Tag Archives: Observations

Badarbunga

Transatlantic flights might just get a little rare shortly. Badarbunga in Iceland just went to code red. Just hope the Europeans don’t completely shut down their airspace like last time. Although this is a possibility, as expert opinion is that this Icelandic crustal burp might just turn into a biggie. Right on the flight path to Europe with a 200 nautical mile exclusion zone around the volcano.

Local Webcams are up and down like yo-yo’s because of server overloading, not much to see anyway apart from monochrome, even at four in the afternoon local time.

If you want the real skinny on what’s going on under (or shortly through) the glacier, visit Jon Frimanns site or the Vatnajokull seismicity page of the Icelandic Met Office.

As for flight disruption, all my old resources have gone all touchy-feely and no longer provide the information required. Which is annoying. Travellers don’t want to know how wonderful and sparkly the CEO’s latest marketing wheeze is. They want pertinent information so they don’t have to lie around making extra work for the cleaning staff in brand new sparkly airport termini, waiting for flights that may not arrive. Especially when the airlines won’t help, or tell you anything worthwhile if your long haul flight is cancelled due to weather or in this case, a volcano. Guidelines for Europe are here. The Irish IAA have a page with useful updates here.

Update: One of the things you don’t hear much of in the lamestream is that magma from Badarbunga has been travelling to another volcano some forty kilometres away called Askja. Although Badarbunga has been downgraded to flight status orange, Askja has been updated to yellow. This could get real interesting, real fast.

Update 2: Just started to get interesting. Glowing lava visible on webcam here.

Secrets & Lies

Busy reconnecting with estranged family members at present following my Mother’s funeral. The ceremony was a Church do which was well attended. Close on a hundred packed into a small English Parish church for the public goodbye. A day which saw me standing around with siblings doing the duty. Greeting old family friends and occasional relative at the church door on an uncharacteristically sunny English day, wishing protocol allowed sunglasses and a hat. Feeling numb and heavily jet lagged.

Having shed my tears two weeks before, I found myself standing in the front pew at parade rest in my best jacket eyeing the closed coffin bedecked with white roses and lilies, wincing as the organist muffed hymn intro’s and wondering what Mum would be thinking if she could have seen all the fuss. Listening to siblings trying to sing with shaking voices unused to the exercise of a tune. Admiring the architecture of some late medieval robber barons ornate tomb. I think the Ma Sticker I knew would have laughed herself senseless at the irony because we’ve always been such a cheerfully agnostic bunch. However, the local societies wanted to say thanks for all the voluntary work our family and specifically my mother put into the village, so I kept my mouth firmly shut and let priestly platitudes rattle past.

My major issue is there’s a lot of highly personal stuff coming out of my particular woodwork right now making me a deeply unhappy bunny. Why our little clan couldn’t have sat down and talked it all out years ago has left me feeling like Tim Spalls character from Mike Leighs “Secrets and lies“;

There’s been quite a bit of “But we all thought you knew, Bill.” Recently.
Well I didn’t. Much was kept from me by my parents and I am desperately trying not to be very angry with them indeed. Which has taken the edge off my grief. Inheritance isn’t the issue. That’s down to probate and settling the estate. It’s just money. The tax man will no doubt take his bite, but I’m more seriously pissed off at my extended family for keeping me in the dark all these years. I’d suspected of course, but no one took me aside and said; “Bill, there are a few things you should know.” That’s the kind of conversation I’m having with several of my cousins and aunts right now. Clucking bell. First mother in law dies. Next we had to move house and fast. Then my my car gets trashed. Mum dies. My dog dies. Now all this. If I didn’t know better I’d think someone had it in for me. It’s been a tough few months with only a few brief respites.

Notwithstanding, I’m trying very hard to look on the bright side. Be positive. Letters have been written to mend fences. I’m trying to do the right thing and move forward keeping my chin up.

Mrs S and I are back in Canada and heavily jet lagged. Stepkids are good and making their own lives. We have kept nothing from them. My wife still loves me, although sometimes I wonder why. And I’m quite well balanced, insofar as the chips upon both my broad and brawny shoulders are in a state of perfect equilibrium.

The curtains of darkness have been stripped from my past and they have revealed a tangled emotional forest that would give the Brothers Grimm nightmares. One which I have to traverse alone. So I think I’ll be taking a chainsaw with me. With extra gasoline and maybe some Gelignite. Bring it on.

I’ll be back in due course. You know how it is. Dragons to rescue. Damsels to slay. Providing the next media scare story doesn’t get us all first, or stupid EU politicians don’t talk us into a war.

Regards

Bill

Celebrity asset stripping

There’s an illegal business practice called Asset Stripping. It’s where an undervalued company is bought up, by fair means or foul, and the assets sold on for a profit leaving nothing but its debts. Whereupon said company is liquidated and fat wodges of cash are salted away beyond the wot of Tax Inspectors. It’s a nasty practice that destroys industries and puts people out of work. Which is why it’s a crime.

One of the tactics asset strippers use is to devalue a company by attacking its brand and devaluing it in the eyes of investors, allowing the asset strippers or their proxies to move in, buy the company up cheaply and literally denude its physical assets. Premises, equipment and holdings all go under the hammer before the shrivelled corpse of a once thriving business or brand is thrown onto the midden of bankruptcy, leaving Directors, Employees, Legitimate creditors, Investors and their families high and dry.

Seems to me there’s continual attempts to emulate this dirt cheap dirty deed in Celebrityland under the guise of sex crimes, where even a celebrity looking into a pram to say “What a cute baby” is viewed, not as a well meant compliment to the parents, but as a statement on the lines of “I’m horny, can baby and I have a party? I have drugs.” According to the feminist meme of “All men are rapists” and no child is safe from them. At least according to the wave of Paedo-hysteria that has been poisoning my home shores for over two decades now. Like with the Salem Witch trials, a pointed finger is enough and if the perpetrator has money – evidence will be found. Or fabricated. Or imagined. No matter how tenuous.

The fact that all the allegations seem to stem from thirty and even forty years ago should ring very loud warning bells to anyone involved as an evidence gatherer. During my streetwalking days we were taught that after each ‘incident’ we were to write down exactly what was said and done as soon as possible. Not half an hour later or end of shift, but right there and then. My wife often comments on how good my memory is because I can recall whole conversations up to a week after the event, but even then I’m cautious. Memory is a tricky thing; and even I’ve been known to get it badly wrong. Because I’ll tell you from hard first hand experience how a charged emotional state will change someone’s perception. People will literally make stuff up, mostly because they weren’t really listening at the time and are covering their arses. They will even happily perjure themselves in a court of law to cover up a minor lapse in attentiveness. Having first convinced themselves that what they thought they saw actually happened. Even if Mr Brain was in ‘idling’ mode at the time.

Even mild mannered me (I am – Honest Guv) has been accused of being ‘abusive’ and even of ‘threatening to hit’ people I’d just issued a parking ticket to on several occasions. None of these accusations were true. Even under direct verbal and physical threat on duty I never swore at, or in front of, a member of the public, nor made any gesture that a sane person would interpret as threatening. Apart from pull out my notebook or hand held computer. As an example, a polite hat tipping gesture was once misinterpreted as ‘flipping the bird‘ to a member of the public. This one minor ‘incident’ like so many other spurious accusations from those times, probably still lie on my personnel file in some dank archive and can be brought back twenty years hence should the will be there. I wouldn’t have a clue after that length of time. Would you?

Having done two stints of Jury service, I’m also more than painfully aware how one prejudiced and assertive voice in the jury room can turn a majority ‘Not Guilty’ decision into ‘Guilty’. Especially when everyone is tired of arguing over minutiae and just want to go home. Juries are strange twelve headed beasts that pull all over the place, sometimes led by the evidence, but more often by strong opinions and emotion. In these infantile days, it is my sad observation that opinions and emotion matter more than facts. Which can be the difference between conviction and freedom.

Scales of injustice clipartIt is also said that everyone lies. We do. Most especially to ourselves. What starts as a little white lie to cover up a trivial misdemeanour takes on layers of untruths to cover up the initial lie. Especially after a protracted period of time. Our imaginations embellish the trivial to make the mundane significant. To make ourselves look and feel more important than we really are. People mishear and misinterpret. Especially children, the emotionally upset, or even someone with a minor electrolyte balance. This is all too human, yet poorly corroborated accusations are being turned into convictions against once-famous old men with a bit in the bank. All so their accusers and their lawyers can feed off the corpse of a career.

So let’s call the current hysteria by its proper name. Celebrity asset stripping.

Neuro-Linguistic programming for kids – a small epiphany

Down at the drug store this morning getting a knee strap to help reduce the pain of an ancient knee injury, I was fitting said item when a young family pulled up in their big Ford F250 pickup. Mum, Dad and two boys, and a babe in arms. Now in England this is a recipe for chaos. Sulky, ill natured kids who don’t want to be there and exasperated parents who would rather be anywhere else than with their whining ungrateful little mini-thems. Over here in BC it’s (Well, mostly) a totally different atmosphere.

One of the things I’ve noticed, being a recent import to these shores, is how generally quiet and well behaved many Canadian children are. But I’d never quite made the connection until today. Babe in arms, about a year old I’d reckon. Too big to be a newborn, too chubby for a Toddler, was swung into Mums front facing papoose and began squalling. Dad was leading his two boys across the car park, urging them on without raising his voice. Answering their torrent of questions and demands with a good natured; “But that’s not what we’re here for.” Mum was paying attention to the baby and using the same quiet, insistent and non-confrontational voice. There was no demand for the child to “Behave! Or else!” Just patient explanation that yes they were going to the store, no they already had too many toys and treats, and we’re going out this afternoon for a picnic. Please keep your voice down, I can hear you perfectly well. No heightened emotions, no drama and after the first exchange, no raised voices. The kids weren’t being ignored, au contraire, they were being engaged every step of the way. None of the usual parent to child guilt or threat exchanges. Just persuasion. I’ve overheard children at every turn presented with a “How would you feel if….?” option followed by a suggested positive outcome. In this particular case I got the feeling that this was a long-practised routine which both parents engaged in. A form of neuro-liguistic programming of their children, encouraging their progeny into preferred behaviours. Specifically not behaving like self-entitled little socipaths. At least until the soup of raging adolescent hormones turn them all into Kevins. Been there, done that. Twice, God help me. With girls, who make teenage boys look like pussycats, let me tell you.

Most of us grow out of the more unlovable traits of childhood. We can even break the generational cycle of abusive relationships, should we develop the will. Unfortunately this is often a protracted and very painful process for the person involved, and can be a terrible waste of a human being. Heavens to Betsy, some might even end up bloggers.

Which rather leads me to the thought that we are what we are programmed to be. Larkin expressed it as “They fuck you up, your Mum and Dad” but then again, Larkin was always one of my least favourite British poets. Having seen that side of the coin, I’m becoming convinced that parents don’t have to screw up their kids, they can engage, communicate and guide. Minimise the damage peer groups and aggressive marketing can do to kids minds by ensuring a child knows where their support mechanisms lie.

So it is with grown up life. Treat people with trust and engage them without being judgemental and my experience is that most will respond positively. Not too much trust mind, just enough to account for the one in twenty five that is a conscience-free zone. Treat everyone like wayward children, regulate their every waking moment with near incomprehensible rules they can’t help but break, and what response profile will they follow? Got it in one.

Last call for the Barclay Brothers Beano

Got the message about the Journo sackings at the dear old Barclay Brothers Beano, Tellytubbygraph, or NotsoTorygraph via my Guido Fawkes digest email. Seems like every writer politically right of Mother Theresa has been given the boot. Except for Tebbit in the blogs section. Which is rather sad. One of the highlights of my day used to be doing a little bit of whack-a-troll in the comments section, then leave the trolls letting off esteem while I went off and did some work. No doubt as the Telegraph deserts its reader base, the clickthrough traffic on their advertisements will sink, like the sun setting over the British Empire, slowly and inevitably over the horizon. Seriously, if they were going to morph into a pseudo Guardian, but without the Guardians semblance of investigative journalism, shouldn’t they have looked at how dire the circulation figures are for the Groan first?

Guido does have a dig occasionally (actually quite often) about what he calls the ‘dead tree media’, as anyone with a decent tablet or iPad can get the online versions for free. Although what goes into the online version is hardly first line. A tendency towards content free click-bait articles has been quite marked over the last year or so. Too much op-ed, too little investigative journalism. One wonders if the doughty Christopher Booker is on the list of columnists to be let go in the next round of ‘downsizing’. Which is ironically what the Telegraph would be doing with its dwindling circulation.

In closing I’d like to note that back in my schooldays we were always being exhorted to ‘save a tree’ by not buying disposable wood pulp products. Now with the Telegraph’s intellectual downgrade there is even more reason to save trees. The historical circulation figures tell their own story of decline.

Chilled

Mrs S and I have finally moved in properly to new Victorian gaff here in BC and just delivered our first weekend guest safe home. To celebrate we took a bus downtown and did a little bar surfing. While we were on our way, the oddest feeling crept over me. A sense of complete calm, serenity, even a sense of being touched by God. A veritable nexus of null anxiety, to the point where my paranoia kicked in and whispered salaciously to my hindbrain “It’s been a wonderful day so far-so what’s going to go pear shaped? Who is going to screw it up?” You know what? Nothing did.

In Iraq, 800 crazies, including three holders of UK passports so we are told, are murdering all they choose while an army flees in front of them. The Ukraine crisis lumbers on. The USA seems weak and vacillating. UK Civil liberties are eroded with every half baked directive from the EU Commission and everywhere the media are complicit in the decline.

Yet none of that matters, because at present we’re having a lovely time. Walking here and there, enjoying the locality. Don’t take this personally, but I won’t say ‘wish you were here’. There’s only just enough happiness for me, Mrs S and the dog.

Great White shark jumping

There’s a media fuss about a three metre Great White that was tagged then disappeared. Well, some puzzled film makers aren’t sure what happened after finding the digestion discoloured tag on a beach. Seriously? Don’t these people bother to do some basic shark research before making idiots of themselves in public?

A three metre (10ft) Great White Shark, genus Carcharodon carcharias is only just maturing. It’s a juvenile, a baby. A full grown Great White is a whole lot more sushi. Adults come in at over six metres (21ft) long, with some reports of specimens over eight metres long (26ft).

It’s also worth nothing that despite their fearsome press coverage, Great Whites aren’t the baddest of ocean predators. Orca’s have been known to take them out. They aren’t called Killer Whales for nothing.

So what killed a comparatively small Great White shark? Could have been an Orca, might have been a bigger Great White with the munchies. Cannibalism is not unknown among shark species, especially one bleeding from a fresh tag wound in its back. So it’s hardly a mystery, and three metres is snack size as far as Great White predators go. Unless you want to believe crap like this. Don’t they check out their own back issues? Sheesh.

A Victorian afternoon

Taking advantage of our new domiciles proximity to the provincial capital, Mrs S and I took the bus downtown to have a pootle around and a few drinkies without the necessity of putting hands anywhere near a steering wheel.

Around one of the clock, having bought birthday presents to try and heal a rift with sister in law, Mrs S saw a jewellery store on Government Street and bade me wait outside in the sunshine, which I did, just settling down on a bench to peoplewatch from behind sunglasses and generally chill. While I was amiably ensconced on a bench, from down the street came a steady drumbeat. Thump, thump, thum-thum-thump. At first I thought it was a busker. There were guitarists, violinists, so hey, why not a drummer? The only thing was this sound kept getting closer. At length I caught sight of a small phalanx of marchers, about a hundred or so coming up the street, holding a banner in front, a good portion of which was obscured by two marchers, one a well built girl consulting her phone, and the other a stripy hi-viz jacket wearing body. The sign read, at least from my angle ‘TWALK’.

“Oh that’s interesting” thought I in my innocent reverie. “Must be a march to raise funds for breast cancer perhaps?” At this point a guy in a black T-shirt and faded jeans, to my minor annoyance, stood on the bench I was sitting on, as did his girlfriend. I glanced around at the banner again. Still the girl in front on her iPhone or whatever, blocking out my line of sight. The marchers were chanting something I wasn’t paying really attention to. Hell, I’ve seen enough demo’s and tend to zone them out. My major concern is always to get where I’m going and let the marchers get wherever the hell they’re going.

As the front of the march drew level with where I was sitting, Mrs S arrived and said into my ear with a grin. “I bet you didn’t expect to see that today, Bill?” I stood up and turned around to take a look. Too right, several of the female marchers were sans brassieres. Letting it all hang out so to speak, or in several cases letting their exposed nipples wobble fearsomely on a ‘Slutwalk’. Holding banners proclaiming their opposition to being raped or otherwise sexually molested. None of which has changed my mind from my previous post on this subject. While I am in full accord with the view that how a girl dresses does not automatically entitle every red blooded male to haul her off down a dark alley for some non-consensual sexual activity, I still think that three years on from one Ontario Cops original remark, still to be harping on about it is a bit obsessive-compulsive to say the least. Especially as a number of the marchers weren’t exactly, how can I put this gently, (Ducks behind keyboard and hides) that likely to attract the kind of sexual misconduct they were protesting against. As I whispered into Mrs S’s ear as the marchers passed us; “Now I know why the brassiere was invented.”

As I swung my gaze around, the guy who’d stood on the bench next to me gave me a nudge and made some remark about the procession. Tell you the truth I wasn’t really listening, I’d just caught sight of the bar I’d been looking for. Mrs S and I went into the pub to lay the dust on our tongues with a couple of nice beers. The marchers carried on up the street.

Jail the parents!

So says a journalist in the Barclay Brothers Beano. Apparently two parents in East Anglia are to be hauled up before the beak for allowing their child to reach fifteen stone. It is worth noting that the original article in the Wail says that the boys father is twenty stone and out of work. Apple not falling very far from tree, methinks.

A more reasoned discussion has been carried out here on debatewise but the principle of state intervention to cut costs for the ‘wonderful’ NHS should be asking the greater question. Which National Health Service? Oh, you know, the ‘wonderful’ NHS where patients can be neglected by nursing staff whose focus is more on paperwork than actual care, and where the elderly can die a nice, lonely but tidy death in a hospital bed from dehydration and starvation in their own urine and faeces, that sort of thing. Don’t believe me? Start here.

The greater questions should be; how does the family benefit from being prosecuted and their child being put in ‘care’? How much money do these court and care processes take away from the UK’s ‘wonderful’ NHS? Let’s do some joined up thinking here. Police manpower, cost of lawyers and court time, costs of appeal, fines, jail time for being unable to pay fines. All on the public purse because the parents in question are not exactly high earners. Criminal records further damaging their prospects of employment, thus keeping parents out of the tax contributing workforce (If there were suitable work to be had). That’s even without factoring in the costs of God alone knows how many social workers. The cost of long term ‘care’ (Meals, facilities, security) with all the fees for a swath of behavioural interventionist consultants whose services are not exactly free.

What the screaming interventionists don’t seem to understand is that all of these things don’t come cheap. If your principal goal is to save the NHS money, even a fairly cursory analysis demonstrates that intervention of this kidney isn’t really the right way to go about it.

One is left with the thought that on balance it will probably prove more economic to treat the child for any conditions that crop up when they actually do, not trying to second guess what conditions will arise because it’s not unknown for the fat kid at fifteen to discover girls, or get so hacked off with being ill that he spends a couple of years getting into shape off his own bat, living to a ripe old age. Either that or the young man will die young, thus actually cutting the long term treatment bill. No prosecutions required.

Think of the savings to the ‘wonderful’ NHS.

Hi-ho. Lovely sunny day here in BC and the weekend beckons. Done with unpacking and am thoroughly enjoying being able to walk to the nearest pub. Now there’s a thought

That Queens speech thingy

Just finished moving in to our new Victorian domicile. I like this place. Should have moved earlier.

Took a break from unpacking and a wander over to the Barclay Brothers Beano for a meander down the latest list of legislative disasters as given by our Liz. The bill that caught my eye, and for a moment my breath, was the proposed bill which will give HMRC the power to demand money up front if they even suspect you are squirrelling some dosh away for a rainy day. Not only does the UK tax man already have the power to raid bank accounts at will, allowing them to asset strip people without power or influence down to their last five grand, but those rapacious tax gatherers will shortly be able to do it without due process. Only suspicion of wrongdoing, never mind the evidence. All it may take is a simple denunciation from one of those despicably cretinous cunt-stooges like UKUNCUT (May they burn forever in all the hells humanity can imagine), and any assets, personal or company, on which tax may already have been paid will magically disappear from bank accounts up and down the UK. Probably from a lot of expatriates who may well find themselves fighting a legal battle they no longer have the wherewithal to afford, or the air fare back to fight their corner. Having been well and truly sheared without any evidence of wrongdoing or contestable legal proceedings. Precedent, sets, dangerous, a, this (This cliché was purchased from Canadian Tire in flat pack format – some reassembly may be required). In spades. Even if the Chancellor says the affected will get their money back with interest ‘if they win’. Big ‘if’ there, chunky.

You know, as a keen student of history I’ve always wondered how come the Germans, who I’ve always found in person very civilised and cultured people, came to fall under the spell of the worst amoral Jackbooted fascist rob dogs in history. A piece in that jigsaw just fell into place.