Merry Christmas

Going offline for the next week or so to visit outlaws, see Youngest back to the septic Isle, then pack up and move house. We’ve been promised snow, which will make the travel a little interesting, but that’s what All Wheel Drive vehicles are for.

This year it’s someone else’s turn to cook, so I will be taking time out to read, eat, sleep and imbibe the odd glass of two of a decent red wine. Feet up, book open, see you in the New Year. First time comments may remain in moderation until then as I don’t know when I’ll next have Interweb access. But fret not gentle reader, I may pop in from time to time, but don’t worry if your sage sayings aren’t approved immediately.
festive-tree
TTFN. And have an entertaining festering season.

Regards

Bill

Update: This post was timed to have gone up at 6pm PST Christmas Eve, but for some reason known only to WordPress, didn’t. So I’ve had to post manually. Nonetheless, a very merry and belated Christmas to all and it’s back to packing. Again.

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A thought about the Savile saga

I was listening to Sargon of Akkad’s video the other day about the saga of debunked conspiracy theory ‘Pizzagate’, where wealthy people associated with Bill and Hilary Clinton are claimed to have satanically sexually abused hundreds, perhaps even thousands of children.

Now child abuse rings exist: that much is certain. Those who do get caught are usually those whose political connections fail when their activities are exposed or the evidence is so overwhelming that their activities cannot help but be prosecuted, or solitary ‘outliers’ like Marc Dutroux. The small fry. However, I’m also fairly certain that there are those who commit these atrocities, for there is no other word that fits, who have enough political clout do get away with it. Top figures in show business and politics are often accused, but only the retired or out of favour who have no more political influence seem to be punished for relatively minor offences.

Like with the UK prosecutions of Dave Lee Travis, Rolf Harris and Stuart Hall, the offences some were accused of were relatively minor, or in the case of the late Jimmy Savile, whose only verifiable accusation was of one star struck fifteen year old girl who offered him oral sex, only to be turned away when he found out she was underage. Which, forgive me if I’m sounding too forgiving here, doesn’t quite fit the profile of the ‘serial abuser’ we have been presented with in the mainstream. Despite the ‘thousands’ of accusations from Ambulance chasing law practices.

Now having been a long time reader of the one time Anna Raccoon site (All my best to you and Mr G. Suzanne, if you’re still breathing) I’ve read her first hand accounts of events at the Duncroft Girls Home which was at the centre of key accusations against Savile, and I tend to believe Anna’s version because she went back and checked her sources one by one. Anna talked to old contacts from those days when she was resident at Duncroft and pointed out many key disparities in the related accusations against. Anna cited times, dates, places and key details. She researched. She used primary sources. Which raised the following thought; if Anna is correct, and after careful consideration I think she is, then the whole Savile saga, associated accusations and prosecutions of retired show business figures from the notorious ‘operation Yewtree’, has been on the one level a cynical asset stripping exercise against their savings and charitable trusts, on the other a smokescreen. It’s interesting to note that the Metropolitan Police web page for Operation Yewtree now comes up with an ‘Error’ message.

Like with the old Russian folk tale of Troika riding passengers being thrown to the wolves one by one, I strongly suspect these retired showbiz types have been thrown to the ravening wolfpack of paedo-hysteria, allowing the really guilty to carry on their repugnant activities relatively unmolested. Mainly because certain abusers are wealthy or have political influence. And I can cite one confirmed real life example in the case of Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, whose notorious private Caribbean island (St James) is known to be a haven for under age sexual exploitation. He is only at liberty because he was able to buy off his accusers and make a plea deal with the Federal authorities (See previous link), serving jail time for only one offence. A purely anecdotal item of evidence being his private jet being referred to by locals as ‘the Lolita express’ for bringing in ‘fresh meat’. The Clintons, amongst a whole raft of other rich and powerful people, are known to have been regular visitors. Were they involved? No-one’s saying, and any evidence is purely circumstantial.

Similarly, Hollywood child actors have spoken out about their real life sexual abuse by Production people and hangers on, or ‘mentors’ (Los Angeles Times 2012 report here). If the article is to be fully believed, the casting couch is not only for screwing nineteen year old starlets desperate to get into the movie business, but also used as an opportunity to sexually violate child actors of all genders. Apparently this sort of thing has been going on for years.

Yet a huge media storm was whipped up against Savile and other contemporary celebrities, some of whom were totally innocent, some not quite so. Some of whom were judged by today’s standards for what was common at the time. For my examples I cite a little folklore; In the 50’s 60’s and 70’s giving an attractive woman a pat on the bottom was considered cheeky or presumptuous, but not abusive. Unwanted attention usually received a well-deserved roundhouse slap. These were the social norms at that time. That being said, I’ve formed the opinion that showbiz careers and charitable work, reputation and legacies were and are being ‘thrown to the wolves’ to divert public attention away from real scandals. Likewise the suspiciously highly publicised 2013 raid on one time pop icon Cliff Richard. Interesting that Member of Parliament Keith Vaz, then Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, was later disgraced by a allegations concerning male prostitutes and drug abuse, was involved. Did I mention anything about smokescreens? Hmm. No wonder there are parliamentary party officers known as ‘Whips’.

Which is one of the reasons why I think the whole Savile affair had that stench of political and media prestidigitation about it. We the audience might catch a whiff of smoke, see subliminal flashes from concealed mirrors out of the corner of our eyes. However, like with a large scale stage illusion, the truth eludes us because our attention is deliberately directed elsewhere. On the other hand perhaps it’s possibly what the larger public really wants. A show. At a subconscious level perhaps the real unpleasantness of child molestation, the mundane, ugly little truth that most sexual abuse is too often committed by members of the child’s own family and close social circle is too hard to contemplate, so the candidate for the two minutes hate is served up instead of the real culprits, simply because they do not fit the currently accepted ‘normal’. Both Jimmy Savile and Cliff Richard are lifelong bachelors, and therefore an easy target. Because staying single all their lives can’t be normal, innit?

Now I would like to offer something of a personal anecdote here; I’m married to a truly great woman. Well I think so and anyone badmouthing Mrs S in my presence can go to hell, my rapidly approaching knuckles that may also instantly accompany my disapproval may be thought of as a free of charge customer disincentive. Now I came relatively late to the joys of marriage, partly because I grew up fairly socially isolated and in my late teens and early twenties drifted into gang culture and went off the rails a bit. During that time I’d latched onto the idea that we were all going to be blown to hell anyway, so why bother with long term relationships? Hey, it was the time of the Cold War and Mutual Assured Destruction. Apathy was acceptable, okay? I also got rebuffed a few times in my teens and that also put me off relationships for a long while. If my wife hadn’t been so determined to bag me (Still don’t understand why), I would probably have remained, like Jimmy Savile and Cliff Richard, a lifelong bachelor. An object of suspicion and vile, small minded gossip despite being a rather averagely dull old frustrated heterosexual. Ibunt per gratiam Dei (There by the grace of God go I).

Another anecdote pops up from the deep storage of boy / young adulthood memory. Where I grew up there were a number of middle aged and elderly men and women who never married. All of them nominally heterosexual, just unable to form and maintain long term relationships for whatever reason. Nothing unusual. Quite average for a rural English village and environs. If memory serves correctly, I recall one fifty year old guy still bearing a torch for a childhood sweetheart who died in a car crash when he was twenty. Another sixtyish man who never got over his girlfriend going off with another guy. Another fiftysomething who was an estate worker who lived for and with his dogs and little else. Two brothers who lived out in the boonies with their parents and single older sister who never socialised. Several other fellow bar flies who liked their booze a little too much. A couple of ex-soldiers (One a full Colonel, the other a Sergeant) who never tied the knot but had long term girlfriends (The Colonel was actively shagging his ‘Housekeeper’ until six months before he died). A number of elderly women whose boyfriends had gone to war and never returned. Even one old lady who claimed to have been part of the SOE back in the 1940’s and lost her boyfriend during operations. Sad? Yes. Tragic even, but there are so many lives like this in the real world, and my own experience is that the majority of long-term unmarried people aren’t perverts, no matter what the perennially small minded might (and often do) think. I’d also like to point out that being in a long term formal relationship does not preclude all else. If it did there would be no divorces, no adultery. As for couples not being prone to perversion and murder; Fred and Rosemary West, anyone? Ian Brady and Myra Hindley? Bonnie and Clyde? The Starkweather homicides? Bernardo and Homulka? Fernandez and Beck? The Carsons? Coleman and Brown? Never mind all the accomplices who never killed or abused but were what might be called ‘enablers’. There’s a few others too. Just saying. There is no hard and fast rule that can be applied.

As an afterthought, the official UK statistics for child sex abuse can be found for up until 2010 on pages 43, 66 and 67 of this UK Home Office report. However, this report has been castigated for missing the many hidden victims of child sex abuse. The UK Children’s Commissioner has a number of reports indicating that the number of abused is much higher.

My one closing thought about the Savile saga is that there might indeed have been ‘no smoke without fire’ but were we ever sure where all the smoke was coming from?

Gifts that keep on giving

Pre festive amusement dropped into my inbox this morning about one of those products radical Vegans favour. Specifically an unfortunate effect of a product called ‘SoyLent‘, which those fans of Harry Harrisons 1966 novel ‘Make room, make room‘ will understand. The movie of the book made in 1973, brought the quote “Soylent green is made of people!” from the lips of Charlton Heston. (See YouTube clip below)

Apparently the artificial foodstuff concerned has an occasional side effect usually attributed to food poisoning. Specifically, if I may permitted the circumlocution and in the crudest of parlance, it sometimes causes ‘pebbledashing’, and if you don’t know what that unfortunate condition is, ask a grown up. No, it’s nothing to do with an architectural finish. I don’t want to paint pictures here. Although some avante-garde artists occasionally do. And make sculptures. I blame ‘care in the community‘.

Whilst veganism is a lifestyle choice, I’d argue that perhaps those radical adherents would be best minding their own business and stop trying to foist the unwanted on the unwilling portion of the populace. Like with promoting ‘foods’ predominantly made of Algae or Insect protein. Those are for dire emergency and short duration only, not as a staple part of the diet. As for ‘Food, intelligently designed’ like on the strapline of Soylent’s website, sorry, that description is misleading; it should read ‘Food substitute designed by the ideologically deranged’. Food isn’t something that should be ‘engineered’, that’s just pretentious bollocks for the gullible. Food is something that should be cooked with care and consumed with pleasure. This is one of the core values of having a life, all else is mere joyless existence.

Hi-ho, off to tag along while the girls go shopping… Think I’ll take a book.

Gang aft agley

The major problem with big institutions is that when they fail, they go tits up big time. Usually over something fairly petty. So it is with the current wave of strikes fucking up the UK. Southern Rail are a case in point. There is currently a dispute between Conductors, Drivers and Management over demarcation, specifically who closes the doors on Southern rail trains. Go figure. The Guards / Conductors claim it’s a safety issue. As do the Drivers. As for demarcation, I thought the UK had left that kind of silly crap behind in the 70’s and early 80’s.

Then there’s threatened strike action by postal workers, Airline cabin crew, Pilots, baggage handlers and even Weetabix production staff (Does anyone still eat that shite?). Right at the busiest time of the year. Although Weetabix is no biggie, the rest will interfere with a lot of people’s travel plans.

Now I’ve never been on strike. Not once. I’ve walked a few times when I felt a job wasn’t worth the candle, but never actually struck. I’ve been on rest days when strikes have been called, but never actually gone on a picket line or been a part of any industrial action. I’ve been on the receiving end of a strike many times, which is a given if you’ve ever lived in the UK, but never actually reciprocated. Funny that. I’ve even crossed a few picket lines in my time. No fuss, no bother, just looked straight ahead and kept on walking. I think some twat tried to spit on me once. Saw it coming and lengthened my stride at the last second. They missed. Another couple of times I just rode my motorcycle straight on through. Strikers may call you ‘scab’ or ‘blackleg’, but I’m no-one’s ‘brother’ and think striking never solved anything. If I don’t like a job I’ll move on. In my eyes, strikes are the last (and often the first) resort of the incompetent negotiator. Why? Because they’re a lose-lose scenario. Political strikes doubly so. The workers never get what the Union says they want, nor do the managers, and the company they work for loses business because people go and buy their goods elsewhere so jobs are lost anyway. A strike is always a Pyrrhic victory. Quod erat demonstrandum. Rinse, repeat. Ad nauseum. Fuckwits.

Well, let me tell you it was a bloody mission last night. Youngest had planned to catch the train out of London to catch her rebooked flight. The strike by the Southern Rail Conductors / Guards pretty much screwed up her timetable and we’re still not sure if she made her flight, despite rousting her out of bed at 6am (10pm our time) and telling her to get moving. We even hired a taxi for her with Eldest organising a London based private hire car for yer younger sister all the way from the fabled land of Oz. We stumped up around a hundred quid for the extra journey via e-transfer from our UK accounts, on top of the cost of the airline ticket she lost after the problem with her Canadian ETA visa. No refund from the airlines for that, the bastards. Which means that so far it’s cost us about a grand (GBP not dollars) extra to sort that out. Then there’s the extra ferry costs, there’s another two hundred dollars (around a hundred and twenty GBP) we won’t see again. We may even end up waiting forlornly at Vancouver Airport for someone who isn’t going to be with us for Christmas.

All over who gets to open and close train doors. Jesus H fucking Christ on a bike. Never mind about automated cars, a far more practical use of the technology would be to fully automate the UK local rail network.

Update: Happy ending. Youngest is currently sleeping off her jet lag in the second bedroom bless her cotton socks. She got to the airport a little late, and there were a few humps and bumps along the way, but to misquote Shakespeare; “Turned out nice again, in’t it?” She wants some slippers for Christmas. We can do that.

Delays and general shizzle

I’m an early riser, and tend to do most of my business between 6 and 11am Pacific Standard Time. Simply because I’m currently dealing with issues over in the UK and have to talk to people in real time rather than wait 24 hours for them to bother answering an email. So this morning I got a shock when I got an urgent message from Youngest saying that she wasn’t going to be allowed to board her flight to Canada in a couple of days.

The problem is her expired Canadian Permanent Residency. Apparently she still shows up as a Permanent Resident of Canada when applying for one of the new shiny e-visa’s or Electronic Travel Authorisations. Which I find rather strange. If your permanent residency is expired, then the whole ETA thing should be much easier, no? If you’ve ever been a Permanent Resident Canada Immigration already has your details on file, so any identity concerns can be easily dealt with. It’s a simple yes / no algorithm. Is Permanent residency still valid? If yes, no ETA required. If no, fee please and fill in the online form. Any security ‘red flags’? No? Cool. Again, fee and fill in the form please. Got immediate family in Canada? Hey, good to see you back. Fill in the ETA form like everyone else. Append ETA visa to passport records which are already online via Canada Immigrations secure internal services, job done. But no, that would be too smegging simple. She has to formally ‘renounce’ her permanent residency which can’t be processed at least until Monday morning, possibly Tuesday, then she has to apply for another ETA, and without one the airlines won’t let her board her flight to Canada.

Okay, this makes me think there’s some mooks promoted way above their pay grade deciding on these regulations because these new ETA rules are so bloody counter-intuitive. I know there’s security concerns over immigration, but does this help? No. In fact these new rules actively discriminate against people. Yes that’s right, discrimination. Which is supposed to be illegal or some shizzle like that here in Canada. I’ve lost track. Just mentioning discrimination might be breaking the law nowadays. I now neither know nor care. I’m a citizen and will fight for my rights as such.

Fortunately Youngest isn’t going to be stuck in airports for the next few days, but is quite upset about having to stay home when she should be winging her way to us for Christmas and New Year. Fortunately she has a lot of friends in London and a nice cosy flat to wait around in. Better that than hanging around the industrial bleakness of most big airports. Especially Heathrow. The family has rallied round with money for ticket changes, so we’re all good there. She has wine, pizza and friends. It could be a hell of a lot worse.

Hey, it’s an unnecessary delay, but I console myself that everyone is safe. We’ll see Youngest on Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. There’s nothing unfixable.

One other thing; CBC have gotten hold of my email address and are spamming me with fake news about Barack Obama telling everyone how the Russians stole the US presidential election. For which there is no real evidence. Check out Stephan Molyneux’s video of his findings at 3:00. Stuff it. I’ll try and unsubscribe from these unwanted CBC messages, and if there’s a little box plaintively asking why, I will simply tell them not to spam as I didn’t subscribe to their fucking service in the first place. How the hell they got my email is beyond me, because I never visit their web site or any of its affiliates. Don’t even get me started on ‘Fakebook‘ trying to tell everyone what is real news or not. When it comes to fake news, they are one of the worst offenders. May their share price plumb new depths. It’s just a paper stock based on nothing anyway. I wouldn’t put money into Social Media even if you had me at gunpoint. Because I think Facebook and the rest are crap investment prospects which don’t actually produce anything and sell your information to the highest bidder. My twice-killed-but-won’t-lie-down-account doesn’t get posted to, hasn’t been since 2011, so as far as advertising it concerned, it’s a dead loss. No-one reads it. It’s a zombie that won’t die until Fakebook does. Both stepdaughters and most of their real friends have stopped using Facebook too, and they were supposed to be part of the ‘Generation’.

Likewise I won’t trust Snopes any more, nor Politifact or any of the other so-called ‘impartial’ sites. Their brands are now polluted beyond usefulness by a demonstrated pro-globalist stance. Likewise Wikipedia isn’t to be trusted on anything mildly contentious. Hell, like with all the other big ‘news’ networks, if any of them tried to tell me the sky was blue I’d go to the front door and check for myself. The truth may be out there, but everyone has their own version of it.

Right, back to work then yet more bloody packing.

Update:  Joy unbridled.  Paperwork processed, ETA visa obtained.  Flight to be rebooked.  Anticipating having to zip over to Vancouver on Monday to pick Youngest up from airport.  Yay!

Oh yes, and a big THANK YOU to the front line troops at the Canadian High Commission for processing Youngest’s ETA request on a Saturday.  I’ll say this for the counter staff of Canadian Immigration, so long as they think you’re legal decent honest and truthful, they can move minor mountains quite quickly.    Even if the rules they have to implement are sometimes goofy.

Syria and Aleppo

Re: an exchange of comments over at White Sun of the Desert with the erudite Tim Newman. Tim wrote an excellent piece about Aleppo, Syria, with which I was broadly in agreement. Tim did take issue with my comment accusing ‘Western meddling’ of making things a whole lot worse, which I’m okay with. Because without reasoned disagreement all we’d have would be a pointless echo chamber. However, I’d like to lay out my reasons, in depth, for believing that Western interventions in the region are at least partly at fault, and that the mainstream press are only telling half the story, very badly. If not being highly economical with the truth. Watch this presentation to the UN from 9th December 2016 by independent Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett. Read her on the ground blog ‘In Gaza’ where she writes about her experiences in the Middle East here. Also the following Q & A session. Yes, it’s fifty two minutes long, but does make enlightening viewing. Food for thought.

Now I’d also like to post some other links to back up my assertions from the following links;

Proofs of ‘Western meddling’. Sorry they’re all secondary, but what isn’t on the Internet can’t be linked to.

Western Sanctions against Syria. From an independent perspective. And from the US Embassy in Damascus, with Canadian and European sources, just for balance (via the Intercept) the 2016 UN report ‘Humanitarian Impact of Syria-Related Unilateral Restrictive Measures‘. As the European link states, there are no UN sanctions against Syria.

Western involvement in the creation and sponsorship of Terrorist groups.  Not to mention the involvement of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan and a whole host of others.  Our hands are not clean, but the good news (for a given value of ‘good’) neither are anybody else’s.

These sources tell a very different story from much of the mainstream. Particularly the BBC and Grauniad. The Independent not so much, but don’t ask me about the Tellytubbygraph or the Times.  The tabloids coverage (Including the Mail and Express) won’t help anyone get an unbiased picture either.  They sell drama, not news.

An additional note; I’m no defender of Assad. He kicked this whole sorry mess off by sending in the tanks. However, from the above links it can be demonstrated that well intentioned meddling by Western nations has been at the source of the current refugee crisis currently swamping Europe, and to a lesser extent, the USA. It’s also behind a good many of the terrorist outrages. Without Western intervention, both covert and otherwise, I would argue that the current Syrian refugee crisis would be much smaller, and subsequent terrorist atrocities would have less motivation. If anyone asks me, I’m also pretty well convinced that a non-interventionist ‘containment’ strategy on our part would have resulted in far fewer civilian casualties. But no, US and therefore NATO foreign policy has been to stick their greasy spoon in and stir, at least since the 1970’s. The Foreign policy of the Neocons and Neoliberals (In real terms there’s barely a cigarette paper difference between them) brought us here.

This view is not drawn from ‘fake’ or manufactured news sites.  This is real, visceral from the ground floor stuff, with attribution. So although I haven’t had time to read all the links from everything in depth, I’m fairly confident most of the quoted sources are kosher.

In my defence I’d say there is only so much that can be covered in the relative brevity of a blog post, but to document the whole story is a decade long project, and one I’m not well qualified to write.  Although someone like Ms Bartlett might be.

Not that present or future politicians would ever read any such book of course.  That would be too much to ask.

Snow ho bloody ho

Just looked out of the kitchen window and it’s snowing for the second time in four days. WTF is going on? This is Victoria for heavens sake. It’s not supposed to snow in this part of BC. The road out front is pretty much clear, but as I don’t have to commute, that’s not much of a problem.

Still packing and wondering where the hell did I buy this? Every so often. And more to the point, why? As far as the festering season is concerned Mrs S and I will be on a pretty tight schedule, bouncing back up and down Island like we’re riding a Yo-yo on bad knicker elastic. Shopping is done. Cards sent. Presents bought. I think we may be ahead of the curve. However, it looks like a busy Yuletide.

One of the associated exercises to do with moving is that you have to run down the amount of stuff in the freezer. Which often gives up pleasant surprises, but also the occasional booby prize. Nice surprise of the day was a Liver and Bacon Stew, which will be served with mustard dumplings, a little mashed potato and cut green beans. Culinary disaster lurking at the back was my attempt to do something spicy with cauliflower that ended up having the effect of paint stripper on the palate. Well, we’re moving, so the cauliflower will join a couple of other pots in the recycle bin. Reminder to self, cayenne pepper has to be used very sparingly. Anyway, I’ll stick the recipe for mustard dumplings on the ‘Cooking for Conspiracy Theorists’ pages as it comes under the heading of tried and proven.

Sooo. What’s going on in the big wide world out there? Apart from the snow, which has now stopped after leaving an inch or so on the ground, further startling the locals, bringing the comment from some of the perpetually offended that the whiteness of snow is part of the ‘racist patriarchy’ (Derisive snort).

In the headlines the F-35A debacle took yet another blow in the shape of President-Elect Trumps disapproval which has made Lockheed-Martins share price nosedive. Frankly, I’m not surprised. The F-35A is five years overdue and counting. So why aren’t the orders being cancelled? Or doesn’t it count because it’s only taxpayers money? I think that the F-35A’s major problem is that it tries to be all things to all men and fails.

Then there’s the whole transgender fad sweeping through university campuses and educationalist circles. Oh well, it’s a fashion, and will die when the penny finally drops, along with the removal of funding for Gender Studies courses and various worthless NGO’s. Somehow I get the feeling that some very convincing schizophrenics are embedded within academia, at least judging from the flood of neologisms and other strangeness bubbling therefrom. Please note; Coining Neologisms is one of the symptoms of Hebephrenia, part of the grab bag of behaviours indicating disorganised schizophrenia. Inventing new ‘gender pronouns’ for the sake of it certainly raises psychiatric red flags about the mental stability of the inventors. Insisting that everybody else use them also has that certain ring of ‘the lunatics are running the asylum’. To which I would respond; “if only they could be persuaded to stay there and leave the rest of us alone.” (Heavy sigh)

Newsflash! (Or rather not) If anyone wants a decent job when graduating, a ‘Gender Studies’ (Or similar) degree is going to be worth less than used toilet paper. I’d also add that if anyone tries to address me as ‘Ze‘, there will be ructions. And vitriol. Possibly even legal action, because referring to people by the incorrect gender pronoun may soon be an official ‘Hate crime’ in Canada. Which is absurd. But then George Orwell distilled my thinking on this topic when writing his essay Notes on Nationalism (1945);

“One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.”

I know he was talking about academics voicing the belief that American troops had been brought to Europe not to fight the Germans but to crush an English revolution during the early to mid 1940’s. However, it’s a damn good quote and illustrates that even if someone can wallpaper their walls with University degrees, it does not automatically follow that they know everything about anything. Only that they know a lot about a little. A sentiment which was later echoed by Bertrand Russell in ‘My Philosophical Development‘ (1959) as “This is one of those views which are so absurd that only very learned men could possibly adopt them.”
Not: “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.” For heavens sake, if you’re going to quote someone, at least take ten minutes to check the bloody attribution. To find that the usually trustworthy Goodreads gets it badly wrong is somewhat galling and devalues their brand.

Anyway; back in the real world, the snow has stopped and the outlook is for five days of sunny but cold weather. Which means black ice and watching obvious newcomers slipping and sliding all over the place. To which I have been known to comment; “Welcome to Canada.” However, it’s all part of the learning curve of immigration and learning that what’s really great about this cold weather is being able to watch it from inside a nice warm living room. TTFN.

Apologies

It’s a wet wintry Saturday, and I’m fed up with the usual seasonal shopping. I make no apology for this. Two weeks to go before Christmas and I’m dreading it. Having outlined outlined my reasons several times before. It’s not that I’m a complete anti seasons greeting curmudgeon, just that I can’t really get behind the whole Secret Santa-Office party-you-vill-be-jolly-or-ve-vill-heff-you-disciplined-boi-cracky. If you didn’t quite understand that last phrase, just read it out aloud in a Herr Flick accent with the last two words in a yokelish drawl. Trust me, it will make perfect sense. Again, no apology should be implied or construed in any way shape or form. I’m not sorry and here’s the kicker; you can’t make me.

The only time I’ll apologise is if I’m proven wrong. In addition I won’t apologise if someone is ‘offended’ by the way I walk or talk, or mind my own damn business. Nor for being born into the skin I’m in, being an ‘unreconstructed male’, nor the years I’ve survived on this planet. I also won’t apologise for thinking Brexit, Trump’s election as US President and the impending implosion of the European Union are good things. For a given value of ‘good’. Nor do I apologise for my scepticism over man made climate change, or thinking Jimmy Savile might have actually been innocent, or that the lamestream media just makes shit up a lot of the time. Nor do I apologise for thinking that Justin Trudeau is promoted way above his pay grade or that bill C-16 outlawing ‘hate speech’ against transgenders is a truly, epically bad idea. It won’t stop them offing themselves. Nor do I think that the current increase of drug abuser deaths is a bad thing either. Think of it as evolution in action. I’m not unsympathetic, I just think we shouldn’t enable the worst excesses of being homeless, that’s all. There are better ways to help homeless people than simply chasing down the drug dealers. For this, I also make no apology.

Seriously, I’m rather overcome with apology fatigue. Fed up of having to apologise when the fault is not mine, or words are twisted by the unprincipled into something that was never intended. In short there’s far too much apologising, and not enough cheerful “Go fuck yourself.” Especially when the demands for apologies are almost invariably insincere and used as weapons to cow the strong into submission by noisy cry-bullies. Fuck them all, or rather not, the bastards would only breed, and there are far too many as it is.

Sod it. Time for pancakes and honey.

May, May not

Well, the snow is falling and there’s about four or five inches on the ground at the time of writing, with more prophesied before there’s a minor thaw on Saturday with a little more on Sunday night. Have taken the precaution of provisioning up just in case we get a power outage, although if it was going to happen we’d be shivering in the dark around about now. It may, it may not. Or as we say on Vancouver Island; if you don’t like the weather, go inside for an hour or so.

Overseas, I’m heartened by the news that Brexit negotiations are finally scheduled to start 31st March 2017. Not so amused by the passing of the new regulatory powers act which allows the security services to snoop unfettered and then lie under oath in English courts. Which can’t be good. Rather like one of those ‘Good news’ and the ‘bad news’ gags for the dear old UK. Which effectively means that you might as well have summary arrest and detention without any trial at all.

Sounds like no matter which way you turn, the powers that be want to increase state overreach both within and without the EU. Which is rather what Governments do; they’re just big make-work projects for the otherwise unemployable. On the one hand they’re invading and bombing other countries, on the other they’re restricting civil liberties because their vote buying actions have created a massive refugee crisis and attendant issues with terrorism. As an observation, I’m moved to consider that if western countries didn’t chuck resources at every Tomas, Ishmael and Ahmed that landed on their respective shores, the migrants would be more inclined to stay where they were and try and fix their own problems. It would also be a lot cheaper to help rebuild crisis torn countries from a foreign aid perspective.

Elsewhere I’m sad to hear about another one of my boyhood heroes dying, but John Glenn was 95, so he’d had a bloody good run at things. A full life, and still getting into Earth orbit in his eighties. So, no regrets, just a little sadness that we may not see his like again. Although this didn’t mean that some biased Newsweek ‘Journalist’ didn’t try to say that Glenn’s name was booed at a Trump rally. Which is kind of disgusting. What some people will try to make political capital of. It’s very sad.

Oh well, time to get moving, those Christmas cards won’t post themselves. Time to get suited and booted.

What is ‘fake’ news?

Taking a short break from packing to watch the snow and ice outside, its quite bright today after a day or so of snow, hail and sub zero temperatures so the view is quite picturesque with more of the white stuff to come possibly tonight and tomorrow. Today’s interest was piqued by the current row about so-called ‘fake’ news and I was moved to wonder what makes some news ‘fake’ and who can be trusted to tell stuff like it is without so much spin it makes you dizzy reading the news, online or off.

On careful reflection I’d say that there is a Pacific Ocean of fake out there, especially from the big news outlets, who have repeatedly diluted their product by for example, uncritically publishing activist press releases as factual. Something comes in via Reuters and many news outlets publish it almost verbatim with very little fact checking when even a simple Internet search would demolish the contents blandly formatted assertions. Indeed, a new verb has been invented – to Fisk, which is a line by line refutation, with citations, of any given news article. How Reuters select their content and where they source it is down to them, but it does devalue their usefulness as primary source material. Yes, Dorothy, there is fake news and it’s endemic to the mainstream media.

Let’s take as our example the stories surrounding the recent US Presidential election. While on the road across the USA earlier this year Mrs S and I visited 24 States in six weeks. In our ten thousand mile adventure we listened to the news, spoke to people and used our eyes and ears. We noted the visible support for each candidate in a wide variety of neighbourhoods. The most visible support in terms of lawn signs and window posters were for Bernie Saunders. Second place went to Donald Trump. Yet we saw none for Hilary Clinton. In ten thousand miles of travel, not one lawn sign or window poster. With only one recorded Clinton bumper sticker out of thousands for the other candidates. Yet who got most of the positive coverage? I have sat and watched the raw footage and livestreams of Trump and Clinton speeches (The sacrifices I make, eh?) then watched slack jawed as newsreaders on the BBC, France24 and CNN cover a related story then try to tell me that black is white and down is sideways. To which I would respond vehemently;

Now President-elect Donald J Trump has been repeatedly demonised by mainstream newsreaders and pundits for being ‘racist’, ‘mysoginist’ and just about every ‘ist’ and ‘ism’ including committing multiple instances of ‘hate speech’. Yet if you bother to watch his speeches; yes his campaign speech style has been bombastic and repetitious, but all he’s said has been a railing against the corruption in Washington DC (Drain the swamp), illegal immigration as opposed to legal immigration (Build the wall) and telling other countries to pay for their own defence. He also went out and got his hands dirty, even assisting with the loading and unloading of supplies during the 2016 Louisiana floods. Clinton’s speeches, though neatly spun and well written lacked power and carried the reek of continued Neocon interventionism that has turned most of the Middle East into a near perpetual war zone, and been the source of a refugee crisis which threatens to undermine the native culture of Europe. Her absence from crisis hit places (even for a cheap photo-op) in the US and her invisibility during the later weeks of her campaigns also spoke volumes. There has also been the big question mark over her health coupled with various scandals (Email, Haiti, Foreign Campaign Contributions) that dogged her campaign. Which most of the media and associated punditry seemed to ignore and even in some cases actively deny despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary from sources like Wikileaks, who have carried on despite a well funded smear campaign against Julian Assange. (Link to Podesta and DNC Emails here. No it’s not illegal to look at them)

I’d also like to point out that the mainstream news media (Including Fox) have indulged in what is known as ‘churnalism‘ for years. Which makes me think TV news media is little more than a game of Chinese Whispers. A process which can be defined by the acronym LILO (Lies in-Lies out). Because unless there’s some real investigation and fact checking going on at each level, what’s the bloody point? It seems from this bloggers perspective that all the main media outlets do is give you their dramatised opinion of events, not what actually happened. Unfortunately, because of modern media marketing practice, spin, half truths and outright lies have become the norm in modern editorial policy. Only challenged by some of those sites now branded ‘fake’. Does anyone else see the irony?

When I was growing up in the UK, it used to be that the more sober broadsheets could be trusted to a degree because they spent money on correspondents and freelancers out in the field. Also, anyone with an ounce of news-savvy in pre-Internet days used to read both the Telegraph and the Guardian in the UK, because the respective editorial policies were in direct opposition, and the half truths and spin could be winnowed out in a kind of contrast and compare exercise. Personally I still read the UK’s Financial Times because the real stories are all about where the money goes. The Pink sheets are still fairly trustworthy because if they get it wrong, the City of London doesn’t like it. As they say in less refined financial service circles; “Money talks, bullshit walks.” Even so, I’ve learned to treat their Op-eds with caution, and where something sounds a little off, gone fact checking all on my own. I’ve also developed a healthy caution regarding media cited ‘Experts’.

In the UK there used to be a body called the press complaints commission up until 2014 which dealt with complaints where a media outlet was thought to have harrassed, misrepresented, faked content or grossly distorted a given story. It has been superceded by another watchdog-like body, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, where reporting that harms people can be complained about here. The Media Council in Canada here. Australia here. And New Zealand here. For Europe generally, try here. The USA does not have such a body. All complaints have to be pursued separately by complainants via the court system.

Honestly? I don’t think there is any one definitive and completely trustworthy source of news. Looking for honest reportage nowadays is like prospecting for gold. Similarly, facts are rare and only found in small nuggets or grains, and you almost always have to go looking for it yourself. Or for a more scientific metaphor, you have to sift through a lot of Pitchblende to find a little Radium.

There are calls for some overarching authority to control the worst excesses of ‘fake’ news, not only in the mainstream, but also in the emergent media. Yet what paragons of even handedness are to be elevated to this positions of ultimate media arbitration? Do such people even exist? Who would appoint them and why? I would posit that the best solution lies with the feet on the street and that is to stop feeding the media beast. Unsubscribe, walk away, learn to research, and look after those closest to you. To get a little biblical (Psalm 146 Verse 5); Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. Or to put it another way;

And here’s Ezra Levant reporting on a classic example of the CBC and associated media fakery of a 3000 strong protest of unemployed Alberta Oil patch workers, small family farm owners and First Nations against the proposed Carbon Tax;

The media people referred to the protesters as ‘pigs’ and ‘deplorables’ just because of 20 second bit of crowd-mockery. At least those peaceful protesters now know whose side the CBC and like minded media is on, and it isn’t the side of the ordinary Canadian.