Redistribution of wealth

I see the Pope of the Catholic Church has been making speeches about the root causes of poverty. Seriously? This from one of the richest institutions on the planet? One whose influence has been chief in keeping people poor? The only redistribution that actually goes on is directly to a specific religion. Like the redistribution of foreign aid mostly ends up lining political pockets, with only a fraction getting to its intended destination?

It’s what almost all religions are best at; keeping people on their knees in one way or another. Yet one of the most guilty parties; look up poverty rates in very religious countries for proof and see above map for poverty levels worldwide, has the unmitigated gall to hold out their begging bowl, blaming others for the state of the very people they help keep down? The people they often use as cannon fodder to further their sects own expansionist ambitions? Well let’s have three cheers for organised religion; hip-hip-hypocrasy! Yay.

As God often says when he wanders over for morning coffee, or when we go fishing with JC; “You know Bill, if I’d have thought about it enough, I wouldn’t have invented belief.” He doesn’t like organised religion either. He also says he never goes to their churches and temples because they’re too draughty and full of people demanding something for nothing. Rather like the Pope and all similar functionaries.

A thought experiment on referenda

Ballot boxThis mornings cerebral peregrinations hit a big ‘what if’ as I was giving my usual cursory scan to Zero Hedge. Specifically this story about the pending referendum in the Donetsk region of Ukraine.

First thought was “Who are the organisers?” Is it really a free vote?
Second thought was “1.7 million ballots?” That’s a lot of counting.
Third thought was “What would give the result legitimacy?” Would it be binding? Certainly by the winners, but how about anyone else?
Fourth thought was “DIY Referendums. What an intriguing concept.” Instead of waiting for the vested interest owned politicians to ‘call’ one, why not have a privately sponsored vote on something like ohh, lemme see now, membership of the European Union for example. Which begs the question; how would you get such a privately sponsored referendum recognised by the Electoral Commission?
Fifth thought was “If a bunch of broke Ukrainians can do it, why can’t others?” I mean, what do you need? Voters list? Available publicly. Hell, if every telemarketing company can access the voter rolls, why not? For voting purposes hire village / community halls on a specific day. Cheap enough. Recruit volunteers, assigned randomly for each locale to act as voting officers. Download each voting ward onto a simple spreadsheet, crossing off each name as they vote (Insist on voter photo or signature ID). Each vote goes into a sealed steel box which has a unique serial number, just like regular voting. Hire local couriers to pick up the ballot boxes at close of voting and transport to volunteer vote counters. Count vote. Announce result. Yay. Power to the people and all that stuff, yeah? That’s without sorting out any type of Electronic voting via the jolly old Interweb.
Sixth thought was “But who’d help pay for what is effectively a private referendum?” You could probably do one on a local scale with volunteers, but on a national? I believe there are departments of the United Nations who would just love to help. It could even be crowd sourced.

Of course there are a million things that could go wrong. Like Icelands attempt at crowd sourcing a new constitution. The powers that be could just decide to ignore the result, get their media poodles to militate against it, or organise a Police swoop on the crowd sourced, volunteer manned polling stations and effectively steal the results and ballot boxes. Politically motivated ‘Hacktivists’ could crack electronic voter results and play les bougres idiot with them. But that sort of thing only happens in third world countries doesn’t it?

Yeah……

How many more times – it’s a bad idea

Look, we know big Government is broke. The all conquering Godzilla flat busted and continually bleeding from a million leaking capillaries, fed on by an army of bloodsuckers which infest its scabrous hide. The more it’s fed, the more it bleeds. So perhaps it needs to go on a serious diet?

While my thinking errs of the side of the low tax, small Government faction, I understand that there is a need for some form of regulatory framework. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone outside of a few specialist lawyers really understand the current tangled mess but what I do understand is that if your boat is sinking, the last thing you do is load it down further.

Yes, chums. The EU have pushed for, and got, a ‘Robin Hood’ or more accurately a ‘Tobin’ tax on all Eurozone financial transactions. Again. Why do they need the money? They’ve got all the sparkly buildings, inflated salaries and expense accounts avarice could dream of, yet like a junkie their spending habit is never done. Not until they go cold turkey, OD in some dank little bedsit somewhere, or prematurely slide out of this life as their vital support systems (A.K.A. the taxpaying public) fail one by one until nothing is left. Which is currently where things are. Some serious liposuction on the bodywork is called for, followed by a very large tummy tuck, not more sugar frosting on their doughnuts. Yet in 2016 this tax will be enacted in France, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Austria, Belgium, Slovenia and Slovakia. Which will have a knock on effect in the City of London. Or more likely the City Financial Markets will do what they always have, pass the cost onto the Poor Bloody Investor.

For some people, this will simply prove another vehicle for the many EU Carousel frauds, like those continually afflicting the farcical ‘Carbon trading’ markets. Five billion lost at the last count, and that’s with a flatlined marketplace.

Robin Hood is upsetAs for ‘Robin Hood’, well a very large raspberry to that. If he were still around, our eponymous outlaw would be rightly affronted by such a reference, perhaps dropping a couple of bodkin points or hunting broadheads into the greedy breasts of our worthless modern day political leeches. Like the medieval churchmen of old, an encounter with the real deal would leave them with their purses stripped, and forced to go whining to the Sheriff wearing peasants rags. There’s an intriguing notion; EU Commissioners being forced to walk barefoot from Strasbourg to Brussels after having their assets stripped, or maybe even impaled with cloth-yard arrows? Which, knowing the sexual predilections of some, might not be quite the kind of impaling that they were hoping for.

Hang on a minute

Over here on the hippy drippy wet coast of BC, the tale that the planet has a fever, and the only cure is to get rid of most of humanity is very much alive and well. On the Atlantic coast it’s a different story where Blue Whales have died, and one casualty is decomposing on the shoreline, getting ready to detonate.

Dead Blue Whale in California (Image credit National Geographic)
Exploding Blue Whales, Bill? Is this some new kind of terrorist threat? Not so. Just another spring day at the office in Trout River, Newfoundland. But hang on chums. Several Blue whales killed by Ice? But, but, but, isn’t the planet getting so hot we’re all gonna fry? It seems not. Cold is far more fatal and likely if you listen to certain astrophysicists, who seem to have a better track record of weather prediction than all of a certain clique of ‘climate scientists’ put together……. Where’s all this bloody warming all the West Coast weather pundits keep telling us about? Do they want all my valuable sun tan lotion investments to be worthless? Who do I sue?

Draw your own conclusions, even if they are only stick figures……..

I’m concerned

You know, I was reading the Barclay Brothers Beano this morning, and I read that UK Prime Minister David Cameron was stung by a jellyfish whilst on holiday in Lanzarote.

I do so hope the jellyfish recovers quickly.

/arf

Very late update: apparently the Jellyfishes attack was ‘revenge’ for an occasion when Slaphead scared a few when he was younger. A Jellyfish with more backbone and a better memory than a UK politician? Who knew?

The D words

Juxtaposed

Denier: noun

  1. A unit of weight by which the fineness of silk, rayon, or nylon yarn is measured, equal to the weight in grams of 9,000 metres of the yarn and often used to describe the thickness of hosiery: 15-denier stockings
  2. A former French coin, equal to one twelfth of a sou, which was withdrawn in the 19th century.

Origin:
late Middle English: via Old French from Latin denarius (see denarius). sense 1 dates from the mid 19th century.

Denialist: noun

  1. A person who refuses to admit the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of scientific or historical evidence: the small minority of very vocal climate change denialists.

Origin:

Not known.

Moron: noun
• informal

A stupid person: we can’t let these thoughtless morons get away with mindless linguistic vandalism every day

Origin:

early 20th century (as a medical term denoting an adult with a mental age of about 8–12): from Greek mōron, neuter of mōros ‘foolish’. Which can reliably be considered the mentality of anyone using the words ‘Denier’ or ‘Denialist’ in the context of Climate Science. Although no offence should be implied or meant to real morons who are far too intelligent to abuse language in this manner. It should be noted that the use of ‘Denier’ or ‘Denialist in any conversation or statement about weather or climate automatically infers sub-kindergarten mental acuity (Emotional & intellectual age 2-3)

I wonder if they know

All these advocates of ‘Green’ energy. That their prophet in chief of climate doom Al Gore has been quietly dumping his stocks in that sector. Since 2012 no less. Odd that. All these people who infect every comment thread on Green Energy or Fracking articles with their ignorance of power generation and distribution; not aware that one of their causes chief cheerleaders has tiptoed his money to other, more lucrative investments.

‘Green’ energy is in real terms a joke. Wind Turbines that rarely deliver more than twenty percent of rated output. More likely single figures. Unit lifespan less than advertised. Cabling and distribution requirements more complex and therefore wasteful than say a modest 480MW four hall gas turbine power station with a far more massive landscape footprint and environmental effects. Even so they are far more effective than Solar, which isn’t much use in a temperate climate. As for the half baked mutterings about building solar power stations in the Sahara or Spain and stringing thousands of miles of high tension cable around the place, anyone proposing or supporting such an idea knows less than bugger all about power distribution. Tidal energy, well, if you could get around the issues with silting, flotsam damage or persuading people to have one on their doorstep instead of a lot of mud flats only used by wintering birds crapping all over the place. Maybe. Multiple small scale hydro-electric plants might work as part of a power generation and flood management strategy. If there weren’t so many half witted NIMBY activists campaigning for the removal of useful dams so that the Lesser Spotted Newt or similar could have a foetid swamp to wallow in. Along with mosquitoes and other assorted species.

So ‘Big Al’ has let his money do the talking. A long way away from ‘Green Energy’ schemes which were never really workable propositions. I’ll bet he’s already sold off all his exposure in ‘carbon credits’ too. He’s seen the writing on the wall, and no matter what you might think of him as a politician and the causes he advocates, that boy is not dumb when it comes down to dollars and cents.

Spandex and mad people

Upon my return to Canada from the UK, I’ve been given to musing about all the sights and sounds I experienced whilst there. Specifically the urge amongst many to wear skin tight clothing, particularly cycling gear. Even if they do not own a bicycle.

If there is one type of clothing that should be outlawed by international treaty, I think it should be Spandex, or any elasticated skin skin tight clothing. Leggings especially. The frame of the modern urban or suburban human is mostly best covered to conceal its shortcomings. Which in this day and age are legion. I blame this expectation of perfection on photoshopped seventeen year olds in glossy near-porn advertising photos. The truth is that none of us over nineteen have the body we’d like, but there you have it, and it’s no use trying to look otherwise. Likewise, no female over nineteen, unless a professional model, should go in for body painting.

Excellent reasons not to wear skin tight or Spandex type clothing in public:

  1. It amplifies the size of buttocks. By at least three times. It matters not that you have a superb physique, honed by daily sessions in the gym with not an apparent ounce of flab or even the merest hint of cellulite. After the age of nineteen, Spandex worn skin tight will make your arse look like it has been half-filled with bad jelly
  2. It makes you look flabby when you’re not. The slightest wobble is exaggerated past all ridicule. Each crease, each dimple develops a motion and mind of its own.
  3. Whether intentional or not, your genitalia will be on public display. Even the most discreet panty lines are blindingly visible, and anyone ‘going commando’ will be obvious to even the least observant. For females this is not so bad. For males in cold weather – well let’s just not go there. Even the most well endowed amongst us will end up with the look of a badly decapitated turkey
  4. Even the most benign perspiration stains make Spandex riding shorts look like the wearer has had an involuntary emission, loss of bladder and possibly also bowel control. None of which should be on public display. Unless of course the possessor wishes quiet ridicule to dog their every footstep. Which it will
  5. Frankly, it looks slatternly. Like you’ve mortgaged any dress sense you might have had and gone for the uber-chav look in spades. Like a Croydon facelift and metalflake purple nail varnish

To illustrate by example. About two weeks ago I was sitting in a UK Starbucks, mulling over an Americano, just idly staring out of the window, when a couple in cycling gear dismounted outside, both in their mid to late twenties, both slimly built. Fit, bright eyed and a little rosy cheeked from exertion, all smiles and self involved chatter. The girl came in to buy them two lattes as I recall, while her boyfriend responsibly locked up their bicycles. The day was damp and the Spandex skin tight, so on the way in I got an inadvertent eyeful of female camel toe and deformed limp male genitalia waggling within their elastic restraints, on the way out the motion of half toned flab was enough to make a seasoned mariner hurl a haddock. So I hurriedly averted my eyes. From the male posterior, certainly. Out of the corner of my eye I caught the expressions of certain other denizens of the coffee shop who had also watched the cycling pair come and go. I’m no mind reader, but I can read body language and faces fairly well. The expressions I caught were certainly not those of envy. Eyes rolled, three schoolgirls looked after them and giggled mockingly, and one chap hunched over his laptop glanced their way and gave a revolted shudder. Now either the pair were well known locally as those with freakish habits or had been identified as tax inspectors, I don’t know. In a good light neither was unattractive, but the skin tight cycling gear obviously affected the coffee shops clientèle most unfavourably.

For a replicable proof, any cyclist thus clad should undertake the following experiment. When next holding up traffic while pedalling up a steep hill in low gear, take a glance behind at the following line of traffic. They will, you may observe, be meandering within their lane. This is not due to any lack of control on their part. If the cyclist were to be able to observe their expressions more closely, he / she will detect an expression of amusement hastily concealed within the following vehicles. The burning questions answer being; yes, your arse does look really big in that. Enormous in fact. Possibly even deformed. Yes, the drivers behind are trying very hard not to collapse in hysterics. Sorry, but you made the fashion faux-pas. You might as well be dressed in a dayglo pink tutu with a sign over your head saying “Comic relief – please mock”. Any beeping of horns should be considered justly earned applause for your buttocks comic turn.

They’re joking, right?

There are signs around town that state ‘Nanaimo is a Nuclear Weapons free zone‘ I kid you not. As if Nuclear weapons could read. Maybe if it all goes pear shaped over the Ukraine, our one hope is that maybe the Russian targeting officers can’t pronounce the towns name and cross it off their list.
Hey Boris. what about Nana-whatever? This place here?
Ivan, if you can pronounce it we’ll nuke it.
Nanna-e. Nyet! Naimimimo. No. Nonnimio. Bugger it Boris, lets just bomb Campbell River instead.”

Seriously, there’s EU hawks getting their knickers in a twist about the Ukrainian situation. Talk of European troop deployments in a place that I always remember as part of Russia. The Crimea has decided it wants to be part of Russia, and the EU are crying “Foul! Ref!” Over the referendum. Although it’s odd that there were so few shooting incidents. In the same time frame, there were actually more reported gun related deaths in Vancouvers gangland. You’d think there would be quite a few if the situation were as bad as some of the Western media would have us believe.

I grew up during the Cold War, when Nuclear midnight was often only ‘minutes’ away. It was the reason so many of my generation went ‘off the rails’. If you’re going to fry in a nuclear fireball anyway, why not have a continual party to see the dear green Earth off with a nicer type of bang? When it all came to an end in 1989 I was left feeling rather pleased, but with a string of epic hangovers reaching back to my 18th birthday. It’s worth noting that anyone under the age of 18 does not get hangovers, strange but true. However, this is besides the point.

The western media has been busy spray painting old Vlad Putin as the cold tyrant of a gangster republic. Which he’s certainly got the eyes for. Oo, and didn’t those eeevil Roosians jail some crap girl punk band for desecrating a church? Gosh, dwahleegs, the Russki’s are so naughty. Russian ‘defence’ spend is up 18%, so yes, they’re expecting trouble. They have forces on the Eastern Ukrainian border, just in case anyone tries to get funny. There’s talk of mercenaries inside the Ukraine, but no one seems to be quite sure whose.

It is worth noting, back in the Cold War, Russia had the Warsaw Pact countries acting as a series of buffer states between it and the rest of Europe. Which is quite understandable. Russia does not trust Europe for two good historical reasons; Hitler and Napoleon. The memory of the German invasion of ‘Operation Barbarossa‘ and Napoleon in a burning Moscow are both still raw wounds in the Russian psyche. Not to mention that messy business back in the 1850s. Read Johnathan Dimblebys Russia. We have a copy. Quite the eye opener.

Yet most of the war talk is coming from within the EU. I am seriously concerned that if some of the Euro Hawks get their way, NATO will get dragged in, and with it Canada, which I’d really rather not see happen. I mean call me an old fussyboots, but seeing a shooting war blot out half of the world is not the kind of legacy I want my kids having to deal with. Over the next few years I want to travel this little planet some more, and I would be quite delighted if it wasn’t a radioactive wasteland.

As an addendum; as poignant now as when it was first released in 1985.


Update:
Good news. Putin has told Europe to pay the Gas bill, and everything will be fine. The Eurocrats appear to have backed down. Until they can work out another devious ploy to keep the political ponzi scheme that is the EU expanding.

Spotting a scam

I love Canadians. They’re so damn, well, uncomplicated. Rather like Paul Gross’s Mountie character Benton Fraser from ‘Due South‘ they’re extremely polite (mostly), easy going (except when the cable TV cuts out in the middle of the Hockey game) and oh so pleasant to deal with (when not being terribly passive-aggressive). At least in comparison to their UK counterparts who often are all too ready to froth at the mouth and throw Teddy out of the pram at the least provocation. Unfortunately this makes many of my Canadian friends all too vulnerable to every scammer and confidence trickster who sees an easy mark.

To the practised eye, scams stand out like pink sparkly searchlights in the night. Mainly because they sound like some modern day fairy tale. Long lost relative, or friend of a friend left you a huge pile of cash / winning lottery ticket / lost treasure of the Golden Behind in their will, and they just need your bank details to pass your good fortune to you?  Yeah, right.

Disney don’t make ‘em any better.  Pixie dust,  Unicorns and Rainbows rule.  Polar Bears are fluffy, huggable things, not massive slavering predators always on the hunt for protein.  Any protein.  Including human.  Oh yeah, and Dolphins are kind and gentle, if you conveniently forget about the beating Harbour Porpoises to death thing, yeah?

Now to us cynical sorts, whose eyes have been forced open by dealing with the slings and arrows of outrageous UK local authorities, the single rule to apply is; if it sounds too good to be true then it is.

A Canadian friend of ours recently got taken in by scammers. When he finally got round to showing me the email that had kicked it all off I put my face in my hands, groaned quietly and asked. “You haven’t sent these people any money have you?” He had the good grace to admit that yes he had.
“You know this is a scam, don’t you? For Pete’s sake mate, don’t send them any more.” I groaned. The scammers were asking for five thousand bucks to release several millions from a ‘locked’ bank account in the Far East.

So how easy was the con to spot? Very. Childs play in fact. I get two dozen of these missives a week, aren’t I a lucky chap? I derive considerable amusement from reading them all before throwing said missives into my yawning pit of hell-spam, ne’er to be seen this side of eternity. All right Bill smartarse Sticker, if you’re so bleeding clever, why don’t you tell all the boys and girls out in there interweb land how to spot one of these con tricks? Plaisir mon vieux. There now follows a brief lesson in scam spotting.

When one of these ‘too good to be true’ emails lands in your inbox. Ask yourself the following questions;

  1. Who is this?
  2. Where did they get my details?
  3. What is said glittering prize?
  4. Why did they pick me?
  5. How come they write such appalling English?

If any one of these questions make your bullshit detectors twitch, bin the offending email.  Or at least run a few simple checks. Does your benefactor really work at the United Nations? No matter how much their cause may tug at your heartstrings. African orphanages, baby animals threatened by eeeevil hunters or whatever. Remember, a little judicious cynicism now will save a whole heap of heartbreak later. I routinely bin these false messages of monetary gain because I never buy lottery tickets. You’d be better off betting on three legged horses at those odds. I also really used to know two people who worked for the UN in Geneva, but we don’t talk. Not even at Xmas. I don’t have any long lost relatives. Certainly none that would give me any money. Besides, any such offer would come directly from a UK based lawyer who I could check out in the phone book.  Any such legacy would also have to make it unscathed through a family who can make a shoal of ravenous Piranhas look like charm school graduates. There are specialists who trace relatives of large and small fortunes, but they write well spelled, grammatical English, and never, ever, ever, ask for your bank details or cash up front to ‘unlock’ funds.   Not even in ‘good faith’.  Nor do any of them live and work in Nigeria.   That last statement might be considered ‘raaaaacist’, but it is nonetheless correct.

If still not sure; check the originating email address.  If the organisation is a .com, why does the email address  end in .in.th?   It takes ten seconds to check out using WHOIS.com.   Is there a phone number?  Type said phone number into the search bar of your web browser and let Google, Bing, or any one of the many search engines bring enlightenment to your browser.   Then try one of the local phone directory services.  411.com for North America or in the UK 118118.com. The work of seconds.

When finding out that you are not heir or beneficiary to a massive business deal / lost millions, which the tax man would no doubt want an unhealthy bite out of, console yourself thus; it might have been real, but with all the scams out there, the odds are that it wasn’t. Add the sender to your spam or junk mail list and move on. There’ll be another one along shortly. That much is guaranteed.

Expatriate expostulations from Canada

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