Man down

Yes, Captain Ranty is gone. Last heard of on his Twitter feed 6th March 2015. The augury was not good. Now via Henry Crun and JuliaM we have the news of his passing. No whys or wherefores, just R.I.P. Colin Grainger.

Despite our differences, I always held Ranty in high regard. His blog sent a lot of traffic my way, and for that I’m grateful. We’ve corresponded privately on various matters from time to time and I actually developed a genuine liking for the man. For no matter what you think of his views, the one thing he didn’t lack was integrity. For sheer bull headed stubbornness, he never minded taking the biscuit, sometimes the entire lemon meringue. He was an entertaining fellow and regrettably this has become an alas-poor-Yorick post. There were too few of his calibre in this world and I know we’ve all got to go sometime, but not without a bit of serious kicking and screaming in the process, eh?

Now please Death, no more of our friends and favoured ones for a while, yes? There’s been too much dying of late, and frankly I need a break.

atque in perpetuum frater ave atque vale

Comments reactivated.

Peeback time

I was reading the National Post this morning, and just before delving into the Financial pages, I came across this little gem of a tale. Apparently there’s a type of paint with the property of ‘reflecting’ fluid. Originally designed to keep cars cleaner, it’s now being deployed around the Red Light district in Hamburg, Germany.

Watch the video. Yers, I know it’s in German, but who says they don’t have a sense of humour?

Suggestions for other uses on the back of a very soggy envelope please.

Update: How to make a low cost version of this moisture resistant finish using Anti-Perspirant and spray on plastic coating (Sorry about the Torch commercial);

Workplace violence

In the wake of the Clarkson incident, I’m left wondering at how the UK’s workplace culture has changed, for good or ill, in the last thirty years.

For example; when I first started work, it was a common occurrence to be abused, struck, slapped or manhandled by managers or ‘senior colleagues’. It was part of the culture. You either learned to fight back, sometimes with words, sometimes in other ways, or you walked. There was no ‘constructive dismissal’, no lawsuits and the Unions have been as much use as a wet hanky. You were expected to “Be a Man” (Pray tell, what’s ‘manly’ about letting others push you around?) or “Take it on the chin” (Not this chin matey). You stayed and buckled under, or you walked. During my working life I have done a lot of walking. Probably to my detriment, but I wasn’t prepared to take the crap that was being handed out, so I walked. Bosses who thought they could bully or intimidate me didn’t remain my boss for long. Truth be told, I’ve had a string of bad or plain abusive managers and I can count the good ones on the fingers of one hand, excluding thumb. The good ones, who took the time and trouble to show how they wanted a job done got the best out of me. Those whose management technique simply consisted of shouting until you got it right by trial and error, didn’t. End of.

70’s, 80’s and even 1990’s shop floors could be rough places. Apprentices were routinely abused and beaten if their face didn’t fit, or they were slow bringing the under foreman’s tea, or looked the wrong way at the girl on the production line that someone else fancied. Or held a tool in the ‘wrong’ way. Eventually you found out who the abusive people were and learned to keep out of their way. But sometimes you got in their sights, and then there was no way but the highway.

These were people (Most of them are dead – the world is a better place) who could make the most notoriously abusive TV Chef look like Peter Pan. People with such poor communication, leadership and management skills they could not be called managers, more sheep with delusions of being Genghis Khan. And there was no pleasing them if they took a dislike to you or thought were ‘too big for your boots’. At the time I was too bright to hide my light under a bushel, too big to hide, and too dumb to not talk back, which often made me a target. Until I developed sufficient self defense skills and a sharp, sarcastic wit (And the wisdom of where to apply it) to keep me out of the more stupid workplace fights. I also learned that people who considered me a ‘threat’ would often try and maneuver me into a fight when they had a few mates handy as backup, just so’s they could give the big guy (me) a pounding, to establish their dominance. Because I was bullying them? No, that’s never been me. I don’t bully. Quite frankly the thought horrifies me, which considering some elements of my past, might actually surprise a few people. I think I became a target mostly because my abusers mistook my gentle nature for weakness, my preference for solitude and personal space as a slight. In other words “A docile git” and not automatically their best mate or toady. Nor member of a preferred clique or peer group.

That was then, this is now; physical abuse of employees is a big no-no.

This isn’t to say that there is no longer any abuse in the UK corporate workplace; it’s just changed form. Abuse is no longer so physical, the threatening behaviour from less than competent management (and fellow employees) is still there. Now it’s more sly; meetings (More like tribunals) convened to penalise staff members into compliance. False or petty complaints. Square pegs are still hammered into round holes, but now the intent is to redesign the shape of the HR hole so that no matter what shape the peg is, it can never fit. Initiative is a thing abhorred and avoided at all costs. Likewise innovation. Employees not properly trained because they’ll only leave and take their precious ‘skills’ with them. Also if there isn’t a box to be ticked, the task does not exist and must therefore not be performed under any circumstances. Non-compliance is not an option. Bureaucracy rules UK. At least this was my experience before we upped sticks and took our great leap of faith. Canada has come as a bit of a surprise because the work culture here is geared more towards cooperation.

Anyway. My last, terminal, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die final word on the Clarkson fiasco; no film set gofer worth their salt would have dreamed of not laying on some kind of hot food for cast and crew after a cold and windy day on set. They’d have shown some initiative, asked hotel management to keep a cook on standby, called a caterer, or at a pinch gone off to the local takeaway to bring back a serious curry, maybe ordered enough fish chips and pizza for the entire cast and crew. Anything but a cold spread and surly “Snot my job” excuse. And they’d have actually gone to the pub where the cast were, or at least phoned to ask people up front what they wanted to eat. Then nobody, drunk or not, would have had any excuse to go postal.

The bad news and some good news

Terry Pratchett, the finest humourist of the late 20th and early 21st Century, creator of the DiscWorld, Knight of the realm and all around good guy, is no more. No more Vetinari, Rincewind, Sam Vimes or Moist von Lipwig. No more Death, Albert, Detritus or Cheery Littlebottom. Their stories end here. He will write no more (Unless Death accepts the petition). The Sticker household is officially going into mourning. With a litre bottle of Talisker and as many Dry Martinis as is thought undignified. Or not. Deepest condolences to his wife and daughter.

The good news is that Iceland is not going to be joining the EU. Apparently this was over the European CAP access and the Icelanders desire not to have their fishing stocks eradicated by Spanish factory ships.

One is tempted to wonder when the EU will get NATO to sponsor a fascist coup like they’ve done with the Ukraine.

So they’ve finally done it

Well there goes Top Gear, one of the last decent reasons for having a TV licence in the UK. The forces of BBC PC conformity have suspended Jeremy Clarkson from the show and suspended the show’s current season. Did old JC actually punch someone out? Yes? No? We don’t know, and no-one’s saying. Well there’s a surprise. A row over the production teams failure to lay on a dinner and Clarkson being a bit of a knob? Was blood spilt? Dental repairs required? Not that we know. Storm, teacup. Build a bridge and get over it for crying out loud.

That’s that then. The Malvolio’s have won. Much good may it do them. Theirs may prove a Pyrrhic victory. Top Gear has been a big earner for the Beeb for some time and now that revenue will disappear. Foot, bang, ouch! Not that the entitled offence seeking faction within the Beeb will see it that way, they’ll just demand more from an ever-shrinking public purse.

What the anti-Clarkson set don’t seem to understand is that the reason Top Gear was so popular is the three stooge-like antics of Clarkson, Hammond and May. None of whom could carry the show on their own, but put all three together and the chemistry really worked.

Not that I’m surprised. This is the last in a long line of manufactured ‘scandals’ concerning Jeremy Clarkson. Like for saying there was a ‘slope’ on a bridge (which could be taken both ways – their bridge over the river Kwai was a bit wonky). Or for saying that he vouchsafed the dreaded ‘N’ word, when there was no real proof, just accusation from po-faced attention seeking race baiters when he recited a children’s nursery rhyme that has the ‘N’ word as part of its original version. He’s been in the PC crosshairs for some time. Some might observe that he openly courted the notoriety. As an aside; work on the shop floor with many people of African heritage and you’ll hear them say the ‘N’ word out loud up to ten times an hour and more. Clarkson (only allegedly) saying it (or even stifling it as a joke) once hardly compares.

Yes, Jeremy Clarkson is a knob and a boor, but that’s half his appeal. He’s an allowed fool, that’s why he’s so damn popular. All over the UK and English speaking world, men well past the first flush of youth, no longer in original Adonis-like condition (If they ever were), waistbands straining, hair follicles diminished and greying, could always laugh at the antics of Jezza, the Hamster and Captain Slow, silently thanking their lucky stars that they are not really like the stars of Top Gear. Laughing at the teams silly stunts like building a mock space shuttle out of a Reliant Robin (My particular favourite) or destroying Caravans. Racing an Alpha Romeo against an Amphibious Quad bike across Lake Como. Pitting a Nissan against the world famous Japanese Bullet train. Envying their access to the worlds finest supercars and seeing those hyper expensive vehicles, which the average non lottery winner could only dream of owning, as somewhat overpriced. Yes it’s got a whole heap of horses under the hood, but it corners like a greased pig on glass.

No doubt libelous accusations that Clarkson has all along been a Savile-like sexual predator will surface. I can, even from this side of the Atlantic, hear the motors of slanderous anti-Clarkson spin begin to wind up to speed. Allegations will appear about his misdeeds, and whether they have even the faintest grain of possibility or not, the howling paedo-mob will be handed their torches and pitchforks to descend upon a man whose only real crime is that he publicly does not represent a narrow and soulless point of view. If I was Clarkson, I’d be instructing someone like Carter-Ruck just on the off chance that such allegations might appear. Force the accusers into court and demand costs. This is something he might already have prepared for. Just because he plays a fool on TV does not necessarily mean that he really is one.

On the positive side, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of him yet. Which might upset certain people. Bless. Cue ironic laughter dopplering into the distance…….

Update: Clarkson has coughed to the assault, saying he was ‘a bit drunk’ at the time and ‘manhandled’ the offending assistant. Punch or no, that’s an instant dismissal offence. So, that’s that. The end of Top Gear. Well, they’ll fire him, but it might get a bit contractually complex as doesn’t he own the franchise or something like that? There’s also the observation that had his politics been left of centre, he would probably have gotten away with it.

Another update: What did I say about Clarkson becoming a Savile like target? A BBC ‘executive’ is reputed to have pointed the first finger.

The same script…

It’s just my mildly eccentric observation, but is the Western world working to a script? I only ask because certain issues seem to be pushed across the board by politicians throughout the Anglosphere and associated nations. Plain packaging for cigarettes and Gay Marriage seem to be the two big smokescreen issues. I say smokescreen because they are blown up by the politico’s to say “Hey, aren’t we clever Mommy, we fixed it.” When there was nothing really to fix. The whole Gay Marriage thing (Hey, there’s a minefield) is a sideshow, hardly worth notice. You’re a homosexual who wants to get married – is that wise? Big deal. Go for it. Why do you have to ask anyone’s permission or is it a tax dodge? As for plain packaging, the world is in a state of war, teetering on a financial high wire and all the pollies can come up with is pushing the smoking ban? Seriously? Never mind the discredited ‘CO2 driven climate change’ balderdash. Who with an active brain cell believes that any more? All we hear about the continued failure of that supposition are excuses so poor they make ‘the dog ate my homework’ look like Pulitzer winning prose. Oh yeah, why are they so afraid of Islam? It’s a religion of peace, right? Riiight?

As an aside to the man made climate change smokescreen, I wonder how many ‘influential’ people are stuck with worthless ‘carbon credits’ that are currently worth less than pennies? Maybe those who call people who aren’t taken in by all the blather ‘Deniers’ have bet the farm on (or are heavily influenced by those that have) and are trying to recoup their investments in ‘renewables’? (Good luck with that) Right, haven’t they heard of not throwing good money after bad? Mmm, yeah. Considering the quality of most modern left of centre politicians, probably not. Not that the political right are any better.

All of the aforementioned wouldn’t be worthy of notice if these new laws were being enacted only in the USA for example. Yet the same policies are being pushed all across the Westernised globe. I suppose this must be the real downside of ‘globalisation’, the busybodies and prohibitionists have insinuated their oleaginous selves into positions of influence, pushing their petty agendas and trying to micromanage the rest of us (It’ll all end in tears and they won’t be mine) when they might as well be building sandcastles in the Sahara. Excitedly talking about ‘change’, but not really understanding what said desired changes might eventually turn into. Their dreams will probably end up mugged in a dark alley by the law of unforeseen consequences. Or a bloodthirsty Jihadi. Hey ho, it’ll all be the same in a thousand years. The rest of us will end up footing the bill. So, no change there then.

By the way, I’m not the only one to have noticed. Christopher Booker, the Tellytubbygrasph’s last worthwhile contributor writes about it here (H/T Richard North at EU Referendum).

It’s almost like there really is a global club as David Icke claims; say and think the ‘correct’ things and you’re likely to be admitted and given a free pass, even for the most egregious cock-ups. Disagree, and you’re automatically the bad guy, to be excluded and derided. Which is possibly why Putin is getting such a bad press as he refuses to play ball. No matter who killed that Russian opposition politician. Although I get the impression that old Vlad is too canny a chess player to pull a blatant stunt like that. Maybe I’m getting too old and cynical, but the West is encroaching on what has been Russian territory, actively supporting an openly fascist government, and we’re supposed to believe we’re the ‘good’ guys. You know, I’m not so sure any more. Behind all the student rhetoric of ‘left’ and ‘right’ (A lot of which is coming from students and academia) there is a genuine fascist agenda, and it’s not just the EU and increasingly, the USA, it’s the group setting ne rules. Excuse my observation; but wasn’t a rather nasty and bloody global war fought against several nations with that philosophy less than a century ago?

I’m left wondering what will it take to expunge that evil a second time?

Sod this, I’m going off to catch some sunshine and think some happier thoughts…… TTFN

When is a phobia not a phobia?

In certain circles, it’s become a cheap and easy toss-off (Usually made by complete tossers) to describe voices raised in opposition to an event, type of politics or whatever as ‘phobic’. We here at the Bill Sticker Sarcastic Society for the protection of Words must once more mobilise our keyboards and raise our screenstrained eyes to stare down the dyslexic forces of darkness. Even now our Volunteer legion of word jugglers, stunt editors and grammarian marksmen (and women) are dusting off their arsenal of semi automatic .303 Oxford English dictionaries and .50 calibre Merriam Webster spellcheckers. Trying to ignore the naked porn queens cavorting through the reference section (and you thought libraries were boring, huh?) girding their weary loins to do battle once more for today’s much victimised collection of syllables:

Phobia
Line breaks: pho¦bia
Pronunciation: /ˈfəʊbɪə
/
Definition of phobia in English:
noun
An extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. Eg: she suffered from a phobia about birds.  Medical definition here.

It is important to differentiate between fear and phobia. Fear is an anxiety which does not have to be irrational. Indeed, it is the act of an extremely rational mind to feel anxious in the face of a very real threat. One cannot buck the Autonomic response. Say for example you are in the vicinity of a large and hungry wild predator capable of killing you, or of a known to be violent person (or associated with their doctrine) carrying a firearm and whose stated intent is the extinction of your culture and everything you have come to hold dear including you. To suffer extreme anxiety in these cases falls firmly under justifiable fear. In neither case is the fear irrational. To call such a fear a phobia is fundamentally (I know) dishonest and possibly even maliciously mendacious.

Furthermore, to call a mild aversion to a ‘phobia’ is likewise inaccurate, and a cheap tool in the arsenal of louche propagandisers.  Like using the excuse “Sorry I’m allergic” when you really mean “I’m sorry but I don’t particularly like Tofu Sausages.” or “I’m squeamish but don’t want to sound like the self obsessed fuckwit I am.”  Real allergies can range from that which raises a light rash to a truly life threatening condition, throwing the body into something as dire as Anaphylactic shock.  Anything less is simply a food intolerance (and possibly not even that) which may only result in mild indigestion and excessive farting.  Conflating the two is simply being a complete diet obsessive tit or a drama queen who needs to get out more. So it is with Phobias. Blurring the lines between a rational fear and irrational phobia is simply a cheap “I don’t want to hear that – La-la-la. You can’t say what I don’t like or I’ll scream and scream until I’m sick!” shut up line and therefore can be discounted.

Thank you.

Worth the ticket

Sometimes when going to see a movie, you need deep characters doing dark deeds to satisfy the artistic cravings of your soul, sometimes you don’t want to sprain your brain and simply go for something fluffy and undemanding.

Last night we took a trip out to see Kingsman, the Secret Service. As fluff goes, it’s an absolute hoot. A refreshing break from the sometimes tedious PC earnestness of other Hollywood films. It’s a bucket of icy water on a hot day. Go and see it. The opening soundtrack’s not too shabby either. A wonderful action comedy with a darkness a lot of Canadians simply don’t get. Judging from some of the Mary Whitehouse (remember that censorious old biddy?) level reviews, they don’t get the swearing or the black humour. Frankly, if you talk about black humour they’ll think you’re referring to the Cosby show.

If you haven’t already, go and see. It gets five slightly tarnished gold stars from me. One for the video collection.

If you like irony this movie definitely gets it. It also takes the piss out of an elite pushing the alarmist ‘global warming’ agenda. I found the scene set to Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance March No 1 particularly satisfying.

Why I vote for……..

The silliest candidate available.

Apropos of Sweet Fanny Adams; when I resided in the UK, it was the Monster Raving Looney Party. Even my late mother used to vote for them. Mainly, she said, because the mainstream parties had grown so unrepresentative of the everyday folk, that having a complete self avowed barmcake schlepping down the corridors of power in clown shoes would be a definite improvement. Yes, you’d still get roads and bridges to nowhere, but mandatory caravans as second homes for MP’s, population limitation to 63 million and an end to the war on terror, along with repatriation of anyone who emigrated to the UK prior to 55AD, which is a bit of tough luck for all those Saxons, Vikings, Normans, Huguenots and other johnny-come-latelies thinking that it was safe to take a breather and revert to their native accent. The OMRLP are also firmly opposed to Greyhound and Whippet racing to prevent the country going to the dogs. Which can only be deemed a sensible policy. Dog track goers might disagree.

Why I used to vote the Monster Looney ticket was mainly because the UK’s three mainstream parties were, and are, far sillier than any nonsense the ‘fringe’ parties can come up with. I mean, never mind the economy, the Tories main achievements in this term will be Gay Marriage and Plain Packaging for cigarettes. Which, lets face it, are hardly mission critical issues. Although if UKIP get a larger share of the vote on May 7th, I may have to modify this statement. UKIP I feel, would reduce the overall silliness quotient of the UK’s Parliament.
Although……..

Meanwhile, back towards the topic; in IT, when we want to say a software application application is complete and utter pants, we call it “Counter intuitive”. So bearing in mind their total ineffectiveness, the LibLabCon of mainstream UK parties can therefore be designated “Counter intuitive”. So can those institutions terminally infected by the PC virus like the BBC. So that no matter how many times a right of centre French politician says “No, we’re not connected”, the bimbo interrogator insists “Yes, but you love that Nigel Farage bloke and want to have his babies don’t you?” Without letting said politician finish, or in at least two places, even start their answer. No wonder the man in the street is increasingly losing faith in mainstream politics. It’s got so bad even the Guardian has noticed although the ‘globalisation’ attribution is missing the goal by a country mile.

Here in Canada the Harper Government has, for all its many faults, remained a steady hand on the economic tiller. Economically speaking, I wouldn’t trust any left of centre party like the NDP or Liberals because they simply don’t have a clue and would have strode in lockstep down the road to economic disaster with our cousins south of the 49th parallel. Just so no-one would call them ‘racist’ for not seeing the current President in his true colours. For the record; my sole criteria is; never mind his skin colour, is the guy any good at his job? Which in Barack Obama’s case, the answer has to come back as a ringing and emphatic ‘No’. Neither was Bush Jnr, but that’s by the by.

So, Harper and Co will probably get my first Federal Canadian vote this 2015 because overall they are far less silly than the alternatives.

Expatriate expostulations from Canada

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