Category Archives: Law

A miscarriage of justice?

While Mrs S and I are enjoying the fruits and vines down here in the baking hot Sarf a France, relaxing in temperatures which occasionally top forty Celsius (In the low hundreds Fahrenheit), I see the powers that be in blighty have let a certain ‘far right activist‘ out of the jug. Personally I think the ‘far right’ tag is misleading, even libellous, as the gentleman in question has friends of all skin colours. Just because none of them belong to the religion of being blown to pieces doesn’t make him a Fascist either. If asked, I believe he would support Israels right to exist, so he’s not, to the best of my knowledge, an anti-Semite.

Unlike some mainstream political leaders. Yes Corbyn, we’re looking at you and your mates. Scratch a lefty, find a racist Jew-hater. Funny that, the extreme right and far left share so much. Especially their hatred of Jews. The Nazis hate Jews, Antifa and their far left cohorts hate Jews. You’d think they’d be the best of friends, being two sides of the same grubby political coin. Personally I actually like those of the Judaic faith. Who else could have come up the the gag;
Officious hotel manager: “Did sir take a bath?”
Jewish guest: “Why, is one missing?”
I miss Rabbi Blue and his often hilarious ‘Thought for the day’ on early morning UK radio.

No matter what you think about Tommy Robinson and his antics, two months in what was effectively solitary confinement was pretty rough justice. For contempt of court? Hells bells. Violent criminals often get less for rearranging other people’s faces.

For those who think he had it coming, try sitting alone, in isolation, for even one day. Imagine yourself in a locked room with no contact, little stimulation and constantly being told your family is under direct threat. That sort of thing can break a mind, which is why solitary is double punishment. Two months? Most people, even in University level studies, don’t last seven days without cracking up or exhibiting symptoms of psychological damage. Two months alone can open some very dark gateways in a man’s soul. For so little reason.

Watch Tommy’s behaviour during the interview. He’s twitchy, de-socialised. He cuts the interview short. Yet what did he do to be so mistreated? Vent his anger at what he sees as an oppressive presence? Protest at the mistreatment of others, which went on for so long as it did when the very institutions people rely upon to guarantee their safety turned a blind eye. For decades.

Then there’s the possibility that he may now have a valid claim for sizeable compensation which will end up costing the UK taxpayer a significant sum. Especially when the quashing of his sentence made it quite clear that precedent and Judges Rules has been at the very least, misapplied. Go on, look up the full judgement and read.

Now here’s where I’ll make a prediction. The Tommy Robinson saga is not over, not by a long chalk. There’s iron in that boys soul which is being forged into a dangerous steel which the UK’s Weimar government and perhaps the rest of the world, will regret. I wish it weren’t likely, but his unjust treatment has recently reduced those odds significantly.

But then, you can safely ignore the half witted prognostications of a tinfoil hatter like me, can’t you?

Update|  Sargons analysis of the judgement below.

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A must watch

Tinfoil hat alert. Related to the Tommy Robinson affair. Here’s something that should be watched in full because people get excised about ‘Moslem grooming gangs’, but there is possibly a greater problem as highlighted in the video by ex-Police officer John Wedger. If you believe him, the UK care system has been a tree laden with low hanging fruit for decades. Full of vulnerable children ripe for exploitation. As detailed in this case study article in the Guardian from 2009.

Or previously here;

My own first hand experience of the UK care system does not directly support John Wedger’s allegations, but, and this is a very big but, I do know that UK ‘care homes’ are far from airtight. Kids abscond all the time. It’s been a running joke since the 1970’s and before. That a proportion of these runaways are turned to drug dependency by the unscrupulous should come as no surprise. However the scale of the problem has grown out of all proportion. Add to that the bigger scandal that no one must say anything just in case it ‘offends’ a protected group.

Add to that assertion that care homes have long been known to feed the prison system. To quote the Prison Reform Trusts 2017 report (Bottom of page 12);

Fewer than 1% of all children in England are in care, but they make up nearly two-fifths of children in secure training centres (39%) and young offender institutions (37%).

Not only that but kids in the care system do go missing. They literally ‘fall through the cracks’. In 2016 for example, the figure of children who went missing was quoted as high as 140,000. Per year as recently as 2016. True, most of this number are found, they return home without fanfare or are located and no longer officially listed as missing, but some just vanish. Many of this number from care. Official figures can be found in the official 2015-6 National Crime Office missing persons report. Although the linked report does state that about 68% of people who go missing are never reported (Bottom of page 28).

Now this isn’t a given as some care homes have been better than others and small scale abuse has often been caught and dealt with. However, with the Rotherham and Telford cases now in the public domain, there is a strong growing suspicion of systemic collusion, either through fear of being labelled ‘racist’ or ‘islamaphobe’ or even leaving the now-convicted grooming gang members as a smokescreen for a more long running problem. And perhaps tossing the odd dead or retired celebrity out of the sleigh for the public to get angry about while a small but deeply ensconced network of well-heeled child abusers slips away behind a fog of outrage.

Which gives rise to the suspicion that Tommy Robinson got his punitive additional sentence because by focussing the searchlight of public attention on the grooming gangs, he posed an existential threat to a certain clique and their agents hiding (or with sources) within the very institutions meant to protect the vulnerable. Because perhaps these ‘elite abusers’ use very similar means to the grooming gangs to recruit their victims. If this were not the case, then why have whistleblowers so often come in for such hostility, often (If John is to be believed) from their own superiors?

As a theatrical character called Hamlet is wont to observe “Aye, and there’s the rub.”

Anyway, on the subject of Tommy himself here are his own words in a recent letter from prison.

This ain’t over. Not by a long chalk.

P.S. I now can confirm that twelve of my thirteen Lemon germinated tree seeds have poked their way above the soil and are producing leaves. I’m going to need exceptionally bigger pots.

We have germination

Three of my Lemon seeds have actually germinated and have sprouted little rootlets, with which I am quite delighted. My Avocado likewise looks promising with a couple of cracks beginning in the base as incipient roots start pushing their way out. Out on the deck, our Hybrid Tea rose has ten buds a-burgeoning and everything else is popping up like nobody’s business. I keep on walking into the kitchen to be greeted by Mrs S standing on the threshold, admiring the new growth. She hears me approach, turns and the smile on her face, as always, buoys my heart. “Looking good.” She says and I nod my agreement. By the time June arrives we should have a fine show of blossoms gracing our little deck garden.

Other new arrivals include a copy of the George Orwell Omnibus which does not contain all his novels, but which leaves only ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’, ‘Homage to Catalonia’ and ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ outstanding. When obtained, these will complete my hardback collection of Orwell’s works already sitting in our bookcases, including his ‘Lost writings’.

Something else of interest has popped up in the wake of reporting restrictions on the Tommy Robinson conviction being lifted. Allegedly, video footage has emerged of Geoffrey Marson QC (The Judge responsible for sentencing Robinson – a Blair era appointee) looking out of a window at Robinson’s arrest. Now if true, his presiding over Robinson’s case is in clear breach of accepted judicial practice, both of the 2013 Judicial guidelines and Bangalore principles governing a Judges behaviour. The rule is, so I am reliably informed, that a sitting Judge may not appear as witness or complainant in a case he is called to make judgement upon because then he cannot be impartial. Not sure of case law here, but if it can be shown that Geoffrey Marson QC sentenced Robinson shortly after witnessing the arrest, then said conviction could easily be ruled as ‘unsafe’ and immediately quashed. Also, if the Judge was the initial complainant who called, or directly caused the Police be called to arrest Robinson, the guidelines indicate that this particular Judge should have recused himself and asked a colleague to step in, rather than try the case for breach of the peace and pass sentence himself as he did. By doing so he’s left himself and the case wide open. Foot, bang, ouch!

While I’m not a fan of Robinson’s, I still have this old fashioned notion that the law is the law and in order to be effective, those responsible for upholding it must be held to the highest standards. Notwithstanding, also still think the thirteen months was a bit steep. Even if the guy is a bit of a one note symphony.

In most instances where the conditions of being bound over are breached (Even if it was a bit of a reach), the original sentence and only that imposed at the time should be applied and trial for additional offences should be dealt with later, not summarily. That and I don’t see what the Judge was hoping to achieve. At the time of Robinson’s arrest, the defendants in the case he was reporting on had already been found guilty and were going in for sentencing. So the claim that what Robinson was doing was prejudicial to the defendants’ case is a bit flimsy. So if the powers that be wanted all Robinson’s fuss to just go away, they’re sadly misguided. The best they can do is shunt him to a low security unit and quietly drop the extra ten months with time off for good behaviour.

Anyway, that’s all for the lawyers and politicians to sort out. I shall be watching from this side of the Pacific rim with great interest as events develop. Rather like our deck garden, things are germinating.

The theory of cock up; part 2

Watching events from this side of the pond, I’ve been inclined to do a little thinking about the path that has taken a certain right wing activist (unjustly) to jail for more time than if he’d committed a far more serious crime. To be fair, he’s skated close to the edge in the past, but by reacting the way they have, the powers that be have exacerbated a situation they created in the first place.

Cock-up and public sector cowardice created the UK’s current dilemma’s over the last two decades. Cock-up in thinking that legislation can enforce ‘fairness’ because one man’s (and woman’s, whatever) fairness can be another’s injustice, cowardice in not enforcing the law equally from the start. If the law had been properly and fairly enforced we would not be at the point of what is in effect a global gagging order being issued by a UK court and the subsequent public backlash.

My first reaction to the Judges decisions, both to jail the activist and to massively increase his sentence for what was a very minor infraction of bail conditions was a loud groan of “No, no, no! You’ll just make things worse!” Maybe said Judge was acting on his own instincts, maybe he’d received ‘guidance’ from the Home Office. Don’t know for sure, but it seems likely. What level that ‘guidance’ might have come from is moot. Certainly the politicians will be shouting at their functionaries things like; “Whatever possessed you to do such a thing! Now you’ve created a martyr!” To which the functionary (more likely functionaries) will point to guidelines established under a previous administration and trot out the old “But Ve vere only following orders.” Defence. Said guidelines were probably of the “For God’s sake don’t stir things up!” Variety. The idea being that by appeasing a certain religious community (Hem-hem, to use a Molesworthism) inter community violence, or the threat of it, due to a large influx of people (invited by the Blair, Brown, Cameron administrations and the EU) who have no intention of assimilating into British mainstream culture, would somehow magically go away. Sorry chaps, appeasement never works as a tool of public policy. I think the 1930’s proved that.

The above I know is pure conjecture on my part, but it does seem logically consistent with my own experience within UK local and national government institutions and how these things work. Anyway, Tommy should look on the bright side; his arrest made the front page of Drudge. See last nights screenshot below.

Now I also hear rumours that the UK has the Police literally arresting native British people on their own doorsteps for ‘hate speech’? Otherwise known as pointedly asking why a certain religious group gets preferential treatment? That is so going to end badly.

As a whimsical aside; are the days of thunderstorms England is likely to suffer until Wednesday God’s comment on the matter? Maybe the almighty is really a free speech activist too?

Gardening leave

Not much happening right now. Well not here, apart from an increase in personal gardening activity. A new Rose bush, Lilies, Honeysuckle, Junipers, Indonesian Lime, germinating Sweet peas and casting Nasturtiums hither and thither. I’m even having a go at germinating Avocado, Lemon and Orange seeds.

Anything really new? Well, Justin Trudeau is still the most cringeworthy Canadian Prime Minister ever. So no change there. Apparently that darling mop top is rather upset about all the mean (and well-deserved) comments coming his way. Although I’m sure some fuckwit might construe saying that as a ‘Hate Crime’. No idea why, but that’s their problem, not mine.

What else? We at Maison Sticker are keeping a weather eye on the Hawaiian situation. An explosive steam event is on the horizon, although how big that will be is anybody’s guess. Am checking in on the USGS pages for Kīlauea and half way listening for a far off low grumble that means Oahu has gone up in smoke and a big Tsunami is on its way. But that’s a few days away if it happens at all. Besides, even a ‘mega Tsunami’ caused by a massive Hawaiian land slip won’t touch us, we’re too high up and looking down on the rest of the neigbourhood (Damning the rest with faint praise and patronising the remainder.) Besides, the possible slip zone points are South and east of Oahu.  Meaning the focus of any Tsunami will be pointing right at Cali-forn-aye-a.  So much for beachfront property eh?

Liking what Sargon and friends are up to re free speech in the UK. I’m actually hoping that we’ve reached peak PC and some sort of grand ‘oops’ moment will cause various Governments to scale back on the current tidal wave of repressive legislation. Not that either the EU or the UK seem to be free of the insanity. The UK is considering jailing people for up to six years for ‘hate crime’. six years? You don’t get that for manslaughter FFS! (Current guidelines for an unlawful killing are 2-10 years) Saying something critical of the Religion of being blown to pieces can get you jail time? That is so coming back to bite the pollies who put and let these things stay on the statute books. Apart from being a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Which will create deeper and more permanent cultural divides. This is notwithstanding the EU’s latest directive on the topic. Dissent has, like in the old Soviet Union and other Communist and other extreme right and left regimes, become a crime, threatening to drive millions of otherwise moderate citizens right into the political arms of some destructive reboot of Fascism. Especially as voicing or publishing a dissenting point of view is now a ‘hate crime’. Unless, according to the latest proposed EU guidelines, you’re a service provider.

Wonder what happened to ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me‘? Gone the way of all flesh it seems. Every privileged minority seems determined to find something somewhere to get excited about. The rest of us look on at their antics with a certain astonishment. Especially when the perpetually offended get all vocal about a cause they aren’t directly affected by.

For my part I consider myself on unofficial gardening leave because work has tailed off and there’s bugger all to do apart from write and run errands. I’m still getting paid, so what the hell. Serves me right for being so efficient over the last few months.

After we get back from Europe in August, think I’ll join one of the local archery clubs so I can use their shooting range and get some new shafts made. Might be worthwhile keeping my eye in, just in case I get an invite to go bowhunting up country again. In the meantime, my roses are budding, Lilies trumpeting their heavy pollen to the skies and multiple seedlings straining to be set free from the confinement of the soil. Could be worse.

Non Disclosure

Currently the level of cock-up in my current contract has reduced as after four weeks certain people are starting to get the idea that they can’t just throw company money around any more without proper recording or authorisation. The folks who hired me are looking at their cashflow and marvelling at how many procedural holes it was leaking out of. They’d been relying on an old fashioned cheque book and Corporate credit card to pay the bills and always wondering why they were struggling to keep their fiscal heads above water. Now they know. All we have to do is tidy up the in-house documentation and that’s another contract done. Think I’ve broken the back of this job with under two weeks to go. Well done Bill. Providing my clients stick to the Inventory, Purchasing and Sales order procedures we’ve thrashed out and don’t slip back into the bad old ways, they’ll be fine. Why they didn’t do it that way from the off is a mystery. They had the accounting package, the computerisation, all the software licences set up, they just weren’t using them. Oh well, it all makes work for the working man to do. Another happy tick on the old CV and another non-disclosure clause. Which everyone signs, but so few pay attention to because we humans are such terrible gossips.

Regarding non disclosure agreements, as a follow on from a recent post I’ve been asking around my legal contacts about civil Non Disclosure Agreements, those tricksy little contract clauses forbidding a signatory to publicly or privately discuss matters they have been paid not to discuss with others. The consensus seems to be that such orders are no protection against a criminal court action. Only courts can issue what are effectively ‘gagging orders’ and those will only be effective within a specific court’s jurisdiction.

So say if you know your organisation is breaking the law and that criminal activity is reported to the relevant authorities, that non-disclosure clause in your contract can be worth less than used toilet paper. In the case of a criminal prosecution, individuals are not allowed to hide behind NDA’s if called as witnesses. Especially if someone is trying to cover up fraud, sexual assault or worse. Which means the civil penalties outlined in such agreements cannot be enforced in a court of law if they were designed to prevent witnesses and victims testifying. Not without a charge of perjury at any rate. This is my understanding of these matters, if it is flawed, then corrections (With citations) in the comments, please.

Now, onto the juicy stuff. The Weinstein scandal. Ooh yes matron. The dark and shady doings circling actress Rose McGowan’s possible testimony are interesting. A warrant was issued for her arrest because she left drug contaminated luggage, which may or may not have been McGowan’s own drugs, on a plane. Unfortunately for the prosecution, mere contamination means nothing. Bank notes contaminated with cocaine still circulate out of ATMs. Indeed, back in 2010, it was reported that most British Bank notes were so tainted. Which is a whole heap of nose candy in circulation if you ask me. According to Wikipedia, most bank notes are contaminated and such false positives have even led to unfair dismissal of employees following drug tests. So the contamination of items left on a plane is meaningless and won’t hold up in a reasonable court. For a possession charge to stick, more than just trace amounts have to be found and the chain of possession confirmed. Besides, in the current climate, there’s a reasonable suspicion of evidence tampering.

As for potential paedophile scandal star witness Corey Feldman’s marijuana charge, that wasn’t him, that was his crew. He just paid the fines. Which is average for any rock band on the road.
Storm meet teacup. Whether he can name the names and out his erstwhile abusers is another thing. That has yet to come into the open. Although it is public knowledge that Hollywood has been manipulating their pet media for over half a century and then some. Just watch the documentary below about just one of the notoriously Gay film stars of the 1920’s and 30’s. You heard that. Public Homosexuality in the 1920’s and 30’s? – abso-freaking-lutely.

1930’s scandals aside; the problem with all these scandals and allegations is summed up in one word; evidence. The courts can get very picky about that. Verifiable proof is required. Unless you’re hauled before the laughably titled Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Kangaroo Court of the Star Chamber more like. It’s no good just naming names, or going into “He said vs She said” territory, credible witnesses must be produced. Victims identified. Verifiable evidence confirmed. The chain of evidence has to be close to watertight or there’s no real hope of conviction. However, reputation damage is another thing.

Because Hollywood, as Kevin Spacey has recently found out, is a place where reputation is all. Reputation gets an actor their part in a movie, confidence from investors and Distributors funds Production companies, who fund movies. Tens of Millions can rest on a single word. Now that reputation lies in tatters. It was already under pressure after multiple box office flops, but now the money, the life blood for all creative endeavour is leaving. You might say that parts of Hollywood are bleeding out after being shot by moral outrage. And there lies the opportunity for more savvy small production companies to persuade distributors to fund and allow their creative products access to the wider US markets. Fresh new blood is needed to save Hollywood. New ideas backed by non politically strangled dialogue. Not the same shit different day. That and time to heal. Simply trying to paper over the gaping wounds with NDA’s won’t cut it.

On the other hand, the current feminist litany of complaint about ‘too many men’ either as actors, producers and writers has one major flaw; the market. Women can act, produce and write as well as any man, there is no question about that. Whether they can sell a heavily pro-feminist end product, or even if a mass market for such a product exists, is another question entirely. Wonder Woman worked, but only because of the strong female lead, long-established character and story. Which is interesting, as the comic books the character was culled from were written by a man, Dr. William Moulton Marston with an all male scriptwriting team on the movie. Hmm.

Yet women writers get rich from various projects. Margaret Mitchell wrote ‘Gone with the wind’. Harper Lee wrote ‘To kill a mockingbird’. J K Rowling isn’t exactly impecunious from the Harry Potter movies and associated merchandising to name but three. And there have been many others. Yet still the endless “It’s not fair we’re being repressed by horrible white men and their patriarchy!” Whining. Yet there are many successful female agents and one particular casting Director who works (Her name has slipped my mind for the moment) for Jerry Bruckheimer and gets credited in many major movies and TV series (Including Star Trek, the next Generation) from the last two decades. Don’t take my word for it. Watch the credits after a movie and look for specifically female names. There are more than you’d think, and they’ve all earned their stripes. Same as all the men.

This is because everything Hollywood puts out is driven by the market. Because if people like an idea they will go to see it, pay for their theatre tickets, buy the DVD’s and the movie or TV show will make lots of money, then the Producers and Distributors will be looking to fund another to make even more money. If an idea isn’t popular, then it will graunch and the likelihood is that particular writer or team will not make any more, regardless of sex. Simply because no one likes losing money. There’s no patriarchy involved. Just dollars.

The truth is that a big movie project takes years of concerted effort, even for established Writers, Directors and Producers. A hit is a hit is a hit, and it doesn’t matter if you’re whatever race or religion, male, female or one of the thirty or so recently invented ‘genders’ – if the idea isn’t a ‘sell’ the likelihood is that you won’t be asked to make another. Or even get in on the ground floor. If there’s a ground floor left when all the Weinsteins etc have finished coming home to roost.

Anyway, for me that’s rather academic. My path to the fabled land of Oz lies wide open. Australian dollars obtained. Ferry booked. Airport parking booked and paid for. Maple Leaf lounge (The VIP bit at YVR) booked and paid for. Tickets, visa’s and passports. Flights sorted. Hotels and cars all good to go. Friends and relatives eagerly awaiting our arrival. Christmas presents packed along with my best silk shirts and other lightweight clothes for those sultry climes. All we have to do is make sure the house is properly cleaned and shut down for our return in January.

Not much else for me to do but practice saying “G’day.”

Update: Sorry about the cookery video instead of the documentary I mentioned. Situation remedied. No idea how that one happened.

Amo amas amat it again

Sorry about the old Latin gag as a headline, but yes, they’re all at it. Now the UK Labour party rediscovers it’s inner sex beast (Post-Prescott) and all the puritans are kicking down the doors just in case anyone should be having any fun whatsoever. Whilst those of us in the crowd behind them are quietly chortling at the hypocrisy. From all sides.

As any Victorian-era (Or Greek, Roman, whatever) pleb could tell you, there’s nothing quite like a good political sex scandal or public execution to lighten the working week. Just to know there’s some other poor bugger getting it in the neck for their transgressions and not you. This is a universal constant in all human activity because at the core all humans know they are randy, venal, lazy, self centred little opportunists and xenophobes. On a sliding scale. Which, I might add, are excellent survival traits and nothing to be ashamed of. All else, I would argue, is a cultural veneer. The gilding of humanities base metal. A trick of insight. Gosh is that my cynicism again? Shirley Knott. Wondered where I’d put it.

For example; Someone might think they’re a ‘nice’ person, second only to St Francis of Assisi but really they’re not. The ‘niceness’ always has a few holes through which the corrosive core of their real selves may be glimpsed, and morality is a malleable concept anyway. Wanton nethers know no conscience, no matter who you are. Ergo Gods have feet of clay. Heroes are flawed. Politicians are corrupted. Saints are made of plaster. So why does everyone act so surprised when these scandals come to light?

So where is this moral ambiguity most visible? One could point to many occurrences. Twatter ‘hate mobs’ for example, who in their desperation to prove what ‘good’ people they are (Sorry, can’t help laughing at that) by going after people they disapprove of, or who have the guts to call a spade a wood handled digging implement.  With the result that these mobs try to strip the object of their disapproval of their normal societal protections and ruin lives in the process. Could that be called ‘good’ or ‘moral’? Of course not. Self-righteousness is never good. Except of course to those who indulge in it. I see it as just another form of bloodless Fox Hunt. The hate mobs sharing that vicarious thrill of chasing down and destroying something which is not them. They’re not guilty of course. No matter how many lives they ruin, or how many people they force out of employment just because they disagree with the mob.

In that vein, the Weinstein Hollywood sex scandal (and others), whilst not much of a surprise, continue to unravel as layers of Non disclosure agreements start to crack. People who agreed to keep their mouths shut for a large sum of money over the years are now looking at their Non Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) and thinking “How can a Non disclosure agreement be legal if it covers up a crime?” Which is an excellent question, and one I and many others would like to see answered. If a murderer got his victims family to sign on the dotted to say nothing after one of their own had been killed, I’m sure that if it ever came to light the courts would not find in favour of the transgressor, or would they? Same for rape, or fraud, or anything else which the law says is wrong. Surely such gagging orders verge on legal malpractice?

As far as I’m aware, NDA’s are business contract clauses meant to protect business information, like recipe’s, processes and patents. Their use as ‘gagging’ orders, particularly to protect wrongdoing, either in commercial or personal affairs, is from what I’ve been able to ascertain, a very grey area of the law. I’ve even gone so far as to put the question to our families legal eagle. She deals with NDA’s all the time and will be able to give me a more informed legal opinion.

All the above notwithstanding, today’s tasks are tidying up the last details of our trip to the fabled land of Oz this Christmas. Yes, and as you can see in the picture, my tomato plants are doing very nicely thank you. After we get back from Oz in mid January I’m thinking of starting an indoor Herb garden to add to my perennials outdoors. Dill, Basil, Oregano, that sort of thing. In the meantime I can be easily located by following the peals of merry laughter as the mighty tumble. Sterling is regaining value too. So for the moment we’re all smiles here at Maison Sticker.

There’ll be tears before bedtime

Road trip is booked, planned and good to go. Trans Canada all the way out to Newfoundland & Labrador and back. Hotels, gas stations, mileage are all plotted and sorted. We’re taking the northern route out and the quickest way back via Highway One. About the only provinces we’ll miss en route will be Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

The one thing to sour the edge of this magnificent undertaking is the passing of the egregiously idiotic Bill C-16 giving what should be purely a civil matter over to criminal law.  Which means if you use the wrong pronoun to the wrong person you can go to jail. I watched Jordan Petersen give evidence to the Senate in the clip below and I’m inclined to agree with Dr Petersen’s gloomy prediction that this will not end well for transgenders.

The question the politicians overlook is this; if you run the risk of prison by offending someone by forgetting to use one of their alphabet soup pronouns, then will that encourage you to associate with them? Got it in one. It will have exactly the opposite effect to that intended. Transgenders and similar will find themselves even more marginalised as people will unconsciously avoid them even more. I’ve already heard of teachers saying they’ll hang up their teaching tools for good this year over this issue. These are veterans of the chalkface you understand. Experts in bringing children from bottom of the class to the top percentile. The cream of the profession. Now faced with this catch-22 of a bill, I can see other child care and social work professionals doing likewise. To the very detriment of the people they would normally help.

Likewise anyone with eccentric hairdo’s or any of the other indicators of such a lifestyle will be getting nothing from me but a cursory look and a long, deep silence. Because you can’t prosecute someone for something they won’t say. On the grounds that I might find myself prosecuted if I unconsciously offend the offence seeker in any given instance. So if you’ll forgive me I’ll be giving the high shoulder in future to those with blue, green or any unnatural hair rinse, or any of the other indicators that denote one of the newly privileged few. This is entirely understandable because I, like so many other Canadians, will be doing so in case we give some undefined kind of offence and run the risk of arrest.

Second thought: What this means is that I will be taking my money to businesses who do not attract such people. Again. It’s not because I dislike them in any way, although the one’s I have met haven’t really impressed me. It’s simply that now the threat of fine or imprisonment has been added to what should be a purely civil matter, I’ll be taking my custom elsewhere. This isn’t hate speech, it’s simply me protecting myself.

Sincerely,

His high Kekness Bill Sticker. God-Emperor of the known Multiverse, (Oi Vey for short)
FYI: The correct form of address is to Kowtow (meaning 2) three times before giving yourself a wedgie and kissing the ground under my feet. Get that wrong and you’ll be nicked chummy. Sauce for the goose etc.

The law of unforeseen consequences

The law of unforeseen consequences is one of those universal concepts operating independently of any human intervention. Like Energy (e)=mass (m) times the speed of light (c) squared or the Laws of Thermodynamics (Simplified definition here) or Kirchoffs laws. Or Newtons laws of motion.

Now you don’t have to be a genius to understand the above concepts. They’re all soundly researched and tested. Solid High School level science. However, the one that is almost always ignored is the Universal law of unforeseen consequences. A law recognised (although under different names) by such intellects as Adam Smith’s Invisible hand, John Locke when he railed against the perverse unanticipated effects of legislation and Frederick Bastiat’s What is seen and unseen. And of course the modern definition from the work of Robert K Merton.

So it is with the current furore about ‘Fake news’. The key questions are: who defines what is ‘Fake’? The Germans? The UN? Google? What criteria apply? If factually true is answer, then most mainstream offerings will have a big FAIL stamped on them. Especially the Op-eds that masquerade as ‘news’. Particularly ‘news’ items proven to distort and misrepresent events to fit in with a particular world view. Like a dozen protesters made to look like hundreds, crises over-dramatised, innocent people subject to witch hunts, and half truths presented as fact.

The amused thought occurs that perhaps the tactics of censorship could be turned against those who militate for it. Specifically making official complaint about various ‘news’ organisations and using their state-sponsored laws against them. An FOIA here, a little research, a quick Fisk and watch the censorious monster crumble to dust in the light of dawn. Stuff a lot of bloggers have been doing for years. I think a few of Germany’s proposed fifty million Euro fines would soon empty, say CNN’s coffers, right into the hands of lawyers and legislators. Indeed, even official sources might find themselves wrapped up in a Gordian knot of their own legislation. All it will require is a little due diligence on the part of the bloggers. Which means a lot of arse covering, but serious bloggers tend to fact check a lot more than their mainstream counterparts. Indeed, it’s all part of many bloggers raison d’etre. As for the ones who just make shit up like those who claim the Moon landings were a hoax, well, open your wallets boys and say “Help yourself”.

So, let the battle of ‘Fake News’ move into a hotter phase. What larks, eh?

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness

Or so goes the old saying. First coined by Amnesty International Founder Peter Benenson. If you want to get all biblical about it, there’s always Romans 13:11 “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”

In this CCTV, Internet and phone surveillance daze, has the first sign that the ‘security’ pendulum is stuttering, and at last beginning the long slow swing away from total surveillance? Which was an impossible dream anyway. With the amount of digital traffic out there, even the most heavy duty filters would be hard pushed to track down bad guys as quickly as in a TV cop show.

Are we seeing a new, predawn light? Who knows? Even though the US Congress has passed the US Freedom Act by a landslide, legislation designed to curb the worst excesses of the notorious Patriot Act. Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. Providing that the Senate don’t trash it and the Golf pro currently occupying the US Presidents chair doesn’t veto it on the grounds of ‘National Security’, even though the sponsors of the original, and notorious Patriot act have admitted publicly that mass metadata collection is of little use against terrorism.

Wonder if it will catch on?

Probably not. It was a happy thought while it lasted.

Yes, I’m evil, so sue me….

Firstly a small declaration of interest; I am a landlord. An owner of property in the UK which is rented out to others. A ‘parasite’ in the words of those whose grasp of economics is considerably lower than that of a heavily sedated slug. A ‘blood sucking vampire’ whose untimely passing shall be rejoiced at by all the lefties doing X-talentless dance challenges on his grave. If they can drag themselves from in front of their taxpayer-subsidised video games to be bothered. Please be advised; dancing on my grave may prove difficult, as my will stipulates that my ashes be scattered outside territorial waters. But chaps, don’t let that stop you trying.

Okay, that’s that out of the way. I’m out of the closet. Yes I’m an evil landlord, so sue me (Good luck with that). Now to the meat of the subject. In the run up to the UK general election there’s a lot of talk about ‘Mansion’ taxes on wicked and predatory ‘buy to let’ landlords. As prophesied many times in this blog and elsewhere across various forums and comment threads of the jolly old Interweb, this is a mark of the mainstream politicians desperation. They’ve spent all your money, and your grandchildren’s money buying votes, now they’re coming for private property. The public cupboard is bare and the pollies* are desperate, and anyone with any assets at all (unless they can afford really good tax accountants) is in their short sighted target area.

The reason behind this post is me getting into a minor comment thread spat in the Tellytubbygraph with one of the ‘Entitled’**. In a mildly robust exchange of views I posed the question; Does anyone remember the late 1970’s and early 80’s before people could buy their council houses so readily?

I do. I have clear and vivid memories of vandalised and derelict council housing throughout the industrially declining UK West Midlands. Whole streets of them. Whole council estates even. A little like a genteel version of modern day Detroit. Post WW2 semi-detached properties (for a North American equivalent – think ‘Duplex’) boarded up like wall eyed ghost towns. Broken side doors where unruly kids, copper thieves and the down and outs had broken in to leave devastation, illiterate graffiti, human faeces, decay and piles of syringes in their passing. In short, places where no one cared now made uninhabitable through lack of maintenance. There are still instances of houses, especially in Liverpool and similar, where whole streets are in this condition. And the equation is simple; Economic stagnation = few or no jobs = fewer people with less money = Lots of unwanted housing.

Throw left-wing, ideologically stifled bureaucracies into the mix and there you have it. ‘Managed decline’. The default position of big government. Empty houses in economically stagnant districts with no-one who can afford to live in or maintain the existing properties. Which might as well be bulldozed and the whole site left to turn into unproductive scrubland and swamp, thence woodland, followed in a century or two by the Greens favourite; ‘Ancient Forest’ full of Bambi and friends, but very few humans. Hooray! Or rather not. As a side note; putative Bambi’s should take note that ‘Ancient Forests’ are not full of pixies, elves, gnomes and pretty ickle flutterbies like in those cute animated Hollywood movies but rather home to Mr B B Wolf and friends, whose name for Bambi translates loosely as ‘Lunch’.

So what’s the answer? Government subsidies and plane loads of immigrants to provide a future tax base and spend their money on improving the housing stock? Which won’t do much good if said migrants don’t have the skills or motivation to build a better or economically active society. Or whose imported culture means they spend their disposable income on new religious buildings. Ending up dependent upon handouts from an ever more cash strapped country where the cupboard has been bare for quite some time. Because no-one is actually innovating, trading or making things. So more migrants will be needed. Who will bring their own baggage. And not much money. So the slow spiral of decline will continue. Until some far sighted politician (Unlikely to be elected, never happen) decides to take the wheels off said cycle, or the whole lot burns to the ground. BTW: The riot and burning strategy was tried in UK city centre riots of the early 1980’s (Which didn’t work – see the economic ‘broken window’ fallacy).

In these blighted areas, where councils can’t or won’t maintain and rent out the properties in question, the buy to let landlord becomes a tool of regeneration. They will put money into vital property maintenance and indulge in the necessary day to day negotiations and arguments with tenants. Where there is a market. It’s how we Evil Landlords make a living off our investment. If there are people with jobs and money, they need places to live. That is what we provide. A ready base of operations, especially for a highly mobile workforce.

To call someone who actually spends money on a building to make it fit for habitation a ‘parasite’ is rather ungracious to say the least. The tenants did not wish to invest time, effort, and twenty (possibly thirty!) years or so in their own bricks and mortar, but are happy for others to risk doing so, no problem. For property investment is a risk, one of the largest anyone will ever make. A hint about renting; treat it as a business arrangement, and all will be well. Mess things up then bleat like an entitled sheep about how ‘unfair’ it is that you have to actually pay for the roof over your head, then the Gods of decay and desolation will never be far from both your and your landlords door. I’ve heard it said that houses are not built as slums, they are made slums by the very people who live in and own them.

At this point I would like to introduce my reader to some useful Evil Landlord rules.

Rule 1: Never rent to male students, people on benefits or those with extensive skin art.
Rule 2: Insist on direct debit for rent. Avoid anyone who wants to pay by cheque or cash.
Rule 3: Never get involved in anything longer than a 6 month ‘Shorthold Assured‘ tenancy.
Rule 4: Keep in touch with your tenant on a monthly basis and make any non tenant incurred repairs promptly. Agree regular maintenance schedules in the tenancy agreement and stick to them.
Rule 5: Avoid entanglement with Social Services or any Local Authority body as much as possible.
Rule 6: Trust nobody and use lawyers.

Of all the above, please note that Rule 6 is the most important. Keep it brisk and businesslike. Anything else invites disaster.

*Pollies; Lamestream politician. So called because of their characteristic repetitive parrot like squawking.
** Entitled; someone who thinks they should be given a free ride off the backs of others, in short, a parasite.

Now, gods…….

Shakespeare had it; why bastard, wherefore base? Indeed. History is liberally seasoned with those of us of (Cough) uncertain (cough, cough) parentage who have made good against the odds. Some would even say that condition can act as a spur for success. As far as I’ve been concerned it’s always been used as a sideways ‘shut up or we’ll tell everyone, slaphead’ or ‘Bill, don’t embarass your poor old Mum’.

As an aside to that topic, today I have found myself dancing a careful conversational Gavotte with UK lawyers and tax advisers. Dipping my toes in turgid legal waters to map out a fiscal path from A to Z. Not that this is a Machiavellian ploy on my part to asset strip another family member, more a sidestep to avoid being asset stripped. Both by family and ultimately, HMRC. The closest metaphor I can come up with is it’s like tapdancing through a minefield wearing outsize divers boots. Every leaden step becomes future threatening. Every decision must be taken only after consulting at least three sources.

When I’ve told friends and acquaintances of my difficulties, it’s interesting how quickly the old chestnut ‘blood is thicker than water’ is trotted out. In other words “Oo, you can’t call him out as a lying, cheating whoreson ‘cos you share some familial DNA.” Sorry chums but that’s just emotional blackmail, in effect saying that you can’t claim your rightful and legal due because you might hurt someone’s feelings and they’ll never talk to you again? Hmm. Now there’s a fine howdy-do and no mistake. What do I choose? Modest wealth and security for myself and my little clan of wife and stepkids who I have come to love as dearly as life itself? Or do I let my originating family, with whom I have little real emotional attachment actively prevent me from managing my own assets and leave me with a massive UK tax bill? No contest really. Hell, I’ve even emigrated.

‘Coming out’ to being a public bastard rapidly opens your eyes to the faults of others, especially when you suspect they think you’re some kind of total eejit, simply through the lottery of birth. Particularly when you think they’re going to screw you over. It’s also amazing how complex apparently simple matters can become. Especially when there’s a glint of gold in the air. So here I am. Do I, in thinking that there are financial and legal shenanigans afoot, cry ‘havoc’ and let slip the dogs of law? Or do I continue to solicit, beg, cajole, play nice and gently persuade the offending party, who has so far ignored requests to deal with matters to my satisfaction?

There’s the rub. Now if the letters speed, and my intention thrive………..We shall see.

Where there’s a will……there’s a won’t

For anyone who has ever been a beneficiary in a will, or who expects to be, here is a cautionary tale.

Last year, as followers of this blog will be aware, my Mother died. Lost my dog on the same day, but well, that’s another hole in the heart. Now while my dog, being canine did not leave a will, Ma Sticker did, and a pretty penny it is too. Well it would be. If not for the Executor, my elder sibling. Who is being an idiot. And may be about to get a very nasty legal and fiscal shock. But first, let me fill you in on some family background.

Elder sibling and I share the same mother, but that is the total depth of our relationship. My mother married his father, according to family legend “Only because he had a car.” At least according to one of my cousins, who spent a gleeful hour at my mothers funeral letting cats out of bags, showing me a familial walk-in closet full of skeletons and reminding me that I am the family bastard. “But Bill, we thought you knew.” Was another family members semi shocked response to my statement of disbelief. Well kind of yes, and kind of no. Of course I was aware through a combination of guesswork, surmise and ‘why am I over six feet tall and built like a dray horse whilst everyone else struggles to get past a slender five feet eight’, but it’s a hell of a thing to get the news you’re a “Love child” straight from the horses mouth. Especially at your Mothers funeral. With all the gruesome details of how my mother was cheating on my brothers father, who did what, to whom and when. Cheers, cousin.

Well it’s true. I am the scion of an adulterous relationship. My biological parents were not married when I was conceived or born. I know this is no big deal any more, but autre temps, autre choses. It was back then. My only beef is that my parents, particularly Ma, continually bluffed and obfuscated on this topic while they were alive. Honesty on their part would have made my life so much more straightforward. Isn’t family guilt just wonderful dahleengs? There are so many things they should have done but didn’t because they thought they would get into trouble. Now belatedly I have to do the fixing myself. My birth certificate has to be changed for one. I’ve contacted the relevant court, and doing the changes means an expensive personal visit to the UK. Court fees and lawyers. Clucking bell.

What my parents’ misplaced guilt also resulted in is stuff like elder sibling going to private school and getting his university education fully funded while yours truly went to a bog standard comprehensive and a variety of technical colleges. He got the Gap year, I went straight to work at seventeen, all that jazz. Not that I resent these ‘advantages’ (if that’s what they are – I think they’ve narrowed his mind rather than broadening it, but that’s just me), it’s just that no-one seemed bothered to give me the choice when there was one. I was the one who took the beatings, both fathers not believing in sparing the rod. Such is life. You can play the ‘what if’ game until the cows come home but it won’t change anything. All you can do is not pass the bad shit on. There, having just talked to youngest via Skype, who is currently touring New Zealand, I think I may just have succeeded. So not all bad then.

So, that’s the background. I’m a genuine bastard son of a bitch, but you all knew that anyway, you cuddly little kittens you. Meanwhile, back on the subject. Legacies. Wills. Legal shizzle. Inheritances. Money. Moolah.

The good news is I stand to receive a goodly sum which will set me up for the rest of my days. If the Executor can get his act together. The bad news is, elder sibling is doing anything but. Getting anything out of the estate with him in the drivers seat is like pulling back molars with a set of nose hair tweezers. The will states the estate is an even split. No trusts, challenges or codicils. Probate was granted back in early October. All discoveries have been made and outstanding bills settled. No challenges, taxes paid, yet sibling wants to hang on to the major asset, which is a brace of rather pleasant little country cottages, officially valued at just shy of a very large sum indeed. He tells me he wants to ‘invest’ our inheritance jointly in those cottages and live off the rental income. I try to tell him they’re potential money pits which we should sell off, or we’ll end up losing money. I tell him I don’t want estate funds spent on them. I tell him he could make more money by selling up, splitting the estate and investing his share in more modern rental properties. Response? *crickets* La-la-la, he’s not listening. Even though he’s legally bound to execute the will and any losses he makes have to come out of his pockets, not the estate, for as long as he remains Executor. Which until the estate is fully paid out, he will remain. It’s not as though I’ve seen a penny so far, either. Despite there being significant liquid assets available ready for paying out.

As an aside; for those of you who need to make international currency transfers, here’s a piece of advice: don’t send it by cheque or in cash. Use a currency broker. Reason; you’ll get a much better rate of exchange from a broker than a bank, and they take care of all the money laundering restrictions. Broker transferred funds are available within 48hours, cheques take almost a month to clear. Canadian Banks also report cash transfers over $5000 direct to the tax man if they think the provenance of the source is a bit dodgy. They don’t like sterling cheques over CAD$5,000 either. Over a certain amount, cheques and money orders also get reported to the security services as possible terrorist activity. Believe it, the banks use special data mining applications to comply with these financial regulations. They can get fined millions if they don’t comply. RBS got caned a cool 5.6 million GBP a while back for not being careful enough. As did NatWest, Ulster Bank and Coutts. Oracle provide products for the very purpose of detecting money laundering. The only way round these restrictions is carrying large wodges of cash in your luggage, which is something the customs guys tend to frown upon.

Elder sibling does not ‘believe’ any of this. He refuses all my advice. I do not care. I just want him to execute the will and pay out my share of the estate a.s.a.p. before he manages to fritter half of it away. What he does with his own share is his business. Am I going to use my share of the money wisely? I think so, yes. I have an carefully selected Investment Fund Manager and Tax Accountant on standby. The additional question is, do I trust sibling? Well, funny you should ask that. No. His repeated failures to cough up and the way he is handling communication between us is ringing loud warning bells. I may have to lawyer up smartish. Which may prove expensive for both of us. Fortunately I have a top notch UK-qualified and based family lawyer waiting in the wings (Youngest). What I hope to gain, properly invested, will not only benefit me, but eventually our two reprobates and their families when it comes to check out time for Mrs S and I. As for who will get the job of Executor, well, it won’t be one of the beneficiaries. I’d rather pay a lawyer to do it.

You know, it’s at times like these I’m moved to reflect that I’ve never really had a close family and nowadays find myself wishing for even more distance. Maybe Canada was nowhere near far enough. The next galaxy, perchance?

Eff off

Bloggers now have to register with the electoral commission? What about bloggers outside the UK? Go forth and multiply. Fornicate in another locality. Arkell v. Pressdram. Zero compliance predicted.

Where there’s a Will

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

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

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

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

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

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