Tag Archives: Comments

That all you got?

Sorry to hear the news about Arecibo by the way. A useful tool in it’s day, but superseded by more modern arrays. Still, as a scientific icon it was wonderful to behold. See Scott Manley’s commentary on the collapse below.

Hi-ho, another day on Youtube comment threads, another raft of insults. Oddly enough not here. I keep on posting polite, well-informed comments on YouTube about the efficacy of masks and lockdowns and keep on getting insulted. Just a little light flak, so I must be close to the mark. Good to see that some of my old infection control and aseptic training has come in useful for raising the blood pressure of the partisan and ill-informed.

For those who use name calling as a debating tool, all I can say is; “is that all you got?” Or in the words of much-cancelled philosopher Stephan Molyneaux; “Not an argument.”

As many bloggers have pointed out; if you think surgical masks work outside of a controlled environment like operating theatre, just read the packaging. “Will not protect from airborne pathogens” is one of the texts I’ve read on surgical mask wrappers. Must get some pictures tomorrow when I’m out. Never mind that your street clothes are a regular petri dish of infection, so the moment that mask comes off, you are exposed to all the icky pathogens you’ve supposedly been dodging, so you might as well not have bothered. Never mind that you’ve been re-breathing the bacteria and virus ridden contents of your sinuses. As well as lowering your blood O2 saturation levels.

The only way to be sure of not spreading or catching any disease would be to wear full Hazmat with a full decon unit at your front door to a positive pressure air conditioned home. But that’s a bit extreme. Far better to ensure your immune system is up to snuff. Simple measure like getting a little sunshine where possible, unmasked exercise out in the fresh air. Balanced diet. Maybe some Vitamin D supplements.

Surgical masks at this stage of the game are little better than a totem, a fetish object or idol to hang on to. In a non-surgical environment they’re a placebo at best. Besides, the worst of the pandemic passed months ago. The pandemic proper has been effectively over since late May. No matter what the mathematical modellers say. I say; How often have they been right? On the fingers of one hand… Never? Their predictions of doom are normally out by a factor of ten, which says a lot for any ‘science’ based on their prognostications. As far as I’m concerned they are looking at the numbers wrong. Too many assumptions based on bad premises.

As for the UK vaccine rollout planned for as early as next week. Bad idea. Not enough testing. The BioNTech/Pfizer mRNA vaccine will probably be foisted on UK hospital staff and the public sector first. Me, I’ll just avoid hospitals and needles as much as I can for the time being.

If the vaccine works without too many casualties, and that’s a big if, then maybe I’ll think about getting the jab, just so I can actually bloody well travel to the UK and Europe. Until then I’ll be watching carefully as we have shares in Pfizer, and at the first hint of trouble will dump the lot. Must talk to our broker today. Put contingencies in place. Our exposure isn’t huge, but if our drug company investment went completely down the pan we stand to lose about four figures GBP. A small enough sum, but it would still sting.

On the upside, Mrs S has finally got her new Irish bank account and other financial paperwork sorted out at long last. Which has taken over a month longer than it should. However, here we are. We’re no longer bleeding money hand over fist and our investment portfolio is almost back to where it was. We will pay no capital gains for at least the next two years at this rate. Not unless the markets do something miraculous in the next 28 days. Which is highly unlikely. Seasonal patterns alone indicate a depressed market or ‘market correction’ across the board over New Year.

Until these lockdowns and pointless tiers are removed everything will take an unconscionable time to sort out. Then there is a massive nascent backlog of follow up, which the politicians and so-called ‘experts’ don’t seem to appreciate. It’s just not only civil liberties or economy or mental health of the population, it’s everything. The tax take to pay for all the stupidity will be significantly reduced. So the politicians will have to raid already depleted savings and pensions accounts to make good the shortfall. On top of an estimated reduction in the overall economy of 10.3% (And then some). The July figures say that it’s 17.2% down on February. Add to that the latest round of lockdowns and tiers and we’re looking at something like 25% down overall on 2019. Even though the stock market is significantly up.

Personally, I think that any major uptick will be just a temporary rebound, or “Dead cat bounce“. If the restrictions continue, the overall decline will, too. This isn’t just my opinion by the way, this is based on personal investment experience. Not government figures, but the end result in cold hard cash where we’ve dodged major financial bullets.

On the subject of cash Mrs S and I were fortunate in that we had money put by to pay for our transatlantic move, which has cost us around 50% more than it should because of delays and cancellations due to lockdowns. I reckon we spent somewhere in the region of CAD$10,000 (about GBP5,800 at the time of writing) over budget. Which is about my tax bill for 2018-19. Because of lockdown caused losses my tax liability for 2019-2020 should be a negative value. No idea what 2021 will bring if matters continue. I’d put my resources offshore again if that were possible, but just try and open an offshore account as a civilian with less than seven figures to shift around nowadays. If you’ve forgotten your Grandmothers inside leg measurement you haven’t a chance.

Converging opportunism

We’re being played. I have no other conclusion to offer. The numbers don’t justify lockdown and I even downloaded the source data just to check and did my own comparison with seasonal norms. Yes there’s the obvious surge in March and April for respiratory infection deaths, but now?

We got threatened with a ‘second wave’ of SARS/COV-2 which has turned out to be more of a second hiccup. Indeed, all the dire predictions circulating around this strain of coronavirus have proven effectively worthless. If this virus was a military invasion it would be in final ‘mopping up’ operations. It has done it’s worst. The vast bulk of the vulnerable have either succumbed or recovered. We are left with a relatively small rump of uninfected. The ‘cases’ we keep getting told about are most likely a phenomena brought on by widespread application of the flawed PCR test. Some authorities even say the ‘casedemic’ is somewhere in the region of 90% false positives.

For this I dived into the stats and gave myself a nasty headache? (seeing as we’re in yet another bloody pointless lockdown anyway) When other, far superior intellects have already done all the scientific and intellectual heavy lifting? For this I get called “A dangerous idiot”. Hmm. ‘Dangerous’ perhaps, but ‘idiot’ by appointment only, and only if I’m getting paid to be one.

You have to giggle at the rampant ignorance out there though. People who have never heard of Jenner, Pasteur or Salk. Three of the most famous names in vaccination. That’s the kind of people who are calling l’il ole me a dunce.

There are even people who believe that vaccines have been in use for ‘thousands of years’. Really? if that were the case, Galen, the Roman era authority on pre-industrial medicine would surely have mentioned the practice. Having read some of the modern translation of his treatise some three dozen years ago (I was bored and I found a copy in my local library), I cannot recall any mention of vaccination type treatments. Nor from the famous Islamic medical scholar Ibn al-Nafis, who documented some of the human circulatory system in the 13th century. Nor in the book known as ‘Culpeppers herbal’, an English Civil War era text on plants and their medicinal uses (As well as astrology and other such stuff, but such was the spirit of the age).

The history of medicine is something I like to read about when the mood strikes, and I’m sure Leg-Iron, trained microbiologist that he is, has had occasion to do so. Not to mention our antipodean authority on matters microbial (As long as they’re from Tipton), the Flaxen Saxon. I might be an idiot, but I’m damned sure they’re not.

That said, I don’t think these continued pointless restrictions are a conspiracy, but I do think there’s an unholy convergence of interests, from the pharmaceutical companies that have bet big on a vaccine, their financial backers, and the politicians that love the naked power lockdowns give them. Not to mention the mathematical modelers, who develop their algorithms on false assumptions, then present the resultant gobbledygook as ‘fact’, despite the burden of medical proof against them. Then there are the propagandists and their useful idiots both in the mainstream media and greater population who ‘believe in science’ when all they are doing is desperately seeking something that will give them power over others and so bolster the rags of their wretched self esteem. Their ‘belief’ has little in the way of fact and more to do with the giant hole in their life left by an absence of spirituality. They’re just looking for meaning in the wrong place.

Me, I just hate being so obviously bullshitted and having my face rubbed in it. It’s probably why I drink so much. It blots out the nonsense.

For the sake of a little humanity

I’d like to share a little online exchange with you via a YouTube comments section. From Anna Brees’ project, giving voice to those ordinary people who dissent from the lockdowns. Out in the mainstream media, the word is, apparently, that we who dissent are ‘Sociopaths’, ‘Psychopaths’ and worse. From an anti-lockdown perspective this is pure projection. We who dissent see the damage that is being done, we feel it in our very bones, at our core we know there is a great evil being done for no great reason.

No-one with any sense disputes that SARS/COV-2 was a nasty bug that swept through care homes and took a great tithe in those places. I say was, because the worst passed in March and April, effectively bottoming out in late May. The data tells us this. The NHS and other health services were ‘saved’. What for I cannot say, as the anecdotal stories coming out indicate that the overreaction to this bug is having a much greater effect than the virus itself. Our very humanity is under assault from politicians and media who will not see the great harms lockdowns do.

I would like my last remaining reader to lend an ear to this lady, who tells the tale of her recently deceased father, and see if it does not move you.

To which I commented| “Glad your Dad had you to hold him at the end. Too many have not. They died estranged and alone. Horrifying. As mandated by government. As you say this is not just a crime against humanity, but just for being human. That can’t be right.”

To which she replied: “It is so bad isn’t it? I am glad we got to Dad too, but as you say, many other families did not manage it”

My last response was: “And the pro lockdowners have the nerve to slander those who disagree by calling us socio and psychopaths. Perhaps they should take a good long look in the mirror sometimes. Not holding my breath.”

I think we’ve all seen the video of the funeral director stopping a service because people in a time of deep lament had the nerve to try and comfort each other. He was only ‘following the rules’. As were others who prevented those requiring treatment for other diseases just in case hospitals were ‘overwhelmed’. They too were ‘following the rules’. There are no figures for those very preventable deaths, but we know anecdotally that they have happened. No figures for the lives ruined by Government edict, the suicides, the societal damage to name but two. Yet these effects are all too real.

Does my sympathy for those so afflicted make me a sociopath. or worse, a psychopath? Does my anger at the overt injustice of these lockdowns make me so? I say not. And there are a growing number who see the massive collateral damage to lives and livelihoods these lockdowns create and want to say; “Enough now. Enough.”

For the sake of a little humanity.

Update: It seems that the WHO agrees. Are they ‘Sociopaths’? Asking for some friends.

Apparently I’m an idiot

Well, at least according to some pantywaisters on YouTube comment threads, who call me names then ‘mute’ my responses so they can stick their fingers in their ears and go “la-la-la I can’t hear you!” How very mature of them. How very silly and trollish.

But in the name of fairness, I would like to address their concerns, and detail what I’ve been called a moron or idiot for;

  • Being able to read official statistics and see that the death count of SARS/COV-2 is running well below normal seasonal influenza deaths. Even with an uptick is ‘cases’ caused by the testing methodology.
  • Questioning that if this is the case, then why the lockdowns?
  • Saying that I would like my civil liberties back please.

Am I being unreasonable? Unscientific even? Am I even being dishonest? No, I don’t think so. The basic numbers confirm that I am correct in my assertions. The big picture as outlined shows that the Pandemic ended in May and that any putative ‘second spike’, which is being referred to by far more intelligent persons than myself as a ‘casedemic’, an illusion caused by the torture of statistics and highly selective number quoting.

We have effective treatments against SARS/COV-2. There are prophylactic doses of vitamins (C & D in particular) that one can take to reduce vulnerability. Yet the politicians and the name callers say that these things “Don’t work” yet there is solid evidence to say that they do. An apple a day does indeed keep the doctor away. A range of anti-viral treatments, including Hydroxychloraquine are also effective, Who knew eh?

At no time in these exchanges did I respond to the insults thrown at me by overt name calling. I simply tried to point out what the numbers said was true. Because I can read and interpret numbers. Derive trends. I also believe that if you know how to look, you will find that God, or truth, is always in the numbers.

But apparently I’m an idiot for thinking so.

Update; For those interested, follow this link to Dr Karol Sikora’s open letter to No 10 asking them to reconsider the current restrictions. At least I’m in good company.

Probability bingo

Got into a minor comments spat with a certain gentleman on Youtube recently over the Wu-flu pandemic lockdown that our spineless politicians don’t currently seem to have a plan for getting us out of. At least in Canada the lockdown rules are being applied very unevenly. Politicians may go to their Summer cottages or visit friends and family, but should your average John Q Public try it, the Cops are all over them like a cheap suit.

It’s a bugger if like me you need a decent haircut and you can’t get one because all the barbers are still closed ‘by order’. Although the politicians all look well groomed enough in their TV appearances. Doesn’t look like their significant others are doing their haircuts either. Boris Johnson excepted. We’re talking Canadian politicians here.

Anyway, I stated four known facts for which I had primary source information, a ‘thought crime’ for which this person labelled me and others ‘simple minded conspiracy theorists’. He may have been right about them, but I was not amused about being lumped in with the real tin foil hat wearers. He pointed anyone who was interested to a ‘debunking’ video by someone calling themself ‘potholer24’. I won’t link to it, but I found this specific ‘debunking’ video full of rather dubious rhetorical traps for the unwary.

In my quest for evidence this exchange gave me pause for thought and I thought I’d check my sources and run an additional evaluation of them. Were they primary as I thought, or simply part of anti-Chinese Communist Party propaganda from Australia, India, Taiwan and other English speaking Asian sources?

There’s a form of decision making I use that I call ‘probability bingo’, which loosely translates as “If the facts line up”, which is the process I use after a ‘reductio ad absurdum‘ exercise to cut through the media corn. This is the rational threshing floor upon which I try to winnow reliable facts from Fark. It’s not an exact process, but as a quick and dirty decision making tool, normally good enough.

My algorithm normally works like this; Someone has stated a ‘fact’ which to me sounds counter-intuitive, I ask myself – is this a real or a political fact? What is the supporting evidence? How accurate are the sources? Or are they simply trying to snow me with rhetorical tricks?

Say for example that someone makes the claim that the EU has kept the peace in Europe over the last seventy years. Do the facts support this? No. NATO has secured peace in the West in counterbalance with the USA forming the largest part of an occupation force along the eastern border of mainland Europe. The EU has no military component (yet), but it’s member nations, as a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, have done so. The claim that the EU has ‘kept the peace in Europe’ fails the probability bingo test because it only crosses off one number on the probability bingo card, whereas NATO, as a military organisation, under the leadership of the USA, has provided a bulwark against possible aggression from the East and Soviet Russia, thus making at least one line across and a couple of diagonals as well on my probability bingo card. Not quite a full house, but close enough.

As for the other claims that the EU is somehow a benign institution and not a club for bureaucrats who could not run a bath in real life, one need only read the content of the EU’s own web site. It’s all there. The plans for a common Police force, armed forces and intelligence service. Ever closer union. Well it was when I last looked. If they’re bragging about it on their own web site, the likelihood that “It’s just a conspiracy theory” can be safely pointed to as a form of conspiracy theory in it’s own right.

Similarly; the probability bingo for the origins of Covid-19 tend to line up. Chinese state media were, several years ago, lauding one of the lead researchers from the Wuhan lab for bravery shown during his collection of bat virus samples to find the cause of bronchial infections to miners in caves some 40-50km from Wuhan. So there is a high probability of virus samples being brought back to that lab for inspection as that was his base. The Wuhan lab in question has also had multiple reports of poor containment protocols from US Diplomatic sources as far back as 2016. CCP employed researchers have demonstrated a singularly cavalier attitude to biological samples, even to the point of being found with such samples in their carry on luggage passing through US customs. Then there was the well publicised arrest and deportation of three Chinese researchers from a Canadian lab for nicking biological samples and sending them to China. Pictures have surfaced of Wuhan lab workers injecting bats / taking biological samples from them at the Wuhan lab wearing street clothes. Hardly good practice. The bat species host to the original Covid-19 variant A, were not known to be sold in the notorious ‘wet’ market of Wuhan. Assertions to the contrary have no supporting evidence apart from a couple of doctored photographs. So, the probability bingo score for a lab release is not a full house at this juncture, but one line across and a diagonal are good enough for an educated value judgement. Representatives of the Chinese Communist Party can threaten and bluster all they like, but the basic facts line up against them.

Nothing matters but facts. All else is rhetoric.

Because these observable facts line up, there is a high probability, but not yet conclusive proof, which incidentally, we may never obtain because of the major arse-covering going on in CCP quarters, that the original virus was being worked on within the Wuhan lab. Whether the Covid-19 viruses release was accidental or deliberate one can judge from the immediate reaction of the local CCP chiefs, who first went into denial, then panicked with massive over-reactions. The probability bingo score, or burden of proof if you like, indicates that this release was a cock-up rather than conspiracy.

That evidence of ham-fisted local covering up of the virus release by local Chinese Authorities is known and documented. The release became a pandemic because the response was delayed for weeks, thus allowing regional, then national and international contamination. The current propaganda blitz of denial, like “Oh no, it ain’t so” or “You’re a waaaacist” can be dismissed as pure “Quia inquam sic” (Because I say so) rhetoric and thus not credible as there is no hard data to back it up. Likewise ‘debunkers’. You cannot argue from a vacuum.

So, does this make me a ‘simple minded conspiracy theorist’? I say not. I may occasionally toy with conspiracy theories because there is a possibility they may contain some small truths, but I do try to moderate my curiosity with a well honed scepticism. As for being ‘simple minded’, I leave that for my last remaining reader to judge.

Utter coblenz

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

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

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

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

Certifiable blue checkmarks

What the hell is it with some people? I walked in the door yesterday to Mrs S telling me that Yorkshire Tea had gone belly up. Which bothered me somewhat as Yorkshire tea is the chosen beverage of this household. “Pardon?” I vouchsafed, somewhat alarmed. “That’s a bit awkward.” Then followed up with. “Are you sure?”

Mrs S went and checked her news source, filtering through a couple of layers until she went “Oh. No. Got my wires crossed there.”
“I knew Taylors of Harrogate were catching some flak for the Chancellor standing next to a catering size bag of Yorkshire Tea.” I said, somewhat alarmed. “But I didn’t think things had gotten that bad”
“Sorry.” She said. “Apparently they were having to fend off lots of people on Twitter threatening never to use their product again.”
“Ah, the certifiable blue checkmarks.” I said.
“Pardon?”

Then I explained about Twitters ‘certified blue checkmark’ program which is supposed to mark you out as a verified real person and not some form of ‘bot. A program which has been suspended for quite some time. So if you aren’t already ‘verified’, you can no longer, as far as I am aware, apply to be ‘verified’. Or ‘certified’, which I think is a more realistic description for a great many denizens of that online ecosystem. With the emphasis on medication, restraints and padded walls. Because It does sound rather insane to want to destroy the livelihoods of many people you’ve never met, and who have never done you any harm, simply because a product has been seen in the same frame of a photograph as a politician one does not like. As Taylors gently pointed out, another politician of another stripe also enjoyed their product, which had not engendered such a hate fest. Not that this matters to the individuals behind the hate mob.

Now I do have, in real, not blog life, a barely used Twitter account. Six months ago I decided to try and see what it took to get one of these blue checkmark thingies, only to find that the program was suspended. So I didn’t try any more. Although judging from the prevalence of ‘cancel culture’ of Twitter hate mobs said suspension is on grounds of large scale insanity more than anything else. These ‘people’ on Twitter, these ‘journalists’, if real people they truly are, come across as literally frothingly insane. So much so that being a ‘verified’ checkmark now has a negative reflection upon any given Twitterer as a person. To the point where, if someone were to announce in my presence that they were the proud possessor of such an indicator, I would politely make an excuse and leave without turning my back on them.

Given the consistent behaviour of many Twitter blue checkmarks, it’s become a club I definitely don’t want to join. Candidly me deario’s I share Groucho Marx’s opinion of not wanting to belong to any club that would accept me as a member. They’re all complete nuts in there I tell you.

Time for a cuppa.

I am not your label

Got into a minor comment spat over on YouTube where some so-called ‘intellectual’ type was spouting divisive nonsense about how the ‘Boomers’ have stolen their children’s future. I watched for three minutes before my bullshit detector overloaded and I switched to something more stimulating. I also left a comment to that effect.

It must have struck a nerve because someone responded, accusing me of being a ‘boomer’ with a disparaging ‘okay boomer’ remark, saying the ‘intellectual’ had proven his case with statistics. To which I say; any damned fool can prove any case with statistics. Statistics can be used to prove that the moon is made of blue cheese and are, in the wrong hands, merely numbers tortured to the point where reality starts cracking. As Sam Clemens said; “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” Which is as neat an axiom as was ever laid in print.

All this talk of the ‘old stealing from the young’ is bollocks on stilts. Garbage reasoning to promote division so that the promoters of divisiveness may profit from asset stripping those they accuse. No-one has ‘stolen’ anything from anyone. My parents were modestly well off and worked hard to raise their boys, as did their parents before them. They are the giants whose shoulders I stand upon, and the next generation stands on mine, as with the next and the next. Overall, I am proud to say, we as a family have become more educated and better off by increments. As for ‘stealing’ from our children by burdening them with debt, well newsflash kiddies; so were we. The taxes paid by people born in my era were still paying off war debts incurred by previous generations right up until the 2010’s. From both the first and the second world wars.

Were our futures ‘stolen’ by our parents by paying these war debts? Don’t be ridiculous. Mrs S and I have what we have because we’ve spent our lifetimes laying up resources when times were not completely shit. Deferring our gratification. Not paying for the pub managers next holiday. All this talk of redistribution of wealth off the back of this ‘stealing from the young’ crap is just cheap political rhetoric to help asset strip the haves and then not give to the have nots.

Think of this; if authority takes from the haves, there is always a cost of collection. People to employ as collectors, office space, phone bills etcetera. All of which have to be paid for by more taxes. Then there are the costs involved in paying out the resources stripped from the haves, often from different departments with multiple redundant processes employing people who might be better off and happier doing real jobs. For every dollar raised for taxes of this nature, the redistribution tends to happen as follows; From every dollar taken in extra taxation, a good forty cents go into collecting and dispersal, twenty cents plus go into the back pockets of the politicians friends who build their offices and ‘help out’ with the financing of same and less than thirty cents out of the remaining forty end up where the politicians say they’re going to go. Although this is hard to prove. Sometimes the whole dollar just disappears into the black hole of general taxation, the redistributive schemes disappearing after a couple of years, whilst the increased tax remains. This is observation, not a statistic, and being merely anecdotal has no means of proof. Yet the extra tax money is still taken. Where it ends up is anybody’s guess. Don’t even get me started on carbon taxes.

Also; have the people born in my era been ‘wrecking the environment’? More complete hogwash. I was a card carrying environmentalist until I saw the light and understood that there are other ways of working towards less pollution, cleaner air and water. I began my working life in the UK industrial midlands with the stink of used soluble oil ever present in my nostrils. Now you can walk those same streets and not catch a whiff. Similarly diesel fumes. As for the nonsense bloviated about ‘man made climate change’, well, I’ve stated my opinion about that imaginary bugaboo often enough. We, those of us now in our fifties, sixties and seventies, were the people who campaigned for less pollution and the west is now much cleaner. The east is beginning to follow, but all these massive changes take time. All of this in the last forty years.

Did I mention that people of my age raised families with the ever present threat of nuclear Armageddon looming above us? Yes we have minor terror attacks now, but I grew up with IRA bomb threats (and real bombs), so little has changed. The world isn’t ending, despite any Coronavirus, which incidentally is not the fault of people born in the demographic bulge of the fifties and sixties. Nor is anything else, including a minor warming trend as we crawl out of the last of the Little Ice Age, which has already turned into a minor cooling trend, scheduled to last for the next thirty years. We will still have plenty of arctic and antarctic ice, sea levels will not flood major coastal cities like we’ve been told will happen twenty years hence for the last forty years. According to these doomsayers that is due to happen this year (2020). Seriously, it’s like waiting for the Great Prophet Zarquon.

Yes, so I find all this labelling of people in my age group as ‘Boomers’ whatever the labellers think that means, offensive. Also I do not choose to accept their label. It’s nothing but a cheap toss off, a worthless mental squiggle, only to be used by the hard of thinking.

/rantmode

Don’t panic

Got an email today asking about what it’s like to be an expat here in BC. The author was worried about a possible breakdown of law and order following BREXIT. They were asking about immigration and leaving the UK. So I replied, giving a few observations on life on this side of the world. Not all of them positive.

I’d like to give you a few thoughts on migration; it’s a long drawn out process, not to be undertaken lightly. Mrs S and I made our leap of faith only because of a wedding day promise. She grew up over here and was brought back to the UK by her family, much against her wishes. On the day we married, I gave my solemn word to her that we would go. “Though Hell itself should bar the way.” I said. Even so, it was a good few years before we actually bought the tickets and made the jump. Even though we already had friends and family over here.

Has it been worth it? Well overwhelmingly yes and with a modicum of no. Would I go back? Hell, no. Although if Trudeau’s Liberals, or worse, the NDP, look like getting voted in again I shall be shifting some investments into the US and UK, just to make sure they can’t be got at easily. So it’s not a bed of roses over here, but fortune favours the observant.

The thing is about BREXIT is that most companies have been making plans from the day the ‘Leave’ vote happened. Distributors have been setting up back channels and workarounds, other companies shifting their financial focus away from Europe and more into the larger world and the lucrative US markets. As some delivery companies like Fedex and UPS have been reassuring their customers that they won’t notice anything happening.

One of the upsides is that the price of food is likely to fall as the wider world will be allowed to bring their goods in directly without the external EU tariffs. Like Australian beef or New Zealand Lamb? Other goods will fall in price, which can only be good for the end consumer. Now I’m just about old enough to remember the food price hikes that happened when the UK entered the EU. BREXIT will be putting the already weak Euro under pressure, so the value of the pound will rise. This will put pressure on manufacturers and exporters, but as the pound will buy more raw materials overseas that effect should be somewhat mitigated. So the French will refuse Welsh Lamb? They always did.

Back in the 60’s there was a good deal of talk about how opening up Europe was such a wonderful export opportunity for Britain’s car industry and similar. Seen Longbridge, one time home of UK car manufacturing, recently? Tell the Welsh steel workers that. Tell the fishermen who saw their catches dwindle because of the Common Fisheries policy, or the damage the Common Agricultural policy did.

After the UK joined, I watched the decline first hand. After Maastricht and Lisbon, things only got worse. Only the big corporates really wanted Britain in the EU because that increased their influence and disadvantaged smaller companies, all in the name of ‘harmonisation’. The Greek chorus of a bought and paid for media ushered the UK into European bondage, controlling who and how UK businesses could trade internationally. This isn’t some form of tin foil hattery. That’s exactly what happened. The migrant crisis was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

So I’d like to point out that BREXIT won’t all be plain sailing. But at the same time it won’t be all doom and gloom. Unexpected benefits are coming for the UK. The benefits of truly global trade. Providing the Government doesn’t get in the way and cock everything up.

If I have a single piece of advice to anyone in the UK it is this; hunker down, weather whatever storm will happen. Take some minor precautions like planting thorn bushes underneath your windows. I hear Berberis is good if you’re worried about break-ins and sundry lawlessness in the wake of the UK’s leaving. It’s a bloody sight easier (and cheaper) than emigration.

Update: Two more weeks have been added to the ‘No deal’ deadline. Two more weeks of pointless panicmongering. It still won’t be enough for May to force through her much derided deal.

Cucumber Sandwiches

The wind was howling a little this afternoon, so I busied myself making cucumber sandwiches for tea. With the crusts cut off. Bloody hell Bill! Have you joined the upper crust then you class traitor!? No seriously. There’s something particularly civilised about cucumber sandwiches. Something special about these tiny triangles of bread, butter, thinly sliced cucumber with a swift twist of black pepper. Has to be salted butter, not margarine or anything ‘low fat’ which doesn’t cut whatever mustard you are fond of, be that the savage horseradish bite of traditional English, the fragrant acidity of Dijon or the sharp vinegar twist of Bavarian. The bread must be fresh, white and thinly sliced or else the whole experience becomes muted and insipid. Get it right, even adding a smear of cream cheese to the lower piece of bread and the reward is a fresh, mouth watering experience that is very moreish and dirt cheap.

Which kind of led me to a minor epiphany about all the ‘county’ people I used to know back in my rural English days, they were ‘rich’ because they never spent a penny they didn’t have to. Most of their wealth was / is what’s called ‘family’ money anyway, tied up in trusts and property so tightly it’s enough to give a church mouse a fit of the vapours. Cucumber sandwiches were simply a low-cost way of keeping the grocery bills under control while keeping up appearances with an ease that would make the legendary Hyacinth Bucket (Pronounced Boo-kay, you peasant) marvel. And they’re surprisingly tasty if done right. Not Hyacinth Bucket, the sandwiches.

You will need:
Cucumber
Bread (Doesn’t really matter which type, thin sliced is good)
Salted butter
Optional extras:
Ground black pepper
Cream cheese

Method:
Thinly slice cucumber and bread. Warm a little butter, or leave out in a warm room until it is soft and spreadable. Spread butter thinly on one side of bread slices. Lay thin slices of cucumber (the thinner the better) on the slices of bread. At this point a thin smear of cream cheese may be spread on the top slice of bread and a light scattering of ground black pepper added. Put the second slice on top and cut off the bread crusts with a sharp knife. Cut each sandwich into quarters diagonally and serve immediately with a nice hot cup of tea. Preferably on a hot sunny day. They’re quick, easy and can give you an air of charm and sophistication you may not display in your day to day life.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that these sandwiches have to be kept cool, possibly in a lightly chilled container before serving or they will either rapidly dry out and curl or become soggy and inedible. Freshness is important.

Get it right and you will feel the sophistication literally flood into your veins as you partake of this quintessentially English delicacy, making you a better, more rounded person and all your cares will fade into the background. Unless someone else nicks your cucumber sandwiches, then may battle commence. To the death.

Anyway, whilst I was preparing said degustatory delights my email inbox was going crazy with notifications of updated terms of service because of the EU’s latest ERDP GDPR (Whatever) regulations. Several came in making me wonder when I’d actually signed up for these specific accounts. More to the point, why? Note to self. Must get busy with cancellations tomorrow. If I don’t have an account, they can’t slurp my personal data, well not legally anyway.

Another side effect was popping over to Head Rambles and trying to leave a salient comment only to be refused with a message saying my comment had been blocked, directing me to contact the site admin with a ‘case number’. So I dashed off a quick missive to Himself and hoped that it didn’t end up in his spam filter. After a brief email discussion we concluded that neither of us had ever seen anything like this before. Despite significant experience in IT on both our parts. Didn’t happen again, but if it ever does I’m taking screen shots.

As for the censorship that seems to not be on University campuses any longer but spilling out everywhere, with obscure tinfoil hatters being prosecuted for ‘Holocaust Denial’, arrests of protesters against the religion of being blown to pieces etcetera one could be forgiven for thinking the world has gone madder than usual. I blame Donald Trump. If he hadn’t been elected we’d still have no idea that almost half the population of North America (including Canada) is completely out to lunch and screaming to give away their civil rights because they can’t accept responsibility for their own actions. Or have even the faintest idea of the scientific method which demands evidence. There have even been calls to jail people for having a difference of opinion on other scientific, cultural or social issues but who will that benefit? We are either a free society or we are not. Part of our freedom comes from tolerating opinions we do not share. Jailing people who engage in peaceful verbal protest is the hallmark of weakened societal institutions.

Perhaps if all parties could come together for tea and cucumber sandwiches (no food fights) for a polite discussion of evidence and issues we might make the world a better place.

A Marxist Joke

I’m very busy at present with a new job, some medical tests my doctor seems to think are essential, despite feeling quite well and full of beans. So not much time to blog. This post has been put together over a week or so concerning a matter than has made me crank the old lips up in an ironic half smile.

Here’s a question. When did the workers begin to seize the means of production? I ask my last remaining reader because it occurs to me that it wasn’t a Marxist at all who made it happen. Not Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Chavez, Maduro or Castro but ironically someone from the other end of the political spectrum.

I was over at Longrider’s blog last week I think, perusing the comments on one post and I suddenly had an epiphany. It’s a fairly simple exercise in applied logic with a large side serving of irony and I think anyone who doesn’t get the joke needs a quick jump start on the old frontal lobes with an ECT machine. I frequently see it said from left wing sources that ‘property is theft’ and that the workers should seize the means of production, but here’s a thing, what if the workers, of whom I count myself a part having spent much of my life as a working man, have already been taking a firm hold on the ‘means of production’ for several decades. At least in the UK. Certainly over here across North America where the practice is widespread.

No, I’m not talking about nationalisation, that’s just the bureaucratic state taking anything it can lay it’s greasy little mitts on. When it comes to actual ownership, the state and the individual are not the same thing, although the ‘State’ may be made up of a certain tranche of individuals it does not constitute an accountable entity. Indeed the ‘state’ is about as unaccountable as it gets with all the arse-covering that traditionally goes on in bureaucratic circles. I’ve seen state ownership first hand and it’s a process of managed decay, stillborn innovation, fear and inward bound loathing.

Now what I’m describing here is the quantum increase in small investors who are investing, crowdfunding, patreoning and supporting a wide variety of ventures all around the world. Literally enabling the means of production in a way that I think even old Karl would have gone “Yeah, Das Kapital, maybe needs a re-write.” Because the factory based society he designed his collectivist philosophy for died during the 1960’s and 70’s.

For my proof I’d first ask this question; where are the massive factories of yesteryear where thousands toiled? Where is the uniformity? In the much depleted corporate world? There are a few big employers, but nothing like the number of big industrial combines that once dotted the landscape. They’ve all been offshored, downsized, diversified and MBA’d. Where are the single workers collectives to ‘seize control’ of all the wealth generation?

The answer is very simple, via old fashioned much-disparaged capitalism. The kind of thing which allows people to put small pots of money in with larger pots to create investment. Pension funds, individual stocks and shares, government insecurities, gilts and all the rest. Through voting shares the individual investor is allowed a say in how a company is run and who runs it. In short, by purchasing shares they now have a small part ownership of the ‘means of production’. In the UK, this universal share ownership was most enthusiastically pushed by no less a person than, wait for it….

Margaret Thatcher.

Karl Marx wouldn’t have seen the joke, but I do.

A shadow on the soul

Over in the comments thread at ‘The Last Ditch‘ the subject was Solzhenitsyn, whose work I am currently revisiting, having been introduced to that author during my latter school days with ‘One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich‘. Tom, thoughtful gentleman that he is, warned me that too much reading of that particular nature makes for a ‘dark soul’ and introduced two authors he recommended as a counterpoint.

Now generally speaking, whenever I’m feeling a little gloomy I gravitate to my Terry Pratchett collection, or pick up some P J O’Rourke, Tom Holt, sometimes Peter Ackroyd or even the Satires of Juvenal, but I’m always willing to look at new sources from the lighter heart of literature. So, off to the library I will trot later this week for a scan of some John Irving or Haruki Murakami, to see if I like their style or not.

As for darkness, well, we all have a trace of that don’t we? At least, anyone who has stared down both barrels at life and noticed that the safety catch is most definitely off. It marks you, but then I’ve always tended toward the gloomy or stoic. With my family background I think I came ready stained, as it were.

But the question I’d like to raise is this; can reading really darken your soul, or do your literary choices simply reflect who you really are? Or is this just my jet lag still talking?

Silence is golden

Just been reading a few articles in the FT and am getting a little pissed off with the EU remoaners who pollute every single comment thread with their small minded toxicity. As if sniping at others in comment threads will change hearts and minds. Which it won’t. Anyone with even a modicum of discernment can see that, can’t they? Or don’t they want to?

Honestly there should be a point at which a form of Godwins law in a comment thread should apply on this given topic. The remoaners are getting worse than the thousands of anti-Semites that pollute all sort of online discourse with their unhinged rantings.

For example, on a simple announcement that the UK is ditching those rather banal Maroon Euro style passports for the older, more classic pre-1988 look we have all the prophets of Euro-doom crawling out of the woodwork, saying why would the UK leave the bosom of the wonderfully fair utopia of mainland Europe? Ha-ha-ha you poor benighted fools. Sorry chaps, didn’t you get the memo, the UK is really leaving. Give it up.

Sometimes, when it comes to BREXIT it’s like listening to an abusive partner heap vitriol on a person who has had quite enough and is finally packing their bags. “Leave me, will yer!” Screams the soon to be divorced abuser. “Yew’ll be sorry, yew bar steward!” Before making further plans to drop cute ickle bunnies into a pasta pan of boiling water, just for petty revenge. Not realising that they have worse problems in the offing. Like having to find some other poor sucker to finance their lifestyle and failing to understand the old axiom that whilst speech may be silver, silence has far greater worth.

For example the groaning that the UK is economically doomed, all the banks will leave and everyone and their budgie will starve in freezing gutters. People will no longer be able to work overseas, damn you small minded little Englanders. Oh but hold on a minute, there’s nothing actually stopping people leaving the UK and going to live and work in Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand or elsewhere that they can’t already. All they need to do is get a visa then jump through the right hoops with a valid passport. Can you get a job? Speak the language? Got the immigration points? Yes? In you come then say most countries. Unless of course you get caught out by a rule change and get left in bureaucratic limbo like my brother in law, who is still sweating over his Australian residency. Which is weird as he has a very rare skill set, is highly regarded in his industry and has bagged a very good job. For which there is a permanent skill shortage. But that’s Australian immigration for you. Left hand, right hand, never learn to juggle.

Besides, the EU has more problems that Britain’s impending exit. The Eastern states of Poland, Austria and Hungary are taking huge wodges of Chinese investment, threatening the formation of the federal states of Europe because the Chinese are eager to extend their economic influence across Asia into Europe’s back door. Effectively reopening and extending the ancient network of ‘Silk road‘ trade routes that were firmly chopped off by colonialism during the 18th and 19th centuries. Not that the original silk roads were ever more than long and dangerous trade routes crossed by caravans. Which are okay to carry your holiday stuff in, block the highways, but aren’t really worth a bugger off road and who really wants to carry stuff around in a chemical toilet on wheels? Or live in one for your precious yearly Summer holiday? No wonder it used to take months to get trade goods from point A to B in the ancient world. That and having your aged camels left to eat sand after being overtaken by some flash git called Alexander in his brand new Macedonian built four horsepower chariot.

Anyway, all that’s moot. At the time of writing all the girls all have gone shopping and brother in law went off to read a book. I’ve been dangling me tootsies in the pool and have cracked open yet another bottle of beer to cool down. Which for the moment will do. Tomorrow Mrs S and I wend our merry way down to Melbourne. Indeed, as this is a timed post, we may already be there.

On the nature of trolls

Every so often in the Scriblerus group we get various types of trolling attacks. Which some justify with the WW2 derived dictum; “If you’re taking flak, you must be over the target.” Yes, we occasionally get abuse, which is why many of us have some form of moderation on our comments section because without it we’d be forever chasing our tails deleting dozens off topic comments intended to drag a discussion thread into a morass of a given trolls own unhinged obsessions. Whatever those might be.

For me this isn’t a problem, as I tend to have a rather simple ‘delete and ban’ policy toward provocateurs and police my WordPress spam filter assiduously. Theres also a handy feature in WordPress that blocks some anonymous proxies which I make use of to keep out the unwanted. My comments policy for this blog lays down some very simple rules which boil down to the following: if you’ve something to say and are willing to be civil, no problem. If you’re just abusively trolling just to see if I’ll bite, don’t even bother. You’ll waste your time and energy, not mine.

But what makes a troll? I’d call it a behaviour rather than a person. Someone who disagrees with me might indulge in a trollish attack, which in footballing terms would be called ‘playing the man, not the ball’ or if you prefer, foul play or underhand tactics. Lurking under bridges, attacking the unwary. Attacking the person, not addressing their arguments. Now that’s being a troll.

You can’t call someone Troll either simply for voicing an alternative or simply criticising a given point of view, as has been described by many of the more thin-skinned commentators out there. To them, any opposition is the work of ‘Internet Trolls’. Which isn’t true. At worst it’s heckling. A heckler openly tells you you’re being an idiot. A troll is the person who tries to push a speaker off their soapbox, throws rocks or tries to shut them up using the power of social media. Indeed, the Twitter and Facebook hate mobs who infest those benighted platforms are being trolls if they ‘go after’ someone for simply holding an opinion they don’t like, costing someone their job or damaging any other part of their social life. Which isn’t fair play by anyone’s standards.

In the words of Gomez Addams;

As for the Scriblerus group of bloggers, one thing we do when under attack is co-operate, acting as a mutual support group where an outside threat is trying to disrupt one or more of the contributors. This is a purely informal arrangement, but seeing as certain of our members have extensive experience of Interweb related stuff and a great deal of real-life experience, it works quite well. For any would be attacker I would point out that nothing on the internet is truly anonymous, just as there’s no such thing as a burglar proof house. There are only degrees of difficulty in tracking. So don’t be surprised if your nastiness comes back to bite you.

This is not to say that we in the Scriblerus group agree on everything (or anything), far from it, we might not fight like cats in a sack, but we can disagree without it turning into a mudslinging bitch-fest, regardless of style or content. It’s called maturity. We’re grown-ups (mostly). And we’ve retained our own individual senses of fun. With the emphasis on ‘our own’. So a little light ribbing between members does not lead to meltdowns or petty vendettas. Because we’re all (I think) about freedom of speech and opinion, in varying degrees. So long as it’s not destructive or abusive.

As for those taking umbrage at any point of view espoused within our loose coalition I’d say; “Just because you’re offended, it doesn’t make you right.”

Of course, this blog only reflects my personal view, you’d have to ask the other members of Scriblerus for theirs.

Violence

Now I’ve been in a few scraps. Hand to hand stuff for which I’ve taken lumps and bruises, split lips, black eyes and even got my nose broken on one occasion. The younger Bill Sticker, despite his (usually) peaceful nature, developed a bit of a reputation for being able to handle himself in a fight. He also quickly learned that some things are not worth fighting over and when to walk away. How showing a contemptuous back to a would-be aggressor can stop them in their tracks but also how to spot the semi-psychotics who actually enjoy fighting.

Violence has a value, that much is true. When it comes to stopping someone hitting you, a good disabling Karate or Judo strike or throw, I’ve found, is invaluable. But only in self defence or other dire need.

What violence as a means of communication cannot do is change hearts and minds. It can only repress the expression of those ideas. Because ideas are something you can’t get rid of by any form of physical intervention. Even if you eliminate an entire population holding a given idea, tear down all their buildings, burn their books, wipe every trace of them from this earth, you can be sure that some bright spark will try to repeat it. Did the Inquisition stop Judaism or Islam? Nope, still here. Doing remarkably well, too. Did the Nazi Holocaust or Shoah get rid of all the Jews, Gays and political opposition? Hmm, I’d be inclined to say not. Will the violent ‘Antifa’ protests unseat President Trump or rescind his actions? No. Violence and its threat did stop large scale aggression on the parts of Napoleon and Hitler, but did the military necessity truly change any minds? Take a good careful look around before answering.

So when I posted that you can’t change someone’s mind by punching their lights out on one of Stefan Molyneux’s video’s, he simply replied “False though”. To which I wanted to respond with:

No. If someone physically hits me, it doesn’t ‘change my mind’ or alter my opinion on a given topic. What it does is make me want to hit them back harder and distracts from the original cause of the disagreement.

I would argue that violence as a negotiating tool only works so long as the oppressing party can maintain the state of fear the threat of assault is meant to engender.

But two attempts to post my answer to his reply led to ‘comment failed to post’. Fine, his gaff, his rules. He can only answer so many replies and I think he’s instituted a 48 hour shut out on commenting. However, I have this blog, so this is where I will post my thoughts on the matter. If Stefan or one of his friends cares to drop by and reply within the next 21 days (See comments policy), they’re welcome.

As for the violent ‘Antifa’ anti-Trump riots. The only thing those do is persuade me that these so-called black masked ‘anti-fascists’ are the very embodiment of fascism. Because they try to repress other opinions by physical intimidation, but their actions only serve to cement an opposition to their goals, at least in my mind. If asked, I’d say that these riots have all the sophistication and persuasiveness of a thwarted toddler pitching a fit at Mummy because she won’t let them have just one more sweetie.

Indeed, I am of the school of thought that violent action too often serves to prolong disputes. See Northern Ireland, where those on the shallow end of the IQ curve are still fighting the 1690 Battle of the Boyne.

Anyway, it’s snowing and I must get shovelling if Mrs S and I are to make our usual Friday lunch date.