Tag Archives: Money

That’s interesting…..

You know how you come across certain snippets of information and your head just nods and you do a big internal “Oh wow. That makes sense.” I had such a moment this morning when I heard about a Swedish drug company donating the sum of a hundred grand to the UK Liberal Democrat party. “Okay Bill.” You might say. “Foreign companies donate to political parties all over the world. Big deal.”

Well sort of, and don’t get me wrong I’m inclined to agree, but when it is a particular drug company which is the major supplier of puberty blockers, you might be forgiven for putting two and two together. The two halves of this little equation being the upsurge of the transgender agenda with its surprisingly smooth intrusion into public education, the Limp Dems being very much on board with the whole identity politics thing and the possible financial benefits to the drug company concerned. Not that I approve of foreign interventions in individual nation states, but money is money, politicians are permanently on sale, and a bribe is a bribe, no matter it’s format. Arms companies used to do it all the time because that’s the way certain cultures did and still do business.

Meanwhile, back on my original topic, I was thinking thus; drugs cost a lot, tens, sometimes hundreds of millions to develop, but the applications of puberty blockers are very limited. Ergo there is a smaller market for said drugs than something mainstream, like painkillers for example. Early onset puberty can prove difficult, not only for an underage child, but also for parents and anyone within their social circle. However, early onset puberty to the degree that puberty blockers are required was once a very rare phenomenon. Nowadays we are told that such things are on the increase. Some claim this phenomenon is due to ‘Gender bending’ chemicals like those found in cheap soaps, certain types of plastic food containers and cheap Teflon. Other, more credible studies cite social and racial influences for early onset puberty. Whoops! forgot the trigger warning there. Oh well, can’t be helped. Don’t shoot the messenger etc.

However, there is another, and more sinister agenda here. All of a sudden there are a lot of surprisingly well funded and connected NGO’s and pressure groups pushing an associated use for such puberty blockers via their activist agendas.

Money is coming from somewhere to fund a very small number of vociferous activists who some, even of their own kind, are loath to be associated with. Could it be that the activists have been taking a sly backhander from the company who supply the drugs used to begin a soi-disant ‘trans’ children’s descent into their own bleak futures? Because the perverted activists who have infiltrated the Anglophone education system are pushing vulnerable children that way? Just to increase sales of an expensive drug to vulnerable young people who only think they need it?

Jesus H Christ on a bike! Surely no-one’s that cold bloodedly callous, are they? Are they?

Will this be the next Thalidomide scandal?

Excuse me. I think I’m feeling very nauseous…..

Another day out

Good old rainy London. Gave my new raincoat a thorough testing today. Wandered around Covent Garden and environs sampling pleasures and tastes while dodging the drizzle tainted crowds. Mrs S directed our steps into a couple of expensive venues I would normally never go anywhere near. For example one of the top rated patisseries in London.

Well colour me impressed. The coffee was excellent. Heavy on the Italian influence rather than the bitter American. Quiche that was divine, and as for the Sachertorte, that was light and melted in the mouth rather than leave you feeling like you are chewing stodge, as happens with so many mass produced versions. Exquisite. I’d had an indifferent pint of IPA earlier, so perhaps I was ready for some quality.

We’ve had a deal of discussions with family and friends of late where the discussion has centred around quality stuff and why it’s worth the price. Reason one; longevity. A really good pair of boots will last ten times as long as a much cheaper pair. Why a good quality suit is a good investment (Buy two, with extras if you can – looking smart is never a bad idea) Nice cotton shirts feel better and last longer. M & S basics more comfortable than the cheap stuff from Primark. A little more spent on the basics means you can go cheap on the accessories.

Anyway, I’m standing outside one store on the Kings Road and an expensive car snorted past. Then another and another. People were walking past me in expensive clothes and a thought hit me. Rather a large thought about the economics of everyday life. It made perfect sense and for a few seconds all the dots lined up, I saw the entirety of human economic activity in action and why free markets really do work.

Every single one of us is connected by a massive web of transactions, be those social, emotional or financial. From the single jet of a fountain to the massive money machine that is the City of London, which in turn is connected to all the other major centres all over the world.

Let me enlarge. The single fountain jet provides social value because as humans we like to look at flowing water, it calms and stimulates us, therefore it has worth. However the fountain jet needs water and power to create that worth. These are not free, the power to drive the water has value, as has the water itself, it needs to be sourced, transported through a network of pipes with a lot of other water. The pipes through which the water flows need to be manufactured, channels dug through the ground for them, the complex net of pumps and storage to maintain an even pressure. All of these need human effort and intervention.

Then there’s the electricity that powers these networks created by investment in power plants made out of millions of complex components from heat exchangers and steam handling technology to the massive transformers and circuit breakers which manage the power output (For the sake of brevity I’m excluding ‘renewables’ here, just talking about base load generation). All of which has to be funded and made by finance. Money must be made, credit obtained to pay for the intricate web of costs that underlie even the simplest nut and bolt. Part of what I do as an investor is loan money to larger companies so that they may pay for new machinery to build and maintain those power plants and networks of water pipes. Which kind of brings me round in a circle to the pleasing spectacle of the fountain jet.

Therefore I posit that anything in motion consumes and creates energy and energy is a function of life. Likewise the market of life is in constant motion. Each of us, is whether we like it or not, is interconnected through diverse voluntary transactions to everything else in this world. Thousands of times a day. Every time we step out of the door. Every leaf swept, every drop of rain cleared, everything man made has multiple costs from the parts of a leaf blower and the parts needed to make the machines which make parts for leaf blowers. The credit and finance to pay that cost has to be raised by financial institutions which are the money machine we are all part of, from the beggar hunkered down outside the supermarket to the flash git in his Maserati posing down the street. Sometimes the chains are not obvious, but they are there nonetheless.

Isn’t this a fascinating world we live in?

Update: Tearful phone conversation with Eldest who dwells in the fabled land of Oz. Long term boyfriend just walked out on her, the idiot. That is all.

Don’t panic

I mean it. My own life has taught me that the biggest killer out there is panic. Flailing or running around and shouting will not help. So don’t do it. Trust me on this. A cool head will get you through more scrapes than being a drama queen and expecting other people to take up the slack. Indeed I have found my own personal policy of walking softly and taking a step back when faced with the unfamiliar and occasionally dangerous has often gotten me out of a tight corner.

In this vein we’re having to think ahead with regard to Elderly Friend. Her rapid slide into dementia has both us and the care home thinking that she’s not long for this world. She may even die while we’re in London. So. Funeral home fees and arrangements have to be checked, funds set aside for end of life care, nursing etc. All that stuff you get the joy of as power of attorney. However, this is the job we signed up for and it has to be done. The grunt work of signing off on those details like funeral services and ensuring the right ashes go in the right urn. Just in case.

However, a little foresight has often proven useful too because it’s of limited use being cooler than liquid Nitrogen if the ground is literally crumbling under your feet. Having a fallback option, just in case, isn’t needed that often, but I like them as they are very reassuring. Doesn’t have to be much, just simple stuff. For example, on road trips, I carry enough first aid stuff to be able to suture moderate wounds and stop bleeds whilst being able to provide some form of pain relief or sluice out a dust afflicted eyeball or contaminated cut. My credit cards are kept separately in case I get my wallet nicked. We always have double travel insurance and I never enter a place unless I already know where the best exit is. Mrs S often jocularly chides what she calls my ‘paranoia’, but despite the odd minor faux pas it’s been a long, long time since I was caught properly left footed.

We’ve gotten lost in the wilds of Ontario with dwindling fuel, but not unrecoverably so. We’ve lost money on investments, I lost five thousand dollars on three particular stocks last year, but more than made it back on others and spent a meagre two fifty on advice of how to set the loss against tax. Then made all my money back and then some on the same stocks by June this year. We try to invest across a wide spread, never put all our fiscal eggs in one basket and try not to panic if there’s a short term drop in the market like over the New Year 2018-9.

Because having at least one alternative is way better than being caught with your financial unmentionables around yer ankles. So it is with a WTO or ‘No deal’ Brexit. Now being a suspicious sort when it comes to news media, reading all the “Noooo! We’re all going to DIE!!” nonsense being peddled even in the FT. I really am thinking of cancelling my subscription. Fortunately I have my own sources. So I did a little digging.

Here’s what I found; imports will not grind to a halt. There are structures already in place to allow imports without delays at all major UK ports. Same for exporters. If you don’t already know, then you haven’t been listening. The tax authorities have been ready for a no deal scenario for over two years. I got that via Pinsent Mason (Major UK law firm who deal in international law by the way). Also from the guy who has just transferred out from being in charge of the port of Dover says they’re ready for ‘No deal’. HMRC have set up 190+ ‘pop up’ customs posts, in addition to the normal ports facilities who deal with clearing import and exports. The only problems will be from EU customs, so you’re more likely to run out of Cheddar at Calais than Brie and Avocados in Birmingham. Besides, where in the EU grows Avocado’s for heaven’s sake? Oh yes, France and Spain. The Netherlands are a major distribution hub and exporter, but don’t actually grow any. The major growers range from Israel to Mexico, New Zealand to Kenya, then there’s Colombia, Morocco, South Africa and the USA. Can’t get your Dutch Avocado? Fine, there are plenty more sources out there with produce to sell. Cut out the EU middle man. Ship direct from the growers, and don’t think there aren’t deals already being cut by the buyers for Messrs Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose and Sainsbury.

Even if the EU embargoes all imports to and from the UK, remember this; they need the UK markets more than the UK needs the EU. Never mind not getting a GBP39 billion payday, if they tried cutting UK Plc off without a cent they’d bankrupt a large proportion of their own internal economy. According to a financial report I read 12th September 2019, the European Central Bank is going to cut interest rates and start printing money, a failed policy by the way, which has already hit the Euro. Internally, they are already in trouble.

For expat UK pensioners in European countries (No names, no pack drill) this drop in the Euro means their UK pension will be worth more as the pound sterling will buy more. Expats I know they have been hit badly because of all the Remainer panicmongering driving the value of sterling down at least twelve percent lower than it should be. It would be nice to see them better off.

Me, I don’t put my faith in state pensions, mainly because I like to know where my money is and what it’s up to. As well as the payout of any given state pension being less than likely to support me in the style to which I wish to become accustomed in my forthcoming frail dotage. Also because I don’t trust politicians, any of them, not to plunder public coffers for their own short term gain. They can buy votes with someone else’s dime.

Oh yes, and I’ve finally bowed to Mrs S over buying a new cell phone so she can keep tabs on me, investing in a dual sim Samsung A20 with case and armoured glass.

Looking ever more forward to London, when I will be trying to console those of the Remain faction I encounter by speaking soothingly and gently holding their hands to reassure them.

Why specifically hold their hands? Just to make sure none of the nasty little sods manage to take a swing at me. Like I said, foresight.

Small home truths

Barbecued steak day yesterday. I had a nice slab in the freezer and we were tired of chicken, so Mrs S and I dined on flat-iron steak with a nice green salad. Our fifty buck propane barbecue has been doing sterling service, and there’s something of a cachet to cooking outdoors. The steak was ably washed down with a nice 2015 Argentinian Rioja. A little tingly in the mouth, but which slipped down as slickly as silk knickers. Very nice.

While the meat was cooking I dead headed carnations and inspected our other plants. The Pansies I fear, are past their best, but that’s life, isn’t it? The bad news is that my planted Sweet William has been strangled by the Pansies. Well we can’t have that. A trial has been held, guilty verdict returned and sentence carried out. Replanting will be required. May the Lord have mercy on their wretched little souls.

Further on the downside, a nasty shock greeted me in my email inbox this morning. A booking that we made back in February for our forthcoming London visit was arbitrarily cancelled by our hotel booking service. No reason, just a “Your booking has been cancelled” message, which left me struggling for replacement accommodation in the smoke. A family conference was immediately convened and the situation resolved. To be honest, there’s been something nagging at my hindbrain for the last couple of months that was saying “This isn’t Kosher” about that specific booking, so it’s nice to see my instincts vindicated yet again. Anyway, within two hours travel plans were adapted, new accommodation booked and we were back on track for our original dates for Autumn 2019. Might even get to watch the fireworks for Guy Fawkes night before we leave. I may even have saved five hundred bucks, so, swings and roundabouts. We’re all good on that front. Major league kudos incidentally to booking.com.

We’re also being plagued by mystery booming noises. About seven so far this morning. Probably sonic booms from the USAF going supersonic over the Pacific, maybe meteors coming in overhead but definitely not construction, that has a different sound altogether. The low pitched booming noises we’ve been hearing have been quite loud enough to rattle my office windows. So I checked the seismograph feeds, just in case there was an earthquake, but no. Couldn’t be meteors, as the Eta Aquarids were in early May and the Perseids aren’t due until August. So it’s probably some kind of supersonic aircraft out of Puget Sound Naval base. Boom-boom.

What else? Bitchute has been playing up of late. Video’s wouldn’t play and a few people were saying that the platform might be under attack, others that the increased traffic necessitated a major upgrade. Which if true is no surprise. Bitchute is rapidly becoming a refuge for those video creators YouTube don’t want. Or that Alphabet Inc (Owners of Google, YouTube etc) think their advertisers don’t want. The truth is that Alphabet want anodyne. Alphabet want ‘safe’, inoffensive. Funny cat and dog video’s. Which is where they think the money is, but that isn’t the content their market was built on. That was built by the very unsafe citizen journalist vloggers, comedians, gamers and commentators. It’s like watching a company that fires it’s top earning people for no good reason then watch the board stand around wondering where all those lovely profits went.

Although in Alphabet’s defence it’s common knowledge that online platforms, some advertisers and even credit card companies have come under pressure from certain activist media outlets, partially because said media outlets get money for pushing a certain world-view to rid YouTube etc of it’s most engaging voices, partly just to see the world burn. It’s also true that legacy media is increasingly under even more financial pressure from the new media, like the citizen journalists and gamers of YouTube. Now these ‘professional’ media types see all the advertisers paying what they see as their much sought after moolah to a bunch of upstarts who, horror of horrors, never went to journalism school. What must sting even more is legacy media watching advertisers paying these upstarts for poking fun at legacy media misrepresentations, bias and omissions, leaving the mainstreams credibility more full of holes than a good Emmental cheese. All the time the mainstream have been scrabbling for eyeballs they could sell to advertisers whilst watching their ratings sink like a torpedoed cruise liner. So the advertisers have been quietly cutting their legacy media spending, because what’s the point of advertising on a platform whose best days are long behind it? YouTube will follow. Personally, I’d sell my Alphabet Inc stock while the value is still relatively good. The market has peaked. Time for some serious profit taking before the crunch comes.

The penny is currently dropping like a rock that the relentless output of left leaning media, with it’s deranged hatred of all things heterosexual and north European is deeply unattractive to much of the eveyday public. As a result CNN has become a shrinking market. As are most of the main cable and digital news platforms, apart from the much maligned Fox News, who are smart enough to see which way the wind is blowing. For the rest, mass redundancies are becoming the order of the day. Huffington Post, Vox etc are all feeling the pinch.

Tim Pool has an interesting take on what’s going on.

In a bid to kill off the competition in the vain hope those straying consumer eyeballs will somehow come back to them, certain media outlets have resorted to using underhand tactics to silence anyone who isn’t them, because frankly me deario’s, many YouTubers have been effortlessly waxing the bums of the self appointed journalistic classes. People like CNN have been losing viewer ratings big time and desperate money men will have given out orders to shut down these upstart YouTubers by fair means or foul. Since these people don’t really do fairness, they have gone straight for the low foul tackle. Play the man, not the ball. Don’t present evidence or have a debate, that’s boring. Just go for the juicy Ad Hominem. Libel those unable to defend themselves. Sell the drama of Nazi’s behind every bush, which is a strange thing to do because there just aren’t enough real ‘Nazi’s’ to go around. Then apply the tactic of accuse, accuse, accuse, ‘expose’ with no real evidence, ‘out’ or Doxx, making people’s personal lives public so selectively that even Christopher Robin might look like Satan incarnate. Imagine such a headline; “Christopher Robin parties with animals – scandals of the hundred acre wood exposed” with some salacious insinuations about paedophilia, honey pots and bestiality in the first two paragraphs, the clickbait headline of which would be subsequently contradicted in the last lines of the headlined article. Which most people wouldn’t read as far as without suffering a bad attack of WTF! Then the story gets passed on in a game of Chinese whispers which only present the accusations as fact, not the original clickbait titled story in full. So the lie travels and the outrage machine roars into life.

You might think that this all sounds a bit tin foil hat, but I can cite at least six real live people whose well-meaning contact with the mainstream media has seriously screwed with their lives. Ergo, I don’t trust ‘Journalists’. One of the few pieces of wisdom my Dad imparted to me that stuck was “Don’t believe all that you read in the papers”. This would seem to be ever more apt as the blatant spin and news management has even polluted the pages of the Financial Times. Excuse me chums, I pay my FT subscription for hard information, not for some affectioned time-pleasers half baked opinion.

Of course the politicians go along because they need the media mouthpiece to get them votes so they can keep, in the immortal words of Mel Brooks’ corrupt William J LePetomane in Blazing Saddles “Their phoney-baloney jobs.” Which is why left of centre politicians are so keen to shut anyone with a ‘non-mainstream’ viewpoint down. They get their airtime from grateful legacy media platforms. It does not matter that otherwise innocent people end up getting defamed and even thrown in jail for ‘hate speech’ (Which is being defined by some very thin skinned individuals) Who cares? Gimme, gimme, gimme.

Stuff it. It’s too nice a day not to go riding. TTFN

Lucky for me….

…I never signed up for one of those fancy tax shelter loan remuneration schemes when I was a contractor. Turns out that HMRC in the UK has begun a draconian enforcement of a law passed in 2017 which allows them to charge for taxes they say are owed as far back as twenty years ago. Even if the arrangements were considered legal up until 2017. The UK tax grubbers want their pound of flesh and they want it now. According to the FT HMRC even sent out letters telling fifty thousand people that they should go into debt to pay the back taxes (a.k.a. ‘The loan charge’) being demanded.

Although I’m not affected, this news has made me very angry. Chasing debts for a legal exemption up to twenty years old? During a time when these schemes were not legally proscribed? Who keeps tax records for twenty years outside of the corporate sphere? Judas Fucking Priest! The backdated legislation behind this is heartless, dishonest and unnecessarily draconian. Not to mention that those affected are Doctors, Nurses, IT Contractors and even Social Workers. Back dated and estimated tax bills of up to a hundred thousand pounds have been sent out to the affected. Bills they have to pay or go to jail for tax evasion. Even if they weren’t evading tax at the time, merely using a legal loophole. If found guilty of tax evasion, or bankruptcy, all these people will be, in the case of Doctors, Nurses and Social Workers, disbarred from their professions and forced to take jobs far below their competence to make even a modest living.

One suicide has been recorded so far. There will be more as people are asset stripped, their houses sold to pay the bills and pension funds drained. Thus creating yet more poor people who need to subsist off the public purse.

Let me explain my anger; back in the day when I was an independent contractor I paid my taxes (Income and corporation thank you). Employers and employees NI contributions too. Until IR35 came into force and I reluctantly rolled up what had been a very enjoyable way of life before going back to being a wage slave. Which I hated. Because there’s nothing quite like running your own life to your own timetable. You may end up working fifty to sixty plus hour weeks, but at least you know who you are working for. All your profits go to you. And I’ll tell you this, I loved being my own boss, even if it meant working four extra hours at the end of each week to see my finances and tax affairs were in apple pie order.

When you work for yourself there’s a sense of freedom you can’t get anywhere else, even when you’re working twice as hard as you would if you were an ordinary employee. The lack of office politics was also refreshing. There’s a pride in being an independent too. You might have had to work a crap contract occasionally, but at the end of the day it was a lot easier to quit and find new work than if you just had a job as a full time wage slave. Losing that feeling was the worst. HR had no hold over my life outside of what I did for a company. For example, they couldn’t fire me for having a wrong opinion or looking the wrong way at someone outside of work. Or even being falsely accused of doing so. Or the hundred other excuses HR can screw with your life outside of work. In short, I loved, and still do love being my own boss. Even when times are hard there’s nothing quite like it. And there are always hard times to endure. Self employed or not.

The only real problem I had with being my own boss was the petty jealousy of the employed. The whiny crab-bucket bitches who saw what you got paid but never understood that you often paid more tax than they did. You organised your own taxes, paid accountants and book-keepers, paid extra health and professional liability insurance, the rent on office space and all the hundreds of details the self employed individual or company director deals (Or employs people to deal) with as a matter of routine.

Despite this, some wage slaves are unhappy at not being free and hate the merest thought of anyone else being happy or even moderately prosperous. I see these small minded curtain-twitchers, who decry any form of legal tax avoidance as ‘tax dodging’ or ‘not paying your fair share’, as those who would cheer at an execution without realising that their feet are also on the steps of the scaffold. None of us knows when it is our time to be strung up by the tax man, we can only take precautions, knowing that our date with the tax inspector is only a twist of fate away. There will be no sympathy, because in the tax authorities eyes, none are virtuous. Now HMRC can go back over your affairs for the last twenty years? Clucking bell. This is a truly dangerous precedent.

The main issue is that UK tax law is now so complicated, with so many exemptions and even contradictions that it is hard, even for accountants and other financial professionals, to know what is ‘legal’ and what is not.

New Labour (Blair & Brown) started this tax snatching trend and Blue Labour (Cameron & May) continued it, slicing the economic pie ever smaller instead of encouraging the production of more for everyone. All I can offer is my heartfelt sympathy to their victims. There by the grace of God go we all.

The green new deal

Sometimes at shareholder meetings, you do hear the most awful nonsense. Especially from those who consider themselves ‘ethical’ investors. This morning Mrs S and I were at an investors meeting when one guy started making arbitrary remarks about Trump not getting re-elected. Which he probably will because the opposition haven’t got a strong enough candidate. Then he started talking up the ‘Green New Deal’ some of the Democrats are touting. To which everyone else in the room was going “Say what?” or “I totally disagree.” Which was quite telling. A year or so ago the room would have been calling Trump names like the mainstream media want us to. How times do change.

I’ve actually read this Democrat inspired ‘Green New Deal’ and it’s utter garbage. One of the key precepts being to stop US citizens from flying and insisting they go everywhere by train. Ostensibly to ‘save the planet’.

Two words adequately convey my opinion of that idiocy; “Yeah, right.” Have these proponents even tried travelling across the USA by train or on a road trip? Have these advocates for other people’s austerity ever gotten out of their cosy little suburban nests and seen the mind-strangling vastness of North America in a car? I have. Three times and counting. There and back. Twice trans Canada, once to Florida. Take my word for it, there’s a whole heap of big in North America.

Even at full speed it can take over a week to go from New York to Seattle via car or truck. Forty three hours of non-stop actual driving. That’s without factoring in lunch and gas stops and the odd pause for much-needed sleep breaks. By train it’s almost three days solid travelling without a break. As opposed to only ten hours by air if you factor in all the hanging around at airports, including standing in line, baggage check-in, security theatre and getting to the airport in good time.

As for ‘renewables’, Wind and Solar are no better than subsidy sinks and the proposed ‘Carbon Taxes’ a licence to steal money from the hard pressed middle and working class population and feed it into the pockets of the ultra-rich 0.1%. Not only that but the Chinese and Indians will take one look at the proposals, if they have not already done so, and walk away giggling at the stupidity of the decadent westerners. CO2 is a symptom, not the illness, and human emissions are a drop in the pond. The Indians, Chinese and Russians understand this, but seeing as according to some they’re the ‘bad guys’ instead of just competitors. To the Green New Deal proponents their judgement means little. Even if the Russians, Chinese and Indians happen to be right.

Besides, as Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign strategist, James Carville, once said; “The economy, stupid.” Middle and working class USA likes strong economic growth and wealth creation. Trump has brought this about by re-energising a business-friendly environment. Overall unemployment is as low as it’s been for at least five decades and the only thing that might unseat him is a massive crisis that he flubs completely. Rather like Bush did with both 9/11 and the ’08 financial crisis. Besides, the US Democrats haven’t a strong enough contender for the US Presidency and the Green New Deal is proving massively divisive.

Nor are there any indicators of a financial crisis which might threaten the prosperity the US is currently rediscovering. Of course there will be market corrections over the year, just like over Christmas, but any dips won’t exceed much over 5% of total market value, which to me is no good reason to dump any stocks. Indeed the dead cat does seem to be bouncing like it was made of super ball rubber. I’m just wondering if I should leave my cash reserves just as cash in a high interest account or find an undervalued stock that’s worth a buy in.

Which means I’ll be talking to my brokers again next week. Although SNC-Lavallin aren’t on my list of investment opportunities. Not until the dust has settled over subpoenas being served on various members of the Canadian Trudeau administration, which might lead to their electoral downfall. Not only is little Justine pissing Canadians off because he makes them look weak and silly, but there’s a scandal brewing which may involve the RCMP being brought in to give our current PM the ‘perp walk’. Although that sort of thing only happens to the little people, not the ruling elites.

To replace the Liberals politically, I rather like the sound of the new People’s Party of Canada under Maxime Bernier, as Scheer’s Progressive Conservatives come across as totally cucked who will do little to get rid of the oppressive extensions to ‘Hate Crime’ legislation as expanded over the last three years. The local Burnaby by-elections next week should show which way the Canadian wind is blowing but I have noticed that there’s a lot of new activism at the grass roots level. A sea change is taking place, but whether that change will be enough to get rid of the Liberal party is moot. We will see.

I also talked to my broker about picking Mastercard or VISA as an investment opportunity. I found myself explaining in detail to Mrs S why Mastercard might take a share hit in the next six months because of their implication in the Patreon scandal. Payments processors should just do that. No more, no less. Not intervene in people’s opinions and private lives where they have no business.

To close on these and related matters I would point out that money has no morality, because one persons morality is another’s blatant hypocrisy. As certain payment processors and their cohorts may find out when the mechanisms they put in place to enforce their world-view are turned against them. Could it happen to nicer people? Mmm-maybe.

Have a nice weekend.

Put not thy trust….

“Put not thy trust in Princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no hope.” Goes the old scripture verse (Psalms 146:3) or the words of The Earl of Strafford in 1641 when he heard King Charles 1st had signed his death warrant. Which is one of the odd pieces of wisdom scattered across that venerable tome. Hey, just because I’m an agnostic doesn’t mean I can’t cherry pick my references. Wisdom is wherever it is found and even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Even Noam Chomsky gets it right sometimes. Not often but sometimes.

A while ago, my financial advisor pressed me to put money into Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet, the Google parent company. I strenuously declined, describing them bluntly as ‘bubble stocks’. On reflection I think my pejorative was unfair. They’re more ‘Tsunami investments’. Which isn’t a bad analogy if you think about it. Such stocks arise and move very quickly and do a lot of damage when the wave breaks on the shore of reality. The trick is to stop surfing the crest just before it starts breaking. Buy low, sell high and cash out just before the market peaks. A worthwhile piece of investment advice is when everyone else is buying the answer is to look elsewhere. By the time the press get hold of a gold rush story it’s usually far too late to make real money on a buy-in. Unless you’re in the middle of a serious bull market.

Facebook broke last July and its value has been like a dead cat bouncing down the stairs ever since. Despite the latest scandal, Twitter is still at the beginning of this process so there’s still time to get out with minimal loss. Their market peaked in mid 2018. Indeed Google (Alphabet) share values are down about USD 200 since then. Peak value was slightly over the USD 1280 mark, now Google shares are bobbing around USD 1080. None of these three are worth the buy in. Facebook is heading the way of Myspace. Twitter will follow (Are following?) As will Google. There is a slow fragmentation of Internet related services as increasing numbers of people seek alternatives.

Expect Microsoft to follow next year as people increasingly look for alternatives to the utter abortion that is Windows 10. A well-marketed strain of Linux might just do it. The Microsoft product is rotten to the core. They’ve tried to turn what was a moderately useful but buggy operating system into a ‘service’ and come up with an appalling piece of crap. Full of bloatware I can’t get rid of.

Liberum oratio non est oratio odio

Well, we’re back to BC in a day or so. Just for a chuckle I’m posting translations of the above Latin blog post title in all the languages of the countries we’ve been visiting in Europe this year. Just not necessarily in the right order.

French; “La liberté d’expression n’est pas un discours de haine.”

Danish; “Ytringsfrihed er ikke hadefuld tale.”

Dutch; “Vrijheid van meningsuiting is niet het aanzetten tot haat.”

… and finally in English; “Free speech is not hate speech”

To which I would add (if challenged); “Tua sententia est impertinens.” and tell them I have a terminal case of eleutheromania, an archaic term that has fallen out of use and no longer listed in the current online OED. Perhaps this long dormant Chestersonism is due for a quick trip down to the word lab to see my crew of loyal Igors throw it into the electro-dictionaries and give it a few thousand volts up the wossnames to bring it zinging back to life. Freedom within reason of course. So long as you don’t burn other people’s stuff down or get them kicked out of their job.

For my own part I just had to cough up an extra fifty four Euro’s after I got flashed by a speed camera a few days ago while traversing the Vercors. I got the notice, decided not to fight it and took the early payment discount. Can’t have been going five km/h over the fifty limit even though I missed the initial speed warning (Rappel) sign in heavy rain, but what the hell. I hate speed cameras as much as the next guy, but I’m not going to waste my time over fifty seven quid (About sixty four Euros. Forty five Euros for the fine, nineteen for the hire company processing fee). I got snapped, end of. Of course I was annoyed but at least there’s no points on my licence. The French Ministry of the interior have had their money, the car hire company have taken their processing fee, but do I care? Non. Life is too short. That too is irrelevant.

We were going over to Hyeres near Toulon tomorrow, but Mrs S found out British PM Theresa May is down in that direction having talks with Emmanuel Macron, so we’re not going. We do have some standards.

Crazy like a fox

A few months ago, I was talking with my financial advisor who recommended Facebook. I disagreed robustly, calling it a ‘bubble stock’. Which it is. Now the people who called me ‘crazy’ for not hitching my coat tails to such a rising star may be looking at the valuation of their investment right now and feeling a bit sick. A hundred and nineteen billion loss in less than twenty four hours? Ouch. So my ‘craziness’ at staying away from said stock is looking rather vulpine at the moment. Call me Reynard.

Contrarily and as a note of balance, I’ve just had a disastrous accommodation booking fall over which had us frantically searching for new digs at very short notice. Fortunately Booking.com has come to our rescue, and although I’m going to have to cut my losses and run, all is not lost here in the Sarf a France. We have money, a hire car with ‘smoking wreck’ insurance cover, places to sleep and have just had a brief sojourn in Montpelier, which if you don’t mind the graffiti, is a very nice little city indeed. Baking hot, but then isn’t everywhere at the moment? Apart from those places that usually are but aren’t at present, like Sydney in the Fabled land of Oz. Ten Celsius? In buildings with poor insulation and no real heating? Brrr.

I also keep on hearing people get all bent out of shape about next doors President doing what he’s doing and having partial or sometimes complete public meltdowns over stuff he hasn’t really been at fault for. Like the US Immigration service separating children from the adults they’re travelling with, the most iconic image of which (The crying little girl in pink on the cover of Time magazine) is a complete fake. Indeed, Trump, when the matter was brought to his attention, even signed a document saying parents and children should not be separated from their children if found entering the country illegally. Unlike Obama. Who the mainstream media, particularly CNN, gave a complete pass to. Obama in their eyes, could do no wrong. Trump can do no right. Regardless of his actions. It’s that blatant.

However, one thing is certain; Trump is not completely honest. To some people he’s the prince of lies, but and here’s the big ‘but’, his ‘lies’ are more exaggeration and the kind of half-truth you get out of a hard-sell sales person. And yes they are deliberate. A verbal sleight of mouth while he gets on with fixing the mess that previous administrations have left the USA, and to a lesser extent the rest of the world, in. Because he is doing what they would dare not do. He wants to fix an America that has been broken for a long time. Fixing their trade relationships with the bludgeon of tariffs. Which everyone else uses, but only Trumps tariffs are bad, yeah?

On the surface this is madness, a task that cannot be accomplished, but I disagree. The more I see of him, the more I see that Trump is not mad, he’s ‘crazy like a fox’ and as soon as everyone stops panicking and view all his actions and prognostications as mere negotiating tactics, the clearer idea we’ll have of what he’s actually doing.

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.

Evil travel planning

Travel planning today for our July trip over the big eastern water to jolly old Londinium and points east and south. Double checking bookings, passports etcetera and making sure that we have the finances in place for the Copenhagen leg of the trip, which is all Danish Kroner. Then back to Euro’s for Amsterdam and France. Sterling is the least of our worries.

One of the things that has flagged up in our discussions is the increased crime rate in London. So we asked Youngest for a few handy hints, as she is our resident legal eagle in the great metrollops. First piece of advice she came up with is not to stand on a street corner with a map or cell phone in your hands discussing where to go. This marks you out as a ‘tourist’ and is an open invitation to the opportunist bicycle or moped shod thieves to swoop in and nick your stuff. So she suggested we do our map reading and route planning in a handy coffee shop or bar. Much more civilised. Safer too. So that is what we will do.

Aside from our impending trip all potters along steadily Chez Maison Sticker. My potted out Lemon tree seedlings are merrily pushing tiny leaflets up into the light. Out on our little deck garden most of the seeds Mrs S and I have planted have germinated and are in leaf. The rose has put out it’s first blood red blossoms, and the rain it raineth this morning. Which is good. In a small way.

Something else which might turn out well is the denuclearisation deal being done with the North Koreans. See the video below, whose clear persuasive message is quite compelling and is obviously designed to hit Kim Jong thingummy right in the ego. Hey you, young man. Want to be a really great leader? Get the prosperity like your neighbours? Sign here and put those dangerous toys away. We’ve got something better. There’s basketball too! Yes, I know it’s a Farcebook video, but someone who really understands people put it together, so I’m happy to share.

Wonder if the same kind of sales oriented approach would work with the Middle East? Selling the idea of prosperity rather than some wishy-washy idea of compelled ‘niceness’ and the odd handout. Well I like it. Palestine being open for business rather than just being a war zone? A shifted focus. A different zeitgeist. It could well happen. Of course my inner realist says that it won’t all be a bed of roses (Watch for those thorns buddy!), but it’s a way better idea than the current bed of nails.

Social death

Facebook is hurt. Badly hurt. 30 points down and falling as of 28th March.
See my screenshot taken on the 23rd, a mere five days ago.

Yes I know one is for over the last twelve months, the other for the last three, but neither paint a pretty picture. I have a feeling that the Cambridge Analytica scandal is just the tip of a very big problem-berg. Over the next few months I can see a larger loss en-route, as in shit, fan, incoming! Perhaps a complete collapse. Who knows? It’s like watching a run on a poorly funded bank.

While this is all very entertaining in the median term, it may blow over, it may not. Facebook may survive, but it is what I’d describe as a ‘Castle in the Air’ stock. Looks pretty, but has no real fiscal security, as like one of the fairy fortresses, the only thing that keeps Facebook going is the power of belief.

Elon Musk (To name but one) has pulled his companies out of Facebook and there’s a class action in the offing. As far as some of the other tech giants go, Alphabet, parent company of YouTube and Google is also suffering with a less drastic 4% fall after accusations of bias, which they strenuously deny, but a number of their users who have had their content demonetised and even deleted aren’t convinced. Amazon may be worth a punt though, as their share value has taken a hit. But they actually sell real things, so I’d view them as a fairly safe bet and treat the current downturn as a buying opportunity for their stock.

Facebook on the other hand, what do they have to sell, apart from their users data? Twitter likewise. Which begs another question. Where will all the Twatter outrage mobs go if the platform collapses? Will they suddenly find themselves suffering a form of electronic social death? Mmm. Couldn’t happen to a nastier bunch of people.

Talking of social death, the institutional antisemitism endemic within the UK Labour party has surfaced once again. This is no surprise to me, as every extreme left winger I’ve ever met has been a racist anti-Semite. Never understood it myself. I think the only half way sane reason must be that extreme left (and right) wingers are avidly pro big government and the Zionists are big on family. The family (A very human, grass roots institution) and big government (Big state, top down driven) are philosophically opposed. The big government people see the family as the biggest obstacle to their authoritarian utopian fantasies, so to their mind anyone who has a strong family as the basis of of their culture must be undermined and if need be, eliminated.

Well it makes sense to me.

Oh dearie me

… I missed the pointless farce called ‘Earth Hour’ yet again. It’s still a bit parky outside, so switching off the heating wasn’t going to prove anything but the gullibility of the switchers off. Light a candle? I often do, but only for the ambiance. I’m not dumb enough to think that candle light is good enough to read by, or that shivering in the dark is a way of promoting responsible environmentalism.

Last night around ten, we’d just finished watching season 7 of Game of Thrones with it’s rather chilly finale when I picked up my Tablet and got a notification. “Oh, Earth hour? That foolishness.” I thought as I dismissed it. “Don’t they know all the big activist outrage is in gun control this week?” Some people, eh?

On the topic of Interweb money and gun control, YouTube is probably going to be the next stock to nosedive. Fortunately I’ve pulled all my investments out of those side of things, taken my profits and put the cash to work elsewhere. If, as seems likely, YouTube are going to delete any content and channels about guns and military stuff, it means they’ll delete whole channels and in the process leave nothing but funny cat video’s until the Animal Rights activists get round to denouncing those as ‘cruel’ and get them deleted and banned. Maybe YouTube are hoping all the faux-outrage will blow over and it will be business as usual by the start of April so the new guidelines won’t have to be implemented.

The fallout will be telling. I foresee YouTube and Google owner Alphabet’s stock price taking a big, big hit. They’ve already damaged their brand by going after even moderate content creators who are critical of certain policies. This should make many advertisers realise that YouTube is effectively becoming worthless as a platform. End result; fewer advertisers, less revenue, Youtube shrinks and all their flash corporate HQ offices go off into the electronic unknown with the content creators. Such is life.

Update: Well, as far as content is concerned I’ve signed up for Bitchute, which I will be using far more often.

Business as usual

Summer trip is mostly booked. London, (For Mrs S) UK Midlands (For me) then on to Copenhagen for the second week in July followed by Amsterdam and a little town not far from Beziers, South of France. Flights and accommodation are all paid for and I’ve just put the credit card in the freezer to let it cool down a bit.

We’re planning also to go back to Australia next year for a probable wedding of Eldest and current boyfriend. He’s a steady lad, Engineer by trade working long term in Oz. He can even cook and has a green thumb. He’s Irish too, so that’s a quadruple plus. Tell you the truth, we knew about Eldest and Boyfriend as only parents can when we were in Sydney over Christmas. It was fairly obvious because when two people have decided, even unconsciously that they’re right for each other, there’s a look in the eye you can’t really miss, their faces shine and they’re so relaxed and unselfconscious whenever they’re together. So, that’s settled then. I hope.

Anyway, that’s for the future. This Summer we’re off to visit Youngest in jolly old Londinium while I do some long overdue familial fence mending oop norf of Brum. There are conversations I need to have to straighten things out while the opportunity still remains. It’ll take three days, no more. There’s also a legal matter to round off that I can only do in person. Family business, you know how it is. It’s an emotionally charged situation and I just have to man up and do the necessary.

Talking of business, I see Farcebook shares are in a steep nosedive, losing over 5% of their hyped up value following the Cambridge Analytica allegations. Facebook share price fall to 23rd MarchMy broker suggested I invest in them last year, but I gave him a firm ‘No’. Like with Bitcoin, if you weren’t in on the ground floor, don’t bother. The price is no good for any significant buy in, and Farcebook, at least from this investors perspective, is going nowhere, fast. Their market share and user base is stagnant and shrinking. Even a fool like me can read the writing on the wall. My personal account has been dead and deleted for over seven years. Twice. And I have always resisted linking any of my other personal and professional data to Farcebook. So any data ‘mined’ is out of date and therefore worthless. I am not the only one. My kids have moved on and no-one seems to use it but spammers and the hopeless.

Elsewhere on the Interweb there are issues raised over privacy, boredom and even prosecutions (WTF!?) for rather lame jokes that ‘offend’ people. Look, if you’re that easily offended, step away from the keyboard. Don’t watch YouTube. Go out into the world and do something useful. Hashtag #growapair. As for the UK Police, oh for heavens sake, don’t you have any real crime to deal with? Yes you do. Chasing down all these petty complaints is just wasting Police time.

Personally I think that with the recent conviction of a notorious YouTube prankster for a spurious ‘hate crime’ there’s been a real case of perverting the course of justice. Which is as good an argument as I’ve heard for repealing the hate crime legislation passed by the idiotic Blair Government. Same as over here with M-103 and C-16. Policing what people say or think (Providing they don’t belong to a protected and therefore ‘privileged’ group) is idiotic. Slander and libel are civil matters which are sufficient to cover insult. Making them criminal offences just pisses many people off because no-one can tippy-toe round another’s imagined petty grievances all the time. It’s corrosive to the spirit to duck every time some bonehead with a large plank on their shoulder turns around. Better that they should fix their own inner problems and get on with life instead of looking for slight and insult around every corner.

In closing, trying to read between the lines of all the BREXIT op-eds in the FT is making me a bit twitchy too. The ‘negotiations’ seem to be giving away far too much to the undemocratic Eurocrats and securing too little in return. However, Sterling isn’t doing so badly, so I’ll have a look at the state of play at the end of the month before making further commitments. At this moment in time, Sterling is on the up so I’ll hang with it until there’s a possible shift in the market.

Hey-ho. Business as usual.

An old bit of folk wisdom

Not much happening chez Maison Sticker at present. No real dramas apart from mild anxiety upon shifting six figure sums around our pension investment funds. I’ve never trusted state pension funds and have elected to store up resources for my frail dotage using all the legal means at my disposal. Mainly because Mrs S and I will be far better off both medically and comfort-wise if we have our own money set aside with something for the kids when we finally die. To this end taxes have to be carefully calculated and paid, figures collated from various modest (Some extremely modest, but they all count) income streams and expenses claimed. Then sent off to our accountants for submission to the revenue. De nada. Just the dull, day-to-day of keeping our fiscal heads above water. Which leads to the occasional domestic argument.

Mrs S and I are not a perfect couple and we do argue. Mainly because as a man and woman, our brains are wired slightly differently and we perceive, react to and communicate things in a different manner. She gets mad about some matters, I make sure we get even and occasionally vice versa. She tends to react more emotionally and I’m generally more practical and cold blooded in my initial approach. So we talk. Then for the most part we accept our not infrequent misunderstandings brought on by our differences, often laughingly brushing them off with a carefully timed; “Yes dear.”
To which the good humoured response is a mocking; “I’ve been ‘yes deared’ – how could you?”. Well, it works for us.

Apropos the dissimilarities between men and women, I say they should be celebrated as in “vive la difference” To which I often apply an old ditty the original version of which dates back to before 1891, updated variants of which can be seen below All have been tested to a value of six sigma, or 99.899% inverse partial variance ‘true’ value on the Bill Sticker institute Massive Contextual Axiometer and Adage tester. Please note that the remaining 0.011 is necessary to allow for Quantum EMO effects while testing took place, which is an experimental constant allowed for freak events outside the constraints of Einstinian space / time.

Therefore;

Feminists have many faults,
Men have only two,
Everything they say, and everything they do.

or

BlActivists have many faults,
But white males only two,
Everything they say and everything they do.

Because, as any fule kno, there is no pleasing these people. They beclown themselves and anyone else who takes them seriously.

So when some ‘Gender Studies’ type Academic trots out their latest insanity, the best thing anyone can do is say; “Yes, dear.” or “Whatever.” in as patronising a tone as possible and watch their heads explode. Then give them the finger when it comes to funding. Of course the faux-outrage this will generate may make the powers that be try to outlaw words like China has done with certain terms; and the letter ‘N’ for some reason known only to Beijing. Or create new ‘genders’ out of thin air who must have their own compulsory pronouns, on pain of prosecution as proposed (Or have the silly buggers in Ottawa actually passed M-103 c-16?  Oh yes they did – the bone brains) in Canada. Which can leave embarrassing gaps in a language and play havoc with translating business documentation.

So, having accepted that I, as a northern European complexioned male am ‘wrong’ about everything, I can just go my own sweet way and quietly get on with investing while everyone else pointlessly argues over what colour or sexual variant they might be. And who offended or oppressed whose great great great grandfather back in the early 1800’s or wherever. Why should that be my problem? Do tell.

Fortunately, my money bears no such grudges. It’s probably why I mostly prefer it to humans. Money can be trusted. It has no prejudices. Money is completely colour blind and non-sexist. Money doesn’t have a brain fart half way down to the shops and come back with a shopping cart full of chocolate and junk food (Unless you tell it to). Money does what I tell it to without four hours of pointless, round the bushes bickering. And it goes where it’s bloody well told. When it’s told. And does what I tell it to do. Which is why money occupies such a large place in my affections. See video below.

I’m moved to consider that while diversity may be a noble goal, it should be diversity based upon personally earned merit and effort, not because some grievance-monger wants a handout.