Speeding up

I’ve just moved my office space into the sun room behind the kitchen and very nice it is too. Not too warm, not too cold, and a decent view. Only one issue; because of where the Cable guy wired in our modem, the wi-fi router is at the front of the house. Which means I get a wi-fi signal of under forty percent. Downloads were like watching treacle pour, streaming bandwidth felt restrictive and meant every YouTube video I tried to watch stopped and started like they were running on a 56kb telephone link.

So yesterday I elected to spend a few bucks on a wi-fi extender. Being a cautious kind of person I went to the local Future Shop and purchased A Linksys N300 extender for sixty bucks. Linksys used to be owned by Cisco, I have a Cisco Wi-fi router which has worked flawlessly since we bought it for under a hundred bucks about three years ago when our last Belkin router died. As an aside; we’ve had two Belkin Routers – they’re cheap and cheerful, but that’s the best that can be said for them. So I thought, yeah, great. Linksys don’t do duff kit (Insert ironic laugh here). How wrong can you be? After two hours of teeth grinding, finding out that Belkin had bought out Linksys and a demanded charge of twenty five dollars for tech support on a brand new item. Not to mention the setup programme crashing two browsers and taking me to a BSOD. At which point I thought “Bugger all this for a lark.” And hiked back to Future Shop with the offending item. This time I purchased a NetGear WN3000RP Universal WiFi Range Extender which cost just over ten bucks more. I avoided the D-Link N300. Cheap it might be, but I haven’t worked in Tech support for a while and I’ve got better things to do with my life than fuss over issues which shouldn’t exist. Half an hour later after a minor panic looking for my Wi-Fi SSID password I’m home with a 95% plus signal in my new office and a very happy bunny indeed. Yes, the NetGear Extender does create a new Wi-Fi network segment to manage, but the improved signal more than makes up for the minor inconvenience and best of all, no need to delve into my ageing laptops registry to fix problems caused by iffy setup programmes. Streaming video and downloads streak along at full tilt. I’m delighted. For under a hundred bucks the NetGear is good value for money, even if it does look a bit clunky. It works.

Canada recognises Bitcoin

Bitcoin CanadaJust caught this off The Register. Bitcoin just got the endorsement of regulation in Canada. My, my. On the same footing as the Dollar no less. A little bit of a two edged sword this, as by putting Bitcoin on the official list of currencies, the various exchanges will have to register and comply with the financial regulations up north of the 49th parallel or get out of Canuckland. However, the upside is that by recognising Bitcoin, it gives the controversial crypto-currency a veneer of respectability, and encourage wider trading and convertibility. Which in a wider sense can be considered a good thing. Even if the main intent is to allow the taxman to get a piece of the action.

First the Enbridge pipeline gets approved, now this. Canada’s economic future is looking brighter all the time.

That Playboy Gary Oldman interview

This comes under the category of “Well, it put a smile on my face”. Gary Oldman fulsomely deserves something like one of DK’s old ‘Bloody Devil’ awards for outspoken sweariness. Read the Playboy interview here. I enjoyed it immensely.

The terrified mealy mouthed statement from Gary’s agent published underneath an article about the interview in the Barclay Brothers Beano about ‘Taken out of context‘ and but, but, but, ‘he really supports gay marriage‘ underneath made me chuckle all the more. Sounds like Urbanski is terrified that the interview would be a career killer for Oldman, and hence his fat agents fees would dry up.

Which is where the issue over political correctness lies. PC is dishonest and mendacious. It makes honest words curdle in the face of authority’s wrath. It’s the trump card in Victimhood Poker. The battle cry of the perpetually thin skinned. The poison of society. Passive-aggression for the emotionally retarded. I think what’s really wrong with PC is that it’s from people who’ve been told by bloodless bureaucrats what emotions they should have as opposed to what they’re really feeling.

Like a lot of people, I applaud Mr Oldman’s forthright stance on many issues. I consider his name on a movie billboard a hallmark of quality work, regardless of his political views. He’s entitled to them. They are honestly his and do not detract from his work. Such honesty in public life is very rare and like all rare things, precious and worthy of preservation.

Update: Score (Yet another) one for the forces of darkness. Oldman has ‘apologised’ because of pressure from the pro-Israeli Anti-Defamation League. Even though his comments were a defence of free speech citing what happened over a drunken rant by Mel Gibson and not a direct attack on things Jewish.

On politics and banking

The Politics of BankingI’m currently a very happy bunny and enjoying the relief that my new knee strap has brought. No crunching noises in my creaky old knee joint when I try to move quickly, or lift heavy objects. No detectable pain and I can now walk miles without a single twinge. Why aren’t these things compulsory for old knee injuries like mine? They’re worth all the painkillers and surgery in the world. None of the surgeries I’ve had have done anything to alleviate the discomfort since I first popped my knee playing Rugby. This fabric and gel pad thing has relieved all my symptoms inside forty eight hours. Although I’m taking it easy, just in case I screw up again.

Whilst enjoying this surcease, I visited Theo Sparks blog and saw the above. So I nicked it. Says a hell of a lot about the West’s current regime of casino banking. I think the world and his wife are aware that the current structure is unhealthily unbalanced, allowing those who control the flow of numbers to confiscate at will. Especially now the UK HMRC has the power to asset strip at will anyone it even suspects of not coughing up what the tax man says is a ‘fair’ share. Fair for whom? One might ask. In the US the tax man currently even ‘audits’ people for having the ‘wrong’ political views. Whoosh! Where did all those emails go and how many Server hard drives did they have to trash?

Both of which make me wonder about how open to abuse and corrupt the West’s financial system now is. The Russians are looking for a way out and the Chinese basically own all the USA’s markers. Even the fiscally cautious Mrs S has been asking me about Bitcoin and there’s even a Bitcoin ATM Downtown on Government Street. I’m tempted to try Bitcoin out on a small scale myself. Stick a few on a SDHC flash card (Not a USB stick DVD or CD – lifespan issues) in a shielded safe and Robert is one’s Father’s Brother n’est que-pas?. Unless someone crashes the entire Internet, in which case the West’s financial pooch is so screwed it’ll have had puppies.

Bitcoin as an alternative to the current mess of fiat currencies makes sense to a certain extent, but how vulnerable is it to external interventions? There was the market glitch back in December 2013. What happens if the US Government were to declare by presidential decree that Bitcoins were banned? Probably the same result. There was a big drop, a massive rebound, and Bitcoins that were trading around 4-580USD are now valued around 6-690USD (June 2014). Which left a lot of economic prophets of doom with serious egg on their faces.

That thought leads me to wonder about some of the recent political upheavals of the last fifty years. The Anti-Apartheid movement wasn’t making much headway until the Afrikaaners introduced the Krugerrand as legal tender. Then the politicians really got involved. At the time of the second Gulf War, it was rumoured that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was contemplating going back onto the gold standard, as was more recently Libya. Look what happened there. Iraq made large purchases of Gold in March this year, and lookee here, a bunch of foreign sponsored raiders are invading while the US drags its feet. At the risk of raiding the bacofoil, I’d say a certain pattern is emerging. Oil rich Country tries to go onto gold standard = Casus belli. Not so much blood for oil as blood for gold. Or in the Ukraine’s case, blood for gas.

Which further leads me to think that if the pattern of money and war, boom and bust is to be broken, maybe a more democratic currency (Out of the hands of politicians and bankers alone) is the way forward. Hmm.

That’s it for now. I’m off for a walk to test my recovering knee joint. The Galloping Goose trail calls.

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