Category Archives: Musings

On a jet plane

Well we’re back in soggy old Vancouver BC with our body clocks threatening to send their mainsprings twanging off into infinity. It’s a fourteen and a half hour flight from Sydney to Van, but what really catches you out is crossing the international date line. Now all of this shouldn’t have been so bad, we could have got some sleep on the flight but for two modern parents who didn’t have the skill to stop one little girl grizzling and crying very loudly for over twelve solid freaking yours. Wail, wah, moan, bitch went mommy and daddy’s little fucking princess. She was unhappy and everyone was catching a slice.

Personally I’d like to see a complete ban on children under ten years old on long haul aircraft. Especially if they haven’t been properly sedated first. Or fitted with some form of sound suppression.

Then there were the insomniacs in the row behind who chose to have a less than considerate conversation, along with lots of wriggling and thumping on my seat back as they played with their tray and in seat entertainment as they got up and down to continually visit the lavatory or stretch their legs. Should the tray be up? No I’ll put it down. Oh hello Mrs Miggins we’ll have the lights on and what was that crossword clue again? Sorry, could you say that more loudly, I don’t think the other ten rows heard you. And this was in Premium Economy. You’d think people willing to stump up the extra for a ticket might have more consideration. I did try to get some sleep, but to no avail.

The resultant lack of repose means that since landing I have been less than my usually sunny self and even positively hostile to any Vancouverite ill advised enough to cross my path. Maybe I should be wearing a t-shirt which says “Warning. Jet lag.”

Notwithstanding, I will be returning to the Fabled land of Oz despite all these travel teething troubles. There is talk of happy tidings if a certain young gentleman can get his act together and ask Eldest the right question. They’re doing plenty of horizontal jogging if all the clues I observed are any guide, so I’ve already given eldest my tacit approval. Nothing verbal, just a candid bit of eye contact and a gentle nod over his shoulder at her. However, we will see what we will see. Their friends all seem to know whats in the offing, so it’s probably one of those open secret thingies.

Note to self. Add decent set of noise cancelling headphones to travel kit.

In the immortal words of Mr Schwarzenegger:

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Silence is golden

Just been reading a few articles in the FT and am getting a little pissed off with the EU remoaners who pollute every single comment thread with their small minded toxicity. As if sniping at others in comment threads will change hearts and minds. Which it won’t. Anyone with even a modicum of discernment can see that, can’t they? Or don’t they want to?

Honestly there should be a point at which a form of Godwins law in a comment thread should apply on this given topic. The remoaners are getting worse than the thousands of anti-Semites that pollute all sort of online discourse with their unhinged rantings.

For example, on a simple announcement that the UK is ditching those rather banal Maroon Euro style passports for the older, more classic pre-1988 look we have all the prophets of Euro-doom crawling out of the woodwork, saying why would the UK leave the bosom of the wonderfully fair utopia of mainland Europe? Ha-ha-ha you poor benighted fools. Sorry chaps, didn’t you get the memo, the UK is really leaving. Give it up.

Sometimes, when it comes to BREXIT it’s like listening to an abusive partner heap vitriol on a person who has had quite enough and is finally packing their bags. “Leave me, will yer!” Screams the soon to be divorced abuser. “Yew’ll be sorry, yew bar steward!” Before making further plans to drop cute ickle bunnies into a pasta pan of boiling water, just for petty revenge. Not realising that they have worse problems in the offing. Like having to find some other poor sucker to finance their lifestyle and failing to understand the old axiom that whilst speech may be silver, silence has far greater worth.

For example the groaning that the UK is economically doomed, all the banks will leave and everyone and their budgie will starve in freezing gutters. People will no longer be able to work overseas, damn you small minded little Englanders. Oh but hold on a minute, there’s nothing actually stopping people leaving the UK and going to live and work in Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand or elsewhere that they can’t already. All they need to do is get a visa then jump through the right hoops with a valid passport. Can you get a job? Speak the language? Got the immigration points? Yes? In you come then say most countries. Unless of course you get caught out by a rule change and get left in bureaucratic limbo like my brother in law, who is still sweating over his Australian residency. Which is weird as he has a very rare skill set, is highly regarded in his industry and has bagged a very good job. For which there is a permanent skill shortage. But that’s Australian immigration for you. Left hand, right hand, never learn to juggle.

Besides, the EU has more problems that Britain’s impending exit. The Eastern states of Poland, Austria and Hungary are taking huge wodges of Chinese investment, threatening the formation of the federal states of Europe because the Chinese are eager to extend their economic influence across Asia into Europe’s back door. Effectively reopening and extending the ancient network of ‘Silk road‘ trade routes that were firmly chopped off by colonialism during the 18th and 19th centuries. Not that the original silk roads were ever more than long and dangerous trade routes crossed by caravans. Which are okay to carry your holiday stuff in, block the highways, but aren’t really worth a bugger off road and who really wants to carry stuff around in a chemical toilet on wheels? Or live in one for your precious yearly Summer holiday? No wonder it used to take months to get trade goods from point A to B in the ancient world. That and having your aged camels left to eat sand after being overtaken by some flash git called Alexander in his brand new Macedonian built four horsepower chariot.

Anyway, all that’s moot. At the time of writing all the girls all have gone shopping and brother in law went off to read a book. I’ve been dangling me tootsies in the pool and have cracked open yet another bottle of beer to cool down. Which for the moment will do. Tomorrow Mrs S and I wend our merry way down to Melbourne. Indeed, as this is a timed post, we may already be there.

On being an Expat

Apropos yesterdays post. Another in-car conversation on life, the Universe and everything found Mrs S and I discussing our lives. Why we keep so few real friends, which is more an act of personal preference than anything else. Neither of us have ever been manic socialisers. Although we are decent enough folk, well, we like to think so, we find that there’s little point getting involved as everyone else has stuff to do and so have we. So dinner parties are rare events as neither of us is that keen on small talk and always find ourselves at odds with some of the regurgitated media talking points certain people call their opinions.

There are sayings that “You can never go home again.” or “You can’t cross the same river twice.” and now ten years after Mrs S and I began our Canadian adventure I find there is much truth in them. Having gone back to blighty on five separate occasions, visiting places where I grew up only to find a chilly welcome and a “Oh, what’re you doing back here?” No one wants to know you. Old work mates make repeated excuses to not have a beer and a chin wag like you used to, even when you’ve spent thousands to go and see them. When you meet people you thought were good friends it’s a little spooky to watch their faces close down when you say “Hi.” Like while you’ve been living and working overseas you’ve been doing something they’re ashamed of, but it’s not simply that. There’s often a mix of jealousy and disconnection which gives you the sense of being a stranger in your old home town. A feeling of isolation within familiar spaces. Like you’re just a tourist. Which feels like truth. Because it’s not your home any more. You moved on, they stayed. You’re now an outsider, an exile, who shouldn’t ever have come back. This is not your tribe.

There’s a century old story about a man who went to Australia and made his fortune. I think it was told as an anecdote in one Thomas Hardy’s Wessex Novels, not sure which. (Correction: From Laurie Lee’s classic “Cider with Rosie” – A staple of my Senior School English Literature classes – Thank you to the commenters for this correction)  Now the story goes that this newly enriched Australian came back to visit the English village he’d grown up in but left twenty years before. While he’s there he shares his good fortune with old friends and neighbours. Even spending one evening in the village pub buying drinks for everyone. Yet on his way back to his lodgings he was beaten up and robbed by some of the very people he’d once called friend. The very people he’d tried to share his good fortune with.

Life is a river, and like water, time flows in only one direction, unless you’re a very advanced physicist. Sometimes it pools, other times it bounds along, effortlessly carving its own way through solid rock. But always onwards, down to an estuarine end, or abruptly off a cliff or down a hole. So it is with old friendships and family. Those who stay still get left behind. This can breed resentment within them because perhaps they did not really want to stay, but somehow lacked the impetus, like me, to begin new lives for themselves in a different land, or even wonder, and feel a little betrayed by, my need to do so. In their minds, I left them. Which may have bred ill-feeling.

Which leaves me in a dilemma. I have to visit the UK next year anyway, but knowing what I do now, do I go visit and try to reconnect, or just accept what I’ve been told at face value and forever suffer a small nagging doubt? Considering my family history, or rather lack thereof, it has been characterised by a certain; “You don’t need to know that.” feeling. Indeed, trying to track my own Mother’s side of the family has proven interesting* because I was always shut out of the conversation because my very existence (Well I am a bastard from a time when this was frowned upon) is a source of embarrassment. Very few will even acknowledge that I am a blood relative. That and my Mother’s tendency to ‘re-invent’ herself every twenty years or so has not helped.

Oh bugger it, I’ll go and knock on some doors while I’m back in the UK. What can my relatives really do apart from tell me to sod off?

Update: There is also the thought that if we were such great friends and family, all my emails and letters would have been answered. But instead responses dried up fairly quickly, so maybe my erstwhile family and friends don’t really want to know at all. Heart says go and see, head says that they haven’t been in touch because they don’t want to be. Rather like an old mate who broke surface only to disappear into the mists of the Interweb. I offered to come over next time I was in the UK and have a chat over old times and where our lives had taken us. Result; complete radio silence. I’ll take my Aunt and her son out for dinner next time I’m in Blighty, but as for the rest, yes, well. Their lack of interest has been duly noted. Moving on…

* “Interesting” in like pulling a Bull’s teeth without anaesthesia.

Just Desserts: Lemon Mousse

Before I leave for Oz, which means I will be incommunicado for a while depending upon the notoriously fickle Interweb service provider service referred to as Telstra, I’d like to donate my low-carbohydrate recipe for Lemon Mousse to posterior. Whatever. Talking of waistline and posterior, mine are much reduced after only a month, so the low carbohydrate diet does work. Plenty of fresh veg, good servings of meat or other protein, don’t spare the fats and salt. Just exclude the starchy stuff.

This recipe is so incredibly easy. Well, it’s easy enough for a bozo like me to get right consistently. Lemon Mousse. Light, delicious and a lovely finishing dessert for after a really Gastrointestinal tract searing curry.

Here’s the low-carbohydrate version first which produces two servings.

Ingredients:

1 Cup Whipping cream
A drop or two or half a capful of Vanilla essence
Zest of a whole fresh lemon
A dessertspoonful of Xylitol sweetener, not any other kind because they don’t work very well in cooking.

Method:
Whip cream until it starts to thicken.
Add lemon zest.
Add vanilla essence
Add dessertspoon of Xylitol
Now whip that cream. Whip it good and hard. Go on. Lay on MacDuff. Spank that whisk mercilessly. Lash it until the cream mix you’re whipping stands up and screams for mercy. Don’t feel guilty. You’re only being cruel to be needlessly sadistic. Whip it enthusiastically until the mix stands erect and doesn’t flop over again.
Decant into portion sized bowls and put in bottom shelf of fridge (Not the freezer!) for at least half an hour.

Remove from fridge when chilled. Eat. Enjoy. Add a little defrosted fruit as a topping or use instead of ice cream.

Of course you could add a dessert spoon of cocoa powder (Not hot chocolate mix) instead of the lemon zest to get a chocolatey effect. Or even substitute the zest of an orange plus cocoa and a hint of vodka to create something that will put a smile on anyone’s face. My wife has officially declared the vodka, cocoa and orange version “Complete evil.” And has stated that it may not be served more than once or twice a week. I was planning to chuck in a measure of Cointreau to create another variant, but have been jokingly warned that this may lead to ‘sanctions’. What forms these ‘sanctions’ may take is not immediately apparent. Although my lady wife has been rummaging in our little bedside box and she’s currently dangling the pink furry handcuffs I thought I’d ‘lost’ sometime last year in front of my nose. Bloody things. Sanctions indeed.

To close; the high-Carbohydrate alternative to this dish is simply to replace the dessertspoon of Xylitol with two of sugar. Change flavourings as need be. It has as many variations as any fevered imagination will allow.

I may be back. What condition I will be in is another matter.

Bullion for me

Right. That’s the current job done and dusted and I can glance up above my particular foxhole and take stock, or in my case buy some. I’ve been watching the price of Gold and silver of late, and it looks like the market may be bottoming out. So yesterday I went out and bought some silver. The 999.99% variety. Just a couple of small 10 ounce ingots to begin with. Which is still a minor gamble. Maybe the market in precious metals isn’t quite bouncing along in the benthic depths, but I think it’s close, hence me splashing out a few bucks. The dealer I go to downtown also has a 100 ounce bar I have my eyes on, and may just purchase if conditions are right when I get back from the fabled land of Oz late January. They’ve got a few lumps of gold bullion in stock that look tempting, but the price needs to drop a few dollars more before I’m convinced it’s a good investment for the safety deposit box. Maybe I’ll stash some capital in Platinum. Just as a hedge. Just for the comfort of owning something solid with a readily convertible monetary value that won’t depreciate (much). Now there’s a thought.

Gold, Silver and Platinum bottomed out on July 10th this year, but as I was on the road I missed the opportunity to buy in at that point. However, everything but Palladium is cooling off in the precious metals world at present, at least in Canada, so I’ll have a rethink in January 2018 and see what the market indicators are like.

I’ll have the money as there’s a possible new job offer on the horizon for me in January. Nothing spectacular, but steady enough to pay for the usual household stuff and a little travel on the side, as well as setting my own hours. Nowhere near as much as my full consultancy rate, but fairly reasonable. I’ll just have to wait and see if it materialises, or not. I’m not that fussed, I’ve got more than enough on my plate right at this minute, and January is not generally a time for market panics. At least not this side of the pond, or unless old Spoonbanger (Cheers Mitch) starts punting off Nuclear tipped fireworks across the Pacific and throws one at Seattle, it’s likely to end in my back yard. In which case we’re all toast, or not, as the Sticker clan will shortly be together in Australia. If it all went into TITSUP mode we’d literally find ourselves ‘on the beach’ a la Nevil Shute. From the pictures we’ve been sent it’s a very nice beach. With a nice bar and restaurant. What a place to claim refugee status eh?

What else? The pound was crawling back up despite all the negative media coverage. Then the Northern Irish decided to throw Teddy out of the nursery and possibly allow the election of Corbyn, the true nightmare candidate. I mean, Jaysus me bhoys. May is hardly the most competent statesperson on the planet but Corbyn is about as batshit crazy as they come. If it ever looks like he will win an election then my money will be out of Sterling into US dollars faster than you can blink, even if I have to take a loss. I know May is a pretty poor PM, but Corbyn would be abysmal, leading the way down to economic hell with a brass band and choir of idiots in front, Brexit be damned. He wants his authoritarian utopia and nothing and no-one is going to stop him short of a mass implosion of the UK Labour party. He’d also probably repeat the biggest mistake of the Wilson Government and put the troops back into Ulster. Which would give the good auld IRA a hobby apart from run the regional drug trade.

Labour used to be the political party of the working man, but that hasn’t really been true since the 1950’s. Now it’s all about political power and ideology, the ordinary working man be damned. And if Corbyn did cancel Brexit, the Eurocrats would really put the screws on the UK. Just to make an example of all you uppity Brits. Because that’s the arrogant way they think. If you’d ever seen a few of them blasting around Paris, Brussels or Strasbourg in motorcades or their bodyguards blocking streets outside the best restaurants you’d understand. These are people who don’t really care about the people they rule.

As for May getting all humpty about Trump Twatting out some video’s she disagreed with in a desperate attempt to placate a certain minority death cult, oh pur-lease. It seems that the Tories (And most of the other big three UK political parties) believe these sparkly new RoP imports will be future taxpayers whose output will keep the political classes forever in champagne and caviar. Dream on kiddies. That won’t happen for at least two more generations, around fifty years, if you’re lucky. That’s how long it will take to even partly assimilate this latest bulk buy of bargain basement bozo’s with the general population of the UK. By way of proof I’d like to point out that there have been ethnic ghettoes in most of the UK’s major urban conurbations since I was in my late teens, created by short sighted mass immigration policies. Matters have not improved in all that time.

Anything else? The UK media is full of anti-Trump, anti-Brexit hit pieces with rarely a fact in sight, but everyone in the mainstream seems afraid to deride those whose evil must not be named or be labelled ‘hate speakers’ and sent to the naughty step forever and ever.

Frankly I no longer care. I shall simply keep my eye on the news that really matters and slip any spare cash into solid and readily liquidated assets while prices are good.

On matters of diet

Regarding comments on the Low Carbohydrate way of life Mrs S and I have recently adopted, I’ve heard about Doctors and Dieticians warning about the risks of dire consequences when ditching most of the starch and sugars we urban humans routinely stuff down our necks and call ‘food’. The general consensus from some expert panels is that we need to ditch fats and proteins for a more carbohydrate based diet. Well, yes, maybe, and then again a resounding ‘no’. Because we’re all different. We grow up with differing tolerances and our digestive systems adapt to whatever foodstuffs are available although even this is not a hard and fast rule.

Now the battle of our respective bulges is seeing real results. Over the last three weeks my belt has come in a couple of notches and I’m feeling much lighter on my feet. Mrs S reports a similar improvement. One of the other improvements is the disappearance of bits of dry skin which no ointment has had any previous effect on. So dropping ‘taters, sugar and starchy stuff seems to have been beneficial. At least as far as we’re concerned. Mrs S’s Cholesterol has dropped well into the ‘normal’ range and her last blood pressure test is well within the ‘normal’ range of 110/70 and 130/80. So all the prognostications of doom for giving up starch and sugar seem to be ill-founded. Indeed, the complete opposite seems to be the case. Could all these dietitians and sciencey (Or at least the ‘educators’) pundits have it bass ackwards? Well, the rising rates of obesity and 30.6% increase in Diabetes II over the last few years would seem to indicate that they have. Despite a plethora of ‘Health’ advice and associated legislation.

A quick over the shoulder glance at our forbears and their way of life would indicate that, well, they didn’t eat much sugar. Not that there weren’t other risk factors in pre modern times, like being run over by a speeding Mammoth on the Stonehenge to Avebury bypass, but at least they were only plagued by things like, well, plague. That and the occasional peckish Sabre toothed tiger. The only real sweetener available to them was honey. Which is still packed with sugars, so we can’t have any of that for our modern Paleo / Keto / Atkins (Whatever, it’s all very similar) type diet to be effective.

A quick word about Gout and similar at this point. Yes it is a risk if you have impaired liver or kidney function, or simply don’t drink enough fluid. But since Mrs S and I drink plenty, it’s not a problem. The possible Vitamin C deficiency we get around by eating stir fried vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Bok choy and cabbage. We’ve also taken to knocking back the occasional sugar free vitamin C tab, so that’s us covered. Mrs S also kicks off the day with a fruit smoothie every morning (No banana), so she’s bouncing with health ans at no risk of scurvy. I get some of my vitamin C intake from a little grilled or fried liver, so we’re both pretty much covered on that score.

My sauces now tend to be sour cream based (Although I’ve just found a local supplier of Creme Fraiche! Yay!) and warmed through rather than boiled to buggery reductions. I’ve even managed to make a few casseroles with nice thick meaty sauces without any flour based roux. I’ll write up the method when work doesn’t take precedence although I have one piece of advice for the interim; do not, under any circumstances use Psyllium husk (Metamucil) as a thickening agent. Unless of course you like comedy food that looks like it was developed for a cheap Dr Who slime special effect. In which case, knock yourself out.

Back to the future

Well, we’re all set for our first odyssey to the fabled land of Oz, where according to some men who work, Where beers flow and men chunder. Flights are booked and paid for, visitor visa’s obtained, hotels booked and confirmed and cars hired. Eldest is taking care of SIM cards for our cell phones, so we’ll be in full comms less than two hours after clearing immigration and customs. So short of some unforeseen disaster or a direct nuclear strike we’ll be down under over Christmas and the New Year. In the case of cancellation we’re insured three ways to breakfast, so any financial losses by cancellation or delay will be minimised. Sometimes all you can do is try to stack the odds in your favour and let the cards fall as they may.

On the topic of cell phones, I sometimes look at all these handy little things that have so many Darwin Award contestants wandering across the road without looking, or getting killed driving while texting and wonder why they’re so fixated. What is it that’s so important they’re willing to court an untimely demise? It’s worth noting that some 16,000 of cell phone related road deaths were recorded in the USA alone between 2001 & 09 (I think – studies differ). In the UK drivers distracted by cell phone (Calls and texting) overtook the kill rate of all other forms of road death back in 2014. Allegedly (It was in the Daily Express). But even if it’s not completely true, that’s a hell of a lot of dead bodies just because dimwits can’t focus on what they should be doing. Specifically, keep their eyes on where the hell they’re going. If it was down to me, I’d set up a law that says if you were using a mobile phone at the time of a fatality causing crash, that should automatically upgrade to a manslaughter charge. But that’s just me. I’ve almost been run off the road many times because some tit behind the wheel simply can’t leave the phone alone. So colour me prejudiced. I don’t want my death certificate to read ‘Death by social media’.

Aslant to that topic, recently I’ve been suffering a bout of nostalgia for my old UK mobile, which even fifteen years after I bought it still does sterling service. As you can see from the picture below, I also have one of those rinky-dinky smartphones. The problem is that one of these devices is not really that much use to me any more. Guess which one it is, go on, have a wild stab. (Although not at me, I’m allergic to the sight of my own blood) Correct! it’s the Samsung Smartphone on the left. Yes it still does wi-fi and bluetooth, but so does my tablet. The main problem appears to be my version of Android. Now according to Samsung’s web site their devices will still support stuff like Whatsapp on Android version 2.3 up to 2020AD. The Samsung on the left has version Android 2.3.3 (and will update no further). Which might lead one to think; “Supported to 2020? Oh, that should be fine.” Only it isn’t. Unfortunately my network (Thanks a bunch Virgin) will not allow any of the new App upgrades like Google Maps and Whattsapp to update any more. So this all singing all dancing mobile phone, once a fully functional piece of kit, barely limps along. Not to mention the battery life being pretty crap. It no longer fulfils the purpose I bought it for and I’m still shelling out CAD$XX every month just for the privilege of connecting to my carriers cell phone network. Without the ability to make international calls, which is one of my chief beefs against Canadian cell phone companies. It’s not that phoning overseas costs, it’s just that my Canadian network block me from calling them altogether. Surely they can make more money if I’m allowed to call one of my overseas contacts like at 50+ cents a minute. Don’t they see that? Although perhaps they can, as an international ‘roaming’ charge is CAD$10 a day. Then they add your metered call costs on top of that. Sounds like a licence to print money.

“Well that’s okay Bill.” you might advise. “Go out and get a new phone contract. There. Fixed it for you. Off you go.” But honestly, as far as I’m concerned, a smart phone’s utility is limited. Especially if you’re prohibited from upgrading the operating system so that certain Apps can run. Yes, there are workarounds, but honestly, it’s a lot of faff for far too little return.

Frankly I’m buggered if I’m going to shell out for a sparkly new mobile phone every three years just so I have a functional means of communication. So the Samsung is going to be replaced by the phone on the right, my basic call and text only Nokia 6310i which plays no music or games yet after 15 years still has a battery standby life of over twelve days and three hours talk time and connects to any GSM network. For email, games, writing notes and general Interwebbery I’ll still have my Android tablet.

As for my new Windows 10 laptop. It’s not that wonderful. For onboard applications the ‘upgrade’ really doesn’t do a lot more than Windows 7, which was a worthy successor to the only other decent Windows platform, Windows 2000. The bundled application software like Windows Movie Maker are still better with Windows 7 than 10. Not sure what Microsoft are up to, but if Windows 10 is their best effort, then I’m distinctly underwhelmed.

Yes, yes, I could have bought a MacBook or iPad, I’ve got the funds, but I’ve never had the urge to be an Apple Fanboy. On the various occasions I’ve walked into an Apple store the customer service has been worse than useless. The only time I got decent service at an Apple store was because a mate was working as Tech Support Manager at that particular franchise. Every other time I’ve tried to attract the attention of an Apple store employee, all I got was a vaguely contemptuous look that said “What’s an old fart like you doing in here?” So I walked right out again. Which makes me wonder if there’s a part of the Apple store interview process that goes; “Are you a narcissistic fuckwit who loves Apple and won’t sell one of our darling devices to an over forty?”
If the answer is “Yes.” Trust me, you’ll be hired. At least if my previous encounters with Apple Store staff are any guide.

Anyway. My old Nokia 6310i. Is it unlocked for any network full size SIM card? Oh yeah. Does it work as a phone? Yep. Bluetooth compatible with my new stereo headphones and relatively new HK250 earpiece? You betcha. Does it pair with my cars satnav / radio / handsfree? Perfectly. Connects to any GSM Network? Dee-fine-ately. I’ve got a tablet, so why on earth would I need one of those new tiny screens to do my emails, notes and other general Interwebbery?

Answers on the back of a plain brown envelope please.

A fall in Autumn

We’ve got snow on the deck! What the hell, this is sunny Victoria, we’re not meant to get snow until January! We’re still in Autumn for heavens sake! Looks a bit strange with the leaves still on the trees. See above picture of deck at 7:30am today. Damn. I may have to call Nanook of the North. And he charges like a bad tempered Rhino on LSD.

No seriously, nothing to see here move along, it’s just weather and part of the normal cycle of things here in the sunny south west tip of Canada. Every so often we get the odd fall of snow. Which is why we have Winter sports locations like Mt Washington in the mid island. Here’s the current state of the Tube run via webcam. Which is getting a huge inflated inner tube, dragging it to the top of a snowy slope and sliding in it all the way to the bottom and then some. Which is fun for non-skiers like me and works out way cheaper than getting all the kit and only using it once a year. According to reports Mt Washington had no snow last night, but I can tell them where it ended up if they’d care to collect. I had an inkling that we were due for a long cold Winter after the long and hot Summer we’ve just had. Simply because one usually follows the other. And no computer models needed consulting. They only get it wrong anyway.

No skin off my nose because our little SUV is kitted out and ready with all wheel drive and all weather tyres, and we’re on a main bus route which gets the snowplough first and regular clearings throughout the day and night. The downside of which means I may have to get out and go dig an exit through the icy berm they always leave in front of our drive. Or I could stay home today and stand in the front room with a nice hot cup of coffee admiring the view. (Pops into front room for a look – returns) No, no berm and the roads are clear. Well that’s saved me a job, and Nanook’s callout charges.

Our propane stove is now lit and pumping out all that healthy CO2 and a good tranche of heat. Which will prove a saving on our electrickery bills. Which can get astronomical because idiot politicians think that wind and solar power can replace even a few fossil fuel power stations. Or that an atmospheric trace gas affects climate in the long term manner they claim. Or that we don’t know that the CO2=climate is bad science being used to support one of the biggest wealth transfer schemes of all time. Fossil fuel stations we don’t use much because most of Canada’s electric power is Hydro based. Compared with other nations our use of fossil fuel and nuclear is tiny. To replace even one large power plant with wind power you’d have to cut down huge tranches of forest, at least in BC because what we do have is trees. Lots of them. Hundreds of thousands of square miles of trees. Just over 20% or the worlds boreal forests in fact. Cut down those to put up inefficient sources of electricity? I console myself thus; at least the trees can be replanted and grow back when this idiotic flirtation with retrograde technology is over.

So what’s going on in the big wide world? It the FT I see Gas (petrol) prices will rise because the Saudi’s are closing the spigot. Which may help the current misery of the Venezuelans, or maybe not. Maduro has big debts to pay before the extra oil money can trickle down into the rest of Venezuelan economy. Me, I think he’s cocked up big time and the country will be bankrupted before he’s finished. Despite their oil reserves. Up here Trudeau is losing popularity because he keeps on hitting working Canadians in their bank accounts and blocking pipelines while wittering on about how unfair it is about girls not being allowed to play in the big wide world. Which isn’t true by the way. Women can do just as well in commerce as men if they’re willing to pay the same price. George Soros is dying (I’ve seen recent pictures – no one looks like that and lives for long), which I think he knows, so has pushed USD$18 billion into his network of politically meddling non-profits. Just so he can go screwing up economies from beyond the grave. That Trump chap is motivating idiots to go and ‘scream at the sky’ on the 4th November because he won an election. One of them screams at me, I’ll simply laugh in their face and walk away. However, he doesn’t seem to let all the hit pieces and political sabotage get to him, he’s just doing what he said he would. And you have to admire someone like that, even if you don’t totally agree with them.

Update: Tesla shares drop over 5% with the potential end of US subsidies for EV’s.  Oh well, that’s that.  More EV’s for museum exhibits.

They’re everywhere…

Apparently November 4th is a day Antifa and friends, those fun filled little leftist scamps, will institute ‘A day of riots’. Oh my goodness, that is so coming back to bite them if they do. Not that it will because it ain’t happening. Why? because there’s just not enough of them for mass civil disobedience on the scale that is rumoured. Apparently they’re going to do this to fight those huge Fascist rallies. Of which the largest to date have numbered less than 600 and the average around 100, if that. Indeed, the only ones doing the rioting in their thousands seem to be those on the far left. And they have to be bussed around to concentrate their numbers. Same for all these ‘Climate justice’ marches. One demonstration I personally witnessed (Nanaimo 2010, Krall Plaza) was half a dozen locals (Mostly ‘street people’) and the rest getting off unmarked white buses just around the corner. Hmm.

But still, they’re everywhere aren’t they? Nazis and Fascists I mean. Everywhere I tell you. Look, there’s one goose stepping down your street right now singing songs of Horst Wessell! Sorry, no, it was just your neighbour walking his dog and listening to some 80’s music on his iPhone. But he’s a fascist because he doesn’t trim his hedge often enough, and didn’t pick up his dear little doggy’s doings yesterday, right? Yeah, and that Bangladeshi guy at the local store is a fascist because he didn’t give you the right change and gave you a funny look last time you deigned to try and shoplift a comic from his store. Or that hot guy / girl who wouldn’t give you the time of day, no matter how cool and edgy you feel in a bandanna mask, black hoodie, scruffy trainers and faux-proletarian accent. Then there was the old guy who gave you an annoyed look on the bus yesterday when you wouldn’t give up your seat to him, even though he was over seventy and needed a walking stick to get around. Or anyone else you don’t like the look of.

All these people are all Nazis and Fascists, who right (or more likely left) minded people should be out punching and kicking, yeah? All they have to be is ‘white’. Or Jewish (They’re all closet Zionists). Or not ethnic enough. Or too ethnic. Or male. Or dare to make a joke, any joke, or even laugh quietly to themselves in the hearing of some joyless extremist bigot. Or be men older than thirty five in which case they need to be attacked because, hey they might be thinking about becoming fascists or don’t agree with the confused medley of beliefs being pushed by a relatively small panties-in-a-bunch group of student activists barely out of their teens and still struggling with the aftershocks of puberty. The same for a number of their professors and administrative staff who seem to live in a very odd set of bubble realities. But that’s Academia for you.

If you listen to the extreme left even middle of the road old me is a rabid National Socialist despite loathing collectivist totalitarianism (Nationalist or Internationalist) with unconcealed venom and being a citizen of the world with diverse family connections spread out across the globe. As well as having relatives with darker than Nordic complexions (2nd Cousins by marriage, nieces, nephews, that sort of thing). Nor am I a supremacist of any kidney, well, apart from being morally superior to those who would attack random strangers for their ’cause’. Just in case they have a different opinion or harbour ‘National Socialist’ sympathies. By predominantly middle class white people who wear uniforms (Black bloc is a uniform) and smash stuff up. Which leads me to ask; who do they think they are, the Spanish Riot Police?

The extreme left are currently behaving like the post World War One Red Front (Rotfrontkämpfer) did back in early 1920’s Weimar Germany. Intimidate. Beat up. Attack the innocent. Then get all bent out of shape when the extremist opposition (Stahlhelms, later the extreme right SA) gets organised and does exactly the same thing. The then Red Front, one might observe, is extinct. Wiped out by the very Fascist system it’s street fighting tactics helped bring into being, based on the principle that for every violent political action there is an unequal and opposed reaction. Think of it as a Newtonian law of political motion.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that ex-members of the Red Front were also behind the totalitarian misery of East Germany during the cold war. Erich Honecker for one. Like his philosophically opposite numbers were ultimately responsible for the massive body count of WW2. As an aside; current sources list total World War Two casualties as a shade under 72,500,000 or the Wikipedia page total of as much as 85,000,000.

As yet another aside I’m tempted to observe that without the initial violence of the Red Front, the National Socialists, Adolph Hitler and his abominable clique might have forever remained a fringe minority group, of only fleeting historical interest to social historians. An anecdotal reference to the violence of the Red Front is found in this line from the notorious Horst Wessel Lied:
“Comrades shot by the red front and reaction”
Referring to the murder of a small number of SA members between 1924-29. Therefore it could be argued that the rise of the National Socialist movement was a direct result of violence on the part of the far left during the time of the Weimar Republic. Although the situation was a little more complex considering the destabilising effects of crippling reparation payments to the allies for WW1 and the subsequent social and economic volatility of post WW1 Germany. But in our era the recent rise of the extreme, or ‘alt’ right can be seen as a direct reaction to the violence and intimidation from far left groups and activists like Antifa.

In the words of Sam Clemens: History may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme In some ways it looks like the 1920’s all over again, only this time the venue is the USA. The protagonists are the same; socialists all. All believing they are fighting for the ‘workers’. All believing it’s right to punch the hell out of and even kill each other. Which it isn’t.

So what is this poisonous disease of Fascism and how do we identify the real Fascists so that they may be de-powered? A good place to start is in the Merriam-Webster dictionary that carries this simplified definition.
Facism:

A political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the ‘Fascisti’) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

Sounds awfully familiar doesn’t it? But what are the outward signs of a fascist? How do we tell them from other types of socialists?

We’re told that those who use violence against political opposition are fascists, but is this true? Well not really. Violence in a political cause is more prevalent on the left of the political spectrum because of the undemocratic leanings of people who tend to join these factions. And they are factions because the only thing that separates Socialism and Fascism is nationalism. What they have in common is that they both end up robbing ordinary working people blind. Worse than those eeeevil capitalists in fact. A proof; there have never been any poor socialist leaders. Well, they deserve all the rewards for bringing the poverty that socialist methods of government create for the masses, eh? Yeah, right. For relatively modern examples I’d like to cite Fidel Castro, who had an estate of US$800 Million when he popped his clogs. Chavez wasn’t exactly impecunious either, to name but two.

As an aside I’d observe that neither the Nationalist or Internationalist forms of ‘ism’ are democratic. Unless of course you’re a member of the self-appointed ruling hierarchy. All variants are equally vile totalitarian gangster philosophies that lead eventually either to the Concentration Camp or Gulag with all your neighbours trying to grass you up so they can have your apartment or bread ration. But it’s all right isn’t it, because only ‘bad people’ get sent to these places. But; who defines the ‘harm’ or who is ‘bad’? Sooner or later you’ve got to the point where you’re the one quivering in your ickle pink bootees in case next doors kids decide to denounce you to the authorities for not giving them any candy. Like in the old Soviet Union and just about everywhere else where communist, fascist and socialist doctrines have been applied, whether ‘properly’ or not. All these shades of ism rule by feat and fear. If you knew nothing else about them, you’d know that they were pure poison to be avoided at all costs.

So, back to our definition of Fascism and how to spot one; well, they’re Socialist because they claim to be for ‘the workers’* and want a top-down directed society. But. And this is the big ‘but’, you cannot tell a National Socialist from any other type of collectivist Socialist. True, there are Neo-Nazi’s with shaven heads and gothic tattoos over every square inch of skin, but there are others with a hide as untrammelled as freshly fallen snow. Some clean shaven, others have beards you can hide a flock of sheep behind. Not all of them ‘white’ either. Contrariwise, I have also known people with tattoos all over who are no more followers of National Socialism than the Dalai Llama. Although some would argue he’s one too – which is a very interesting** point of view.

There is, to the best of my knowledge, no haircut is specific to such people, and Polo shirts? I wear them all the time, so do a lot of other people who are most definitely not of a National Socialist bent. Polo players for one. Although Golf shirts and jumpers are definitely worn by fascists. I mean come on – what are those awful loud chequered designs or brightly coloured trousers symbolic of? Blitzkrieg dazzle camouflage? As for that top pocket for their tees. Got to be for their party membership card, right? So Trump is one and that Tiger Woods another, and er, Obama too because he really likes playing golf, yeah? No? Oh. So how does one tell?

I think that shoe drops when the real fascists open their smug little over-privileged mouths and start gobbing off on how they in their role as ‘The Government’ always step into every facet of life. Like rules criminalising everyday modes of speech. Like Eugenics to fix the disabled ‘problem’ and mass confiscation of private property to make everything ‘fair’.   In short, anyone who offers the following as excuses; “For their own good.” or “For the good of the masses.” or “To make it all fair for the people.” Yet never mentioning the salient point that although these nasty pieces of work talk about big business being the bad guy, guess who ends up footing the bill for all this Government intervention?  The little guy. You and me.

Sorry chaps, but having been part of the ‘working class’ and made my living from the sweat of my brow and the skill (Or lack thereof) of my hands for almost a third of my working life, all of these activists, every last single one, are universally despised. Not to their faces of course, but where it really counts, in the whispering galleries of locker and lunch rooms. The soft damnation of “Oh gawd, it’s him / her / it again. What is it now?” Then going along with the calls for strike action because, well, “It’s a day off, innit.” or because they dare not disagree just in case they’re falsely accused of some ***’hate’ crime. Although afterwards the moans about lost wages from strikes (usually from spouses) can be heard for miles. Because too many people are a little slow to make the connection that all forms of collectivism are a massive wealth transfer con trick. Whoever has worked hardest loses the most. Not to mention that Socialism also creates new hierarchies which simply replicate the worst excesses of feudal societies and produce massive body counts. Over 120 million between 1900 and 2000 at the last credible estimate. Which does not include war dead from any of the major wars but simple murder and famine in the name of ‘the masses’ or ‘the party’. Heavens to Murgatroyd people, doesn’t this prove that Socialism in all forms and the identity politics that drive it are crap ideas. Bury them deep and let’s move on. Individuals solve problems, not extreme leftist politics.

*No, they’re for themselves – the ‘workers’ can go hang. Or be shot. Or gassed. Or worked to death.  Not much of a choice really.
**‘Interesting’ as in “Let’s hide all the sharp objects” interesting.
*** ‘He said vs. she said’

And now….

a massage from the Swedish Prime Minister, or rather not. Went for my first ever massage a couple of days ago. Generously paid for by my health insurance and told I had to go by my lady wife who’d made the arrangements. Today I am a bit stiff (Not in that way! Honestly, some people.) and creaky. Which is a tribute to the strength of my masseuse’s hands. I hadn’t realised how many kinks and knots there were in my back and shoulders.

Now I went for what’s called a full ‘RMT’ massage, which is massage as a treatment, not one of those wimpy ‘massage treatments’ with hot stones, seaweed douches and suchlike you get at spa resorts. No, this was the full nine yards where someone half my size took hold of a muscle or muscle group and dug their fingers in. Yes it does hurt a bit, but afterwards you stand a little straighter, hold your head higher and motion is less encumbered by all those little aches and pains that getting older leaves you open to. Oddly this treatment also makes your head spin a little afterwards. Not much, but just like the sensation you get after spinning around quickly two or three times. An old Hawkwind number was brought to mind

You also know this kind of massage is working when you get little sympathetic flashes of pain down muscles not currently under assault. For example; masseuse was working down from my shoulders and hit the centre of my back when a little lightning bolt shot all the way down from just under my kidneys to past my right knee. This reminded me of an injury I sustained thirty years ago in my lower back when one of my discs ruptured and healed aged twenty-something. Indeed, every incident from a very physical life popped it’s head up and said “Hi, remember me? You careless bastard.” Ouch. Even stuff I thought was fully healed years ago. Every time I’ve fallen off a motorcycle (Four), every work related muscle wrench (Dozens), every time I’ve been under the surgeons knife (Three) and every sports injury (Two major, dozens of minor). They all dropped by with a stab and a twitch. It was like a high school reunion when all the pains get together to remind you why you ignore or hate them.