Secret societies

A humble Bacon buttyWhilst researching today for my impending trip to Paris, I found that while there is a recipe for ‘French bacon sandwiches’ it is sadly not French. The French have no recipe for bacon sandwiches. Probably because this humble dish is  so simple it does not require one. However, they do have the ‘Croque Monsieur’ which is a toasted bacon and cheese butty. Which is all very fine, but can the French be said to be truly civilised if they have no bacon sandwiches? Alas no. It’s almost like there is a secret cabal of chefs dictating what recipes may or may not be produced in la belle France.

Secret society recruitmentSideways from that topic, back in the 1970’s and 80’s there was a big fuss about ‘secret’ societies, particularly Freemasonry. Which was a bit silly, as Freemasons were about as secret as ‘dogging’ in public is today. Everyone knew who the local Masons were as they would be spotted leaving home in their neat suits with their neat slimline briefcases, or outside the local Masonic hall. Their (hardly) bloodcurdling rituals were supposed to be secret, but there were just so gosh-darned many Masons that you couldn’t help but hear about the aprons and rolling up of left trouser legs, never mind the Golf Club tales of secret handshakes and initiation rituals with hood, noose and dagger. When I was small, my father could cite their rituals chapter and verse, and he wasn’t even a member. Masons couldn’t have been less secret if they’d tried. Nowadays they’ve even got their own web site. Some secret society, huh?

In these Interweb connected days there can be no secret societies. Well, none worth being a member of. From Opus Dei to the Rosicrucians, they’ve all got their own web sites, which is hardly ‘secret’ is it? The moment your little clique opens a Farcebook page, they’ve come out of the closet and can’t really claim to be a secret society. Heavens to Murgatroyd, even a Childhood Secret Club is more secretive, and they won’t have members over nine years old. Unless of course they are Trainspotters.

A Secret Trainspotter
A Secret Trainspotter

Trainspotters are said to have a top secret inner cabal who are so furtive they don’t even go trainspotting. At least during the hours of daylight. They are sometimes pictured wearing masks while prowling for that rare Deltic or Type 1 Diesel.

Trainspotters top secret headquarters, Ipswich
Trainspotters top secret headquarters, Ipswich

Rumours of Vampirism abound.

More sinister though are the ‘leadership’ organisations like ‘Common purpose‘ who actively form a cabal within public institutions, pushing a politically correct agenda upon the rest of us via their cosy little sinecure posts in various Quango’s, NGO’s and other neo-fascist organisations. They claim to want to create a ‘better’ world, which fits in with their own personal agenda’s. Everyone else is an outsider.

Frankly all these soi-disant societies want is exclusivity. Their own exclusive little club where they get to set the rules and bugger all the great unwashed. Who will just have to sit up straight, be quiet and do what they are told. So there. Rather like organised religion in fact, where a bunch of old farts in dresses get to boss everyone else around because God says so. By the way, God says he always ignores priests, as none of them ever listen to him, so why should he give the snotty little eejits the time of day?

As for exclusivity, if that’s what these people want; then it should be freely given. Along with a very large portion of cold shoulder.

Banned?

No book zoneI was loading up my eReader today with freebie books to read while Mrs S and I are visiting and digesting the Cite de Lumiere and was directed to a download site called http://www.manybooks.net. While perusing these web pages, I found my eye taken by a ‘banned books’ category.

Being eternally curious, I decided to take a quick look at the contents of the ‘banned’ pages to see what salaciousness was contained therein. Well let me tell you chums, I was shocked. Shocked, offended and scandalised to my very core. And also not a little disappointed. Apart from not having a copy of the 1951 epic “Racially pure Nazi BDSM Anal Virgin Porn Queens from planet 9″, by the Paraguayan Science Fiction colossus M Bormann*, a rare but worthy classic where every third word in the dialogue is sexually pejorative, all that I found were things like “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, “Common Sense” by Tom Paine and that dull collectivist treatise “Das Kapital” by one of the Marx brothers (Harpo possibly, I’m not sure). Should they have been banned? And upon whose say-so? See for yourselves.

* Bormann, originally a German politician of the 1930’s and 40’s, never got over the poor reviews of his work; was later heard to muse “Maybe I shouldn’t have made the heroine so Jewish”

My fellow pedestrians……

My fellow Pedestrians, thank you for sharing your time with me tonight.

The subjects I want to discuss with you, peace and footwear, are both timely and important. Timely, because I’ve reached a decision which offers a new hope. And important because there’s a very big decision that you must make for yourselves. This subject involves the most basic duty that any pedestrian or road user must share.

Tonight, I want to explain to you what this debate is all about and why I’m convinced that the measures submitted are necessary, responsible, and deserving of your support. And I want to offer hope for the future.

But first, let me say what the debate is not about. It is not about rights of way. I know that in the last few years you’ve been bombarded with calls for more restrictions and traffic signals. The trouble with all these measures is that they tell us little about the kind of options pedestrians and road users need or the benefits and security and freedom that a mutual effort will buy for us.

What seems to have been lost in all this debate is the simple truth of how sticking to rigid principles is not the best way forward. It isn’t done by deciding to simply say that those on foot take precedence before all others. Those loud voices that are occasionally heard charging that Government should solve problems by throwing money at them are nothing more than noise based on ignorance. We start by considering what must be done to maintain safety for all against possible threats to personal security. Then a strategy for strengthening safe passage for all must be agreed upon. And, finally, our on foot strategies must be evaluated to see what is necessary to protect against all the threats we pedestrians can and do face in our daily round. The cost of achieving these ends is minimal, and may be attained by engaging brains, not the public purse.

The road safety policy of British Columbia is based on a simple premise: No-one should start fights. We should never be an aggressor nor victim. We must maintain our attention spans in order to deter and defend against being run over or punched in the mouth – therefore to save unnecessary burdens on our health services and dentists bills.

Since the dawn of the road, we’ve sought to reduce the risk of collision by paying attention and by keeping to the sidewalk. “Attention” means simply this: making sure anyone who thinks they can just barge thoughtlessly about concludes that the risks to them outweigh any potential gain. Once they understand that, they’ll get home uninjured. We maintain the right of way through our strengths; entitlement, rudeness and distraction only invite a smack round the ear or free flying lesson off the sea wall. By engaging good manners and not dithering when crossing the road we make life simpler for others, reducing personal friction and preventing conflict. This strategy of safety has not changed. It still works. But what it takes to maintain our safety has changed. It took one kind of attitude to prevent getting flattened when we had far more space than any other province; it takes another kind now that the drivers, for example, have more distractions. Now, this is not to say that car users are planning to run us down. Nor do I believe accidents are inevitable – quite the contrary. But what must be recognized is that our safety is based on being prepared to meet all challenges.

There was a time when we depended on crossings and certain right of way conventions, because, with the society of that day, any conflict would have arisen by jaywalking. Well, this is a different world, and our reactions must be based on recognition and awareness of the distractions possessed by other road users in this unclear age. We can’t afford to believe that we can fixate on our cellphones without looking where we are going, or that others will automatically give way because you, and only you, believe that you have the right of way. There are daily road casualties because of the mistaken belief that pedestrians, no matter what they are doing, or how slowly they want to move are immune from being knocked over. We must do what we can to avoid being turned into bloody smears. But if distracted by that funny Lolcats post, or who has been saying what to whom on twitter we become ill-prepared to cross the road. Had we been better prepared, our bodies might have been better protected.

During the past thirty years, the character of traffic has changed – changed in a way that concerns us all. For years vehicles have been improving with better brakes and safety features, but this will not help you when the Mark Twelve Supersport Supercar you step in front of is being driven by a Mark One complete moron. They won’t stop their vehicles if both of you are checking out the hot chick (or guy, or cake, let’s not be judgemental) on Whatsapp. Now rules alone can be neither our defence or guarantor of safety. We must become more aware. Ready to give way and sidestep. To look left and right, if necessary, an I know how painful some of you might find this, to make and hold eye contact.

The introduction of small traffic islands has proven a challenge to many Canadian drivers, more so than their misunderstanding of how a 4-way junction works, and my fellow pedestrians failure to give them even the slightest courtesy or recognition. Far too many still step straight onto a crosswalk without consideration, or even recognise that there is someone else sharing that road space while they are taking that oh so important cell phone call about what theirr friend said about her friend’s puppy at that critical family visit, no, not that one, the one where your uncle said something inane that everyone else was up in arms about but is soo crucial that no one can remember what it was, that’s why I’m calling – thud! Then there are the Entitled cyclists who have right of way over everyone, no really they do, because anyone who gets closer than ten feet is automatically a Fascist, to be abused and gesticulated at in as threatening a manner as they can get away with. Because they are cyclists and are superior to everyone else on the road. So there.

These thumbnail sketches can only tell a small part of the story. l wish I could show you more without compromising our most sensitive sources and pictures of off duty Policemen laughing themselves senseless. But these are not images which will add to the debate. Indeed they simply serve to cloud the issue and detract from the fact that so many road users are slow, entitled and possibly even brain dead.

Some people may ask: Would waking up and showing a little courtesy to others lessen the casualty rate and lower blood pressure across the province and even Canada, perhaps even the world itself? Well, again, can we afford to believe it wouldn’t? Simply throwing our individual weight around like a wet towel at all and sundry to demonstrate our ‘rights’ has conclusively been shown not to be the answer. For too long the will of the entitled has driven how we behave towards each other and in so doing has been used to intimidate. This state of affairs must now end.

When I arrived here in 2007, I was appalled by what I found: Pedestrians that wouldn’t look before and while crossing busy junctions, simply stepping out into the middle of busy streets without the merest glance at what was coming toward them. The inevitable result of all this was poor safety, casualties and increased Emergency Services overtime spent picking bits of spare human off the asphalt before the Bears and Raccoons got to them.

There was a real question then about how well we could meet a crisis. And it is still obvious that we have to begin a major mental readjustment to ensure lower health service bills and reduce the pain and suffering to insurers. Notwithstanding of the mental trauma caused to those who witness what mayhem is wrought by inattention.

We have to move immediately to improve the basic alertness and simple businesslike functioning of our roads and sidewalks, so they can meet – and therefore help deter – a crisis. We have to make up for lost years of entitlement by moving forward with a long-term plan to ensure our people are looking where the fuck they are going at all times.

The solution is well within our grasp. But to reach it, there is simply no alternative but to continue this year, to engage the personal resources we need to preserve our safety and guarantee our freedom.

Now, thus far tonight I’ve shared with you my thoughts on the problems of road safety we must face together. Others have appeared before you on other occasions to describe the threat posed by other road users and have proposed steps to address that threat. But since the advent of increased traffic, acting like you own the bloody road has been increasingly just that; bloody.

Over the course of my observations, I’ve become more and more deeply convinced that the human spirit must be capable of rising above dealing with other road users by threatening their existence. Feeling this way, l believe we must thoroughly examine every opportunity for reducing tensions and for introducing greater stability into the strategic calculus on all sides.

One of the most important contributions we can make is, of course, to pay fucking attention you bozo, and particularly on foot. We should engaged all the time in constant negotiations other road users to bring about a mutual improvement in safety.

After careful consultation with my advisers, I believe there is a way. Let me share with you a vision of the future which offers hope. It is that we embark on a program to counter the awesome threat of the stupid and entitled with measures that are defensive. Let us turn to the very strengths in technology that spawned our great society and that have given us the quality of life we enjoy today.

My fellow Pedestrians, tonight we’re launching an effort which holds the promise of changing the course of human history. There will be risks, and results take time. But I believe we can do it. As we cross this threshold, l ask for your prayers and your support.

Thank you, good night, and God bless you.

Superfast spiders from hell

Well. Not really. Possibly. Maybe. If they’re not just guessing. Then again who knows or cares? Must have been a slow day at the Lab or something. But according to a scaremongering press release regurgitated as news, claims have been made that certain species of arachnids will be turbocharged versions of their current selves unless all you arachnophobes in the audience hand over your carbon guilt money. We’re not kidding. Big black hairy spiders will be hurtling all over the place in a scuttling blur. Seriously. It won’t be the tiny pitter of eight tiny tootsies tippy tapping across your wood grain floors, these little suckers will be going Vroooom! You have been warned. As the world warms uncontrollably all their eight knee joints will become better lubricated and then WHOOSH!

Well, unless they’re like the inch and a bit leg spread specimen I ejected from our living room last night, which was so easily caught and evicted from Maison Sticker you’d think he wanted to be catapulted half way across the yard, poor ickle thing. I’d have let him bugger off on his own, but Mrs S wanted him gone so we could watch Netflix unterrorized, so I did the necessary and Boris took a quick flying lesson.

No, sorry, we’re not talking about today’s comparatively sluggish exoskeletal bringers of existential doom, we’re talking about the giant, man eating, supercharged spiders which will be created by our old friend Man Made Global Warming! Dee-Da-DAAHHH! Are you sitting comfortably? Have you checked under the sofa? Under the bed? Under your pillow? In your underwear drawer? They could be anywhere….

(Cue John William’s theme to ‘Jaws’)

(Sarcastic snigger)

Fortunately for me….

Invading ParisI shall be enjoying la vie Parisienne later this year. I will also be enjoying it at a time when a bunch of joyless nerks who love to tell all us plebs things like ‘the science is settled’ aren’t there. Which is complete codswallop, science is never settled about anything. Even the most cursory glance at the history of scientific research and endeavour will demonstrate how ill informed and stupid that oft-regurgitated claim is. But my reader knows this, and will forgive this minor sour note.

Essentially the Paris conference is yet another propaganda-fest designed to convince us that politicians have discovered the philosophers stone for controlling the weather (Hah!). Fortunately I won’t be in Paris when all the pseudo-green activists and their financial masters are out on the town, keeping the local prostitutes gainfully employed and drinking lots of Beaujolais Nouveau on the taxpayer dollar. To be honest, these climate conferences actually do some short term economic good, particularly if you’re a prostitute or purveyor of intoxicating substances. Apparently a lot of paid sex and drugs goes on at these events with so much raw money sloshing around. Mostly while the wide eyed useful idealists are busy knitting biodegradable clothing out of leftover linguine.

Anyway, my impending holiday (my first proper break in ten years) has had me practicing my French conversation which has become a little rusty of late. Like all vices and skills, a language needs constant practice to maintain its edge and it’s been a while since I passed the citizenship language test. However, to make up for this shortfall I have been practicing saying things like “Désolé monsieur” or “Désolée madame” and “Aww, mon pauvre petit.” in as insincere a voice as possible without giving the whole game away. My goal here is to become equally as sarcastic, ironic, patronising and dismissive in French as I can be in English. I’m told there are Parisian waiting staff who give masterclasses in the aforementioned. I will be studying them eagerly as they parade their expertise, feeling suitably humbled before the worlds formost experts in linguistic ledgerdemain. Even if it is not in my native tongue.

I’m quite giddy with anticipation.

No to Referendums

EU ball and chainSpotted via RT.com; ‘Cast iron Dave’ and any of the lamestream UK political parties will not be delivering on their referendum promises any time soon. Face it chums, whether or not the ‘source’ is kosher, the Germans don’t want to be left holding the baby as the EU’s other major cash cow goes AWOL, therefore they won’t let anyone else have the ball until 2020 at the earliest. Arch bureaucrat Claude Juncker has spoken. Allegedly. Democracy dahleengs? That’s not for you little people don’cha know.

Unless of course someone gets elected who doesn’t give a monkeys about a treaty which, incidentally, was privately ratified without parliamentary scrutiny by a whoreson who was parachuted into the UK Prime Ministers job without having to stand for election as such. There’s some legal wiggle room for starters. It’ll be enough to to keep the lawyers arguing for decades.

I’m due to pass through some of my old London stamping grounds in the next two to three weeks, so I’ll take a good first hand look at how the brave EU world is shaping up. With or without referenda or promises thereof.

Update: Hmm. According to Richard North’s EU Referendum either Juncker is backtracking heavily or he was misreported according to other sources. Both are possible because;
1. Juncker is a politician
2. The Lamestream have to sell advertising space
Or a mixture of both.

I’m still sceptical though. The Tories won’t allow the UK a referendum. Nor will Labour, the Limp Dems, the SNP or the Greens. A vote for any of them is still a vote for a Federal Europe.

Pain

Canadians, without making too much of a broad sweeping generalisation, aren’t used to manual gearboxes or clutch operation. Over here, motoring tends to be of the point and click variety. Most vehicles sold are automatics. Even our little Subaru is one of those half breed four speed gearboxes. We’ve had a 4×4 with a manual box, but that was 1970’s vintage. Nowadays if you pointed most North Americans at a vehicle with a proper clutch and gearbox, they’d look at you as if you were asking them to operate a nuclear power plant. Most cars over here have Column shifts or centre console gear levers that only get shifted out of gear to go straight to ‘park’. It makes for lazy driving.

Today this was brought home to me when we pulled up alongside what looked like a Yamaha YZF-R6. Nobody was going anywhere fast as the speed limit varies between 40-60 Km/h on that section of Hillside Avenue.

Yet what had me wincing was the guy on the Yam totally failing to change gear. It was awful. Whilst the rider could stay upright and seemed to have the hang of gentle cornering, he hadn’t quite grasped the correct coordination of left hand and foot. He pulled away from the lights in second gear, he accelerated from 0-60km/h in second, did he change up or down a notch to third gear or down to first? No. He seemed not to have mastered the concept of a non-automatic gear box. It was actually painful to hear, even when we had all the car windows shut. I’ve had more fun having my teeth drilled. God alone knows what it was doing to the engine.

If there were a BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Motorcycles I’d have reported him on the spot.

Google off

I’ve dropped the once but no longer useful Google as a search engine as they have made the decision to be the arbiter of ‘truth’ on the jolly old Interweb. Google will now rank websites based on the Google decided amount of ‘truthiness’ of a sites content. Now isn’t that something the original Googlers told us they would never do? Besides, apart from loading the algorithms, which may have the law of unforeseen consequences bounding out into the limelight as usual I can’t see the benefit. Especially when sites that have forked out good money to the advertising arm of said organisation find themselves losing web traffic, yet have had their rank adjusted downwards for reduced ‘truth’ levels. How are Google going to vet all the sites on the Internet? Also, who gets to say what the ‘truth’ is? Especially surrounding areas of controversy? Put your lawyers on danger money, baby.

The problem is that Google has become the victim of its own success. It became big enough for the political and corporate world to take notice and insert their insidious tentacles into the enterprise (I’m told there are Manga web sites that cater for just such proclivities). In order to ‘go along and get along’ Google will toe their new masters line, warping their search engine to fit in with various corporate and political orthodoxies, serving up the version they are told into a neat little pre-package of ‘truth’, ranking web sites accordingly. Which will go down like a lead balloon with the Interweb’s more discerning abusers. It’s fun to Fisk.

After little more than a week of switching search engines from http://google.com / co.uk / .ca to the highly functional http://duckduckgo.com in three of the five browsers I regularly use, my spyware detection programme is showing a marked decrease in detected threats. My antivirus and both firewall logs also show a marked decrease in recorded threats.

Without having more than a three scan dataset off each, it’s hard to quantify the actual percentage, but using Google as my search engine meant I was getting around 150-155 spyware ‘threats’ every five days, much of which were those cheeky little web tracking cookies. Now I’m only logging 85-95. My web usage hasn’t varied that much either, apart from switching search engines.

To be honest I’m quite pleasantly surprised. Security scans take only two thirds the time they did less than a fortnight ago. I may even end up dropping Chrome as a browser. Who knows?

Just passing through…

UK General Election day May 7th 2015 I’ll actually be in the UK. Specifically in jolly old Londinium, taking in the sights, raiding Marcus Expensius for some specific items of apparel I just can’t seem to source our side of the pond. Having a nostalgia trip to the V & A and maybe the Natural History and Science Museums. Perhaps a boat trip down the Thames to Greenwich, you know, the whole touristy thing. All the things we never did when we actually lived there.

Mrs S and I will no doubt pass by Wastemonster, and will probably see whoever has won the political X-factor lack of talent contest as they wave at the curious (and possibly bemused) crowds. We’ll grouse a little at the disruption to local traffic and try to avoid the worst congestion hot spots as the new head boy / girl / whatever does a lap of dishonour with their underwear figuratively wrapped around their heads on the 8th. Might even stay up while my time sense adjusts to watch the results come in.
Mappe of olde Londinium
This whole general election thing promises to be a head and heart experience for me. My heart wants poor old Blighty to be freed from the expensive clutches of the turgid bureaucratic EU. However my head says it ain’t gonna happen, and the electorate will simply opt for more of the same old partisan same old. Even if Big Nige and the Purple gang look likely to upset a few small scale apple carts.

In passing I might cast a jaundiced eye at the constituency I used to live in and hope against hope that the current incumbent is one of the political casualties. Frankly the man’s a buffoon parachuted in from CCHQ, and I’m told about as popular locally as a bad case of piles.

As for talk of a Referendum on the EU; well, vote for the donkey with the Blue, Yellow, Red, Rainbow or Green rosette and see where it gets you. Apart from nowhere. Cameron and Milliband, despite all current and previous promises to the contrary, certainly won’t. The lamestream of British politics is all soundbites with no bite.

Hey, is that my cynicism? I just knew I’d put it down somewhere.

Still feeling a little carp

Well wasn’t that fun young Bill? Well, actually a clear and resounding ‘No’. Not a fun bout of the dreaded Lurgi at all. My chest is still a little sore, with leftover muscle aches from all the coughing and spluttering which has seen me consigned to the spare bedroom for over a week. “One of us has got to get some sleep dear.” Said my good lady wife, pointedly shutting the door on my palsied frame.

The green chunks have faded to clear, my snottiness quotient is now at more or less normal levels, and I am a functioning human being again. Feeling thankful that bouts of this kind are few and far between. Still feeling a little carp, but that’s to be expected.

Feeling a little Carp Normal sarcasm levels will be restored as soon as I’ve got a handle on what they should be anyway.

In the meantime, doubt is being cast (yet again) on those ‘Government Health Guidelines’ this time on salt. When you actually read the article and see the various assumptions the original researchers made, the light should dawn. The prodnoses have it wrong yet again. Or should we say ‘as usual’?

Expatriate expostulations from Canada; a.k.a. A Sarcastic man abroad

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