Nothing New

Here’s an interesting consequence of the Chinkvirus:

Denmark is set to introduce a government-sponsored coronavirus vaccine passport in coordination with airlines early this year, a national Danish broadcaster has revealed.

Now the idea of a “vaccination passport” has a whole bunch of people tied in knots, as it’s just one step away from the old “Papieren bitte”  way to install restrictions, tracking and control on travel.

I’m not one of them.  In the first place, proof of vaccination has always been a fact of life when traveling anywhere outside your home country;  try visiting India or Africa without proof of smallpox/yellow fever/etc. etc. in your passport, and you’ll be turned away from the boarding area.  (This, by the way, is as much to ensure that not only are you immune to catching the pox whilst Over There looking at strange temples etc., but that you don’t bring said pox back with you to an un-vaccinated home population.)  The only reason one doesn’t need proof of vaccination when traveling from the U.S. to places like Britishland and Euroland is because said diseases are not only notionally extinct (except where, surprise surprise there are large numbers of illegal and un-vaccinated border-jumpers), but where children are routinely vaccinated in order to attend school and so on.

So I’m indifferent to the idea of a Chinkvirus vaccination passport as part of international travel — and for that matter, in terms of local travel and behavior as well — and especially because once inoculated, I wouldn’t have to wear a stupid and ineffective face-condom every time I wanted to go out of the house.

Of course, the conspiracy morons are going to insist that Gummint is going to use Pox Passports to track individuals’ movements and behaviors, and of course that is a valid concern.  Just remember, though, that we’re talking about Government here:  the morons who can’t find their own assholes with both hands, a map and a trail of crumbs.

I know that in movies, government agents always require just a few clicks on their (Apple — LOL) laptops to create all sorts of data reports at the drop of a hat — the risible Person Of Interest  TV series being the apotheosis thereof.  Longtime students of both government, database systems and the combination thereof know that this facility is very much part of the suspension of belief required to view any work of fiction these days.

Besides, I’m relying on the criminal marketplace to produce passable copies of said documents in sufficient numbers to make the entire thing untenable — just as fake driver’s licenses can and have been used to enable fraudulent voting.

It’s a non-issue, and we have bigger things to worry about.

Simple View, Utter Beauty

At the moment, I’m reading Bill Bryson’s The Road To Little Dribbling, and as always I’m torn between helpless nostalgia and loud laughter — my general reaction to Bryson.  But the reading has pushed me into homesickness for Britishland, the feeling all the sharper because under current Chinkvirus restrictions, I can’t go back there and do all the things I love doing, such as driving through the countryside and marveling at the towns and villages as so memorably described by Bryson and embedded in my own memory from countless trips past.

I don’t often do this, but I thought I’d share with you the picture that’s currently my laptop’s wallpaper (right-click to embiggen to its original 1920×1200 size):

I don’t know if I’ve ever driven through this particular village, but I’ve driven through so many like it that it doesn’t matter.  Frankly, after a while they all become a blur, another “OMG that’s-so-beautiful-I-want-to-live-here” moment.

Of particular interest, nay even alarm to my Murkin readers would be the fact that despite the single tire-tracks in the road, it is in fact a two-way street which leads itself to moments of sheer panic should you encounter, for example, Bob The Plumber’s oversize Ford van coming the other way.  Such a situation requires either

  • pulling to the side (left) as close as possible to the walls / hedges and hoping that Bob will be able to get past without scraping the side of your (rental) car, or
  • driving on regardless while hoping that he will squeeze to the side leaving you enough room to get past without scraping the side of your (rental) car, or
  • pulling into a driveway — which action is inexplicably frowned upon by the householder
  • or else in the final resort, reversing back towards a “wider” portion of the road so that both you and Bob can pass by each other with a friendly wave from Bob at your patience and good manners.

When Mr. Free Market sets out for a destination outside his own village, he as often as not takes a completely different road each time, just to take in the exquisite countryside.  I once asked him if he’s ever got used to, or even bored with the countryside he drives through every day, and his answer was succinct:  “Never.  Not even close.”

I can see why.  Scenery such as the above plays a huge part in my laptop wallpaper selection — I don;t change it because I’m sick of it, only because I hanker after another scene.  Here, for your delectation, are a few others (ditto the embiggening):

(that’s a giant pic;  allow some time to load)

More, upon request, if like me you’re a fan of the English countryside.

All Hell Diversity

So much for the Great Diversity Experiment:

As the world watched in awe five years ago, new faces were welcomed into Germany with balloons and banners proclaiming ‘We love refugees’.
More than a million strangers headed there from faraway lands at the height of Europe’s biggest migration crisis since World War II hoping for a new life in the West.
In a rallying cry to her nation, the German chancellor Angela Merkel declared in the autumn of 2015: ‘We can do this. We are strong and can manage it.’
Even as Mrs Merkel’s historic speech was broadcast on German TV, reports flashed up on the screen that trainloads of men, women and children were clamouring to be let in at her borders. And they were.
In astonishing scenes a few days later, thousands of bedraggled, tired migrants turned up at railway stations in German cities to be met by local children blowing soap bubbles and handing over teddy bears as the country threw off its dark, xenophobic past to become the humanitarian face of Europe.
But today the celebrations for migrants are over in this powerhouse of the European Union.
Many of the foreigners who entered Germany in those heady days are being forcibly sent home to Africa, south Asia, the Middle East, Russia and the Balkans on secret flights, marshalled by security officers, after being frogmarched to airports from their beds by armed police.

I wonder why?  Oh yes, because they can’t or won’t assimilate, their crime rates are astronomical, and far from being the fuel that would help Germany’s economy, most are pretty much acting as brakes, being totally dependent on Germany’s generous welfare state.

Who could ever have thought this this would happen?

Well, most of us, as it turns out;  only we were called “racists” and “fascists” or worse, for the sin of being realists and not starry-eyed dreamers in thrall to the “magic dirt” theory of socialization.

As for “being frogmarched to airports from their beds by armed police”, I just wish we could do the same to our ingrate immigrants, but no doubt someone’s going to have a problem with me saying that, too.

Social Distancing

Over the past weekend, Mr. Free Market obeyed the BritGov’s stupid social distancing rules in the proper manner:

Yes, I am insanely jealous.  Why do you ask?

Also, re: my post about the Beretta 687 a week or so ago, he sent me this snippet:

…and a bonus pic from one of his earlier shoots, this time for vermin:

No More Bill

I see with great regret that the peerless travel writer Bill Bryson is closing up his inkwell for good.

In an age when cheap airfares and package tours — not to mention online “visits” through media such as Gurgle maps and InstaGram — could have made travel writing about as relevant as toenail clippings, Bryson’s refreshing, no-nonsense style has defied the trend.

I first encountered the man through his Lost Continent: Travels In Small-Town America.   I found in Bryson a kindred soul because at the time, Longtime Buddy Trevor Romain and I were doing very much the same thing, albeit on a smaller scale:  once a year we would take a long weekend off work, pick a part of the U.S. that we’d never visited before, and fly in (he from Austin and I, at that time, from Chicago).  Then we’d rent a car and set off, destination unknown and only the return flight’s departure time as a deadline.  The Golden Rule:  No Interstate Highways.  Even major U.S. roads with only two digits (e.g. U.S. 30 or Route 66) were treated with suspicion, and we’d get off into the back country roads with alacrity.

We were often asked why we did this — and we did it for nearly a decade — and our reply was simple.  We did it to remind ourselves why we had both left our country of birth and settled in this new, this wonderful and this dauntingly-large and diverse land.

To say that we met interesting people would rank among the great understatements of the century:  in New Orleans, Queer Tom and Opera Kate (an out-of-work opera singer working as a barmaid);  the lady in a little town outside Portland who collected frogs of all descriptions (stuffed, porcelain, wooden, whatever) and displayed them all in her restaurant;  the huge guy in New Hampshire who, when we asked him if he’d ever played football lisped:  “Nope.  I got weak kneeth”;  and the slightly-batty breakfast diner owner in Rhode Island who wore the most eccentric earrings we’d ever seen, a different pair every single day;  these, and many, many others were encountered in our travels, and gave us both dinner-party conversation topics and “Remember when?” reminiscences that survive to this day.

And during every single trip, Trevor and I fell in love with America all over again.

So when reading Bill Bryson’s books, it was like reading about one of our own “Blue Highways” trips (the name taken from the title of William Least Heat Moon’s book of the same ilk).  And when Bryson settled in Britishland, it gave rise to works like the astonishing The Road To Little Dribbling  and Notes From A Small Island  — books which, because I’d been to the U.K. often myself, made me nod my head because I too had been to Little Dribbling, only it was called Upton-Under-Wold, Thirsk or Lesser Foldem.

I cannot recommend his work highly enough, because he is an extraordinary writer who sees everything through a pair of clear-sighted lenses and not rose-tinted ones.  Never one to suffer fools or stupid things, he still talks about them with affection covered by incredulity.  If you’re looking for a reading project for the winter, you could do a lot worse than read everything Bill Bryson has ever written.

And Bill:  good for you.  While I am distraught at your retirement, I am forever grateful to you and your wonderful works.

As to why he’s getting out:

“I would quite like to spend the part that is left to me doing all the things I’ve not been able to do. Like enjoying my family, I have masses of grandchildren and I would love to spend more time with them just down on the floor.”

I can think of no better reason.  Give them each a hug from me.

Choices

The other day, New Wife and I were suffering a little from cabin fever, so we thought about taking a weekend drive trip somewhere — preferably out of Texas, because there are huge swathes of the U.S. that she has yet to see.

The problem was that we are confined to a day trip — i.e. one day’s drive out, stay overnight, and one day back (because of NW’s M-F job) — and because we live in the Great State Of Texas, we are somewhat limited in terms of destination choice, viz.:

Because of the stupid Chinkvirus restrictions, we’d have to confine ourselves to sight-seeing of the “Nature’s wonder” kind.  But the problem is that within the confines of the above circle, there’s a whole lot of fuck nothing (e.g. Oklahoma, Kansas, etc.) and I don’t want to go to the collection of suburbs known as Lake Of The Ozarks.

Given that north Texas is flatter than Gwyneth Paltrow, we have to drive a long way before the scenery becomes a little less monotonous.  And we’ve seen West Texas, thank you, so a westward journey is a non-starter.

Anyone have any ideas?