We have arrived at the end of November. From this point forward, Christmas can truly begin. Welcome to the Meerkat Muse.
Where are we at?
Right at the end of the last two-week cycle of these Muses, missiles crashed into Poland, near the border with Ukraine, sparking fears of a new, very serious escalation of the Ukraine/Russia war. Russian forces had been firing missiles at Ukrainian cities (their failure to defeat Ukrainian military targets meant they targeted civilians instead), and Ukraine launched anti-missile weapons to intercept them. One city under fire (as it has been on more than one occasion) was the city of Lviv, which is not too far from Poland.
For Russia to deliberately fire missiles at Poland, a member of NATO, would be a massive escalation. It would potentially trigger Article 5, the part of the treaty that dictates how an attack on one part of NATO, is an attack on them all. This would bring a swift and powerful response against Russia, and given Russia’s struggles against Ukraine, it’s highly unlikely they’d be able to do much about it. It doesn’t make sense for Russia to deliberately attack a NATO member.
Nor would it make sense for Ukraine to stage such an attack, however much Ukraine would love direct NATO intervention. If such subterfuge were discovered, support for Ukraine would sharply weaken. It wouldn’t necessarily vanish, but it would weaken, and that would make life considerably harder.
The most likely explanation is that a missile malfunctioned, with unfortunate and tragic consequences on the ground in Poland. However, considering that Russia started this war, and Russian forces believe lobbing missiles at cities near another nation’s border is a legitimate form of war, the ultimate responsibility rests with them. I doubt Russia will see it that way, but that’s the reality.
On the 20th, the 2022 F1 season reached its climax, with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The driver’s and constructor’s championships had been decided some time prior to the last race, with Max Verstappen cruising to his second world title, and Red Bull breaking Mercedes’ hold on the constructor’s title. In respect of the sharp end, the final race was therefore anti-climactic, and the on-track action was also somewhat lacking in drama (certainly in comparison to last year’s race!). Verstappen disappeared into the sunset for his 15th win of the year, and his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez provided a bit of excitement, in his tussle with Ferrari man Charles Leclerc, for the wooden spoon of 2022. Perez would end up third in the race, and thus third in the standings, behind Leclerc.
The biggest takeaway is that the race was the final bow of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. Vettel took a point for Aston Martin, and also claimed the respect of the paddock, for a career defined not only by his titles, but his mellowing into a thoroughly likeable character. The last few seasons haven’t been easy for him, but at height of his powers, Vettel proved himself to be one of the best, with 53 wins, 57 pole positions, and 122 podium finishes to his name. Danke Seb, for all that you gave.
The World Cup is now well underway, and the supporters of the 32 nations involved will be keeping everything crossed, in a bid to send good fortune to their team. As an England supporter, international tournaments usually don’t end well, but how is this one going? Well, I’m keeping a running chronicle of the tournament here, so if you’re interested, check it out!
The early story from this Muse is the falling wet stuff. It has been relentless. Wednesday the 16th was a damp day, and the morning of the 17th carried on that pattern. It was unreal. I know it’s that time of year, but it’s thoroughly unpleasant, to put it mildly. In a lot of ways, snow would be better, because it doesn’t get you quite so wet in the first instance. Mind you, snow brings a whole different set of problems, so I can’t say that I desire it. I’d certainly need better winter shoes, should the snow fall heavily over winter.
I was walking through town the other afternoon, on my way to collect my daughter from school. As I ambled along, I heard a loud voice, proclaiming her love of God, Jesus, and the Bible. A woman was walking in my general direction, and depending upon your point of view, she was either talking to herself, or talking to everyone. Given how vocal she was, I’m inclined to think the latter.
The timing of this was interesting. I’ve been in a set of discussions about religious freedoms, and it got me thinking about a particular analogy I made. To quote myself from this post:
If a person wished to smoke at their desk at work, or at a bar, many places would not allow them to, as other people would be exposed to the smoke, against their will. What a person does in their own home, or in a designated smoking area, is a different matter. For that matter, they can walk down the street and smoke. It’s not especially pleasant for the people who get caught in a puff of cigarette smoke as they walk by, but we’re talking about a wide open, public space.
Smoking probably isn’t the best analogy, but it maybe addresses the thought process. ‘Practice your faith in whatever way you want when at home, or at a place of worship, but don’t be expected to freely do so in private institutions, such as a sports venue, social club, or place of work’.
There’s a lot more to that discussion, including a part two, and several comments to dig into.
Do we take a dim view of what might be classed as street preaching? It’s sort of inescapable, regardless of whether you want to hear it. UK religious laws are not necessarily the same as US laws, and there is no constitution that enshrines freedom of (or from) religion, but the Human Rights Act of 1998 does put into law the right hold beliefs (and to not hold beliefs). In fact, to quote:
What are your rights under article 9?
The right to hold beliefs
Article 9 protects your right to hold both religious and non-religious beliefs. This is an absolute right which means it can’t be interfered with by the state. Article 9 includes the right to choose or change your religion or beliefs. It also means you can’t be forced to have a particular religion.
The right to manifest your beliefs
Article 9 also protects your right to manifest your beliefs – for example, your right to wear religious clothing, the right to talk about your beliefs or take part in religious worship. The right to manifest your beliefs is qualified. This means it can be interfered with in certain situations – for example, to protect the rights of others.https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/civil-rights/human-rights/what-rights-are-protected-under-the-human-rights-act/your-right-to-freedom-of-religion-and-belief/#:~:text=In%20the%20UK%2C%20human%20rights,by%20the%20Human%20Rights%20Act.
Sometimes, I wonder if these laws are designed to create confusion. Article 9 talks of how you can hold religious beliefs, then talks of how the rights of others can be protected in certain, qualifying situations. This is bound to lead to conflict, and how would it apply in the case of the woman marching through town, loudly professing her love of God and Jesus? Perhaps it simply wouldn’t apply at all. She was exercising her right to manifest her beliefs. She’s in public, so there’s not really anything anyone can do.
I did internally chuckle when she spoke of Jesus freeing people from bondage. Some people enjoy bondage. Ahem…
The Obligatory Book Promo Part
Come on, you didn’t think I’d do a Muse and not mention The Awakening, did you? I’ve had a handful of sales, and I am eternally grateful to all those who have bought it, and left reviews. I’d love to say it’s flying out the door, but then again, I never expected it to. The important thing is, it’s out there, and I am proud of it. UK readers can order The Awakening via this link, and US readers can purchase it via this link. Happy reading!
The Tories are running the country into the ground, and their latest Budget is a further example of how they simply do not understand (let alone care) the damage they are doing to the working class. Millions will face tax increases, at a time when energy bills continue to rise, and the overall cost of living is going up. Yes, there are plans for windfall taxes, and the threshold for high earners to pay more tax has been lowered, but it’s not nearly enough. The mega-rich corporations and individuals could do a lot more, and give a lot more, remain extremely wealthy, and the working class could be left alone, but that’s not how Tories do things. There is zero need for our energy bills to increase so dramatically, but this government is all about profit over people.
The sooner we vote out these crooks, the better.
It wouldn’t be a Meerkat Muse without at least one reference to crazy dreams. The other night, I dreamed I was a cricketer. This is highly unusual for a number of reasons. Firstly, I can’t stand cricket. It is is beyond boring. It has never interested me. Secondly, I was a fielder, and catching things isn’t my strong point. Yet in the dream, I was fielding for England against Australia, and doing quite a good job of it too. Then again, the match was being played in a small field, rather than the expanse of a cricket pitch, and I don’t think you’re supposed to steal the ball. I was also somehow splashing water at everyone, which is also against the rules.
By now, I go with the flow when it comes to dreams. They occasionally bear some connection to recent experiences, but they often lurch off into a wild tangent. If nothing else, my nocturnal experiences are a form of entertainment. Sometimes though, they are a form of creeping me out…
Take another recent dream. It was the middle of the night, but my wife, daughter and I were awake, and in the kitchen, because we could near noises. It turned out, someone was trying to break into the house next door. I was trying to convince my daughter to head upstairs and stay out of sight, because I didn’t know if the guy trying to break into my neighbour’s house might be a threat to us. We were trying to call the police, and the neighbours themselves weren’t reacting, because I think they’d gone away for the night. Eventually the police showed up, stopped and arrested the would-be thief, and that was that. The sense of fear is difficult to explain, only it was decidedly scary to have someone loitering outside in the dark, even if they weren’t interested in my house. I was afraid for my daughter, and I was getting a bit shouty, in my efforts to get her to go upstairs (she was stubbornly refusing to go).
I also had a dream about a nuclear explosion, which was disconcerting and scary, and there was something about being on a pirate ship too. My nocturnal brain is really messy.
In recent days, #RIPTwitter has been trending, on, funnily enough, Twitter. Elon Musk’s decisions to sack half his workforce, and force the rest to sign up to ‘long hours at high intensity‘, seems to be running the social media platform into the ground. It’s been suggested that a lot of employees are leaving, which is hardly surprising, given the circumstances. Here’s a crazy notion for one of the world’s richest men to consider – pay your people a fair, living wage, for working reasonable hours. No one should have to put work before everything else, least of all for someone who doesn’t care about them.
I don’t think Twitter will actually go down, but all things are possible, and with that in mind, I now have a presence on Mastodon. You can find me here.
Speaking of Mastodon, I’m getting better at understanding this unique, decentralised platform. The lack of a ‘find me here’ button (like I have for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) is a bit frustrating, but that’s between WordPress and Mastodon, and I think it has something to do with the various servers you can join on Mastodon. You don’t join a social media site as such, you join an ‘instance’, and with that in mind, there are many different instances to join. It can make following people a little tricky, but it’s doable, and should Mastodon usurp Twitter, I have no doubt that time and money will be invested into making the platform as good as it can be.
Another Year Around the Sun
Happy Birthday to me!
It will surely surprise no one to learn beer was on the birthday agenda.
Also lined up was a meal at a local all-you-can-eat restaurant. I can’t champion it for quality, but then again, I don’t go there for the quality, I go for the quantity, and the variety. Mind you, in terms of variety, I have to admit, I tend to stick to a certain range. The Chinese and Indian options are my preferences. Then there’s the cakes… mmmmm… and I cannot forget Bruce Gerencser’s favourite, ice cream! Strawberry and vanilla flavour, drizzled in strawberry syrup – yum!
Oh No He Isn’t!
Panto season is well and truly here. On two consecutive days, my daughter saw two different pantomimes, one in Basildon, and one in Stevenage. I elected to spend the Stevenage one with my dad, and we chatted, watched some World Cup football, then collected the rest of the family for a carvery dinner. I dare say that the quality of the beef at the carvery left a lot to be desired, as it proved to be stringy, but aside from that, it was alright. They had a nice Christmas Tree though.
On the way home, we went via Liverpool Street, and I took advantage of this to get a little pic of a lit-up building outside.
Finally, on the way home, I tried to take a photo of a big neon ABBA sign, but ended up getting a really weird reflected shot:
Oh, owing to a trip to a pub, a pigeon, and a giant banana, my daughter drew this:
I’ll leave you to determine the context of her drawing!
On the way up to St. Evenage (as I like to refer to the place), we nearly had a big train snafu. I pride myself on being organised when it comes to train travel, yet at King’s Cross, we nearly ended up going elsewhere. The info board said our train was departing from platform 9. I checked it more than once, and then we went and boarded the train. We sat down, and the train began to fill up, until we were kinda boxed in. I looked at the on-board tracker, and it declared the next stop was… Cambridge.
Nope. Nopitty-nope. We didn’t want our first stop to be Cambridge! The automated announcer then also declare Cambridge to be the first stop, and then the train began to move! Aaaaaaaaaarrrrrgh!
Then the driver did an announcement, and confirmed that the train would indeed stop at Stevenage, and we all breathed easier.
Kings and Queens
The finale of I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here was riddled with controversy, before it even began (at least, that’s my view). Somehow, pillock Matt Hancock reached the final three, which meant either the British public was stupid enough to vote for the Tory failure over and over again, or the event was being rigged somehow. Neither possibility reflected very well upon our politics. Thankfully, he came third, which was a small measure of justice, though he never should have got that far.
The worthy winner was Lioness Jill Scott, and yet, initially, the BBC News site made a fuss off… Hancock finishing third. I do not give a flying fuck where Hancock finished. It’s not about him, so why is the media playing up his result? I will not feel sympathy for a Tory scumbag who broke his own rules to have an affair, whilst overseeing the deaths of thousands from covid, due to incompetence.
A Change of Theme
I’m, quite literally, considering changing the theme of Meerkat Musings. I’ve had the current theme for quite a while, and refreshing the look isn’t a bad idea, every now and then. I haven’t found a theme that jumps out at me, but I’m looking.
My wife and daughter are devious. They hatched a plot to ‘get’ me, and it worked beautifully. My daughter messaged me, with a cry of ‘daaad’. This was followed up with ‘There’s a really big spider’. This has happened before, and there has genuinely been a spider. On this occasion, there was also a spider, only it was a massive, fake, toy spider, that gave me a pretty big fright. Cue peals of laughter from wife and daughter.
It’s Mario Time!
I wasn’t expecting another Super Mario Bros trailer, yet one dropped the other night, and it looks absolutely AMAZING!
With that, it’s time to draw this Muse to a close. I hope you have enjoyed it, and I hope you will join me again next time!