Moon shadow

Spent my Monday morning watching the ‘Great American’ Solar eclipse from my deck. The last time I saw an solar eclipse was on an overcast day, 1999 in Cornwall, UK. I was down at the waterfront, watching the wildlife when the untimely darkness came and the fish began to jump. Then there was a moment of absolute stillness, no breeze, and the sea was millpond still before the Sea birds began heading for their roosts and a thin band of sunset red appeared below the clouds. Of course there were dickheads trying to take pictures of the eclipse with flash cameras, still others leaping up and down, setting off fireworks, yelling and screaming to ‘frighten away the Dragon’. Then totality passed, and the light faded back up, like someone was playing with a massive solar dimmer switch. The fish started and stopped jumping again and the seabirds returned, squawking angrily as they did a 180 at the wrong time of day.

Today we were just a little too far north of the line of totality that passed through Oregon to see much more than a softening of the light. Great for eclipse spotting, but just a hundred miles too far north to see much but a bite out of the sun at eclipse maximum. So I elected to observe what happened to the wildlife, and what effect the eclipse had on the quality of light. How do I describe it? Well, on this bright BC morning, at totality the sunlight softened like it was a bright Winters morning and all the birds suddenly went quiet for around five or six minutes. A quick glance at the sun through three sets of dark glasses and a filter confirmed that just under half of the sun was missing, like someone had taken a big bite out of it, but that was all. Bit of an anticlimax really. Still, a good enough excuse to sit outside and drink coffee on a Monday morning.

No doubt the doomsayers and religious nuts will see significance in what is a wholly predictable astronomical event, but I do not subscribe to these rather eccentric notions. There are better things to do with my time. If you listen to the crazies, everything from Donald Trump growing horns and torturing kittens in the Oval office to the end of the world as we know it will come to pass, and as usual these whacked-out prophesies will ring as hollow as the crazies heads. As usual. So I don’t go for that kind of clickbait trash. From the many, many failures of Nostradamus, who was a clever enough man to make his predictions just obscure enough to be taken seriously by the gullible, to the rantings of every common or garden evangelist tub thumper preying on weak minded old ladies; none of them are worth spit.

So that’s it. The eclipse has come and gone, the moons shadow now speeding across the globe until it’s track disappears over the Atlantic Ocean. The next one is due in South America, 2nd July 2019. Indeed, here is the schedule for the next ten.

Well wasn’t that interesting? Would I like another cup of coffee? Yes, I think I would.

BC Culture

The longer I live here, the more I get a handle on what BC is missing. What would make it a far better place to live for hundreds of thousands. This morning I had one of those “By George I’ve got it!” moments while ironically researching the Melbourne region of Australia. We’ll be passing by in December 2017 & January 2018, so if anyone is passing by this blog who has any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them.

Similarly Cairns, Queensland, where we will be passing Christmas with the down under branch of our clan. Sydney is where Eldest has set up home, so we’ll be going there, too. This time the money is in place, as are the financial facilities, so no cancellations like the planned European Motorcycle trip, something that still rankles with me, but there you go.

Anyway, regarding my little epiphany. Why is Victoria BC such a cultural backwater? In short, Political Correctness, the crass Socialist doctrine that says you can’t say anything that the PC promoters think (?) anyone, anywhere else in the world might find ‘offensive’. This is endemic over here and actively erodes creativity. Having been to a few Victorian stand up shows I find the local brand of ‘approved’ humour absolutely cringeworthy. Indeed, I’ve given up on visiting local comedy clubs because of all the deference to this milksop-making malevolence that populates the front stalls with the incredibly smug and humourless calling out. “Ooh, that’s offensive!” Well actually yes it needs to be. Humour that doesn’t offend, or at least make a spirited attempt to do so, is often so unfunny one needs 500mg of Largactil as a stimulant before each set. I saw this last year when comedian and writer Dylan Moran came to play a tour. Don’t know what he’d done to deserve it, but to the mans credit he did put up a spirited defence against one of the local earnestly dull.

This is where Victoria is. If you don’t ascribe to a particular worldview, you won’t get very far. This is from a community that preaches and practices a very restricted view of ‘tolerance’ you understand. Yes, they paint rainbows on crosswalks and sprinkle pixie dust, but any other opinion outside their own narrow view is actively frowned upon. Indeed, by the time I finish writing this post it may actually illegal to disagree or even blink in the wrong manner when one of the earnestly dull locals is holding forth about how nice the First Nations are and how privileged we are to live cheek by jowl with them. Which is why they must be praised to the skies at every public event, regardless of whether or not any of them are in attendance.

Which ultimately means that the nightlife it a bit, well, moribund. Vapid. Insipid. Duller than dishwater that’s lost all its suds. I’d link to the local stats about death from terminal boredom, but the person tasked with compiling them fell into a coma and hasn’t been heard from since. No wonder there’s been an epidemic of Fentanyl overdoses locally. Indeed, there is even a ‘Death Cafe‘ for those who want to talk about ending it all.

Now don’t get me wrong; Victoria is a nice place to live. At least where we are in the outer suburbs. You just have to go travelling a lot, or face the ennui or le Cafard of living here.

Which is why there are so few modern Canadians who stand out. Because no-one is allowed to. Indeed, most of our real talent has to be exported before it does any real good for itself.

Update: Just picked up the news from The Blocked Dwarf and Grandad over at Head Rambles that the doyenne of the Scriblerus group, Anna Raccoon, the erudite Suzanne Cameron-Blackie is no longer with us. The Grim Reaper finally claimed her last night having won by three falls and two submissions.

Best regards and condolences to Mr G and all those who were closest to her. They broke the mould when she came to pass. Celebrate her memory and cherish all that which she contributed.

Did I miss anything?

Recently bought myself a copy of Larousse on Cooking, am learning how to make good Yoghurt. Have also been spending time and money upgrading my office with a new, more secure Wi-fi router which goes like wet smelly stuff off a large steel digging implement and a new ultra comfy office chair from which to oversee my affairs and plot world domination. Did mention to Mrs S about getting a White Persian Cat to stroke while hatching my evil plans, but she said we couldn’t because they shed like crazy and we have a ‘no pets’ agreement with our landlord. She also said that we’d need to put it out at night (Who sets their cat on fire? – That’s cruel) or coax it down from the curtains, or clear its collection of sacrificial offerings up every morning. So, no cat. No Bill, no cat and that’s final. Oh yes, and can you clean up after yourself a bit better.

No-one tells you all this when you first decide to be an evil genius. Someone has to scour the Piranha tank and the scorpion pit. Or vacuum up the cat hairs. Or rake out the embers from your private volcano and power wash the high powered laser spy splitter after use (It gets really messy and burned on blood is hell to get off the stainless steel). Not to mention pay much higher electricity bills for powering all the various torture instruments that are de rigueur for the socially mobile world domineer. Sorry, I thought I was supposed to do the plotting and planning not spend all my time cleaning. One doesn’t get where I’m not today with having to take care of every single fine detail myself. I’m supposed to have people for that. Speaking of which, frankly me dears you just can’t get the henchmen nowadays. No-one seems to teach the right skills. When I tell a minion to carve a couple of slices off a helpless victim or do the waterboarding properly, the last thing I want to see is one of those blank ‘What do you want me to do that for?’ looks.

To which I have only one response:
I’m busy reading the financials, because it’s where all the real news is.

Apart from that, it’s been a nice few days. The winds have returned, blowing the wildfire smoke away and we can see the Olympic Mountains and the Juan De Fuca clearly once more. All right, the breezes make putting up our sunshade a little problematic and we have to watch it in case it gets blown into a back yard two blocks away but our Deer decimated flowers are making a comeback, bringing a much needed splash of colour to our deck. I can see the Fuchsia once more.

The other good news is that Mrs S has now relented and allowed me to look for a World domination cat. Just so long as it’s not a real one. Heavy sigh. Suppose I’ll have to clean the Piranha tank and muck out the Scorpions myself then. Either that or it’s fish and chips or Mock-Scampi in a basket. Again.

Television etcetera..

The mainstream media is “a cultural wasteland filled with inappropriate metaphors and an unrealistic portrayal of life created by the liberal media elite.”

Nicked from this list of quotes from episode 19 Season 4 of Babylon 5. Superior TV Sci-Fi from the keyboard of J Michael Straczynski.

We’ve just sent a weekend guest home singing the praises of our household for the all around standard of food and hospitality we maintain. When our guest arrived on Friday however, all she wanted to do was regurgitate mainstream hate about Trump all over us. Something I put a quick stop to by staunchly labelling all politicians as liars and thieves, despite Mrs S’s objection.   There are some topics that are not welcome in the Sticker household.

Now I hold no brief for the current US president, save that he amuses me with his ability for reducing the lamestream media into screaming incoherent petulance with what I consider some rather deft Twatter news management.  CNN really hate him and it shows in their output. Unfortunately this results in sweet little old ladies without a political thought in their head being turned into culture warrior drones when they arrive on our doorstep.  Fortunately we have no television in the house, no adverts, no CNN or Fox News telling us what to think, so we had a pleasant long weekend reading, basking on the deck, drinking good wine and generally avoiding the subject of US politics altogether.

From which I derive this gospel; life is better without Television.

As an illustration of this statement I’ve spent the last hour reading the ‘Google memo’ and found no ‘hate speech’ whatsoever. Not like the TV talking heads have been labelling it. The conclusion I came to was that Google just fired a Senior Engineer for nothing. If you believe some of the more panties-in-a-bunch versions in the mainstream media, the author was a racist, sexist, whateverophobe bigot spewing hatred and bile willy-nilly upon every minority. What I actually read was a carefully qualified critique of ‘diversity culture’. Nothing extreme. Nothing hateful, just a plain statement of point by point difficulties that relentlessly pursuing diversity at the expense of real egalitarianism has created within Google amongst many other corporate entities. The Ex-Senior Engineer shouldn’t have put it in writing of course, doesn’t matter that it was mostly true, but it has cost him his job.  Gizmodo has the full text here.  Nothing like the version being spun out  on TV.

But just in case you can’t be bothered, here’s a sample of the memo without comment;
On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren’t just socially constructed because:

  • They’re universal across human cultures
  • They often have clear biological causes and links to prenatal testosterone
  • Biological males that were castrated at birth and raised as females often still identify and act like males
  • The underlying traits are highly heritable
  • They’re exactly what we would predict from an evolutionary psychology perspective

All of which is broadly reasonable and cannot be rationally refuted.  Reading the same article, I also note that Google are currently fighting the findings of a Wage Discrimination Investigation by the US Department of Labor (sic) ‘for routinely paying women less than men in comparable roles’. So maybe that’s the motivation behind all the media fuss.

Looks like Google are doing a little news management of their own, hoping that the rabid SJW’s and media types will ignore the real sexism of Google’s internal wages policy and leave them alone. See Psychologist Jordan B Peterson’s interview with the generator of all the furore and also the author of the memo. Full version below.

Smoking

The hills are disappearing under a veil of wildfire smoke as I write this. Softly fading into grey-blue invisibility, range by range until we can see no more than a kilometre or so, and the taste of burning forest is in the thick, still air.

It’s wildfire season and the wildfires have the upper hand at present (See this interactive map). The state of emergency has been extended for two weeks and the volunteer firefighters are all fully engaged, NOTAM’s (Notice to Airmen – like those issued about volcanic activity and war zones) are in effect over the fire zones. Which is nothing new. Happens roughly every third year or so in BC. Out here in the ‘burbs of Victoria it’s an inconvenience, but the smoke does keep the Summer temperatures manageable. Could do with a stiff Pacific breeze or two though. Even the forecast for today simply says ‘smoke’ (Or should that be ‘vape’?) See screengrab below.

From some sources the usual cries have gone up that it’s all the fault of the mythical man made global warming, although I don’t think anyone with an active brain cell actually believes that any more. Although man is no longer wholly at fault, apparently our domestic cats and dogs are major contributors because they’re carnivores. According to some dotty academic from UCLA.

Seriously, we could kill off 99% of all animal and human life on this planet and all these whining catastrophists wouldn’t be happy. Right up until the moment they realised that all these animals and people are, in many and diverse ways, keeping the many Cassandra’s comforted, fed and provided with all the comforts of life they enjoy. They’re just selfish. They want the world to themselves and in their narrow solipsistic little minds other people don’t count unless we’re doing what we’re jolly well told. By them of course. Because their inferiority complexes demand total compliance or they feel so thweatened, poor ickle bunny’s. Sheesh.

On a more positive note, we’ve rescued our deer-decimated Geraniums and Fuchsia’s, potted them up and placed them on the deck, where we will get the joy of them throughout the flowering season and those bloody deer can’t get at our prized blooms. Not unless the greedy little sods learn to pole vault.

Anyone for Venison?

I’m beginning to hate the deer that frequent our neighbourhood. Am currently scouring various sources for flowers they will not devastate. We’ve tried Geraniums, Fuschias and Asters and the little shits have munched merrily on each one. Even our landlords coneflowers, advertised as a bloom that deer will not eat, have been eradicated. Nothing seems to keep the bloody things away.

Yes I know the little fuckers ‘were here first’ (Forty years ago), but like all things, they’ve become a pest species, an anachronism. Rather like the people who encourage the wretched creatures and put up “Watch out for Deer” signs while their neighbours see their carefully tended yards decimated.

What the pro deer faction do not appreciate is that they are encouraging a reservoir of infection for things like Lyme Disease, a nasty condition with a wide range of debilitating symptoms, including meningitis. Put bluntly, Deer are a walking plague pit best killed and cooked properly to dispose of their many pathogens, including Plague, before eating. Having glanced down the list of ickiness these creatures are heir to, I wouldn’t encourage anyone to go anywhere near them without a wearing full biohazard suit.

Frankly, I’m inclined to look upon Deer as a cash crop, a walking larder. It’s worth noting that if the deer are fat, that will need stripping off the meat before cooking because it has an unpleasant taste.

On the upside, here’s one of my culinary heroes on the topic of how to dispose of the carcase with style.

Check out his Youtube archive for lots of tasty Venison recipes.

A Sunday Post

I love Tech, both old and new. Particularly tech that has stayed the course and proved worthy beyond any predicted life. See below two pictures of Catalina’s or Canso versions of the PBY flying boat, designed in the 1930’s and still flying today. The one on the left can be found slap bang in the middle of St Anthony’s Newfoundland. Not near any airstrip, just parked on a vacant lot as a museum type exhibit. The second we sighted from the northern perimeter road at Victoria International Airport 21st July.
These two venerable airframes have been around since the late 1930’s / early 40’s and still have that look of, how should I phrase it, worthiness. Solidity. Yes, they’re an old design, but in their heyday were known for staying in the air on long range patrols of up to 24hours. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another manned production aircraft that can match that.

Don’t ask me what it is but there is a strange kind of beauty about these grande dames of the air.

Oh yes. Have a look at the map below with the locations marked, then take a look to the extreme right at a small group of islands off the coast of Europe. We drove all the way between these points (Apart from two ferry trips) A shade over 17,000Km or well over 10,000 miles. I still don’t think I’m fully recovered.

I love food scares

All this fuss over ‘Chlorinated Chicken’. Actually chicken that has effectively been washed in water with around the same percentage of Chlorine as a swimming pool to get rid of some of the harmful bacteria which fowl is heir to. Hands up who has inadvertently swallowed a mouthful from the local municipal baths? What, never? So you’re a non-swimmer then.

It’s yet another storm in a teacup brought to us by people who whore themselves out, writing nonsense to earn a crust, then for a bunch of room temperature IQ’s to get all incensed about it. Honestly. No, if you eat cooked chicken that has previously been washed in a mild solution of Chlorine pre-preparation you’re probably a whole lot safer than with Chicken ‘au naturel‘ and all the nasty stuff that fowl is heir to. Salmonella, Camphylobacter, E.coli to name but three. Seriously, put a raw, unwashed chicken on your kitchen counter and you might as well have taken a shit on it. It’s why you should always wash your hands properly when preparing fowl. Never mind that accepting US food standards may be part of a putative UK-US trade deal post BREXIT. Seen in this light, the originating articles are all poorly veiled anti-Trump, anti-BREXIT scaremongering. The ‘Chlorinated Chicken gives people cancer’ implication is no better than lefty doublespeak. It’s such arrant nonsense I’m not even going to link to it.

Anyway, that’s beside the point. I absolutely love these silly food scares because most of them are complete bollocks. Especially when some politician gets in on the act and intones that ‘something must be done’. Oh dear, if only they knew how dumb they look.

You see when these scares hit the boob tube (Major TV networks), the first effect is that the gullible stop buying a previously popular product, so the Supermarkets have to get rid of a lot of less salable stock in a hurry before it goes off. Which is my cue to head down to the relevant supermarket aisle and raid the product in question. Result; I save quite a few dollars and my freezer gets a top up. There’s two salmon and six chickens in there at the moment awaiting my culinary mercies. The Salmon are Pinks, which are currently in season, so the price has dropped like a jumbo sized lead sinker, and the chickens? Well, thank the propagandists for that. Cheers, lads. I would buy you a pint, but you aren’t men enough to drink them, so it would be a waste of time and effort.

I’m just waiting for something horrible to be announced about pork ribs. Because I’m rather partial to my own ribs recipe and am looking for an opportunity to stock up cheaply. It’s not that I can’t afford it, it’s just that I’m cheap.

Never work

Well there’s a probability that I will be dead before this piece of idiocy comes to pass and just as well. A proposed UK 2040 ban on sales of all Diesel and Petrol engined vehicles. Oh dear, there are so many things wrong with this proposal that I’m having trouble enumerating them all.

Now Diesel, yes, I can see the utility from that, given the ‘known’ link between Diesel fumes and cancer. Well, at least according to the most recent IARC report. Worse than smoking, by all accounts. But that’s by the by. But petrol and diesel? Hmm.

The problems with the proposed ban on internal combustion engines begins, as the source article says, with the necessary upgrades in generating capacity that going over to a predominantly ‘renewables’ based power grid as mandated by legislation will entail. When the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine there won’t be enough batteries in all creation to power the UK’s energy needs, especially if millions of electric vehicles are all plugged into the grid. Even if every spare hillside is covered in bird killing wind turbines. So investment in Nuclear seems like the obvious solution. Thorium seems the safest option, as the end product can’t be used for bombs. However, that technology need to mature. As for fusion? Well given the current rate of progress, that is at least fifty years away. Especially if the focus remains on the ‘bang in a bottle’ Tokamak based designs. Research has been focusing on that branch of technology since the 1960’s to my recollection, but the goal of sustainable nuclear fusion reactions remain just as far away.

The next issue is grid capacity. I haven’t actually done the sums but even a back of a fag packet guesstimate means that the UK grid will need at the very least triple the current infrastructure. Given twenty plus years, this isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility, however, expect lots of brown outs and power rationing. Then you can triple the number of pylons marching across the landscape. All the scenic views will be interrupted by cables and wind turbines. Don’t even mention hundreds of thousands of substation upgrades, and extra diesel powered backups. No, sorry, no more diesel backups. Everyone’s electrickery bill will be through the roof. Not to mention the price of everything because transport costs will rise as all those Diesel powered trucks which tow containers of food to supermarkets will go out of style.

Here’s my argument; there will be around 75-80 million people in the UK. This estimate is based on the demographic boomer dieback that is in progress. Yes, all those post 1940’s and 50’s born folk will be going away leaving fewer descendants and many more immigrants to pick up the slack. Incidentally, all that finger pointing and blame attribution (“It’s all the boomers fault!”) won’t do a spit of good when the following generations haven’t picked up the slack. So, a less productive population demanding more from Government and services. Including electricity. Which is going to be a bit of a bugger when Winter comes. Considering a lot of solar physicists are predicting global cooling from around 2030. There’s also a possibility that coal and wood stoves will get banned along with the ICE. People are going to have to learn to wrap up warm. Just like I had to do as a boy. And get used to walking a lot more. Used to do a lot of that, too.

As for all of the UK owning electric vehicles? Never work. Even an enhanced grid couldn’t take the strain of thirty plus million vehicles (Number of vehicles currently using UK roads) probably fifty by 2040, slurping an average of 17.6 kWh (Average) each for a 62 mile journey from the grid, every night. More if the daily commute is over 40 miles each way. More if owners (As they are wont to do) leave all their vehicles on charge when not in use. Even more if someone can make battery technology work for trucks. Although some form of diesel electric would work. Diesel running at peak efficiency to power generator and thus drive electric motors, like one of these. Although if you scroll down and read, the uphill and top speeds are hardly on a par with modern Diesel trucks. Very stylish though. But if diesels do get banned, what then?

I’m all for cleaner air, but you can’t eat it and it won’t keep you warm in Winter. Anyone got any better ideas than a ban?

Update: It seems that there are few good solutions to the particulates issue, although there are some interesting but economically non-viable Electric power devices being mooted.  The electric vehicles Achilles heel remains, after over a century of development and taxpayer dollar being thrown at it, range and refuel times.  Not to mention the generation capacity and infrastructure resilience of the supporting electricity grid.  No, I think the EV is doomed to remain little better economically speaking, than Lohner-Porsche’s 1900 model, The Baker 1901, Anderson’s models from 1907 and Edison’s 1912 attempt.  Source here.   Yes, the Hybrid concept goes back to the early 1900’s.

As for banning ICE powered vehicles; there is an idea that will be quietly dropped when EV’s fail, as they did around a century ago, to provide a viable alternative.

Windows 10 and other crap

Since I’m ‘in funds’ at present with spare disposable income, I decided to buy a few things that will make life a little easier. No problem, right? On so many other levels, oh so many other directions, completely wrongety wrong-wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Yes, dear reader I bought two new Windows 10 Laptops for our business. Silly me. But they looked a good deal, had a reasonable spec and for a while worked quite well. Email was processed. Applications processed data. Web was browsed. Skype conversations had. Even movies watched.

Until the last ‘upgrade’. Bloody Windows upgrades.

For the last 72 hours my new laptop has been making a loud buzzing noise before crashing and rebooting, and all the changing of sound and video settings was to no avail. My professional virus checker found nothing, even after update to the latest version. When I tried to watch Youtube flash video, five minutes later; BZZZZZZZZZ! And the whole machine went tits up and rebooted. Until I delved into the dusty recesses of Windows Device Manager and found that something had added an Intel Video chipset as well as the onboard Realtek. So what was causing the crashes was a conflict between system drivers which provoked me into tearing out what remains of my once-flowing locks. However, it’s an easy fix. The Intel drivers and chipset have to be deactivated, which is what I did, and since then all is well (Fingers, toes, nose and eyes crossed). Until the next ‘upgrade’ (snort of derision).

Then when we get home we find that we’ve been ‘selected’ for something we didn’t volunteer for. Erm excuse me. I don’t have to, so I won’t. I’ve got better things to do with my time and have no truck with complete bullshit like ‘social cohesion’ which is a complete nonsense term peddled by complete nonces to force their values upon you. The Trudeaupians can talk about ‘Canadian values’ all they like, but there’s a problem. I’m not Canadian born and don’t kiss arses any more. I’ve paid all my bills and my taxes are up to date so this particular branch of officialdom can Arkell vs Pressdram as far as I’m concerned. They will find my studied politeness is finite.

On the upside, whilst we were away, our landlord, nice chap with whom we have a reasonable working relationship, had bought our apartment a new washing machine because a worn out bearing in the old one was making the whole house vibrate. This new one bleeps, plays little tunes, has a lovely light show built in and sometimes it even deigns to wash our clothes. Strange but cute. And we have a lot of clothes to wash.

Anyway, that’s one thing about an extended road trip. No matter how far you go, or how long you’re away, you’re always stuck with the dirty laundry when you get back.

There’s a life lesson in there somewhere.

Expatriate expostulations from Canada; a.k.a. A Sarcastic man abroad trying to stay in the middle of the road without getting run over.

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