Puritans in denial

Haven’t posted much because I’ve been reading at lot. Books. you know those papery, cardboardy things that used to be our main source of reference before hyperlinks and all the jolly whizzy interconnectedness of the dear old interweb.

To cut to the chase, I was ploughing through ‘Utopias of the classical world’ by John Ferguson when I came across this little homily;

“The Puritan through Life’s sweet garden goes,
To pluck the thorn and cast away the rose,
And hopes to please by this peculiar whim,
The God who fashioned it and gave it to him.”


I thought about this a while with a gentle smile playing about my lips, and suddenly had a minor epiphany. Connected two dots in life’s big puzzle, and it’s this; Puritans, bansturbators, the anti-fun brigade, the ‘do as I say’ faction, the anti-smokers, anti-drinkers, low-fat advocates, low-carbon, anti-war, ‘big oil will kill us’, paedophile fearing, privacy hating, prodnoses and busybodies all have one single thing in common. They’re all in some part of denial.

By this I mean as in Denial, the first stage of the Kubler-Ross model of the grieving process. Denial is where all their proposed utopian ‘solutions’ are embedded. Logic plays little part in their thinking processes. Well, at least not the “If you drive an economy over a cliff you’ll be sorry and so will I” kind of logic, or the “If we all live in a more primitive society we won’t be rich enough to clean up our environment”. kind of thinking.

The thing is, I think they simply don’t see the cliff or risk, because in their utopian mental model the cliff simply cannot exist. The thought processes they exhibit seem to have more to do with wishful thinking than full examination of a given issue.

Like with the Yanks latest Internet anti-piracy bill. Apparently if the bill as written is passed, then a single complaint from a dishonest source will be enough to shut down a web based business. YouTube, DailyMotion and all the other video sharing sites will cease to exist. Blogs hosted on blogger, like my old one, will go. Possibly even this one because it is openly critical of the forces of darkness currently promoting censorship.

Puritans who promote such prohibitionist measures are, I contend, in denial because they do not understand the lessons of History. All Puritanical regimes are relatively short lived. Even Ancient Rome allowed unrestricted free speech in the forum, and above all, paid attention. When the regime in power forgot that lesson it fell. Civil war erupted, and blood washed the streets. To censor, and not pay attention to dissenting voices forgets the maxim Better to Jaw-jaw than to war-war, as Winston Churchill once remarked back in 1954. Simply shutting people up because you do not agree with them denies their expression and emotional release. Without a release, said people will seek it elsewhere, often in a manner that the shutter up did not intend.

Fortunately, puritan regimes are always short lived because they deny others their safety valves. They deny that others, and themselves, are merely fallible humanity, who need to goof off once in a while. Without that goofing off to relax, be it sounding off on the Internet, having a smoke or a drink, an extra large pizza and fries, or the odd toke on a joint, we all get tense. Many people get angry, resentful, or violent if they are denied release from the workaday world once in a while. If sufficient people get angry and disenfranchised enough, regimes fall. Then we end up in a dark age again wondering what on Earth hit us.

Heavy sigh. Won’t learn, can’t teach ‘em, thicker than pigshit. Now ban me you stupid puritanical fuckers. Cnuts.

The writing on the wall

Locally we have our own downtown ‘occupy’ encampment which I passed through on my way to the library. This actually had me wishing I’d brought my camera along to take a few pictures of the real writing on the wall because otherwise no-one would believe me.

Prominently amidst all the calls for revolution and the violent demise of the ‘Banksters’ (Gangster Bankers) there were anti-AGW (Calling Global Warming a ‘Lie’) and more predictably anti-HST slogans. There were slogans calling for a more people centric government, and that ‘Big Government’ was the enemy of the people, and corporatism denounced as the enemy of small business. Oddly enough, all of which I found somewhat reassuring. Reassuring that I wasn’t the only one to think this way, and also hopeful that not everyone at the demonstration has their idealogical blinkers on. There is common ground.

I feel oddly optimistic. Perhaps (At least locally) the protestors do represent the 99% after all.

Sic intereo totus tyrannus

The above is a warning from History, the rough translation being ‘so die all tyrants’. Muammar Quadaffi is dead at the hands of his ‘own’ people, as is Saddam Hussein, Nicolai Ceaucescu, and others.

Perhaps those within any unelected and unaccountable ruling cabal should heed such precedents.

Just making an observation, that’s all.

A small act of rebellion

See picture below. This just under the external electricity meter for our little domicile. The notice below was posted there by our landlord.

These notices have been appearing all over BC. According to some sources at as many as one in 12-15 households. Gossip has it that Bill Van Der Zalm, ex Provincial Premier, is just one of the many voices behind this campaign, including the Greens oddly enough (As ‘Smart Meters’ are supposed to be a ‘Green’ power solution). Rumours also abound about the Meters reliability and safety.

Gossip has it that the Corix installers are instructed to leave meters or premises with this notice on alone.

Gossip has it that BC Hydro, when the rollout of ‘Smart Meters’ is complete, will cut off the electricity supply of any premises that do not have a ‘Smart Meter’ installed.

Gossip also has it that BC Hydro has only three people in the entire Province capable of fixing ‘Smart Meters’ if they go wrong. Apparently they fired the rest.

Word is that the threats are baseless, and premises will not be disconnected, as legal challenges are already prepared to hit the courts.

Now as far as the health concerns go, I’m of the mind that they are baseless and with about as much credence as the ‘Cell phone radiation causes Cancer’. However, I personally am opposed to the idea of Smart Meters on purely economic and Health and Safety grounds. Some of the models being installed have had issues with overheating, and there is a very real fire risk. Especially where wood frame building methods are the norm. On economic grounds because BC Hydro are reported to have doubled or tripled the electricity bills of premises equipped with Smart Meters. On the basis that this will increase my rent and other base living costs for no good reason, I am further opposed to the installation of Smart Meters.

Despite the growing opposition, the current BC leadership have brushed off dissenting voices as being of the tinfoil hat persuasion. Yet the opposition grows. If I was the current BC leadership, I’d be looking for a fallback strategy over this issue, because this is how they lost the HST referendum. It may well be how they lose the next Provincial and Federal Elections.

Whatever happens, it’s going to get really interesting really quickly. Log store topped up, propane tank full, generator ready……

Update: The head of BC Hydro has just resigned, seemingly over political interference from the Provincial Government. Well, well, well.

Moving on

At the risk of coming over all morbid, I’ve elected to post my thoughts about our family friends recent demise over the next couple of days. If you don’t like descriptions of dead people and bereavement, stop reading right now and pick something a little more light hearted off the sidebar.

Todays unpleasant little task was the formal identification of our friend before cremation. Just to make sure we get the right pile of grey granular dust from the crematorium on Saturday.

Mrs S and I arrived at the funeral Directors at three as arranged, and were shown into a very comfortable side room. Our newly widowed friend elected to come with us, even after she’d said she wouldn’t. “Okay, here’s the drill.” I said after we had settled on the sofa. “I’ll go in, do the formal identification as agreed, and if everything’s okay, I’ll call you in.” Mrs S and Widowed friend nodded approval and I was shown into the little side room where our old friend lay.

My first thoughts were how like a manikin he looked; all dressed and tidy in his old Royal Canadian Navy dress uniform. Patent leather shoes polished to a brilliant shine. Hair and beard neatly trimmed to match an old passport photo. Crisp white shirt with uniform tie perfectly knotted. Quite an array of medal ribbons, including (I’m told) a DSO, on his dress blue jacket with Chief Petty Officers badges embroidered on the lapels. All smart and polished, yet lying in a cheap chipboard box. The pallid waxy and mottled complexion with dark pink filmed blue patches under his fingernails. Knobble jointed fingers with fading bruises under the skin where in his penultimate confused delirium, he’d lashed out at everything. Cheekbones standing proud above cheeks collapsed into shallow bowls, mouth and eyelids open just a hairs width, and so terribly, irrevocably still. Looking like all the life had been forcibly vacuumed from his earthly husk. Which is what I was looking at. A very smartly presented shell. Not the sharply humorous and bluff old cove I first met over four years ago. Mrs S of course, has known him since she was very young, when she first came to Canada.

After a few moments checking that all was neat and there was nothing apart from the inertia of flesh, I was moved to remark to the empty room; “My, my old mate. You do spiff up well.”

After a moments considered pause I went to tell the girls it was okay to view. Leading them into the little viewing room, I let the Widow grab hold of my hand for comfort, then let she and Mrs S go and see for themselves. There were subdued tears, and a few sniffs, but the major dam breach of heartbreak had spent itself on Monday night, and this was simply a further closing of the door between past and future. For my own part I felt a smaller tightness in the throat than seeing him ekeing out his last moments on a hospital bed. Yet the last bit of grieving was still palpably there.

My only criticism was perhaps the funeral home might have improved their presentation by draping the naked chipboard cremation shell with a cloth or something. Five dollars for a sheet for him to lie on whilst waiting for his last trip through the crematorium might not have made such a difference to their margins, and made it look like they cared a little more; even if what they do is ‘Just a job’ as one of my workmates commented earlier in the day.

We dropped the widow back at her house, and Mrs S went on a short errand, leaving us to talk about her deceased husband. I recounted my own experiences of bereavement. You know, the little hallucinations the brain creates to take your mind off the pain of loss. Hearing the voice of a departed love, seeing them out of the corner of your eye in quiet unguarded moments. Even holding conversations with them just as you’re drifting off to sleep or daydreaming. The sound of their voice reconstructed from memory and used by your sneaky subconscious to spur you into a specific course of action, and how they fade, but never quite go away.

She seemed comforted, and talked about moving forward into a future of her own. The house will go of course, and she’s been packing stuff to go to the Salvation Army and local Thrift stores. I’ve seen her new apartment, with its view over the nicer end of a lake. It was to have been for two, but her husband of many years did not live long enough. Still, I wish her what joy she can find, and hope we get an invitation to lunch occasionally.

Did I mention the care home sports a very pleasant restaurant. High end Canadian care homes are more like fully serviced apartment blocks, including shops, hairdressers libraries and gyms. I believe the one our widowed friend is about to enter has a physiotherapist and full time nurse on duty.

She is moving on, and that is as it should be.

Death and other mysteries

Well the inevitable has come to pass, and our old family friend is no more. We got a panic stricken call from his wife on Monday night and went haring off into town to support her. As it happened she was just having ‘A little moment’ and just needed some fellow grown ups to talk to. The actual final blow fell on Tuesday afternoon, when Mrs S and I were summoned by his wife to the hospital, where he was headed down the final furlong of life. His lungs were finally giving up the ghost, and there was nothing more that could be done for him.

I’ve seen people die up close and personal a number of times, including close relatives, but it’s always a rough emotional ride. Seeing once vibrant and alive people transformed into inert waxen husks. No matter how many times you watch people succumb to the entropy of existence, it always gets to you. The swelling tautness in your own throat and chest, the tears that won’t come because you’ve seen it all before and you know people are relying on you to be the strong one.

To cut to the chase; after a brief discussion with the Hospital medical staff, it was agreed that the man we had known no longer inhabited the fleshly shell currently gasping for each tiny sip of air. The oxygen was turned off, and we said our final goodbyes. I tried to take our friends hand for one final handshake, but there was no response, but I bid him “God speed” all the same, and watched for a while as his breathing grew ever more uncertain and ragged. I’d hate to think the last thing he heard on this Earth was impersonal gossip. Better a friendly familiar voice than the disassociated concern of medical professionals. If there is a life beyond our short traipse across this window in time, a kind word or wish, I hope, may make the transition easier.

At his widows request we left before the final denouement and I stepped out of the Hospital entrance to see a glorious full arc rainbow, as though something were trying to say “That’s it. The tough bit is over. It’s okay.” It was a day of rainbows, which I normally consider favourable portents, but not that Tuesday.

Fifteen minutes later the phone call to say he was dead came from the hospital. His widow smiled a little to know his suffering was finally over. She’d done her real crying the night before, when she realised this was it. Now all we felt was a small lifting of a choking cloud of uncertainty. She bid me clear out his basement workshop, and I did my best; packing box after box of tools and gadgets. Mrs S kept a steady flow of that great English panacea, Tea, going. I swear, if the apocalypse came and the world was in ruins, you would still find real English people sitting on a barren waste waiting for the kettle to boil with a smile and a “Cheer up. You’re still breathing!”

We laid out a timetable for Wednesday, and today has been spent running errands for our newly widowed friend. Making arrangements to get her into a nice care home where she will have company, and the grim reaper has a more genteel and studied touch. Funeral arrangements to make. Fielding phone calls from tearful relatives, which ironically made the Widow cheer up. “She was worse than I was.” I heard her comment about one particular friend, who had phoned from Nova Scotia and had hysterics when handed the news of our friends demise.

There was a stove (cooker) to fix. The central heating had sprung a leak, and there are still forms to fill in. Always forms to fill in. Annuities to transfer, Service Canada to notify. Service BC to talk to. The blandishments of smoothly practised sales people at the funeral home to resist. Did you know they made steel coffins? I didn’t until today. Title of assets to be transferred. Lawyers to be reminded. Fortunately I haven’t had any serious work to do for the past couple of days, so we could spare time to help out.

My penultimate task in this little drama is the formal identification of the body prior to cremation. The legal niceties must be observed, and the tax man takes HST on it all. Death and Taxes together. The irony clangs. At the request of his widow, there will be no service or memorial. Donations to charity, and keep the flowers in your gardens.

I did ask her if I might write an obituary for him, but she said no, and I must respect that. Apparently there are vultures in human form who trawl the obituary columns and prey on the newly bereaved, so my friend will cross to eternity without public recognition. I find that very sad for a man who has had such an eventful life. He should be remembered, but as his Widow insisted “All the people who needed to know about him know.” I conceded, and we owe him that final discretion.

I will be busy for a while.

Probably because……

I’ve said most of what I want to say on this blog, and have too many other claims on my time. The UK has a weak and vacillating ‘leadership’ and keeps on making the same stupid errors as the previous lot. I’ve just got to the point where I really don’t give a stuff if fading pop icons get married yet again and politicians keep screwing up in the same way, and the European economy may well be circling the drain if there are any serious defaults on the fantasy money they’ve been borrowing from each other. If the current incumbents down south carry on spending as though it doesn’t matter, they’ll have soup kitchens and bread lines before you can blink.

Never learn…. Can’t teach ‘em. Waste of keyboard time.

Do I care

A multimillionaire businessman in the computing field has died and all of a sudden there’s lots of girlie faux-grief all over every other web page. Oh for goodness sake you lot, get a fucking grip. He sold computers. He made lots of money out of you, and now he’s dead the rest of us who do not share your false emotions are getting a bit ticked off with all the weeping and fucking wailing over your computing messiah.

So not all his products were as wonderful as some might claim, and having to purchase a brand new iTouch or iPod when just the battery had died after less than 18 months (and out of warranty) was a pain. Sure the computers he sold were great for DTP and graphics, if they weren’t they didn’t deserve space on the shelves. Otherwise, they were overpriced and some would say over hyped.

Sometimes I get the feeling that a good proportion of computer viruses out in the wild were written by his fan club, just because they couldn’t stand other people not using their Gods hard and software. How immature can you get?

He’s not the messiah – he’s dead. Now get over it and do your mourning decently – in private.

Looking East…….

I see the muppet in chief of the UK is about to deliver a speech on “This isn’t going to hurt me – you, on the other hand….” Households are to be ‘encouraged’ to save.

Save what? Personal debt is at an all time high. UK Government kamikaze economics (New Labour or Blue Labour – no real difference) has wiped out the value of many people’s savings. What are the poor people left in the UK going to save, ‘Call me Dave’? Moonbeams in a jar?

Christ on a bike…

Expatriate expostulations from Canada

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