All posts by Bill Sticker

Expatriate observer of life in the UK and British Columbia, Canada. Politically slightly right of centre with a pro libertarian bias. Writes, publishes and now a lot more relaxed about life in general. Is keeping his British accent for tax purposes.

Another day

….another bomb on the London Tube. Woke up early to the news. First response is to try and raise Youngest on the blower, but she’s at work and not answering. I saw pictures of one woman with extensive burns to her legs being carted off to hospital, but I don’t think it was our girl. No deaths, so that’s a mercy. Doesn’t make you not worry though. You never really stop being a parent.

This is just five am me anyway. That part is and always has been an old worry guts. Although I’ve heard it said that pessimists get fewer nasty surprises, I’m not so much of a pessimist any more. More to lose.

My one hope is that they catch the amateur who made the device before they get better at it, and that said amateur learns the hard lesson of why they shouldn’t bend down to pick up the soap in the prison showers. Maybe we should be rethinking the prison system for terrorist offences. A secure basement somewhere soundproof where the guilty can be kept in solitary for up to thirty days at a time. No entertainments, no books, no conversation, just pictures of the casualties on a screen showing them the reality of what they did and who they hurt. If the injured or dead include those of their own belief system, so much the better. Shine a searchlight on their own petty hypocrisies and thus undermine them from within. Then before going back out to the general prison population for the rest of their sentence they get psychiatric treatment to ‘recover’ from the solitary. Prison on it’s own isn’t the answer.

As for the device, from what I’ve seen in the news it was a poorly made thing, as all the current bomb attacks seem to be, that blew off in a fireball rather than exploded. More incendiary than a proper bomb like the IRA used to salt around the place back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

Update: Youngest is fine. She was on an different train. A small part of me just came back to life.

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Who knew?

…I’m developing green fingers. Well at least as far as tomato seeds are concerned. Monday my little white bag of compost was sprouting eight distinct tiny tomato plants. Tuesday there are around thirty. The tripod widgets made out of bamboo kebab skewers are there to support and train the baby plants until they’re ready for potting out in around a weeks time.
Monday
Tuesday

Wednesday

What a difference two days make, eh? Think I’m going to need a much larger windowsill.

The weather generally has cooled down a fair bit from the 30+ sultriness August generally brings around here. Now we’re back in the low 20’s Celsius and far more comfortable. Lawns are greening again after a few showers last Saturday and no doubt we’ll be hearing the first lawnmowers for a while in a day or two. The wildfire smoke has blown away and Mrs S and I have taken to spending at least two hours out around sunset on the deck, just taking in the view and chilling before she goes indoors to watch some Netflix and I watch the stars come out.

Most people around here seem to close their doors after sunset, but where we are we have a nice little breeze that keeps most of the mossies and no-see-ums at bay. Mosquitoes and the like are weak fliers and a stiff breeze or even a fan will keep your hide untrammelled by their haematophagic attentions. They just can’t fly fast enough in the airflow of an electric fan. So, no bites apart from one who just had to give the back of my leg a nip last week. Normally they come after me like it’s a free bar. So I’m quite pleased and relatively lump free this season.

The outside world continues. The value of the pound to the Canadian Dollar continues to disappoint, but I’m leaving significant funds in sterling, understanding that when the dust settles over BREXIT, the UK economy is going to really take off. So I’m maintaining a positive view of old blighty’s future and treating the current fiscal erosion as a mere temporary inconvenience. The unemployment figures at least look good, with the undervalued pound giving exporters a boost. Juncker can say what he likes, so can the op-eds of the remoaners, but these are just hollow words. The EU needs a good boot up the arse to rescue it from falling into a slough of ideological despond. It has long needed a restructure away from making it easy for bureaucrats to ‘manage’ and back towards a vibrant trading bloc. In short, it has to evolve or die. Either will suit me.

The current culture war doesn’t need my input either. Apart from pointing out, yet again, that you can’t change minds by kicking someone’s teeth in. I’ve seen it tried and it never works for long. As for the violent antics of the far left, do they not see that they’re pushing even moderate centrists straight into the arms of the real fascists? Talk about a bunch of room temperature IQ’s. But that’s Socialists for you.

At least my tomato plants are doing well.

And now for something..

…completely mundane. We’ve been nursing our Deer Decimated pot plants back to health, and I am happy to report that our Geraniums and Fuchsias are well on their way to a full recovery. Indeed, here they are. Along with the small herb garden I started a few days ago. Nothing exotic, just some culinary basics and perennials that will survive BC conditions the year round. Sage, Dill, Rosemary, Lavender and a variegated leaf thing that Mrs S liked. You might notice a little white bag at the far right of the picture which is currently sprouting a number of tiny tomato plants. There’s a Basil pot in the kitchen, so during the Winter months I will be potting the resulting tomatoes out so we can enjoy my home made Tomato and Basil soup recipe (To go on the sidebar when I can be bothered to write it up) made from the fruit. No idea where I’ll leave the plants out. Maybe in our West facing kitchen window.

Yes I know tomatoes are from the poisonous Nightshade family of plants, but seeing as you’d have to subsist off the damn things to see any long-term ill-effects, it won’t stop me cropping and cooking them. Just hope I’ve got enough space in the freezer for all the Pasta Sauce I’ll be making.

So, what’s the news from chez Sticker? Well not that much actually. Saw Wind River on Friday. A thought provoking drama which touches on the sensitivities of First Nations North Americans and the scandal of missing young women. Jeremy Renner puts in a workmanlike performance as the Cowboy hunter and Fish & Game officer and there’s just enough detail to give an insight into how the reservation system both protects and harms the indigenous tribal peoples of North America. Worth a view.

Well, travel news. We’re off to see the Ozzard, the wonderful Ozzard of Whiz. Australia is the next venue for the grand touring ambitions of the Sticker family. Sydney and the Blue Mountains first while we get over the jet lag. Then up to Queensland to visit family for Crimbo, thence off to Melbourne for New Year before a small road trip back to Sydney to be packed onto the flight by Eldest in January. Flights are booked and paid for. Which is why I had to walk away from the motorcycle thing. It boiled down to an either / or. Couldn’t afford both. Family takes precedence.

Sorry to hear about the bit of inclement weather the Texans are suffering with. There are the usual voices trying to make political capital out of it, but by contrast there’s the heroism of the ‘Cajun Navy’ turning out to help the afflicted. However, I’ve seen how quickly Houston’s streets drain, so knowing the Texans it’ll be business as usual ten minutes after the Hurricane has gone. One can only wish them well.

Ello, ello, ello

What’s all this then? Heading back from a meeting with our accountants this afternoon we noticed that our local RCMP detachment were pulling over all the motorcyclists, presumably to give them a free lecture over how dangerous these consarned two wheeled contraptions are, and presumably a check of dodgy registrations or out of date insurance. No, they weren’t looking for specific machines, they were stopping every type of motorcycle, from cruiser to sports tourer and off road machines. Couldn’t find any announcements about it in the local press or on the RCMP website.

There’s been a lot of this recently. Locally we’ve seen motorcycles parked at the side of the road just off the hard shoulder over the last week. We watched an Asian lad get pulled two days ago on the Sooke road. Not speeding, not driving dangerously, but he still got stopped by the Police.

I remember back in the day mates of mine often used to get stopped a lot for a ‘tyre-kicking’ session by the local law looking for possible drunk driving, stolen machines, out of date tax discs, no MOT, no licence, faulty lights etc. Usual schtick. But none of us greasy looking good-for-nothings would ever be as half witted as to take photographs of ourselves actually breaking the law like some idiots do on YouTube. Honestly officer.

What are the local law up to?

On the other hand I’ve seen a lot of ‘European’ style riding, cutting in and out of traffic, filtering and white line dancing by some guys, so maybe the local RCMP are having a little crackdown. I won’t be riding until next week, so maybe the cops will have tired of pulling over bikers by then. We’ll see.

Update: My bike deal just fell through, so no riding this year and no likelihood of being pulled by the local law. Swings meet roundabouts. Bugger.

Apples and Rosemary

Yesterday Mrs S and I went to see Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’. A very powerful film. One for the video collection. Also today our landlord, a man with an accent more English than my own, gave us half a dozen apples and some sprigs of fresh Rosemary. For which I have duly thanked him. Both the gift and Mr Nolan’s rendition of the story of Dunkirk have touched something at my core; tweaked a nerve of a collective subconscious I’d only been hazily aware of, but has roots wrapped deep around my heart.

As an archer, and an English one at that, I grew up with a particular mythology, a semi conscious stream of stories that plugged deep into my own self image. From the medieval fictions of Arthur and Robin Hood through their semi-legendary counterparts of Adam Bell, William of Cloudesley and Clym of the Clough to the half starved and dysentery-stricken remnants of Henry V’s army at Agincourt who defeated a better equipped and numerically superior force.

Dunkirk is part of that mythology. Of the outnumbered underdog being soundly whipped but refusing to be beaten by a tactically, technologically and numerically superior enemy. Of costly retreats and last stands now only thought legend by those who live today. This is the tradition of my youth and part of that which makes me, and I suspect a good number of my fellow expatriates and Scriblerus contemporaries, tick. That never-say-die bone headed refusal to lay down and surrender to the forces of darkness and conformity. It is with pride that I account myself one of that mongrel breed, of Irish, Welsh and various other northern European parentages that dares to flout the so-called ‘moral authority’ of rule by an unaccountable elite.

No matter that we Northern Europeans have fought with each other like cats in a sack for centuries, one thing has always characterised us. A sense of identity steeped in our legends, forged on the anvil of wars by the repeated hammer blows of injustice. An identity so strong that it might as well be made of Titanium Steel. This is what lies at the core of everyone whose genetic heritage marks them out with pale skin. The biggest, most Machiavellian sons of bitches out there have tried to make us knuckle under since before the Romans invaded and we’re still around. Maybe not the same, but stronger, tougher and despite outward appearances, indomitable to the core. Although I appreciate that there are exceptions. For every half dozen or so unconquerable heroes, there are four times that number of cowards, many of them the same individuals. Each with a need for their own space, their own independence which brooks no interference and detests officialdom. This is also the drive behind what brought the USA into existence and keeps memories of the confederacy alive.

The places and names are not important as such, only to the people that claim to call them home. I dare say the native tribes of Afghanistan feel the same way about their own homeland. It is theirs, and they will fight to the last to hold it close. No matter how many of them are killed. They have their own legends and mythologies, with bloody memories and heroes fresher than our own.

Such are the forces that drove the need for BREXIT and those that voted Trump into the White House. Nothing to do with racism, sexism or anything else but a dogged snarling refusal to give in against the awful blandness and subsumation of corporatist and collectivist dogma’s native to the bureaucrats of the EU and Washington DC. When push comes to shove, those born on the sceptic isle of my birth have been famous for their refusal to lie down and go quietly. Like many French, Germans, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Danes et al with whom we share similar cultural heritage.

Yet this is the attitude that has fought off totalitarianism time after time and obtained and destroyed empires in the process. The English and more generally the British are a people you can say what the hell you like to and not get much of a rise out of, yet just try to take their home from them, no matter how small, and you will have the fight of your life on your hands. You’ll find the same attitude common in many Dutch, French, Germans, Czechs, Austrians and just about any other nation that can stand on their own two hind legs.

This is why the forces of collectivism take issue with our myths and legends. In order to install their own utopias they must first destroy and discredit the pride of nations and the sense of belonging that being part of a nation bestows. Which means that they who would rule these utopias need to say, “Silly little people – what you believe in is not real, they are only stories for children. These things are not relevant and they are wrong. Now do what we tell you and we’ll have no more of this foolishness. Hand over the fruits of your labour so that we might live in the luxury we deserve.”

But Dunkirk is not a myth or legend, it was real. Nolan’s film only focused on small parts of the story, which are inaccurate in detail, but generally representative of what happened. What I do know for certain is that about 198,000 British, 140,000 French and Belgian troops were evacuated from that awful place. Many by the ‘Miracle of the little ships’, small seagoing cabin cruisers, trawlers and barges who ran the gauntlet of blitzkrieg to help their fellow countrymen. It was a tale well told.

The home grown apples we received were bred in English orchards. The heady scent of Rosemary tripping off a whole series of pleasant memories and associations somehow reconnecting with a certain sense of self and belonging. Including those tales I grew up with of Agincourt, Dunkirk and my fathers own stories about D-Day and the liberation of Europe. My mother never really spoke of her evacuation from France after being kicked out of Italy when Mussolini declared war, but from all accounts she was evacuated in the early stages of operation Aerial, the sister operation to Dynamo at Dunkirk. These are things I am certain of. The collectivists cannot take that from me. They might as well try to stop the world turning.

To conclude this ramble I’d say each person within a nation, or as Desmond Morris described it in The Human Zoo a ‘Super Tribe’ has it’s own mythology, threads that bind all members as a group. Decry that set of ideas and you become no longer part of that grouping. Cast out. Alone. Subject to the attractions of dangerous iconoclastic totalitarian cults like Fascism, Marxism or Socialism. Which were ironically the very political forces that brought Dunkirk about.

Anyone else see the irony?

Ouch

Our Interweb access has been playing up. Despite an upgrade to our service it was still running like a heavily sedated slug. The modem worked, the Router was fine but Internet searches and suchlike were just slow and running at least 35-40Mbps slower than the service we’re paying for. Any old road up, we made a call and the cable guy brought us a new and faster modem. We had a little informed chat since we speak the same language about signal and network interference, the upshot being that a new Router was required. And one of the local stores was having a Router and wi-fi sale. Aaaaand what’s that Sooty? Allo, Bill’s got a new Router? Channelling Alexi Sayle in his manic heyday. (See below)

We didn’t put on the optional go faster stripes as they would have clashed with the decor, but it’s still bloody quick. What we now have is a dual band Gigabit which is blisteringly fast compared with what we had. As an adjunct, I upped our security as well to prevent anyone logging on and piggybacking our service. No guest accounts for one. Might add two later on the 2.4Ghz band, but otherwise not.

Oh yes, and I also went out and bought a motorcycle, a 2002 BMW R1150RT, delivery next week. Hey, it’s a little old and cheap, but then so am I. Posting may become even more sparse as I spend more time on the road and less at my desk. A little rearrangement of the garage may be in order. Next years travel plans also include a biking road trip down the coast to Califor-ni-a and back. Just because.

On the topic of vehicles, one of the problems I hadn’t thought about pertaining to Vehicles part or wholly powered by electrickery was the weight of their battery packs and the various problems this induces. Tesla’s for example seem to be particularly prone to suspension failures because the weight of their battery packs adds inertia to the vehicle, so that when the ball joints are subject to the additional stresses of hard (Some reports indicate merely gentle) cornering or braking, or even in one case a (reported) minor kerb bump, the risk of losing a wheel or suspension due to mechanical failure is magnified many times.

In comparatively small production runs the number of fires and failures reported for this class of vehicle seem disproportionate to say the least when compared to the more mature technology of the Internal Combustion Engine. Yes, yes, we know about development cycles, but over a hundred years to get this far? Especially with the government subsidies thrown at them since the 1970’s.

We should also not need reminding that GM recalled all its Electric Vehicles back in 2003 and had them all crushed. That was over ten years ago. Also that the most recalled Electric Vehicle is the Ford Focus EV (Also for suspension and transmission related issues) with the Fiat 500 currently a close second. Not sure what the figures are for the Toyota Prius.

While the recorded high rate of suspension failures can be tied to the extra weight of an electric vehicle’s battery pack and insufficiently robust suspension design, the fire problem mainly boils down to Lithium-Ion batteries. It’s well known that high capacity Lithium-Ion can be a fire risk, even when not in use if a manufacturing fault or wear has, like with the notorious Galaxy Tab 7, left the batteries prone to overheating, and like we have seen in many instances, can catch fire and burn spectacularly. The reason behind this is found in a peculiarity of Lithium-Ion batteries when they are charged.

Normally the rate at which Lithium-Ion batteries charge is carefully limited so that the Lithium within each cell doesn’t move too quickly – which, incidentally, is why batteries take time to charge. If charging is too fast, lithium ‘plates’ the anode, creating a potential short circuit which can generate heat. That heat, if allowed to build up, will go into thermal runaway and ignite the flammable electrolyte, and hey presto! – a very hard to extinguish fire and headache for the local fire department. Also if the battery pack gets too hot for any other reason, the Lithium cobalt oxide releases oxygen at high temperatures and the resulting highly-exothermic reaction with organic compounds in the cell proceeds at high speed and can result in thermal run-away, and yes, the local fire department have to be called. Now amplify that with the many high capacity battery cells in an Electric Vehicles battery pack. Any collision that ruptures a cell or cells in the battery pack can also do this in very short order. The casing of the battery does not even have to be breached.

Then factor in the known degradation of Lithium-Ion and Lithium-Manganese (Which aren’t so prone to catching fire but have lower capacity and limited range) batteries over multiple fast recharge / discharge cycles. We’re all used to laptop, phone and tablet batteries ‘wearing out’ in 2-5 years of even moderate use. Now factor that known degradation rate into the hundreds of cells making up the battery pack of an Electric Vehicle. The cost of replacement still hovering around USD$15,000 for the Tesla, a little less for Lithium-Manganese (Currently over GBP£11,500 or CAD$19,000 for L-Ion). Every five years. Eight maybe, for a very lightly used vehicle. Maybe.

For an honest comparison, I’ve just totted up the service costs on our little 6 year old mid range SUV over the first 5 years of its life which came to a gnats under CAD$5,600 (About USD$4,400 or GBP£3,400 at the time of writing). Total mileage slightly under 110,000km or about 68,3500. This cost includes two replacement tyres and two brake discs, pads and piston assemblies. Two tyres because of a blowout deep in the heart of Texas and the brakes discs the year before because we left it too long between services and dust seized the braking pistons in the calipers. Virtuously we are now ahead of the maintenance schedule – just. Add in the replacement cost of one OEM windscreen at CAD$700 (All right, GBP£420 or USD$550) which our insurance company paid over a half of and we still haven’t come anywhere close to half the predicted on-cost of an Electric Vehicle. Never mind that an EV won’t make even a third of the mileage we’ve put on our little SUV within the same time frame.

Incidentally, Tesla’s are known to go through a set of tyres in as little as 12,000 miles (A shade under 20km) while we have two that are still in good order at 110,000km or 68,000 miles. As are other Electric Vehicles and Hybrids. So being kind, let the average life of an EV’s tyres be 30,000km (Around 19,000 miles). Now look at the tyre life 110,000km plus of a mid range SUV like ours and the replacement cost for two full sets of around CAD$1350 (inc tax) each. That’s another CAD$2700 on top of any other maintenance costs like routine brake inspections etc. The like for like expenses just don’t stack up.

No matter how often I look at them, Electric vehicles appear a fine idea with all the subsidies (All that taxpayer dollar to discount the purchase price – yummy) the problem lies within the execution of the concept. Batteries as a primary power supply create more problems than they solve because of the volatility issues, recharge times, lifespan and overall weight so there has to be an alternative power source before any arbitrary ban on ICE vehicles is imposed. Even when you’re only dealing with UK distances.

As for EV on-costs, ouch, that’s gonna hurt.

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.