(You can choose or or both)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Euro & Brexit

Promis, des photos de vacances viendront bientôt!
Joseph Stiglitz on the Euro:
The euro was flawed at birth. Even the best policymakers the world has ever seen could not have made it work. The eurozone’s structure imposed the kind of rigidity associated with the gold standard. The single currency took away its members’ most important mechanism for adjustment – the exchange rate – and the eurozone circumscribed monetary and fiscal policy.
Another Guardian article on Brexit:
But in other respects, Brexit has been a help. It has forced the government to take a long, hard look at the British economy – something that would not have happened without the shock administered by the referendum. It’s brought home the fact that most of Britain feels disconnected from the economic story peddled by successive governments..
Guardian dissing Euro and talking up Brexit, who'd a thunk it?

(Normal service should resume shortly...)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Back ... De retour

Déjà de retour depuis une semaine, mais pas encore vraiment fonctionnel à 100%. J'ai voulu faire vacances sans email, mais au retour j'ai toujours pas réussi à remettre en marche les mails sur mon téléphone (à part ça, je n'ai absolument pas regretté un mois sans email ni infos!).
Been back a week actually, but not fully functional again yet.
(I attempted to set up my smart phone to be more dumb for the holidays, and somehow managed to get in a state where I can't activate emails on it anymore!).

Given that this time we were just three on holiday, the housework had to be shared out differently. We discovered that Kalia loves hanging out the washing. One less thing to fight over.

En vacances, j'ai décidé de les payer pour les les fiches de maths. Au début Rebecca a flippé parce qu'elle trouvait trop dur. Mais une fois que je lui ai expliqué, elle a compris le truc et s'est fait beaucoup d'argent!
On holiday, they get paid for doing maths, it was a bit too hard for Rebecca to start with, but she got the hang of it very quickly, and made out like a bandit.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Not this time ... Pas le temps

Généralement j'essaie de préparer des articles à l'avance pour peupler ce blog pendant mes absences. Mais cette fois-ci, je suis en panne de photos, d'idées et de temps! Hormis les tâches normales quotidiennes, mon esprit a été passablement occupé avec des histoires de Brexit, mondialisation, et l'avenir du travail dans ce contexte. Ce qui donnerait des articles assez longs, ou rebarbatifs, ou les deux!

A dans quelques temps, donc.
Normally I preload some prerecorded ("here's one I prepared earlier") posts before going on holiday, but this time I haven't got many photos to hang posts on, and running out of time as well. My brain has been occupied (apart from with the normal stuff of life) with Brexit and thoughts about globalisation, employment, the working class etc. Which makes for posts which are either long, boring, or both. So I'll spare you that.

Going on a screen fast (I hope), so see you in a while.

Photos prise ce weekend dans la campagne fribourgoise.
These photos are from this weekend, we went to a 2x50th birthday up 'in the mountains'. Beautiful place (there are lots of them round here, I admit).

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Democracy, the sequel

Désolé, touours pas de traduction :)
OK, here we go, here we go, here we go. Last stretch before the big day!

Fasten your seatbelts, this is somewhere between stream of consciousness, brain-dump and random thoughts. There is not necessarily any connection between one paragraph and the next.

Concentration of power is dangerous, even if you like or trust the current holders of it.

Watch Brexit the movie, at least, or if you're more leftwards inclined, the Lexit movie. Guess which one talks about immigration? (Disclaimer, I stumped up $25 for the Brexit movie).

Unchecked, a bureaucracy will only ever grow, and beyond a certain size, it's main aim will be to maintain its own existence.

I find it astounding, disappointing, yet also profoundly encouraging that the level of discussion has been far more civil, reasoned, informative on private blogs than in the 'mainstream' media.

Here is an example of polite, gentle, faith-inspired (and conflicted) personal thoughts: My Brexit Frustrations.

On the topic of mainstream media, it has been pointed out that newspapers don't influence their readers, they publish what they think their readers want to hear. Here is a marvellous bit of Yes Minister on this topic.

Many of the 'experts' who are for remain also advised us to join the Euro back in the day (see Lexit video for that).

Broken promises: Forty years ago, those who warned that the Common Market was going to morph into something far more invasive were called prophets of doom.

On the subject of the Euro, the Eurozone, and what I said in my last post, the technical term to describe my train analogy is apparently 'optimal currency area'.

One argument I have read for Remain which seems incredibly weak to me is "getting out to save ourselves is selfish". Staying on a sinking boat is not selfless, it's stupid.

Which way do you think the Queen would vote, and why? (If you care)

Nearly all Remain arguments are anti-leave, but not pro-EU. This is disconcerting, and disappointing, as one of the big criticisms of Leave is that "nobody knows what will happen afterwards", and this is contrasted to a presumed stability if we vote to Remain. But the EU is not static either, and I don't think anyone can predict what is going to happen in the next 10 years if we stay in. Except that things aren't looking great.

On the subject of "what happens next", here is a Daniel Hannan article about a 'gentle' leave.

And here is Tim Worstall (not everyone's cup of tea): The economic truth about Brexit is really very simple. If we follow sensible economic policies after leaving then we’ll do well. If we follow stupid economic policies then we won’t. The major difference will be that we get to decide, after leaving, which economic policies we wish to pursue. And unless we think that we’re all so damn stupid that we need the European Union to tell us which is which, making our own decisions does sound rather better, doesn’t it?

It seems weird that TTIP and ISDS (a supra-national tribunal) are considered 'bad', but that the ECHR ECJ (a supra-national court) is considered 'good'.

Farage's immigrant poster seems very much like an own-goal to me. The other half piling on behind Jo Cox's murder is pretty low too.

I find it ironic that some of the people who have doubts about whether one can trust voters to do the right thing seem to simultaneously be basing their own decisions on what they don't like about particular faces in the campaign. If that's their version of democracy, I can understand their doubts... To me, the fact that many individuals are agonising over their vote, when statistically-speaking it will "make no difference" is a confirmation that democracy is not dead, nor useless, and it confirms my hope in my fellow democrats.

Reform in our time? I have read several people plaintively hoping that somehow staying in will provoke some kind of reform. 10'000 over-paid functionaries in Brussels says no, as far as I'm concerned. Systems never change unless forced to. And saying 'yes' is not force.

I feel that the Remain camp could also be branded as 'Little Englanders': they have managed to convince themselves that the UK is too puny to survive on its own (fifth largest economy in the world), and that we really need the EU. There is a sort of acquired helplessness which is also reflected in the general population. More than ever, western countries need an entrepreneurial "get up and go" attitude. Some people are warning that the "robots are going to take our jobs". If you are a factory worker, that is not new news. But for the middle class office drone, the next few years are going to be similarly uncomfortable. The days of big companies employing halls of office workers to do the same thing are going. Maybe big employers are just a historical 'blip', and we are heading into a time where people are going to have to be creative and not only create their own jobs, but invent whole new professions? Unfortunately "the government owes me a job" is so ingrained in our collective consciousness (mine included), I fear there's going to be a lot of pain ahead.

People ignoring, downplaying, ridiculing fears about immigration (whether job loss or 'cultural invasion') are playing with fire as much as people playing up those fears. You may consider this inflammatory, but the Cologne attacks were not a right-wing hoax, Rotherham did happen, Calderdale too. Explaining them away helps nobody.

Finally, for a bit of 'balance', here is a link to a video by a professor of EU law, who is totally Remain, because 'unpicking' forty years of lawmaking will just be too complicated. Very instructive, but made me think that this is a reason why democracy is better than technocracy: experts see everything through the lens of their own area of expertise. He maintains that regulations and standards are not about protectionism, I don't buy that: though I concede that they're not solely about protectionism. Another lawyer pulling the opposite way.

Yes Minister is really good:

Watch this ... A regarder

Pour mieux comprendre la vie d'un diabètique (Rebecca n'a le capteur que quelques fois par années, vous avez vu la taille de l'aiguille?!.
To better understand the life of a diabetic. (Rebecca only has the CGM a few times per year - have you seen the length of that needle?!).

Monday, June 20, 2016

Coming home ... Retour maison

Un lutin de plus dans le jardin de mes parents.
An extra pixie in my parents' garden.

Les filles sont arrivées à un âge où voyager ensemble, même comme 'parent seul' est facile, et carrément un plaisir. Je suis reconnaissant qu'elles arrivent encore à s'occuper avec trois fois rien, sans réclamer tout le temps un écran (ok, parfois quand même!).
The girls have got to an age where travelling, even as a 'lone parent', is easy, and even pleasant. I'm glad that they have learnt how to occupy themselves with a few books and pens, and don't spend the whole journey bugging me for a screen to look at (ok, sometimes they do!).

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Voilà comment on fait pour mener un rhinocéros!
This is how you herd rhinoceroses.

Fatigués mes heureux d'une journée remplie!
Tired but happy after a very full day.

Et du fish and chips pour finir la journée en beauté!
Rounding it off nicely with fish and chips.

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Il y avait aussi des dinosaures au zoo, qui bougaient et faisaient du bruit!
At the zoo there are also lots of dinosaurs. I thought it would be a bit tacky, but actually it was very interesting.

Ca, c'est une fossile de caca de dino!
Especially the dinosaur poo!

Rebecca découvre les tailles relatives des cerveaux.
Rebecca discovers her brain size.

Friday, June 17, 2016


On a pu donner à manger aux hippopotames (depuis loin, des choux).
We got to feed the hippos! A wheelbarrow-full of cabbage, throwing them from a long way away.

En plus du zoo il y a un parc avec des manèges.
There's an 'amusement' park too.

Arrivés à l'heure (mais trop tard quand même), pour le spectacle des phoques (ou otaries, je sais jamais), on est allé visiter ces oiseaux, qui viennent volontiers voir si on n'a pas un peu de nectar.
We arrived on time (but too late, don't ask!) for the sealion show, so went to visit these beautiful birds, who come and land on you to see if you've got anything to drink.

Evidemment, pour avoir les petits godets de nectar il faut payer.
The drink is nectar, which you obviously have to pay for.