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ISSUE #182 - 14th
Click here for PDF Version of Issue #181
Russian Demographic Calamity
last issue, I alluded to
Russians within Russia, due to a combination of
“age, ill-health, vodka, net
emigration, abortion and an abysmal, population-destroying fertility rate of
just 1.3 babies per woman”. Some have suggested I expand on this, because it
is surely the defining feature of the Russian geopolitical landscape over
the coming decades, whether in Russia's tacit acceptance of its slow-motion
catastrophe or the actions it takes to deal with it.
When the USSR disintegrated in 1991 it had a healthy
fertility rate of
2.4 babies per woman and a population of 293 million. The combined
population of its constituent countries has remained unchanged over the last
17 years but combined fertility has dropped to a infelicitous 1.54.
The higher figures in the
other countries are largely due to the large Muslim make-up of the
population, to whom the disease of childlessness has not spread.
For pretty much a full
generation, Russian women have been producing, on average, 1.3 babies each and this is killing the
Russia as a race of people. Because with such a low birthrate, you
quite quickly reach a point of no return.
reproduction rate is 2.1 babies per woman. Two to replace the mother
and father, and 0.1 to make up for children killed by accident or disease or
indeed not born at all to some couples or grow up to be infertile.
That means that, on
average, each woman would expect 2.12 = 4.4 grandchildren and 2.13
= 9.3 great-grandchildren.
is already an entire generation of women born as part of the 1.3 average who
will soon be reaching maturity. Unless they radically change from the
habits of their mothers they are also going to produce one-and-a-bit
children, to be optimistic say 1.5. Thus when existing mums become
Mamushkas, they are only going to see 1.3 x 1.5 = 2 grandchildren. So
if Mamsushka wants to get
back on track, genealogy-wise, she has to convince her lonely pair of grandkids to
produce 9.3/2 = 4.7 children so that she can proudly survey the 9.3
great-grandchildren she needs merely to ensure the family line doesn't die
out, not to talk about increasing. But after two generations of families
averaging well under 1½ children, it seems
highly optimistic to suggest, in the absence of some unforeseen cataclysmic event
that changes everyone's world perspective, that young Russian women are
suddenly going to have four or five babies apiece. And if they don't?
The target for their own (few) daughters will be 2.14 / 1.53
= 5.8 babies per woman. It's just not going to happen.
doomed unless it can find another way to create people.
A number of Russians have
talked obliquely about the demographic crisis, for
a specialist on
Russia's macroeconomy at the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development in London observed that
“in 2007, Russia's labour force reached a peak of 90 million.
It will be 15 million fewer by 2020”.
Last year, Nikolay Petrov, a specialist on Russian society at the Carnegie Center
“over the next 20 years, Russia will need 20 million
immigrants to compensate for the labour shortage”.
“labour shortage” in 2027 is of course merely a
manifestation of, if not a euphemism for, a baby shortage in 2007. And
they certainly don't want the kind of immigrants that would want to
immigrate - mainly Muslims and ethnic Chinese from ex-Soviet republics and
from China itself.
Nevertheless, in the past couple of years, the
imperial establishment itself began to take some notice and introduced both
a down-payment and monthly stipends to second-time mothers. While this
resulted in a much-hyped
increase in births last year the overall fertility rate has crept up
from 1.3 only to 1.4. And since there seem to be no special effort to
encourage mothers to produce more than two, current efforts can only slow
but not reverse the inexorable downward trend.
Simply put, the empire needs
more citizens and its women are not going to produce them.
So the most obvious
and easiest solution is simply to steal other countries with large Russian
populations. Which is what's going on, starting with South Ossetia
The South Ossetian president Eduard Kokoity has already
“Yes, we will be part of the Russian Federation ... Now
we are an independent state and we look forward to uniting with North
Ossetia and joining the Russian Federation”,
at least until Czar
Putin made him
retract his premature ejaculation,
have no imperial ambitions which people can accuse us of, and nor will
we ... we took that decision a long time ago and we have no desire, and
no basis, to threaten the sovereignty of the former republics of the
Yeah, right, he would say that wouldn't he, but his actions say something
For who can doubt that
Mr Kokoity's vision will indeed come to pass, adding a football stadium of
70,000) to the Empire. Abkhazia's absorption will contribute a
further 190,000 (Russia has given passports to
90% of its
But these numbers are
just drops in the bucket. The Empire needs Russians in their millions
to make up for the six million it has already lost since 1991 and the
further millions projected to disappear.
That is why
West-leaning democracies such as Moldova (250,000
Russians), Kazakstan (4.6m)
or the biggest prize Ukraine (8
million) with Crimea thrown in, are feeling so threatened, under the
baleful eye of the new Russian Empire.
Demography more than
oil, minerals, industry, art, sporting prowess or prestige is what
determines the long term success of any society. When it's not going
your way you have a calamity on your hands. As Mark Steyn once wrote in a
seminal article that evolved into
his best-selling book,
the demography, stupid”.
The Imperial Bear has
awoken and found it has no cubs. And this demographic calamity is not making
it happy. Indeed it is the very reason the Bear has once again donned
his imperial purple of bygone years.
Back to List of Contents
Ireland's Spending on Public
The OECD recently
issued its annual report,
at a Glance 2008”,
a 525- page, 5Mb door-stopper which you can download
It has given the
left-wing (for there is no other) Irish media and unions what can only be
described as a
vapours, all because of one statistic buried in the depths of the tome,
on page 237. This says that the Irish exchequer spent 4.6% of its GDP on
education, compared with 6.2% of the OECD as a whole. On this measure,
this ranks Ireland as 30th out of 34, with Israel first and Russia last.
That's all that has
been reported, and it has prompted all kinds of ill-informed comment to the
effect that this figure demonstrates that Ireland is under-educating its
children, over-filling its classrooms and - above all - underpaying its
Of course it does no
such thing, as it tells you nothing about what is actually being disbursed,
ie the amount of money the State expends to educate each child. Though the
effectiveness of money spent certainly varies from country to country, if
money is going to be talked about, then the spend per student is the only
measure that makes sense.
Had lazy correspondents
and voracious teachers' unions bothered to look beyond the single statistic
of 4.6% of GDP, they would have learnt the following.
|Source: OECD -
||Expenditure per student, US$
|at a Glance 2008
||14th out of 31
||15th out of 34
||14th out of 34
|Primary + Secondary
||15th out of 33
From this, it is
apparent that in terms of education spending by the State, Ireland is firmly in the
middle of the road, very close to the OECD average. This may be
nothing much to brag about, but Ireland is certainly not
as some of those excitable headlines would suggest.
One reason for the very average performance may be the cosy relationship
between the State and the various teachers' unions, which like their
counterparts in many Western countries, seem to view schools more as a
medium for pursuing teachers' personal interests (pay, leisure, pastimes)
rather than children's education.
For a graphic illustration of the State's acquiescence in this regard,
consider the case of
Harrington. She is the full-time principal of
Inver National School,
a State-funded primary school in Broadhaven Bay on the spectacular west
coast of Ireland. But since 2002 she has been a very active protestor,
regardless of term-time or school-holidays, against
Corrib, an offshore natural-gas project that Shell is developing.
Her latest stunt is to go on hunger-strike
“to the death” unless and until the
Solitaire, the world's largest pipe-lay barge, departs Irish waters.
After the long summer break, children returned to school just a couple of
weeks ago, yet this headmistress has the effrontery to blithely
observe, “I think going on hunger strike counts as a tinneas
pearsanta [Irish for sick leave].” That she hasn't long since been
fired for dereliction of duty, not only on this occasion but regularly for
the past six years, tells you
as much about the laxity of her employer (the State) as her own
cavalier attitude to her pupils' education. Extend this cavalier
attitude across the State education system and it is no surprise about
Ireland's middling ranking.
getting all the publicity is a reflection less of Ireland's inattention to education than of its
astounding economic success in recent years. With a GDP of
$43,100, it is surpassed in the OECD solely by the USA on
$45,800 and Luxembourg with an outlandish
$80,500. The bigger the GDP, the smaller any expenditure becomes as a
percentage of GDP.
could Ireland do
more to educate its young?
indubitably; it is distinctly mediocre and over-unionised.
But is it near the
bottom of the OECD league?
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Bin Laden Lives On ;-]
I have written several times to justify my
belief that Osama bin Laden is either dead or so badly injured that his
image cannot be shown nor his voice recorded.
All those appalling-quality videos and
audio tapes we've been treated too ever since he was last verifiably heard
of in December 1991 are clearly fakes. Their quality is deliberately lousy so that he cannot be seen or heard
distinctly enough to make a positive identity. Al Qaeda clearly has a
number of impersonators, clumsily trained to emulate his speaking manner and
gestures, even if they do get the left and right hand mixed up sometimes
(bin Laden was left-handed).
Al Qaeda is not alone in its ability to make dreadful
Sometime ago I wrote about
Aaron Barschak, the
camp Osama bin Laden, in trademark peach dress, women's shoes, false beard
and - ugh - false pubic hair, who famously gate-crashed Prince William's 21st birthday party at
Windsor Castle. He calls himself by the oxymoron
terrorist”. As a result of this and other antics, he has on
several occasions enjoyed the hospitality of the local police station.
the constabulary itself has finally caught up with the fun. All except
the very top brass, of course.
Earlier this month, Chief Superintendent Colin Terry, a 24-year veteran with
the Police, attended a village fete in his home village of Grampound in
Cornwall, an annual event which raises money for charity.
To add to the hilarity of the occasion, and no doubt to mark the seventh
anniversary of 9/11, he
dressed up as Osama bin Laden, and was just as convincing in that guise
as any of those famous fake video tapes emanating from Tora Bora.
But his superiors were not amused and condemned his behaviour as
unacceptable. However since he happens to be on secondment to the
British Foreign Office, to help in Afghanistan in the hunt for - you guessed
it - the mythical, elusive, long-dead Osama bin Laden, it seems he cannot be
This Osama guy is certainly full of surprises. Never say die.
Back to List of Contents
Comments to Cyberspace
I wrote to cyberspace twice during September, of which one,
a tongue-in-cheek ribbing, was
Lent is not a "feast" P!
Published in the Sunday Times on 7th September 2008
Matt Cooper talks about "the
Catholic feast of Lent". He must have been looking out of the
window during his religious education classes at school. Lent is a
season of fasting and abstinence ...
Is the conflict in Georgia a sign of renewed Russian aggression?
To the Irish Times on
2nd September 2008
This is not only a case of Russian aggression. It is the
first step in no less a project than a new expansion of Russian
Imperialism under Czar Putin (whether he calls himself president or
prime minister). And it's not merely Russian pride that is driving this
new empire. Russia is a dying country, losing nearly a million people a
year due to ...
Back to List of Contents
Quotes for Issue 182
- - - - - - R U S S I A - - - -
“Through its response to Georgian aggression, Russia
has set a kind of standard for reaction, which fully complies with
international law. Russia has returned to the world stage as a
responsible state which can defend its citizens.”
Sergei Lavrov, Russian foreign minister under Czar Putin
makes clear there is plenty of fuel in the Empire's expansionist
He also called on the West to abandon
the democratically elected leader of Georgia
“We believe in the right of men and women to live without
threat of tyranny, economic blackmail and military invasion or
US vice-president Dick Cheney, to bickering
Ukrainian democratic leaders
president Viktor Yushchenko and prime minister Yulia
reminding them of the bellicose, smouldering Bear next door.
The Russian Empire, under Czar Vladimir Putin, is understandably
at this allusion to the bleeding obvious.
- - - - - - U S E L
E C T I O N - - - - - -
“I can't stand John McCain.”
At the Republican Convention,
Sarah Palin quotes Harry (“This
war [Iraq] was is lost”)
the Democratic Senate Majority Leader,
after which she adds, witheringly,
“no accolade we hear this week
is better proof that we've chosen the right man.”
“I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a
except that you have actual responsibilities.
“I might add that in small towns, we don't quite know what
to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when
they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to
their religion and guns when those people aren't listening.”
Sarah Palin savages Barack Obama at the
Quote: “The idea that a conservative may be an
attractive, youthful, smart and principled, funky grizzly
bear-hunting beauty queen doubling up as Elliot Ness ... rip[s]
apart ... the core belief of the left that they are uniquely good
and everyone else is universally bad.”
Columnist Melanie Philips rips apart the Left
for its hypocrisy
One is a well turned-out, good-looking, and let's be
honest, pretty sexy piece of eye-candy.
The other kills her own food.”
Gerard Baker, in a syndicated column
for The Times.
- - - - - - I R A N - - - - - -
“Iran is taking a major risk by continuing the
process of obtaining nuclear weapons, which is a certainty for us.
Whatever government is in power in Israel, we may wake up one
morning and find that Israel has struck ... we must avoid this
French president Nicolas Sarkozy gives warning to
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad,
Sheikh Hamed al-Thani the Emir of Qatar and
prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey,
in a closed session in Damascus that was, however,
inadvertently transmitted to a local hotel.
- - - - - - J I H A D - - - - - -
“This action was carried out according to
These are centuries-old traditions and I will continue to defend
Israrullah Zehri an MP from Baluchistan,
speaking in Pakistan's national parliament,
expressing a view backed up by other male lawmakers.
He was defending the
of three teenage girls from the Umrani tribe
in the Naseerabad district.
Because they had the audacity of wanting
to choose their own husbands,
they were shot to injure them, then buried alive in a pit.
Two relatives who tried to intervene received the same treatment.
- - - - - - Z I M B A B W E - - - - - -
“They want Mugabe to go. Where should I go? I can't
Robert Mugabe is of course right,
as he whines about the opposition
wanting to take power after the recent elections
he rigged but not sufficiently.
Amazingly, a few days later he and Morgan
signed a power-sharing agreement.
We will wait and see how this works out.
- - - - - - I R E L A N D - - -
- - -
Quote (heard on the radio;
“You here in Dublin are nearly the best-dressed people in the
Ghastly TV fashionistas Trinny & Susannah
putting on a show in Dublin's Merrion Square
There followed a deadly hush
from the boisterous crowd.
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Archive and Blogroll at top left and right, for your convenience
Back to Top of Page
to Tallrite Blog
“ill-informed and objectionable”
- Comment by an anonymous reader
Now, for a little [Light Relief]
Cuddly Teddy Bears
looking for a home
Click for details
Neda Agha Soltan;
shot dead in Teheran
by Basij militia
Good to report that as at
14th September 2009
he is at least
FREED AT LAST,
ON 18th OCTOBER 2011,
GAUNT BUT OTHERWISE REASONABLY HEALTHY
Atlantic Blog (defunct)
Broom of Anger
Cox and Forkum
Carey / GUBU
Thinking Man's Guide
Victor Davis Hanson
Tales from Warri
Graham's Sporting Wk
My Columns in the
What I've recently
“The Lemon Tree”, by Sandy
is a delightful novel-style history of modern Israel and Palestine told
through the eyes of a thoughtful protagonist from either side, with a
household lemon tree as their unifying theme.
But it's not
entirely honest in its subtle pro-Palestinian bias, and therefore needs
to be read in conjunction with an antidote, such as
This examines events which led to BP's 2010 Macondo blowout in
the Gulf of Mexico.
BP's ambitious CEO John Browne expanded it through adventurous
acquisitions, aggressive offshore exploration, and relentless
cost-reduction that trumped everything else, even safety and long-term
Thus mistakes accumulated, leading to terrifying and deadly accidents in
refineries, pipelines and offshore operations, and business disaster in
The Macondo blowout was but an inevitable outcome of a BP culture that
had become poisonous and incompetent.
However the book is gravely compromised by a
litany of over 40 technical and stupid
errors that display the author's ignorance and
It would be better
to wait for the second (properly edited) edition before buying.
As for BP, only a
wholesale rebuilding of a new, professional, ethical culture will
prevent further such tragedies and the eventual destruction of a once
mighty corporation with a long and generally honourable history.
Note: I wrote
my own reports on Macondo
A horrific account
how the death
penalty is administered and, er, executed in Singapore,
the corruption of
Singapore's legal system, and
enthusiastic embrace of Burma's drug-fuelled military dictatorship
More details on my
nonagenarian Alistair Urquhart’s
incredible story of survival in the Far
East during World War II.
After recounting a
childhood of convention and simple pleasures in working-class Aberdeen,
Mr Urquhart is conscripted within days of Chamberlain declaring war on
Germany in 1939.
From then until the
Japanese are deservedly nuked into surrendering six years later, Mr
Urquhart’s tale is one of first discomfort but then following the fall
of Singapore of ever-increasing, unmitigated horror.
After a wretched
journey Eastward, he finds himself part of Singapore’s big but useless
Taken prisoner when Singapore falls in
1941, he is, successively,
part of a death march to Thailand,
a slave labourer on the Siam/Burma
railway (one man died for every sleeper laid),
regularly beaten and tortured,
racked by starvation, gaping ulcers
and disease including cholera,
a slave labourer stevedoring at
shipped to Japan in a stinking,
closed, airless hold with 900 other sick and dying men,
torpedoed by the Americans and left
drifting alone for five days before being picked up,
a slave-labourer in Nagasaki until
blessed liberation thanks to the Americans’ “Fat Boy” atomic
distraught and traumatised on return to Aberdeen yet disdained by the
British Army, he slowly reconstructs a life. Only in his late 80s
is he able finally to recount his dreadful experiences in this
There are very few
first-person eye-witness accounts of the the horrors of Japanese
brutality during WW2. As such this book is an invaluable historical
“Culture of Corruption:
Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies”
This is a rattling good tale of the web
of corruption within which the American president and his cronies
operate. It's written by blogger Michele Malkin who, because she's both
a woman and half-Asian, is curiously immune to the charges of racism and
sexism this book would provoke if written by a typical Republican WASP.
With 75 page of notes to back up - in
best blogger tradition - every shocking and in most cases money-grubbing
allegation, she excoriates one Obama crony after another, starting with
the incumbent himself and his equally tricky wife.
Joe Biden, Rahm Emmanuel, Valerie Jarett,
Tim Geithner, Lawrence Summers, Steven Rattner, both Clintons, Chris
Dodd: they all star as crooks in this venomous but credible book.
ACORN, Mr Obama's favourite community
organising outfit, is also exposed for the crooked vote-rigging machine
This much trumpeted sequel to
Freakonomics is a bit of disappointment.
It is really just
a collation of amusing
little tales about surprising human (and occasionally animal) behaviour
and situations. For example:
Drunk walking kills more people per
kilometer than drunk driving.
People aren't really altruistic -
they always expect a return of some sort for good deeds.
Child seats are a waste of money as
they are no safer for children than adult seatbelts.
Though doctors have known for
centuries they must wash their hands to avoid spreading infection,
they still often fail to do so.
Monkeys can be taught to use washers
as cash to buy tit-bits - and even sex.
The book has no real
message other than don't be surprised how humans sometimes behave and
try to look for simple rather than complex solutions.
And with a final
anecdote (monkeys, cash and sex), the book suddenly just stops dead in
its tracks. Weird.
A remarkable, coherent attempt by Financial Times economist Alan Beattie
to understand and explain world history through the prism of economics.
It's chapters are
organised around provocative questions such as
Why does asparagus come from Peru?
Why are pandas so useless?
Why are oil and diamonds more trouble
than they are worth?
Why doesn't Africa grow cocaine?
It's central thesis
is that economic development continues to be impeded in different
countries for different historical reasons, even when the original
rationale for those impediments no longer obtains. For instance:
Argentina protects its now largely
foreign landowners (eg George Soros)
Russia its military-owned
businesses, such as counterfeit DVDs
The US its cotton industry
comprising only 1% of GDP and 2% of its workforce
The author writes
in a very chatty, light-hearted matter which makes the book easy to
However it would
benefit from a few charts to illustrate some of the many quantitative
points put forward, as well as sub-chaptering every few pages to provide
natural break-points for the reader.
This is a thrilling book of derring-do behind enemy lines in the jungles
of north-east Burma in 1942-44 during the Japanese occupation.
The author was
a member of Britain's V Force, a forerunner of the SAS. Its remit was to
harass Japanese lines of
command, patrol their occupied territory, carryout sabotage and provide
intelligence, with the overall objective of keeping the enemy out of
is admirably yet brutally frank, in his
descriptions of deathly battles with the Japs, his execution of a
prisoner, dodging falling bags of rice dropped by the RAF, or collapsing
in floods of tears through accumulated stress, fear and loneliness.
He also provides some fascinating insights into the mentality of
Japanese soldiery and why it failed against the flexibility and devolved
authority of the British.
The book amounts to
a very human and exhilarating tale.
Oh, and Irwin
describes the death in 1943 of his colleague my uncle, Major PF
Click for an account of this momentous,
of March 2009
Click on the logo
to get a table with
the Rugby World Cup
scores, points and rankings.
crackling, compelling, captivating games, the new World Champions are,
England get the Silver,
Argentina the Bronze. Fourth is host nation France.
No-one can argue with
the justice of the outcomes
Over the competition,
points per game = 52,
tries per game = 6.2,
minutes per try =
Click on the logo
to get a table with
the final World Cup
scores, points, rankings and goal-statistics