Since Dieppe, which Elwyn and I really enjoyed, I've been hiding away here in NZ trying new single skin prototypes, generally catching up with people and doing some sawmilling- using a restored antique Wehrhahn reciprocating mill from Germany (ex Hoberg of "No Limits" fame).
I may go to the Vung Tau (Vietnam) event in December but otherwise plan to stay home for the rest of this year. Next year? Pasir Gudang and Satun of course, and we've sort of pencilled in Berck and Cervia because kite flying in Europe is such good fun- and because they don't overlap in 2017.
I also feel rather guilty about not having fronted for any of the many recent Chinese kite events, but Simon Chisnall and William White (Simon's new assistant) from PL Kites have each done some, and anyway, I have the excuse of a bad back.
And in my case the twinges are largely self-inflicted: I need to stop behaving like a 30 year old:
By using the forklift truck more often for shifting stuff.
By asking for help when dragging large kites around (but I hate the weakness that this implies).
By getting others to do the digging (we're being plagued by leaks in 1970s and 80's plastic water pipes since the water pressure was recently increased).
And by spending less time doing heavy lifting and more time sewing, thinking, reading, and writing, (which I can inflict on you): "Just don't mention Donald." OK, I won't.
Now here's a topical issue that I just can't shy away from; Europe's gone three ways mad:
All of us (outside Africa) are either migrants or descended from migrants, and migrants more often than not become net contributors within a short space of years. Evidence for this is overwhelming, notwithstanding the xenophobic reaction of locals everywhere to 'foreigners who steal our jobs, don't know how to behave- and can't even speak properly'.
Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain by Isabelle and Ferdinand in the 16th century were significant in the rise of Amsterdam and London- and enabled the Ottoman Turks to hang on for a few more hundred years.
Ugandan Indians fleeing (with nothing) from Idi Amin in the 1970's were very soon counted amongst the wealthiest ethnic groups in England.
America was built by migrants who endured conditions that are unimaginable today in the hope of a new life. It was said of Chinese in America at that time that "their greatest sins is perpetuating those disgusting habits of thrift, industry and self-denial". In 1890, three out of four residents of New York were foreign born, leading to a burst of growth there that wasn't matched anywhere until China itself threw off the dead hand of socialism in the 1980s.
The first waves from any Syria-like crisis are especially value adding. They're self-selecting to be the best educated and the go-getters of their cohort, and they have to be young, fit and healthy to survive the journey. These are exactly the new citizens that a country would seek if it didn't have to be PC about using a ruthless and dangerous selection process.
No indeed, taking in migrants like these isn't mad.
Nor is Germany completely crazy to have opened its borders. The birth rate in Germany (and other European countries) is too far below replacement level to be corrected other than by importing people. Without continual external top-ups, Germany's productive capacity will slump, along with their pension schemes and other social supports for the aged. Japan's and Korea's response to similar apocalyptic demographics has been to keep their borders closed as they sink ever faster. So no, Germany putting out the welcome mat is not madness either.
But cultural incompatibility is a problem. Germany is predominately Christian while most middle-eastern (and many African) migrants are Moslem- and there aren't that many other potential sources. In my view all religions are nonsense, and not harmless either because they provide people with justifications for behaving badly. And Islam is about as bad as religions get in this respect because it's trapped in a 12th century time warp, unable to change from a worldview encompassing jihad, slavery and the subjugation of women. It's not that Moslems can't be fine people and good citizens of the world, they can be (and the Moslems I know personally universally are), it's just more difficult for them, given the dogmas they must navigate through. It's amazing to me that Europe's leaders were blind to this consequence and I doubt that Angela Merkel and others of the European ruling elite can survive the burgeoning backlash.
As a first and obvious entry requirement, there needs to be informed acceptance of the host country's core values by arrivees. For Western Countries these values would include freedom of speech and belief, the rule of law, and equality before the law. For European countries to accept substantial numbers of migrants who reject some or all these values, as has been happening for decades, is absolute madness and will lead to violence and the breakdown of civil society. Nor is this a Europe-only problem; no country can take substantial numbers of people with values and beliefs at variance to their own without courting instability.
A second constraint should be numerical. With popular support and careful planning, it is clearly possible to assimilate migrants up to say 1% of total population per year (just enough to reverse most western countries population declines) without too much disruption. Post WW2, Germany has had an excellent record in this (especially by comparison to neighbouring France with its intractably ghetto-ised Banlieues), but has clearly now exceeded its capacity (as has France). This too is madness- and an uncharacteristic public policy failure on Germany's part
And there's a third madness; the moral hazard of migration. We all focus on humanitarian aspects; innocent children escaping the ravages of war- and how can their plight not pluck at our heart strings? But the very people who can get themselves to countries where living is safer and easier are exactly those with the talents and drive required to fix the problems that their home countries have. By providing a refuge for these particular migrants (stealing them away in my view), the developed world is pretty much ensuring that the countries they are 'escaping' from will continue to fail.
And there's another practical reason why these people should be encouraged to stay home and get things working (even at personal risk) instead of bailing out: Any attempt to help some dysfunctional country is now labelled as colonisation or worse. Rather than thanks, the intervening country, even when motivated substantially by do-gooder sentiments, is internationally reviled, and held to standards of accountability that, for some reason I don't understand, are never applied to Russia, China, or any country in the middle east. It's time to make clear that people's first responsibility is to their home country, that 'getting out is copping out'.
Opening borders to unlimited and uncontrolled immigration is a classic case of 'doing bad by doing good'. What an astonishing failure of leadership this has been for Europe; it almost makes the current US shenanigans seem competent by comparison. Whoops, I wasn't supposed to mention the election, was I!
PETER LYNN ASHBURTON NEW ZEALAND, 1 NOV '16
Single skin update: Simon Freidin (Melbourne Australia) has taken up the challenge and is pursuing this development with impressive intensity- new ideas and prototype testing almost every day. By now I know far too many reasons for things not to work, so a fresh perspective is particularly useful.