Star Trek: Discovery #StarTrekDiscovery @StarTrekNetflix #StarTrekDay @startrekcbs

check out my film, TV, and Netflix blog at
https://filmmovietvblog.wordpress.com/

I’m a big Star Trek fan. “Bitterly disappointed” by the way Star Trek: Enterprise was given short shrift in marketing and timeslots, and then summarily cancelled after four seasons, is an understatement of how I felt. And that was in 2005; I had barely lost my virginity back then, whereas now I am a married man with thick tufts of chest hair that drip with testosterone. Yes, twelve long years I’d been in purgatory waiting for even a sign of a new Star Trek series — until last year, when the announcement was made. But I couldn’t get my hopes up as it wouldn’t be the first big project to get canned. Yet here it is, at last. Star Trek: Discovery aired last night on Netflix. I can’t wait to watch episodes one and two tonight (right after I finish grooming my manly facial hair). But I’m nervous — will it be a Game of Thrones (=perfection), or a Stargate Universe (=all gear, no idea)?

A new Trek series was sorely needed to fill a particular gap. Not only is it a massive franchise with a hardcore fanbase, but the success of the recent films means there might be a new non-Trek audience primed and ready — although, in all fairness, the enthusiasm for the new films has kind of fizzled out now. But whatever.

The other reason why a new series is needed is that all previous Treks existed in the years BBG. That is, Before Battlestar: Galactica. That show was epoch defining and heralded the dawn of a new era (the 2004-2009 version, not the campy 70s thing). It moved us into a brave new world. Yes, yes, yes, it had all the secks, violence, and swearing (if “frack” counts) that now typify shows like Game of Thrones. But it was the format that set it apart. Gone were the 20+ episodes a season, countless dud eps which basically filled space, and the one-off episodes that didn’t advance the central plot of the series — if there even was a central plot. We were into a new world where quality triumphed over quantity; ten episodes of pure, relentless, story. One story arc for the whole show.

All previous Treks existed in this BBG world. This is outmoded and isn’t how TV works anymore. To make it worse, back then, the budgets were also poor, lending a kind of crummy homemade look to much Sci-Fi; I remember even as a twelve year old cringing at how the solid metal armour of the Jaffa in Stargate: SG1 would betray it’s Styrofoam prop nature and literally bend in a fight. Also, the quality of the acting has gone up: just try to remember TV before the Kiefer Sutherland thrillride 24; big film stars just did not do TV, it was a step down. How times change!

Visually, Star Trek: Discovery looks phenomenal. But we’ll just have to see if it is a matter of style over substance. As a Trek disciple, I hope to goodness the show is great and gets a good long run. Otherwise, by the time they come up with a new Star Trek series, I’ll probably have regrown my virginity, for I’ll be a shrivelled, middle-aged man.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e8/ST_DSC.svg

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Pacifist Peas #ESOL

In my first ever post on this blog, I talked about how I teach English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). I mentioned a then-recent student who, when I would say “I’ve got an ear-ache”, would say it back to me as, “I vee be gooser you-near-eck”. ESOL teachers get this kind of random nonsense a lot; it’s our job, after all. But I got another one yesterday which will surely live long in the memory.

A student comes up to me after class and says, “Sir*, can you please tell us more about pacifist peas in the next class?”

“Pacifist peas?”
“Yes, pacifist peas”
“Erm… what?”
“Pacifist peas, Sir”
“What are pacifist peas?”
“Pacifist peas. Y’know… pacifist peas
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re saying. Can you say it again, please?”
“Pacifist peas”
“Pacifist peas?”
(nods) “Pacifist peas”
“Err…”
(incredulously) “You don’t know what pacifist peas are!? You’re a teacher!”
“I’m really sorry, but I think it’s the way you’re saying it. Can you say it more slowly?”
“Okay, Sir. Pacifist. Peas**”
“I’m really not getting this mate”
“Sir!? Verbs, nouns, prepositions…”

My brain starts ticking over.

“Ahh! Parts of speech!
“Yes! Pacifist peas”
“Say ‘speech'”
“Iss peas”
“Okay”

Cue a long heart-to-heart with me trying to reassure him that his English isn’t that bad and making mistakes is a vital part of the learning process. And look, look how many mistakes you’ve made; you’ll be fluent in no time(!)

So what does this tale tell us? Firstly, that teaching ESOL can be good banter. Secondly, that all language is context-dependent. In summary: I would definitely recommend a career in ESOL to anyone who has the following unique mix of traits: loves helping people, is up for a laugh, wants to travel the world, is fascinated by language and communication, profoundly enjoys poverty.

*I teach a lot of Asian guys, and they tend to be very deferential even when you act all cool-teacher and say, “Call me ‘Bry’!”. Their answer is, of course, “Okay, Sir”. The best I can get out of a lot of these guys is, “Mr Bryan”, which is always a laugh. Of course, you never force students to do anything they aren’t comfortable with. You tell them that in England it is normal for adult learners to address their teacher by their first name, but that whatever makes them happy will make me happy. Sage nod, “Yes, Sir”.

**Once you’ve read the punchline, the perceptive among you might think I’m lying. After all, he should surely have said, “Pasif. Iss-peas”, when he spoke slowly, but actually he kind of slurred so it really did sound like, “Pacifist …ehhhs… peas”. So that’s the third thing this tale tells us: BRYAN NEVER LIES! x-(

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://communityict.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/esol6.gif?w=640

Brexit Momentum Dwindling? #FlorenceSpeech #Brexit #VoteLeave #TakeBackControl #ChangeBritain

“Brexit” means Britain’s Exit from the European Union, which is not due to happen until March 2019. Sorry to explain that, but my recent conversations with people show that many think “Brexit has already happened” and can’t understand why more money isn’t being spent on the NHS yet. So, just to be clear: Brexit is in process, but has not yet happened.

Exiting the EU is supposed to be a two-year process. But now Prime Minister Theresa May has set out her plans for a two-year transition deal which is, by any other name, extended temporary membership of the EU. Certainly, it would extend the lifeline for us to backpeddle into the EU. Indeed, the day after the referendum I was already saying that I doubt Brexit will ever even happen. History shows that the EU Fanatics just will not accept “non” for an answer. And that incorrigible EU-phile Lord Heseltine has today, I think rather accurately, said that he not only foresees us not leaving the EU, but actually joining the Euro, too. Indeed, now that we’ve decided to leave, should we change our minds we will have lost all of our opt-outs, including on not joining the Euro; oh yes, the French and Germans will exact a pound of flesh and be out to humble us and lock us in forevermore.

So has the Brexit momentum critically dwindled?

Corbyn has forsaken his principles and Labour have reneged on their Referendum pledge to back Brexit. The Tories are weakened since losing their majority in the General Election. The party which single-handedly got us the referendum (whether you love them or loathe them), UKIP, seems to have had its moment and looks a spent force. The momentum for Brexit, which was the culmination of years of hard, focused pressure, is rapidly fizzling out. Just look at the polling data: the margin of support for Brexit is shrinking.

So, as someone who has spent half my life fighting for Brexit, I am extremely worried by the warning signs of interim deals and such. And with oppression of the Catalans by the Spanish state, and the election of anti-democratic EU fanatic Macron, I fear the future is bleak for European liberal democracy.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2016-10-05-1475670108-7560650-brexit1.jpg

Hard, Soft, and CLEAN Brexit #Brexit

A brilliant article here which completely sums up my view on the Brexit process. There is no such thing as “hard” and “soft” Brexit in reality. The Leave campaign was based on “taking back control”, and making our own trade deals with the rest of the world, and making the British parliament the ultimate source of power in this land again, and making British law and British judges in British courts being the supreme arbiter of British matters. People complain that nobody knew what they were voting for, but on these points alone it was abundantly clear what people were voting for. And they voted. Yet if we do not leave the single market, the customs union, and the EU’s main legal constructs, then we will not achieve these ends that we voted for. And so, this “soft” Brexit would be no Brexit at all. We need to sink or swim on our own merits as a fully freed nation. And so the only true Brexit is, as the article points out, a “clean” Brexit. That is, a clean break from the EU instruments. Anything else would not achieve the openly stated goals of the leave campaign and would not fulfil the referendum result. Indeed, I could even see us officially rejoining the EU from such a Norway-like model several years down the line — but without our current opt-outs, such as from the Euro. The lie we’d be sold is, ‘Oh, well, the leaving experiment didn’t work out for us, did it?’ when in reality we would only have left in name, not substance, and thus would have been set-up to fail. Leave Euratom or not, perhaps there is a debate to be had there. But there is no debate that Brexit needs to be clean and requires us to leave the single marker, the customs union, and the EU’s main legal constructs.

For what it is worth, in the short run, there may be some instability, and I am sure that in the future there will be times when the UK is relatively stronger and other times when the EU is doing relatively better. But I have no doubt that over the long run, Brexit will be a resounding success which will not only arouse the jealousy and anger of high European Unionistas, but will also be to their eventual benefit — should they let it, and should we give Brexit that fair chance by opting for a “clean” Brexit.

Here’s the article in full in case the website takes it down at some point.

text above this point only © 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2016-10-05-1475670108-7560650-brexit1.jpg

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https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/biggest-problem-soft-brexit-apos-164052679.html

The biggest problem with Soft Brexit is that it’s not attainable

Liam Halligan

The Telegraph16 September 2017

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<img alt=”The Union flag and the EU flag flying from the same mast above the Summerhall building in Edinburgh – PA” class=”Maw(100%)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/bQOs1eLsDW69F1id95sxyA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/homerun/the_telegraph_818/122ba6583b8d3c46f34cfdb745c3acb5” itemprop=”url”/>

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The Union flag and the EU flag flying from the same mast above the Summerhall building in Edinburgh – PA

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In the first of two extracts from their new book, Liam Halligan and Gerard Lyons say the commonly held belief that Britain would be better off inside the single market and customs union is misconceived

There has been much talk of “Hard Brexit” versus “Soft Brexit”. Such labels are ubiquitous during these Article 50 negotiations – used freely by the broadcast media – yet they are partisan and deeply misleading. Hard Brexit makes leaving the European Union sound extreme and damaging, suggesting isola­tion and a bleak economic future. Soft Brexit, conversely, conveys a comfortable, ongoing relationship with the EU, with Britain still “part of the club”.

Leaving the single market and the customs union isn’t Hard Brexit – even if the name is deliberately coined to sound painful. It is simply Brexit. Staying inside the EU’s two main legal constructs, meanwhile, isn’t a harmonious Soft Brexit. It amounts, instead, to a deliberate and cynical failure to implement the 2016 referendum result.

A political narrative has developed that Britain would clearly be far better off staying inside the single market and customs union. As such, anyone wanting to actually implement Brexit, by leaving both, is seen to be obsessed only with sovereignty and immigration – and prepared for the economy to suffer, as long as they get their way.

Remaining a member of the single market and/or the customs union, in contrast, is presented as an enlightened “Soft Brexit” compromise, a balance between the Leave side’s “hard” ide­ology and Remain campaigners’ common sense. These are the terms of the UK’s Brexit debate, as viewed by much of our political and media class as we enter the autumn of 2017 and these EU negotiations heat up. Yet they are wrong on every level.

Soft-headed

Many Parliamentarians say they “respect the referendum result” but want “Soft Brexit”. Attempting to negotiate such an outcome, though, would seriously damage the UK, the EU and the vital ongoing relationship between them.

Soft Brexit would leave Britain in a dangerous halfway house. Inside the single market, the UK would become a “rule-taker” – still subject to rulings of the highly politicised European Court of Justice. We would be bound by huge restrictions on our economic and political freedom, but no longer able to vote on or influence those rules, even if they were changed to Britain’s disadvantage.

And, of course, single market membership would mean continued multi-billion pound annual payments to Brussels and “freedom of movement”. This isn’t Brexit ­­– and would be viewed by millions of voters as an affront to the referendum result.

The economic benefits of single market “membership” are, anyway, wildly overstated and may even be negative. Membership means all UK firms – including the 95pc that don’t export to the EU – must comply with often unnecessary and expensive EU rules. Also, the single market in services barely exists, despite much rhetoric to the contrary. Many EU nations refuse to drop barriers to imports of certain services – which severely penalises the UK, the world’s second-largest services exporter.

<img alt=”Prime Minister Theresa May – Credit: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth” class=”Maw(100%)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/eRwJzIyOMXGlA5R.SS9QNQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/homerun/the_telegraph_818/b4abf67a9cafdc8e344f742f012a3ec2” itemprop=”url”/>

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Prime Minister Theresa May Credit: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

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We don’t need to be “in” the single market to trade with the EU. The US conducted almost a quarter of a trillion dollars of EU trade in 2016 from outside – without accepting ECJ jurisdiction, freedom of movement or making large annual payments. The UK can do the same. If Britain cuts an EU free-trade agreement, tariff-free trade can continue.

If not, we can trade with the EU under World Trade Organisation rules, paying relatively low tariffs – as does the US, China, Japan and every other major non-EU economy.

Since 1999, the share of UK trade with the EU has fallen from 61pc to just over 40pc. If the single market is so good for the UK, why do we trade less with the EU than with the rest of the world? Why is our EU trade shrinking and our non-EU trade expanding? Why do we have a large deficit on our EU trade, but a sizeable surplus on our trade outside the EU?

Being inside the EU’s customs union is also wrongly presented as economic nirvana. Membership means the UK must charge tariffs on non-EU goods. So British shoppers are paying more for a range of imports, including food, often to shield uncompetitive producers in other EU states from cheaper global prices.

And because 80pc of these tariffs are sent to Brussels, and the UK does more non-EU trade than any other EU member, Britain accounts for an unfairly high share of the EU’s combined tariff revenues. Again, this burden is shouldered by consumers.

<img alt=”The UK does more non-EU trade than any other EU member – Credit: OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images” class=”Maw(100%)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/sVSy5ZFk8B5sO9N4ERPCkw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/homerun/the_telegraph_818/138cbbe115793d4a93b8e5d8c2765155” itemprop=”url”/>

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The UK does more non-EU trade than any other EU member Credit: OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images

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Customs union membership also prevents Britain from striking trade deals with nations outside the EU – countries accounting for four-fifths of the global economy. This is a serious disadvantage for the UK, given our deep cultural and historic links with a wide variety of nations. As the global centre of economy gravity shifts decisively east, it is vital for the our future prosperity that Britain engages more with the world’s fastest-growing and most populous markets.

Outside the customs union, the UK is no longer part of the EU’s trade deals with various nations – often presented as a huge sacrifice. Over the 60 years since the EU was founded, though, Brussels has failed to cut a deal with any of the world’s top economies. The EU has no trade agreement with the US, China, India or Japan. (The recent, very preliminary agreement with Tokyo was little more than a press release). The EU’s 50 or so trade deals cover less than 10pc of the global economy, being mostly with tiny countries.

The EU is not well placed to negotiate trade agreements, comprising of numerous member states, often with conflicting objectives. The deals it has struck have also generally favoured French agricultural and German manufacturing exports, rather than UK services. Nations acting alone – such as Switzerland, Singapore and South Korea – have secured far more important trade deals, covering a much bigger share of the global economy, than has the EU.

In 2013, Switzerland struck a trade deal with China after three years of talks – the UK can do the same. Far from being “at the back of the queue”, Britain is well-placed to reach an agreement with the US. And India has shown great interest in a UK trade deal. The sizeable nations that do have EU trade agreements – including Mexico, South Africa and South Korea – have also indicated they want UK-equivalent agreements, providing an opportunity for Britain to modify existing agreements to our advantage.

While Soft Brexit is often presented as liberal and progressive, the single market promotes the interests of producers over consumers while entrenching the advantages of large corporations – which are far better able than smaller rivals to handle the complex regulation. Freedom of movement rules provide big firms with a ready stream of cheap, easily exploitable labour, while suppressing the wages of the UK’s most financially insecure workers. The single market also facilitates large-scale corporate tax avoidance.

The customs union, meanwhile, is a bad deal for UK consumers. On top of that, the EU’s tariff wall, particularly on agricultural goods, combined with the ghastly Common Agricultural Policy, severely hinders the development of many of the world’s poorest countries.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Soft Brexit is that it is unobtainable. Back in December 2016, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said: “The single market and its four freedoms are indivisible – cherry-picking is not an option.” Yet this is precisely what the Soft Brexiteers are attempting, breaching EU rules by seeking single market membership along with a special dispensation from freedom of movement that no other country has.

That’s why “Soft Brexit” will actually end up being “Messy Brexit”. Pushing for this outcome puts the UK in direct and absolute conflict with the EU’s core principles – which, if seriously breached, could tear the bloc apart, as others demand the same deal. The most likely Soft Brexit outcome would be a diplomatic stand-off, along with chronic uncertainty for citizens, investors and businesses, risking serious economic and political damage.

<img alt=”A pro-Brexit demonstration outside parliament – Credit: Charlotte Ball/PA Wire” class=”Maw(100%)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/tXQmEjm9XKb5FAHp2gsz1Q–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/homerun/the_telegraph_818/3b2232c1c12b909a3ed3168ec2189de3” itemprop=”url”/>

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A pro-Brexit demonstration outside parliament Credit: Charlotte Ball/PA Wire

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In late July 2017, this point was made with devastating clarity by Fabian Zuleeg, a policy analyst closely linked to the European Commission.

“What is missing in these discussions is a real appreciation of the view from the other side of the Channel,” said Zuleeg. “Allowing cherry-picking of benefits would act as a signal to others that a Europe à la carte is obtainable, opening the Pandora’s box of disintegration.”

That’s why Theresa May did the right thing in her Lancaster House speech in January 2017 – confirming from the outset that Britain wants to leave both the single market and customs union. We call this approach “Clean Brexit”.

This allows the UK quickly to take control of sensitive issues relating to our borders, laws and trade – because we are not negotiating over such issues in a bid to stay inside any EU legal construct. Knowing we will be outside both the single market and customs union from the outset also gives Britain time to prepare ahead of March 2019 when we leave the EU – creating new facilities for cross-Channel customs clearance, for instance.

By avoiding cherry-picking, Clean Brexit is better for Britain, the EU and their broader relationship – with the UK not trying to upend EU rules, increasing the chances of ongoing UK-EU co-operation across a range of headings. Soft Brexit, in contrast, attempting to trade off single market membership against freedom of movement rules, would maximise “cliff-edge” dangers and business uncertainty – and could result in a disastrous diplomatic stalemate, while risking a systemic crisis.

A strong hand

Despite widespread negativity, the UK has a strong hand to play in these Article 50 negotiations. Our £69bn EU trade deficit represents profits and jobs across tens of thousands of EU firms. Germany ran a UK goods surplus of £32bn in 2016. Powerful business interests have much to lose if Britain imposes tariffs on such exports. The BDI German employers’ union says it would be “very, very foolish” for the EU to impose high trade barriers against the UK. BDI represents around 100,000 companies, employing one fifth of the workforce.

France is sometimes portrayed as wanting to “punish” the UK for leaving the EU. President Macron has described Brexit as a “crime”, vowing to take an uncompromising approach to deter other member states from “killing the European idea”. Yet, for French farmers and winemakers, the UK is a huge market. Numerous French firms, and the French government itself, have strong commercial interests in Britain, with investments across sectors including transport, automotive manufacturing and nuclear power. The Netherlands will also want a zero-tariff deal with Britain so Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, remains a UK trade hub.

While European president Jean-Claude Juncker beats his chest and issues fiery rhet­oric, influential business groups are determined to limit trade restrictions between the UK and the Continent. By declaring Clean Brexit, maintaining we’ll be outside the single market and the customs union, Britain benefits from powerful EU business lobbies urging their governments to strike a favourable UK trade deal, know­ing they’ll otherwise face reciprocated WTO tariffs.

<img alt=”European president Jean-Claude Juncker – Credit: EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET” class=”Maw(100%)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/jjzUcPLUS3eXe8YimbPYig–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/homerun/the_telegraph_818/3c6e11d1ae7423e0640cfcf66dc6c6b5” itemprop=”url”/>

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European president Jean-Claude Juncker Credit: EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET

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Ideally, the UK will agree what Theresa May has described as a “deep and comprehensive” EU free trade deal during the Article 50 period. Yet, settling a complex, multi-sector agreement with 27 governments, which must then be ratified by national parliaments and the European parliament, is probably impossible ahead of March 2019. That’s why the UK must prepare to trade under WTO rules, reoccupying our seat at the Geneva-based trade court and adopting our own tariff schedules.

Trading under WTO rules is often portrayed as a disaster. Yet most trade across the globe is conducted largely under WTO rules. The US and other leading economies trade with the EU on this basis, with each side paying tariffs that are generally very low. As such, it is by no means essential for the UK to strike a free-trade agreement with the EU ahead of March 2019. Failing to grasp this amounts to a major strategic error.

“No deal really is better than a bad deal.” The UK should state this clearly and often. “No deal” simply means we don’t strike an EU free trade agreement before March 2019 – which actually brings benefits. Under “no deal”, Britain’s EU trade deficit would generate substantial net tariff revenues, which could be used to compensate UK exporters.

More fundamentally, negotiating up against a hard deadline means the terms of any resulting agreement, which we must live with for years, would be far worse than a deal settled under less time pressure – once the Article 50 deadline has passed. Unless “no deal” is seen as a viable option, though, the UK’s negotiating hand will be seriously undermined – so all preparations must be made now to trade under WTO rules.

WTO rules are portrayed as “crashing out of the EU” to pressure the UK to accept an unfavourable trade deal before Article 50 expires. Yet “no deal” is an entirely coherent position and satisfactory outcome for Britain. Trading under WTO rules will provide a platform to strike a better long-term EU trade agreement, on our terms and in our own time, after Brexit has happened. The EU has even more incentive to do that than Britain, given its large UK trade surplus.

Accepting “no deal” on trade is not the same as “just walking away” – which means failing to settle administrative issues such as the mutual recognition agreements on goods that facilitate trade. No one is advocating this. It is unthinkable that existing and uncontroversial EU protocols granted to countless other non-EU members would not apply to the UK, not least as we leave the EU fully compliant. For Brussels to deny Britain such rights would breach both WTO and EU law, while incensing EU businesses and voters by threatening billions of euros of profit and countless EU jobs.

The UK will, of course, continue to trade and collaborate with the EU ex­tensively after Brexit. Complaints that we are “cutting ourselves off” or “pulling up the drawbridge” are infantile and absurd. With a hung parliament, though, and the Conservatives vulnerable in the Commons and the Lords, the Soft Brexiteers sense this is their moment.

Far from “respecting the referendum result”, they are promoting an unobtainable outcome and sowing parliamentary chaos. Their aim is nothing less than to reverse the June 2016 referendum and, in doing so, topple the Government.

‘Clean Brexit – How to make a success of leaving the EU’ by Liam Halligan and Gerard Lyons is published by Biteback Publishing at £20.00. To order your copy visit books.telegraph.co.uk

Game of Thrones Series 7 Review and Look Ahead to Series 8 !!!WARNING: SPOILERS!!! #SpoilerSweats #GOTS7 #GOTS8

This post has some spoilers!!!!!

SPOILER-FREE REVIEWS?

I started this season of Game of Thrones intending to write spoiler-free reviews of each and every episode. Seven episodes, rather than the usual ten, means it should have been pretty easy. However, as you can tell, I gave up after episode three; in trying to write my episode four review, I simply found it impossible to not reveal stuff. Even not saying stuff says stuff. After all, if I suddenly stop mentioning a certain character, what conclusion would you draw? (Hmm, Bryan hasn’t mentioned Ned Stark for a bit…)

The lesson is that for season eight I will post full reviews, spoilers and all.

BEST MOMENTS?

Best episode of season seven had to be the final episode. Jaime has finally switched sides, apparently, which looked likely for a while now. Daenerys is still good, but is showing increasing signs of haughty regalitis. And we finally found out what we kind of knew already, ish, but which hadn’t been spelled out: John Snow is in fact a Targaryean, nephew of Daenerys, and the true heir to the Iron Throne. Just as this is officially revealed, we see Dany reveal her bits to John, just before they pump. So that’s going to be awkward over the coffee table in morning. The sight of an undead dragon destroying the wall was also a stand-out moment from the season.

That leads me to what I think was the most iconic, most “oh, nooo” moment of the whole season: Viserion the dragon becoming undead. As soon as we knew the dragons would be heading north, I was like, “Ooh, nooo”; one dying was always on the cards. Great moment, and we know that we are in store for some epic battles come season eight. Some people poo-pooed it by saying, ‘Erm, plothole! How could they get chains that big to drag the dead dragon!?’ To which my only answer is, ‘Erm, dragons you find believable, large metal chains not so much…?’

Other great moments include Leanna smugly telling Jaime that she dunnit. The captive undead spazzing out in front of Cersei. The capture of Ellaria Sand and her subsequent imprisonment by a mentally stable Cersei.

Many complained that this season was full-on with no development. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing; everything has been moved into place, and now we begin the rush to the end.

SEASON EIGHT?

Nothing would surprise me were it to happen in season eight. Including:

  • The white walkers taking over and destroying Westeros / the World.
  • Cersei winning, Jon and Daenerys dying.
  • Dany going schitz on power / refusing to bend the knee to Jon.
  • Ned Stark, or anyone of our other favourite dead characters, coming back in white walker form for an emotional, zombie-esque, ‘I don’t know if I can kill you! I still see the real you in that skelly shell!’ moment of emotional, heart-tugging drama.
  • Sam, in a kind of epilogue to the final episode of season eight, being the only one left alive, sat there Bilbo Baggins style with a pipe, now a very old man, explaining to the young hobbitses the true story of what happened. Y’know, the Song of Ice and Fire, as he will come to call it.
  • An apparently happy ending, with Sansa, Arya, Dany, and Jon co-ruling the seven kingdoms in peace, white walkers ended once and for all, slavery outlawed, feudalism abolished, a healthcare system free at the point of use guaranteed to all people of working age who pay a regular National Insurance contribution, and iPads for everyone — but just then, some crazy mothers from Essos appear in their ships on the horizon, dun dun dun! End of the world as we know it.
  • The Children of the Forest come back, Ewok-style, and fuck everyone’s shit up. After all, they made the white walkers to protect themselves from men! Perhaps they’ll be on the white walkers’ side.
  • The Dothraki go nuts and start raping and pillaging, as they are wont, which turns the layfolk against the Dany-Jon biumvirate, perhaps necessitating Jon or Sansa to backstab.
  • The good guys win a Pyrrhic victory; Westeros is so ruined by everything that there isn’t much of a world to rule over now. And the weakened Pyrrhic victors, Team Stark-Targaryean are left open to attack from foreign marauders.
  • Half the real life cast die in a kind of Munich Air disaster and/or nuclear war with North Korea means that we never get a proper final season eight.

I just hope whatever they do, it isn’t a perfect happy ending. I just think that would not suit the world that’s been built up. Even if things end “well” (= white walkers and Cersei being killed, some good guys staying alive), I can’t see everyone remaining unscathed. One or more of Dany, Jon, Arya, Sansa have to die, and die horribly. And the hard won peace must be on a knife-edge, some new danger suggesting itself.

As much as this series is based on mediaeval English history (War of the Roses and such), I keep thinking Alexander the Conqueror; single-handedly reshaped the world order, and for a brief moment there was the promise of westerners and easterners inter-marrying and becoming a single culture ruled forever by Alexander and his heirs in a sort of Pax Alexanderna — only for it to all fall apart at once and his generals squabble and split the empire up. That’s sort of how I see things moving.

In any case, a whole year or more for season eight! How am I going to cope?? Oh, hang on… 😎

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://wikiofthrones.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Game-of-Thrones-season-7-fan-posters-16.jpg

Random Images 33: Galloping Cephalopod a.k.a. That Green Llama Thing #Random #RandomImages

that-damn-green-llama-thing-again

image from http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh165/Catman_1234/that-damn-green-llama-thing-again.gif

Fatty Parry 29: 12 Week Wedding Weight Loss: 8 @ww_uk @weightwatchers

check out my new health and life goals blog at http://www.diethealthlifegoals.wordpress.com

Introduction / Background

Earlier this year, my weight peaked at 16st 12lb (236lb). I had never been so fat. And I felt it. With a family wedding looming, and having a Body Mass of over 30 (= “Obese Class 1”), I decided to take action and sort my life out. Hence, I went on a 13 Week Wedding Weight Loss program (weeks: 1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13). Click here for a quick explanation of the ins-and-outs, but the short of it is this: having a Body Mass of over 30 in a suit at a wedding in the sun in Spain is not a good look!

I lost weight and, whilst I didn’t reach my target, I made serious steps towards it and learnt a lot along the way.

Now I have another wedding in twelve four weeks’ time. So I’ve decided to not only carry on trying to fulfil my short-term weight goals, but to move towards the next phase in the transformation of me. 12 Week Wedding Weight Loss will be about achieving Phase 2: getting my weight to the ideal of 13st 7lb. I am currently 15st 11.2lb 16st 5.2lb. The long term goal is to not just get to and maintain a healthy weight, but to get seriously fit. But I’m jumping the gun: that’s Phase 3!

I therefore aimed to lose 32.2 pounds in twelve weeks, a loss of just under 2.7lbs a week. However, my program has slipped due to my inability to manage my snacking during a stressful period of my life, and I would now need to lose 6.7lb a week to stay on track.

Last week

Well, what a disaster(!) Remember those unspecified “life stresses” I mentioned in week 4? Eating was/is my coping mechanism. I’ve been struggling; keeping up a good routine when under pressure is clearly not something I have cracked yet. General diet isn’t bad, but extra booze and cakes has wrecked it.

I’m worse than at any point since the dark days of May. And I have breached the psychologically important weight of 16 stone, leaving me feeling like, ‘What is the point?’

Plus, it looks like I won’t be able to make the wedding after all for certain reasons — and thus the crucial motivating factor has been taken out of the equation since about a month ago.

Next week

My original target of 13st 7lb (189lb) by the 14th October is well and truly blown. I would now need to lose 6.7lb a week — this is not sustainable or healthy. Or realistic! Setting yourself up with unrealistic goals is the worst as the crushing disappointing when you fail derails you completely.

I need to get below 16 stone ASAP as that is quite an important milestone for me. So let’s make that my goal: by Monday 11th September I need to be 15st 13.99lb or below!

  • week 0 (last week): 10/07/2017: 15st 13lb (223lb)
  • week 1: 17/07/17: 15st 11.2lb (221.2lb)
  • week 2: 24/07/17: 15st 13.2lb (223.2lb)
  • week 3: 31/07/17: 15st 12.2lb (222.2lb)
  • week 4: 07/08/17: 15st 9.2lb (219.2lb)
  • week 5: 14/08/17: 15st 11lb (221lb)
  • week 6: 21/08/17: 15st 12lb (222lb)
  • week 7: 28/08/17: 15st 13.6lb (223.6lb)
  • week 8: 04/09/17: 16st 5.2lb (229.2lb)
  • GOAL: 14/10/17: 13st 7lb (189lb)

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://hansimann.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/sisyphus_by_o__v-d66ox90.png

So THAT’S Why Men Never Use The Second Button On Suits-gate #snobbery

Here’s one of those “helpful” clickbait articles that just popped up which leaves you wondering why you wasted those ten minutes of your life reading it. It reveals why men aren’t supposed to do up all the buttons on a suit jacket. It turns out the real reason is… no-one is quite sure why. Brilliant(!) But the article does give us the following life-saving advice: sometimes-always-never. That is, sometimes do up the first button, always do up the second button, never do up the third button (on two button jackets, only buttons two and three are present).

I’ve never liked this so-called rule. Seems stupid. I do whichever buttons seem sensible. Generally none, or two, but not one — the supposed proper way –, which is dumb. No buttons means I’m loose and free, two is for when I need to be smart or kept warm. One is a wishy-washy half-measure which achieves neither the end of comfort nor the end of warmth.

Got into a big funeral-based argument with my nouveau-riche uncle recently. He was aghast and full of scorn at my flouting of the sometimes-always-never diktat. I said to him that I’m more comfortable with both or neither button. He ridiculed me. I asked him to explain, in logical objective terms, why I should only do up the middle button — apart, that is, from his slavish following of mindless custom. He said it looks smarter. I said, “According to you”. He spluttered and shook his head sadly at my ignorance. I smiled inside because I had won the argument. Even if he didn’t realise it.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://ak1.ostkcdn.com/images/products/3513288/Mens-3-button-Grey-Wool-Suit-6e249355-d78f-4af9-922d-bb457bb0d78d_600.jpg

Random Images 32: Home #Random #RandomImages

InversionTunnelHouseHoustonTexas

Fatty Parry 30: WTH, Brown Rice!? @ww_uk @weightwatchers

this post originally appeared at https://diethealthlifegoals.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/cooking-wth-brown-rice/

Seriously, is it just me, or is white rice really easy to cook, but brown rice is IMPOSSIBLE TO COOK? I’m switching to brown rice for health reasons. But honestly, no matter which instructions I follow, white rice is always fine, but brown rice either comes out undercooked and hard, or as mucus covered mush. Seriously, what the HELL, brown rice!?‬

Weird thing is, I’ve done brown rice in the past with no trouble. But no matter what, I cannot manage it now!

HELP!?

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/8a/b6/e7/8ab6e705c2472234dfef835cbc11b33c.jpg