Stirred…..

Just clambering into bed last night when the whole house shook for around five seconds. “I know what that is.” Mrs S and I chorused. “Earth tremor.” Just like a big truck had clipped the house, a big grunt followed by a five second rumble. No damage, just half of Victoria jarred into wakefulness. No fuss, no sirens and no damage to speak of.

Quake MartiniTurns out the epicentre of our little 4.8 Earth grumble was only around twenty kilometres away. Of course we keep on getting told by ‘experts’ that the ‘big one’ will ‘rip Vancouver open like a zipper’ and that we’re all doooooooomed. Well of course we are. All you can do is keep the emergency kit in the car refreshed, and a small grab bag of useful things, like fire and cocktail making materials ready bagged in the closet. A few heavy blankets and some bottled water and we’re good to go. If the big one does come I can build a nice fire quickly because firewood will not be in short supply. No biggie. As for the cocktails, if I’m forced to rough it, I’m going to rough it in style.

On a more sombre note, I hear Lemmy, Ex-Hawkwind Bass player and heavy metal hellraiser has pegged it just two days after a cancer diagnosis. Sad to hear of his going, but surprised to hear that he’d made it to 70. Amazing what you can do if you ignore all the warnings and plough on regardless.

Tough love needed

Every week it seems that some entitled University student or other gets their panties in a bunch about something, whether it’s the racist ‘Rhodesmustfall’ campaign or some sensitive little petal getting all het up about ‘safe spaces’ where they are not able to see or hear anything that might possibly upset them, including people of another gender or ethnicity.   Not that there’s any such thing as a ‘safe space’. I was rather under the impression that Universities are places you go to learn things rather than just kick over apple carts, or is that just me being hopelessly naive?  Maybe the University authorities need to exercise a little tough love and ‘send down’ the odd less than diligent protestalot student once in a while. Rhodes scholar or no. I think ‘no tolerance’ for abuse of any sort (Including against University institutions, employees and faculty members) should be the policy, but that’s just me.

As for safety, should we not be teaching these ‘Childults‘ that there is no such thing as a ‘safe space’ because all risk is relative?  If these people truly want to be safe they’d never consider even crossing a deserted street because who knows what might come along.  They shouldn’t even think about applying for a driving licence or getting into a car because have you seen the UK road death figures lately?

Deaths for 2013
Pedestrians; 398
Cyclists; 109
Motorcyclist / Pillion; 331
Car occupant / driver; 785
Other; 90
Total road deaths; 1,713

Overall UK deaths data sheet here.
The Guardian’s accidental death comparison for 2007 and 2011.

That’s without examining the ROSPA reported approximate UK death toll of 6,000 every year(2002 figures), of people in their own homes. Hold hard a minute! Six thousand people a year, in the UK alone dying in home accidents? Most of which happen in the ironically titled ‘living’ room? That old grim reaper must have a hell of a job keeping his scythe sharp. If you can’t find safety in your own living room, where can you be ‘safe’? You’re ‘safer’ on the pillion of a drunk biker riding at 100mph plus? Who knew? Which isn’t strictly speaking true by the way, but statistically it might seem so. In the comparative period for 2010-2011 there were 636 homicides, 60 of whom were shot. That’s including one mass shooting incident where 12 people were killed. Of the total homicides 232 died from wounds given by a ‘sharp instrument’. Official UK report here.

For comparison, with official sources where available:
2011 US Death Stats Domestic (Unintentional deaths 96,753), Road (32,479), Homicide
2011 Canadian Death Domestic (No comparable figures), Road, Homicide
Now compare those with the rest of the world (Mapped data by worldlifeexpectancy.com)

So much for ‘safe spaces’, eh? By the way, around eight (8) people in the UK die by accident in their own bed every year. That’s twice the death rate of bee, wasp or hornet stings. Blood and sand.

Personally I’m not averse to a modicum of risk taking because you have to die of something. It’s part of the human condition. I will die, as will everyone else currently breathing. Mortality is built into our very DNA. We all have a ‘sell by’ date whether we like it or not. Death is a capricious beast and all we can do is manage our risks because if the statistics teach us anything, they show that there cannot be any such thing as a ‘safe space’. Life isn’t ‘fair’, never has been or will be. All you can do is keep your eyes open, grab a little ‘fairness’ for yourself and have some fun in the meantime. If it’s your time, then that’s that. Who wants to live forever?

And finally….

This is a timed post, as I’m probably busy cooking and eating (Although not simultaneously) a seasonal repast. I will also have consumed far more alcohol than others might deem advisory, but then I rarely take the advice of advisories, unless of course……….

But if you’re into over indulgence in a big way……

TTFN

Bill

451 Error

A.k.a. 403: Forbidden; which is what you may be finding in place of certain blogs shortly if you try to access the content from places where thought crimes are punishable under law. Map here. It’s the new Internet code describing a proscribed interweb site subject to a Government imposed ban or legal stricture.

Well at least if a site flags up with this code we’ll at least know the powers that be are paying attention. Which is rather sweet of them really. Nice to be noticed. Cheers. Of course this will not affect those using VPN’s or the TOR network or browser.

Not that shutting down a blog, Farcebook or Twat feed will actually make an individual blogger go “Oh dearie me. I’m being blocked by the Government. I’d better not do this any more.” The exact opposite of the desired effect should be expected.

Meanwhile…

Over in the UK, Sky Broadband have enabled ‘porn’ filters by default to all new customers from the New Year until 9pm(?) for the ‘sake of the children’ as promoted by the UK’s current Prime Minister. Forgive me for sounding cynical, but all this sounds like fiddling while Rome burns. Shouldn’t the UK government be focusing on more pressing problems like the migrant crisis, the economy being in the tank and fuel poverty to mention but three? Compared to those, porn is a very minor issue, and this decision may just blow up in Sky’s face as they find their market share shrinking. Why? Because human nature.

Some Internet filters block specific web sites and traffic to and from specific IP addresses. For example readers coming to this blog from a certain set of anonymous proxy servers may find themselves unable to comment because, due to a previous troll infestation, I pasted in a tranche of ‘anonymous’ proxy IP addresses into WordPress’ handy dandy little spam filter feature. However, arrival from a ‘non-anonymous’ source means you can contribute or not as much as you please. Just Cave Canem and be aware that the blog authors have a robust attitude which some might not be comfortable with. This is not a ‘safe space’.

Other filters work on web addresses and URL’s and yet more on text strings. Which means that intellectual works such as Somerset Maughams classic work ‘On human bondage‘ might be unavailable along with references to the Wessex novels of Thomas Hardy. So, bang goes the English Literature homework. Or won’t you be able to write ‘bang’ any more? Especially when this piece of onomatopoeia is used as a verb to describe the sex act? Oh, and any Junior School PHSE homework may go out of the window too for those brave new UK Sky customers. Whoosh! There go your kids grades.

Then there’s the assertion than anyone discussing the prohibition and control freakery surrounding drugs, tobacco, vaping, alcohol and sweet stuff will get caught up in the ‘mission creep’ of said filters. To the point where anything not strictly allowed will be Verboten. Unless of course the Sky customer in question has invested in a low cost VPN connection to bypass all the filtering. Lots of people need VPN’s, like a ‘road warrior’ sales rep who doesn’t work in a regular office but needs a secure ordering connection to their companies network. People working from home or those needing secure remote server control. Like it or not, VPN’s are a growing market sector.

Better still, don’t use Sky. Especially if you may need to change address, ever. The tales of Sky subscribers who have difficulties cancelling their subscription are legion. If legend is to be believed, they’re worse than BT used to be. And that takes some doing, believe me (Had to do it once – never again). There are plenty of other, much better, UK ISP’s out there. I used to like Zen up to 2007, but have no idea what they’re like nowadays.

As for trying to impose a ‘top down’ morality? What may be moral to some people may be completely immoral to others. Which may lead to prohibitions on just about every human activity. That said, I tend to fall back on Heinlein’s maxim; “The principle [of censorship] is wrong. It’s like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can’t have steak.”

Which leads to the thought that the young children this filtering is supposed to protect are generally not interested in sex at all, in fact there’s a massive “Euw” factor for pre pubescent children as far as matters of the flesh are concerned. Conversations generally go like this;
Child one (Giggling); “I heard Mum and Dad having sex last night.”
Child two (Hides face); “That is soooo gross.”
As for children being ‘damaged’ by porn. Maybe not. Incest has been a crime for centuries, and as far as I’ve been able to ascertain, is no more widespread than previously. Besides, sexually violating children, the activity which this measure is presumably supposed to suppress, is Internet independent. Those who have such urges will indulge their baser impulses (so my lawyer stepdaughter informs me) whether there’s any such material available or not. Even if it isn’t in ‘Fifty shades of Grey’. Which I wouldn’t be surprised to find in Mr & Mrs Camerons bookcase.

Regarding bans, it’s worth noting that such blanket prohibitions always make any given problem far worse than it was in the first place. See effects of Prohibition and the ‘War on Drugs‘ to name but two.

But no, you can’t get that through Cameron’s (Or many other modern politicians) thick head because ‘morality’ is such an easy soundbite. He’s saying “Hah! Look at me, I’m fixing something which isn’t that big a problem…” when there are so many more pressing issues. Heavy sigh….

Something for everyone

Over at Leg-Irons a couple of days ago, I happened to mention that there was such a thing as a ‘Bondage Barbie‘. Specifically a Barbie doll into whips, chains, ball gags and all the impedimenta of certain sexual proclivities. Hell, whatever floats ones boat, as I have learned to accept. So just to amuse myself I googled ‘Bondage Barbie’ and good grief! My eyebrows shot half way up my forehead and I had to step away from the keyboard for a while. I mean, it’s not what I’d want to find in my seasonal stocking, if I actually wore that sort of thing, but then I’m boring like that.

bondage barbiesApparently the whole ‘Bondage Barbie’ meme been a minority fetish since the 90’s and early 00’s since a certain Ms Pitt, doll and dressmaker first tried to commercialise the concept. Something which Mattel, who market the mainstream version of said childs toy, strongly objected to on copyright grounds. It’s very big in some circles, allegedly.

However, I suppose the wrist cuffs and latex malarkey could be construed as aftermarket adaptations, therefore strict copyright infringement is probably a bit of a reach. You might make a product, but if someone else chooses to adapt it for a particular application, you can’t tell them what colour it can be repainted. So long as they don’t come back to you for a warranty refund after modification, that’s fine.

All this on its own might seem odd, and that’s without getting into the whole ‘Cosplay‘ thing, where fans of various TV programs and movies dress up in (often highly revealing) costumes based on their favourite character. Very popular at Science Fiction conventions and events like comic-con‘s ‘Maskerade’ where only the very staid dress up as Captain Picard or Mr Worf, where other more adventurous types prefer to dress up like Barbarian heroes and heroines with lots of flesh and much less loincloth. Which some might find a little weird when such role playing is (inevitably) carried into the bedroom, but chacun à son goût. There have even been Star Wars themed Church services and Las Vegas (of course) can cater for Intergalactic Weddings. So I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised.

Which can get some folk’s panties in a bunch but nowadays my only reaction to that sort of costume is “Don’t you feel a little cold?”

Happy Chillmas

Yes I know in the past I’ve said some pretty disparaging things about this time of year. Well not really, but you could be forgiven for thinking so. Nevertheless; I would like to wish my one remaining reader a very Merry Chillmas and laid back New Year in which I promise to mock the politically correct killjoys and extract as much urine from the perennially uptight as is humanly possible. Between work, essays and coursework that is. Posts may get even more sporadic.

News from over the water is good. Youngest has moved into new London apartment and has gone a little mad buying such fripperies as new bed linen and big, fuck off fluffy bath towels. Which we are happy to subsidise. Eldest is likewise embedded in her host culture and assisting the spread of civilisation and mobile communications in her part of Africa. A few extra quid to make her life easier is the least we can do. Especially since the postal service to where she is can be described as half way between sporadic and non-existent. Why go to the huge expense of sending a parcel that may never arrive when she can use her twice yearly flight back to London to stock up on the necessities?

As for me, at present I’m finding chauffeuring Mrs S around a little troubling. Specifically when it comes to Christmas shopping traffic. On our penultimate shopping trip I twice almost had to physically restrain her from getting out of the car and giving what for to some gormless types who had a very poor idea of how to drive, or a sense of how much road space they occupied. After that experience, a very large drink was called for once our apartment door was firmly closed behind us for the evening. I do love my wife very dearly, but she has a firecracker temper that once set off is hard to rein in. Suffer fools gladly she most certainly does not. Fools aplenty are on the roads and clogging up the Mall car parks at this time of the year, so I avoid them as much as possible.

Anyway, for your entertainment and edification, here’s a little seasonal sexist dance routine all the way from the bad(?) old days of 1974.

As for all you other husbands who drive their wives around, Gawd help us, every one……

What the hell, there’s always the bus.

Merry wossname….

Ah, it’s that time of year again; the tills of Yuletide are ringing, credit cards are melting under the stress and tempers are shortening, even if it’s not really a certain religious figures birthday. Truly, it’s not.

In our household there’s a nice leg of pork in the freezer waiting to be thawed out and converted into a sizzling roast topped with well-salted crackling and served with apple sauce. Said meat to be served with thick gravy, roast potatoes and buttered sprouts with a liberal sprinkling of fresh ground black pepper followed by New York style Cheesecake and a litre bottle of Sauvignon blanc, or maybe a Carmenere or Cabernet. The aforementioned will be served with much ceremony on the 24th, then repackaged with other cold meats, pickles and cheeses for the 25th when the cook of the household (me) is having the day off with a good book and bottle of single malt after a Champagne breakfast of Smoked Salmon and scrambled eggs. Our household will remain a Turkey-free zone until at least the 29th. Possibly not even after then, either. Drawbridge up, portcullis down, electric fence on, minefield along front path active, Piranha tank trapdoor set.

The Igors have already gone off on their seasonal break to spread their unintelligible lisps elsewhere. The kids will be talking to us via Skype but the TV and radio will remain firmly off. I may check the weather forecast online, but nothing more. The object of said time out being to relax so we’ll be refreshed and ready for whatever crises other people thrust upon us. As they will, for ’tis the season, etcetera, etcetera.

Myself, nowadays I prefer to gently decerebrate with a good book and bottle of single malt while the rest of the world stresses itself out over Mithrastide / Solstice / Whatever. However I’d like to wish both my readers to have a really nice time, because I’m sure some mean sod will try to ruin it. Even at a feast time when all is supposed to be about joy, good fellowship and all that shizzle, there are some people so happy to be miserable that they’ll try to spread their misery around. As far as I’m concerned they can Fuck off and die. As a public service announcement the local Police Department have asked those so inclined not to litter the streets with their discarded bodies as this may incur a fine of up to two thousand dollars per offence and may constitute a public health hazard. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Please note; no halls were decked with holly during the writing of this post. A little tinsel and some baubles are judiciously situated around our apartment, but no Holly and definitely no Ivy, even if full grown. A few carefully chosen gifts have been placed under the mantelpiece and no trees were sacrificed either, because we just couldn’t be arsed.

Oh yeah, for any male with a drop of red blood still circulating, watch this video from boxing day 1969.

Comments disabled, but WTF cares? The cameraman certainly didn’t. The young lady in question looks about 18-19 then so she’d be around 64-65 by now, and probably a Grandmother. Which is a sobering thought and probably noteworthy. A very merry, and possibly thoughtful thingummy to you all…….

About that Science ‘denial’ thing……

I was watching Stefan Molyneux’s Youtube channel last night and was entertained to listen to the following video.

In it, a caller to Stefans show on Freedomain Radio outlines the difficulties of being a scientific researcher in a publicly funded institution. Which makes for intriguing listening. As for the rest of Stefan’s videos, I’ve got my misgivings about “R / K selection theory” applied to humans because it appears to make the assumption that people cannot or will not change their point of view. His impassioned rants can be simultaneously entertaining and enlightening, so I’m happy to listen, even when he’s going off on one. However, his ‘Truth About’ video’s occasionally throw up the odd golden nugget and are worth the ear bashing.

We’re continually told by folks making their customary ‘Appeal to Authority‘ arguments that “Most scientists agree that….” therefore we lay ignoramuses should shut our ugly mouths and do as we’re told, or else it’s off to bed with no supper and no Internet either, you damned cheeky fellows. How dare you question the all-wise and all-knowing, you, you, Heretic, you!. Even if you were one of the people who set the whole bandwagon in motion.

Which is all very well if the authority is actually an authority and not some Zeeb making it up as they go along to keep themselves in academic comfort. Which in certain (If not many) areas of scientific research, is what is actually going on. At least if Stefan’s caller is to be believed. But then if you’ve ever worked in big organisations, you’ll be aware of the toxic ‘go along-get along’ corporate mentality where failing to be part of the ‘team’ can find you looking for a new job, sharpish.

Face it, chums (Either of you), until a theory can be replicated by experimental data by other researchers, it remains just that, a theory. An idea. A dream. Yet a lot of dreams and theories are repeated by modern media sources as though they are real for the sake of a sensational soundbite. “Giant meteor on collision course with Earth!”, “Unstoppable sea level rise to drown New York by next Tuesday!”, “Killer plague will decimate humanity next week! Use our plague postcode checker ap to check your vulnerability!”, “Polar bears are cute, fluffy and dying in millions, and it’s all your fault!” God help anyone who questions such impeccable (Hah!) sources. If you do you’re a filthy ‘Denier’ no more fit to live on God’s clean Earth than a slime worm. A conspiracy theorist whose tinfoil hat is slipping. Your ignorance is a given. Even if you personally have read and understood the research papers in question (Unlike your accusers and the doomsaying media types). Even if the researchers are all using the same ‘adjusted’ source data when reality seems to be in a state of constant contradiction of the claimed results.

Hi ho. Time for a day out methinks.

That’s pathetic

As in meaning 2 in the online Oxford Dictionary. But there’s a few people out there who are threatening to post ‘spoilers’ of the new Star Wars movie unless Disney makes the movie they demand. As George Lucas himself says at the end of this comic clip of ‘Trigger warnings’; “That’s pathetic.”

Not a particular fan of the fluffy* Star Wars space opera end of Sci-fi myself, but seriously? It’s J J Abrams movie, his brainchild, his living, not theirs. The “Spoiler Jihadi’s”, as they have come to be known, come across as a bunch of whiny spoiled brats who deserve a good slap. The result of Mommy and Daddy being too indulgent and not saying ‘No’ at the appropriate juncture, confiscating their techno-toys and switching off their TV for bad behaviour.

Now piracy of the movie is one thing, if of course you want second rate sound and 640 pixel grainy visuals, but out and out blackmail of the movie makers? That is so far from not on it’s not true.

Spoiler Jihadi’s are the despicable little shits who talk during movies, telling their friends and everyone else loudly what’s going to happen next with lots of “Yeah, this is a good bit. It’s where he / she / it…..” Which is fucking annoying, and on one occasion even had mild mannered me turning round to snarl “Shut. The Fuck. Up.” In the cinema. I was wearing my ragged oil and tobacco reeking cut offs over a roadstained leather jacket that day, over ten years before I came across the civilising influence of my dear lady wife, so my personal grooming was rather erm…. unruly. Did I intimidate, or scare him to silence? I’m not entirely sure but the mouth artist in question did clam up, so I suppose he must have felt some form of embarrassment. At the time I felt annoyed enough to think about dragging the importunate little S.O.B. into the bog and indicate my displeasure by re-enacting the toilet murder scene at the start of ‘Casino Royale’ (Although this incident was well over fifteen years before that specific movies release). I’d paid good money to get into the theatre that damp afternoon and some inconsiderate cunt was trying to ruin my entertainment.

It’s bad enough when someone enters the room when you’re chilling, enjoying a TV movie and demands “What are you watching?” without any consideration whatsoever, talking over an important piece of dialogue or enjoyable action sequence. Instead of simply joining you on the couch to watch and enjoy. Or even being considerate to make some tea and bring a cookie with them to share the experience. I have taken Mrs S to task for such interruptions on more than one occasion and the ‘pause’ button on our Apple TV Box remote is beginning to look a little worn.

So, don’t like what the movie makers have produced little spoilt-jihadi? Go make your own version, writing your own storylines to watch on your home system, but let the Star Wars team do their thing, which most people will actually think worthy of paying to go and see.

* 'Fluffy': A TV show or movie watched for entertainment value alone, no matter if the plot resembles a Gruyère cheese and some of the dialogue is so groanworthy it's actually hilarious.

Expatriate expostulations from Canada; a.k.a. A Sarcastic man abroad trying to stay in the middle of the road without getting run over.

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