Petitions, petitions

Ex UK tabloid Editor Piers Morgan has apparently annoyed quite a few of our cousins south of the 49th parallel (So what’s new?) with a rant about the 2nd Amendment to the US constitution. There is an active petition lobbying the White House for his deportation. There is a counter petition lobbying for him not to be deported. I’ve heard this mis-reported on CBC Radio that the second petition was raised by his ‘supporters’. Not so. I’m reliably told it was UK residents saying “We don’t want him back”.

There is a problem. If the White House does deport the odious little tabloid hack and he wants to stay in Canada; I personally do not want to have the nasty smegger polluting the airwaves up here in the not so frozen north. He has a vile, and some suspect, criminal past. Violating people’s privacy, damaging their reputations without good cause, causing the deaths of UK troops by publishing sensationalist and untrue allegations about UK armed forces in Iraq, and even suspected insider share dealing. If I was Immigration Canada I’d have him on the next flight out if ever he dared show himself at the border.

Although an amusing thought occurs. He could always take a gig up in Churchill, Manitoba, where he could go see how a gun ban works on one of the local Polar Bears. Or the Grizzlies on North Vancouver Island, even Northern BC would do. The bears would probably appreciate a free hack snack. How would that be for an edition of “I’m a celebrity – get me out of here!“? Hey, I’d watch.

Evil smirk.

Down the memory hole

I like literature. Well, apart from the highly mannered meanderings of the Brontës and suchlike. Happily delve into Melville, Defoe and Johnson, but stuff like “Wuthering heights” and the works of Jane Austen leave me rather cold.

That said, I’m dismayed, even horrified to see castrated versions of old songs / poems being published by people with an agenda. The latest victim is the famous 1823 poem “Twas the night before Christmas” by Clement Moore. Apparently two lines have been excised by an independent Canadian publisher because, horror of horrors, they referred to Santa smoking a PIPE! Argh! Call the thought Police! The offending lines excised are;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

O-kay. But if the anti smokers can remove those lines, what about the next two?

He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

The anti obesity lobby will surely be after them shortly. The Animal rights lobby will want the lines about Santa’s fur coat and those poor ickle Reindeer being used to haul a sleigh removed, never mind about WWF and Greensleaze wanting the bits about open fireplaces and chimneys – Oh noes! What about the Carbon Footprint! removed.

Fortunately, there are dissenting voices, but in the meantime perhaps hitting the “Oo you shouldn’t be able to read about that” faction in the wallet by boycotting their output might be an option.

TTFN

Well, just over the festering season. This year Mrs S and I are having not a Merry Christmas, but a Merry Detox. No belt loosening Turkey dinner this year but light seafood meals, Saunas and Steam rooms. No endless repeats on the TV but fresh air and waterfront walks with perhaps a spot of shorefront fishing. Spa treatments have been booked, and I fully intend spending a good portion of Christmas day lounging in a hot tub with a view over snow clad mountains and lakes, large glass of Quails Gate 2009 Special Reserve Pinot Noir in hand. I may already be there as this is a scheduled post………

Mrs S will be giggling away in the background as she plays with the serious present she’s always wanted, we may Skype with friends and family. We may just zonk out and be massaged and saunaed to a singing glow. I’m really quite dizzy with anticipation.

The traditional Christmas break over here in Canada is much shorter than the UK’s general two week shutdown, but to be honest, I prefer it.

Trust

I’ve been watching the developments south of the 49th, and all the moral panics going around with studied interest. It’s all about America’s ‘love affair with guns’ say some pundits. The violent video games. Violent movies. A sick culture some say. All sorts of reasons are advanced. Mostly the same ones as the last time. I have my own ideas, echoed by the words of Aung San Suu Kyi, some of which can be found here. Specifically in an interview found in Robert Liebermans documentary, “They call it Myanmar“.

There’s a lot wrong down south, and yet there’s not as much as you might think. On the other hand, many south of the border appear to be ‘tooling up’ with gun sales increased across the board. People are ‘prepping’, stockpiling food, water and weapons for some unspecified cataclysm, be it associated with the forthcoming ‘fiscal cliff’ or any of the other putative disasters. The paranoia seems almost endemic. Catching. Self-perpetuating. Reading various forums and web sites, I get the overwhelming sense that people, not just in the USA, but also in Europe, have lost faith with those in authority. They do not trust their governments and its institutions to look after (or rather not interfere so much) the very peoples they are supposed to serve. Nor, it seems, do various factions within those institutions have much faith in each other. See “Plebgate” and associated fallout for one example.

There’s the word – trust. As levels of perceived intrusive security and surveillance rise, so does the paranoia and distrust of the public. Because of the actions of minorities, authorities clamp down on the majority, in the process arousing mistrust. Therefore people feel obliged to protect themselves and buy another gun, another case of ammo, secure the house, stockpile more stuff, dig another hole, find refuge. They see the increase in government agency authority and in an almost Newtonian reaction, try to compensate for the powerlessness this makes them feel. In turn Government expands to address the fears, but the more government power increases, the more regulation, the less it is trusted. The bigger it gets, the more monolithic and frightening it becomes. The more resources it consumes without producing more in return. Like a dying star it becomes too massive and begins to slowly implode into an economic black hole.

North of the border, at least here on the Wet coast of BC, we are encouraged to ‘prep’ for the ‘big one’ with emergency supplies for about 72 hours. Every year there is a public earthquake drill called the ‘Shake-out’. We sometimes take part, sometimes not, but all of my friends and neighbours have a stock of supplies, just in case. At home I can rely on enough food and water for one week, and have reasonable and workable fallback options (Hunting bow, fishing gear, hand tools) should the worst ever happen. Not only that, but I would work with my neighbours to assist them in any way I could. We all know that public resources will be limited in time of emergency, and so we prepare accordingly. There is still a strong sense of community and self reliance here in the Mid Island. Particularly in the more rural areas. What’s more we are trusted, indeed expected, to be so. This appears not to be the case elsewhere.

The truth is that organisations fail when they do not trust the very people they are supposed to serve, or fail to motivate their members enough to be trusted. A classic management failure occurs when those in positions of authority do not listen to anyone outside of their own close circles. They fail when focus groups, lobbying self-interest groups and think tanks direct policy. They fail in their allotted task when they become dishonest, distant and unaccountable. When spin becomes the message. When promises are easily discarded.

Without trust and co-operation there can be no real and lasting social interaction. Without open and free speech there can be no real confidence or trust. Without that honesty, confidence or trust, nations and societies cannot stand. At least not without massive surveillance and repression. And the price for that comes high. Too high.

Unfortunately, by treating other peoples property as public and lying to cover up their own mistakes, politicians and their pet activists lose that trust. No wonder voting is down and gun sales and ‘prepping’ are on the up.

Merry Christmas.

Apocalypse Meh

Well, according to my little ‘pooters clock, it’s about 6:40pm PST.  Over in Europe, the last day for poor, abused Earth will dawn in about four or five hours.  All the crusties over at Pic De Buggeroff will be getting their last nights kip before boarding the alien spacecraft, and in South America, a bunch of Mayans will be giggling themselves silly about a bunch of idiots getting ready for something which isn’t going to happen.

Elsewhere, the authorities will be on high alert waiting for people to commit suicide before the Earth begins to boil / falls into a black hole which a lot of very observant Astronomers have managed to miss / something else.  I say let them.

If people are that set on self destruction, experience tells me it is pointless to stand in their way.  They’ve had a good life, let ‘em go.

Update: Well it’s 10am PST and our side of the Sun is fairly quiet. A little froth around a bunch of sunspots. Local Earthquakes likewise. Tsunamis likewise. No incoming asteroids worthy of note. Crusties all going home (Still utterly convinced that what they did was ‘worthwhile’). Business as usual. Making Coffee.

What are these people on?

Browsing the Torygraph this morning (Because I like a smug giggle), I came across this article in the Financial section about the electrical retailer, Comet, going tits up. Nothing to gloat about. I feel sorry for the people both in the stores and head office losing gainful employment. Did a couple of small contract jobs for that group back on the late 90’s. No complaints. What troubles me is the way these stories are presented nowadays. You’d think the taxman actually invested in these companies, rather that the company paying VAT, Business rates on all their premises, Employers and Employee taxes and NHI, and all the other little cheese parings the taxman gleans off every single thing in sight. Yet there are a bunch of dead heads whining that companies don’t pay “Their fair share”.

Bearing that in mind, I’d like to ask what exactly is a companies “Fair share”? The tax rates and rules are set by the Treasury, and any company is bound by law to cough up according to those rules. Unless of course the taxman is a creditor when said company goes bust and there’s no more money. Even then, the taxman has to take its turn. That is the law. Yet the raucous self-entitled are found clogging up the ‘Comments’ section, displaying their complete lack of financial acumen. They can’t tell debt from revenue or turnover, and seem to think that just because there’s a number, you have to pay tax on it.

Talk about dumb……

Here we go again.

Another day, another tragedy. Another media circus. Another opportunity for the collectivist ‘ban everything’ brigade to wallow in false emotion and wave their nasty anti freedom agenda in everyone’s face.

27 people, many of them children, died not simply because an Aspergers sufferer got hold of his Mothers guns, shot her, then went to shoot up the school where she worked. Nor were Thomas Hamilton (Dunblane), Anders Breivik (Norway), and Robert Ryan (Hungerford) so simple as the ‘nutter with guns’ assertion. Nor countless others which do not receive anywhere near the same media attention. Guns are used to kill, therefore guns are bad, ban guns, goes the argument. The same case could be made against Sabatier kitchen knives, ceremonial swords, ice axes, steel capped safety boots, glass bottles, logging axes or rocks. Or even a qualification in martial arts or possession of exceptional physical strength. Amongst many others.

Yet none of the calls for regulation will address the underlying issue. Why certain people go AWOL and lash out blindly. If you choose to read this book by David M Buss, you will be told that the human mind is designed for homicide.` We are killers. All of us. It’s a feature of the standard human psyche. Yet most would faint at the very notion because our killer within is only unleashed under certain, very specific, circumstances. Most will never, ever, find themselves in those circumstances, or more to the point, never let themselves be pushed that far. They’re too well balanced and socialised.

So what is the single thing that all these multiple, and seemingly random killings have in common? Guns? Well, as a tool, certainly, but that is only superficially true. The real motivation can be summed up in one word; frenzy. A mania, or unbalanced state of mind. Extreme, uncontrolled anger unleashed. To use the vernacular; ‘Going postal’. Yet even that is not anywhere near the whole answer. Where does the frustration come from that generates these tragedies? For me, this comment over at ZeroHedge is as close to the true answer as I’ve seen anywhere else;

As long as they keep focusing on the tool rather than behavior, culture and personal responsibility there will be no progress.

Think about it.

The vast majority will never resort to physical violence simply because someone looks at us the ‘wrong’ way. Generally speaking, people either fear the consequences or such an action would never occur to them in the first place. Offering physical harm to others is not something the average human does as a first resort. We are taught not to. Well, most of us. We are taught to talk rather than fight or shoot. To voice our frustrations before we hit boiling and the lid blows off. To have acceptable social outlets.

All the bans, regulation and repressive rules will not solve anything because the real issues are more deeply rooted. Banning legal firearms will leave the only guns in the hands of Government agencies or criminals. Some would argue there’s little difference between these two factions, apart from the membership criteria.

What do they do with it all?

There’s been a fair bit of whining in the UK press by various jackboot apologists complaining that various parties don’t pay ‘their fair share’ of tax. Yet as I recall, even when we lived in that beknighted part of the world, I calculated that sixty percent of all our joint outgoings went into the massively inefficient state sausage machine. Sure, we got a little back in child benefit and odds and ends, but when we had to spend it, tranches went in paying tax on those necessary purchases like stuff for school, clothing, food etc, so we were really no better off. Proportionately speaking, our overall disposable income shrank, year on year.

Let me essay an example here; say you want to send a Christmas present to friends or family to and within the UK. Base cost of purchase will invoke various taxes including VAT, yet every component on your heartfelt generosity is already stained with the patina of tax. Raw materials are taxed, the employees are taxed, employers / employees NHI, property taxes / business rates, tax on energy and energy usage, it all mounts up. despite tax breaks, there is no such thing as ‘revenue neutral’. On anything. The taxman bites everywhere. Argue all you want. Dig a little, and the levels of taxation become obvious.

Like a leech, the tax take affects everything, even indirectly by putting up a manufacturers or distributors costs. The price of gasoline (Petrol) increases, so does the proportionate tax. Therefore the cost of anything that needs to be transported or made goes up and inflation increases. This is economics kindergarten, or 101 as they say over here.

Okay, so that’s established how thoroughly the UK is taxed, both directly and indirectly. Only barter between neighbours and growing your own from your own seed remains untouched. For how long this state of affairs continues is anyone’s guess, considering the current desperation of the UK taxman.

So; my heading question remains. What does the UK Government do with your hard earned? Well, there’s the basics. The NHS, which currently employs about 1.18 million people (1.1 million of whom are classed as “Non clinical” Official figures for August 2012 from here). In 1995, the total health budget came in at 46.1 Billion. 2000 was 49.6 Billion. 2005, 82.9 Billion. 2010, 118.2 Billion. 2011, 121.3 Billion. figures from here, which are culled from official sources.

What else? Lobbying itself via certain QUANGO’s and NGO’s which are basically jobs for family and friend to pay off, or buy political favours. Spends it on unnecessary things even the most bling obsessed shopping junkie might say “Whoa, that’s a bit pricey, innit?”. Like IT projects to monitor everyone’s movements / financial transactions / Internet use. Gets the country involved in expensive wars, then lets the enemy in through the back door and can’t or won’t chuck them out because of their ‘ooman rights’. Wastes it on boondoggles. The list is almost, but not quite infinite. Not to mention having such a complex compliance culture that everything, including Nietzsche’s ‘raising of the wrist’ costs multiples of it’s base cost. Which the taxpayer has to stump up for. Even then they will rarely get it right.

Which rather answers a couple of questions; “What do they spend it all on?” and “What cuts?” The figures speak for themselves. Yet they want more? Crazy. What happened to the ‘Bonfire of the Quangos? Amongst all the other promises.

The final countdown

Just glanced at the little countdown app I’ve got at the bottom of the blog page. According to the some sources, the Mayans, who ran out of stones or maybe even sacrificed the stonecarvers, whatever before they could cut the follow on pages, the world ‘ends’ in ten days from now. Ten days. That’s all you’ve got before we get hit by some planet no one can detect. Or a similarly undetectable black hole. Or wise Aliens coming to pick up all the crusties from a French Mountain. Which would be jolly nice of these alleged superintelligent Aliens. What they might do with said crusties hasn’t been mentioned. Open the airlocks half way to their mystical planet or something, perhaps. Just to do something about the smell.

Ten days. That’s it.

Bit of a pisser if you’ve ordered a big turkey to feed a houseful.