Friday, 1 July 2016

Joy, oh joy.

Even in the midst of grief and sadness there can be joy.

Such was the case for me yesterday when I baptised Phoenix James Medeiros.  He is a happy, outgoing, and engaging wee lad.  He makes me smile and laugh.

Here we are soon after his baptism.


Mutual admiration!

His Dad and Mum are restaurateurs, hence for them  a  Sunday morning baptism is all but impossible

Post baptism, Phoenix dabbles in the waterm

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

BREXIT? From the elected Mayor of Bristol UK (my home City} - via my niece

Bristol, U.K. is one of only two cities in the U.K. to have an elected (hence executive) Mayor.

The current elected Mayor, Marvin Rees has this to say in the light of many racist incidents following the Brexit vote.




Good for you Mayor Rees.

I cannot resist tweaking the noses of my left wing liberal Christian friends in the USA  who have their own prejudices regarding evangelicals. 

Mayor Marvin Rees is an evangelical Christian.  His statement is entirely congruent with the beliefs of most evangelicals in the U,K,   Good for them too!


Tuesday, 28 June 2016

"I almost dissolved in a puddle of tears", or "On getting a U.S.A /U.K. flight (and back again) at short notice".






I needed (at very short notice)  to get a flight from south west Florida to London for a funeral in Bristol U.K.

Many flights were already overbooked.

British Air and Delta fares were horribly high.

Cheaper fares were available for those who do not mind 172 stopovers ( I exaggerate a bit!).

In due course I settled on  Virgin Atlantic flights (not cheap, but not ultra-expensive) from Sarasota via Atlanta, to London Heathrow  (and back home again!) 

Booking on line should be simple.  But it ain't!

ON MY FIRST ATTEMPT:  The Virgin Atlantic site crashed.

ON MY SECOND ATTEMPT: My Discover Card was rejected for no good reason.  I have a good credit history.

ON MY THIRD ATTEMPT: My booking was successful, using a different credit card.


Whoop dee doo (or so I thought)

I called the Discover Card people.' They conceded that they had rejected my charge for no good reason, and that my card would not be billed. SO FAR SO GOOD.

I'd been on line and on the 'phone for more that two hours so I decided to energise myself with a cup of good coffee,

'Twas then that I looked at my printed flight itinerary,   to see that I had booked the flights to and from the U.K.for one week later than I needed.

 I almost dissolved in a  puddle of tears.

With dread and trembling I 'phoned Virgin Atlantic, expecting to encounter one of those wheel of misfortune 'phone systems in which we have to press a myriad of buttons 

( e.g. press 1 if your belly button is an outie, 2 if it's an innie; and 

press 17 if you are a cat lover or 92 if you are allergic to Llamas, etc etc.)

I also anticipated being put on hold until my bladder was fit to explode.

Oh my gracious there was none of that.  I was talking to a human being within sixty seconds.

I explained my problem to a sharp and knowledgeable Londoner.

"No problem" he said.  "We can make the changes right now, and because you are calling withing twenty four hours of your first booking, there will be no charge".

He chatted me through various questions for clarification and for security.  Within ten minutes my erroneous reservation had been corrected, and my flights were secured for the days I needed them.

He even took time to make my seat assignments.

VIRGIN ATLANTIC  came through for me with superb customer service.  Good for them!








Sunday, 26 June 2016

Brexit for Dummies


Part One  (from  jmp)


The Brexit referendum was advisory, not mandatory.









"The U.K. vote was not a plebiscite.   It was a  referendum to give advice to Her Majesty's Government.


( I wonder how many U.K. voters realised that the Referendum  was advisory, not mandatory).

It had to be that way because under the U.K.'s (unwritten) Constitution the authority to make law rests in Parliament (or perhaps more correctly to "The Queen in Parliament").

U.K. governance is not like a New England Town meeting in which the voters in any
given town have a  direct say in how the town is governed and its budget set.

U.K. voters indirectly make changes in law possible by changing the majority party when electing  Members  of Parliament in a General 
or by-election. 

Even that is not absolute because the House of Lords  (unelected) also has a limited 
role in law making (delaying or amending legislation, but even a House of Lords vote to amend legislation has to be refered back to the Commons.

Since the referendum was advisory, the Government of the Day is under no constitutional obligation to act on the recommendation (which in this case would be by invoking the E.U.'s Article 50 by a vote in Parliament).


(Of course it can and should be argued that the Governing Party has a moral or political duty  to bring such a vote to Parliament, but even in that case Members of Parliament  would be free to vote against triggering Article 50 (and would pay any price when they face their Constituency  voters at the next election!).



Prime Minister Cameron, ( a "remainer" ), by announcing that he will resign in three months time, has made it clear that he will not trigger Article 50.


So who will be called upon to do so?  It will have to be the next Leader of the Tory
party, who, because the Tories have an absolute majority in the House of Commons, will be called upon by Queen Elizabeth II to "form a Government", and thus become"Her Majesty's Prime Minister".

If my American friends think that the U.K. Constitution is utterly incomprehensible, please try explain the Electoral College to a Brit!

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Part Two. Intriguing Political Commentary from a U.K. reader of "The Guardian" Newspaper. 

"David Cameron's shrewd move"?

( With gratitude to my Facebook friend Michael S who put me on to this.)


 Guardian Pick
934935
If Boris Johnson looked downbeat yesterday, that is because he realises that he has lost.
Perhaps many Brexiters do not realise it yet, but they have actually lost, and it is all down to one man: David Cameron.
With one fell swoop yesterday at 9:15 am, Cameron effectively annulled the referendum result, and simultaneously destroyed the political careers of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and leading Brexiters who cost him so much anguish, not to mention his premiership.
How?
Throughout the campaign, Cameron had repeatedly said that a vote for leave would lead to triggering Article 50 straight away. Whether implicitly or explicitly, the image was clear: he would be giving that notice under Article 50 the morning after a vote to leave. Whether that was scaremongering or not is a bit moot now but, in the midst of the sentimental nautical references of his speech yesterday, he quietly abandoned that position and handed the responsibility over to his successor.
And as the day wore on, the enormity of that step started to sink in: the markets, Sterling, Scotland, the Irish border, the Gibraltar border, the frontier at Calais, the need to continue compliance with all EU regulations for a free market, re-issuing passports, Brits abroad, EU citizens in Britain, the mountain of legistlation to be torn up and rewritten ... the list grew and grew.
The referendum result is not binding. It is advisory. Parliament is not bound to commit itself in that same direction.
The Conservative party election that Cameron triggered will now have one question looming over it: will you, if elected as party leader, trigger the notice under Article 50?
Who will want to have the responsibility of all those ramifications and consequences on his/her head and shoulders?
Boris Johnson knew this yesterday, when he emerged subdued from his home and was even more subdued at the press conference. He has been out-maneouvered and check-mated.
If he runs for leadership of the party, and then fails to follow through on triggering Article 50, then he is finished. If he does not run and effectively abandons the field, then he is finished. If he runs, wins and pulls the UK out of the EU, then it will all be over - Scotland will break away, there will be upheaval in Ireland, a recession ... broken trade agreements. Then he is also finished. Boris Johnson knows all of this. When he acts like the dumb blond it is just that: an act.
The Brexit leaders now have a result that they cannot use. For them, leadership of the Tory party has become a poison chalice.
When Boris Johnson said there was no need to trigger Article 50 straight away, what he really meant to say was "never". When Michael Gove went on and on about "informal negotiations" ... why? why not the formal ones straight away? ... he also meant not triggering the formal departure. They both know what a formal demarche would mean: an irreversible step that neither of them is prepared to take.
All that remains is for someone to have the guts to stand up and say that Brexit is unachievable in reality without an enormous amount of pain and destruction, that cannot be borne. And David Cameron has put the onus of making that statement on the heads of the people who led the Brexit campaign.