Home from away

Back home and back to work. Feeling pretty chipper despite having spent 24 hours in airports and aircraft less than 48 hours ago. Two good nights sleep and clean BC air have reset my body clock to a steady tick-tock instead of tick-pyoing!-pchoing!-hic-achoo-ping! like the last two weeks. Bouncing around time zones like a demented yo-yo is no fun at all. Throw in up to (And on one occasion over) ten hours driving a day for half of the trip, and you have an idea of how much fun I haven’t been having.

Why should that be? When not driving all I’ve been doing is eating, trying to sleep and sitting watching whatever televisual entertainment is available in hotel rooms, airports and aircraft. Which, not having TV at home is a novel experience. Although I often found myself desperately channel surfing for some reasonable content while waiting for everyone else to arrive / decide what to do. The BBC and Sky news continual vomiting of the same anaemic content every 20 minutes is less than edifying. I found their lack of depth annoying as ever.

I see that little has changed in the financial markets. The Eurozone is so far in debt that they’re inside some bizarre financial event horizon with no way out but some freakish quantum transdimensional shift. As is the US dollar. The Chinese have an impending property bubble, so they’re potentially in the same sort of fiscal doo-doo that the US and Eurozone are in. Shit, fan, incoming! There a gruesome inevitability to it all, like a slow motion train crash with full musical sound effects.

Elsewhere I’ve heard it said that the man accused of the Norwegian massacre has been described as a ‘Libertarian’. All I can say to that is; is he buggery. That is a foul slur, a monstrous calumny, and complete bollocks, but oh so very predictable. There are elements in the lamestream who don’t like online commentary that they cannot own, and therefore must demonise anyone associated with a certain section, by whatever means. Even if their assertions have about as much truth in them as a G type star has polar ice caps.

Still having a severe attack of schadenfreude over the News International affair. Which newspaper group ‘outed’ bloggers, costing people their jobs for no readily discernible reason? Oh yes. No sympathy. Kamikaze domestic fowl on approach, heading for perches (Evil snigger). Good.

Right. That’s enough smugness for now. Back to work.

Travel observation

Manchester airport; Terminal three.

Had to pass through on my way from one (Naturally closed, this being the UK) car hire office to another at a different terminal. I thought I’d sidestepped through a time warp into Qatar. Go look for yourself if you don’t believe me. I truly felt like a stranger in a strange land. In the country of my birth no less.

The following morning, the cab driver who took us to the airport seemed somehow relieved we were going to a different terminal.

Currently very relieved to be home despite the jet lag.

Citizenship and the EU

You know, I often find myself wondering about this. I’ve said before that as soon as I’m eligible I will apply for Canadian Citizenship, and this remains my intent. The question being; do I wish to remain a citizen of the UK, and thus a citizen of Europe? Will I want to maintain dual citizenship status? While I don’t, and have never really minded the notion of being a citizen of Europe, I don’t like the way a closed circle of unaccountable politicians and bureaucrats are taking it.

When a torrent of micro managing regulation goes onto the statute books without so much as a bye, leave, or thank you. Then I don’t want to be a citizen of the EU. If legislation can be cut and pasted from directives originating from within the undemocratic cancer that is the EU Commission without so much as a sneeze from the elected body. Then I don’t want to be a part of the European Union. When I watch the insane debt bubble looming over the countries that are part of the Euro, then I think I’d be better off not being a citizen of the EU.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Europe. All of it. I love most of the places, and most of the people I’ve met on my travels. Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Netherlands, Luxemburg, and yes, even Belgium. I’m sure a lot of Germans, Italians, French, Spanish, Dutch, Luxemburgers and Belgians feel exactly the same way.

There are things that are done far better in Europe than the English do. The TGV’s (Ironically, many engine and coach units built by British Manufacturers) that zip across France and Spain. Much more comfortable than flying. European Motorways, and I have many fond memories of French N and D routes. Airports.

My head is crammed with delightful European memories like the almost overpowering liquorice tinged smell of Basil on the road from Florence to Genoa. The dusty glory of a Tuscan summer. Champagne chilly cellar tours in Rheims, the dazzling brilliance of the Mont Blanc glacier on a sunny day. The dusty expanse of the Saarland and Rhine Valley in midsummer. Little family roadside restaurants off the beaten track. People who readily forgave my poor language skills, but didn’t mind so long as I made some effort (However awkward) to speak their language.

The sheer weight of european history and culture is tremendous and never less than impressive. Yet all that is good in Europe is slowly dying of bureaucratic poisoning. A stolid, boneheaded, ignorant top down political delusion that assumes one code of law will do for all. If it were general law, like don’t steal or don’t cheat, I’d be all for it, but what bugs me is the increasing micro management foisted upon the majority by vocal lobby groups. Chair polishing time wasters passing law after law without any real thought for the consequences. A system of governance that reduces the rights of the individual to whatever largesse an overweening state can be bothered to hand out. With every new piece of legislation the system becomes ever more inflexible.

To compare; in general terms of materials science, the stiffer a substance becomes, which mostly mean becoming more tightly grained, the more fragile and prone to shattering it becomes. So it is with law. The more constricting and inflexible law becomes, an increasing number of people keep will slamming into it until a social critical mass is reached, and something has to give. At that point either the edifice collapses under it’s own internal pressure, or enough people get together to form a hammer. As is happening right now throughout the Middle East at present where tired, inflexible regimes are cracking under the strain. The EU are interfering because that’s where most of their oil comes from. Yet their interference is actually making things worse.

For example; outside intervention is giving Gaddaffi’s main power base, his alliance of tribes something to rally against. Where he might have slunk off to Venezuela with a couple of billion in unmarked bills in times past, that door has been shut to him. With no exit strategy he has to fight. More Libyans will die because of it. All because of short sighted, posturing EU intervention. I do not support this, nor do I agree with what is happening within the EU. Not too chuffed about Canada being dragged in, but that’s NATO for you.

There is no course of remedial democratic action open to me. My UK MP is a buffoonish rubber stamp who does not care about his constituents views. My UK MEP is so remote and unaccountable that they might as well be located out in Lunar Orbit. Therefore I do not want to be a citizen of an enlarged EU.

At some time in the next three years I’m going to have to make a decision about citizenship. If, once a full citizen of Canada I renounce my citizenship of the UK, and thus Europe, if I get stuck in Europe for any legal reason I will always have the option of deportation back to my new home. Yet if I have dual citizenship, that choice might not be so readily open to me, and any protections I might have as a Canadian citizen might be somewhat diluted.

The Canadians look after their citizens, you see. The tacit constitutional contract between state and individual is largely intact over here. You have to really want citizenship, and therefore it’s not an easy road to travel. That is where its value lies.

Upon sober reflection I think I’ll have to plot this one through carefully. It has been said that those who wish to give up citizenship of the UK should undergo a psychiatric evaluation. But what is insane about wanting to renounce a country that has changed the terms and conditions of citizenship without consultation, leaves sizeable tranches of its populace effectively disenfranchised, where people can be imprisoned without trial, their families dismantled, yet has the effrontery to describe itself as ‘democratic?’

From where I stand at present, with no other door open to me, the renunciation of everything I was brought up to believe in may be the most potent protest I can lodge.

Oh dear

In the wake of the awful Norwegian massacre I’m quite disturbed to see a media blame fest shitstorm headed for so called ‘right wing fanatics’. A brush with which they wish to tar any and all political opponents. A broad brushstroke all encompassing accusation designed to discredit philosophical opponents.

You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if the phrase ‘right wing extremist’ becomes a far broader church than it already is. Anyone who blogs on the side of personal freedom may find themselves lumped in with the real nutters who think killing believers of whatever faith (political or otherwise) can murder ideas. Stalin tried it. Pol Pot tried it. Mao tried it, as did Hitler, and various Junta’s from both sides of the political spectrum. Are the ideas they wanted to kill dead? No. Weally? No shit, sherlock.

It may be that anyone may find themselves under scrutiny. Anyone who has, or run a business (Classic sign of a bloodthirsty ‘right wing maniac’, that), lost income, pension, or employment due to doctrine-led changes in legislation (Totally evil baby eating right winger there). Or maybe doesn’t ‘believe in global warming’ (Got to be one – dangerous right wing headcase). Anyone who even wandered into a church to admire the architecture must be a dangerous extreme christian fundamentalist who needs locking up. Perhaps those who have even openly wondered that the middle eastern conflict might not be all the fault of anyone even vaguely attached to the Jewish persuasion. Yes, they’re all as guilty as the man who pulled the trigger, even if they’d never heard of the assassin or had anything to do with the creed alluded to. We’re talking communal guilt here. Arrest them all!

As far as I’m concerned extreme left and right are simply two sides of the same coin; statist bastards who cause most of the trouble on this planet. They share this specific trait; they can’t let well enough alone. If they can’t get their own way they don’t care who they hurt. To me, they are equally repulsive, and to be avoided. Life is too short to waste time on them.

As someone whose politics veer mildly to the right of centre, and further toward the cause of personal liberty which is neither left nor right, I’m concerned. Concerned that anyone who speaks up for the rights of the individual over the state may find themselves, or even more sinisterly their family members, on some state / media sponsored ‘shit list’ as an ‘extremist’. Although as an expat, I’m hoping their attitude to me is; “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” That’s fine by me because today my business affairs on the European side of the pond are concluded, and I’m on my way home to Canada. Back to BC, and God’s own country.

My take on it? The man who has admitted to the murders of Norwegian teenagers and Government officials will discover that trying to kill people who have a particular belief system will only polarise that belief system, and like the Islamists (and others) before him, find his murderous activities have rebounded against his espoused cause.

Cream

What is it with you Brits and cream? Hes it suddenly become illegal or what? Every single Coffee shop I’ve been into since entering the UK has given me a funny look when I’ve asked for cream with my coffee. Last year there was no issue, so why now? Even Starbucks and Costa, who have previously not so much as raised an eyebrow at my caffeine laced preference, and served up my order with a smile. “Sorry, it’s company policy.” Has been the repeated sour faced mantra every time I’ve asked why they no longer serve cream with their hideously overpriced beverages. I mean two quid for a cup of tea, hot water with a bag of leaves dipped in and surly service to boot. Clucking bell.

It looks like the Health Nazi’s have infiltrated the UK’s coffee shops and banned cream on the spurious grounds that it is bad for you. You know, like alcohol and second hand smoke. Yet people will happily push corn syrup or extra starch laced fast food false flagged as a ‘healthy option’.

Oh well, if the ban spreads I shall just have to order my coffee black and take my own cream in with me. Until the supermarkets stop selling it of course. In addition I shall also avoid Starbucks and Costa because as far as I’m concerned, they exist to serve their customers requirements. They built their whole brands on this premise. If they want me to spend my money in their establishments, they’re going to have to up their game a little.

Until I get home to civilisation, I shall be keeping up my caffeine levels with multiple espresso’s liberally laced with brown sugar. Sod the Fascisti

On the road

Finally managed to snatch a few minutes to myself after a weeks long trip, with just under a week more travel to go. Lots of family stuff, but pretty chilly for mid July, which has rather taken the edge off things. They may be having a heatwave in the US Midwest, but it’s lower than usual elsewhere.

Currently enjoying the hospitality of relatives here in Northern France, where the glory of two hour lunches is still the norm, and even in the humblest of village eateries the food and wine is superb. The French attitude to EU directives is as always, refreshing. Cheeses made with unpasteurised milk are still freely avaliable. Local food is still in abundance. The smoking ban is in place for all indoors locations, but the French have a very flexible approach to ‘indoors’. While the slavish English hire legions of enforcers to exile smokers out into the middle of the furthest meadow to practice their vice, the sensible French cater for tobacco addicts with decent shelters and a Gallic shrug. Well if the anti-smokers and their theories of second hand smoke have any credibility I’m doomed anyway. For example, outside, but underneath the awning of, a crowded cafe yesterday I sat next to two guys dissing rap music and puffing away on Gitanes for at least an hour, so that’s me doomed. Cough, cough (Not). The cafe in question even laid out ashtrays. Whereas elsewhere in the West, even the sight of a smokers accoutrements would have the Health Nazi’s shutting the premises down.

Still marvelling at how poor UK customer service is across the board. The ‘rules’ and tick box model of top down management seem to make heavy weather of even the simplest of tasks until you get into a four star hotel.

I see the dominoes are still falling over the phone hacking by News International operatives, and that the whistleblower who might incriminate certain politicians has been found dead. Suicide? Really? A bit convenient that, wouldn’t you think?

There’s also the snippet that the BBC are going to ‘limit’ their coverage of ‘climate sceptics’? So no change there then. The BBC are so one sided on this topic everyone I meet seems to have noticed. Guys. No one is fooled any more. Well, no one with any critical thinking faculties, anyway. Perhaps when all the birds have come home to roost over the lamestreams intrusiveness into people’s lives News International, the Grauniad, the Beeb, and the whole damn corrupt shooting match will be found guilty, and we reach a little more honest perspective before the next lot of newsbreakers get sucked into the faecal vortex of power and privilege.

Hi ho. Everyone has returned from their afternoons perambulations (I take my walks early in the morning) streaming with rainwater, so must sign off to listen to their tales off ongoing deluge. TTFN.

Compare and contrast

Living in BC as I do, and currently passing through Europe. I’m minded to compare and contrast my own experiences at the various customs points and checkins.

Local airport, Canada; Small, clean, friendly, and apologetic for all the security checks. Got all our boarding passes issued and luggage checked in for the whole three flight hop. Flew to Vancouver with barely a murmur, apart from a minor delay down to air traffic. Passed through Vancouver airport without a secondary check as we were in transit. Almost stepped straight through onto our transatlantic flight without breaking step. Couldn’t sleep much on the overnight, but that’s nothing unusual for me. Too much background noise. However, we’d spent the extra money on the extra legroom seats, so there was no repeat of last year’s air cattle truck experience.

Arrive in Europe; although we haven’t left the airport system, we have to pass through one of those whole body scanners and I still got frisked, as no one had bothered to look at the zip leg trousers I was wearing and wondered where those funny lines were on the whole body scanner. At least we passed through immigration fairly quickly as the desks were fully staffed (for a change). Quite frankly I don’t make a fuss about the security and just treat it as one more minor indignity, even if the operators appear as baffled by the technology as most travellers.

Ah yes, I have a few carefully chosen words for Google. Having had four gmail email addresses since it was in beta, I am quite frankly highly pissed off that I can’t access my email from my wife’s laptop in europe. I am now in the process of migrating to a more flexible webmail system that I can access from wherever I fucking well please without some cuntish crap to ‘verify’ who I am because I’m on a business trip. Isn’t that the whole idea of a webmail based system? To enable travel and mobile access to communication? Well chuckleheads, if Google can’t build a modestly secure webmail login system, their ‘product’, useful though it has been, is now far too unwieldy and user unfriendly for my purposes. Time to migrate.

As an additional note; if Google has lost me money because I can’t remotely access my email. I am currently considering legal action. Their new ‘security’ means I am now effectively out of touch. No email means no business, no business means no money. Needless to say, they are not my favourite people right now. However, you get what you pay for, and since their service is free, it appears to have gone one quantum leap further and become completely worthless. This means I will have to wait until returning home to access my webmail. Which rather defeats the object of the exercise.

Gone

Off on me travels today. May get interweb connection. May not. I’m sure the denizens can get on quite nicely without my meagre contribution, thank you.

In about 16 hours time I will be in the UK. First stop Manchester followed by a quick zip southwards to visit fiends and family (Perhaps both). Hoping that all goes smoothly and I can swiftly return home to BC.

Will miss Dick Puddlecote and friends little ramble through Stony Stratford by a mere three hours, as I will be passing by that neck of the woods. However, I wish them well.

Super buru

Just watching the familiar landmarks skip past sends a chill down my spine. Quarter Bridge, Bray, Hawthorns, St Johns and up to Ramsay, down to Creg and into Douglas again. Being reminded about TT week and Mad Sunday always get me where I live. The memories are so intense, even decades on, they’re burned into the back of my skull. Must do it again some day.

Expatriate expostulations from Canada

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