Tag Archives: Observations

If the tinfoil hat fits…

…goes the adapted saying – wear it  In other words, if it looks like a duck and quacks, it’s likely of the genus anatidae. So it is with the mainstream media. Be it the Trump – Russia collusion hysteria, or all the fuss over BREXIT and the Christchurch shooter. Nowhere have I ever seen so much conspiracy theory hogwash portrayed as fact by so-called ‘reputable’ news outlets. North of the border here in the not so frozen north it’s worse. The news media, apart from the National Post, who are kind of milquetoast Conservatives, is almost overwhelmingly pro Justine Trudeau.

Privately, the public at large are less than convinced. Hence this screenshot of a very accurate flowchart someone drew about the SNC-Lavallin affair, where the Trudeau Liberals literally changed the law to keep some of their mates out of clink.
Quite apropos, n’est-ce pas? As they say in Quebec. Well, it made me smile.

Advertisements

Don’t panic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New growth

Spring arrived somewhat suddenly this year. Normally we simply ease very slowly out of BC’s habitual drizzle, but on the 18th temperatures went from night time temperatures of almost double digit sub zero to a more usual five Celsius. This came as a pleasant surprise as it meant Mrs S and I could take tea on the deck without being chilled to the bone. It’s been a long Winter here and I’m glad to see the warmer weather at last. Oh green, how I have missed thee.

Our modest deck garden improves. Latest acquisition were some dwarf Narcissi and Mrs S said she fancied some Pansies. Well, each to their own. Just to keep the meme theme going I added some Sweet William seeds to their pot after planting out a few corms and rhizomes with a few Delphinium and Lupin seeds, which should cheer things up in a couple of weeks time.

One thing I was delighted by and let’s face it, what with Theresa May cocking up BREXIT and Justine Trudeau cocking up Canada’s economy (Whatever happened to “The budget will balance itself”- yeah, right) we all need something to put a positive spin on the day; my two Avocado seeds have begun to sprout. Only tiny pinpricks of green, but definite signs of life. My previous attempts just sat there and rotted, however this time we have green, which is good. Then there’s the success story of my Grapefruit seeds. Five out of six are definitely developing roots and will be ready for potting out next week or the first full week of April. As for my Lemon Tree plants, six are doing well, having taken up residence in the sunniest part of the kitchen and the four I left outdoors over Winter aren’t actually dead. The root systems are still good, even if the above ground portions are looking kind of sorry for themselves. Like my Indonesian Lime, I was about to consign them to the recycle bin when I noticed that the root systems still looked good. I may need considerably bigger pots.

Then there’s the burgeoning vegetable trays. I bought a batch of seeds yesterday and have planted a few out to see how they do. It’s an eclectic mix of Kale, Broccoli, Spring Onions, Beetroot and Radishes. I’ve also added some tomato plants seeds, which I hope will do better now that I’m planting them earlier and deeper. Decided to try out some strawberry plants as well, so in they’ve gone. Results will be posted as new growth occurs.

Despite the poor political news and the virulent attacks on freedom of expression online, I’m feeling decidedly optimistic.

What did they expect?

Busy gardening at the moment, the really cold weather has shifted to the Midwest and Spring has poked a cautious head around the corner here in Victoria BC. My remaining six large Lemon Tree plants have been taken outside to soak up some sunshine and we’re putting out some colourful blooms to provide us with a little visual cheer when the working week is too full of WTF! moments. Which happens a lot. Especially when our line managers come at us with a “We’ve got a little job. Can you help us out?” which happened last week.

Anyway, it’s been a nice day today. The heating has been switched off and our windows are all open to blow all the Winter miasma out of the house. Outdoor temperatures have just crept over the sixty eight Fahrenheit marker so it’s quite warm out on our deck. The fresh air is invigorating.

Looking at the news in the FT I saw the news about the New Zealand shooting and was filled with a profound sense of Deja Vu. It won’t be the last. Plenty of people are pissed off with the way Islamic migration and terrorism is often glossed over, then when a sick individual from the native population shoots up a place of worship, a certain section of the media use it as a stick to beat all ‘white’ people with. According to a bunch of academics and similar pantywaisters all us north Europeans very bad and ‘white supremacy’ (Whatever that is, I never got a membership) must end.

Well I’m not guilty of the shootings, nor are any of my neighbours or the population of New Zealand, or Australia, the USA or the UK. Donald Trump and Chelsea Clinton are not to blame. It’s the whole identitarian race-baiting industry once known as journalism. That’s where the finger should be pointed. A distinct class within their ranks has repeatedly berated the Anglosphere for asking pointed questions about mass immigration. Those are the witches we need to burn. The sowers of discord. Tim Pool has it.

To be charitable, these media types may have only been selling puritanical rage-bait to boost their terrible circulation figures, but when similar rage-bait is used by politicians to create a protected class of individual who get a free pass, well, the outcome is hardly surprising. You can only spit on people so many times before someone goes completely postal. This is true across all ethnicities, all religions and all cultures. So what did these rage-baiter media whores and their sponsors expect? Seriously people. Their IQ tests must have come back negative. As for farsightedness and statesmanship, one can only guess at where that went to. If it ever existed at all.

The whole business has taken on the air of farce. The NZ authorities have blamed and banned a commenting platform called ‘Dissenter’, when the whole thing was livestreamed via Facebook for heavens sake! Is Facebook now banned in NZ? No? Why not? Something stinks here. It may simply be incompetence on the part of the NZ powers that be, but I suspect pressure has been brought to bear and Facebook because they rolled over and played loveable puppy for the powers that be, whilst Dissenter did not.

We’ve heard of other, similar plots thwarted over the last five or so years, but successful ones, like Anders Breivik and the Christchurch shooter are thankfully rare and are a reaction rather than the root cause. In this case the root cause is the reckless mass-importing of an alien and diametrically opposed culture into a well-established society. The funny thing is, if we’d wanted to really help these people as has been mooted, it would have been far more simple and low cost to get aid to them ‘in country’ where they felt comfortable. Not to import the poor sods wholesale into places which they don’t understand and even have contempt for the cultural norms.

Despite what some people say, we humans are not all the same. Men are not women, trans people are neither and you can take the local Yokel out of his hovel, but you’ll never take the hovel out of the local Yokel. At least not for at least three generations. That’s how long it takes to integrate into a non-native population. That’s discounting the throwbacks every generation throws up. Why, because they ‘identify’ as whatever. Only takes one generation of weak or heavy handed parenting.

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.

Planning for Lahn-dahn

The crocuses and snowdrops have surfaced from under the snow and we’re currently travel planning for an Autumn sojourn in dear old Lahn dahn as some of the locals call it. No, that’s not a place in Vietnam or Thailand but the estuarine pronunciation of London, capital and Metrollops of the dear old dis-united kingdom. We’ve sorted out where we’ll be staying in Earls Court and looking at places to eat and drink while we’re sauntering around the various museums and cultural icons. Top of my list are the National Science and Natural History Museums. Mrs S will be bimbling around the V & A and suchlike while I have a thorough geek-fest in Kensington. We plan to take in a couple of shows while we’re there too.

It will be interesting to visit a post-BREXIT Britain. I’m almost tempted to send all my UK contacts a ‘How does it feel to be free?’ greeting when the UK finally wrests itself loose from the choking tendrils of the EU. Hopefully in the next month. Thinking about it I haven’t been into Harrods or Selfridges Food Hall in a Donkey’s age. Which I’m quite looking forward to. It’s not so much the range of produce as the cornucopia of smells of a properly kept Fish and Game counter that tease the old olefactories. To a country raised boy like me it’s almost like going home. Even if where I once called home is over a hundred miles away. Now it’s several thousand and over ten years, but we are where we are and there’s an end of matters.

There’s also another small matter of yet another fence to mend. This time it’s the other party which will have to come to me, or at least down to the Smoke. I’m not spending good money hiring cars and booking hotels visiting someone who may not appreciate any olive branch I hold out. However, I’m jumping the gun a little. Best to hold my tongue and extend the hand of reconciliation. Even if none of the parties involved can be bothered to cross the pond to visit me. I know they can afford it.

However, I do so enjoy the old country in controlled small doses. It also pains me to see what it is becoming. Likewise Canada, increasingly divided and all in the name of ‘diversity’. Misguided ‘Hate speech’ laws creating privileged minorities. Police investigating non-crimes, all the while prioritising ‘thought crime’ like rogue tweets and off colour facebook posts over real crime, like burglary, criminal damage and assaults. Prediction; this will come back to bite the rule setters and enforcers. Very hard indeed. They depend on the public trust to operate successfully, and the current value of that trust is so far below zero it resembles the state of the Great lakes, which when I checked this morning had over seventy four percent ice cover. I’ll also say this; Laws which dictate thought rather than deed pave the descent into a really dangerous form of totalitarianism.

To wax poetic; boils like prejudice and hatred only heal after they have been properly examined, lanced, drained and debrided, if you’ll forgive the medical simile. To extend the metaphor, such poison is always best treated with free and honest debate. Shutting people up only lets matters fester until the only certain cure is high amputation. Which is a tactic tried by many totalitarian regimes, always failing at the cost of many innocent lives and eventually the ruling regime. It also destroys trust in the Police who are supposedly protectors, not persecutors of the general public. It is not their job to check someone’s thinking. Or is that just me being horribly naive?

Notwithstanding, say you think that Justin Trudeau is metaphorically a Weasel, Socialism is a murderous doctrine or that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with western democracy. Regardless of whether anyone finds those statements ‘offensive’ they should be considered and examined to see if they are true. Which they are. Even the most cursory reading of the facts will highlight the realities. If the law of the land is changed to suppress such opinions, what happens when these views become mainstream once more? Will the laws put in place to protect those opposed to such views be, like any captured weapon, be turned against their erstwhile abusers?

This is the danger of criminalising opinion. Opinion is mere fashion. It changes, and the mob it is meant to drive changes with it. The mob can turn in a heartbeat. When it does, you don’t want to be in it’s way.

Idle thought for my single US visitor; I think Bernie Sanders bears a strong resemblance to a deceased British far left politician from the 1970’s and 80’s, Michael Foot. See what you think. Well, it amused me.

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.

Digging my way out

Snow shifting over the last two days. Two 10kg bags of snow melt and a kilo of salt later and last night there was still a big lump of packed snow and ice on the drive. Then I found out that there’s another tranche incoming of up to six inches overnight. Bloody hell. I’d only just dug us out of the last lot. This is Victoria in British Columbia for heavens sake, not Nunavut above the Arctic circle, reputedly the place where Canadian brass monkeys come from. Fortunately it’s only a Summery two Celsius outside my window at the moment, I can tell because our Hummingbird feeders are no longer frozen. After getting rid of half the two foot deep berm of snow on our deck I’ve elected to leave our deck garden covered because the snow acts as an insulator and stops our delicate little plants freezing completely. It’s even worse at the Great lakes, we’re talking 49.3% ice coverage with Ontario completely frozen, which is not unusual, but the historical data for the last 3 years says we’re in a cold spell as of 2018 & 2019. See Screengrabs below.

Fortunately my best Lemon Tree plants are sitting aloof from all the white stuff on a nice warm window ledge indoors. They will survive. I’m not too sure about the other plants we left outside. Our Hummingbird feeders are being visited by some copper throated and green backed species, so they’re all right.

Back in the old country I see Theresa May has snatched defeat from the slavering jaws of victory, yet again. My wife thinks she’s being very clever and manipulative. I disagree. She’s clearly out of her depth. Her prevarication have cost the UK dearly due to the uncertainty her government has created. Had they just said to the EU “Bye chaps, we’re off at the end of March 2019, toodle pip. Thirty nine billion you say? Don’t hold your breath.” everyone in business would have known where they stood and made provision accordingly. Instead May and cohorts tried to do what their sponsors and lobbyists told them, which was betray the spirit of a democratic vote. She’s still trying to get a last minute deal when that time is long past. The EU wants what it wants and boo sucks to everyone else. Which will be it’s ultimate downfall. The French protests continue, with their ‘leader’ on trial for ‘carrying a stick’ at one of the protest flashpoints. Over in Germany, the AfD are gaining ground. Hungary is still being a real dog in the EU’s manger and let’s just not talk about Italy. Overall, things do not look good for the EU. When the UK leaves, the implosion of the EU will accelerate. Trade will continue and the world will still turn. A lot of worthless mouths will have to relearn some job skills. Or starve.

Youngest reports that it’s been snowing in the great metrollops, but not much else. She’s too busy sorting the legal fallout from other people’s foolishness. Oh well, all makes work for the working lawyer to do I suppose. She’ll never be short of remuneration.

Then there are the reported five thousand children who went ‘on strike’ to ‘save the planet’. Manipulated by activist teachers no doubt. In reality their ‘strike’ probably increased emissions by forcing the held up traffic they created to idle their engines. This is why the voting age should not be lowered. Children should be allowed their childhood, not used as pawns for the ideologically blinkered and fanatic.

Not that the activists actually look at what’s really happening in the big wild world (See above screengrabs). They live in their own bubble realities of victimhood and delusion and when the worst happens are not equipped to survive. Those of us who pay attention simply douse the outside lights, barricade our doors and ensure the larder is full. The howling activist mobs can freeze and starve. They are the authors of their own undoing.

Localised cooling

We’ve had yet another bout of snow last night. Nothing much, it just looks worse than it is. A couple more inches. Still, it’s been rather chilly of late, with the outside thermometer dipping well below zero Celsius most days. Not double digit low, but getting there. But hey, it’s Winter. Nothing really out of the ordinary for this time of year. Maybe a tad chillier, but then we haven’t been getting the sixty below recently experienced in Minneapolis and the Midwest USA. I think we may have hit minus ten Celsius last night if you factor in the wind chill from a Pacific storm that plonked itself unceremoniously on the region just after midnight.

Have just had the mixed pleasure of spending five figures of my own money on stocks and shares. An act which brings the shared assets of Mrs S and I closer to the magical seven figure mark. Which is quite good. We’ve effectively doubled the amount we both started with, which is nice. Far better than property and far less risky. To me, buildings are just non-realisable assets, or as I like to call them ‘dead money’. I’ve been a landlord and quite frankly the only way you really make money is capital gain over a ten year term (Don’t even think about the repair and maintenance costs). We’re not quite due a 1991 or 2008 event where property prices take a massive hit, leaving many with what is called ‘negative equity’ for five or more years, where the value of the property is less than the outstanding loan to pay for it. Our cousins down south refer to this financial state as ‘underwater’. A state I am taking great pains never to be caught in. Others have, and they have my sympathy. It’s easy to be smug when you’re doing well, but I’ve lived too long and hard to remember that the only difference between me and a poorer person is paying careful attention to my finances, squirrelling my gains away and not going crazy when lady luck is (Very rarely) generous. Yes I’m dull, but better dull than destitute.

There’s an interesting story bubbling up about the Trudeau regime intervening in a court case (SNC Lavallin). See Conservative MP’s little video below. If what she says is true then the suckers of Liberal Party corruption are firmly wrapped around the pillars of power in Ottawa. Not only that but it already looks like all the lobbying and crony capitalism has paid off. The company in question is already off the hook. However, the Trudeau Government may have taken it’s place. They were seen tanking the backhander. Mind you, if they run true to form, the right judge will be appointed and the case against Trudeau et al will disappear. Such is Ottawa politics under the current administration.

Here’s the National Post take on the situation;

Fortunately none of the companies I have put money into have any links with SNC, so I’ll just invest in more popcorn futures. Well I would if the power didn’t keep going off. Fortunately we had the foresight to invest a few pennies on a camping gas stove so we can have a cup of tea when out in the middle of nowhere on road trips. Well this is Canada and we do have a lot of nowhere to be in the middle of. Having dug it out of the closet I christened said piece of kit this morning when the power was out for twelve hours. Reminder to self; must get a manual coffee grinder because Winter is not only coming, it’s right here and it will test the best of us. And I will not be deprived of my fresh ground coffee.

Otherwise, Bacon; check. Flour; check. Water; check. Coffee; Yep. Tea; plenty. Salt, spices, a freezer full of provisions and a few cans of baked beans, just in case. One should always have a few cans. Just in case the power goes off for more than three days, which if the gales come again, is more than likely.

Snowflakes falling

What can I say, we’ve had snow here on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Not a great deal, not enough to trigger a ‘snow day’, just a strinkling for decoration. No biggie. Just make sure you have your cold weather tyres on and turn up as usual. Well I would if my desk required a commute. Which it doesn’t. Which at the moment is nice. The only downside is that you have to be really careful about how many hours you work. It is very easy sometimes to work over seventy hours a week if things get a bit hectic. Fortunately work is quieter at present and the powers that be less demanding. Maybe they’re hibernating? No matter, I just keep my head down and graft until my scheduled tasks are done and decline any further workload. On the grounds that I’ve got enough to do already. Besides, my ambitions have shifted away from being purely employment focused. It’s safer that way.

One thing occurred to me while I was watching a fine snow fall Sunday and Monday was all the talk of Martial Law floating around circa a no-deal BREXIT. It’s almost as if Theresa May et al are looking for a way to not deliver, which I personally wouldn’t put past her and her remainer cohorts. There’s an air of not so quiet desperation about the remoaner faction. It’s like they’re planning to act like a spoiled six year old on the losing side of a game, who runs away with the ball so no-one else can play any more. I have this awful suspicion they’re going to welsh on the British people, or try to provoke a violent reaction so they have an excuse to keep the UK firmly in the EU’s clutches, because actually getting on with running a country is such hard work don’cha know. Not that the alternative is any better. All Labour ever achieved for the UK was ‘managed decline’ and the Tories (and the country) need another Thatcher. Or at least something or someone the economically productive can feel secure about, because when they feel good the money flows, investment rises and unemployment drops. Which is good for everyone but extreme lefties in academia and those in the public sector.

Having worked in both public and private sector institutions I’ve come to prefer the private. Working for the public sector puts too many constraints on you as a person, far more so than in a large corporate. The work may be much easier in the public sector, but where’s the fun in that? Where’s the challenge, the adrenaline rush?

This worker has seized his own means of production like we all should and has learned ways of moving his resources rapidly, just in case the jealous beast of big government casts envious eyes upon that small fiscal redoubt he has built outside of the banking system. Because even banks can fail. Yes they may have all the money, but as in the case of BNP Paribas, the biggest French bank by market capitalisation, has had to retrench recently. Trading losses forced it to make cuts of almost half a billion quid. This is symptomatic of a general malaise across European investment banking. Nothing for customers to freak out about yet, but certainly a sign that the uncertainly about BREXIT and unrest throughout Europe is being felt further along the European financial food chain. A clean break would be far less painful. I’m moving my money out of continental Europe until the dust settles in five or ten years time. Covenant-lite loans will be Europe’s next downfall. The Euro is already down and has further to go. Which will be good when the big money finds a new safe haven in Sterling and the US Dollar.

While contemplating the above I took a time out to inspect our little Winter deck garden, I was amused to see our Snowdrops and Crocuses have punched their way through a thin crust of ice and snow to provide a little colour other than white everywhere. When the clouds part, the Crocuses have their petals spread wide in a huge YAAAY! to great the thin warmth of a Winter sun. Life is perennial like that. There might be snow and rain, but there will always be the odd flash of sunlight to lighten the gloom. Those are the moments to live for.

What else? Oh yes, never mind his state of the union triumph, Trump has by executive order escalated the trade war against Canada. Is it being reported? Not so much. Very little. In fact a crucial detail completely slipped under my radar. The FT missed it completely, despite the the relevant executive order being on the official White House web site. Canadian companies being given the big shut out from the USA? By the way, Obama did exactly the same thing back in 09, but our then PM Stephen Harper, had enough savvy to negotiate a Canadian exemption. Trudeau’s incompetent bunch of snowflakes are too focussed on feel-good virtue signalling than doing what’s right for employment in the great diverse North. He was even caught slagging off Canadian blue collar workers last year. If he wins the 2019 Federal election I’ll know something is amiss because he is not a popular figure right now. Only a concerted bought and paid for media assault can help him. What’s that Sooty? He’s given taxpayer dollar to that cause already? Well stap me vitals. Who would have thought?

Anyway, it looks like being a lively discussion on Friday when I finalise my buying picks. There may even be a significant opportunity. Canadian pipeline companies are looking interesting because they have just upped their prices at contract renewal time. This is because Trudeau’s Feds won’t let them build any more pipelines, a move which paradoxically means higher dividends for no additional infrastructure costs. True, the price of the shares won’t go anywhere fast, but the way my tax sheltered investments are structured, I automatically reinvest any share dividends, increasing holdings and thus boosting the income from a relatively limited outlay. Despite all the deluded wibbling about ‘renewable energy’, there is no ‘low emission’ power generation technology mature enough, apart from Hydro-Electric or Nuclear (both ideologically unpopular with the Greens, Liberals and NDP) to cover the energy needs of Canada’s growing population. In spite of what all the talking head prophets of doom say, ‘Fossil’ fuels aren’t going to run out any time soon.

At least the Lemon Trees are doing well

January has come and gone and my Lemon tree plants are sprouting new leaves on the windowsill of my office. What else? I’ve also just spent my yearly holiday allowance on a trip to Londinium this Autumn. Mrs S and I want to see all the non-events that will characterise the UK leaving the EU.

Otherwise life at Chez Sticker is plagued by glitches. A whole shedload of the wretched things. Nothing insuperable, just minor bits of grit in life’s ointment. Banks that won’t do what they’re told. Stuff which should happen in forty eight hours takes a week to ten days to set up. Which is a bit tricky when you’re under the gun and on a tight deadline. I’m having to postpone investments because of them. Which is a pain. I was hoping to get a tranche of cash moved to invest before the stock market rose too high. The Canadian tax man (Nice chaps – when you have good accountants) you see has given me a more generous allowance for investments for last year and this and I want to take advantage of the loophole before March 1st when the opportunity disappears. Then there’s the extra payments to HMRC to ensure my UK pension is nicely topped up.

One minor irritation is having to postpone closing an offshore account because of a policy rule change. A complication because the money sent to HMRC from that account has to clear before I can do the necessary. This is mildly annoying. Of course any differential will only be pennies, but nurtured carefully how those pennies mount up.

Turns out I have a knack for shifting money around. Who knew? All those years working my arse off for a living when I should have followed my true calling in international finance. Although my calculus is sometimes questionable, I can usually convert between currencies in my head pretty well and I’m making a more than modest amount each year off my stocks and shares. Better than all the pension funds and other investment vehicles I’ve put money into over the years. Nothing spectacular, just solid, steady tax-sheltered growth over the medium to long term. All nice and legal. Even if it is hard work from time to time. I could retire tomorrow but I’m not going to. Deferring payment means a better hedge against inflation and besides, I’d only get bored.

On the BREXIT front The Financial Times is still very Remoaner and becoming rather irritating to the point where I may well be cancelling my subscription. I want news, information, not opinion dressed up as so-called ‘facts’ to support a pro-EU aganda. My increasing infuriation is driven by the imperative that in investment, good and timely information is everything. Without that information the news media has no real facility.

So what’s going on out in Interwebland? Lots of interesting stuff. As my last remaining reader is probably aware, there’s been a lot of screaming and yelling over ‘Fake news’ over the last three years. Then, more recently there’s been a lot of tearing of hair and sackcloth and ashes over ‘journalists’ being fired from various left of centre media outlets. Now these two phenomena might seem unconnected, but what might have slipped under the radar is the cessation of funding to counter ‘foreign propaganda’ begun during the Obama administration under the Portman-Murphy sponsored ‘Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act’. Like with Trudeau’s extra funding for CBC and other like minded media outlets introduced in 2018. All the money under the respective legislation has been strongly suspected of going to media outlets that toe a specific party line. Or in the case of the USA, did go.

Listen to a more well-informed commentator’s view below explaining the ‘Learn to code‘ meme doing the rounds, where alphabet soup commentators have been paid very well while spreading misinformation to support their ’cause’. All the time insinuating that right of centre and centrist Youtubers and bloggers are little better than pro-Russian propaganda ‘bots. Let me explain; for years, said journo’s have slyly mocked ordinary working people who lost their jobs. Now the boot is on the other foot.

Mass media redundancies? Couldn’t happen to nicer people.

Only a couple more months to Spring. I have the feeling April 1st is going to be really interesting this year. At least for all the prophets of doom.

Update:  Speaking of doom, is it finally ‘game over’ for the Maduro regime in Venezuela?  If so, what will replace it?  All rather academic as the answers to those questions are for the Venezuelan people and no-one else.

Have I missed anything?

Apologies to my last remaining reader. It’s been a rather busy time what with the jobs, the end of the tax year over here and forthcoming pensions. You might think not having any money is problematic, but looking after your carefully garnered wonga, nurturing it, making it grow and blossom on the run up to retirement is even trickier. It’s probably why so few people are rich, or even modestly well off like Mrs S and I. Money is hard work, juggling four pension funds and a growing investment portfolio is massively time consuming. Regular meetings with lawyers, accountants and financial advisers, all of whom are having fits of the vapours over BREXIT. It’s a lot of hard work. As well as being powers of attorney for an elderly friend whose marbles are starting to rattle more and more with every passing month. The phone hardly stops ringing. Blogging has had to take a back seat with it’s figurative wrists shackled and mouth firmly duct taped shut.

So, BREXIT. Does anybody else get the sense that this is gearing up to be a massive non-event? I’m hearing whispers that the key players, at least those with any brains, have had two years to prepare for the exit and everyone will wake up to a big non event on the day, deal or no. The sun will still rise over the jolly old no BREXIT deal UK, the birds will sing, the rain will fall and people will still be busy working away at their jobs apart from a bunch of now surplus to requirements eureaucrats and sundry affected time-pleasers. Remember Y2K? I was in IT at the time, coining it from all the replacement of old Windows 3.1.1 and 95 desktops. All those rolling upgrades. All that money. All the travel to exotic locales like Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham (Sometimes on the same day). What a shame it came to an end. Hi ho.

One of the things I will be doing this year is changing my passport from the horrible maroon (All right, ‘burgundy’) EU thing I currently have as a dual national of Canada and the UK to one of the smart new stiff upper lip covers that can double as body armour, the cardboard covers are so solid. Judging from the sour grapes being exhibited from some of the rabid remoaners, I may need it. To those remoaners I would say, come on chaps, get a passport why don’t you? Travel a little, see the world, broaden your horizons. The UK has been a global trading entity since Phoenician times and earlier. Why should it shackle itself to the restrictions of the turgid old European Union which is just greater Germany? There’s a whole world out here. You want to know why so many North Americans don’t travel? They don’t need to! Admittedly there’s a lot of sheer fuck-all over here, a good deal of it between Justin Trudeau’s ears and they all talk funny, but that’s half the fun.

One thing we need to stop fussing about too is the whole alphabet soup ‘offence’ industry who have conniptive fits over what sex they are, as if anyone else out of a tiny subgroup cares. The last time I came across a genuine transgender / transexual he / she / whatever was off to get a pint with her / his / its mates. That was over ten years ago. I think he / she is dead now. Drug overdose I believe. This whole pronoun business is just bunk and helps no-one. As is sexualising underage children, which is plain and simple institutionalised child abuse. Not that I’m about to insult anyone simply because they are on a different part of the sexual spectrum to me, far from it, life is too short. I just walk on by. The whole grievance thing is just the terminally self-aggrandising out to bolster their petty little ego’s and stave off their own sense of worthlessness. The politicians who cave into them mere panderers who have a pre-booked place in the eighth circle of Hell, at least if Dante is to be believed, forced to eternally trudge around a shitty circular ditch while demons flay the skin off their backs. Must be getting quite crowded by now.

Anyway, I refuse to be bothered by all the harbingers of doom, be it increasingly farcical claims that humans are ruining the planet or all the economic Cassandra’s in the FT. It might get a bit sticky for a while but I’m confident of one thing; we’ll all muddle through somehow. Even if the daft and deluded manage to get Corbyn elected. Which is not a happy thought. Britain has had it’s brush with the idiocy of Socialist economic theory and it took a Thatcher to drag the country back into the light of economic recovery. Now it has the chance to be free of the would be globalist elite and regain it’s rightful place in the world as a trading hub for the globe. Although I’d increase the defence budget, just in case the Eurocrats do get their act together and produce a real army.

In the meantime

While BREXIT appears to be stumbling towards the much-feared ‘No Deal’ scenario with the UK Government in open revolt against Madame Tracey, I’ve been too busy to follow things in too much fine detail. Don’t know if the rebels have enough letters in with the 1922 committee to force her much-needed resignation, but I suspect they’re close. The worms in the FT seem to be turning, too, with fewer doom laden articles about what will happen if the UK leaves to the danger of leaving the UK a virtual vassal state, like with the much-vaunted ‘Chequers deal’. Maybe the managing editor has seen the light.

Frankly I think the old country will be far better off able to make it’s own deals. It was only ever the big corporates and the CBI that wanted in. I’d like to remind my last remaining reader that all the promises made about the benefits of joining the EEC / EU since 1970 onwards have fallen flat.

Over this side of the water Canadian’s privacy is being openly and arrogantly steamrollered by the Trudeau regime, with Stats Canada wanting all the banking records of half a million ‘randomly chosen’ Canadians per year in 2019 for the last 15 freaking years. Just for analysis you understand. Your financial data won’t be leaked, misused or abused in any way shape or form, honestly. To which the only sensible answer is a cynical yeah, right. Some future lefty politician will no doubt expand this remit to all Canadians, just to get a more accurate picture. Jesus Christ on a Bike! Not even the Canadian Revenue Agency (The Tax man) has that kind of power. Not without a godsdamned court order.

Which does not please me. Maybe I should be looking at selling my Royal Bank of Canada shares. Before they take a hit and / or the dividends plummet. I have no other exposure in Canadian banks.

Whole lotta shakin’

Well actually no. Despite three big quakes hitting within reach of Vancouver Island at 11 last night, all I can tell you is that the Sticker household might have been shaken, but not stirred in the slightest. Not really surprising as the tremors were geologically speaking on the other side of the Juan De Fuca fault zone. Which means that, although I was sitting at my desk at the time, I never felt a thing. Not a grumble, rumble or anything else going ‘umble’ in any way shape or form. Now this may be down to the quality of my office chair, which is very comfy indeed. However, my six ten inch(!) tall Lemon tree plants never moved a micron on their window-ledge perches. Nothing shook or even essayed the faintest shimmy. So I think we dodged a bullet there.

Now of course this could be a precursor to something I think of as the ‘Great unzipping’, where 700 miles of the North American West Coast undergoes a massive 9.0 plus Richter scale event, one which we’re often told is way overdue. However, when the Cascadia fault does go, we’d all better be good at learning to surf, really, really quickly. At least in downtown Victoria, where a three or four metre Tsunami would put a crimp in everyone’s day. The Sticker household not so much, as we’re a hundred plus metres above sea level. Although we have been hearing unexplained booming noises over the weekend, which might be the Yanks trying something secret out of Puget Sound, where their big Naval base is.

Central Washington University geology professor Nick Zentner has an interesting lecture on the topic. Could be another hundred and ninety years until the next great unzipping, or it could be tomorrow. Who says Mrs S and I don’t like living dangerously?

Update: At 12:02 PST today (Tuesday) I was mildly startled by a loud booming noise that actually rattled my office window.  Checked the online seismographs – nothing.  No quake reports, nothing in the newspapers or online news, nada.  But it was just like an explosion had happened nearby.  Yet construction explosions don’t sound like this and are always muffled by blast mats.  Curiouser and curiouser…..

Excuse me for a minute or two.

The new job I’ve taken on is one of those you really really hate after a while. Not because it’s that difficult, just that I have to interact with smug NPC bureaucrats who have to follow their obstructive rules ‘cos it more than their job’s worth to meet me half way. I don’t get this kind of dumb insolence dealing with the private sector.

Between them and my employers asking me to do the highly improbable, I’m having a real ‘Dave’ kind of a day.