Tag Archives: Interweb

Parish Notice

Well I’ve had a very successful week despite being chief chauffeur for Eldest while she’s with us, and all the other ructions that come with house guests and not quite enough space. Packed her off to see friends in Vancouver for the weekend on the 7am ferry, so she’ll be partying with pals for the next day or so, while we old codgers back home discuss the revelations she brought over with her.

Right; so what’s this ‘Parish Notice’ malarkey? Okay, I’m finally ditching the gmail address and making a few administrative alterations to my various commenting accounts like Disqus etc. So if anything comes from my old gmail address after tomorrow (Sunday 25th September), it will be fake and can therefore be deleted with impunity. If anyone needs to talk directly, the contact form for this blog will field all new messages to my new mail hosting service. Gravatar is going to be on the casualty list too. I’ve used it for over ten years, but now it’s outworn all utility.

My reasons are quite simple. I’ve long been annoyed at gmail for all their spurious ‘security’ notifications which not only effectively work as a tool for tracking my movements, but suspend the account every time I take a trip up the road until I go through the whole ‘account verification’ circus. Every time I take a week away from my desk (Which is an irregular but not uncommon occurrence) I get half a dozen ‘Is this you?’ service disruptions which are about as amusing as a kick up the bum. In addition, I’d like to state that my motivation for discontinuing gmail is not derived from some paranoid “They’re out to get me” as some might think, but more out of a general “What the f**k’s it got to do with them?” Consider the account dormant.

Sadly, Google, along with Microsoft, Yahoo, Arsebook and Twatter have outgrown their usefulness and sold out to certain interests who have their own agenda. Thus their worth, at least in my eyes, is reduced to the point of near uselessness. WordPress retains utility, so the blog stays. Scriblerus stays. The means adapt. The song remains the same. Take that as you will.

The case for Snowden

Went and saw Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ last weekend. A thought provoking and engrossing movie. While it didn’t tell me anything I’ve not been aware of for some time, it also scared Mrs S into sticking all her electronics in a desk drawer and shutting the door to her office. At least until the following morning. Now she simply leaves everything, including iPad, in her office.

Now I’ve been in the habit of covering my cell phone and both its cameras for some time, and my laptop always has the camera blocked. Same goes for my Samsung tablet when it’s not in use. My phone spends all its time when not in use in a pocket or out of line of sight. What they don’t see they can’t record, right? Now I’ve been criticised by members of my family for this behaviour to the point of being labelled paranoid, but it’s long been my contention that if something is possible, such as remotely switching on your camera without your knowledge, then some smart geek will probably know how to do it. And if they’re working for officialdom, that probability factor shifts swiftly into the ‘almost certain’ range of the intrusiveness bell curve. Because whilst one emotionally stunted geek might spy on the girl / boy next door, he or she does not have the time or resources to scrutinise more than four or five people. However, give that geek the resources of a state security agency and then no-one becomes safe from their gaze. Worse still, without accountability, such an agency can quickly begin to take on a Frankenstein’s monster-like life of their own. In the post 9/11 panic, this is exactly the monster that was unleashed by the Bush presidency, fed and enlarged during Obama’s tenure, despite assurances to the contrary.

So, what documents did Snowden actually pass on? Well, nothing that damaging, only the extent of the internal surveillance on the US and UK population. He released no secret plans (Apart from there being programs of mass surveillance) betrayed no agents in the field and no US or UK intelligence personnel were killed as a result. Did he give vital defence documents to Russia? No. To China? Iran, North Korea, Al Quaeda, the Taliban, Daesh? No. China and Russia already knew, and everybody else with two brain cells to rub together had an inkling but the only pieces of information they lacked were the names of the programs under which this domestic mass surveillance was carried out.

It has been conclusively proven that mass surveillance does not reduce terrorism. Indeed, there is an excellent case to present that mass suspicion, repression, meddling and abuses of power actually result in increased terrorist threats. The greater and more indiscriminate the mass repression, goes one argument, the less freely people associate and they retreat into their own little echo chambers, the greater the threat of political violence becomes. Why? Because shutting down or suppressing open individual dissent simply creates a climate where a simple disagreement can fester into real life physical threats. Our Police and other authorities do not need powers of mass surveillance because the more policing intrudes into everyday lives, especially those not guilty of any crime, the more likely there is to be pushback generated against the host culture from those who are, at least in their beginnings, merely hotheaded and dissatisfied with their lot. Put simply. The more widespread repression, real or implied, the greater the implied justification for violence against the perceived oppressors. And once the violence begins, well, then it’s seen as the only solution to any dispute and everyone’s day gets ruined.

I’ve often heard it said that if you have “Nothing to hide, nothing to fear.” This is so far in the direction of wrong it’s not true. The total surveillance by the state was practised in the old Soviet Union, in Nazi Germany, the old GDR with the notorious STASI, the notorious ‘prison state’ of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, and under every regime that has ever sought to repress the whole of it’s population with mass surveillance programmes. A great deal of Soviet era Russian humour was based upon this very principle. My all time favourite below;

Prisoner on transport to Gulag: “I’m innocent of any crime. Why am I going to prison? The court wouldn’t tell me. They just sentenced me to twenty five years!”
Kindly Guard on transport; “No idea comrade, but you must have done something. Twenty five years is a pretty stiff sentence. Can’t you think of anything?”
Prisoner (After a thoughtful pause); “After sex the other night I told my wife that I thought the KGB was spying on us.”
Kindly Guard; “Well there you go comrade. Revealing state secrets.”

It seems this is Snowden’s real ‘crime’; revealing, that for a number of years Western ‘intelligence’ agencies have been rifling through innocent people’s private lives without a bye, leave or thank you or even a proper warrant. Yet isn’t that a crime in itself? On those grounds alone, I would strongly argue that Edward Snowden should not only be pardoned but rewarded for his public spirited actions.

YouTube and other matters

There are a great many interesting channels on YouTube. As a resource for information it currently has few peers. Every day people put up informative and enlightening content which is both entertaining and amusing. Some of the content providers have what’s called ‘Patreon‘ accounts that you can contribute to in order to fund their work.

Forgotten Weapons dot comOne of my particular favourites is “Forgotten Weapons” run by the iconic figure of Ian McCollum, or ‘The Gun Jesus’ as he is also known. Now Ian regularly travels to visit private collections, public museums, auction houses and examines their antique firearms in detail. Recently getting into a spat with YouTube over displaying the Nazi flag on the front page of one of his videos, which has resulted in him migrating his better and more up to date content to a specialist video streaming service at Full30.com. Compared to YouTube, the quality is a quantum leap improvement.

Now before anyone clutches their pearls in horror and faints (Noooo! The Nasty flag! Oh my ears and whiskers!), I might point out that Ian’s channel has always been about historical accuracy, and he likes to establish both the provenance and historical associations of every firearm he examines. As part of this process he displays the historically correct flag of the nation each firearm came from on the front page of each video. So for an American Civil war piece he will have the then flag of the Union or Confederacy or even the State of the firearms origin. For a firearm produced in Germany during the late 19th Century to 1918 he will display the flag of Imperial Germany, for Italy, the correct Italian flag for the period, the Red Flag of the Stalinist USSR, and of course the 1933-45 flag of Nazi Germany. Which fits in with his ethos of establishing the correct provenance for each weapon, including in many cases how to field strip most of them. Apart from the real antiques like a 16th Century revolving flintlock pistol.

If you are into antique firearms and the subtle mechanical evolution of a device for spitting out a piece of metal at high velocity, then Ian’s your man. He’s very good indeed and as a researcher takes great pains over his work.

Now YouTube are ‘demonetising’ channels like his that do not have ‘acceptable’ or ‘advertiser friendly’ PC content. Which is a shame. Not that there’s any benefit to being ‘monetised’ unless your channel attracts millions of viewers. However, some people make money at it and good luck to them say I.

It’s ironic really, that the people who campaign for the kind of censorship on display fail to understand that nothing in it’s proper context is that bad. Yes, the Nazi’s were an evil bunch and had to be put down hard, but that was years ago. We should have matured enough as a society to be able to examine their symbols openly and understand the connotations and contradictions of Nazism and how said symbols are now of mere historical interest. And learn the lessons that history can deliver rather than get all hot and bothered like Vampires faced with daylight and a crucifix.

Now what this ultimately means is that if YouTube drives some of their best content away is that the platform itself may wither on the poisoned vine of political correctness, and, this being the Internet, be replaced with other, less censorious video streaming services. Which no doubt the YouTube people will lobby to try and shut down or get blocked. Good luck with that. The cat is out of the bag, the Hydra of public opinion has many heads, and legislators will always lag light years behind the cutting edge because that’s heading away from their petty grasp at warp 9 and accelerating.

Will YouTube go the way some of the old mainstream has already gone? Losing the public trust and thus it’s target market? I think that process has already begun, and YouTube will only have themselves to blame. However; their gaff, their rules. Even if these rules will lose YouTube a great deal of business.

Public opinion is a fickle thing.

Update: The always interesting Sargon of Akkad on the curse of YouTube scepticism and its consequences with “The Curse of the YouTube Socratics”

Oh, BTW ‘Trigger warning’ he’s smoking. Chortle.

Light and shadows

If you’re like me and have effectively ditched Arsebook over privacy issues, you won’t be amazed, astonished or astounded or otherwise stupefied by the news that Whatsapp, it’s subsidiary, may be sharing your cell (mobile) phone number with the kingdom of Zuck. Amongst other personal details. Unless, and possibly even if you decline their generous (Cough, splutter, guffaw) offer to untick the box which gives them blanket permission to do so. Now I do not have a Whattsapp account, and have deleted my Arsebook profile (Twice!). Despite this I am told it is the matter of minutes for Arsebook to compile a ‘shadow’ profile from shared data garnered from other abusers. So if your mates have ever posted any pictures of messages of or to you, the details remain on Arsebooks servers. This is the downside of data mining. Call it the unacceptable face of Social Media. Your demi-monde social life exposed. Even if you don’t have an Arsebook profile. I suppose it gives the Intelligence Services something to laugh at and employers a backhanded reason to decline a promotion. Nothing to fear, hey?

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m a little uncomfortable with this state of affairs, and I’m pretty picky about what personal details I put online. My home phone number is never given to anyone outside of a small circle of friends. My cell number has been omitted from my profiles, well my current cell number has, and the moment random stuff from any social media starts hitting my inbox I go straight to ‘unsubscribe’ and as a precaution add the sender to my spam filter list. About the only daily news digest email I allow is from the Register and my video subscriptions. Still get Arsebook and LinkedIn spam though. It’s like Skype where random pseudonyms you’ve never heard of send faux-cheery little messages saying they want to be added to your contact list without explaining who they are or why the fuck they want to talk to you. Frankly, I’d delete my Skype profile if I didn’t use it to talk to friends and family all over the planet.

There’s far too much random communication online, which is why I tend to filter most of it out. On the other hand, if there’s something to actually talk about, I’m actually quite cool with that and eager to help where I can. It’s just having to listen to people clogging up your time just because they think you’ve nothing better to do than listen to them letting off esteem that irks. In real life I’m generally too polite to tell people to shut the fuck up and stop wasting my time. Although…

On the personal front, sleep has been a bit of a hit and miss proposition recently. Why, I’m not posting, but lack of sleep has been one of the things behind my recent dearth of blogging. No, I don’t want to ‘talk about it’ because the reasons are no-one’s goddamned business but mine. Especially not to people I don’t really know and experience tells me it would be folly to extend that level of trust to. Especially as the information would be shared with their friends, and friends of their friends, some of whom may decide that they don’t like what I’ve said and decide to ‘do something about’ me. Which would give me even more of a reason to lose sleep.

Fortunately the aggravating state of affairs should be coming to an end shortly and blessed repose will be my lot once more. Normal blogging service will be resumed as soon as I’m sure what is normal anyway.

Update: In a broad response to comments rather than as is my usual modus operandi, individually: The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band sum up my attitude to ‘Social Media’.

Give them all my contact details? So they can make money selling them for advertising space and spam? Like hell.

Infantile I know, but….

There’s an article in ‘Time’ magazine which carries on about how many nasty Trollish types there are out there on the jolly old Interweb, and how some form of regulation is needed to shut them up, but only a self-selected few of the ‘great and good’ should get to decide who is an Interweb Troll or not. They, the self-appointed, should set the narrative, not the hoi polloi. You know, the people who actually built, and continue to build, the jolly old Interweb with their blogs, posting of videos, personal servers, purchase of goods and services and contributions to forums. Whoever produces the content has the best claim of ownership.

However, the article makes the classic error of equating means with intent. Such as with the notoriously intrusive Ms Sarkezian (See GamerGate), who with other ‘journalists’ tried to impose her view of how things should be on a computer gaming public which did not, and still does not share her radical feminist mindset. For this, she and her narrative-creating associates faced an angry backlash from gamers who justifiably resented the interference with what they see as their world by people acting as self appointed ‘morality Police’. So the nastiness began. Which is one of the things the article bitches about. Yet were not Sarkezian and her associates actively trolling the gaming community with their false articles and spurious claims? In which case, the ‘journalists’ got what they deserved. They picked the fight. If a loosely collected bunch of keen gamers can be considered a ‘community’.

The thought occurs that if the radical feminists had spent a fraction of the energy producing games that met their moral standards than they spent on ragging at and machinating against the non-PC gamers, they might have created something useful. However, they chose to poke their noses into other peoples private affairs and try to use the force of law to obtain compliance. Now they’re whinging because people resisted their will? Oh, the irony.

Now bearing the aforementioned in mind, There are times when the tactics utilised by trolls may be legitimately used against those who wish to impose their will on others. ‘Doxxing’ for example, the publishing of someone’s personal data (Name, address, Social Security Number etc.) online. A variant of which, often used by mainstream publications, is known as ‘outing’, and has been used to try and harm the personal lives and careers of a number of bloggers which, unless the blogger was committing a criminal offence, is never justified. I cite ‘Nightjack‘, and ‘Girl with a one track mind‘ to name but two. So for journalists to complain that the very tactics they use against others makes non-journalists ‘trolls’ is a bit rich. ‘Doxxing’ and ‘Outing’ are exactly the same thing. Only the platform differs.

Yes, trolls are a sporadic pest, but there are ways and means of dealing with their pathetic ickle egos. Ways far more effective than having to drag the nonces through the court system at public expense. Because if you define a troll as a person who uses certain tactics, then one man’s ‘troll’ is another’s free speech activist. Unless of course the troll makes a real disruptive nuisance of themselves, in which case, the offended party should have every right to send a bill for all the time the troll has wasted to the offending party, plus costs. It should be a civil, not a criminal matter.

So for example, someone attempting to harm the online reputation of others, regardless of pseudonym, by impersonating them in comments of other blogs, apart from richly deserving a real-time real-life kicking, should be liable to pay for all the time expended on dealing with the impersonators dribbling infantile nonsense at high level Consultancy rates of say a hundred and fifty GBP an hour on all extra activities (blocking, deleting and banning offensive comments) incurred by the impersonator. With a minimum fee of one thousand GBP. Plus legal costs. Now that would be a kind of ‘fairness’ I could get right behind.

Yes, there are a lot of room temperature IQ’s out there. Yes there are stupid extreme right wingers, and equally stupid extreme left wingers. Frankly I think we should let all the interested parties fight it out in a disused stadium especially sealed off for the purpose. Drop a varied pile of edged weapons in the middle of the pitch and let these heroes sort it out for themselves. Livestream the grudge match globally on pay per view to cover costs of clean up and basic cremation. They die, the sum of human intelligence goes up, and some fertiliser gets created. Think of it as evolution in action.

Moving

I’ve been thinking of ditching Gmail for some time because of the privacy issues, and the address may have been compromised, so my Google profile, such as it is, will be dwindling until it is no more and all that lovely free advertising will gradually disappear. Then there’s Youtube, used by the world and it’s partner of choice. No, scrub that, used by the world and his wife. The creeping censorship of YouTube, Google, Twitter and Facebook has just become so blatant that the services are becoming a constant irritant, with content taken down at what seems the faintest complaint. What used to be practical and democratic is now seemingly the tool of every petty online tyrant, so, I’m voting with my feet, changing to a different service and using other means to view online videos and talk to other people. Might even put up a few myself.

My Gravatar has now changed as I was bored with the old one, and once I’ve sorted out the new email addresses, my old contact details will gradually be discontinued. Memo to self, pass details on the the Martin Scriblerus team. The blog will continue, but I may do a bit of a redesign, tweak some of the widgets, delete a few. Improve security. Just enough to have a bit of a Summer clearance between sitting out in the sunshine, reading, sipping a little wine and generally chilling before the rush starts again.

It’s Sunday and the sun is shining, the sky is a brilliant blue and it’s too nice to be indoors. Time for coffee.

Update 2:30pm PST: Aaaaand in the spirit of self improvement, we’ve just upgraded our Internet connection to one that is (Allegedly) four times the speed of our previous one. Time from conversation about connection speed to Modem installation (Which I did – dead easy plug ‘n pray) and wi-fi reboot, less than 1 hour. Thank you Shaw Internet, who are our local cable company. Would have gone down the route of an even faster connection, but as that would hand over the security and management of our internal network via one of their all singing, all dancing combined modem and wi-fi routers to an external agency, we said no thank you.

We have wine, and the sun is still shining.

Another update; Apparently ‘hate crime’ trolling is now subject to investigation by the Met But who defines the ‘crime’? And against whom is one thing a crime, and not against another? Now there’s a dangerous road to travel. This is going to get messy.

The sun continues to shine. At least in the real world. If anyone wants me, I will be working in the garden.

I wish….

A plague of flies has briefly infested the homestead, and I’ve been picking dozens of bluebottle corpses out of everywhere this morning. The fly spray and paper have done their work and I’m picking up the fallout. As usual.

I’m also a little melancholy having taken in the news of the Brexit vote. Not that I think it’s not a result for those who want a proper say in how their country is run, because it is. I’m sad because a man I used to correspond with is not here to see it. Not sure what happened, only that he died in April last year.

We shared a lot of ideological ground, he and I, believing that people own themselves, and that relentless officialdom, no matter how well intentioned, often does more good than harm. He was a firm believer in common law and common decency, even if he liked to butt heads with authority rather than subvert.

It seems that a lot of people all over the world have had enough with the status quo. Iceland, in a result overshadowed by the Brexit vote and footie results, has installed an Independent in the President’s chair after kicking out the mainstream incumbent over a corruption scandal. In the USA, Donald Trump is overturning the political apple cart. Backed by those disenfranchised by a politics disconnected from the day to day. By ordinary people frustrated with helplessness against massive bureaucracy, having their privacy invaded at will and feeling that they can’t win against the forces of perverse conformity who are now speaking out and voting. They’re angry at so called ‘anti-fascists’ who are bigger fascists than the people they’re mad at, physically attacking people in the street with seeming impunity. Sick of being insulted online and off by these purveyors of poisonous doctrines simply for voicing a concern, however mildly. Well here’s the pushback. A true blue-collar revolution has the underdogs out of their kennels, teeth bared and snarling against the soft fascism sanctioned by self concerned political elites supported by a dishonest mainstream media.

As an aside; Mrs S is currently doing an online course about the EU with Barcelona University, and she’s looking at me with new respect. “You were right about it all along, Bill.” She said over breakfast this morning. “I’ve just been reading up on the misleading language in publicly available EU documents, and it’s really opened my eyes.” Frankly I’ve been sceptical about the EU for some time, but everything she’s fielded to me has confirmed that the EU is being run for the sake of vested interests and political cronies and bugger the rest of us. You know what’s crazy? All the evidence has always been out there in plain sight. All you need to do is read the treaties and documents carefully. Or have a high priced lawyer do it. But not many can afford the legal expertise necessary. Ergo the EU Commissars and friends been getting away with it. For years.

Sargon of Akkad has an intelligent view of things on his latest ‘Week in Stupid’ video.

Now the whole EU house of cards is looking like the hollow shell I’ve often suspected that it is. And I’m not the only one. The penny is dropping rapidly all over the world. Eyes are being opened and they don’t like what they see. It’s not just the UK, the whole globalist structure is in the spotlight. Not from journalists who need to trade favours for access, but from the common and uncommon man (Or woman) who has nothing to lose but his chains.

We live in interesting times. Somehow I think Ranty as his uncommon self would have approved. I just wish he’d lived to see it.

On a happier note; I’ve finally decided what my next motorcycle is going to be. One of these. I don’t care if I’ll need a Visa to cross European borders or not. That’s just a detail, and Mrs S and I are good at details.

Devil, meet details

Finalising the last main bookings on our road trip. I’ve shoehorned in Bonneville Salt flats (Followed by a really good car wash in Wells, Nevada), then hacking homeward via Twin Falls and Pendleton in mid May. It’s been a lot of hard work to line up. Then there’s an exam to do today and some packing. Mrs S is getting a bit stressed out, but I’m just plodding along, dealing with every issue the moment it hits and whacking the metaphor firmly out of the stadium.

Today it was our mail hold service going AWOL. Fortunately I’ve handed the Post Office the correct details which their clerk had not put on the computer, after we had filled in the forms correctly. Apparently the clerk had failed to untick a box on her rinky dinky little computer. So I have to deal with ‘customer service’ and waste valuable time fixing someone else’s mistake.  It’s all little stuff.  Checking the exclusions in our travel insurances.  About the only thing I haven’t done is make out a Will.  I do hope that won’t be needed, oh well, it won’t be my problem.  Our travel insurance has a clause for repatriation and burial anyway.

What else? The USB in-car charger unit is sitting on my desk awaiting installation tomorrow so we can charge all our electronics on the move on this epic twenty five stop trip. So long as there is gas in the tank, we’ll have a larger electronic signature than an aircraft carrier group. Am I bothered at my lack of electronic invisibility? No. All I will be doing is recording our thoughts and experiences along the way. For security I’ve signed up for a secure VPN service and keep my anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall up to date. Hell, if anyone wants to follow me around, just buy me lunch occasionally and we’ll call it quits.

My biggest IT issue is that there are a lot of people out there who should not be allowed to play with grown up toys. Including Google’s massive “Mic Drop” April Fools cock-up. Newsflash Google; April Fools gags are supposed to be funny. You know, make people laugh. Screwing with a core function of a business and personal service isn’t remotely amusing, it’s fucking annoying and makes Google like a useless bunch of eHippies.

Notwithstanding, all we have to do on Thursday is get up on time and get Downtown to the Coho. No doubt one of Mr Horton’s emporium of degustatory delights or similar will be getting a visit en route for two large Double Doubles and some blood sugar enhancers. A.k.a Coffee and Donuts.

Sorry to keep harping on about this, but this Trump guy; I thought I’d actually check him out and see what he was all about first hand rather than trust all the Op-eds and propaganda currently polluting the Interweb. Is he really the ranting monster that the mainstream would have us believe? So far the answer coming back from my observation at least, is a loud, resounding ‘No’. He may get a bit repetitive, loud and messianic, but everything the guy says and stands for, like controlling US immigration, upping America’s game as a negotiating power and being anti-US involvement in middle eastern wars (“We made things worse”) just seem like common sense. He doesn’t like the sinister Transatlantic Trade deal, as currently structured, so that’s another plus. As for pandering to special interest groups, like the man says, he’s not a politician. He owes them nothing. What all the Spads and political class are panicking about is that if Trump gets voted in, they will have lost their influence, that’s why he’s getting such a spectacularly bad press. All the special advisers, insiders and hangers on stand to lose big time under a Trump Presidency. So of course he’s under media attack from some pretty heavy guns. The problem with these attacks is that the mainstream are fighting the previous media war. Which is why his support is growing.

Social Science degreeIf asked, I’d say that despite all the protestations to the contrary, Donald Trump is no more racist or sexist than anyone else on this planet, well, apart from a bunch of virtue signalling whiners with useless ‘Social Science’, ‘Gender Studies’ and PPE University degrees who dominate the twatter feeds with their nauseating protestations of how much ‘nicer’ than everyone else they are. Which is often so far from the truth of the matter their views have taken on an Alice Through the Looking Glass unreality all of their own.

Minion Quote migraineRegarding Twitter, do I even have a twitter feed? I think I signed up for one to get the ‘breaking news’ feeds on my sidebar, but that’s all. I never log in to it or put any ‘twats’ out there. Did sign up for Farsebook but I’ve killed my account, or at least tried to, not once but twice. Anything else? I have a Disqus account and a few others to sign on for various comment threads and forums, but that’s it. My contributions are sporadic at best, and my attitude can be summed up by my good mate Dave, senior Minion and Acting Chief Sarcasm Officer at Sticker Enterprises Inc.

TTFN

Bill

A new one on me

I was talking to one of my stepdaughters on Skype yesterday, relating a minor spat I’d had with some person who had accused me of being ‘sexist’.  Being, as my wife often tells me ‘an unreconstructed male’, I am happy to put my hand up to this thoughtcrime.  I am biologically and culturally male, within a given set of parameters, but also a gentleman.  By the same token my wife and stepdaughters are wonderfully female, for which I am alternately very grateful and highly perplexed, but hey, that’s my problem.  I celebrate their strengths, and offer my own up where theirs are not able to cope, on the very rare occasion that this is necessary.  In their turn they offer crusty old me the occasional hug when I’m feeling less than masterful.  It all works out.  Closer to home I open doors for people, particularly young mothers with their hands full of children, because I understand that they have their work cut out with these little not-quite-housetrained little humans bouncing around like manic pinballs, and need all the help they can get.  Does this make me a bad person?  I’d like not to think so.

Being male of course, I also can’t help my biological programming not to look at any passing young female of pleasant proportions or parts thereof, but I do try not to make them feel uneasy by staring overmuch.  Although this is sometimes very difficult and requires much self control.  So yes, I’m ‘sexist’ and unapologetic with it.  My girls (Wife and stepdaughters both) like grouchy old me this way.  Now kiss my cosi fan tutte.

Now what my stepdaughter actually said made me sit up and think; “What on earth is that?”  I’d just recounted that in a minor online spat with someone who seemed to have left their masculinity in their sock drawer that morning, I’d been accused of being ‘sexist’.  My stepdaughter remarked with an acid laugh; “Sounds like a right mangina to me.”  before changing the subject and going on to talk about her next job move, possibly to Australia.

Afterwards I wondered ‘what is a ‘mangina’?’  So I looked it up and burst out laughing. From the Wiktionary entry:

Etymology

Blend of man +‎ vagina

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /mænˈdʒaɪnə/
  • Rhymes: -aɪnə
  • Hyphenation: man‧gi‧na

Noun

mangina ‎(plural manginas)

  1. (slang, derogatory) A man with a pronounced feminine side, or a weak masculine side.
  2. (slang) A homosexual or bisexual man’s anus and rectum

Or perhaps a nominal male who thinks that being falsely ‘non-sexist’ will up their value to a certain radical feminist mindset.   It’s a submissive attitude which, if the student politics coming out of academia is any guide, owes more to sexual insecurity and immaturity than anything else.   However, the sad truth appears to be that many young women hold this mindset in the roundest contempt.  Hence the pejorative.

We males often let our limbic or ‘reptilian’ brains do our thinking, but as women have a similar, but not identical biological structure and often do the same in their own idiosyncratic and erratic fashion, I think with a little give and take we can all rub along together just fine.  Apart from those on the extremes of the sexual bell curve who should not be seen as spokespersons for the majority, or anyone else apart from themselves.

Chowderhead

I confess. I’m becoming a full blown chowderhead, but not in the classical definition. No. Today I shout my new found affiliation from the rooftops. I love chowder! I’m getting quite good at it too, developing my own recipes from the many variants out there on the jolly old Interweb.

Over these comparatively mild Winter months, Mrs S and I have elected to eat a little more frugally, as our mainly sedentary jobs don’t involve burning up a whole lot of calories to keep warm. So I’ve been batch cooking in the kitchen and storing my output in the freezer, ready to be taken out and defrosted for a hearty late lunch. My current chief favourites are; Tiger shrimp and Basa fish with mixed veg; Chicken, bacon and sweetcorn and variants thereof, and they’re pretty easy to make. Guaranteed brownie points and a Nobel Peace prize.

All you need for this particular gastronomic delight are the basics; onion, potato, celery, sweet corn niblets (canned or frozen) chicken, bacon, flour, salt, black pepper and garlic or garlic powder, oh yes, and water. For seafood variant, simply replace the chicken and bacon with your preferred frozen or fresh (but never canned) seafood. There are ugly rumours that you can make a totally vegan chowder by substituting bean curd or Quorn, but as I’m not a fully paid up follower of Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch I won’t be turning my culinary eyes to that corner of the kitchen, ta very muchly.

Now chowders are meant to be thicker than a Vice President of the United States, but far more tasty. That is, almost dense enough to stand a spoon up in. Gloriously glutinous, cheerfully chunky, and stick to yer ribs slick. Anything else is just soup.

To achieve such a state of nutritional nirvana, simply follow this basic recipe and you can happily disappear, leaving only a simple message reading; “Missing, presumed fed.” while your stomach hugs your spine to say thank you. Oh yes. It’s that good. Well, I think so, anyway. My blog, my opinion, so there.

Right. Here we go. Chop up one very large onion fairly finely. Likewise one stick of celery. Put the celery and onion in a very large saucepan over a low heat with about a tablespoon of cooking oil, canola is okay, as is vegetable oil. For that little extra edge, a dollop (tablespoon) of peanut or olive oil can be substituted. Leave to sweat down and soften thoroughly. Half a teaspoon of garlic powder or two crushed and finely chopped cloves of garlic may be added after it’s all gone slick and semi-translucent. Some authorities advocate a large pinch of allspice, others chilli. But as seasoning is such a personal thing, I’ll leave that to you.

While the onion and celery is on the go, take one cardboard (skinless and boneless) chicken breast, or three boneless chicken thighs. Chop into small chunks. Do likewise with two rashers of bacon. Put on one side. Mix a tablespoon of flour with salt and black pepper, roll the chicken and bacon chunks in the flour. Heat up a tablespoon of cooking oil (Canola, Olive, Peanut, Vegetable, whatever) in a frying pan and throw in the floured chunks, turning and stirring almost constantly until light gold. Keep the remaining flour mix. You’ll need it.

Take a baking potato and partially (over 50%) cook it in your microwave (If no microwave, peel and dice spud, the only difference will be to extend the cooking time by half an hour). Remove potato skin and cut into thumbnail size chunks. Add chunks to the frying chicken and bacon and keep stirring. As the chicken is turning light gold, add a cupful of sweetcorn niblets and fry gently with the potatoes, chicken and bacon. When chicken is cooked through and can be easily cut with a wooden spoon, add frying mix to the pan of softened onion and celery. Stir. Add enough water to the same level as the mix in the pan. Do not cover with water. Bring to a slow simmer and stir every five minutes or so. Do this for half an hour.

If you have a liquidiser or blender, ladle in two or three medium ladlefuls (about half a cup size) of the chicken, bacon, potato onion and celery mix. Blitz. Put liquidised mix back into the main cooking pan. At this point take the remaining seasoned flour mix and add water until it’s the consistency of thin mud. Add flour and water mixture to slowly seething mass of chowder in the large saucepan. Stir every five minutes or so.  Keep on heat until reduced to a thick, glutinous and chunky consistency, tasting the mix periodically to ensure it is neither too watery and bland, or too salty. Add salt and black pepper to taste. A little extra garlic or garlic powder can be added at this late stage, just to get the desired flavour.

When you’re happy with the taste, take chowder off the heat and decant a couple of ladlefuls into a bowl. Cut some fresh bread or get some crackers. If you’re feeling really posh you can sprinkle a pinch of fresh parsley to give a little visual appeal. Eat. Enjoy. Relax. Let your taste buds do the talking. Think deep thoughts. Solve the worlds multiple crises. Chowder is so good it can help you do this. Although it is recommended that you do not try to leap tall buildings in a single bound afterwards, no matter how good you feel, as that kind of behaviour always ends in tears, charges of criminal damage and multi million dollar civil lawsuits.

When the rest of the chowder left in the pan has cooled, decant into some one or two serving freezer containers, and when cooled completely, seal these and put in the freezer for future consumption. You know it makes sense.

TTFN