Tag Archives: Observations

No real surprises….

After yesterdays fatal shooting in Ottawa we find out that the privately educated son of a deputy head of immigration is the culprit. The divorced Father of whom had gone to fight in Libya in 2011. Apple, tree, not far. His Mum of course is apologising madly to save her career, although given that said son had a string of drink and drug offences before briefly getting religion, I don’t think any real blame can attach to her. Even if the Mounties posted a warrant for her yesterday. Although that was for her van rather than her. Oh yes, even if she was implicated in a 2010 investigation regarding favouritism over appointees within the immigration department. Nothing to do with ISIS / ISIL at all. Just having a hissy fit over not getting a passport. Which is a hell of a dumb reason to kill an unarmed man.

Another unsurprising piece of news is that Vegetarians and Vegans are not as motile as the rest of the population. Well yes of course, we kind of knew that all along, goes the Greek chorus of commenters. It’s a life choice, and everything has a risk and reward, right? No doubt there are vegetarians and vegans with large broods of pasty kids, but so what? It’s not an absolute, but think of how many they’d have if daddy wasn’t deliberately malnourishing himself. Now that’s scary…..

Where there’s a Will

- There’s a Lawyer. Busy at present with legal forms and functions which all need notarising and registering. Taking care that no-one outside of our chain of command gets a look in. I’ve also drafted a Will for the first time in my life. Which feels strange.

On the domestic front Mrs S has been away on family business, as have I, and there’s been little I’ve felt like posting about. I got home a couple of days before her and have been idling a little before the next project hits the fan.

In the big wide world I see a scary disease which melts yer innards has taken over the headlines from scary people who like murdering people the hard way in the name of their god. Well it is coming up to Halloween. God says these ISIL / ISIS wankers are nothing to do with him. He’s not a fan of organised religion anyway. You should hear him when he talks about the Papacy. Not a happy deity.

The price of gas (petrol) locally has dropped over twenty cents a litre and oil prices are heading through the floor because the Saudis have upped production. Which is good for some people, not so good for others. Economic bubbles are going ‘pop’ and the apocalypse is upon us. Are you saved, brothers and sisters? What again? That’s the second time this week. You rapture if you want to, but leave me out of it. Hi ho. Same shit, different day. Ebola? I recommend washing your hands and observing a reasonable standard of hygiene. Oh yes, and not going to Middle Eastern war zones. They’re a funny bunch. A bit touchy if you know what I mean.

For my own part, the only recent oddity in my life has been a resurgence of appetite. Take the day before yesterday; Just finished work for the day and I had, not merely a half formed hankering or vague sense of peckishness, but a full fledged neolithic rage for a steak. Real red meat. Nothing else would do. So I skipped off to the local store, spent the princely sum of eleven bucks on a reasonable piece of cow flesh and took it home to fire up the grill. Shortly thereafter said slab (Big enough to cover my entire hand and over a thumbs width thick) was consumed with gusto and Dijon mustard. After gorging myself, I emulated sated carnivores the world over, parked myself in a place of comfort and safety (The couch) and unlike any other kind of sated carnivore settled back to watch YouTube vids on our big screen. I felt positively sybaritic.

Sorry to hear of Ranty’s confession. My only comment is this; if any bloggers experienced a ‘normal’ childhood, we wouldn’t be the wonderfully awkward sods we are. We’ve risen above the shit that was done to us and survived. Some more than others, but that should be a badge of honour in the great and not so great battles of life.

Treatment for mild alcoholism

Back in the UK, those wacky proponents of medication at NICE have decided that anyone who imbibes a couple of glasses of wine a day is a ‘mild’ alcoholic. Oddly enough these chaps have the exact pill for this ill. Now chums, isn’t that lucky? Specifically a medication called Selincro or Nalmefene. Which is designed to ‘cure’ you of your need for a nice glass or two of Cabernet Sauvignon, Foche, Pinot Gris, whatever.

Now most astute observers might ask friends over to debate this issue, say over a nice glass of wine or two, and tartly observe the ‘two glasses a day is mild alcoholism’ assertion as one of those ‘pulling spurious figures out of their arses whilst simultaneously using said anatomical feature as cranial storage facility and vocal apparatus’ affairs. Said astute observers might also perform a comparison between the two options.

Side effects of said pharmacological phenomena include;

Headaches, sleepiness, sleeping problems, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, hypertension, acute pulmonary edema and pruritis with possible long term damage to the digestive tract in up to a fifth of patients who should also abstain from driving or operating machinery and spicy foods. Not to mention becoming a total self righteous pain in the arse who doesn’t want anyone else to enjoy themselves.

Side effects of imbibing two glasses of wine include;

Mild fuzzy feeling of well being or intoxication, slight garrulousness, sociability, relaxation and lowered stress levels with a very minor risk of long term liver damage in oo, let’s say seventy years. Do not drive or operate machinery heavier than the remote control ‘off’ button. Spicy foods are encouraged. Sex is not contra-indicated.

Rather puts you off going to see the old Quack doesn’t it? Or maybe, says my more Machiavellian side, that was the intention in the first place. Dee-dah-DAAAH! Costs to ‘wonderful’ NHS cut. Job done.

Grandeur delusions

Just dropped by the old place for a drive by posting. You know the sort of thing, on automatic, potting at anything in sight. A new set of neighbours have moved in over the way. My workplace window overlooks one of their back yard windows, and….. for the love of God! Put up some curtains! Blinds, anything. Your private life is your own, but please, put up some drapes. There are some things flesh and blood should be spared. Especially when I’m working at half past six in the bloody morning and…. no. I’m not going to go there. I’ve had enough stress to kill a Rhinoceros on amphetamines over the past few months and I don’t need any more.

On a more manageable note, there’s stuff in the media that has long tweaked my nerves, but I’ve not been able to identify a common thread until now. Well I’m not that clever. Maybe. Or maybe I’m smart enough to know I’m not that bright. Which, seen in the right light is a sort of wisdom. Possibly.

Yet every day I see stuff presented in the public domain that makes my small cerebral ability look like the towering intellect worthy of a Zen master who’s just worked out what the Universe actually wants to be. People whose business is make believe, but who are given positions of responsibility for moulding public opinion. Yet those whose work makes them a specialist in a given area are effectively patted on the head and told to go take a powder. Mainly because it doesn’t appear to agree with a narrative that isn’t happening and isn’t likely. Simply because the numbers are all wrong. Unlike actors whose whole raison d’etre is fantasy falsehood, numbers don’t lie. Unless they’ve been turned into statistics and then anything is possible. Especially if politicians get hold of them. Poor things. The numbers that is, not the politicians. Or Actors.

Then there are those who say that an unprovable grope over twenty years ago has ‘ruined their lives’. Well there’s a classic delusion right there. Specifically the ‘Delusion of reference‘, where something insignificant is taken as a major life influence. Newsflash. Most of us mere mortals have been subject to unwanted physical contact by a whole range of people. Yet we’re not dashing to court because we got a little testy at the time, maybe even growled a little, but we got over ourselves. In my case mostly because I was mildly annoyed but actually amazed anyone wanted to run their unwanted digits over my boyish frame. Weirdo’s. Now they’re arresting and jailing elderly ex-celebrities in the UK on evidence flimsier than a whores drawers. Is it just me, or is the whole ‘I was groped thirty years ago and it ruined my life’ business so far over the top that it’s got a full crew of astronauts and getting ready for a landing on Mars? Yew tree if you want to, but quite frankly I think it’s the biggest waste of Police time ever.

Likewise with the ‘biggest threat to humanity’, or ‘the planet’? Specifically the CO2 CAGW business. That’s such patent bollocks only the most credulous or deluded believe in it. Not that all the prognostications of doom have shown any likelihood of turning into reality. Not for the last 18 years anyway. If you feel that humanity is the cause of planet Earth’s impending demise, well, don’t bother me with how you plan to remove yourself from the all the rest of us ‘planet destroyers’, just make the damn gesture and stop whining. No? Really, some people. No consideration.

The people who bang on about such things are probably the self same people who bitch endlessly about man’s pollution and how ‘deniers’ should be jailed, then when some sensible soul makes plans to build a sewage treatment plant for a city which still vents raw sewage into the sea, vote ‘eco-friendly’ politicians into the various municipalities who play politics with workable projects instead of getting on with the job of cleaning up the Juan de Fuca and Straits of Georgia. The fundamental disconnect on their part is quite staggering.

Not that anybody’s reading, but I just felt I had to get that lot off my broad and manly chest.

/rant

Another random thought on Scottish devolution v1.08 – v1.11 rel 2

Okay, suppose the ‘Yes’ vote does have it, and Alex Salmond leads the Scots towards an oil-funded socialist utopia. Which has worked out really well for the Venezuelans hasn’t it?

Will this mean;

  1. The expulsion of any person with an accent deemed ‘Too English’ or ‘Not Scottish enough’.  Trust me, this does happen.  I have a relative who left Scotland in the early 00’s because he was sick of the prejudice against him (Graffiti on house, social exclusion, overt hostility) because his Dundee University educated accent sounded ‘Too English’
  2. The resumption of cross border cattle (or sheep) raiding as an (Even greater) economic growth area?
  3. Civil unrest when the Scots find out there’s not so much oil to fund their economy and all the real money goes South?
  4. Subsequent forcible repatriation north of the English / Scottish border for anyone who is Ginger?

 

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.