Eavesdroppers hear no good of themselves

It’s an old saying; but some people need it pointing out to them every once in a while. News that the US Homeland Security Department monitors blogs, tweets and discussion forums comes as no surprise. Although I do feel that they are simply looking for trouble, and depending upon who they’re listening to, they may well infer that trouble is brewing. Sometimes where it isn’t.

“documents obtained by EPIC indicate that following the exercise, a procurement official awarded an $11.3 million contract to General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in order to carry out the monitoring on a “24/7/365 basis”

Now I don’t generally link to sites like Infowars, as they tend to come across as a bit histrionic. Yet this little snippet, little reported elsewhere, should come as no surprise. “Intelligence service monitors Internet discussion” Well, no shit Sherlock. They’re in Security, it’s a large part of what they do. If there weren’t Security services, shares in doughnut shops would plummet.

So what if Homeland Security eavesdrop? So what? Well, apart from panicking when UK party animals tweet that they’re going to ‘Destroy’ something on their way into the USA. Not that the pair in question were any loss. Not making public comments about doing something nasty, even in jest, to wherever you’re going should be a no-brainer. Firstly it’s downright impolite, and secondly can and does lead to acute humour failure in people not schooled in the same cultural Ouvre. Especially cops and the like, whose default world view is “What’re you up to, sonny?”

Still, if you go listening for trouble, the one thing is certain; you’re going to find it everywhere.


Fukushima; almost a year on

It’s almost eleven months to the day since a Tsunami overwhelmed the sea defences at Fukushima, Japan. Eleven months. Since then Germany started shutting down nuclear power plants, even though none of them are likely to be hit by anything like the Quake that hit a small area of Japan. Lots of people over here went into a muck sweat about it, chewing enough potassium iodide to make themselves much sicker than any Radioactive material from the damaged power plants might have done. More fool them. No doubt same will complain that every single sniffle they’ve had since has been radiation induced, despite XKCD’s amusing little graphic on the subject making a nonsense of such assertions.

The National post has some interesting before and after pictures of the area. Although there aren’t any shots of the three damaged power plants, the surrounding area is looking remarkably tidy.

If anyone’s interested in facts rather than rent seeking hysteria; The interim IAEA report can be found here. Of course a thorough cleanup of the reactor cores will take ten years, which is about par for the course, but with no attributable deaths (or even serious injury) to radiation poisoning, I’d say panic over. Not that any panic was justified in the first place. Chernobyl this wasn’t.

What’s so frightening about Sovereign Citizens?

No less a body than the FBI is posting dire warnings about people it calls ‘Sovereign Citizens’ and how they are becoming a ‘Terrorist threat’. Now I realise this is more Ranty’s territory than mine, but I’d like to write down what thoughts I have on the matter.

Now the FBI say that this movement poses a ‘threat’, forming an extreme ‘right wing’ grouping. In their press releases they attempt to link the Sovereign Citizen movement directly to the actions of the Oklahoma Bomber Timothy McVeigh, with a sly nod of the head towards the loose but highly influential American anti-tax alliance, the Tea Party.

Of course it’s all propaganda. Assailed upon all sides by the tactics of tax and revenue denial, the powers that be will want all those who don’t like having their pocketbooks raped for last red cent classed as ‘terrorists’. Even if the individuals concerned are nothing of the sort.

Based on the few cases held up as exemplars of these extremists, I’d say someone is over egging their particular propaganda pudding. Besides, there’s nothing remotely Libertarian about being extreme right wing, nor extreme left wing for that matter. Both sides of that particular authoritarian coin are as vile and racist as each other, and equally outdated. Similarly, the semi-official authoritarian version of the ideal of individual sovereignty differs hugely from the version put forward by commentators on the movement themselves. On the face of it there seems little to be afraid of. At least not for the average person in the street.

The Sovereign Citizens appear to see themselves as harking back to the principles enshrined in the original US Constitution and Common Law, while the opposing faction are (mostly) steaming over possible loss of tax revenue. As an observation; the first American revolutionary war was started by people opposed to excessive taxation. A further observation; wouldn’t it be a good idea not to make the current spending crisis worse?

Whilst I’m thinking about it, I have a number of American friends who were less than enchanted at having to fill in a US Tax form for the first time last year. Even when they’d been working north of the 49th Parallel for years and dutifully paying their share to the Canadian exchequer. No matter where they were, even if they had dual citizenship and already paid; Uncle Sam wanted his cut. Now. Or else.

Ever more intrusive and grasping fiscal measures are what lend strength and leverage to (at least originally) libertarian movements like the Sovereign Citizens. Joe / Joanne Q Taxpayer see their tax money given away to the financial cronies of politicians in massive bailouts and quietly grind their teeth. They write to their Representatives and get no redress. They challenge visiting speakers at local town hall meetings, embarrassing speakers with well researched questions, even getting excluded or thrown out for their trouble. Eventually they lose faith in the political process, and begin to view all their elected officials as the enemy, not the public servants they are supposed to be. Some attempt to ‘fight the system’ using tactics mandated by people like Ranty. Some will demonstrate, only to be ridiculed by those in the pockets of the authoritarians. Others will be driven into the arms of political extremists. Some will cave in, hoping for better days, but their resentment will fester.

What the Authoritarian faction don’t seem to understand is that treating people like tax cows, especially when said people are used to paying their own way, is counter productive. Almost as counter productive as labeling a person who had previously taken great pride in being a citizen of ‘the land of the free’ a ‘terrorist’. What a bright idea that never was.

Sounds like one of those self fulfilling prophesies to me. Oh well, can’t say I didn’t tell you so.

Just as an aside; I’ve been reading about the period that led to the Revolutions in Greece, France, Italy and the 13 Colonies of America (as it was then). Fascinating stuff about The End of the Old regime in Europe 1768-1776 by Franco Venturi. A seminal work on the collapse of despotism with much to absorb and consider.

So that’s where it got to…..

Here above the 49th parallel it’s been a fairly mild winter so far, with only one real fall of snow this year. Even then everyone in our household got to work on time. Snow / Mud all weather tyres and two of the better All Wheel Drive systems saw to that. My day job doesn’t allow for ‘Snow days’, storm or blizzard, and I have to be at my post, no excuses. When the snow falls it’s a twenty one kilometre drive (Thirteen miles) over half of it along rural Canadian roads, with no likelihood of a snowplough for forty eight hours.

Yet a four or six inch dollop of the white stuff, which might have sent a few of our more timorous locals hunkering down in their homes, manages to bring the UK to a halt for the fourth year in a row, record high temperatures or not (Guffaw). Not only that, but we on Vancouver Island get exactly the same sort of snow as the UK when it falls; the wet, heavy stuff that makes it unsafe to take woodland walks. Yet here in the mid island we’re at the same latitude as Jersey in the Channel Islands.

According to family currently working down in the Midwestern USA, the snow has been conspicuous by its absence (Well, relatively speaking). Ice is jamming up the Alaskan coastline and Bering Straits, making life difficult for of all people Crab fishermen. There was a 5.7 Earthquake off the West coast of Vancouver Island, (never felt a thing) but no snow.

Must be one of those Canadian export initiative thingies. Enjoy.

Not holding my breath

Amusing though it is to see one of the chief proponents of Wind power in the UK being hauled up before the beak for ‘perverting the course of justice’, I’m not convinced we’ve seen the last of him, or the disastrous energy policies he stands behind. Being a politician, he’ll be calling upon every resource he has to use his status as a means of avoiding jail time / fines. All this to avoid a speeding fine?

The irony is that the gentleman in question was once a director of a company that brought the plague of speed and CCTV cameras to the British Isles. Hoist by his own petard? Perhaps there is a form of natural justice in this world. On the other hand, perhaps not.

On a more realistic note, it will take at least a decade to undo the harm he has done to Britain. Perhaps much longer. Unfortunately several thousand impending deaths from cold of people (Someone’s Aunt or Uncle, someone’s Grandparent) on fixed incomes who can no longer afford the ‘renewable’ inflated electricity costs to heat their homes cannot be undone. Their deaths are as sure as if Huhne, and all the other pushers of Wind energy had picked up a gun and shot them each in the head. But will he suffer for this crime against humanity? Will any of the pro Wind faction? Sadly no, because although their blinkered policies will have been directly responsible for real harm to real people, no doubt Hune will end up as an EU Commissar Commissioner with a gold plated pension, or as a politically appointed ‘Lord’, and influence with various very rich people who like to keep their fingers on the political pulse, and maybe trade a little influence at luxury resorts. Heavy sigh. Twas ever thus…

Excuse me airing my cynicism, but getting rid of dangerous idiots in politics hasn’t really been possible since the death penalty was suspended for the crime of High Treason.

New light through an old window

Lyrics here. Ring any bells?


Mrs S and I have just finished compiling our tax returns for the Canadian tax man. The file has just been fired off to our accountants who will cut and paste the figures into our online tax forms. They will send us a bill, which we have put money by to pay, and then we’ll cough up. Relatively painless, and as long as you’re honest, they don’t bother you much.

Unlike the UK where HMRC think every cash transaction is ‘cheating’ the tax man, to which my response is a curt “Who earned the fucking money in the first place, sunshine?” Now I do not mind paying a reasonable tax burden, but what HMRC and their political masters have forgotten is that it wasn’t their money to start with, and they owe the taxpayer a duty of care not to piss public funds up the wall.

How do I feel about Europe?

Picked up from the Angry Exile via The Filthy Engineer, this propaganda bowel motion of silliness from the Grauniad entitled “How European are you?”. Having taken the quiz, I wasn’t completely convinced by the result, and so did a screen grab to make a couple of amateurish but philosophically accurate corrections without changing the overall feel of the thing.

The one thing I find so totally offensive about the original, and highly ineffectual, version is that taxpayers money was probably used to fund its creation.

Same old same old.

Despite not making much time to blog nowadays, I still do the rounds of the others on my blogroll to see what they’re up to. Far more telling than the same tired old output of the mainstream. Even the dear old Tellytubbygraph has devolved to the level of a comic. Who are they hiring for sub editors nowadays? The Incontinent and Grauniad still call all those daring to question the dogma of Man Made Climate Change / Disruption ‘Deniers’ when the only people in denial are palpably those who still believe against all the evidence that minor changes in atmospheric trace gases can catastrophically alter the global climate. If the emails released under ‘Climategates 1 & 2’ are any guide, the very people responsible for finding evidence for catastrophic man made climate change are having trouble with it too.

This side of the continent I keep on hearing rumours about new bouts of ‘Quantitative easing’ which are simply a device to devalue a currency of a country deeply in debt, and so supposedly reduce the level of indebtedness. So if a foreign country owns thus many billions of debt in the form of government bonds, with every bout of QE, or devaluation, that debt, or burden of borrowing becomes less. Yes, fine, it devalues the debt, but doesn’t address the core problem which is for the politicians to stop spending so much on non productive areas.

Say for example if bins need emptying, then how many administrative staff does a local authority need apart from the bin men (Who are mostly employed by contractors)? If I may be permitted a non-PC observation, there appears to be a long standing Chief / Indian imbalance in UK public services. If streets need patrolling by enforcement officers of whatever stripe, then surely two uniformed feet on the street are worth four times one office bound head up the arse? Far cheaper to boot (or boots).

Also the continuing assault on civil liberties by various mendacious lobby groups. Has that changed? Not really. Now there’s an area ripe for spending cuts.

Yup. Same shit, different day.

This isn’t going to go down well…..

Michael Buerk asks inconvenient questions regarding the wild claims of the pro Man Made Climate Alarmist faction. Whilst he does say that he believes that humanity is altering the climate, he’s also asking where all the doom and disasters are that have been so authoritatively predicted. That’s an excellent question. where are they?

To quote a Monty Python sketch; “Can I just say that’s the last time he’s appearing on Television?”

Glad to see scales falling from eyes. Interesting blog too.

H/t Wattsupwiththat

I think they can go on the blogroll,as Buerk seems to cover some Libertarian subjects.

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

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