Tag Archives: Media

Light at the end of the tunnel..

Well I thought there was light at the end of my personal tunnel, but it was some bugger with a torch bringing me more work. Fortunately they were bringing money with them as well, so that’s fine by me. The work is something I can do standing on my head but there is quite a lot of it, so this new state of affairs just means little time for blogging.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel regarding BREXIT as well, although I don’t think it’s a very healthy light. Frankly, the more I look at it the better a ‘no deal’ BREXIT looks. Despite all the propaganda in the FT and elsewhere. All the op-eds masquerading as ‘news’. Candidly me deario’s, most of what I read in the mainstream on this topic is utter bunk, unfit to line an incontinent moggy’s litter tray. There seem to be a lot of people who think that the EU is the fount of all there is right and proper, despite the plain reality that it’s an anti-democratic, opaque and bloated bureaucracy, with only one purpose, it’s own corrupt continuance.

Sargon has been spending some time in Strasbourg of late with his fellow-travellers from the Purple Gang and I recommend you watch the whole video below. If you eyes aren’t opened by this, go back to sleep and await your turn to fall foul of the ever tightening noose of EU rules and taxes.

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Hunkering down

Wildfire smoke has gotten worse over the last twenty four hours so the Sticker household has completely battened down the hatches and watched the AQI go from the ‘Unhealthy’ particulate count (AQI 170-185) end of the spectrum to ‘Hazardous’ (AQI 340! last night) in the last few hours. So over the last seventy two hours we’ve been indoors listening to the Hummingbirds coughing outside and wondering when our scenery will get un-photoshopped. As well as sweltering a little because we can’t have any windows open. The taste of burning forest has been everywhere.

Fortunately a change in the wind brought brief surcease this morning with the worst of the smoke flowing northbound up the west side of Vancouver Island, remaining a louring presence across the hills. AQI dropped below 100 for a couple of hours, which is like the air in a major capital like Paris or London on a bad day. Breathable, but nicer when you get into the air conditioned indoors. The forecast is for particulates to drop to their more usual low teens. Which hasn’t happened yet. Temperatures likewise are to drop to around 20-22 Celsius, which is cool for August, but you won’t catch me complaining about that. Cool air you can breathe? That will do. When it arrives. At the moment the AQI is firmly in the ‘Unhealthy’ range of around 120-60+ and our scenery has been photoshopped once more.

Our ever-expanding deck garden seems unaffected. The herbs are fine, we’ve acquired a small conifer and another two of my Lemon plants (no longer mere seedlings) look like they’ll need potting out into their own little receptacles soon. So a quick trip to the stores was required for some more potting compost which means this evening I’ll be potting out our new Thyme and Mint plants as well as my nascent Lemon trees.

I see our cousins down south are talking about impeaching Trump. For something Obama’s campaigns got a mere slap on the wrist for? It smacks of desperation from the ensconced power elites, who are actually the real problem in the USA. These are the folks who should be standing in the welfare lines. Trump’s actually sticking up for important things like free speech online and asking pertinent questions about South Africa’s land seizures. He’s asking other questions certain people don’t want in the high level public domain because such questions will probably hurt their investment strategies. That sounds like a reasonable reason why they’re out to get him by any means necessary.

Regarding those South African land seizures. It’s been widely known that being a Boer descended farmer has been a high risk occupation for well over thirty years. Farm raids and murders have been glossed over by the media because, well, all white South Africans are bad yeah? All that Apartheid? Personal anecdote here; when we lived up Island we found that a good number of our neighbours were ex-Afrikaners and White Rhodesians who got out when the ANC and Mugabe regimes took over. My Doctor was South African. So was my next door but one neighbour. Another neighbour was white Zimbabwean who always talked of the land of his birth with affection. This in a community of less than twenty five properties. I knew of at least three more Afrikaner families in our locale.

Now we hear that the Zimbabwe government are begging for the eeevil white farmers they kicked off their land to come back because the guys their farms were given to didn’t have a clue how to manage them. Which is what will happen to South Africa. The country will implode even further economically speaking because the ANC will have ethnically cleansed (Dispossessed) the most productive and industrious people from ‘their’ country and their agricultural skill base will collapse followed by the rest of the economy.

Lauren Southern’s polemic, ‘Farmlands’ covers the history of how the current state of affairs came to be, but does miss out the Boer war and disagree with a few other salient details listed in timelines like these. For example, in ‘official’ versions the massacre of 100 Boer settlers led by Paul Retief by the Zulu King Dingnaan (Dingnane) in 1838 state that Retief tried to obtain land by ‘trickery’ and that ‘only’ 60 died, not the 100 claimed by Southern and Wikipedia. Dingnaan’s warriors later massacred another 534 Voortrekkers in the Weneen massacre. A figure composed of 41 men, 56 women and 185 children from the Dutch settler party killed along with 250 or 252 of their native tribe servants / followers. Wikipedia may not be the most reliable of sources, but in this case is more credible than some ‘official’ timelines. And that’s just one example out of several. I’ve been checking. Mainly because I’m a history buff and don’t like being misled. Anyway, see for yourself, I’ve embedded Lauren’s YouTube video below. It does not make for happy viewing. But make your own mind up.

As an afterthought, you hear a lot of SJW types crowing about the ‘end of white supremacy’. Well chaps, fasten your seat belts because that’s exactly what happened to Zimbabwe and other African countries and what’s happening to South Africa. Liberia, Angola, Congo, Libya, Chad, Somalia, Sudan and the Central African Republic for example. Never mind the occasional tribal genocide or ongoing US interventions in the Trans Sahara and Horn of Africa. Or isn’t that quite the ‘end of white supremacy’ these ‘Social Justice’ types ordered, eh?

Useful fact checking website; Africa Check. For those interested in the stats regarding the number of farmers murdered, try looking at this article; Why Calculating a farm murder rate in SA is near impossible.

The Axis of Evil

Well I declare; Facebook is sniffing around US banks to obtain users transaction data. By proxy, considering that Facebook maintains databases which compile profiles on even non-users like myself, this is dangerous territory. I have already written to the banks of whom I am an account and shareholder for assurances that they will not provide any customer transaction data to Facebook or any other Social Media company whatsoever. Whether these ‘Social Media’ companies are ‘actively’ seeking it or not. Personally I find the denials flimsy and untrustworthy.

The risk here is that Facebook, Twitter, Google et al are actively seeking to extend their tentacles into every aspect of modern life. Given these platforms propensity for shadow banning, account deletion and general censoriousness, there is good reason to suspect that once such access is gained they will use it to further their own corporate agendas, not just sell advertising. Given that these platforms have demonstrated a clear propensity for de-platforming people they disagree with, those who do not conform may find their financial affairs restricted.

Working as I do with money, which has no politics, I find the hinted intrusion of Social Media companies into the financial arena a direct threat to my affairs, even if that threat is so far existential. As far as I am concerned, Facebook (LinkedIn), Alphabet Corporation (Google, YouTube), Twitter etc. just became the bad guys, forming an ‘Axis of evil’. “Don’t be evil.” just lost the “Don’t.” These corporate monsters now represent a more insidious form of soft Fascism than anyone would have previously thought possible, but here we are. All the trust we have given them, they have routinely abused.

Over the next few days I will also be deleting my Facebook-owned professional LinkedIn account, after first informing all my real life friends and professional contacts that I am doing so via email. LinkedIn never brought me any worthwhile work offers anyway.

Some holiday reading

Back home and unpacking now. Our little deck garden has survived our absence and the Lemon tree seedlings are doing very well indeed. The biggest issue we face having returned to BC is where to get half way authentic French bread in our locale. We’ve tried some of our local outlets, but their output is too dense and not crusty enough. Good French bread is a simple thing but so hard to get right without the correct T55 or T65 grade flour. Which is very difficult to get over here in BC, Canadian import restrictions being what they are.

While we have been traversing the byways and higher ways around Western Europe, I’ve been using a couple of books to pass the time in various airport lounges and flights. The first is a Penguin edition of Orwell’s ‘Why I write’, the second, Christopher Hitchens’ commentary ‘Why Orwell Matters’. Finished ‘Why I write’ on the flight to Marseille and ‘Hitchens on Orwell’ on the flight back to BC.

Conclusion; like another of my favourite writers, Rudyard Kipling, Orwell was a man of his time shaped by conscience and experience. To me Orwell was right as an opposer of totalitarianism, which is a doctrine which always assumes that others should dictate how you live your life, wrong regarding Democratic Socialism, which puts power in the hands of some supposedly benign, unbiased authority. Which as the Communist and every other form of Socialist regime have found and are finding, is a path that leads only to mass graves. Because the tighter the definition of what is mandated by these supposedly beneficent individuals, the less becomes allowed and the more ‘outliers’ there are across the general population who won’t fit.

Think of it this way, we’ve all got enough going on without having some eternal parent figure supervising and regulating our every waking thought. Running people’s lives through fiat and diktat is a bad idea because Government or religious rules set up to tightly govern irrational, greedy, selfish humans are set up and often enforced by, guess who? Irrational, greedy and selfish humans. Possibly more so than in private institutions. If you’ve ever worked in the public sector anywhere, you will know this to be true. The majority of people who work in them are not fit to rule themselves, let alone others, which is an excellent reason to minimise Government power wherever possible. The same goes for cartels and monopolies, like Alphabet inc (Google, YouTube et al) Facebook or Twitter.

Perhaps Orwell, had he lived long enough, would have wholeheartedly agreed. He’d probably have been horrified by the wholesale banning of InfoWars too because someone like him would have been first on their list for no-platforming. Especially when Facebook are sniffing around the US banks after people’s transaction data.

What would happen to someone like George if Facebook etc got that access and enforced their will on his personal life? “Sorry Mr Orwell, but we don’t like your opinions so we’re going to stop you getting a credit card or having a bank account.”

Which makes me look at my LinkedIn and Instagram accounts and think about deleting those as well. That and a word to the banks I’m a shareholder of, telling them that should they enter negotiations with the axis of evil (Alphabet Inc, Facebook and Twitter), I will be voicing serious concerns about security and voting against any board Director who wants to go in that direction.

Update: I see that Instagram have deleted the ‘realtommyrobinson’ page.  Well, he can join another social media platform and take all his followers with him.  Instagram’s loss.

The law of unforeseen consequences part deux

A few further thoughts about the EU’s heinous Article 13. This time on the possible downside. For the EU and those businesses pushing the proposed new copyright legislation. The law of unforeseen consequences, as I’ve pontificated about before, is waiting eagerly in the wings, ready to steal the scene with a big fat grin.

The gist of article 13 and it’s evil twin, Article 11 is to make it illegal to post any portion of a previously posted copyrighted article, soundtrack, photo or video without payment to the copyright holder. There appears to be no place for fair use or critique in the proposed legislation.

The thought occurs that all this reposting of content, either for parody or criticism acts as free marketing for the big media companies. How many sales of back catalogue items are down to snippets of music or video posted on YouTube for example? Does anyone know? I don’t, but what I do know is having watched stuff on Youtube I’ve subsequently gone to Amazon or the music store or the movie theatre to pay to see a movie or buy a new CD of a half forgotten favourite. The memes, parodies and critiques are free marketing on a massive back catalogue of stuff that actually does make money for the copyright owning companies. That’s right, the criticism and fandom, at least partially, is a source of profit. Kill that, or restrict the ownership and the market shrinks. The copyright holders are then left with the equivalent of a massive archive that generates little or no revenue. Like with the National Film Archive in the UK. A movie, book, or piece of music that is not shown is a missing piece in the jigsaw of existence.

As for the media companies and the link tax, if someone who critiques news coverage or a movie has to pay a fee to do so then they won’t. They will simply paraphrase, allude to and analyse without linking, developing their own credibility en route. Like with ‘professional’ Youtubers. They are the ones who help generate a word of mouth ‘buzz’ that is one of the most effective means of marketing ever. Not some ‘journalist’ working for a publication pushing it’s own agenda. There isn’t enough space in a web browser window for the needed advertising to drive content. And with everything paywalled, well, see that big toe? Ready, aim, fire!

Which prompted me to revisit an old childhood favourite;

The mainstream media sat on a wall,
Article 13 caused a great fall,
All the Zucks Farcebok and all their fake tweets,
Couldn’t get their content back out as repeats.

Why? Because as has been amply demonstrated ‘fake’ is so pervasive throughout the mainstream that anyone associated with it is tainted. According to Mark Twain a lie can run around the world before the truth can get it’s boots on, but the corollary of that is once the truth does get going it can, and often does, give the falsehoods a serious kicking.

Personally I have only one opinion on content sharing; links and commentary are fine, but the words are mine. Non-profit sharing is cool.

I love this

Hey young Earth person! Are you tired of the dull life here on Earth? Do you want to be someone special? Someone great? To defend not just your country but the world? Become a Space Marine!

Yes it’s true. This is Trumps Star Wars moment. (H/T ZeroHedge) He’s just authorised the militarisation of space. Which rather walks all over a couple of old cold war treaties regarding military assets in Earth Orbit. Not that anyone was paying these treaties any mind you understand. The Chinese have been testing killer satellites for the last two decades to my knowledge and the Russians simply can’t afford them. Which means these treaties have effectively been ignored for years, so what he’s just said (See speech below) shouldn’t raise anything more than an ironic eyebrow.

So what good will the creation of this new ‘US Space Force’ do? Well, create a bit of competition for the private space efforts and add a spur to Musk and Bezos’s Falcon X and Blue Origin programmes. Maybe light a fire under NASA’s sluggish arse. Perhaps they’ll even think of putting some money into ‘Spike’ rocket engine development or Hybrids like the old Hotol concept or even resurrect the wholly reusable X-33 spaceplane concept. See Curious Droid’s video assessment below.  Which I can access off YouTube, but the linking has somehow gone awry.  Oops, no.  The trained Monkeys have done their thing and the 500 error is fixed.

For a sci-fi freak like me the possibilities are endless. I’m genuinely enthused.

P.S: Have just checked my Lemon Tree seedlings to find that all thirteen have pushed tiny shoots above the soil and even as I type are raising little green heads toward the sun.  Yay!

A must watch

Tinfoil hat alert. Related to the Tommy Robinson affair. Here’s something that should be watched in full because people get excised about ‘Moslem grooming gangs’, but there is possibly a greater problem as highlighted in the video by ex-Police officer John Wedger. If you believe him, the UK care system has been a tree laden with low hanging fruit for decades. Full of vulnerable children ripe for exploitation. As detailed in this case study article in the Guardian from 2009.

Or previously here;

My own first hand experience of the UK care system does not directly support John Wedger’s allegations, but, and this is a very big but, I do know that UK ‘care homes’ are far from airtight. Kids abscond all the time. It’s been a running joke since the 1970’s and before. That a proportion of these runaways are turned to drug dependency by the unscrupulous should come as no surprise. However the scale of the problem has grown out of all proportion. Add to that the bigger scandal that no one must say anything just in case it ‘offends’ a protected group.

Add to that assertion that care homes have long been known to feed the prison system. To quote the Prison Reform Trusts 2017 report (Bottom of page 12);

Fewer than 1% of all children in England are in care, but they make up nearly two-fifths of children in secure training centres (39%) and young offender institutions (37%).

Not only that but kids in the care system do go missing. They literally ‘fall through the cracks’. In 2016 for example, the figure of children who went missing was quoted as high as 140,000. Per year as recently as 2016. True, most of this number are found, they return home without fanfare or are located and no longer officially listed as missing, but some just vanish. Many of this number from care. Official figures can be found in the official 2015-6 National Crime Office missing persons report. Although the linked report does state that about 68% of people who go missing are never reported (Bottom of page 28).

Now this isn’t a given as some care homes have been better than others and small scale abuse has often been caught and dealt with. However, with the Rotherham and Telford cases now in the public domain, there is a strong growing suspicion of systemic collusion, either through fear of being labelled ‘racist’ or ‘islamaphobe’ or even leaving the now-convicted grooming gang members as a smokescreen for a more long running problem. And perhaps tossing the odd dead or retired celebrity out of the sleigh for the public to get angry about while a small but deeply ensconced network of well-heeled child abusers slips away behind a fog of outrage.

Which gives rise to the suspicion that Tommy Robinson got his punitive additional sentence because by focussing the searchlight of public attention on the grooming gangs, he posed an existential threat to a certain clique and their agents hiding (or with sources) within the very institutions meant to protect the vulnerable. Because perhaps these ‘elite abusers’ use very similar means to the grooming gangs to recruit their victims. If this were not the case, then why have whistleblowers so often come in for such hostility, often (If John is to be believed) from their own superiors?

As a theatrical character called Hamlet is wont to observe “Aye, and there’s the rub.”

Anyway, on the subject of Tommy himself here are his own words in a recent letter from prison.

This ain’t over. Not by a long chalk.

P.S. I now can confirm that twelve of my thirteen Lemon germinated tree seeds have poked their way above the soil and are producing leaves. I’m going to need exceptionally bigger pots.

Busy doing nothing

…Working the whole day through,
Trying to find lots of things not to do,

Well not quite, but not as busy as I have been. Due to a plethora of good planning and foresight we’re on the wind-down to our Summer European trip. Not that anyone’s really interested. My only concern is making sure our little deck garden is properly watered and taken care of while we’re away. I don’t want to come home to a bunch of wilted stems like with my Tomato plants over Christmas.

For my one remaining non-comatose reader the Lemon seedlings are looking good following last weeks potting out. Ten Eleven out of the original thirteen have popped tiny glossy little leaves above the soil so far and have been put out in a sunny position during the day as the night time temperatures are still not conducive to plant health. Although the rose, Indonesian Lime and all our perennials are doing fine. The rose has three dark bloody blooms gracing its stems with four more to come. The Fuchsia has recovered from the travails of Winter and should give a display some time in late August / early September. The Nasturtiums and Sweet Peas aren’t so cheerful from overnight near-zero temperatures, but now the warmer Summerish weather is here they should recover. As for the herbs, no issues. By the time we return from Europe they should be ready for the kitchen all the way through to October / November.

Did I mention that I went to see Deadpool 2 last week? Must have done. Great dirty fun. Go see it. I’m going to add a hard copy to the video collection. Also to add will be Stallone’s ‘Demolition Man’ and a few others, which I’ll do when I get to a certain secondhand music store up island. I’ll see if I can get a copy of the first ‘Incredibles’ movie in North American format too before going to see the sequel on Friday as it has just opened here. The only trouble is I’ve seen so many damn trailers and clips it may just take the edge off my viewing pleasure, although that didn’t seem to matter for Deadpool 2. There was more than enough story and flash-bang for my buck to warrant a second viewing.

That leads to another thought; When life gives you lemons, don’t just make lemonade – enjoy the Gin and Tonic (Jinnan T’Onnix, whatever). Or Gin fizz. Or Vodka Tonic. Or even sell any subsequent Lemons on with an ‘organic’ tag at twice what you paid for the original lemon you got the seeds from. What a staggeringly good idea.

Must dash, well, maybe not so much. The sun is shining, Justin Trudeau is still an idiot for picking a trade war Canada can’t possibly win, the silly, virtue signalling half-wit. When we get to Europe I’m going to use my UK passport because I’ll be too embarrassed to use my Canadian ID. Poor ickle Justine can blither on endlessly about what he thinks ‘Canadian values’ are, but he never knew what they really were in the first place. Mr fake eyebrows speaks for no-one but himself.

All things bright and, oh, see for yourself

Germination proceeds. Out of thirteen Lemon seeds originally taken from a supermarket lemon, eight now have roots sprouting from two to ten millimetres long. Three others seem to be in various stages of life. All I did was take them out of the lemon, soak them overnight in water, then stick in a handy zip up freezer bag on a damp piece of kitchen towel and wait. My Avocado seed too is showing signs of root development with a gravid little bulge about three millimetres across and high forming on the bottom. All I did was set the seed up using four cocktail sticks and a glass full of water. Grade 5 level stuff like the old growing Cress thing we used to do in Junior School, before doing simple stuff that worked was replaced by ideologically driven rubbish like Man Made Global Warming and Gender studies. Neither of which have half the fun and frolics of playing with copper sulphate crystals or dissecting frogs.

Out on the deck our rose bush looks like it will burst into blossom within the next two or three days. The hummingbirds have been busy at our feeder. They are quite magical little creatures. At one point on Sunday evening, after a quick peruse of the cruise ships plying the Juan De Fuca I was examining the biggest rose bud and one of our two pairs of regulars stops at the feeder less than three feet away. I gently turn my head and it pulls back from the feeder perch. I turn my head gently and the little sucker decides it’s time to give the big slow motion statue (me) the once over, stopping in mid air for two whole delightful seconds less than a foot in front of my face, tiny dark eyes watchful, ready to disappear at the fist sign of hostility. I move gently backwards and zip! She’s gone like a little green bullet only to return to the feeder when I’ve retreated indoors. See some of her antics in the video below.

One of the things I hear from the UK ahead of our visit next month is the ridiculae from a retiring Judge and London’s Mayor that kitchen knives should have their points filed off because these things are being used by gang members for murder. God knows what these people would think if they saw even my modest collection of cutting implements. My particular favourites (and most used) are the heavy bladed Sabatier K’s with Teak handles on the right, the bigger one routinely slices through frozen chicken and has a lovely balance in the hand. Might have to replace my filleting knife as the serrated ‘Miracle blade’ is hard to keep sharp enough for filleting. As for their size and variety, they’re working tools in a working kitchen. Their forms reflect their specific functions. Which is something someone who has never prepared food (Only peons do that) is incapable of understanding. These bansturbators are retards who blame the tool, not the perpetrator. Which is why all their bans and meddling will achieve nothing but piss the rest of the population off. Maybe if they and those before them focussed on root causes rather than the fallout, there might be less blood staining the UK’s streets.

But that wouldn’t have been very progressive now, would it?

Movie night, again

Went to the movies and saw ‘The Avengers – Infinity War’ last night. Lots of action and really first class CGI with some decent performances from the star studded cast but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have. No, I didn’t mind some of the lead characters getting bumped off. Shit happens and people get killed if they repeatedly do dangerous things. That’s just the immutable mathematics of risk.

No, what pissed me off was the motivation of Thanos, the major league big bad guy. Spoiler alert. Stop reading now if you haven’t already seen the movie. Thanos was collecting ‘infinity stones’ that control all matter in the Universe so he can ‘snap his fingers’ and magically kill off half of all the sentient species in the Universe. Mass murder half of each species. Allegedly because the habitable planets (Yes all of them) are finite and are ‘running out of resources’. As a life long fan of sci-fi I found my intelligence not only insulted but getting it’s face slapped followed by an attempted quick knee in the bollocks. Yes, I know it’s only a superhero flick, but still, I thought the Avengers franchise was better than that.

It annoys me because the whole ‘We have to kill people to save them’ premise is an idea so tired it needs to be taken to the vet and ‘euthanised’. It smacks of the deeply offensive idea that ‘ordinary people don’t know what’s good for them’ meme that infects all areas of government and academia. Whose upper echelons all need large networks of servants and extensive support staffs to stop them falling flat on their faces when they get out of bed. Which kind of knocks any notion of moral superiority on it’s head. No matter which end of the political spectrum it comes from.

Honestly, I wanted to go and see Deadpool 2 for it’s sheer bare faced cheek. No attempts at morality, just good rollicking, unrealistic fun. Which is a superhero flicks greatest strength. And far more entertaining.

Shall we talk?

I’m busy listening to a Livestream with interest when the phone rings. It’s our cable company. Hmm. That’s the third time this month. Oh well. I picked up.
“Hi, is this Bill?” Comes a friendly voice.
“It is.” I already know what this call is about. They’re going to try and sell me Cable TV. It’s Deja vu all over again.
“Hi. Notice you have internet and phone with us and we’re doing a special deal on cable this month.”
“No.” I can’t help but be amused. “We’re not interested. Not at any price.”
“Not even for ten bucks a…. Er, why?”
“The quality of content is terrible.” I’m trying not to burst out laughing. You can’t fault them for persistence but I’ve elected to be amused rather than get mad. “Two hundred channels and nothing worth watching.”
“What about the sports?”
“I don’t watch sport on TV.” Which is a bit of a fib as I will watch England Rugby matches when there’s footage online, but as most cable sport coverage is heavily cut Soccer, Ice hockey, American Football or Baseball I’m not interested. Watching cable sports coverage whenever we’re at a hotel or bar always irritates me as they keep on moving from game to game on the main cable channels as it’s all re-runs and best ofs. So you can’t get a good feel for the game. The decent coverage is all pay per view and I don’t like televised sport enough to go down that route.
“The news? We got news.” Tantalises the Telemarketeer.
“Which I can get online and in depth instead of the rotation half hour of soundbites cable news channels offer.” Oh I am a tease, but there’s no sense getting mad at these people as their Internet service is quite good.
“Oh.”
“We’re just not interested.” I affirm, so we close with the usual ‘have a great evening’ pleasantries.
“Was that the cable company again?” Mrs S calls from the sofa as she’s watching Midsummer Murders (Again) via our AppleTV box. “They don’t give up do they?”
“I think it’s rather sweet of them.” I chortle. Had I been busy I might have been less welcoming, but what the hell, I enjoy a little sport with sales callers now and again. Normally we don’t hear from them more than once a year, but they must be getting desperate to keep on trying a refusenik like me. Personally I think they should shut down the TV and free up bandwidth for even faster Interwebbiness.

Honestly, from what I’ve seen, the cable TV providers can’t even match the quality of something like The Rubin Report on YouTube which interviews people like Jordan Peterson or Niall Ferguson, who explains in quite an entertaining fashion how his position over Brexit shifted. And quite an insightfully nuanced view on Donald Trump to boot. Which I found quite interesting. A lot more engaging than any of CNN’s partisan cable TV output.

Soros is right

Bloody hell Bill! Have you gone over to the dark side?

Actually no, but this money quote comes from arch villain and Hedge fund manager George Soros. Seen in this morning’s Financial Times (Behind subscriber paywall) “The EU is in an existential crisis. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong,” He has been quoted as saying. “it needs to reinvent itself.” Well bless my soul! This is something a lot of Brexiteers have been saying for a long time. Indeed the push to ‘ever closer union’ has been the prime mover behind the UK’s push to exit the EU. As a pan-European trading bloc the idea of a United Europe has merit, but as a political entity, no. Europe’s regional cultures are too diverse for that.

He points out that the Euro is a ‘problem’. Well, no shit Sherlock. He also points out the need for the top down governance of the EU to ‘engage’ with the grass roots. This too is a case of stating the bleedin’ obvious. Hashtag hefinallygetsit. Because the EU as currently structured is an unaccountable top down model that tries to force a series of one size fits all policies on places that are very different, even incompatible. Like say London and Yorkshire. Or Paris and the rest of France. Or Berlin and say, Bavaria. Or Ottawa and the rest of Canada. If you’ve visited both country and city in various countries and spent serious time there you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about.

Side note: what form of ‘engagement’ he’s talking about, at least from the article, isn’t clear. Maybe it’s a case of “Shut up peasants, we’ll tell you what to think.” Which ain’t democracy. Indeed it’s the very antithesis of the concept of citizen representation. The main problem is that these NGO’s tend to leech onto a minor issue and blow it up out of all proportion. Like with the EU, these institutions also need a serious downgrade.

What Soros omits to say is that a number of the NGO’s he funds are one source of the problems the EU is beset by. His Open Society Foundation, for example, acts as an enabler of the ‘migrant crisis’. Indeed it’s gotten to the point where Hungary and a number of ex-Warsaw pact Eastern European states / newer EU members are openly hostile to his various NGO’s manipulations. They think, and I’m inclined to agree with them, that he is part of the greater problem.

Of course Soros is not the only market manipulator who funds the offending NGO’s and pressure groups, he’s just the most publicly visible.

Movie night

… is Friday night. Couple of calls from Eldest making her way in the fabled land of Oz over this week, which makes me think she’s nerving up to break some ‘news’.

Anyway news or no news. We have finally seen “The Death of Stalin” which has some of the local lefties whining that it wasn’t ‘historical’. Of course it wasn’t, it’s a bloody satire for heaven’s sake. Which simply reinforces my observation that the extreme left isn’t exactly a hotbed of intellectual finesse, merely a slough of dogma. As is the extreme right, But that’s another story. As a committed very slightly right of centrist, I have no real sympathy for either camp. Both are just as toxic.

Anyway, the movie. Howlingly funny and chock full of dark and bitter parody. Steve Buscemi as Kruschev was great, and as for Jason Isaac’s portrayal of Zhukov, led to some of the best scenes in the whole piece “Where’s a man got to go to get some lubrication?”. Watching the portrayal of a murderous dictator dying in a pool of his own piss because everyone was too scared of him to see if he needed help – utterly priceless. One for the DVD collection.

Tonight we fired up the big screen at home and instead of paying forty bucks plus to sit in a movie theatre with all the attendant annoyances, like people talking through the performance. “What happens next is..” Fidgets and seatkickers, cell phone addicts and those interminable extended advertorials hosted by gushingly embarrassing perfect skinned teen presenters which encroach ever further into the performance. I swear the last time we went three weeks ago, the movie was scheduled to start at ten to three, but the fucking advertorials went on until five past.

So, what was last night’s first movie our home big screen? Ah yes, the star studded CGI-fest “Fantastic Beasts and where to find them” Verdict? Didn’t really like it much and after having bitten all the heads off my jelly baby ration, I fell asleep twenty minutes into the movie, so I can’t really comment apart from that J K Rowlings brainchild didn’t really grab me. Just couldn’t get engaged in the story. I suppose it wouldn’t be a waste of money if you like your ham sliced thick. Otherwise it was a glitter ball of a production. All flash but no real substance.

So for the second offering of the evening I suggested that we watched the low budget made for TV movie “Thin ice” Admirably held together by veteran actor Tom Selleck’s performance as small town police chief Jesse Stone (not to mention the dog). Much slower paced, finer story details, better and far more nuanced performances. I was totally engaged, despite having seen this particular episode in the series twice before.

I like the Jesse Stone series. Solid stories, sound characters and no pointlessly happy endings. Mysteries are solved, sometimes too late and there’s more than a hint of the rebel in Jesse Stone which resonates with me. As he states with no little irony, “I’m a small town cop, mostly I give out parking tickets.” Yes, well it would wouldn’t it?

When it comes to movie characters, I think that what engages me the most is their vulnerabilities. Their weaknesses rather than their strengths. If they’re all weak it makes me want to scream at the screen “Grow a fucking spine why don’t you!” If they’re all strong and are too bloody perfect I want to switch off. But if they’re flawed, human and prone to cock-up, then I’ll watch.

A visual treat

As a lover of ‘hard’ sci-fi, every so often you come across stuff that tweaks a nerve. This offering from Artifex studios had me riveted. Although while one of the scenes was playing I was a bit irritated at the Astronauts reactions to an emergency. Why the hell did he not have his freaking helmet on?

Verdict; could have been a little better with more realistic performances. In that I mean less overt emotion, not more, a more stunned reaction at the end, a little evidence of disorientation maybe. Overall, very, very well done indeed. Almost, but not quite great. Adam Stern is definitely a director to watch. Just needs a bit more nuance and he’ll have it bagged and tagged.

Certainly beats a lot of the rather second rate stuff appearing on NetFlix.

Non Disclosure

Currently the level of cock-up in my current contract has reduced as after four weeks certain people are starting to get the idea that they can’t just throw company money around any more without proper recording or authorisation. The folks who hired me are looking at their cashflow and marvelling at how many procedural holes it was leaking out of. They’d been relying on an old fashioned cheque book and Corporate credit card to pay the bills and always wondering why they were struggling to keep their fiscal heads above water. Now they know. All we have to do is tidy up the in-house documentation and that’s another contract done. Think I’ve broken the back of this job with under two weeks to go. Well done Bill. Providing my clients stick to the Inventory, Purchasing and Sales order procedures we’ve thrashed out and don’t slip back into the bad old ways, they’ll be fine. Why they didn’t do it that way from the off is a mystery. They had the accounting package, the computerisation, all the software licences set up, they just weren’t using them. Oh well, it all makes work for the working man to do. Another happy tick on the old CV and another non-disclosure clause. Which everyone signs, but so few pay attention to because we humans are such terrible gossips.

Regarding non disclosure agreements, as a follow on from a recent post I’ve been asking around my legal contacts about civil Non Disclosure Agreements, those tricksy little contract clauses forbidding a signatory to publicly or privately discuss matters they have been paid not to discuss with others. The consensus seems to be that such orders are no protection against a criminal court action. Only courts can issue what are effectively ‘gagging orders’ and those will only be effective within a specific court’s jurisdiction.

So say if you know your organisation is breaking the law and that criminal activity is reported to the relevant authorities, that non-disclosure clause in your contract can be worth less than used toilet paper. In the case of a criminal prosecution, individuals are not allowed to hide behind NDA’s if called as witnesses. Especially if someone is trying to cover up fraud, sexual assault or worse. Which means the civil penalties outlined in such agreements cannot be enforced in a court of law if they were designed to prevent witnesses and victims testifying. Not without a charge of perjury at any rate. This is my understanding of these matters, if it is flawed, then corrections (With citations) in the comments, please.

Now, onto the juicy stuff. The Weinstein scandal. Ooh yes matron. The dark and shady doings circling actress Rose McGowan’s possible testimony are interesting. A warrant was issued for her arrest because she left drug contaminated luggage, which may or may not have been McGowan’s own drugs, on a plane. Unfortunately for the prosecution, mere contamination means nothing. Bank notes contaminated with cocaine still circulate out of ATMs. Indeed, back in 2010, it was reported that most British Bank notes were so tainted. Which is a whole heap of nose candy in circulation if you ask me. According to Wikipedia, most bank notes are contaminated and such false positives have even led to unfair dismissal of employees following drug tests. So the contamination of items left on a plane is meaningless and won’t hold up in a reasonable court. For a possession charge to stick, more than just trace amounts have to be found and the chain of possession confirmed. Besides, in the current climate, there’s a reasonable suspicion of evidence tampering.

As for potential paedophile scandal star witness Corey Feldman’s marijuana charge, that wasn’t him, that was his crew. He just paid the fines. Which is average for any rock band on the road.
Storm meet teacup. Whether he can name the names and out his erstwhile abusers is another thing. That has yet to come into the open. Although it is public knowledge that Hollywood has been manipulating their pet media for over half a century and then some. Just watch the documentary below about just one of the notoriously Gay film stars of the 1920’s and 30’s. You heard that. Public Homosexuality in the 1920’s and 30’s? – abso-freaking-lutely.

1930’s scandals aside; the problem with all these scandals and allegations is summed up in one word; evidence. The courts can get very picky about that. Verifiable proof is required. Unless you’re hauled before the laughably titled Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Kangaroo Court of the Star Chamber more like. It’s no good just naming names, or going into “He said vs She said” territory, credible witnesses must be produced. Victims identified. Verifiable evidence confirmed. The chain of evidence has to be close to watertight or there’s no real hope of conviction. However, reputation damage is another thing.

Because Hollywood, as Kevin Spacey has recently found out, is a place where reputation is all. Reputation gets an actor their part in a movie, confidence from investors and Distributors funds Production companies, who fund movies. Tens of Millions can rest on a single word. Now that reputation lies in tatters. It was already under pressure after multiple box office flops, but now the money, the life blood for all creative endeavour is leaving. You might say that parts of Hollywood are bleeding out after being shot by moral outrage. And there lies the opportunity for more savvy small production companies to persuade distributors to fund and allow their creative products access to the wider US markets. Fresh new blood is needed to save Hollywood. New ideas backed by non politically strangled dialogue. Not the same shit different day. That and time to heal. Simply trying to paper over the gaping wounds with NDA’s won’t cut it.

On the other hand, the current feminist litany of complaint about ‘too many men’ either as actors, producers and writers has one major flaw; the market. Women can act, produce and write as well as any man, there is no question about that. Whether they can sell a heavily pro-feminist end product, or even if a mass market for such a product exists, is another question entirely. Wonder Woman worked, but only because of the strong female lead, long-established character and story. Which is interesting, as the comic books the character was culled from were written by a man, Dr. William Moulton Marston with an all male scriptwriting team on the movie. Hmm.

Yet women writers get rich from various projects. Margaret Mitchell wrote ‘Gone with the wind’. Harper Lee wrote ‘To kill a mockingbird’. J K Rowling isn’t exactly impecunious from the Harry Potter movies and associated merchandising to name but three. And there have been many others. Yet still the endless “It’s not fair we’re being repressed by horrible white men and their patriarchy!” Whining. Yet there are many successful female agents and one particular casting Director who works (Her name has slipped my mind for the moment) for Jerry Bruckheimer and gets credited in many major movies and TV series (Including Star Trek, the next Generation) from the last two decades. Don’t take my word for it. Watch the credits after a movie and look for specifically female names. There are more than you’d think, and they’ve all earned their stripes. Same as all the men.

This is because everything Hollywood puts out is driven by the market. Because if people like an idea they will go to see it, pay for their theatre tickets, buy the DVD’s and the movie or TV show will make lots of money, then the Producers and Distributors will be looking to fund another to make even more money. If an idea isn’t popular, then it will graunch and the likelihood is that particular writer or team will not make any more, regardless of sex. Simply because no one likes losing money. There’s no patriarchy involved. Just dollars.

The truth is that a big movie project takes years of concerted effort, even for established Writers, Directors and Producers. A hit is a hit is a hit, and it doesn’t matter if you’re whatever race or religion, male, female or one of the thirty or so recently invented ‘genders’ – if the idea isn’t a ‘sell’ the likelihood is that you won’t be asked to make another. Or even get in on the ground floor. If there’s a ground floor left when all the Weinsteins etc have finished coming home to roost.

Anyway, for me that’s rather academic. My path to the fabled land of Oz lies wide open. Australian dollars obtained. Ferry booked. Airport parking booked and paid for. Maple Leaf lounge (The VIP bit at YVR) booked and paid for. Tickets, visa’s and passports. Flights sorted. Hotels and cars all good to go. Friends and relatives eagerly awaiting our arrival. Christmas presents packed along with my best silk shirts and other lightweight clothes for those sultry climes. All we have to do is make sure the house is properly cleaned and shut down for our return in January.

Not much else for me to do but practice saying “G’day.”

Update: Sorry about the cookery video instead of the documentary I mentioned. Situation remedied. No idea how that one happened.