All posts by Bill Sticker

Expatriate observer of life in the UK and British Columbia, Canada. Politically slightly right of centre with a pro libertarian bias. In August 2007 published a book called 'Walking the Streets' about three sporadically unpleasant years spent working as a UK Traffic Warden. Now a lot happier with life in general and keeping his accent for tax purposes.

Celebrity asset stripping

There’s an illegal business practice called Asset Stripping. It’s where an undervalued company is bought up, by fair means or foul, and the assets sold on for a profit leaving nothing but its debts. Whereupon said company is liquidated and fat wodges of cash are salted away beyond the wot of Tax Inspectors. It’s a nasty practice that destroys industries and puts people out of work. Which is why it’s a crime.

One of the tactics asset strippers use is to devalue a company by attacking its brand and devaluing it in the eyes of investors, allowing the asset strippers or their proxies to move in, buy the company up cheaply and literally denude its physical assets. Premises, equipment and holdings all go under the hammer before the shrivelled corpse of a once thriving business or brand is thrown onto the midden of bankruptcy, leaving Directors, Employees, Legitimate creditors, Investors and their families high and dry.

Seems to me there’s continual attempts to emulate this dirt cheap dirty deed in Celebrityland under the guise of sex crimes, where even a celebrity looking into a pram to say “What a cute baby” is viewed, not as a well meant compliment to the parents, but as a statement on the lines of “I’m horny, can baby and I have a party? I have drugs.” According to the feminist meme of “All men are rapists” and no child is safe from them. At least according to the wave of Paedo-hysteria that has been poisoning my home shores for over two decades now. Like with the Salem Witch trials, a pointed finger is enough and if the perpetrator has money – evidence will be found. Or fabricated. Or imagined. No matter how tenuous.

The fact that all the allegations seem to stem from thirty and even forty years ago should ring very loud warning bells to anyone involved as an evidence gatherer. During my streetwalking days we were taught that after each ‘incident’ we were to write down exactly what was said and done as soon as possible. Not half an hour later or end of shift, but right there and then. My wife often comments on how good my memory is because I can recall whole conversations up to a week after the event, but even then I’m cautious. Memory is a tricky thing; and even I’ve been known to get it badly wrong. Because I’ll tell you from hard first hand experience how a charged emotional state will change someone’s perception. People will literally make stuff up, mostly because they weren’t really listening at the time and are covering their arses. They will even happily perjure themselves in a court of law to cover up a minor lapse in attentiveness. Having first convinced themselves that what they thought they saw actually happened. Even if Mr Brain was in ‘idling’ mode at the time.

Even mild mannered me (I am – Honest Guv) has been accused of being ‘abusive’ and even of ‘threatening to hit’ people I’d just issued a parking ticket to on several occasions. None of these accusations were true. Even under direct verbal and physical threat on duty I never swore at, or in front of, a member of the public, nor made any gesture that a sane person would interpret as threatening. Apart from pull out my notebook or hand held computer. As an example, a polite hat tipping gesture was once misinterpreted as ‘flipping the bird‘ to a member of the public. This one minor ‘incident’ like so many other spurious accusations from those times, probably still lie on my personnel file in some dank archive and can be brought back twenty years hence should the will be there. I wouldn’t have a clue after that length of time. Would you?

Having done two stints of Jury service, I’m also more than painfully aware how one prejudiced and assertive voice in the jury room can turn a majority ‘Not Guilty’ decision into ‘Guilty’. Especially when everyone is tired of arguing over minutiae and just want to go home. Juries are strange twelve headed beasts that pull all over the place, sometimes led by the evidence, but more often by strong opinions and emotion. In these infantile days, it is my sad observation that opinions and emotion matter more than facts. Which can be the difference between conviction and freedom.

Scales of injustice clipartIt is also said that everyone lies. We do. Most especially to ourselves. What starts as a little white lie to cover up a trivial misdemeanour takes on layers of untruths to cover up the initial lie. Especially after a protracted period of time. Our imaginations embellish the trivial to make the mundane significant. To make ourselves look and feel more important than we really are. People mishear and misinterpret. Especially children, the emotionally upset, or even someone with a minor electrolyte balance. This is all too human, yet poorly corroborated accusations are being turned into convictions against once-famous old men with a bit in the bank. All so their accusers and their lawyers can feed off the corpse of a career.

So let’s call the current hysteria by its proper name. Celebrity asset stripping.

Speeding up

I’ve just moved my office space into the sun room behind the kitchen and very nice it is too. Not too warm, not too cold, and a decent view. Only one issue; because of where the Cable guy wired in our modem, the wi-fi router is at the front of the house. Which means I get a wi-fi signal of under forty percent. Downloads were like watching treacle pour, streaming bandwidth felt restrictive and meant every YouTube video I tried to watch stopped and started like they were running on a 56kb telephone link.

So yesterday I elected to spend a few bucks on a wi-fi extender. Being a cautious kind of person I went to the local Future Shop and purchased A Linksys N300 extender for sixty bucks. Linksys used to be owned by Cisco, I have a Cisco Wi-fi router which has worked flawlessly since we bought it for under a hundred bucks about three years ago when our last Belkin router died. As an aside; we’ve had two Belkin Routers – they’re cheap and cheerful, but that’s the best that can be said for them. So I thought, yeah, great. Linksys don’t do duff kit (Insert ironic laugh here). How wrong can you be? After two hours of teeth grinding, finding out that Belkin had bought out Linksys and a demanded charge of twenty five dollars for tech support on a brand new item. Not to mention the setup programme crashing two browsers and taking me to a BSOD. At which point I thought “Bugger all this for a lark.” And hiked back to Future Shop with the offending item. This time I purchased a NetGear WN3000RP Universal WiFi Range Extender which cost just over ten bucks more. I avoided the D-Link N300. Cheap it might be, but I haven’t worked in Tech support for a while and I’ve got better things to do with my life than fuss over issues which shouldn’t exist. Half an hour later after a minor panic looking for my Wi-Fi SSID password I’m home with a 95% plus signal in my new office and a very happy bunny indeed. Yes, the NetGear Extender does create a new Wi-Fi network segment to manage, but the improved signal more than makes up for the minor inconvenience and best of all, no need to delve into my ageing laptops registry to fix problems caused by iffy setup programmes. Streaming video and downloads streak along at full tilt. I’m delighted. For under a hundred bucks the NetGear is good value for money, even if it does look a bit clunky. It works.

Canada recognises Bitcoin

Bitcoin CanadaJust caught this off The Register. Bitcoin just got the endorsement of regulation in Canada. My, my. On the same footing as the Dollar no less. A little bit of a two edged sword this, as by putting Bitcoin on the official list of currencies, the various exchanges will have to register and comply with the financial regulations up north of the 49th parallel or get out of Canuckland. However, the upside is that by recognising Bitcoin, it gives the controversial crypto-currency a veneer of respectability, and encourage wider trading and convertibility. Which in a wider sense can be considered a good thing. Even if the main intent is to allow the taxman to get a piece of the action.

First the Enbridge pipeline gets approved, now this. Canada’s economic future is looking brighter all the time.

That Playboy Gary Oldman interview

This comes under the category of “Well, it put a smile on my face”. Gary Oldman fulsomely deserves something like one of DK’s old ‘Bloody Devil’ awards for outspoken sweariness. Read the Playboy interview here. I enjoyed it immensely.

The terrified mealy mouthed statement from Gary’s agent published underneath an article about the interview in the Barclay Brothers Beano about ‘Taken out of context‘ and but, but, but, ‘he really supports gay marriage‘ underneath made me chuckle all the more. Sounds like Urbanski is terrified that the interview would be a career killer for Oldman, and hence his fat agents fees would dry up.

Which is where the issue over political correctness lies. PC is dishonest and mendacious. It makes honest words curdle in the face of authority’s wrath. It’s the trump card in Victimhood Poker. The battle cry of the perpetually thin skinned. The poison of society. Passive-aggression for the emotionally retarded. I think what’s really wrong with PC is that it’s from people who’ve been told by bloodless bureaucrats what emotions they should have as opposed to what they’re really feeling.

Like a lot of people, I applaud Mr Oldman’s forthright stance on many issues. I consider his name on a movie billboard a hallmark of quality work, regardless of his political views. He’s entitled to them. They are honestly his and do not detract from his work. Such honesty in public life is very rare and like all rare things, precious and worthy of preservation.

Update: Score (Yet another) one for the forces of darkness. Oldman has ‘apologised’ because of pressure from the pro-Israeli Anti-Defamation League. Even though his comments were a defence of free speech citing what happened over a drunken rant by Mel Gibson and not a direct attack on things Jewish.

On politics and banking

The Politics of BankingI’m currently a very happy bunny and enjoying the relief that my new knee strap has brought. No crunching noises in my creaky old knee joint when I try to move quickly, or lift heavy objects. No detectable pain and I can now walk miles without a single twinge. Why aren’t these things compulsory for old knee injuries like mine? They’re worth all the painkillers and surgery in the world. None of the surgeries I’ve had have done anything to alleviate the discomfort since I first popped my knee playing Rugby. This fabric and gel pad thing has relieved all my symptoms inside forty eight hours. Although I’m taking it easy, just in case I screw up again.

Whilst enjoying this surcease, I visited Theo Sparks blog and saw the above. So I nicked it. Says a hell of a lot about the West’s current regime of casino banking. I think the world and his wife are aware that the current structure is unhealthily unbalanced, allowing those who control the flow of numbers to confiscate at will. Especially now the UK HMRC has the power to asset strip at will anyone it even suspects of not coughing up what the tax man says is a ‘fair’ share. Fair for whom? One might ask. In the US the tax man currently even ‘audits’ people for having the ‘wrong’ political views. Whoosh! Where did all those emails go and how many Server hard drives did they have to trash?

Both of which make me wonder about how open to abuse and corrupt the West’s financial system now is. The Russians are looking for a way out and the Chinese basically own all the USA’s markers. Even the fiscally cautious Mrs S has been asking me about Bitcoin and there’s even a Bitcoin ATM Downtown on Government Street. I’m tempted to try Bitcoin out on a small scale myself. Stick a few on a SDHC flash card (Not a USB stick DVD or CD – lifespan issues) in a shielded safe and Robert is one’s Father’s Brother n’est que-pas?. Unless someone crashes the entire Internet, in which case the West’s financial pooch is so screwed it’ll have had puppies.

Bitcoin as an alternative to the current mess of fiat currencies makes sense to a certain extent, but how vulnerable is it to external interventions? There was the market glitch back in December 2013. What happens if the US Government were to declare by presidential decree that Bitcoins were banned? Probably the same result. There was a big drop, a massive rebound, and Bitcoins that were trading around 4-580USD are now valued around 6-690USD (June 2014). Which left a lot of economic prophets of doom with serious egg on their faces.

That thought leads me to wonder about some of the recent political upheavals of the last fifty years. The Anti-Apartheid movement wasn’t making much headway until the Afrikaaners introduced the Krugerrand as legal tender. Then the politicians really got involved. At the time of the second Gulf War, it was rumoured that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was contemplating going back onto the gold standard, as was more recently Libya. Look what happened there. Iraq made large purchases of Gold in March this year, and lookee here, a bunch of foreign sponsored raiders are invading while the US drags its feet. At the risk of raiding the bacofoil, I’d say a certain pattern is emerging. Oil rich Country tries to go onto gold standard = Casus belli. Not so much blood for oil as blood for gold. Or in the Ukraine’s case, blood for gas.

Which further leads me to think that if the pattern of money and war, boom and bust is to be broken, maybe a more democratic currency (Out of the hands of politicians and bankers alone) is the way forward. Hmm.

That’s it for now. I’m off for a walk to test my recovering knee joint. The Galloping Goose trail calls.

Neuro-Linguistic programming for kids – a small epiphany

Down at the drug store this morning getting a knee strap to help reduce the pain of an ancient knee injury, I was fitting said item when a young family pulled up in their big Ford F250 pickup. Mum, Dad and two boys, and a babe in arms. Now in England this is a recipe for chaos. Sulky, ill natured kids who don’t want to be there and exasperated parents who would rather be anywhere else than with their whining ungrateful little mini-thems. Over here in BC it’s (Well, mostly) a totally different atmosphere.

One of the things I’ve noticed, being a recent import to these shores, is how generally quiet and well behaved many Canadian children are. But I’d never quite made the connection until today. Babe in arms, about a year old I’d reckon. Too big to be a newborn, too chubby for a Toddler, was swung into Mums front facing papoose and began squalling. Dad was leading his two boys across the car park, urging them on without raising his voice. Answering their torrent of questions and demands with a good natured; “But that’s not what we’re here for.” Mum was paying attention to the baby and using the same quiet, insistent and non-confrontational voice. There was no demand for the child to “Behave! Or else!” Just patient explanation that yes they were going to the store, no they already had too many toys and treats, and we’re going out this afternoon for a picnic. Please keep your voice down, I can hear you perfectly well. No heightened emotions, no drama and after the first exchange, no raised voices. The kids weren’t being ignored, au contraire, they were being engaged every step of the way. None of the usual parent to child guilt or threat exchanges. Just persuasion. I’ve overheard children at every turn presented with a “How would you feel if….?” option followed by a suggested positive outcome. In this particular case I got the feeling that this was a long-practised routine which both parents engaged in. A form of neuro-liguistic programming of their children, encouraging their progeny into preferred behaviours. Specifically not behaving like self-entitled little socipaths. At least until the soup of raging adolescent hormones turn them all into Kevins. Been there, done that. Twice, God help me. With girls, who make teenage boys look like pussycats, let me tell you.

Most of us grow out of the more unlovable traits of childhood. We can even break the generational cycle of abusive relationships, should we develop the will. Unfortunately this is often a protracted and very painful process for the person involved, and can be a terrible waste of a human being. Heavens to Betsy, some might even end up bloggers.

Which rather leads me to the thought that we are what we are programmed to be. Larkin expressed it as “They fuck you up, your Mum and Dad” but then again, Larkin was always one of my least favourite British poets. Having seen that side of the coin, I’m becoming convinced that parents don’t have to screw up their kids, they can engage, communicate and guide. Minimise the damage peer groups and aggressive marketing can do to kids minds by ensuring a child knows where their support mechanisms lie.

So it is with grown up life. Treat people with trust and engage them without being judgemental and my experience is that most will respond positively. Not too much trust mind, just enough to account for the one in twenty five that is a conscience-free zone. Treat everyone like wayward children, regulate their every waking moment with near incomprehensible rules they can’t help but break, and what response profile will they follow? Got it in one.

Last call for the Barclay Brothers Beano

Got the message about the Journo sackings at the dear old Barclay Brothers Beano, Tellytubbygraph, or NotsoTorygraph via my Guido Fawkes digest email. Seems like every writer politically right of Mother Theresa has been given the boot. Except for Tebbit in the blogs section. Which is rather sad. One of the highlights of my day used to be doing a little bit of whack-a-troll in the comments section, then leave the trolls letting off esteem while I went off and did some work. No doubt as the Telegraph deserts its reader base, the clickthrough traffic on their advertisements will sink, like the sun setting over the British Empire, slowly and inevitably over the horizon. Seriously, if they were going to morph into a pseudo Guardian, but without the Guardians semblance of investigative journalism, shouldn’t they have looked at how dire the circulation figures are for the Groan first?

Guido does have a dig occasionally (actually quite often) about what he calls the ‘dead tree media’, as anyone with a decent tablet or iPad can get the online versions for free. Although what goes into the online version is hardly first line. A tendency towards content free click-bait articles has been quite marked over the last year or so. Too much op-ed, too little investigative journalism. One wonders if the doughty Christopher Booker is on the list of columnists to be let go in the next round of ‘downsizing’. Which is ironically what the Telegraph would be doing with its dwindling circulation.

In closing I’d like to note that back in my schooldays we were always being exhorted to ‘save a tree’ by not buying disposable wood pulp products. Now with the Telegraph’s intellectual downgrade there is even more reason to save trees. The historical circulation figures tell their own story of decline.

Chilled

Mrs S and I have finally moved in properly to new Victorian gaff here in BC and just delivered our first weekend guest safe home. To celebrate we took a bus downtown and did a little bar surfing. While we were on our way, the oddest feeling crept over me. A sense of complete calm, serenity, even a sense of being touched by God. A veritable nexus of null anxiety, to the point where my paranoia kicked in and whispered salaciously to my hindbrain “It’s been a wonderful day so far-so what’s going to go pear shaped? Who is going to screw it up?” You know what? Nothing did.

In Iraq, 800 crazies, including three holders of UK passports so we are told, are murdering all they choose while an army flees in front of them. The Ukraine crisis lumbers on. The USA seems weak and vacillating. UK Civil liberties are eroded with every half baked directive from the EU Commission and everywhere the media are complicit in the decline.

Yet none of that matters, because at present we’re having a lovely time. Walking here and there, enjoying the locality. Don’t take this personally, but I won’t say ‘wish you were here’. There’s only just enough happiness for me, Mrs S and the dog.

Great White shark jumping

There’s a media fuss about a three metre Great White that was tagged then disappeared. Well, some puzzled film makers aren’t sure what happened after finding the digestion discoloured tag on a beach. Seriously? Don’t these people bother to do some basic shark research before making idiots of themselves in public?

A three metre (10ft) Great White Shark, genus Carcharodon carcharias is only just maturing. It’s a juvenile, a baby. A full grown Great White is a whole lot more sushi. Adults come in at over six metres (21ft) long, with some reports of specimens over eight metres long (26ft).

It’s also worth nothing that despite their fearsome press coverage, Great Whites aren’t the baddest of ocean predators. Orca’s have been known to take them out. They aren’t called Killer Whales for nothing.

So what killed a comparatively small Great White shark? Could have been an Orca, might have been a bigger Great White with the munchies. Cannibalism is not unknown among shark species, especially one bleeding from a fresh tag wound in its back. So it’s hardly a mystery, and three metres is snack size as far as Great White predators go. Unless you want to believe crap like this. Don’t they check out their own back issues? Sheesh.