roll, observe, sights, fire - the rest is pure chance'!

Within this analogy, I believe there are those who can be converted to a different view of their country's future rather than just being abandoned (some Romani included). Others cannot and must be allowed to 'time out' in their own way, perhaps disgruntled, disillusioned, disengaged - it's all the same outcome as long as they're not in charge of anything important. For the many middle aged left in country, their experiences pre/post Soviet and pre/post EU membership have not resulted in a huge change to their underlying beliefs or attitudes, their value system may remain uncomfortable, but they could be encouraged to 'play along' through careful steerage rather than potentially offering resistance. The young are more malleable and if properly encouraged and guided, could help Bulgaria onto a more prosperous path, preferably seeking futures within the country of their birth and reinvesting their genes in Bg's future too!

I think you may have missed the basic tenet of my proposal about a revised immigration policy. I was not, and did not suggest the door should be flung open, to invite all the waifs and strays from the 4 corners nor even was I referring specifically to those claiming refugee status! I was quite specific that it should involve a points based system similar to Australia or NZ, the places of origin to consider might involve some of those Christian communities I referenced, or not, although it was not intended as an exclusive source. To be honest, there may be other incentives that could be introduced to encourage children / grandchildren of Bulgarian expats in other European countries to return. Their exposure to other languages and cultures would be hugely beneficial in a future Bulgaria and in particular an 'Entrepreneur' package to encourage new business startups in small Bg towns and villages could also assist inward development.

Moreover, balance is the order of the day, no single migrants invited at all, unless professionally qualified or perhaps unaccompanied minors in equal gender numbers that could be fostered; the main focus to be on young family units with a robust skills analysis to encourage a diversity of trades and qualifications within new village settlements. Social carers and basic nurses can be trained in a relatively shorter time than doctors or engineers, but the rural areas actually need more carers and nurses right now. There are enough lawyers*, accountants and clerks to stack supermarket shelves in towns and villages, but not enough trade to support their activities even in a bureaucracy like Bulgaria

Agreed, the coal miner analogy of 'village seeding' did nothing for the county beyond immediately applying their skills to the problem of unproductive holes in the ground, but after 3 or 4 generations their descendants have altered a lot more than the landscape around them. The latter was perhaps one unintended consequence, which I fully realise can go pearshaped too - it didn't in that case! It's for certain we found the Yorkshire heritage of Elvington an uncomfortable environment for a while, a closed community almost when we arrived, but that was most definitely influenced by the legacy issues of industrial action and community hardship during the miners' strike. Over time it mellowed and as peoples lives moved away from the pits, so attitudes changed, for us it usually one neighbour at a time, often one random act of kindness or gesture of goodwill was rewarded with a nod (about as emotional as they ever got)!

I believe there is scope in Bulgaria for that to happen too, at least on a generational basis. Nothing is easy seen from all sides - or so, said Horace, and I think Hungary has to choose its own course too, increasing birth rates is just one way. Nothing bad in t that, but I would suggest Hungary also has a rather darker history, particularly around fascism, whilst nationalism can often become skewed that way if directed inappropriately. Bulgaria has behaved robustly in the past too over the Roma issue, but the people also held back in the holocaust, they never really bought into the Nazi ideology, so there are different strokes for different folks.

*no offence intended to your good wife Seedy, but in my experience neither lawyers nor accountants add particular value in a crisis, they merely waste wood pulp or desk space, whilst Bulgaria probably has enough wood and waste for the moment.
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Seedy
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2018 6:10 pm 
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*No offence taken: my Better Half is a Professor of Telecommunications. However, her view of lawyers and accountants mirrors both yours and mine. Wink

I fear that, back in the mists of Prehistory, t'was Yours Truly who was a potential player in Jarndyce and Jarndyce but even I very quickly had a surfeit of the whole Legal charade and moved into more useful employment in the the technology sector, via various roles in the Civil Service. From what I can see, even the realm of Sir Humphrey has been ravaged by PC and egalitarianism nowadays; I gather that knowing How To Correctly Furl A Brolly is no longer de rigueur, and nor is the wearing of neckgear from a member institution of the Headmasters' Conference (which itself now allows in those Female Chaps, if I correctly understand the full extent of the catastrophe... Shocked )

Nonetheless, I do still have friends who clearly have a stronger stomach than I and managed to stick it out rather longer, including another ex-solicitor who for some reason lost his practising certificate following a few months spent pleasuring Her Majesty Wink , and a District Judge who will be slumming it on a first visit chez nous in Sofia this coming autumn - quite a culture shock after living in a leafy suburb of London for many decades, I anticipate! Very Happy
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Xanthos
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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 3:29 pm 
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Seedy wrote:
*No offence taken: my Better Half is a Professor of Telecommunications. However, her view of lawyers and accountants mirrors both yours and mine. Wink

I fear that, back in the mists of Prehistory, t'was Yours Truly who was a potential player in Jarndyce and Jarndyce but even I very quickly had a surfeit of the whole Legal charade and moved into more useful employment in the the technology sector, via various roles in the Civil Service. From what I can see, even the realm of Sir Humphrey has been ravaged by PC and egalitarianism nowadays; I gather that knowing How To Correctly Furl A Brolly is no longer de rigueur, and nor is the wearing of neckgear from a member institution of the Headmasters' Conference (which itself now allows in those Female Chaps, if I correctly understand the full extent of the catastrophe... Shocked )

Nonetheless, I do still have friends who clearly have a stronger stomach than I and managed to stick it out rather longer, including another ex-solicitor who for some reason lost his practising certificate following a few months spent pleasuring Her Majesty Wink , and a District Judge who will be slumming it on a first visit chez nous in Sofia this coming autumn - quite a culture shock after living in a leafy suburb of London for many decades, I anticipate! Very Happy

Aha! That explains a lot, but then no one is perfect! Twisted Evil

I just hope the judicial echelons cope without your input, whilst the community sighs in relief having been spared some of the judgements you may have delivered, had you aspired to silk or the exalted robe of office Very Happy
  
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Seedy
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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2018 5:40 pm 
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I fear that Judge Jeffreys would have seemed a total pussycat had Yours Truly ever been elevated to a position anywhere near a black cap, Mr X. However, my street cred never seemed to match up to the letters that I regularly sent to The Thunderer*, so a pinch or two of salt might be in order here.... Wink

*However, I did have several packs of cards - and postal orders - courtesy of the Crossword page, so all was not lost! Very Happy
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