Tag Archives: Blogs

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.

Welcome back Anna

Anna Raccoon is back on the blogroll after being reported missing in inaction due to illness.

Absolutely delighted to see Anna back up and stumbling. Only sorry she trashed her blog layout which now needs rebuilding. I’m sure the magical Interweb wayback machine might be of some assistance here.

Big H/T to Leg Iron at Underdogs bite upwards

The last post

Over the past year I’ve grown ever more cynical and less inclined to post about the same old problems caused by the same old class of people. The tools, drones and otherwise hard of thinking behind desks who think they know better than the rest of us about how to run our lives, and eventual deaths.

So as far as Bill is concerned, I’m hanging up his commenting keyboard for good. Oh, I’ll be writing elsewhere on similar topics, but in different ways through a different medium. But Bill Sticker will no more haunt forums and comment threads. This is the final it. This blog and the blogger counterpart will be his memorial until I decide to take them down. The door will not hit me on the way out.

Why? We can rant and rage on our blogs against the machine all we like, but is the machine listening? Not a bit of it, say I. The machine is a clumsy, massive bureaucratic construction that carelessly crushes those bull headed enough to get in its way. Thus it is down to each of us to plough our respective lonely furrows, to create what small miracles we can in our own minuscule ways. By not giving into the temptation of every single shiny new toy. By not blindly following some glib ‘leader’ promising ‘change’ without actually defining what that change will be. Following leaders of that sort always leaves their followers with loose change and ashes, but little more. Maybe not quite the kind of change their followers were hoping for, but that is the way of things. The only person who can make real and lasting change for the better is the feet on the street. The little guy with a little heart, and enough guts to do the right thing at the right time. Whenever that is.

It’s been fun being Bill. He’s the guy who’s said all the things I sometimes haven’t been brave enough to voice in person. As far as he’s concerned, I’ve only ever documented a fraction of the real life strokes pulled, of the sheer bare faced cheek needed to survive the myriad of metaphorically jackboot wearing whack jobs out there. Of the many little victories against the blind behemoth of tick box bureaucracy. Now it’s time to move on.

TTFN

The end result

Currently, the libertarian end of the blogosphere is under assault (Again?) from the forces of darkness. Cranmer has had some come catspaw using the ASA. Witterings from Witney from another source (on a three year old post? Is someone taking the mick?), and there are mutterings in various comment columns about “We’re coming to getcha.” (Oh noes, not again). Some sites, offering informal advice based on personal experience have been shut down by regulators. Bloggers, even in ‘free’ societies have been raided by Police and even faced criminal prosecution simply for publishing their version of events (Tallbloke over ‘Climategate’ springs to mind, follow the ‘Holly Grieg‘ subject blogs for others). Never mind the (Very) hastily taken down Greenpeace threat last year “We know where you live” – seriously? Just because of a disagreement on an issue – even though reality tells a different story? Talk about acute humour failure. Definitely the Violet Elizabeth Bott approach to dissent; (“Do what I want or I’ll thcream and thcream ’till I’m thick – I can too!” ) No one is fooled. Behind the attempts at suppressing free speech blogs come the echoes of marching jackboots, and it isn’t a pretty sound.

Aldous Huxley nailed the major weakness of suppressive tactics in 1941;

“For the means employed inevitably determine the nature of the result achieved, whereas, however good the end aimed at may be, its goodness is powerless to counteract the effects of the bad means we use to reach it. Similarly, a reform may be in the highest degree desirable; but if the contexts in which that reform is effected are undesirable, the results will inevitably be disappointing. These are simple and obvious truths. Nevertheless they are almost universally neglected.”

For a given value of ‘good’, I might add – there’s a downside to everything; and ‘good’ is mostly subjective anyway – even more so when preceded by the word ‘greater’.

So it is with attacks on free speech. In seeking out offence everything becomes offensive. Pointing out that something can’t work / isn’t working means being labelled a ‘Denier’. Highlighting the failures, areas of suspicion and dodgy dealings of an administration makes you a ‘Hater’. Mildly contentious comments that some might find slightly objectionable (Mostly if they contain a good deal of objective veracity) are turned into ‘Hate speech’ by offence seeking drama queens. Setting official agencies on people because of a flimsily perceived ‘offence’, likewise.

Like a school playground ruled by sneaks and snitches running to teacher every time their feelings are hurt, this creates an ugly place to live in, so such behaviour poisons discourse and spreads a fog of disinformation. Not to mention creating a huge enforcement overhead. It prevents open and reasoned examination of an issue, and hides that which should be known. As with war and truth, honesty is always the first casualty because in order to shut people up, the primary weapons are always emotive lies, disinformation and exaggeration.

Essentially what we’re dealing with is immature offence seeking such as;
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re saying bad things about me!”
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re smoking at me because I’m a non-smoker!”
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re drinking at me just because I’m teetotal!”
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re shooting guns at targets and it fwightens me!”
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re eating bacon sandwiches at me because I’m a Vegan!”
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re saying I’m bad because I tell on them all the time – stop them Mummy!”

All of the above have one thing in common – they are invented ‘offences’. Of course said attacks on freedom of expression are dressed up in grown-up speak, but the impulse that drives such behaviour is nonetheless childish, born of unreasoning fear. There’s only one real cogent response – overt mockery. Specifically Shakespeare’s classic from Twelfth night; “T’hart a fool. Go to.” or the more modern “STFU” and variants thereof. Which is why I often respond to them in baby talk and parody. “Has Oo had oo’s feelings hurt, den?” highlighting the attacks for the contemptible, selfish and immature outpourings that they are. Not to do so is to allow the jackboots to march again – and 20th century history holds a grim record of what that led to.

Here’s an Australian perspective on why freedom of speech and expression is so important. H/T Just about every blog I link to, but I believe the Angry Exile was first by a nose.

To Quote the late, great Ray Bradbury; “For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangu­tan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conversation­ist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics.” The old adage of the road to hell being paved with good intentions springs to mind. For a given value of ‘good’.

H/T for the Huxley quote from Ends and Means to this post by Sackerson at OOL.

Teachers don’t suck

Picked up from Oh what now! on a sunny BC morning, I showed this little video to my wife, who is a teacher, and a bloody good one. Howls of laughter ensued.

Just watch it. All right, it was made for an American audience, but the same principle applies. Parents who don’t nurture, who dump their toddlers in front of the TV and don’t get involved with teaching them about reading, writing and life in general. Parents who are too busy, who are too afraid of engaging with their kids, or who spend their whole lives commuting and working, then ignore their progeny when they get home. Parents who use their children as emotional weapons in warring relationships. Parents who can’t be bothered to make a little time to pass on their life skills. In short, parents who don’t train their own children. Parents who are little better than sperm and egg donors.

As Mrs S was perennially fond of pointing out when she worked in the UK educational system; “Parents have their children eighteen hours a day – I only get six with thirty of their little darlings at a time, and they expect me to fix all their kid’s issues?”

Yet politicians spend megabucks of taxpayer dollar fiddling with public education, only to see it failing. Politicians blame Teachers because they’re too slack spined to turn round to the parents and say “You spawned ‘em, you fix ‘em.” Education and learning are a great and lifelong thing, but unless parents do some of the grunt work and embed at least a passing love of learning (and a modicum of self control), even the best teachers won’t be able to fix what they couldn’t.

/rant

Blog admin

Nothing much happening I care to blog about, so today having mostly caught up on sleep lost since February, I’ve been doing a little sidebar admin. Links have been updated to people who’ve migrated their blogs, and I’ve added a few bits like the climate widget and some science links to various Auroral and Quake monitoring programmes.

The sun is shining, and the great Canadian outdoors is calling, and that’s one call I’m not going to “cop a deaf ‘un” to.

Why I side with the smokers

I don’t smoke. Haven’t done for, er, well, quite a long time (Decades actually). Not really keen on the smell of tobacco, well cigarettes. Don’t mind the waft of a decent cigar, and will happily stay in the vicinity of pipe smokers. The smell of stale cigarette smoke might make me reach for industrial strength air freshener when I get home, but otherwise I’m not really all that mithered by it all.

The one big thing I lost when I gave up was the social side of smoking. Lighting up a cigar in good company with a decent pint was a simple pleasure without sin. The fragrant rush of exhalation, and the buzz from the first smoke of the day. A shared light. Pleasant banter. At the time I truly enjoyed it.

I suppose the rot really set in during the early 90′s with segregated breaks for smokers, and special ‘smokers rooms’. Up until then we all mixed freely, and the most laughter, the most free flowing conversation always came from; guess where? The smokers tables. Most of my friends smoked, and although I’d already given up, that did not stop me seeking out their company. There was nothing joyless or po-faced about them. Just a shared mutual enjoyment, and happy conversation.

When breaks were segregated, so was the happy noise that went with them. At that time the smoker to non-smoker mix in my workplace was around fifty-fifty. The people who smoked chattered and laughed, and on the other side, conversation dwindled, and dare I say a certain sullen grumpiness reigned supreme. A particular type of distrustful tension came to the fore. There were the in-groups and out-groups, and where before there was a certain mixing, a particular democracy of equals; this dissolved into a dull cliqueishness of wannabe alpha males and females.

There were also the pubs. Untouched by any bans, they thrived; but as the social tide turned, my boon companions of those years melted away, and with other events in the English licenced trade. Such as the policy of asset stripping Pub Landlords by breweries under the ‘tied house’ system. During the 90′s ever more good landlords were pushed out by a pricing policy that punished them for selling more beer. From a point where a pub might have provided a man and his family with a modest living for forty years or more, now landlord turnover moved into the one tenant every six months. Rising duty on alcohol simply sent the punters home early, and the economic canker killing the trade moved on to a new phase.

Now the pub is being supplanted by the private drinking session where people go to others’ houses instead of frequenting the pubs and bars. What Leg-Iron calls the ‘Smokey-Drinky’. What my own contemporaries would have called a ‘sesh’. There’s the future; these are the new speakeasies, where a man can talk a little harmless treason without sanction. Well, apart from being roundly told by his friends that he’s ‘full of shit’.

On this blog, I find that more than a few of my ideological fellow travelers in the blogroll are smokers, and with that I have no issue. Your body, and what you do with it is your business. Lets face it, you’ve got to die of something. No one lives forever. All we can do is live with what we have, and I’ve seen a lot of death over the years. A lot of it totally unrelated to lifestyle, often more to the cruel vagaries of fate and genetics.

The longer you live, one thing is certain, the more you take out of the public purse as far as health care / pensions is concerned, regardless of whether you smoke, drink, or eat excessive amounts of fatty food / salt / whatever or not. So perhaps living longer may not be such a good thing as far as any given exchequer is concerned.

So yes I do feel that smokers are being handed a bum deal. Okay, it may not be the healthiest of lifestyle choices, but frankly, who gives a shit? Apart from the brown shirts and brown-noses. Because although my social life might not have been quite so ‘healthy’ in those years, I also remember my times with smokers and drinkers as being more fun. And I remember them as good times.