Category Archives: Random Amusement

The blame game

Oh the Hollywood Weinstein scandal, the gift that keeps on giving. Where sexual acts are traded for roles in movies. What a whole canning factory of worms and vice has been opened across the board. There are panderers, pimps and whores all over the place. Which is what the general public has suspected for years.

One of the things that occurred to me while reading the multiple sources of outrage over this affair is that the law has been broken by all sides of the argument. So I went and took a look at the California legal codes covering sexual assault and prostitution. Oh dear. This does not look good for either Weinstein or his coterie of tearstained accusers.

Let me explain; what Weinstein did was not rape or sexual assault. He is guilty of neither of those crimes for one simple reason; he was influence peddling. Trading movie roles and influence for sex. Under Californian law he is probably guilty of soliciting prostitution. Telling his ‘victims’ that they could have what they wanted (A movie role) for what can easily be defined as a ‘lewd’ act (A sexual act like a blow job or full sex). Which, according the rather useful Findlaw web site, is a crime under Californian law. Because prostitution laws make it a crime to offer, agree to, or engage in a sexual act for compensation.

Now, for those who delight in irony this is amusing for one solid sterling reason. There are no innocent parties here. Why? Because in order for a successful prosecution of Harvey Weinstein under the laws of California for soliciting sex, they have to find his accusers guilty of prostitution. Any enablers, like female personal assistants etc who ‘left the room’ for Harvey to make certain actresses an offer they could have refused, could also find themselves in court under the pimping provisions of the same legislation.

Oh my.

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Confirmation of bias

Well, today I potted out my tomato plants into two larger receptacles for window ledges and made a few more handy little tripod supports for my (hopefully) impending crop of fresh tomatoes, the first tranche of which should be ready in a few months. The winds are picking up, the temperature has dropped over ten degrees since September and we’re getting some rain at long last. It’s been a long hot summer, which generally presages a very sharp cold Winter, so I’m glad Mrs S and I will be visiting family in the fabled land of Oz this festering season.

So, what’s in the ‘olds’* this week? Hollywood Producer falls from grace and is finally denounced by all the women he took sexual advantage of? Well is this news? Not really. Hollywood is a corrupt and gilded sewer, it cannot help be anything else. Showbiz has long been known as a haven for those with ‘diverse’ sexual interests. Actors, Actresses, Producers and Directors make other people happy, so they want to be made happy in return. Sex, drugs, whatever floats their boat. Unless they’re happy to be working in Repertory where the rewards are small.

As for certain actresses, some would argue that some are no better than they should be and that using their sexual appeal to bolster their careers is hard wired into their profession. Why? Because theatrical folk have long been known for such excesses. Indeed, fame has long been considered a bulwark against negative outcomes for licentious and what some would call immoral behaviour. Anyone who has read Molière (17th century) in particular Tartuffe or any of his other works would understand this. Molière held up a mirror to the misdeeds of his time and merits careful examination. In England too, theatres for centuries had the reputation of ‘Bawdy houses‘. Not to mention that the history of the theatre is richly laced with the taint of alcoholic and sexual excess. Going all the way back before Marlowe in the 16th Century. In the 20th century there was the Hollywood ‘Rat Pack’ whose alcoholic and sexual exploits are near legendary.

Also the irony of having someone whose main talent lies in portraying exaggerated emotion and parroting the words of others lecture the public on moral issues. Which comes across as, mm, how can I say this? No, there’s no other word for it; nauseating. The posturing of some people at ‘awards’ ceremonies is hard to stomach.

That irony doubles down because a number of the accusers who have only surfaced when it’s safe to do so, are those who have publicly decried sexism and racism and pretended to stand up for the rights of ‘wimmen’. Forgive me if I’m not convinced of their virtue. The very self same people have previously publicly defended Weinstein and the like. No, honestly, nothing to see here. Pass the champagne and let’s go party hearty. Forgive me for thinking that they don’t just hold double, but quintuple standards.

As for anyone pretending to be ‘shocked’ oh come on. Casting couch and similar tales have been filtering out ever since the first movies were made. Sexually abused child ‘stars’. Thespians literally prostituting themselves to those with the money and power over who does what. Young women spreading their legs to anyone who can get them a part in a movie. Sorry folks, but to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear, this is just not news. So why the hell is anyone even remotely surprised? Just because the biggest turd has now been flushed out doesn’t stop it being a sewer.

*’News’ to some. To the informed, not so much.

Like wot I wrote

Yesterday I was meandering through the back channels of the FT and came upon an article which intrigued me. It linked to a series of six youtube videos concerning active and passive phrasing in English. Fairly dry stuff you might think. Not so dear reader. There is considerable dusty passion raised within the grammarian community on this issue, even about misquoting Orwell over his famous active vs passive quote. What Professor Pullum says about Strunk & White, long thought the short cut to grammar expertise, is highly entertaining. Well, at least to anyone even vaguely interested in constructing cogent prose.

Most people’s eyes will glaze over and go away to watch a funny cat video when he starts talking about transitive verbs, but I found his six talks highly enlightening and a classic example of how groupthink and widely promoted misinformation can degrade a subject. Particularly such a critical one as English.

Like quoting out of context, because in communicating an idea, context is everything. Particularly from Orwell’s much quoted essay “Politics and the English language” in which he says;

(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.
(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.
(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Now point iv is the one writing ‘gurus’ always trot out, but this raises the question; have they been abusing this quotation all along? Now I think point vi is the money shot because it tells the reader to ignore all of the above rules rather than write something which lacks clarity.

Because clarity in communicating ideas is everything and a soft word spoken truly is sharper than a swung Katana.

Chips with a twist

We’ve all suffered. Horrible oven chips with that mouth clogging floury aftertaste. Soggy fried potato strips which slip down the throat as though they were greased, but leave no enduring pleasure. Overdone, underdone, wobbling free and all phases in between. The humble chip or French fry is a difficult dish to get right.

Aficionado’s of this often-abused comestible recommend the double or even triple fried potato fries using electronic means to regulate the cooking temperature. Often recommending complex methods requiring washing, patting dry and sprinkling in salt distilled from a virgin’s tears, waiting times and special oils, or a special deep oil fryer that needs a protracted and labour intensive cleaning out after every use. Everyone has their own pet method. Well let me add my own.

Now cooking the humble French fry should not be a complicated or prolonged procedure. Yet getting it right from a standing start to produce a firm but crunchy end product that is thoroughly cooked is often a right bloody mission.

My own method came to me as a happy accident when I was looking at a way of cooking a small batch of fries just for me when I was running out of cooking oil. It’s very simple and you will need the following:
A Russet or baking potato.
1 pint of any old cooking oil.
A pan you don’t mind using for frying.
A microwave oven.
Seasoning to taste.

Method:
Put oil in pan and heat to medium high on stove.
Put potato in microwave oven and cook on full power, depending upon size from 5-9 minutes, turning once.
Leave to cool enough for handling (usually 5-10 minutes) while oil in pan heats up.
Peel loosened skin off Russet potato and cut naked spud into desired shape and size. I cut mine into at least 3/8 inch (9mm) thick slices of potato and strips of a similar cross section so they are square.
This method works best of all for really chunky chips or potato wedges. Almost more roast potato than chip. Throw cut chunks into hot oil and scoop ’em out after ten minutes or so when a light golden brown. Drain oil off using paper kitchen towel or let drain for five minutes in a large sieve. Season if necessary and serve to adoring public. Accept naked adoration (If you’re really lucky) and any concomitant praise.

Works every time and there’s less mess to clear up than with conventional fries. Job done.

Who knew?

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

Wednesday

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

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

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

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

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

At least my tomato plants are doing well.

And now for something..

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

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

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

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

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

Apples and Rosemary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone else see the irony?

Did I miss anything?

Recently bought myself a copy of Larousse on Cooking, am learning how to make good Yoghurt. Have also been spending time and money upgrading my office with a new, more secure Wi-fi router which goes like wet smelly stuff off a large steel digging implement and a new ultra comfy office chair from which to oversee my affairs and plot world domination. Did mention to Mrs S about getting a White Persian Cat to stroke while hatching my evil plans, but she said we couldn’t because they shed like crazy and we have a ‘no pets’ agreement with our landlord. She also said that we’d need to put it out at night (Who sets their cat on fire? – That’s cruel) or coax it down from the curtains, or clear its collection of sacrificial offerings up every morning. So, no cat. No Bill, no cat and that’s final. Oh yes, and can you clean up after yourself a bit better.

No-one tells you all this when you first decide to be an evil genius. Someone has to scour the Piranha tank and the scorpion pit. Or vacuum up the cat hairs. Or rake out the embers from your private volcano and power wash the high powered laser spy splitter after use (It gets really messy and burned on blood is hell to get off the stainless steel). Not to mention pay much higher electricity bills for powering all the various torture instruments that are de rigueur for the socially mobile world domineer. Sorry, I thought I was supposed to do the plotting and planning not spend all my time cleaning. One doesn’t get where I’m not today with having to take care of every single fine detail myself. I’m supposed to have people for that. Speaking of which, frankly me dears you just can’t get the henchmen nowadays. No-one seems to teach the right skills. When I tell a minion to carve a couple of slices off a helpless victim or do the waterboarding properly, the last thing I want to see is one of those blank ‘What do you want me to do that for?’ looks.

To which I have only one response:
I’m busy reading the financials, because it’s where all the real news is.

Apart from that, it’s been a nice few days. The winds have returned, blowing the wildfire smoke away and we can see the Olympic Mountains and the Juan De Fuca clearly once more. All right, the breezes make putting up our sunshade a little problematic and we have to watch it in case it gets blown into a back yard two blocks away but our Deer decimated flowers are making a comeback, bringing a much needed splash of colour to our deck. I can see the Fuchsia once more.

The other good news is that Mrs S has now relented and allowed me to look for a World domination cat. Just so long as it’s not a real one. Heavy sigh. Suppose I’ll have to clean the Piranha tank and muck out the Scorpions myself then. Either that or it’s fish and chips or Mock-Scampi in a basket. Again.

Smoking

The hills are disappearing under a veil of wildfire smoke as I write this. Softly fading into grey-blue invisibility, range by range until we can see no more than a kilometre or so, and the taste of burning forest is in the thick, still air.

It’s wildfire season and the wildfires have the upper hand at present (See this interactive map). The state of emergency has been extended for two weeks and the volunteer firefighters are all fully engaged, NOTAM’s (Notice to Airmen – like those issued about volcanic activity and war zones) are in effect over the fire zones. Which is nothing new. Happens roughly every third year or so in BC. Out here in the ‘burbs of Victoria it’s an inconvenience, but the smoke does keep the Summer temperatures manageable. Could do with a stiff Pacific breeze or two though. Even the forecast for today simply says ‘smoke’ (Or should that be ‘vape’?) See screengrab below.

From some sources the usual cries have gone up that it’s all the fault of the mythical man made global warming, although I don’t think anyone with an active brain cell actually believes that any more. Although man is no longer wholly at fault, apparently our domestic cats and dogs are major contributors because they’re carnivores. According to some dotty academic from UCLA.

Seriously, we could kill off 99% of all animal and human life on this planet and all these whining catastrophists wouldn’t be happy. Right up until the moment they realised that all these animals and people are, in many and diverse ways, keeping the many Cassandra’s comforted, fed and provided with all the comforts of life they enjoy. They’re just selfish. They want the world to themselves and in their narrow solipsistic little minds other people don’t count unless we’re doing what we’re jolly well told. By them of course. Because their inferiority complexes demand total compliance or they feel so thweatened, poor ickle bunny’s. Sheesh.

On a more positive note, we’ve rescued our deer-decimated Geraniums and Fuchsia’s, potted them up and placed them on the deck, where we will get the joy of them throughout the flowering season and those bloody deer can’t get at our prized blooms. Not unless the greedy little sods learn to pole vault.

A Sunday Post

I love Tech, both old and new. Particularly tech that has stayed the course and proved worthy beyond any predicted life. See below two pictures of Catalina’s or Canso versions of the PBY flying boat, designed in the 1930’s and still flying today. The one on the left can be found slap bang in the middle of St Anthony’s Newfoundland. Not near any airstrip, just parked on a vacant lot as a museum type exhibit. The second we sighted from the northern perimeter road at Victoria International Airport 21st July.
These two venerable airframes have been around since the late 1930’s / early 40’s and still have that look of, how should I phrase it, worthiness. Solidity. Yes, they’re an old design, but in their heyday were known for staying in the air on long range patrols of up to 24hours. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another manned production aircraft that can match that.

Don’t ask me what it is but there is a strange kind of beauty about these grande dames of the air.

Oh yes. Have a look at the map below with the locations marked, then take a look to the extreme right at a small group of islands off the coast of Europe. We drove all the way between these points (Apart from two ferry trips) A shade over 17,000Km or well over 10,000 miles. I still don’t think I’m fully recovered.