Category Archives: Random ramblings

Another old saying

Taken from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, act iv, scene iii;

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

Today is a good day to take a breath, roll the dice and see what comes up, good or bad.

I may end up a poorer man, but I think not. My broker and I will have a chat this morning and it is my intent to send some investment money winging it’s way marketwards. Which is part of what I do as an investor, take a deep breath and trust people to not piss my hard earned up the wall. After the initial market panic there are people who still need to work, and if I can be in some small way instrumental in helping a company stay afloat, providing capital to pay wages and all the myriad expenses of providing services and goods then my conscience is clear and my heart light.

For my investment I expect a modest return to recoup my losses, first when greatly devalued shares rebound, then reap the dividends, which are essentially interest on a loan made to a given business. By doing this I am not hoarding, hiding my scant resources in commodities like precious metals, but making a gift of faith which, it is hoped, will benefit all concerned.

If everything still goes even further pear shaped, then I will take comfort in the words of Steve Knightley; “You’ll get by” sigh heavily and start over. I’ve had to before.

There is hope out there in these trying times. All you have to do is have a little faith.

The upside and the downside

Many moons ago I learned the basics of SWOT analysis. SWOT standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Every situation is full of them and even the hazardous have an upside. What might seem a showstopper from one perspective will be a positive boon in another. So it is with this Covid-19 pandemic.

Because one thought does rear it’s curious little head among all the panic over the Covid19 pandemic; it’s a real crisis. A one hundred percent genuine, accept-no-substitute global crisis. Whole countries are in quarantine, tourism has slowed to a trickle and we’re all being encouraged to participate in ‘social distancing’, which I’m actually beginning to enjoy.

The thought is this; given that this is a real crisis, not a largely imaginary one cooked up by grant hungry academics, what is going to happen to all these imaginary crises? Man made climate change for example. Seems to me that St Greta of the Thunderous bum has slipped off the headlines. Gender awareness and alphabet soup ‘rights’ likewise have fallen off the saddle of the high media-political horse they once occupied.

With whole countries in lockdown, all the research money going to find a treatment or ‘cure’ and NGO rent-a-mobs confined to their student digs, how will anyone have any time for these previous headline grabbers which were nothing more than academic fakery anyhow?

How intriguing…..

I’ll mull this over a glass or two of wine.

In the doghouse

“I’m always in trouble, it’s only the depth that varies” could almost be my family motto. Mrs S has a dose of cabin fever already, and guess who’s in the firing line. I seem to be able to do no right.

Was it my snoring last night? Well that’s me consigned to the spare bedroom then. No doubt I’ll even get complained at for that.

Something is amiss, and I’m not sure what it is, but it’s got me hunting out my body armour.

Hey, the weather is nice, so maybe I should get the Mutt insured and push off for a two hundred K ride. I’ll probably get castigated for ‘running away’, but what the hell, at over a hundred no-one can hear the phone ring.

Update: Mrs S is just grumpy because she’s got a little cabin fever and has apologised for being snappy at me, so we’re all good. I didn’t lose my job (There may even be a promotion in the pipeline). I’ve even spare cash to invest in rock bottom blue chips, even though my investments are a bit down overall. The infection curve of Covid19 is moving according to prediction, so the markets should start to bounce back in mid / late April.

The kids are fine; I did offer them a little financial support, but the message came back that they don’t need it, which I’m cool with.

Generally speaking I’m still in the doghouse, but things could be much worse. Even the Mutt has a new cover and security locks.

Antidote

No, no, we haven’t found a cure for anything. This is just an offering to combat the current doom and gloom being flung all over the place.
It’s the first flower in my little jungle of citrus plants inhabiting the sunny corner of my kitchen. Innit pretty?

The bad news is that I may lose one of my part time jobs tomorrow because my company is electing to ‘rationalise’ the division that I work for. On the other hand I may be asked to do more as I’m used to working online and may have to train up new staff. These are the uncertainties we live with. Worst case scenario has been planned for.

What the hell. My Grapefruit plant, grown from a store bought grapefruit pip, is blossoming. We must take our little victories where we may.

Utter coblenz

There’s complete cobblers running around Twatter that the Johns Hopkins Covid19 stats site is infested with malware and trojans. Newsflash kiddies! I run a premium antivirus suite and ran a series of scans while online via a VPN. See result below.

Did the ‘Advanced’ scan too. Same thing. This isn’t freeware either. I keep my pro antivirus bang up to date.

Two possible conclusions; either there are no Trojans and Malware as claimed on Twatter or my Antivirus suite is crap (It isn’t). Well you might say, but, but, but the malware claims are on Twatter so they must be true.

To which the only sane response is “Yeah, right.

A little levity

In these depressing days when the world seems like it’s going to hell in the proverbial handcart. Where doomsters gleefully spread their misery on and offline, the rest of us try to get on with life as best we can with a little humour.

The best gag I saw this morning was about the latest high risk job, which I quite fancy having a go at myself if truth be told; rear gunner on a toilet paper (Andrex) delivery truck. Now where do I submit my CV? I’ll pay for my own body armour.

There’s also something I’d like to introduce my one remaining reader to; taken from the canon of the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett; the zombie socialist in the form of Reg Shoe. For the uninitiated, Reg starts life as an action socialist type who rather reminds me of the notorious Guardianista and lefty drama queen, Owen Jones. Always banging on about how things will be so much better ‘after the revolution’, then after dying (In ‘Night Watch’) is so fired up with his ideology that he becomes a zombie after being shot through with crossbow bolts. Which is how I view Owen Jones. Well, not shot through with crossbow bolts, but so dim that he doesn’t realise he’s flogging a zombie horse in the form of Socialism.

Anyway, it’s common knowledge that Socialism was dreamed up by a couple of rich kids (Marx and Engels) with well off parents and it seems the only socialists nowadays are similarly well off and privileged youth. They know little of those they call the working class.

This is where I see all these, what we used to call during my college days ‘Action Socialists’, latterly SJW’s. They are the people whose belief is so strong it won’t let go, even if it is only a warped parody of real life. The Reg Shoe’s (Undead yes! Unperson NO!) of this world. Doesn’t matter that their ideology has been tried and found wanting so many times at so great a cost, they are so busy virtue signalling in a vain attempt to achieve worth that they forget the best way to make a better world is by doing the grunt work of day to day living. They are the pigs of Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’.

One a personal note, I’ve picked up a mild seasonal cold. Nothing much, just a little snottiness, catarrh and mild cough which is hardly noticeable by mid morning. It’s not Covid19. I’ll be fine in a day or two.

Covid19 is not the ‘Boomer remover’. Which is just plain insulting and inaccurate – only complete assholes could come up with such a meme. Covid19 is no respecter of age. Anyone with an underlying illness like Diabetes, any of the myriad genetic disorders, or a pre-existing illness automatically drops into the ‘High risk’ category. As does anyone who works in health care. Healthy 50-80 year olds (There are many such) likely will not die from this affliction. So there.

These are trying times. Just trying to find something to laugh at while living day to day is hard, but we should inject what levity we can into the desperately ill body of life. It isn’t a cure, but it does make the bad times more bearable.

Anyway, it’s a beautiful day outside, if a little brisk. So while I’m waiting for the powers that be to get their shit together, I’m going to wrap up warm and go outside to read.

At least my Lemon plants are doing well.

Important update: Might be a good idea to leave off non-essential NSAIDs and Steroids according to a French neurologist. See Dr Campbell’s video below.

Even more important update: One of my little Grapefruit plants has put out a tiny, pea sized pale yellow flower. Awww.

Ask not….

5d6855908ac2ce910fd91a63186d10dafa7708b7fa34298a0f1988c31ac045a8
Updated 15th March. The funniest thing I’ve seen in this whole Covid19 business was found on a Tim Pool comment thread. So I ‘borrowed’ it.

But seriously, what is the deal with toilet roll, bathroom tissue a.k.a the humble bog roll? It is most definitely a female thing because even though I told Mrs S that we have at least a months supply as I tend to buy one jumbo pack every three months, she was still asking me about it during Friday’s afternoon foray into the stores.

She was the one who wanted to venture out on Friday. I’d already done my thing shopping wise, and the stores will be restocked next week. There might be stocking problems because grocery store sales volumes are most definitely up, but when the initial panic is over next week, things will be much easier.

Even if the Sticker clans current Canadian domicile get hit by a nasty bout of gastric flu we won’t run out for over a month, yet the shelves were being stripped of paper goods. As well as canned vegetables and suchlike, which I won’t use because with the possible exception of sweetcorn they are uniformly vile. BTW; Baked beans are not, at least in my culinary milieu, counted as a vegetable.

As far as entertainment goes; the news is all doom and gloom, so I’ve switched off and am following my own advice this weekend. I hear other people are doing the same. For example, I heard several people while we were out and about yesterday say they were turning off the news channels because they were heartily sick of hearing gleeful news anchors claim this mess is all Trumps fault.

Similarly in the UK, during a transatlantic Whatsapp conversation ‘North’ was blaming Bojo for not doing more, to which I responded that I thought the UK government response had been very measured. Locking down the whole country at this juncture is rather like locking up the henhouse after the fox has gotten in. This virulent disease is already within the UK’s, indeed everyone’s borders and all anyone can do is take sensible precautions. Containment will be very much down to the individual.

Which leads me to the reflection that when there’s nothing you can do, perhaps the best you can do is nothing. Read a book. Plan a holiday for when this is all over. Take a walk around the house. Do some neglected chores like clean the garage or check the car. Stay away from the TV. Phone a friend. Which is what we’re doing. Filling the unforgiving minute.

Outside life hasn’t completely ground to a halt. Cars pass by. There’s still shipping in the Juan De Fuca heading out into and back from, the broad Pacific. Buses, albeit with very few onboard, grumble up and downhill. This is a hiatus, nothing more. The rent is paid. There’s money in the bank, spare cash, gas in the tank. We’ll be fine, providing big government doesn’t put it’s foot in it, although I’m told all the local facilities, schools, libraries etc are shutting down for the duration. Maybe if the politicians go into hiding it might not be so bad.

In the midst of the slow-motion horror of a world wide pandemic a happier thought does occur. Following Remainer / rejoiner gloating about Covid19 killing off Brexiteers as they’re all old farts don’cha know, everyone with an active brain cell knows that disease is no respecter of political opinion. Maybe Greta whatserface will catch a dose and spread it all through the UN and those clowns of Extinction Rebellion. Perhaps she already has and the viral timebomb is already ticking amongst their ranks like with the Ayatollahs in Iran. Over here it’s already gotten to Trudeau, so maybe he’ll learn the signal lesson that there are greater threats out there other than the largely imaginary man made climate change and hurt feelings.

One thing we’re not told is what particular demographics are being the hardest hit. Men certainly. But what men? Does ones genetic inheritance give one a greater or lesser immunity to this nasty bug? Geographically speaking the Mediterranean basin and Middle East seem to be taking a pounding. Maybe the 7% death rate in Northern Italy has a cultural component? I can hear the pens of academics scratching even now.

By way of a metaphor, one one of my desks there is a little travel alarm, which has been dumped there for no other reason than that it has a loud and annoying tick. In the silence of my little workplace sounding preternaturally loud. Even ominous. For me it is just counting off the seconds until this whole charade ends.

There’s a lot of political capital being made by certain political factions, but I would say this to them when they breathlessly announce that the Pandemic clock is ticking and they wish the worst effects on their opponents;

Ask not for whom the clock ticks; it ticks for thee.

Sometimes you get surprised

Well, well, well. You know all that doom and gloom BREXIT was supposed to bring? I’ve just been reading the UK chancellors budget speech and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Tax cuts and infrastructure investment? Now that the EU shackles are off, the UK can and is doing it’s own thing.

As an investor I do have my reservations of course. The whole ‘Green’ thing. Has anyone done the sums on the extra baseload generation capacity and extra infrastructure the UK will need for all these whizzy little electric cars and suchlike? Yet I found nothing in the speech about new power stations apart from wind and solar. That’s going to be a big bloody help when the wind doesn’t blow on a cloudy day.

They’re going to have to get busy building these new Rolls Royce SMR plants, as well as making sure no crazy hippies or other witless nonsense merchants can damage them.

As a concept I like the SMR and the prospect of fast rollout and installation times for small nuclear reactors. I’d like it even better if there was a heavily camouflaged option. One that could be hidden in a place like Corsham Quarries, or other disused MOD sites or mines. Places that could easily be made secure and protected with a lot of rock between them and the outside world. Not that these SMRs will do a Chernobyl, they are being built and designed by Rolls-Royce after all. Unfortunately the reputation of Nuclear Engineering was not best served by a Soviet regime turning off all the safeties just to see how high they could crank up the volume. Nor was it well served by sticking old model boiler reactors on the shores of Japan which are notoriously vulnerable to earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis a la Fukushima. However, what all the anti-nuke faction forget is that nuclear is still the cleanest, safest option when it comes to power generation. You’re far more likely to get damaged by a cuddly toy.

Now if the powers that be can start to get these SMRs in situ before 2030 and at least start to update the electrical grid, then the UK may, and I’m putting a big conditional ‘may’ on that, have all the whizziest electrickery cars a body could desire. If of course someone discovers a new source of available cobalt etc or the much vaunted Graphene batteries prove viable. However, I’m still not totally sold on an all electric vehicle UK. There are journeys they are okay for; urban only commutes for example, but for non-rail travel outside major urban conurbations, trucking and agriculture, electrical vehicles are still, at this part of their developmental cycle, chocolate teapot time.

Mrs S and Youngest, a.k.a ‘North’ are delighted that the EU mandated ‘tampon tax’ is going away. “About bloody time.” Said ‘North’. I am also pleased about the removal of VAT from books and magazines. Then there’s going to be no extra taxes on fuel or Al Cohol and friends? Just what do these Tories think they’re doing? Running an economy? Well hold my breath.

PSBR has shot up, but the BOE have just cut interest rates, so now is a time to invest in infrastructure, not merely spend to buy votes. Necessary investment like the promised 50 billion on broadband. If I was asked, not that anyone is going to, I’d say the UK’s first post-BREXIT budget is a bit of a gamble, but not an unreasonable one. If it were me I’d give the infrastructure improvements the nod and cross my fingers, toes and nostrils, which is what I strongly suspect Bojo is doing. The Tories will score a big win if they only manage to fix the potholes and let the traffic go where it may.

Sounds like a plan.

Quarantine planning

Mrs S and I were having a rattle today about this Covid19, having a look at the stats and scare stories circulating around the current borderline pandemic-in-all-but-name. We were sort of okay as far as provisions are concerned, although I might have had to get a bit creative on the culinary front to use up all the odd stuff in the larder. So I thought maybe a large bag of standby rice and an extra bag of flour. After all, I can bake a passable bread, there’s enough sugar and frozen fruit for cakes if need be, although by the end of two weeks Mrs S and I will probably be ready to bite someone’s head off. Possibly each others. However, one should be prepared. Which is what we went and got this afternoon.

With regard to pandemic shopping, there’s no need to go overboard or fight over the toilet rolls as some have done. Why toilet rolls? How many times do these people use the goddamn toilet in a day? One jumbo pack lasts us the best part of three months. I know women use it far more than men but even with three women in our UK home we rarely used more than a roll every two to three days. ‘North’ tells us that the shops had sold out of tampons in the part of London she lives in. We have had little by way of report from Brisbane where ‘South’ my other stepdaughter, is visiting, although I believe she’s currently staying with Brother and Sister in law. At least she won’t go thirsty. Brother in law, like any good Australian, always keeps plenty of beer in the cooler.

Up here in the not so frozen north, Canadians, especially rural Canadians, tend to do things like quarterly, that’s right, not weekly or monthly, but quarterly main shopping trips. So much so that one local grocery chain has regular ‘caselot’ sales where you can go and buy 12, 24 or even 48 cans in a case of basics like baked beans. I’ve picked up the habit of bulk buying certain commodities when there’s a deal on. Like cheap shower gel. I have accumulated enough Dove for Men to last six months, so have stopped buying it.

For our part we have laid in a little extra of everything, from tea and coffee to oats, rice and flour. Not a massive amount, but enough to keep the wolf from the door for well over two weeks. Let me enlarge; here on the Island we have the ever present threat of the ‘big one’, where a 9.0 plus earthquake, some would say an overdue tremor, threatens to smash the entire west coat of North America. So we’re used to keeping a few extra cans in, just in case.

I also thought it would be a useful exercise to run the numbers at the epicentre of the outbreak to get a more accurate picture of how nasty this disease is. In Hubei province, mainland China, the population is around 60 million people, give or take a few million either way.

Out of that population of 60 million, a total of (Monday 2pm PST) 67,743 cases of Covid19 infection have been confirmed. Out of that a total of 3,008 have died from infections caused by the Covid19 virus and the infection rate is beginning to top out, due in no small part to the Chinese authorities hitting everything with massive deluges of disinfectant. Also out of those 67,000 plus cases, a total of 45,235 are listed as recovered. So according to official figures there are a total of a shade under 20,000 people in Hubei still suffering from this very nasty and virulent lurgi. Which means a total of 3.39% of the infected population of 67,707 have involuntarily been shuffled off this mortal coil.

So that’s a shade under 3,390 deaths per 100,000 head of infected population. That’s high, but when you use that per capita death rate on the whole human population, that 3.9% culls around ‭261,030,000‬ people out of a grand total of around 7.7 billion. Which is slightly over five times the normal death rate of 57,000,000 per year. On the face of things, that’s a whole lot of dead bodies to dispose of. Time to buy shares in funeral directors methinks.

But no. That’s just a flat rate of 4.4% applied to the world population. Whoops, my arithmetical bad. The most important figure is the total infected, 67,743 out of 60,000,000. A total death count of 3,008 doesn’t look quite so scary now. Because 1% of 60,000,000 is 600,000. Right. So even rounding the deaths to 3,000 means that the total rate is one two hundredth of one percent. One death per twenty thousand population. A total projected Covid19 death count of around 385,000 out of a global population of 7.7 Billion.

But hang on a minute, before everyone goes completely overboard, let’s draw back further and look at these numbers with a more sceptical eye. A quick look at the real figures show a much lower death rate in the more developed areas of the world. Native westerners, generally speaking, have far less physical social contact with non family members. We kiss less than other cultures, we are more socially isolated, which means a lower transmission rate per head of population. We are less communal than our ancestors. Apart it seems from the Northern Italians, who are really catching it in the neck at present with the whole country in lockdown. We get told by certain hysterical commentators that millions may die and while the total may well eventually top one million globally in a worst case scenario, I will lay my money on a global death count from this threat in six, rather than seven figures, if that. However, if the global death count does not go over five figures, the tens of thousands, I think we will have gotten off very lightly indeed.

However, I will stand by my previous advice. Wash your hands and no snogging strangers. You really do not know where they’ve been. Avoid enclosed spaces where you can. If you can walk instead of taking a bus or train, do so. Vitamin D too and sunlight where available. Keep your locale as clean as you can because it’s not just you.

One thing we did notice in our local supermarket while we were stocking up was that folk were doing a lot of involuntary social distancing. People were giving each other wider than usual berths as we stepped past each other along the aisles of produce. There was also a socially subdued air to the whole place. But no shortages. A few special offers were sold out, but that’s nothing new.

For ourselves we are self-isolating as much as possible. Reducing the window of opportunity for any virus transmission. Hunkering down seems to be the preferred strategy for the moment. May I recommend my one remaining reader does the same for the next four to six weeks. Just to be on the safe side.

Covid19 might feel like the end of the world, but if we are suitably careful, it won’t be. Not by a long shot.

Time to go

The last few weeks have been a bit frenetic what with one thing or another. Elderly Friend is languishing, saying that she must have done something wicked to have fallen and broken her arm. So this weekend we sped up Highway one to see what we could do. Lighting was adjusted, books provided and instructions given to staff so that she doesn’t regress into the fugue she’s been in. For my part I responded to her repeated moans that she must have done something bad to be sitting up in a cosy bed in a nice safe and warm room with a busted wing thusly; “So you reckon you did something bad. Really? Do tell. Come on, out with your deepest darkest secrets. Spill the beans.” Well, it raised a bit of a smile from her.

Seriously though, Elderly friend is not a secret serial killer or ex-war criminal in hiding, just a lonely centenarian lady we have the dubious privilege of being POA’s for. We do our best, but we have jobs and there are only so many hours in the day. She’s just bored and a bit depressed. So we talked to the staff of the very nice care unit she’s in, told them to leave the doors of her room open so she can see what’s going on outside and laid on some reading material. She never has the TV on because even she is fed up with all the attention seeking doom and gloom that spews out of it nowadays.

On the work front, there’s a reorganisation due. My current contract might not get renewed, so I’m going to get myself on an online book keeping course over this Summer prior to our forthcoming Irish trip. I look at it this way, I have a faculty with numbers, so maybe there is part time work online as a book keeper. Just as a backup. Something to keep the cashflow going. Another string to my bow, so to speak. Things are going to get tougher up here in the not so frozen north, Mrs S has voiced a need to move on, so that is what we are going to do.

We’ve spent our free time making lists of what we’re going to keep, what we’re going to get rid of and who we need to talk to. It’s all tiny stuff. Baby steps. On the plus side I look on our impending move as an opportunity to get rid of stuff we no longer need.

We’re talking about being out of Canada in twelve months time. It’s not the place we thought it would be, too much big government. The encroachments and enforcement of ridiculous hate speech laws. And the worst thing is that there’s not a credible opposition to the paternalistic oppression that benefits a tiny minority. The electorate haven’t got a viable alternative. The Scheer led conservatives pander to the same clique as the Liberals and NDP, and no one apart from grumpy old sods like me will vote for the radical change Canada needs to break out of it’s protectionist bondage. I’ll remain a member of the PPC of course, and keep throwing the odd hundred bucks their way, but I’m feeling rather pessimistic. Canada is potentially a very, very rich country, but it has a problem, a system of government which is too tightly bound to Quebec and Ontario. The Trudeau Liberals being part of the problem. They only care about their petty differences with Quebec and forget that they have an economic powerhouse in the Midwest, one which they seem determined to stifle. Which to me simply does not make sense. Nor does the attitude of the majority of suburban Canadians, who keep voting for dimwits like Trudeau who have about as much economic sense as a stunned chipmunk. Even if he does have nice hair. It’s what’s under it that counts, and that isn’t saying much.

To illustrate the current economic slowdown by observation; driving up and down Highway one the other day, we saw over a dozen big bulk carriers parked in the waters off Victoria, Ladysmith and Nanaimo. Ships which should be actively shifting cargo are simply parked off local harbours racking up the harbour fees. Normally you might see four or five in total if avalanches have shut down the trans Canada transportation routes. And all because the Federal Liberals want to have “A dialogue” with a few professional protesters and a tiny minority of disaffected first nations who are claiming to act for five out of thirteen ‘hereditary’ chiefs, in total disregard of the wishes of the majority of their own ruling band councils. Yet no one is telling these bozo’s to stfu and get with the program. They’re the problem, and if they don’t wise up, all the freebies the first nations get will dry up because if Canada really does get shut down, there won’t be any money left to fund their welfare payments, free University educations and tax exemptions. Before that happens, the Government will have to raise even more taxes on the already hard pressed middle and working classes of Canada. Then that will tip the country into a gravity hole debt spiral which will make a large black hole seem minimalist.

So Mrs S and I are planning to move before the inevitable rain of shit happens. Lock, stock and both smoking barrels. Some will call me a coward, others will accuse me of common sense and foresight, because I know I am in a minority who can see the globalist UN planned endgame for Canada and it ain’t pretty.

It’s tough to make predictions…..

“….especially about the future” thus spake Baseball hero Yogi Berra. However, I’ve been looking at a post written over five years ago about the state of nuclear fusion. Nothing has happened to change my mind since then. Not even news of the German Wendelstein 7-X Stellerator. It’s still only half way to sustainable fusion. And it’s still a Tokamak at heart. Yes, they do work, after a fashion. However, the design concept has it’s limitations. I’m not a nuclear engineer and even I can see that. Although I dare say those involved have their doubts and would like to follow a better track, but nuclear physics is expensive and short sighted politicians hold the purse strings. So, Tokamaks it is.

About the future, you never know what is coming around the bend. In our case it was having to chase up Highway One, exercise our power of attorney for Elderly Friend who fell off her chair and brok her arm, then getting a flat at 8pm on our way home. Then finding out, having driven like Miss Daisy all the way home in pitch darkness on a skinny spare, that the one inch screw causing the puncture had done so in such a way as to render any attempted repair useless. On a brand new tyre with less than five hundred K’s on it no less. So, there’s another two hundred and fifty dollars down the pan.

Oh, did I mention that Accounts are getting on my case over a minor matter? They’re stressing over me not doing something I couldn’t have done because I wasn’t given the right information in time on Friday. They want it done now, now, now and aren’t prepared to wait while I deal with the chaos caused by all the other work related matters where some clever clogs was using our departments credit card for stuff they weren’t entitled to. Which means we have to get a new departmental one issued. Which shuts part of our operation down for two whole weeks.

So it’s all been fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fucking hell, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun.

Oh joy.

Could be worse I suppose. Could be in China. Plague of Locusts, Coronovirus plague. No frogs, boils or rains of blood (Wait a minute, what was that in 2014?) yet, and the firstborn don’t seem to be affected, but we shall see.

On the wagon

I’ve given up alcohol for a while. I’m on the wagon, but will be skipping merrily off it at a juncture of my own choosing. Not because I’ve been hectored into it by any campaign or other, but just because I wanted to. Just to make sure I’m seeing the world as it is without any chemicals fogging things up and to give my taste buds a time out. After four more weeks, perhaps less, I will resume my habitual imbibing of a modest whiskey every other evening or perchance a glass or two of Malbec, Carmenere or Cabernet Sauvignon to end the working day.

Which might beg the question do I want to live forever? To which I would answer, no, I’d only get bored. Variety is life’s spice, and drinking all the time is like permanent sobriety, it’s okay, but gets a bit tedious after a while. A little wine is good for you anyway, and permanent sobriety has been proven not. Alcofrolic beverages might not be the elixir of immortality, but a glass of three don’t half take the edge off the worst that living can throw your way.

What else? Lemon Tree plants looking good, the tallest has just topped thirty inches tall with lovely green waxy leaves. Mrs S and I are going to Ireland this September for a while and are busily booking our big time out. Our tax advisers are discussing possible tax exile with us and stepkids are making plans to come stay whilst we’re in the emerald isle. Things proceed.

Our festive season was relatively quiet, with only the existential sound of elderly friends marbles slowly continuing their rattle out of her head. Poor old thing has now completely lost track of what day it is and has taken to phoning us at all hours because she’s not even sure of what time of the day it is, or even that we live over a hundred kilometres away and not on the next floor down in her care home, which we will never be. Which can get a bit disconcerting. She’s not how she used to be and we’re getting resigned to the probability that she won’t see out the year. Such is life. Sure as it begins, thus it must end.

On that topic of lives ending, am watching how the big man down south is handling the ever-present irritation of Iranian sponsored terrorism. The news that he’d had the head of yet another terrorist organisation droned brought a grim smile to my face and the word “Good.” Popped into my forebrain. Mrs S of course, was concerned with the inevitable terrorist backlash. However, a head has been cut off the Hydra. No doubt it will regrow at some stage, weaker, but still there. It took Solemani from 1988 to build up his current network of militias. That’s right, over thirty years of misery for the Iranians and their neighbours at his hands.

This is why we put mad dogs down. They can’t bite any more when they’re dead. His owners might be all of a lather and threatening dire things, now their attack dogs pack leader has been put down I have a sense that a cold wind is blowing through their spavined souls. Trump has drawn his line in the sand. The attack on the US Embassy in Iraq was the impetus. It was a direct assault on US territory under international law, and the Iranian organisers therefore put themselves at direct hazard. Not that they’re all that popular in Iran.

There are rumours circulating from Iran of brutally suppressed protests and internal economic woes that are nothing to do with the USA and more to the fact that the current ruling elite of Iran aren’t as clever as they might think. That and it should be plain to them that they’re not dealing with Obama now. No more Danegeld. No more payoffs. Hunker in your bunker boys, because you just stepped over the line.

This version of ‘The Great Satan’ has decided to react to the Iranian regimes serial provocations, regardless of the fact that Russia and China say they have Iran’s back. They know the Iranians have gone too far, but will be content to sell them the arms while quietly backing away into the shadows. Say what you like about the Russians and Chinese, but they are not stupid. It doesn’t matter how many cocaine-addled celebrities want to ‘apologise’ to the Iranians. World War Three isn’t going to happen because the casus belli isn’t strong enough.

There might be a stand off, but Trump’s a savvy negotiator and I don’t think will blindly send more US forces into harms way without good reason. He’ll target the top dogs and send over a few GBU-57A/B‘s. There aren’t that many of these bunker busters in the US stockpile so I’m told, but it won’t take many. I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t three or four already in theatre ready for a decapitation strike if necessary. Then there are the drones like the one that took out Solemani. Yet the average Iranian (or Iraqi, or whatever) in the street is not the enemy. It’s the extreme regimes. Get rid of them and the conflict goes away, kind of. Although as Mahyar Tousi points out, it’s not all black and white.

Still watching the Brexit situation from afar, and I still think no-deal is the default. The EU have faffed and fumed pointlessly while Bojo, the UK’s suspiciously unclowninsh Prime Monster holidayed on the Caribbean Island of Mustique, once favourite haunt of the late Princess Margaret and other celebrities. I think he’s going to sit on his hands and go full WTO at the end of January so the EU will lose that billion a month of taxpayer pound sterling they’ve been hoovering up so happily. Someone, somewhere in the EU infrastructure is going to have to think about reigning in their expense accounts. Having watched their privileged antics from the sidelines in Paris and elsewhere, I can’t help thinking that the EU pigs are watching the trough dry up and are panicking a little.

Terrorist leaders waxed? BREXIT happens? I’m beginning to like 2020 already.

The fear factor

While crunching numbers, as I am wont to do because it’s what I earn a crust doing, I was listening to a Timeline documentary on YouTube, where the narrator was telling the tale of the Black Death and the social changes it helped bring about.

The thing that resonated with me was the various fanatic cults that arose during those times, even before the plague arrived in their locale. Convinced that the plague was the wrath of God (Although God has told me he did try to tell them about having a good wash now and then, but no-one was listening – as usual), certain groups of people turned to that good old standby of, instead of trying to deal with their personal hygiene issues and stop killing the cats that kept the rats down, chose self flagellation. That’s right, they went about the streets crying “Woe, woe, we’re all doomed” whilst lashing their own backs with a knout, a nasty sort of cat of nine tails with metal bits sewn into the whip ends. It is said these groups of ‘Flagellants’ as they were known, whipped themselves so hard that their blood would spatter street walls as they passed. It did not save them. In their self-weakened state, most perished.

So it is that I see the “Not my Prime Minister” and anti BREXIT campaigners, driven by their own fear, choose to roam the streets crying “We’re all doomed!” and getting under everyone else’s feet. Rather like the silly ‘Extinction rebellion’ protesters. They achieve nothing and are wasting their own and everyone else’s time. Rather like the flagellants of medieval times. They lack the reasoning ability to connect cause with effect themselves, so in ignorance devolve into a hideously primitive groupthink.

Unfortunately, Youngest is counted amongst their number. Which is a disappointment. I thought she’d learned about people who keep themselves down by being the authors of their own undoing, and that there are no saviours our there. According to her, they’re all apparently terrified that those nasty mustachio-twirling Tories are going to go around gloating over all the “Aha! Some poor people to torment, har-har me proud beauties!” You know, the working people who the Limp Dems and Islington Labour don’t really care about. Except when getting their vote in to support a bunch of unemployables like Corbyn.

What I saw during the campaign was Bojo, the UK’s very unclownish Prime Monster, going around, getting his hands dirty on the shop floor. Which is something I can respect rather than the opposition whose sole electioneering approach was gladhanding activists and loyalists while mostly ignoring the electorate or beating them over the head with scare stories, earnestly trying to re-educate any recalcitrant voter and crying “Vote for us, or the Tories will eat your babies.”. That and calling anyone who didn’t agree with them immediately unpleasant names. Well done chaps. Did it work? No prizes for giving the correct answer.

The thing is that neither BREXIT nor minor variations in the Earth’s climate are going to be harmful. Now they could be, but only if people refuse to rise to the challenge of a bit of extra sunshine rain or snow, or cling to the notion that a bunch of people who have never worked in the private sector over the channel know better than local people with their noses to the grindstone, fixing problems as they arise. Seriously, the immediate future contains more opportunity than threat. At least for the UK.

All the public moaning and groaning from the defeated are like a bunch of mardy teenagers who Mum and Dad have finally called ‘time’ on are achieving precisely nothing. All the Slebs whining like kicked bitches instead of claiming a little grown up dignity and facing their mistakes likewise. Although Lily Allen’s tactic of bursting into tears and sobbing ‘vote Labour’ has given a lot of people a bit of a giggle. It’s not that we’re unkind, it’s just that it’s funny to see all these people who think because they are good at entertaining have any idea about how the world really works.

So all these British slebs who didn’t get their way are going to leave the UK? Yeah, right. But where to? Surely not to that hell hole the Trump-infested US of A? No? Well the Yanks just dodged a bullet there. To the cultural backwater that is Canada? Mm, only if they’re happy to play to the odd bilingual Moose and a couple of puzzled bears. Australia? Watch out for the big hairy spiders and the Salties, not forgetting the deadly drop bears and one extremely unfriendly sheep near Brisbane. Heaven forfend that these ungracious slebs might have to learn another language. Even if they had the brains.

The truth is, as I pointed out to our young companions whilst we were visiting London, despite the odd knife attack, the western world is safer than it has been for quite some time, if ever. Fewer deaths from disease, wars, and even extreme weather events (Explanation here). Fewer road deaths. Indeed, fewer deaths from everything, apart from those claiming a Darwin Award, (Sightseeing on erupting volcanoes and suchlike).

Most of us are living longer and healthier lives to the point where getting a message from HM Queen to centenarians now has to be semi automated. That’s right, more people than ever before in the western world are making three digits, elderly friend included. Even if her wits are somewhere west of their preferred location.

Indeed. it’s getting to the point where pension payouts won’t begin until you’re eighty. Not that it’s a bad thing. One of my cousins just picked up his last P45 at age 79. Wound up his business and was last heard of travelling eastern Europe. Similarly I expect not to officially ‘retire’ until 70. Not that I really mind. Even then I’ll find something to make a few extra bucks on the side. Trusting for state pensions to be your sole source of income in your frail dotage is not a brilliant idea. Personally, I have two pensions in the offing, Mrs S has three and that’s without factoring in our investments. Having lost three pension funds over the years, (2 pots raided by New Labour, one when the company I worked for went belly up big time) I’ve become very cautious about those Ponzi schemes and nowadays employ a broker, an accountant and a lawyer to keep my investments secure. They earn their money.

Oh well, it might not be such a short life after all, and we will have to find our merriment where we may.

That’s interesting…..

You know how you come across certain snippets of information and your head just nods and you do a big internal “Oh wow. That makes sense.” I had such a moment this morning when I heard about a Swedish drug company donating the sum of a hundred grand to the UK Liberal Democrat party. “Okay Bill.” You might say. “Foreign companies donate to political parties all over the world. Big deal.”

Well sort of, and don’t get me wrong I’m inclined to agree, but when it is a particular drug company which is the major supplier of puberty blockers, you might be forgiven for putting two and two together. The two halves of this little equation being the upsurge of the transgender agenda with its surprisingly smooth intrusion into public education, the Limp Dems being very much on board with the whole identity politics thing and the possible financial benefits to the drug company concerned. Not that I approve of foreign interventions in individual nation states, but money is money, politicians are permanently on sale, and a bribe is a bribe, no matter it’s format. Arms companies used to do it all the time because that’s the way certain cultures did and still do business.

Meanwhile, back on my original topic, I was thinking thus; drugs cost a lot, tens, sometimes hundreds of millions to develop, but the applications of puberty blockers are very limited. Ergo there is a smaller market for said drugs than something mainstream, like painkillers for example. Early onset puberty can prove difficult, not only for an underage child, but also for parents and anyone within their social circle. However, early onset puberty to the degree that puberty blockers are required was once a very rare phenomenon. Nowadays we are told that such things are on the increase. Some claim this phenomenon is due to ‘Gender bending’ chemicals like those found in cheap soaps, certain types of plastic food containers and cheap Teflon. Other, more credible studies cite social and racial influences for early onset puberty. Whoops! forgot the trigger warning there. Oh well, can’t be helped. Don’t shoot the messenger etc.

However, there is another, and more sinister agenda here. All of a sudden there are a lot of surprisingly well funded and connected NGO’s and pressure groups pushing an associated use for such puberty blockers via their activist agendas.

Money is coming from somewhere to fund a very small number of vociferous activists who some, even of their own kind, are loath to be associated with. Could it be that the activists have been taking a sly backhander from the company who supply the drugs used to begin a soi-disant ‘trans’ children’s descent into their own bleak futures? Because the perverted activists who have infiltrated the Anglophone education system are pushing vulnerable children that way? Just to increase sales of an expensive drug to vulnerable young people who only think they need it?

Jesus H Christ on a bike! Surely no-one’s that cold bloodedly callous, are they? Are they?

Will this be the next Thalidomide scandal?

Excuse me. I think I’m feeling very nauseous…..

Parent stuff

Mildly concerned about the most recent knife attack in London as it happened in an area that Youngest regularly passes through on her way to and from various venues. So it’s the usual mildly frantic back and forth on the messaging services we use to confirm she’s not in amongst the victims or witnesses. Don’t know what we’d do if she was, but the very least would be us on the next available flight out to London to help out any way we could. Nice to hear that the Met were on the ball and shot the assailant, but not so good for the folks he managed to damage.  By the way, kudos to the guys who tackled the knife wielder with a fire extinguisher and (Would you adam and eve it) a Narwal tusk.

We fretted for a while about Youngest getting caught up in these things, but this is where she has chosen to be, and it turns out she was in a nearby pub with her mates at the time, having missed the whole stabby event by twenty wonderful minutes. We’re relieved, but what can you do but do the parent thing and at least show her that we do worry about her safety?

Other news is that I picked up my postal ballot yesterday and will be using it shortly. Small hint; it won’t be going to any remainer candidate, they’ve been messing things up for the last three years to the point where UK business is having trouble planning much needed investments and creating employment and thus wealth. Mrs S feels the same way, so as far as we’re concerned Labour, the Limp Dems and Greens are out of luck. They’re all equally clueless.

As for the vociferous big business lobby who continually push for European integration, which will be good for them but very few others, they got the UK into this mess, so no sympathy for when BREXIT does finally happen. I hope Johnson does get a large majority to push BREXIT through but I’m also hoping that Big Nige and the BREXIT party will bag a few seats, just enough to keep the Tories feet to the fire. One should not put thy faith in people with such a singularly poor track record of backsliding. Okay, my heart says vote Tory, but my head says they’re not to be trusted.

What else? Oh yes, I brought my Lemon and Grapefruit plants into the kitchen, away from the frosts and hailstorms which are currently making their presence felt in our neck of the woods. One of the Lemon plants is looking a bit scraggly, but out of the other five, three have stems almost as thick as the tip if my little finger. Also our four Grapefruit seedlings are well leafed and will probably need larger pots by the time Spring rolls around. It’s quite the little jungle in the sunny corner of the kitchen. Our deck garden is looking a bit woebegone after the adverse weather, however, ’tis the season etcetera.

With regard to our current Canadian day jobs, Mrs S and I have decided we’re jacking them in 2020 when our contracts end. It will mean a bit of rearrangement of tax and investment strategy, but we should be fine. I have a not inconsiderable cash reserve to drop into the pot, which will help. Why we’re doing this is the continual messing around the Ministry insist on imposing on our organisation. The plan is for me to do a little online retraining, as will Mrs S, then next spring we’ll be packing our bags and setting off for pastures new for a while to see what we can make of things. Even with only a minority Trudeau Government in charge they will economically damage Canada to the point where it is going to be much less business friendly than we’d like, so we’re spreading our wings and pootling off to see what we can find.