Category Archives: Musings

Don’t panic

Got an email today asking about what it’s like to be an expat here in BC. The author was worried about a possible breakdown of law and order following BREXIT. They were asking about immigration and leaving the UK. So I replied, giving a few observations on life on this side of the world. Not all of them positive.

I’d like to give you a few thoughts on migration; it’s a long drawn out process, not to be undertaken lightly. Mrs S and I made our leap of faith only because of a wedding day promise. She grew up over here and was brought back to the UK by her family, much against her wishes. On the day we married, I gave my solemn word to her that we would go. “Though Hell itself should bar the way.” I said. Even so, it was a good few years before we actually bought the tickets and made the jump. Even though we already had friends and family over here.

Has it been worth it? Well overwhelmingly yes and with a modicum of no. Would I go back? Hell, no. Although if Trudeau’s Liberals, or worse, the NDP, look like getting voted in again I shall be shifting some investments into the US and UK, just to make sure they can’t be got at easily. So it’s not a bed of roses over here, but fortune favours the observant.

The thing is about BREXIT is that most companies have been making plans from the day the ‘Leave’ vote happened. Distributors have been setting up back channels and workarounds, other companies shifting their financial focus away from Europe and more into the larger world and the lucrative US markets. As some delivery companies like Fedex and UPS have been reassuring their customers that they won’t notice anything happening.

One of the upsides is that the price of food is likely to fall as the wider world will be allowed to bring their goods in directly without the external EU tariffs. Like Australian beef or New Zealand Lamb? Other goods will fall in price, which can only be good for the end consumer. Now I’m just about old enough to remember the food price hikes that happened when the UK entered the EU. BREXIT will be putting the already weak Euro under pressure, so the value of the pound will rise. This will put pressure on manufacturers and exporters, but as the pound will buy more raw materials overseas that effect should be somewhat mitigated. So the French will refuse Welsh Lamb? They always did.

Back in the 60’s there was a good deal of talk about how opening up Europe was such a wonderful export opportunity for Britain’s car industry and similar. Seen Longbridge, one time home of UK car manufacturing, recently? Tell the Welsh steel workers that. Tell the fishermen who saw their catches dwindle because of the Common Fisheries policy, or the damage the Common Agricultural policy did.

After the UK joined, I watched the decline first hand. After Maastricht and Lisbon, things only got worse. Only the big corporates really wanted Britain in the EU because that increased their influence and disadvantaged smaller companies, all in the name of ‘harmonisation’. The Greek chorus of a bought and paid for media ushered the UK into European bondage, controlling who and how UK businesses could trade internationally. This isn’t some form of tin foil hattery. That’s exactly what happened. The migrant crisis was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

So I’d like to point out that BREXIT won’t all be plain sailing. But at the same time it won’t be all doom and gloom. Unexpected benefits are coming for the UK. The benefits of truly global trade. Providing the Government doesn’t get in the way and cock everything up.

If I have a single piece of advice to anyone in the UK it is this; hunker down, weather whatever storm will happen. Take some minor precautions like planting thorn bushes underneath your windows. I hear Berberis is good if you’re worried about break-ins and sundry lawlessness in the wake of the UK’s leaving. It’s a bloody sight easier (and cheaper) than emigration.

Update: Two more weeks have been added to the ‘No deal’ deadline. Two more weeks of pointless panicmongering. It still won’t be enough for May to force through her much derided deal.

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New growth

Spring arrived somewhat suddenly this year. Normally we simply ease very slowly out of BC’s habitual drizzle, but on the 18th temperatures went from night time temperatures of almost double digit sub zero to a more usual five Celsius. This came as a pleasant surprise as it meant Mrs S and I could take tea on the deck without being chilled to the bone. It’s been a long Winter here and I’m glad to see the warmer weather at last. Oh green, how I have missed thee.

Our modest deck garden improves. Latest acquisition were some dwarf Narcissi and Mrs S said she fancied some Pansies. Well, each to their own. Just to keep the meme theme going I added some Sweet William seeds to their pot after planting out a few corms and rhizomes with a few Delphinium and Lupin seeds, which should cheer things up in a couple of weeks time.

One thing I was delighted by and let’s face it, what with Theresa May cocking up BREXIT and Justine Trudeau cocking up Canada’s economy (Whatever happened to “The budget will balance itself”- yeah, right) we all need something to put a positive spin on the day; my two Avocado seeds have begun to sprout. Only tiny pinpricks of green, but definite signs of life. My previous attempts just sat there and rotted, however this time we have green, which is good. Then there’s the success story of my Grapefruit seeds. Five out of six are definitely developing roots and will be ready for potting out next week or the first full week of April. As for my Lemon Tree plants, six are doing well, having taken up residence in the sunniest part of the kitchen and the four I left outdoors over Winter aren’t actually dead. The root systems are still good, even if the above ground portions are looking kind of sorry for themselves. Like my Indonesian Lime, I was about to consign them to the recycle bin when I noticed that the root systems still looked good. I may need considerably bigger pots.

Then there’s the burgeoning vegetable trays. I bought a batch of seeds yesterday and have planted a few out to see how they do. It’s an eclectic mix of Kale, Broccoli, Spring Onions, Beetroot and Radishes. I’ve also added some tomato plants seeds, which I hope will do better now that I’m planting them earlier and deeper. Decided to try out some strawberry plants as well, so in they’ve gone. Results will be posted as new growth occurs.

Despite the poor political news and the virulent attacks on freedom of expression online, I’m feeling decidedly optimistic.

What did they expect?

Busy gardening at the moment, the really cold weather has shifted to the Midwest and Spring has poked a cautious head around the corner here in Victoria BC. My remaining six large Lemon Tree plants have been taken outside to soak up some sunshine and we’re putting out some colourful blooms to provide us with a little visual cheer when the working week is too full of WTF! moments. Which happens a lot. Especially when our line managers come at us with a “We’ve got a little job. Can you help us out?” which happened last week.

Anyway, it’s been a nice day today. The heating has been switched off and our windows are all open to blow all the Winter miasma out of the house. Outdoor temperatures have just crept over the sixty eight Fahrenheit marker so it’s quite warm out on our deck. The fresh air is invigorating.

Looking at the news in the FT I saw the news about the New Zealand shooting and was filled with a profound sense of Deja Vu. It won’t be the last. Plenty of people are pissed off with the way Islamic migration and terrorism is often glossed over, then when a sick individual from the native population shoots up a place of worship, a certain section of the media use it as a stick to beat all ‘white’ people with. According to a bunch of academics and similar pantywaisters all us north Europeans very bad and ‘white supremacy’ (Whatever that is, I never got a membership) must end.

Well I’m not guilty of the shootings, nor are any of my neighbours or the population of New Zealand, or Australia, the USA or the UK. Donald Trump and Chelsea Clinton are not to blame. It’s the whole identitarian race-baiting industry once known as journalism. That’s where the finger should be pointed. A distinct class within their ranks has repeatedly berated the Anglosphere for asking pointed questions about mass immigration. Those are the witches we need to burn. The sowers of discord. Tim Pool has it.

To be charitable, these media types may have only been selling puritanical rage-bait to boost their terrible circulation figures, but when similar rage-bait is used by politicians to create a protected class of individual who get a free pass, well, the outcome is hardly surprising. You can only spit on people so many times before someone goes completely postal. This is true across all ethnicities, all religions and all cultures. So what did these rage-baiter media whores and their sponsors expect? Seriously people. Their IQ tests must have come back negative. As for farsightedness and statesmanship, one can only guess at where that went to. If it ever existed at all.

The whole business has taken on the air of farce. The NZ authorities have blamed and banned a commenting platform called ‘Dissenter’, when the whole thing was livestreamed via Facebook for heavens sake! Is Facebook now banned in NZ? No? Why not? Something stinks here. It may simply be incompetence on the part of the NZ powers that be, but I suspect pressure has been brought to bear and Facebook because they rolled over and played loveable puppy for the powers that be, whilst Dissenter did not.

We’ve heard of other, similar plots thwarted over the last five or so years, but successful ones, like Anders Breivik and the Christchurch shooter are thankfully rare and are a reaction rather than the root cause. In this case the root cause is the reckless mass-importing of an alien and diametrically opposed culture into a well-established society. The funny thing is, if we’d wanted to really help these people as has been mooted, it would have been far more simple and low cost to get aid to them ‘in country’ where they felt comfortable. Not to import the poor sods wholesale into places which they don’t understand and even have contempt for the cultural norms.

Despite what some people say, we humans are not all the same. Men are not women, trans people are neither and you can take the local Yokel out of his hovel, but you’ll never take the hovel out of the local Yokel. At least not for at least three generations. That’s how long it takes to integrate into a non-native population. That’s discounting the throwbacks every generation throws up. Why, because they ‘identify’ as whatever. Only takes one generation of weak or heavy handed parenting.

Planning for Lahn-dahn

The crocuses and snowdrops have surfaced from under the snow and we’re currently travel planning for an Autumn sojourn in dear old Lahn dahn as some of the locals call it. No, that’s not a place in Vietnam or Thailand but the estuarine pronunciation of London, capital and Metrollops of the dear old dis-united kingdom. We’ve sorted out where we’ll be staying in Earls Court and looking at places to eat and drink while we’re sauntering around the various museums and cultural icons. Top of my list are the National Science and Natural History Museums. Mrs S will be bimbling around the V & A and suchlike while I have a thorough geek-fest in Kensington. We plan to take in a couple of shows while we’re there too.

It will be interesting to visit a post-BREXIT Britain. I’m almost tempted to send all my UK contacts a ‘How does it feel to be free?’ greeting when the UK finally wrests itself loose from the choking tendrils of the EU. Hopefully in the next month. Thinking about it I haven’t been into Harrods or Selfridges Food Hall in a Donkey’s age. Which I’m quite looking forward to. It’s not so much the range of produce as the cornucopia of smells of a properly kept Fish and Game counter that tease the old olefactories. To a country raised boy like me it’s almost like going home. Even if where I once called home is over a hundred miles away. Now it’s several thousand and over ten years, but we are where we are and there’s an end of matters.

There’s also another small matter of yet another fence to mend. This time it’s the other party which will have to come to me, or at least down to the Smoke. I’m not spending good money hiring cars and booking hotels visiting someone who may not appreciate any olive branch I hold out. However, I’m jumping the gun a little. Best to hold my tongue and extend the hand of reconciliation. Even if none of the parties involved can be bothered to cross the pond to visit me. I know they can afford it.

However, I do so enjoy the old country in controlled small doses. It also pains me to see what it is becoming. Likewise Canada, increasingly divided and all in the name of ‘diversity’. Misguided ‘Hate speech’ laws creating privileged minorities. Police investigating non-crimes, all the while prioritising ‘thought crime’ like rogue tweets and off colour facebook posts over real crime, like burglary, criminal damage and assaults. Prediction; this will come back to bite the rule setters and enforcers. Very hard indeed. They depend on the public trust to operate successfully, and the current value of that trust is so far below zero it resembles the state of the Great lakes, which when I checked this morning had over seventy four percent ice cover. I’ll also say this; Laws which dictate thought rather than deed pave the descent into a really dangerous form of totalitarianism.

To wax poetic; boils like prejudice and hatred only heal after they have been properly examined, lanced, drained and debrided, if you’ll forgive the medical simile. To extend the metaphor, such poison is always best treated with free and honest debate. Shutting people up only lets matters fester until the only certain cure is high amputation. Which is a tactic tried by many totalitarian regimes, always failing at the cost of many innocent lives and eventually the ruling regime. It also destroys trust in the Police who are supposedly protectors, not persecutors of the general public. It is not their job to check someone’s thinking. Or is that just me being horribly naive?

Notwithstanding, say you think that Justin Trudeau is metaphorically a Weasel, Socialism is a murderous doctrine or that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with western democracy. Regardless of whether anyone finds those statements ‘offensive’ they should be considered and examined to see if they are true. Which they are. Even the most cursory reading of the facts will highlight the realities. If the law of the land is changed to suppress such opinions, what happens when these views become mainstream once more? Will the laws put in place to protect those opposed to such views be, like any captured weapon, be turned against their erstwhile abusers?

This is the danger of criminalising opinion. Opinion is mere fashion. It changes, and the mob it is meant to drive changes with it. The mob can turn in a heartbeat. When it does, you don’t want to be in it’s way.

Idle thought for my single US visitor; I think Bernie Sanders bears a strong resemblance to a deceased British far left politician from the 1970’s and 80’s, Michael Foot. See what you think. Well, it amused me.

The green new deal

Sometimes at shareholder meetings, you do hear the most awful nonsense. Especially from those who consider themselves ‘ethical’ investors. This morning Mrs S and I were at an investors meeting when one guy started making arbitrary remarks about Trump not getting re-elected. Which he probably will because the opposition haven’t got a strong enough candidate. Then he started talking up the ‘Green New Deal’ some of the Democrats are touting. To which everyone else in the room was going “Say what?” or “I totally disagree.” Which was quite telling. A year or so ago the room would have been calling Trump names like the mainstream media want us to. How times do change.

I’ve actually read this Democrat inspired ‘Green New Deal’ and it’s utter garbage. One of the key precepts being to stop US citizens from flying and insisting they go everywhere by train. Ostensibly to ‘save the planet’.

Two words adequately convey my opinion of that idiocy; “Yeah, right.” Have these proponents even tried travelling across the USA by train or on a road trip? Have these advocates for other people’s austerity ever gotten out of their cosy little suburban nests and seen the mind-strangling vastness of North America in a car? I have. Three times and counting. There and back. Twice trans Canada, once to Florida. Take my word for it, there’s a whole heap of big in North America.

Even at full speed it can take over a week to go from New York to Seattle via car or truck. Forty three hours of non-stop actual driving. That’s without factoring in lunch and gas stops and the odd pause for much-needed sleep breaks. By train it’s almost three days solid travelling without a break. As opposed to only ten hours by air if you factor in all the hanging around at airports, including standing in line, baggage check-in, security theatre and getting to the airport in good time.

As for ‘renewables’, Wind and Solar are no better than subsidy sinks and the proposed ‘Carbon Taxes’ a licence to steal money from the hard pressed middle and working class population and feed it into the pockets of the ultra-rich 0.1%. Not only that but the Chinese and Indians will take one look at the proposals, if they have not already done so, and walk away giggling at the stupidity of the decadent westerners. CO2 is a symptom, not the illness, and human emissions are a drop in the pond. The Indians, Chinese and Russians understand this, but seeing as according to some they’re the ‘bad guys’ instead of just competitors. To the Green New Deal proponents their judgement means little. Even if the Russians, Chinese and Indians happen to be right.

Besides, as Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign strategist, James Carville, once said; “The economy, stupid.” Middle and working class USA likes strong economic growth and wealth creation. Trump has brought this about by re-energising a business-friendly environment. Overall unemployment is as low as it’s been for at least five decades and the only thing that might unseat him is a massive crisis that he flubs completely. Rather like Bush did with both 9/11 and the ’08 financial crisis. Besides, the US Democrats haven’t a strong enough contender for the US Presidency and the Green New Deal is proving massively divisive.

Nor are there any indicators of a financial crisis which might threaten the prosperity the US is currently rediscovering. Of course there will be market corrections over the year, just like over Christmas, but any dips won’t exceed much over 5% of total market value, which to me is no good reason to dump any stocks. Indeed the dead cat does seem to be bouncing like it was made of super ball rubber. I’m just wondering if I should leave my cash reserves just as cash in a high interest account or find an undervalued stock that’s worth a buy in.

Which means I’ll be talking to my brokers again next week. Although SNC-Lavallin aren’t on my list of investment opportunities. Not until the dust has settled over subpoenas being served on various members of the Canadian Trudeau administration, which might lead to their electoral downfall. Not only is little Justine pissing Canadians off because he makes them look weak and silly, but there’s a scandal brewing which may involve the RCMP being brought in to give our current PM the ‘perp walk’. Although that sort of thing only happens to the little people, not the ruling elites.

To replace the Liberals politically, I rather like the sound of the new People’s Party of Canada under Maxime Bernier, as Scheer’s Progressive Conservatives come across as totally cucked who will do little to get rid of the oppressive extensions to ‘Hate Crime’ legislation as expanded over the last three years. The local Burnaby by-elections next week should show which way the Canadian wind is blowing but I have noticed that there’s a lot of new activism at the grass roots level. A sea change is taking place, but whether that change will be enough to get rid of the Liberal party is moot. We will see.

I also talked to my broker about picking Mastercard or VISA as an investment opportunity. I found myself explaining in detail to Mrs S why Mastercard might take a share hit in the next six months because of their implication in the Patreon scandal. Payments processors should just do that. No more, no less. Not intervene in people’s opinions and private lives where they have no business.

To close on these and related matters I would point out that money has no morality, because one persons morality is another’s blatant hypocrisy. As certain payment processors and their cohorts may find out when the mechanisms they put in place to enforce their world-view are turned against them. Could it happen to nicer people? Mmm-maybe.

Have a nice weekend.

Another snow day

…Well it would be, if, as I have stated before I needed to commute. We’ve had about six inches drifting to twelve on our deck over the last forty eight hours. Not a hell of a lot, but enough for a snowman. Seaplanes are taking off, but some from the mid-Island are turning back. We’re catching it worse than Vancouver, but I hear a number of School Districts have put out a ‘Snow Day’ message, so the local kids will have to amuse themselves elsewhere.

Update: Seaplanes are grounded and the Ferries to Vancouver have cancelled sailings until the weather lifts.

Notwithstanding, I have refreshed two of our Hummingbird feeders and hope they stay unfrozen for a few hours. At least one of our local birds has been zooming around looking for some sustenance, so we provided. It’s amusing to watch the antics of our Hummingbird population, even in the snow.

We do what we can, although it’s been me who braves the semi-blizzard conditions, stamping through a foot of snow out on the deck, wondering how many of our plants will survive this cold snap. Fingers, eyes nostrils and teeth crossed, our more perennial plants will survive, although it’s hard to tell with them under over six inches of snow over the tops of the plant pots.

Even at lunchtime it’s minus two Celsius out there. Which is a bit parky, to use the vernacular. If anyone is stupid enough to say; “Oo, this cold is all because of global warming.” in my presence they will be mocked unmercifully. Such regurgitation of garbage is sound evidence of a room temperature IQ. No, I’ll amend that, it’s indicative of subzero cerebral activity. The polar temperature was minus thirty two last I checked (One of the recording stations in Northern Nunavut) which is average for this time of year. To me it seems like the weather is getting colder. Shorter, hotter Summers and longer, colder Winters overall.

There’s an opinion piece about ‘Fake News’ in the FT by Tony Hall, Director General of the Bullshit Broadcasting Corporation, which I thought was a bit rich. In his op-ed Hall complains that ‘Democratic’ values are at risk. Well actually I agree. Democracy is always at threat, from biased news particularly, no matter it’s source. The BBC is notorious for omitting salient details, pushing a narrative and misrepresenting people with unfashionable views. As far as I’m concerned it could disappear tomorrow and I wouldn’t notice. The only thing I’d miss would be the Radio comedy shows it used to put out. Had the management team left that alone I wouldn’t have minded so much, but now it’s all biased Fark and Churnalism and I don’t really care. As for the jokers who decided to turn veteran Sci-fi show Dr Who into a preach-fest of lefty talking points, there goes that franchise. The fans were not impressed with season 11. Will there be a 12? Don’t care. We stopped watching mainstream TV over a decade ago and have never looked back. Well I haven’t, but Mrs S gets a bit nostalgic for it occasionally.

I know there’s a body of opinion that portrays people who turn off the TV and cut the Cable Umbilical as ignorant and ill-informed, but that is far from the case. It forces you to look for the story behind the story and take no-ones say so at face value. Most ‘news’ I find is little better than outrage-bait designed to increase your blood pressure. For the big media organisations there’s always a scapegoat or a witch to urge the mob onto. So for me the national news media has little facility. Apart from reporting on a Tsunami hitting downtown Victoria, or a big Earthquake but we’d have all been underwater or under the rubble for hours by the time reports hit the mainstream. This is why the ‘News’ is by it’s very nature ‘Olds’ and there’s way too much of it which is little better than half-baked opinion pieces. You might say “Ha-hah! Just like this blog post! Gotcha you old fraud!” To which I would reply; “True, but at least this blog doesn’t pretend to be what it’s not.” As the travelling judge said to the hotel receptionist, I rest my case.

Bloody hell. I’ve just looked outside on the deck. The snow has thoroughly filled my foot-deep footprints from earlier. Glad I’ve got no face to face appointments this week.

Snowflakes falling

What can I say, we’ve had snow here on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Not a great deal, not enough to trigger a ‘snow day’, just a strinkling for decoration. No biggie. Just make sure you have your cold weather tyres on and turn up as usual. Well I would if my desk required a commute. Which it doesn’t. Which at the moment is nice. The only downside is that you have to be really careful about how many hours you work. It is very easy sometimes to work over seventy hours a week if things get a bit hectic. Fortunately work is quieter at present and the powers that be less demanding. Maybe they’re hibernating? No matter, I just keep my head down and graft until my scheduled tasks are done and decline any further workload. On the grounds that I’ve got enough to do already. Besides, my ambitions have shifted away from being purely employment focused. It’s safer that way.

One thing occurred to me while I was watching a fine snow fall Sunday and Monday was all the talk of Martial Law floating around circa a no-deal BREXIT. It’s almost as if Theresa May et al are looking for a way to not deliver, which I personally wouldn’t put past her and her remainer cohorts. There’s an air of not so quiet desperation about the remoaner faction. It’s like they’re planning to act like a spoiled six year old on the losing side of a game, who runs away with the ball so no-one else can play any more. I have this awful suspicion they’re going to welsh on the British people, or try to provoke a violent reaction so they have an excuse to keep the UK firmly in the EU’s clutches, because actually getting on with running a country is such hard work don’cha know. Not that the alternative is any better. All Labour ever achieved for the UK was ‘managed decline’ and the Tories (and the country) need another Thatcher. Or at least something or someone the economically productive can feel secure about, because when they feel good the money flows, investment rises and unemployment drops. Which is good for everyone but extreme lefties in academia and those in the public sector.

Having worked in both public and private sector institutions I’ve come to prefer the private. Working for the public sector puts too many constraints on you as a person, far more so than in a large corporate. The work may be much easier in the public sector, but where’s the fun in that? Where’s the challenge, the adrenaline rush?

This worker has seized his own means of production like we all should and has learned ways of moving his resources rapidly, just in case the jealous beast of big government casts envious eyes upon that small fiscal redoubt he has built outside of the banking system. Because even banks can fail. Yes they may have all the money, but as in the case of BNP Paribas, the biggest French bank by market capitalisation, has had to retrench recently. Trading losses forced it to make cuts of almost half a billion quid. This is symptomatic of a general malaise across European investment banking. Nothing for customers to freak out about yet, but certainly a sign that the uncertainly about BREXIT and unrest throughout Europe is being felt further along the European financial food chain. A clean break would be far less painful. I’m moving my money out of continental Europe until the dust settles in five or ten years time. Covenant-lite loans will be Europe’s next downfall. The Euro is already down and has further to go. Which will be good when the big money finds a new safe haven in Sterling and the US Dollar.

While contemplating the above I took a time out to inspect our little Winter deck garden, I was amused to see our Snowdrops and Crocuses have punched their way through a thin crust of ice and snow to provide a little colour other than white everywhere. When the clouds part, the Crocuses have their petals spread wide in a huge YAAAY! to great the thin warmth of a Winter sun. Life is perennial like that. There might be snow and rain, but there will always be the odd flash of sunlight to lighten the gloom. Those are the moments to live for.

What else? Oh yes, never mind his state of the union triumph, Trump has by executive order escalated the trade war against Canada. Is it being reported? Not so much. Very little. In fact a crucial detail completely slipped under my radar. The FT missed it completely, despite the the relevant executive order being on the official White House web site. Canadian companies being given the big shut out from the USA? By the way, Obama did exactly the same thing back in 09, but our then PM Stephen Harper, had enough savvy to negotiate a Canadian exemption. Trudeau’s incompetent bunch of snowflakes are too focussed on feel-good virtue signalling than doing what’s right for employment in the great diverse North. He was even caught slagging off Canadian blue collar workers last year. If he wins the 2019 Federal election I’ll know something is amiss because he is not a popular figure right now. Only a concerted bought and paid for media assault can help him. What’s that Sooty? He’s given taxpayer dollar to that cause already? Well stap me vitals. Who would have thought?

Anyway, it looks like being a lively discussion on Friday when I finalise my buying picks. There may even be a significant opportunity. Canadian pipeline companies are looking interesting because they have just upped their prices at contract renewal time. This is because Trudeau’s Feds won’t let them build any more pipelines, a move which paradoxically means higher dividends for no additional infrastructure costs. True, the price of the shares won’t go anywhere fast, but the way my tax sheltered investments are structured, I automatically reinvest any share dividends, increasing holdings and thus boosting the income from a relatively limited outlay. Despite all the deluded wibbling about ‘renewable energy’, there is no ‘low emission’ power generation technology mature enough, apart from Hydro-Electric or Nuclear (both ideologically unpopular with the Greens, Liberals and NDP) to cover the energy needs of Canada’s growing population. In spite of what all the talking head prophets of doom say, ‘Fossil’ fuels aren’t going to run out any time soon.

At least the Lemon Trees are doing well

January has come and gone and my Lemon tree plants are sprouting new leaves on the windowsill of my office. What else? I’ve also just spent my yearly holiday allowance on a trip to Londinium this Autumn. Mrs S and I want to see all the non-events that will characterise the UK leaving the EU.

Otherwise life at Chez Sticker is plagued by glitches. A whole shedload of the wretched things. Nothing insuperable, just minor bits of grit in life’s ointment. Banks that won’t do what they’re told. Stuff which should happen in forty eight hours takes a week to ten days to set up. Which is a bit tricky when you’re under the gun and on a tight deadline. I’m having to postpone investments because of them. Which is a pain. I was hoping to get a tranche of cash moved to invest before the stock market rose too high. The Canadian tax man (Nice chaps – when you have good accountants) you see has given me a more generous allowance for investments for last year and this and I want to take advantage of the loophole before March 1st when the opportunity disappears. Then there’s the extra payments to HMRC to ensure my UK pension is nicely topped up.

One minor irritation is having to postpone closing an offshore account because of a policy rule change. A complication because the money sent to HMRC from that account has to clear before I can do the necessary. This is mildly annoying. Of course any differential will only be pennies, but nurtured carefully how those pennies mount up.

Turns out I have a knack for shifting money around. Who knew? All those years working my arse off for a living when I should have followed my true calling in international finance. Although my calculus is sometimes questionable, I can usually convert between currencies in my head pretty well and I’m making a more than modest amount each year off my stocks and shares. Better than all the pension funds and other investment vehicles I’ve put money into over the years. Nothing spectacular, just solid, steady tax-sheltered growth over the medium to long term. All nice and legal. Even if it is hard work from time to time. I could retire tomorrow but I’m not going to. Deferring payment means a better hedge against inflation and besides, I’d only get bored.

On the BREXIT front The Financial Times is still very Remoaner and becoming rather irritating to the point where I may well be cancelling my subscription. I want news, information, not opinion dressed up as so-called ‘facts’ to support a pro-EU aganda. My increasing infuriation is driven by the imperative that in investment, good and timely information is everything. Without that information the news media has no real facility.

So what’s going on out in Interwebland? Lots of interesting stuff. As my last remaining reader is probably aware, there’s been a lot of screaming and yelling over ‘Fake news’ over the last three years. Then, more recently there’s been a lot of tearing of hair and sackcloth and ashes over ‘journalists’ being fired from various left of centre media outlets. Now these two phenomena might seem unconnected, but what might have slipped under the radar is the cessation of funding to counter ‘foreign propaganda’ begun during the Obama administration under the Portman-Murphy sponsored ‘Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act’. Like with Trudeau’s extra funding for CBC and other like minded media outlets introduced in 2018. All the money under the respective legislation has been strongly suspected of going to media outlets that toe a specific party line. Or in the case of the USA, did go.

Listen to a more well-informed commentator’s view below explaining the ‘Learn to code‘ meme doing the rounds, where alphabet soup commentators have been paid very well while spreading misinformation to support their ’cause’. All the time insinuating that right of centre and centrist Youtubers and bloggers are little better than pro-Russian propaganda ‘bots. Let me explain; for years, said journo’s have slyly mocked ordinary working people who lost their jobs. Now the boot is on the other foot.

Mass media redundancies? Couldn’t happen to nicer people.

Only a couple more months to Spring. I have the feeling April 1st is going to be really interesting this year. At least for all the prophets of doom.

Update:  Speaking of doom, is it finally ‘game over’ for the Maduro regime in Venezuela?  If so, what will replace it?  All rather academic as the answers to those questions are for the Venezuelan people and no-one else.

Once upon a time…

I’ve been looking around of late, in my few off-duty moments, wondering if the online culture war of faux-outrage has any cause and I regret to say I think it’s always been going on. Why I think that is a convoluted path, but the answer can be summarised with a Trudeau-like “Because, Humans”.

This answer derives from the 1941 movie (Okay, I love old black and white Frank Capra movies, so sue me) “Meet John Doe” starring Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper which is a satire on the state of journalism and politics during the early to mid twentieth century urban USA. What it, and many other similar productions tell us is (Including one Marx Brothers comedy) how mainstream media outlets, like all human institutions, are partisan and how that partisanship plays out with an audience and the powers that be. Particularly when said dead tree press is struggling to survive under severe financial pressure. I particularly liked the portrayal of a prototype SJW as a fat, rich and idle white woman bloviating over the phone to the Mayor’s office, giving him hell for not “Doing something” about an issue invented to save a journalists paycheck, then that invented ‘problem’ going on to create a national cause célèbre.

The parallels with today’s online society are obvious. A vociferous minority with otherwise empty lives, the #MeToo movement as a case in point, get told a lie to further the agenda or line the pockets of some rent seeker, then without looking at whether the information they are given is sound or not, go off on a rant about it. In the process not caring about the harm they do to any innocent party. Rather like the Salem Witch trials or Nazi and Soviet era denunciations. Due process goes out of the window, there is no examination of any evidence. In their eyes the accusation is the evidence. Emotion is all, mere facts or lack thereof are irrelevant. The Twitter or Facebook lynch mob wants blood and no evidence of innocence can be countenanced. Bugger human rights, sod innocent until proven guilty, the unthinking mob just want to see those necks stretch. They love the drama, the endorphin hit of feeling they’ve done the right thing, regardless of any inconvenient facts or even the lack thereof. Or the innocence of the people whose lives they try to destroy by going after their employers or family.

The irony of privileged white people crowing about the “end of white supremacy” is not lost on this blog. If these people had any real self awareness or insight they’d understand that if the societal freedoms and responsibilities they call “White supremacy” do disappear, so will their own privileged indolent lifestyles.

The rest of us end up with our freedom of expression muzzled by poorly thought through “hate speech” laws. And eventually so does theirs, because the law is a two edged sword, which cuts both ways.

Update:  A gentleman named Mark Kern has suggested calling SJW’s and their media allies “Information Terrorists”.  May I suggest an alternative term, “The Enemy”.

What May come?

What was British PM Theresa May up to in South Africa, apart from proving she dances like a tailors dummy with arthritis? If any arthritic tailors dummies are offended by that last sentence – tough. You’re not covered by any hate crime laws (yet), so I can say what I damn well like about you. Which does not answer the question that has been meandering around in my head over the long weekend.

That question is; what is the British Prime Minister doing, cosying up to the ANC on the run up to the proposed mass land grab? Is this some belated retribution against latter-day white Afrikaners for the Boer Wars? Or is there a new ‘scramble for Africa‘ going on like in the late 1800’s?

On that topic, I know the Chinese are lending money left right and centre to a lot of African countries and have been doing for some considerable time to buy their way in. Contrariwise, as our cousins south of the 49th parallel would say, Britain’s influence has been in steep decline since the mid 1900’s so why the sudden interest? Is May going to offer asylum to those farmers threatened with penury when land they have been the stewards of since the late 1700’s is whipped from under their feet without recompense, leaving them at the mercy of the Banks, who will still want their payments and the murderous intent of the Communist EFF? Bet you she won’t.

Unlike the Russians or Australians, who have land they would like to see put to productive use and are offering refuge to the soon-to-be dispossessed. Or the Zimbabweans, who having seen the errors of their ways are actively welcoming back those nasty old white farmers Mugabe summarily asset stripped. Because the new regime realised that the so-called ‘bad guys’ had the work ethic, management and agricultural skills to make commercial farms pay. Unlike the people the land was given to by the Mugabe regime, who basically didn’t have a clue and weren’t interested in anything but the money. Which ran out very quickly indeed.

South Africa will suffer just like Zimbabwe did for this racist policy. Their economy is already in bad shape, with the Rand on an ever-downward path. Now they’re getting ready for the ethnic cleansing that will make them unable to feed their country. This is not ‘Land reform’. This is not ‘fairness’. This is economic suicide.

Why May should want to hitch Britain’s coat tails to such a regime is, on the surface, quite baffling. Unless you know some of the expat community who have spent time in other parts of Africa.
There’s a government enforced policy in certain African states which dictates that the CEO of a company has to be a local. Can’t be ‘white’ or Asian locals either. So what outside funded multinationals do is recruit an ethnic local, load him with all the trappings, but give the important functional work, and thus the real power to hand picked and motivated people who are either trained and steeped in the productive ethos, or Expat Europeans or Asians brought in to keep things moving. Otherwise little happens.

As a rather cynical Expat, an old ‘Africa hand’ said to me when I expressed surprise at this state of affairs many years ago. “TIA.” or “This is Africa.”

Personally, I think Theresa May has been laying the political groundwork for another type of hostile takeover after the South African land reforms fall over, as they will, because land only has value to those who know what to do with it. Especially when those who take up the seized properties find out how much hard bloody work commercial farming actually is, British based multinationals will be politically placed to move in and buy up the productive land. A local will be selected as the front man and like elsewhere, Expat Europeans, Lebanese and Asians brought in to actually run the show. Possibly even the people whose farm was seized in the first place. Why? Because they have the experience to cope with all the poorly managed infrastructure, shortage of good roads and general levels of corruption endemic to the continent.

Baking Daze

By George I’ve done it! I’ve cracked baking both my favourite Black Olive Bread and French style Baguettes. Using bog standard flour, salt, instant yeast and water alone. No baking powder, no additives or ‘improvers’. Better than store bought. More flavour. Ee, I’m dead chuffed.

The trick for French style baguettes is in the dough which should be damp and slightly sticky but not too wet. Too wet and you’ve just baked a twenty inch long muffin, too dry and it comes out like bad pastry. Dry mix the Flour, salt and yeast thoroughly before adding room temperature water. Mix and add flour until you’ve got a dough ball that sticks to the bowl a little, but not too much. Leave resulting dough in mixing bowl for a couple of hours, punch down the dough and knead it until your dough ball gets smoother and more plasticky. Let it rise again. Knead once more then leave for twenty minutes or so before cutting dough into loaf sized bits. Roll and place dough, cutting as per your fancy to be cooked on some baking paper on a tray in an oven pre-heated to 415 Fahrenheit (About 210 Celsius) with a heat proof bowl half full of boiling water on the shelf below. Rotate tray after ten minutes or so. Remove baking parchment and leave loaf on grid or tray. Continue to cook until brown all over (About 15-20 additional minutes). Remove and leave on a grid or some baking parchment to cool. Works like a charm every time. Passes the toast test too.

Thanks to our Landlord’s apple tree, apple tarts have also been created and apple pie filling is being readied for the freezer. The tarts proved an absolute snip with some thinly rolled pastry, thin sliced apple and baking them in the oven for about twenty five minutes at 350 Fahrenheit (175 Celsius), although to get the full glistening glory of a patisserie produced product I will need to invest in some gelatin to brush over the baked apple and cinnamon.

Oh yes, all the wildfire smoke has gone. In forty eight hours. We’ve gone from an AQI in the hundreds (Almost hazardous) to single figures (Good) almost overnight after the Pacific winds drove inland and reports of snow and rain from the interior of BC. Snow in August? WTF? True, the snowfall is all up on the peaks in the Rockies, but hang on a minute! This is still August FFS! And it’s earlier than ever reported before, so what’s going on? Are we in for a long, cold Winter as the US Farmers Almanac is predicting or is this just a blip?

Which reminds me, my old toaster just died and we’ve had to spend a few bucks on one of those fancy long slice models.

The lessons of History

A couple of decades ago, I was studying 9th and 10th Century Anglo-Saxon History when I came across a curious snippet. Under the reign of Athelstan (924-939), first King of all the Angles and the first to rule over a unified England with similar borders to today, there was a law, which does not appear in this brief selection, stating that no child should be left alone with a priest. That the parent of the child, or a Reeve, particularly if the child were a boy if memory serves, was always to be present. In short there were strict laws concerning priestly conduct. Why? Because even 10th Century monarchs knew about human nature and the effects of enforced celibacy. There were even strict penalties for Priests or Monks who ‘carried off Nuns’.

Now it seems the Catholic church is reaping the whirlwind for not just decades but potentially centuries of institutionalised child abuse and internal cover-ups. Good luck with those claims for ‘compensation’ though. The Catholic Church is land rich and owns vast archives but as far as I’m aware doesn’t have that much ready cash floating about. So any claims paid will result in a fire-sale of some very nice ecclesiastical real estate. The Pope can beg for God’s forgiveness all he wants, but it’s not God who wants the compensation.

The whole circus reminds me of one of my Dad’s favourite jokes (Although it was probably his father’s favourite as well), which goes thus;

A Catholic priest is hauled up in the Magistrates court for sodomising an under age choirboy. He’s about to put in a guilty plea when the Magistrate takes one look at the plaintiffs and the arresting officer, bangs his gavel (Ouch) and says. “Case dismissed.”
The arresting Police officer looks aghast; he’s literally caught the errant priest with his cassock around his waist, humping hell out of an eleven year old boy in the Sacristy. “Your honour!” He protests.
“I said; case dismissed.” Repeats the Magistrate, firmly.
“But, but why?” Asks the Policeman.
“Haven’t you heard that Choirboy sing?” Asks the Magistrate.

Well, it used to make me laugh. It’s like the whole casting couch phenomena that has all the #MeToo movement up in arms. In the working class circles from which I originate these things were well known from when I was a boy five decades ago. Priests buggered choirboys. Actors, hardly paragons of morality, often traded sex for a part in a movie or a show via casting couch culture. Single sex schools were known hotbeds of various under the age of consent vices. Various forms of sexual perversion is rife in prisons. Why? Because any port in a storm. That’s why.

Politicians often have mistresses (Even John Prescott). It was and is a careless parent who trusts these people too much because those who aspire to positions of power do so because that carries an implied licence to have sex with anything of woman born. Those with large sexual appetites will always be and have always been this way. We know these things to be true because we hear the rumours and read about the court cases.

The only thing that still baffles me is why everyone is so goddamn surprised. This is not to say that authority figures should not be trusted, but, only to a point. They are not Gods, simply slightly more ambitious and less restrained versions of our more mundane selves. And we all know how bad we are.

Hunkering down

Wildfire smoke has gotten worse over the last twenty four hours so the Sticker household has completely battened down the hatches and watched the AQI go from the ‘Unhealthy’ particulate count (AQI 170-185) end of the spectrum to ‘Hazardous’ (AQI 340! last night) in the last few hours. So over the last seventy two hours we’ve been indoors listening to the Hummingbirds coughing outside and wondering when our scenery will get un-photoshopped. As well as sweltering a little because we can’t have any windows open. The taste of burning forest has been everywhere.

Fortunately a change in the wind brought brief surcease this morning with the worst of the smoke flowing northbound up the west side of Vancouver Island, remaining a louring presence across the hills. AQI dropped below 100 for a couple of hours, which is like the air in a major capital like Paris or London on a bad day. Breathable, but nicer when you get into the air conditioned indoors. The forecast is for particulates to drop to their more usual low teens. Which hasn’t happened yet. Temperatures likewise are to drop to around 20-22 Celsius, which is cool for August, but you won’t catch me complaining about that. Cool air you can breathe? That will do. When it arrives. At the moment the AQI is firmly in the ‘Unhealthy’ range of around 120-60+ and our scenery has been photoshopped once more.

Our ever-expanding deck garden seems unaffected. The herbs are fine, we’ve acquired a small conifer and another two of my Lemon plants (no longer mere seedlings) look like they’ll need potting out into their own little receptacles soon. So a quick trip to the stores was required for some more potting compost which means this evening I’ll be potting out our new Thyme and Mint plants as well as my nascent Lemon trees.

I see our cousins down south are talking about impeaching Trump. For something Obama’s campaigns got a mere slap on the wrist for? It smacks of desperation from the ensconced power elites, who are actually the real problem in the USA. These are the folks who should be standing in the welfare lines. Trump’s actually sticking up for important things like free speech online and asking pertinent questions about South Africa’s land seizures. He’s asking other questions certain people don’t want in the high level public domain because such questions will probably hurt their investment strategies. That sounds like a reasonable reason why they’re out to get him by any means necessary.

Regarding those South African land seizures. It’s been widely known that being a Boer descended farmer has been a high risk occupation for well over thirty years. Farm raids and murders have been glossed over by the media because, well, all white South Africans are bad yeah? All that Apartheid? Personal anecdote here; when we lived up Island we found that a good number of our neighbours were ex-Afrikaners and White Rhodesians who got out when the ANC and Mugabe regimes took over. My Doctor was South African. So was my next door but one neighbour. Another neighbour was white Zimbabwean who always talked of the land of his birth with affection. This in a community of less than twenty five properties. I knew of at least three more Afrikaner families in our locale.

Now we hear that the Zimbabwe government are begging for the eeevil white farmers they kicked off their land to come back because the guys their farms were given to didn’t have a clue how to manage them. Which is what will happen to South Africa. The country will implode even further economically speaking because the ANC will have ethnically cleansed (Dispossessed) the most productive and industrious people from ‘their’ country and their agricultural skill base will collapse followed by the rest of the economy.

Lauren Southern’s polemic, ‘Farmlands’ covers the history of how the current state of affairs came to be, but does miss out the Boer war and disagree with a few other salient details listed in timelines like these. For example, in ‘official’ versions the massacre of 100 Boer settlers led by Paul Retief by the Zulu King Dingnaan (Dingnane) in 1838 state that Retief tried to obtain land by ‘trickery’ and that ‘only’ 60 died, not the 100 claimed by Southern and Wikipedia. Dingnaan’s warriors later massacred another 534 Voortrekkers in the Weneen massacre. A figure composed of 41 men, 56 women and 185 children from the Dutch settler party killed along with 250 or 252 of their native tribe servants / followers. Wikipedia may not be the most reliable of sources, but in this case is more credible than some ‘official’ timelines. And that’s just one example out of several. I’ve been checking. Mainly because I’m a history buff and don’t like being misled. Anyway, see for yourself, I’ve embedded Lauren’s YouTube video below. It does not make for happy viewing. But make your own mind up.

As an afterthought, you hear a lot of SJW types crowing about the ‘end of white supremacy’. Well chaps, fasten your seat belts because that’s exactly what happened to Zimbabwe and other African countries and what’s happening to South Africa. Liberia, Angola, Congo, Libya, Chad, Somalia, Sudan and the Central African Republic for example. Never mind the occasional tribal genocide or ongoing US interventions in the Trans Sahara and Horn of Africa. Or isn’t that quite the ‘end of white supremacy’ these ‘Social Justice’ types ordered, eh?

Useful fact checking website; Africa Check. For those interested in the stats regarding the number of farmers murdered, try looking at this article; Why Calculating a farm murder rate in SA is near impossible.

Why we need ‘free’ speech

I was watching this Jordan Peterson presentation this morning (See video below) and was struck with a small epiphany.

Having listened to him I’d say it’s not so much ‘free’ speech we need as honest speech. The right to honestly challenge all ideas, good and bad. Firstly to challenge the bad and by doing so (and I would say more importantly) improve the good.

Canada’s, indeed the whole Anglosphere’s, new ‘hate speech’ and blasphemy laws are antithetical to honest discourse, which is why these laws must go. And no, you can’t punch someone simply because you disagree with them either, because that is common assault and should bear the penalty of the law. Nor should anyone suffer penalty, be ‘de-platformed’ or have their livelihood threatened for simply speaking their mind. Even, and especially so, if their ideas are wrong or harmful. Like the obvious misandry of 3rd wave feminism. Or even the “Shut up or we’ll kill you” tactics of the Wahabi sect of Islam, or radical Communists and Socialists of whatever kidney. Or the crazy armed isolationism of extreme right wingers. Or National Socialism. History is full of some truly epoch making bad ideas like these.

Honest speech also allows any individual to examine and dismiss sources of ‘fake news’ for the charlatans they are. To tell anyone they aren’t allowed to and force your will upon them brutally strips people of their individuality, which I always thought was the best and greatest thing about humanity.

Update:  Here’s a perspective from the working man’s side of things which tends to fit with my own thinking (Okay, it’s a US source but none the less on the money).  And he’s right.  Free, or better still honest speech, is dangerous.

But honest speaking is often very, very necessary. Which is why it should not suffer Government constraint, no matter how ‘hurtful’ it is.

The Axis of Evil

Well I declare; Facebook is sniffing around US banks to obtain users transaction data. By proxy, considering that Facebook maintains databases which compile profiles on even non-users like myself, this is dangerous territory. I have already written to the banks of whom I am an account and shareholder for assurances that they will not provide any customer transaction data to Facebook or any other Social Media company whatsoever. Whether these ‘Social Media’ companies are ‘actively’ seeking it or not. Personally I find the denials flimsy and untrustworthy.

The risk here is that Facebook, Twitter, Google et al are actively seeking to extend their tentacles into every aspect of modern life. Given these platforms propensity for shadow banning, account deletion and general censoriousness, there is good reason to suspect that once such access is gained they will use it to further their own corporate agendas, not just sell advertising. Given that these platforms have demonstrated a clear propensity for de-platforming people they disagree with, those who do not conform may find their financial affairs restricted.

Working as I do with money, which has no politics, I find the hinted intrusion of Social Media companies into the financial arena a direct threat to my affairs, even if that threat is so far existential. As far as I am concerned, Facebook (LinkedIn), Alphabet Corporation (Google, YouTube), Twitter etc. just became the bad guys, forming an ‘Axis of evil’. “Don’t be evil.” just lost the “Don’t.” These corporate monsters now represent a more insidious form of soft Fascism than anyone would have previously thought possible, but here we are. All the trust we have given them, they have routinely abused.

Over the next few days I will also be deleting my Facebook-owned professional LinkedIn account, after first informing all my real life friends and professional contacts that I am doing so via email. LinkedIn never brought me any worthwhile work offers anyway.