Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Idler, Thursday, March 9, 2017

Interesting times – an old Chinese curse

ONLY recently at the world economic forum at Davos, Chinese President Xi Ping was extolling the virtues of global trade, telling off the protectionists (who include Donald Trump). It was an impressive performance, China underscoring its role as a major economic power in spite of current difficulties.

Now North Korea, China's delinquent client state, has fired a series of ballistic missiles into Japanese territorial waters. The US has responded by placing a sophisticated anti-missile defence system in South Korea.

The Chinese are incensed at this intrusion on what is seen as their sphere of influence in the South China Sea. But what was to be expected? South Korea is an ally of the US. American forces are stationed there. North Korea and South Korea are technically still at war.

The region is on a knife-edge. It's not the most promising environment for expanding globalised trade.

May you live in interesting times. It's an old Chinese curse.

The Lords

IN BRITAIN, the House of Lords has again frustrated a Theresa May bill to trigger the Brexit process. One senses a gathering cross-party reluctance to take a leap in the dark.

The Brexiteers trumpet last year's referendum and the need to respect the will of the people. But how real is this? The outcome was in fact a very narrow victory for the brexiteers. The referendum campaign was one of smoke and mirrors at best, downright lies mainly.

Very few voters could have possibly understood the full implications of Brexit, especially the hard Brexit Mrs May seems to be pursuing – economic costs, job losses, London's position in the world of finance threatened; a possible sloughing off of Northern Ireland to join the Irish republic in the EU; a possible sloughing off of Scotland to become another impoverished Greece in the EU.

It begins to look more like a lemming rush than anything else.

And now that ancient anachronism, the House of Lords, coming to the rescue?

May you live in interesting times. It's an old Chinese curse.


Ole, ole, ole!

AN EAT-and-run gang have been operating in Spain. It's not small-scale stuff, snatching a hamburger or two and running off without paying. No, these hombres pay a deposit at a swanky restaurant, throw a heck of a party then skedaddle leaving a bill for thousands of Euros unpaid, according to the BBC.

At the El Carmen restaurant in Bembibre they put down a €900 (R12 300) deposit for a baptism party. They tucked into €2 000 worth of food and drink before running away.

Then at the Rincon de Pepin restaurant in Ponferrada, about 10km away, they scored big. They put down a €1 000 deposit on a wedding party, then had food and drink worth €10 000.

"There were about 160 of them," the restaurant owner says. "Then they just disappeared. All of them, within five minutes."


That's €12 000 they've got away with so far. They'd better not try it on at the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties, here in Durban. The restaurant is presided over by a female kickboxer who aims for the crotch.


A PAIR of teenage hijackers in Cleveland, Ohio, in the US, stole three cars at gunpoint in 10 days. But they came unstuck when they were unable to drive the third – a Ford Mustang - because it had a manual gearshift, to which they were not accustomed.

They ordered the Mustang occupant to tell them how to work the gears, but all they got was a grinding sound. At this they panicked and ran off with the victim's wallet and cellphone.

The cops traced the cellphone signal to a railway station, had a train stopped with its doors closed and then searched its occupants.

They found the pair with the cellphone, the Mustang keys, the keys to a Jeep Cherokee that had also been hijacked and a handgun. They are now in the clink.

A curious case. Hijackers who can only drive automatic. Softies!


THREE men and a dog are playing poker in a casino. A bystander is watching with astonishment.

"That's an amazingly smart dog," he says.

"Nah, he's not so smart. Every time he gets a decent hand he wags his tail."

Last word

The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.

Herbert Agar


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