Tag Archives: Freedom

Grand plans and statistics

When I saw the advert about the United Nations SAWA plan in the cinema the other day, my bullshit antenna buzzed madly. See advert below. I would advise either of my readers to have a sick bucket on standby before viewing. It’s that false and saccharine.

Now apart from Richard Curtis’ cute fluffified animals talking about such nebulous nonsense as ‘promoting Social Justice’, ‘ending World Poverty’ and ‘Tackling Climate Change’ after arriving at the UN in very expensive limousines, I was moved to wonder; how does all these high level diplomats having all the best stuff and the ‘carbon footprint’ of a million Soviet era tractor factories each ‘solve’ anything? Then I thought I’d consult the views of someone who can demonstrate, often with the UN’s own data, what the state of economic change is from the 1960’s to today. That source is Dr Hans Rosling, the brains behind Gapminder.org See one of his many TED talks below. This particular twenty minuter is from 2006.

He’s worth watching. Especially on the global economic and health improvements from 1960 to the present day.

Now, you might ask; if all this information is public domain based on the UN’s own information; why are the UN trying to convince us to fix ‘problems’ that are already being fixed, without UN intervention, by simple market economics and the growth of freedom? Or, as my cynicism posits, are they trying to set up a claim that they ‘fixed’ stuff that was already being fixed by free(ish) trade and globalisation of markets? Hmm…..

Update: Just as an afterthought. The UN might be proposing robbing the ‘rich’ (People who can’t move their money fast enough – ) to aid the ‘poor’ (Those who whine the most about impoverishment – not necessarily ‘poor’ people), but what they actually end up doing is enriching themselves. Sometimes they even get caught……

That was easy

Guests have come and gone. Suitably full of wine, curry and a hearty fruit and cereal breakfast. We must have got it right because they’re angling for a return visit already. My Pratchett Discworld collection just grew by another six, and I’ve compiled a list of the few remaining hardbacks left to fill the gaps. I can buy a copy of The Shepherds Crown (Terry’s final work) locally. Details have been left with all the local secondhand bookstores to let me know the minute a copy of Sourcery with Josh Kirby’s dustcover artwork becomes available. There is a particular, if sentimental reason only that edition will do. It was the first Discworld novel I ever read, and had me in fits from start to finish. Coin, eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son, Conina the Barbarian Hairdresser, The Drunken Seriph of Al Khali, Rincewind, Nigel (Signature battlecry; “Erm….”) and guest appearance by the Ice Giants (“Vot you vant? Go Avay hot person.”) all left a strong impression with me. This is from someone who generally doesn’t like Fantasy. You can keep Tolkein about what you find Hobbit forming, but I just wish the LOTR mob would stick an Orc in it.

Otherwise life trundles on; I seem to have contracted some obscure form of lurgy, but the quacks aren’t sure what it is yet, so I’m off to get do my best impersonation of a pincushion yet again this week. It’s nothing debilitating, just bloody annoying. Results of the first set of tests came in thankfully all clear yestere’en. However, I was sent a web link and code to register for future results, which of course didn’t work because I tried to register ‘too early’. Blood and sand. Hey ho. None of my bits are dropping off (Yet) so I’ll simply try and register again on Friday.

I see a few rather less than genius level intellects have an ill advised “Shout out your abortion” campaign on `social media`. Personally, even having seen the procedure done properly, I have no issue with terminating unwanted pregnancies. But ‘shouting out’ to the world you’ve had one? Seriously? That will come back to bite you, people. Are we going to have ‘shout out’ campaigns for Haemorrhoid removal next?

Never mind the strident misandry of certain campaigners. All I have to say is it takes two to Tango folks. Never mind leaping up and down after sex, screaming “You should have done something!” at your chosen bedmate when the test result is positive. You can’t use politics (or even shouting) on biology. Pregnancy is the female bodies way of telling them “Congratulations! You can conceive.” That said, I have always been a firm believer that the decision to terminate or carry to term is the woman’s choice, no-one else’s. Not the family, nor the biological father, clinic manager, nor priest or politician. That foetus does not belong to them.

This is from someone who has two grown up stepdaughters about whom he cares very deeply. Even if they are a right pair of (well educated) little rascals. Should they become ‘with child’ I would, regardless of what they decide to do, support their decision. No matter what my personal feelings are at the time.

It’s one of the things they don’t tell you when you sign up for this parenthood lark. That little bundle of gurgles and pinkness will gravitate (Whether you like it or not) from the cute as a button / Mummy and Daddy’s little darling stage, through “Well he / she doesn’t get it from me…” and “Don’t slam the….” (Too late) and unsuitable ultrashort clothing to “Your college fees are how much?” and “OMG! I’m too young to be a grandparent!”

It’s life. Enjoy it while you got it.

Deep misconceptions

Sensible mode engage…..Booting…..The lamestream do tend to mythologise things don’t they? But then that’s their business. Sensationalism, sex and scandal sell. That the public is presented with misrepresentation as fact, especially in the tabloids, is a scandal in itself. Take for example the headlines surrounding the creator of the Silk Road trading web site, who was recently handed a life sentence without parole. Here on Reason TV, Documentary maker and one time film comedy actor Alex Winter discusses his 2015 documentary ‘Deep Web’, samizdat copies of which are already available on YouTube and probably on every available streaming site by now.

Both the interview and documentary make interesting viewing.

Orphans down and up again

Dropped by ‘Orphans of Liberty‘ this AM to see what Julia, James and Mike have been digging up, only to be diverted to some nonsense pet site about dogs. It’s not the first time the site has been interfered with to my certain knowledge. Apparently someone who doesn’t like what they say over at Ool and instead of simply passing on by, did the petulant toddler thing and diverted all incoming web traffic to another site. Which is very mature and sensible isn’t it? The Violet Elizabeth (“I’ll thcream and thcream ’till I’m thick”) approach to web discourse. “I don’t like what you say, so I’m going to shut you up!” Giving us an insight into the alleged saboteurs state of mind, or lack thereof.

As for sabotage, there are whole ‘how to’ sections on how to sabotage a web site out there in Interwebland, and you don’t need much in the way of brains to use them. As anyone who has worked in tech support knows, any bloody fool can and often does screw up a system, but it takes real brains to fix the temporary chaos they create.

Notwithstanding, upon discovering the divert I dropped Julia and James a quick email to let them know something was amiss, and by the time I finish typing this post all should be well once more. Which it is. As a one time contributor, I have the greatest respect for ‘Orphans’ and what they’re trying to say. Working on the premise that if someone is trying to shut them up, I think perhaps they’ve hit a nerve. Far from deterring their efforts, it should encourage a more spirited effort at finding out what it is some cretinous arsehole doesn’t want discussed in public.

I know this comes from the church of stating the bleeding obvious, but if anyone disagrees or takes issue with what others say on a blog, that’s for the comments. The idea being to make a point in a cogent or even witty manner, and perhaps people will listen to what you have to say. To discuss, debate, examine and dissect. Simply shouting others down or sabotaging the blog simply makes the saboteur look like an incoherent ignorant dickhead with all the social graces of an incontinent three year old with Alzheimer’s. Because in the final analysis what has he or she done? Created a temporary annoyance, that’s all. Regular readers will come back after the temporary glitch is fixed and the saboteur has achieved precisely nothing, well, apart from increase the blogs readership. Why? Everyone likes a little drama, and will turn up just to see if there’s any blood on the carpet, figuratively speaking.

No doubt the offender will break cover in a fit of characteristic vaingloriousness, they always do, but all they’ve actually done is proved to everyone else is what a total cunt they are. It’s so very, very sad and so are they. Time for breakfast.

Great bacon

Friday I was out doing the weekly shop and dropped in at one of our specialist local food stores. It’s one of my favourite stores for one particular reason. They do properly double smoked and cured bacon. It is, in my humble opinion, the best I have ever come across, ever. Seriously dry cured. Perfectly pink muscle, dense, solid white fat, not soaking wet stringy stuff like the crap advertised as bacon (horrified shudder) in many local supermarkets. This is the bacon that poets praise, exquisitely cured pork that would tempt the very gods down from Olympus. Fried or grilled (yeah, yeah, broiled, whatever), this store makes bacon as God himself intended. No white gunky residue after cooking, just a spoonful of mildly salty white fat splendid for frying eggs, adding richness to sweated onions and many other simple culinary miracles. I buy just over a pound a week.

The only glitch in my day was caused by a Deli counter assistant, having been asked for my usual ration, arbitrarily decided to cut a chunk of fat off the ends of said precious rashers. I immediately objected. That fat not only aids the cooking process, but gives flavour and body to the meat. At the time I was feeling pretty relaxed or I would have treated said staff member to a terse treatise of “My dietary fat intake is not your business.” Fortunately the counter assistant stopped, backtracked and apologised for her error. All ended in smiles and “Have a great day.”

The only thing that bothered me about this almost insignificant incident is why, having made my choice of product, given my instruction as to exactly what I wanted, did the assistant then arbitrarily decide to trim off the valuable and very tasty fat? Who tells shop assistants it’s okay to do this stuff? Who you can and can’t sell what to? What happened to “The customer is always right”? Why is only bacon and red meat subjected to this retail tyranny? Why are chocolate or all those other, far richer sources of dietary fat not subject to the same strictures? Say when I buy a bar of Belgium’s finest, does the checkout person feel the need to break off half and throw it away? Or open my bag of crisps and throw half of it in the bin? No. So why remove that which adds so much flavour?

Answers please in a plain, unsalted, lint-free, fat-free, low-calorie, flavour-exempt brown wrapper.

Update: This is what I mean by bacon.
Dry cured streaky bacon

Orwells World

Friends, wossnames, countrymen. Lend me your thingummyjobbies. I come, not to praise liberty, but to bury it. That’s right. Freedom is dead, or very much on life support. Shakespeare himself might have done a quick rewrite to outline the situation (Julius Caesar Act 3 Scene 1, Mark Anthony’s speech)

O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of truth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Thou art the ruins of the noblest concept
That ever livèd in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that drained this costly blood!
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy—
Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips
To beg the voice and utterance of Twitter—
A curse hath lit upon the voice of man.
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Doth cumber all the online world.
Blood and destruction is so in use,
And dreadful objects so familiar,
That Mumsnet shall but smile when they behold
Their infants smothered by the nanny state,
All pity choked with accusation of sex crime,
Yet Freedom’s spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Whatsap by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the words of war,
That these foul deeds shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.

I think Bill the Quill would have approved. Or what’s that whirring, buzzing sound from the chancel of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford upon Avon?

Seriously. I woke up thinking this morning that the country of my birth has turned into a warped version of Orwell’s nightmare 1984. This isn’t me being paranoid, it’s so in your face it’s not true. Twitter storms have become the “Two minute Hate”. People are regularly arrested for “Hate speech”. Voicing legitimate concerns has become “Thought crime”. Constant warfare. Near ubiquitous CCTV. Surveillance of e-mail and web activity. Webcams that can be remotely switched on. I don’t need to provide links. The evidence is in plain sight everywhere. If you don’t see, then you ain’t looking.

The UK, now rebranding as Orwell’s World theme park. Try the Grauniad rollercoaster, where tribes of shrieking lefties throw shit and outrage at everyone. It’s a blast. Thank you for not smoking or drinking. Or thinking. Anywhere.

So what are you going to do?

There’s a lot of causes out there. Some good, some not so good, and some so downright fucked up they’re over the insanity event horizon and accelerating past lightspeed. It’s easy to feel snowed under sometimes. Anyway, I’ve done contributing to other peoples causes. Those that were supposed to be good weren’t that good. Those not so good turned out to be stupid and the rest aren’t even worth mentioning. Nowadays it’s hard to find one without a vested interest behind it, so I won’t be looking any more.

Having just been through a double bereavement with all that entails, I’ve been re-evaluating what I want from my life. Where I’m going, what I might do when I get there sort of thing. Becoming the joint senior member of our little clan has come as a major culture shock. No excuses, no deferment, it’s my ball and I have to make the rules now. If they need making. Which more often than not they don’t. My work as a parent has, and continues to be largely done. I’ve morphed role from family guard dog and occasional shepherd to long distance shoulder to cry on, which is as it should be. No doubt grandchildren are somewhere on the horizon, but please, not just yet. What gets me most is the odd sensation that I now have no-one to defer to, which makes me mildly uncomfortable. Adrift and hollow. Much better off financially, but directionless.

So, that begs the question. What do I do now? The world beckons. I’ve a hankering to live in Paris for a month or two next year. Ride those wonderfully curvy Swiss motorways on something like a Triumph Rocket III. Meander through Southern Europe, park the monster 2.3 litre sports cruiser motorcycle outside a little Bar Tabac and let the local kids stare slack jawed at it. Dance the centre line a little along the coast road from Marseille to Genoa. Thence down to Rome, see Naples and live a little. Maybe down to watch Stromboli and Etna spit fire before heading up the coast road with Venice and Vienna in mind. Wander round Prague and Berlin with a side trip through Warsaw. Up through Denmark and across the big bridges into Sweden. Visit a cousin of mine who lives in Gothenburg. Catch a freighter to Immingham and grey, damp olde England. Pay my respects to the wider clan. Ride a container ship back to Canada and run Highway One from Halifax Nova Scotia to mile zero again. Perhaps even zipping south of the border to revisit New York and swing in a wide arc from New Jersey to Texas then North through Nevada. Indulge my wanderlust. Write about what happens as it happens. Perhaps. Then I’ll pitch up on the Pacific shore again and think about the other side of the ring of fire. China, Japan, South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Of course these are all mere dreams and may never come to pass, but I’ve done some instalments of that trip at various times in my life and truly want to do them again. While it’s still possible to do so.


I’ve been watching the developments south of the 49th, and all the moral panics going around with studied interest. It’s all about America’s ‘love affair with guns’ say some pundits. The violent video games. Violent movies. A sick culture some say. All sorts of reasons are advanced. Mostly the same ones as the last time. I have my own ideas, echoed by the words of Aung San Suu Kyi, some of which can be found here. Specifically in an interview found in Robert Liebermans documentary, “They call it Myanmar“.

There’s a lot wrong down south, and yet there’s not as much as you might think. On the other hand, many south of the border appear to be ‘tooling up’ with gun sales increased across the board. People are ‘prepping’, stockpiling food, water and weapons for some unspecified cataclysm, be it associated with the forthcoming ‘fiscal cliff’ or any of the other putative disasters. The paranoia seems almost endemic. Catching. Self-perpetuating. Reading various forums and web sites, I get the overwhelming sense that people, not just in the USA, but also in Europe, have lost faith with those in authority. They do not trust their governments and its institutions to look after (or rather not interfere so much) the very peoples they are supposed to serve. Nor, it seems, do various factions within those institutions have much faith in each other. See “Plebgate” and associated fallout for one example.

There’s the word – trust. As levels of perceived intrusive security and surveillance rise, so does the paranoia and distrust of the public. Because of the actions of minorities, authorities clamp down on the majority, in the process arousing mistrust. Therefore people feel obliged to protect themselves and buy another gun, another case of ammo, secure the house, stockpile more stuff, dig another hole, find refuge. They see the increase in government agency authority and in an almost Newtonian reaction, try to compensate for the powerlessness this makes them feel. In turn Government expands to address the fears, but the more government power increases, the more regulation, the less it is trusted. The bigger it gets, the more monolithic and frightening it becomes. The more resources it consumes without producing more in return. Like a dying star it becomes too massive and begins to slowly implode into an economic black hole.

North of the border, at least here on the Wet coast of BC, we are encouraged to ‘prep’ for the ‘big one’ with emergency supplies for about 72 hours. Every year there is a public earthquake drill called the ‘Shake-out’. We sometimes take part, sometimes not, but all of my friends and neighbours have a stock of supplies, just in case. At home I can rely on enough food and water for one week, and have reasonable and workable fallback options (Hunting bow, fishing gear, hand tools) should the worst ever happen. Not only that, but I would work with my neighbours to assist them in any way I could. We all know that public resources will be limited in time of emergency, and so we prepare accordingly. There is still a strong sense of community and self reliance here in the Mid Island. Particularly in the more rural areas. What’s more we are trusted, indeed expected, to be so. This appears not to be the case elsewhere.

The truth is that organisations fail when they do not trust the very people they are supposed to serve, or fail to motivate their members enough to be trusted. A classic management failure occurs when those in positions of authority do not listen to anyone outside of their own close circles. They fail when focus groups, lobbying self-interest groups and think tanks direct policy. They fail in their allotted task when they become dishonest, distant and unaccountable. When spin becomes the message. When promises are easily discarded.

Without trust and co-operation there can be no real and lasting social interaction. Without open and free speech there can be no real confidence or trust. Without that honesty, confidence or trust, nations and societies cannot stand. At least not without massive surveillance and repression. And the price for that comes high. Too high.

Unfortunately, by treating other peoples property as public and lying to cover up their own mistakes, politicians and their pet activists lose that trust. No wonder voting is down and gun sales and ‘prepping’ are on the up.

Merry Christmas.

Popcorn futures skyrocket

There seems to be a lot of upset coming from our cousins down south about their recent elections, with an unprecedented array of states wanting to secede over Federal interference. Which is what started the last big kerfuffle. ‘States rights‘ was the original battle cry of the 19th century secessionists, which still echo today.

According to the LA Times, 50 states have submitted petitions to the White house formally requesting permission to secede from the Union. Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and Texas have submitted petitions of over 25,000 each. Texas was over 100,000 at the last count. Which should come as no real surprise. Texans are well known as traditionally independent people.

There is also a much smaller counter movement who have petitioned the White House with the following plea; “please sign an executive order such that each American citizen who signed a petition from any state to secede from the USA shall have their citizenship stripped and be peacefully deported.” Yeah, like that’s going to work if someone was born in the USA. What are the petitioners suggesting? That hundreds of thousands of people are declared stateless and homeless just because they made lawful protest? First Amendment rights anyone? Besides, if those protestors ‘to be deported’ have families who have been resident since the 19th Century or are even native Americans, where would you deport them to? Canada? I bet our immigration people might have a few sharp words to say about that.

It’s a joke, of course. A poor taste partisan threat even. Only 10,000 signatures against several hundred thousand pro-secessionist so far. Although according to the White House web site “If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.” Like consigning all those petitions to File 13 after making the usual noises about “Having given due consideration” etc. Ignore it and the problem will go away. All sound and fury, nothing more. Yet…. smoke and fires. From my reading of US Civil War history, I seem to recall reading this was how the last mess began.

According to this piece in the Digitaljournal, it’s not just sour grapes by disappointed Romney voters, as some might be tempted to think; the secession movement is more deeply rooted than that. It’s not about the perpetual dogfight of partisan politics at all, but derives from perceived blatant abuses of rights by the NDAA and TSA, amongst other federal authorities.

The Texans are not the only ones to be angered about the abuse of political power. All over the world there are similar sentiments. A need to break free from overweening authority and top down thinking driven interference. A desire to be liberated from Corporatist or Socialist regimes (The two are so similar it makes no real difference). From the British EU Referendum pressure groups to the Syrian militias; it’s all about the rights of the individual over unrepresentative authority.

In the West at least these things are slow to come to the boil, and the only realistic way to deal with them is to ease off the legislative pressure. Less state intervention. Fewer, not more laws. Less, and more human, enforcement.

As a keen student of history I’m not sure where the process will lead, but one thing is certain; this secession business isn’t going away any time soon. This side of the 49th Parallel popcorn futures are rocketing. Although don’t mention Quebec.

The end result

Currently, the libertarian end of the blogosphere is under assault (Again?) from the forces of darkness. Cranmer has had some come catspaw using the ASA. Witterings from Witney from another source (on a three year old post? Is someone taking the mick?), and there are mutterings in various comment columns about “We’re coming to getcha.” (Oh noes, not again). Some sites, offering informal advice based on personal experience have been shut down by regulators. Bloggers, even in ‘free’ societies have been raided by Police and even faced criminal prosecution simply for publishing their version of events (Tallbloke over ‘Climategate’ springs to mind, follow the ‘Holly Grieg‘ subject blogs for others). Never mind the (Very) hastily taken down Greenpeace threat last year “We know where you live” – seriously? Just because of a disagreement on an issue – even though reality tells a different story? Talk about acute humour failure. Definitely the Violet Elizabeth Bott approach to dissent; (“Do what I want or I’ll thcream and thcream ’till I’m thick – I can too!” ) No one is fooled. Behind the attempts at suppressing free speech blogs come the echoes of marching jackboots, and it isn’t a pretty sound.

Aldous Huxley nailed the major weakness of suppressive tactics in 1941;

“For the means employed inevitably determine the nature of the result achieved, whereas, however good the end aimed at may be, its goodness is powerless to counteract the effects of the bad means we use to reach it. Similarly, a reform may be in the highest degree desirable; but if the contexts in which that reform is effected are undesirable, the results will inevitably be disappointing. These are simple and obvious truths. Nevertheless they are almost universally neglected.”

For a given value of ‘good’, I might add – there’s a downside to everything; and ‘good’ is mostly subjective anyway – even more so when preceded by the word ‘greater’.

So it is with attacks on free speech. In seeking out offence everything becomes offensive. Pointing out that something can’t work / isn’t working means being labelled a ‘Denier’. Highlighting the failures, areas of suspicion and dodgy dealings of an administration makes you a ‘Hater’. Mildly contentious comments that some might find slightly objectionable (Mostly if they contain a good deal of objective veracity) are turned into ‘Hate speech’ by offence seeking drama queens. Setting official agencies on people because of a flimsily perceived ‘offence’, likewise.

Like a school playground ruled by sneaks and snitches running to teacher every time their feelings are hurt, this creates an ugly place to live in, so such behaviour poisons discourse and spreads a fog of disinformation. Not to mention creating a huge enforcement overhead. It prevents open and reasoned examination of an issue, and hides that which should be known. As with war and truth, honesty is always the first casualty because in order to shut people up, the primary weapons are always emotive lies, disinformation and exaggeration.

Essentially what we’re dealing with is immature offence seeking such as;
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re saying bad things about me!”
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re smoking at me because I’m a non-smoker!”
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re drinking at me just because I’m teetotal!”
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re shooting guns at targets and it fwightens me!”
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re eating bacon sandwiches at me because I’m a Vegan!”
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re saying I’m bad because I tell on them all the time – stop them Mummy!”

All of the above have one thing in common – they are invented ‘offences’. Of course said attacks on freedom of expression are dressed up in grown-up speak, but the impulse that drives such behaviour is nonetheless childish, born of unreasoning fear. There’s only one real cogent response – overt mockery. Specifically Shakespeare’s classic from Twelfth night; “T’hart a fool. Go to.” or the more modern “STFU” and variants thereof. Which is why I often respond to them in baby talk and parody. “Has Oo had oo’s feelings hurt, den?” highlighting the attacks for the contemptible, selfish and immature outpourings that they are. Not to do so is to allow the jackboots to march again – and 20th century history holds a grim record of what that led to.

Here’s an Australian perspective on why freedom of speech and expression is so important. H/T Just about every blog I link to, but I believe the Angry Exile was first by a nose.

To Quote the late, great Ray Bradbury; “For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangu­tan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conversation­ist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics.” The old adage of the road to hell being paved with good intentions springs to mind. For a given value of ‘good’.

H/T for the Huxley quote from Ends and Means to this post by Sackerson at OOL.