Keeping a watching brief

Not much time or inclination to post of late, as personal matters and work have rather taken over my life. However I’m keeping up to date on current events. Crimea, UK economy, the constant dunderheadedness of bureaucrats professional politicians, and the foolishness of their various useful idiots. Just watching, making notes and keeping the absurdity checks up to date. When I’ve got something to say, I’ll say it.

If the answer is tax

Just taking my usual Sunday meander through the frothing unreality of the Tellytubbygraph. I see Vlad Putin being lauded as the current object of the UK medias eleven o’clock hate as they try to stir up the populace. The herd of elephants in the room of course being EU intervention in Ukrainian affairs and massive skimming from pipeline contracts by Ukrainian politico’s. Which monies somehow never got back to the Ukrainians, while certain of their politicians became billionaires. Mm-hm. Over here in Canada, the local Ukrainian population are being heard muttering over their plates of Perogies about how the more things change the more they stay the same. Pass the sour cream. So it is with us ex-pat Brits.

At the moment the current UK media bogeyman is not salt, alcohol, tobacco or fats but sugar, which is found in just about every processed food there is. No surprise there, then. Sugars of one form or another are part of the elements of life. Monosaccharides (Simple sugars) include Glucrose, Fructose and the sci-fi sounding Galactose. Disaccharides (Complex sugars) include Sucrose, Maltose and Lactose. Most plants, as I recall from various biology courses I’ve taken, have a certain amount of sugars tucked neatly away in their edible parts. Starches (Polysaccharides), like the ones used in all those ‘Healthy Option’ ready meals as filler are little more than complex sugars.

So the dilemma for the ‘tax everything’ brigade becomes what sort of comestible will be sugar tax exempt. Of course those poor people need their lives regulating by their elders and betters, they’re such children don’cha know. So which foodstuffs need taxing and by how much? My goodness, what a target rich environment.

Okay, so where will all this new tax revenue go? Back in the pockets of the poor, who will grow more numerous as the tax rates increase, said revenue first having been heavily skimmed to pay for new, personnel heavy government departments to oversee ‘fairness’ and sending out ‘revenue neutral’ cheques? Maybe into the UK’s ‘wonderful’ NHS, the one you don’t want to end up in the care of lest your intimate details are sold to marketing companies and your elderly relatives starved or neglected to death? Whilst ensuring sufficient Management for ‘compliance’ with increasingly engorged cobweb encumbered databases of rules and regulations. Top rates must be paid to the managers of course to get the best ‘talent’, even if their only real talent is managing to navigate the HR departments Byzantine recruitment process. A new tax would come in handy to fund them, and their new staff no doubt.

On the face of it, this is a great idea. Tax sugar because it’s so unhealthy. Reduce consumption, cutting obesity at a stroke, and the costs to the NHS will go down. Fewer sick people to treat, right? Simple, elegant, and logical. Ah, but what was that shadow? The law of unintended consequences is lurking in the wings, awaiting it’s entrance in a puff of smoke, bringing chaos and confusion to the lofty utopian plans of the puritanical tax advocates.

It’s not a leap of genius to see that governmental costs (and hence the cost of living) will have to go up because now there will need to be an extra layer of compliance and enforcement for each new tax, easily gulping down the tranches of revenue thus garnered. Unfortunately the overall tax take will reduce because of the tax inflated prices, meaning that government has to borrow to fund these new government departments for command and control. Higher taxes and borrowing act as a brake on the economy, further lowering the tax take and therefore moving more people into the ‘Poor’ category, requiring more government intervention. Requiring more taxation and borrowing, yah-de-yah, etcetera, etcetera. The money has to come from somewhere. Maybe ex-pats savings. Damn those soon-to-be-poor rich bastards, eh? Just don’t forget to tell your influential friends to start moving their money before the new regs come in. Those middle class bitches can take the bite. Again. Those pensions are unsustainable anyway. By the way, where did all these new poor people come from? Anybody know?

Excuse me, I have a boat to buy, boarders to repel. All that jazz.

Boats and other impedimentia

Last weekend we went looking at boats. The object of this exercise is to sidestep all the dullness of living on land to find a slightly more interesting way of life. We’ve looked at houses, but quite frankly there’s not a place where Mrs S and I feel we would fit in. On a torrentially rainy day, on a muddy stretch of the Fraser river I think we found an answer. Not perfect, but certainly with all the comforts of home. GPS, depth sounder, radio, recent anti-fouling, Blue water capable, solid diesels, spare generators, which with a little internal remodelling, electrical upgrade and a satellite interweb connection would prove very liveable indeed. Reminder to self, shop around for a radar set. The boat has a washing machine, dishwasher and joy of joys a tumble dryer, as there’s nothing worse than not having a dry stitch to put on. Did I mention I spent some of my formative years bumming around on canals and canal boats? Before getting used to the vagaries of the English Channel. Being wet for days on end is no fun at all.

We came up with this wheeze a couple of years ago, but the stories of municipalities all around BC shoving out all the liveaboards gave us pause. What indeed is the point of having a decent boat as a base if you keep on getting moved on like some water borne Pikey? Now the heat is dying down, and there are places to moor up without the threat of summary eviction. I’ve also been cultivating contacts in the Marine section of the RCMP and local Harbour watch as a kind of insurance. Took an enhanced security check, but now I have legit ID to flash if need be. Never hurts to show you can jump the hoops. Having worked in municipal enforcement, I know how handy officially sanctioned ID can be in some circumstances. The trick is knowing when and how sparingly to use it.

What attracts me is the ability to simply up sticks for the weekend, scoot across to the bright lights of Vancouver or Seattle, moor up and go visit the bright lights for a few hours before coming home to your own cosy floating apartment. Or go work in Vancouver (without paying Vancouver prices), then shove off at the weekend for pastures new. Don’t like the neighbours? Hey, move on. Repel boarders (and snub the day boys and prefects- arr matey) There’s obstacles of course, surveys, insurance, fuel costs, boat security, permits etcetera, but nothing insuperable.

Yet another snow day

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again; back in 2008 when we hunkered down for our first Winter in West Coast Canada, we were told by friends and family who had lived here since the 70′s “Don’t worry, it never snows in the Mid-Island.” Today I can confirm it’s snowing. Again. Cold, wet and heavy. It has snowed every year we’ve been here despite the assurances and blandishments of friends and neighbours. Despite all the assurances of those telling us that “Our children won’t know what snow is.”

The great lakes currently have about ninety percent ice cover, the most for over two decades at the time of writing, and almost as much as the 1973 record of 94.7 percent on 1979. The Midwest and USA are on the receiving end of Winter storm after winter snowstorm. Then we have witless fools chuntering on about how they think those of us with eyes in the front of our heads, and working brains between our ears are some form of criminal species they call ‘Deniers’. Deniers of what might I ask? Deniers of a changing climate? No, we can see that for ourselves. As for warming, if anything it’s getting colder. Simple observation will tell you that. In the words of Dylan; “You don’t need to be a Weatherman to see which way the wind blows.” I can tell you where it’s going to as well. Which is a bit of a disappointment as I was rather looking forward to some extra warmth.

The only people in denial are the politicians and activists who blithely swan around travelling Business class (Hey, what about their CO2 emissions, huh?) and never actually step outside for long enough to see that all their prognostications of doom are as valid as those made by some uneducated backwoods Bible thumper. And these bastards are robbing John Q Public and telling everyone it’s for their own good, and other like bollocks.

There is an upside to all this snow and ice, and I think it’s worthy of a mention. There’s a tiny colony of wolves on an island (Isle Royale – Google it) in Lake Michigan who since the 1940′s have rarely been able to get to the mainland. As a result they have suffered terribly from the misfortunes of inbreeding. Now there have been reports that some of them are on the move over the ice and looking for fresh realms to inhabit. Although one is reported to have perished recently on the mainland, others may have made the same journey and survived. The Spring thaw will tell.

The glass is falling hour by hour

I swear the Weather gods are trying to tell us something. This is the mid Island, one of the warmer climates in Canada, and yet again it’s been snowing. Yesterday evening we transported in-laws around Victoria in pleasant but chilly greyness. The minute we get to the Malahat summit, the Malahat being a bloody great piece of rock that literally splits the south of Vancouver Island from everywhere else, snow. Thence snow all the way back home. Fortunately not the settling kind like we had last weekend, but enough to coat the trees and fields in a dusty white. It was a long drive home.

Today we’re in Richmond, I hope, viewing a boat. An ex-military tug converted to a liveaboard. Tonight evil dreams rob me of blessed repose and I’m sitting here emptying the sleeplessness into my keyboard. That’s the last bottle of Crane Lake Cabernet I’m drinking. Not bad on the palate, but I was jarred into wakefulness by dreams of intruders and various misdeeds. It was either the wine or some dodgy Canadian Brie. Whatever. Going back to bed now.

A cool little WordPress feature

Doing a little site maintenance, and found the ‘Protest NSA Surveillance’ banner feature in the ‘Settings’ menu. I know it’s purely a gesture (although hopefully a highly insulting one) in the direction of the hyper suspicious state organs that need to know absolutely everything about absolutely everyone.

You know, just in case Mrs Miggins down at the pie shop is not simply putting out tasty pie recipes on her blog, but that these recipes are, in reality, coded messages to the local Al Quaeda cell to go and do something horrible, like create self detonating custard. Which is actually more likely than you might think. Custard has some interesting properties.

An interesting quote

When the world seems to be against you, and you feel like you’re drowning in a Tsunami of deception, heed these words, ringing across the millennia from the sixth century BC (No, you idiot, not British Columbia, I mean the classic date related interpretation- sheesh, some people)

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.


Wisdom allegedly spoken by Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta (Buddha)

When arguing with activists, it’s an absolute killer. Especially if they claim to have embraced Buddhism. The simple cruelty of using their own tenets of faith against them actually brings a smile to my face. But then I’m feeling particularly evil today.

A deeply philosophical question

There is a branch of 18th century philosophy that asks the question; “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Originated by Bishop George Berkeley in his “A treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge

Today I have been reminded of this question in an empirical manner. My version of this deeply meaningful question reads; “If a baking potato explodes in the oven, will anyone hear it?” To which the answer is a conditional “No”. The conditional statement being; “but only if the cook is not in the kitchen at the time.”

The rest of this philosophical monologue will be taken up with a much greater question; “If indeed a potato has exploded in the oven, how long does it take to clean up afterwards.” Investigations are ongoing.

A conspiracy theory everyone can believe in

Awoke this morning to brilliant sunshine and mini avalanches sliding off the roof, thumping loudly onto the deck like bankers committing suicide. I think one of these slides may have taken four metres of guttering with it, so will report to the landlord. No biggie.

Now this is interesting. Over at ZeroHedge I read this, then went here to get the full skinny.

While these revelations are all very sinister and discomfitting, and as I’ve noted before, if the security services are out looking for trouble they’ll find it everywhere. Ultimately this gives you the uncomfortable feeling that we are all potential ‘targets’. Reminds me of working a particularly tough street where you knew the insults and abuse were going to start flying at some stage. Only to find the abuse throwers turn out to be the very people tasked with keeping the peace. Although they will claim not to be. Which raises the question; how is anyone to tell friend from foe any more? Because at the moment there is a distinct feeling going around that those supposedly tasked with public protection are actually the bad guys. Especially when one hears tales from our cousins in the south about getting put on by the tax man for being critical of the current administration.

What a chilling thought.

I’m also given to think now that this querulous moggy is well and truly out of the bag, every sad little troll who doesn’t like what someone says will start making sly asides, trying to give the impression that they’re working for the security services. Who have guns. The trolls aren’t and haven’t. There’s simply too much information out there, and security budgets are not unlimited. The tactics outlined will only be implemented by government agencies against hard targets with inimical intent. Or someone who annoys a politician. Or… oh dear. Imagination brake failure! O. M. G! Don’t panic. Don’t panic!

Seriously though. In the end it all boils down to trust. If you can’t trust the people tasked with public protection to mind their own gosh-darned business in their own country, who can you have faith in? No wonder other countries are laying cables, building their own Internets and people are developing ‘Blackphones‘.

This does not change my mind about the rest of the conspiracy theories, faked moon landings, flat Earth, 911 false flag, Area 51, aliens, man made global warming. They’re still all bunk.

To close;

Expatriate expostulations from Canada

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