Tag Archives: Observations

Peeback time

I was reading the National Post this morning, and just before delving into the Financial pages, I came across this little gem of a tale. Apparently there’s a type of paint with the property of ‘reflecting’ fluid. Originally designed to keep cars cleaner, it’s now being deployed around the Red Light district in Hamburg, Germany.

Watch the video. Yers, I know it’s in German, but who says they don’t have a sense of humour?

Suggestions for other uses on the back of a very soggy envelope please.

Update: How to make a low cost version of this moisture resistant finish using Anti-Perspirant and spray on plastic coating (Sorry about the Torch commercial);

Workplace violence

In the wake of the Clarkson incident, I’m left wondering at how the UK’s workplace culture has changed, for good or ill, in the last thirty years.

For example; when I first started work, it was a common occurrence to be abused, struck, slapped or manhandled by managers or ‘senior colleagues’. It was part of the culture. You either learned to fight back, sometimes with words, sometimes in other ways, or you walked. There was no ‘constructive dismissal’, no lawsuits and the Unions have been as much use as a wet hanky. You were expected to “Be a Man” (Pray tell, what’s ‘manly’ about letting others push you around?) or “Take it on the chin” (Not this chin matey). You stayed and buckled under, or you walked. During my working life I have done a lot of walking. Probably to my detriment, but I wasn’t prepared to take the crap that was being handed out, so I walked. Bosses who thought they could bully or intimidate me didn’t remain my boss for long. Truth be told, I’ve had a string of bad or plain abusive managers and I can count the good ones on the fingers of one hand, excluding thumb. The good ones, who took the time and trouble to show how they wanted a job done got the best out of me. Those whose management technique simply consisted of shouting until you got it right by trial and error, didn’t. End of.

70’s, 80’s and even 1990’s shop floors could be rough places. Apprentices were routinely abused and beaten if their face didn’t fit, or they were slow bringing the under foreman’s tea, or looked the wrong way at the girl on the production line that someone else fancied. Or held a tool in the ‘wrong’ way. Eventually you found out who the abusive people were and learned to keep out of their way. But sometimes you got in their sights, and then there was no way but the highway.

These were people (Most of them are dead – the world is a better place) who could make the most notoriously abusive TV Chef look like Peter Pan. People with such poor communication, leadership and management skills they could not be called managers, more sheep with delusions of being Genghis Khan. And there was no pleasing them if they took a dislike to you or thought were ‘too big for your boots’. At the time I was too bright to hide my light under a bushel, too big to hide, and too dumb to not talk back, which often made me a target. Until I developed sufficient self defense skills and a sharp, sarcastic wit (And the wisdom of where to apply it) to keep me out of the more stupid workplace fights. I also learned that people who considered me a ‘threat’ would often try and maneuver me into a fight when they had a few mates handy as backup, just so’s they could give the big guy (me) a pounding, to establish their dominance. Because I was bullying them? No, that’s never been me. I don’t bully. Quite frankly the thought horrifies me, which considering some elements of my past, might actually surprise a few people. I think I became a target mostly because my abusers mistook my gentle nature for weakness, my preference for solitude and personal space as a slight. In other words “A docile git” and not automatically their best mate or toady. Nor member of a preferred clique or peer group.

That was then, this is now; physical abuse of employees is a big no-no.

This isn’t to say that there is no longer any abuse in the UK corporate workplace; it’s just changed form. Abuse is no longer so physical, the threatening behaviour from less than competent management (and fellow employees) is still there. Now it’s more sly; meetings (More like tribunals) convened to penalise staff members into compliance. False or petty complaints. Square pegs are still hammered into round holes, but now the intent is to redesign the shape of the HR hole so that no matter what shape the peg is, it can never fit. Initiative is a thing abhorred and avoided at all costs. Likewise innovation. Employees not properly trained because they’ll only leave and take their precious ‘skills’ with them. Also if there isn’t a box to be ticked, the task does not exist and must therefore not be performed under any circumstances. Non-compliance is not an option. Bureaucracy rules UK. At least this was my experience before we upped sticks and took our great leap of faith. Canada has come as a bit of a surprise because the work culture here is geared more towards cooperation.

Anyway. My last, terminal, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die final word on the Clarkson fiasco; no film set gofer worth their salt would have dreamed of not laying on some kind of hot food for cast and crew after a cold and windy day on set. They’d have shown some initiative, asked hotel management to keep a cook on standby, called a caterer, or at a pinch gone off to the local takeaway to bring back a serious curry, maybe ordered enough fish chips and pizza for the entire cast and crew. Anything but a cold spread and surly “Snot my job” excuse. And they’d have actually gone to the pub where the cast were, or at least phoned to ask people up front what they wanted to eat. Then nobody, drunk or not, would have had any excuse to go postal.

So they’ve finally done it

Well there goes Top Gear, one of the last decent reasons for having a TV licence in the UK. The forces of BBC PC conformity have suspended Jeremy Clarkson from the show and suspended the show’s current season. Did old JC actually punch someone out? Yes? No? We don’t know, and no-one’s saying. Well there’s a surprise. A row over the production teams failure to lay on a dinner and Clarkson being a bit of a knob? Was blood spilt? Dental repairs required? Not that we know. Storm, teacup. Build a bridge and get over it for crying out loud.

That’s that then. The Malvolio’s have won. Much good may it do them. Theirs may prove a Pyrrhic victory. Top Gear has been a big earner for the Beeb for some time and now that revenue will disappear. Foot, bang, ouch! Not that the entitled offence seeking faction within the Beeb will see it that way, they’ll just demand more from an ever-shrinking public purse.

What the anti-Clarkson set don’t seem to understand is that the reason Top Gear was so popular is the three stooge-like antics of Clarkson, Hammond and May. None of whom could carry the show on their own, but put all three together and the chemistry really worked.

Not that I’m surprised. This is the last in a long line of manufactured ‘scandals’ concerning Jeremy Clarkson. Like for saying there was a ‘slope’ on a bridge (which could be taken both ways – their bridge over the river Kwai was a bit wonky). Or for saying that he vouchsafed the dreaded ‘N’ word, when there was no real proof, just accusation from po-faced attention seeking race baiters when he recited a children’s nursery rhyme that has the ‘N’ word as part of its original version. He’s been in the PC crosshairs for some time. Some might observe that he openly courted the notoriety. As an aside; work on the shop floor with many people of African heritage and you’ll hear them say the ‘N’ word out loud up to ten times an hour and more. Clarkson (only allegedly) saying it (or even stifling it as a joke) once hardly compares.

Yes, Jeremy Clarkson is a knob and a boor, but that’s half his appeal. He’s an allowed fool, that’s why he’s so damn popular. All over the UK and English speaking world, men well past the first flush of youth, no longer in original Adonis-like condition (If they ever were), waistbands straining, hair follicles diminished and greying, could always laugh at the antics of Jezza, the Hamster and Captain Slow, silently thanking their lucky stars that they are not really like the stars of Top Gear. Laughing at the teams silly stunts like building a mock space shuttle out of a Reliant Robin (My particular favourite) or destroying Caravans. Racing an Alpha Romeo against an Amphibious Quad bike across Lake Como. Pitting a Nissan against the world famous Japanese Bullet train. Envying their access to the worlds finest supercars and seeing those hyper expensive vehicles, which the average non lottery winner could only dream of owning, as somewhat overpriced. Yes it’s got a whole heap of horses under the hood, but it corners like a greased pig on glass.

No doubt libelous accusations that Clarkson has all along been a Savile-like sexual predator will surface. I can, even from this side of the Atlantic, hear the motors of slanderous anti-Clarkson spin begin to wind up to speed. Allegations will appear about his misdeeds, and whether they have even the faintest grain of possibility or not, the howling paedo-mob will be handed their torches and pitchforks to descend upon a man whose only real crime is that he publicly does not represent a narrow and soulless point of view. If I was Clarkson, I’d be instructing someone like Carter-Ruck just on the off chance that such allegations might appear. Force the accusers into court and demand costs. This is something he might already have prepared for. Just because he plays a fool on TV does not necessarily mean that he really is one.

On the positive side, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of him yet. Which might upset certain people. Bless. Cue ironic laughter dopplering into the distance…….

Update: Clarkson has coughed to the assault, saying he was ‘a bit drunk’ at the time and ‘manhandled’ the offending assistant. Punch or no, that’s an instant dismissal offence. So, that’s that. The end of Top Gear. Well, they’ll fire him, but it might get a bit contractually complex as doesn’t he own the franchise or something like that? There’s also the observation that had his politics been left of centre, he would probably have gotten away with it.

Another update: What did I say about Clarkson becoming a Savile like target? A BBC ‘executive’ is reputed to have pointed the first finger.

The same script…

It’s just my mildly eccentric observation, but is the Western world working to a script? I only ask because certain issues seem to be pushed across the board by politicians throughout the Anglosphere and associated nations. Plain packaging for cigarettes and Gay Marriage seem to be the two big smokescreen issues. I say smokescreen because they are blown up by the politico’s to say “Hey, aren’t we clever Mommy, we fixed it.” When there was nothing really to fix. The whole Gay Marriage thing (Hey, there’s a minefield) is a sideshow, hardly worth notice. You’re a homosexual who wants to get married – is that wise? Big deal. Go for it. Why do you have to ask anyone’s permission or is it a tax dodge? As for plain packaging, the world is in a state of war, teetering on a financial high wire and all the pollies can come up with is pushing the smoking ban? Seriously? Never mind the discredited ‘CO2 driven climate change’ balderdash. Who with an active brain cell believes that any more? All we hear about the continued failure of that supposition are excuses so poor they make ‘the dog ate my homework’ look like Pulitzer winning prose. Oh yeah, why are they so afraid of Islam? It’s a religion of peace, right? Riiight?

As an aside to the man made climate change smokescreen, I wonder how many ‘influential’ people are stuck with worthless ‘carbon credits’ that are currently worth less than pennies? Maybe those who call people who aren’t taken in by all the blather ‘Deniers’ have bet the farm on (or are heavily influenced by those that have) and are trying to recoup their investments in ‘renewables’? (Good luck with that) Right, haven’t they heard of not throwing good money after bad? Mmm, yeah. Considering the quality of most modern left of centre politicians, probably not. Not that the political right are any better.

All of the aforementioned wouldn’t be worthy of notice if these new laws were being enacted only in the USA for example. Yet the same policies are being pushed all across the Westernised globe. I suppose this must be the real downside of ‘globalisation’, the busybodies and prohibitionists have insinuated their oleaginous selves into positions of influence, pushing their petty agendas and trying to micromanage the rest of us (It’ll all end in tears and they won’t be mine) when they might as well be building sandcastles in the Sahara. Excitedly talking about ‘change’, but not really understanding what said desired changes might eventually turn into. Their dreams will probably end up mugged in a dark alley by the law of unforeseen consequences. Or a bloodthirsty Jihadi. Hey ho, it’ll all be the same in a thousand years. The rest of us will end up footing the bill. So, no change there then.

By the way, I’m not the only one to have noticed. Christopher Booker, the Tellytubbygrasph’s last worthwhile contributor writes about it here (H/T Richard North at EU Referendum).

It’s almost like there really is a global club as David Icke claims; say and think the ‘correct’ things and you’re likely to be admitted and given a free pass, even for the most egregious cock-ups. Disagree, and you’re automatically the bad guy, to be excluded and derided. Which is possibly why Putin is getting such a bad press as he refuses to play ball. No matter who killed that Russian opposition politician. Although I get the impression that old Vlad is too canny a chess player to pull a blatant stunt like that. Maybe I’m getting too old and cynical, but the West is encroaching on what has been Russian territory, actively supporting an openly fascist government, and we’re supposed to believe we’re the ‘good’ guys. You know, I’m not so sure any more. Behind all the student rhetoric of ‘left’ and ‘right’ (A lot of which is coming from students and academia) there is a genuine fascist agenda, and it’s not just the EU and increasingly, the USA, it’s the group setting ne rules. Excuse my observation; but wasn’t a rather nasty and bloody global war fought against several nations with that philosophy less than a century ago?

I’m left wondering what will it take to expunge that evil a second time?

Sod this, I’m going off to catch some sunshine and think some happier thoughts…… TTFN

When is a phobia not a phobia?

In certain circles, it’s become a cheap and easy toss-off (Usually made by complete tossers) to describe voices raised in opposition to an event, type of politics or whatever as ‘phobic’. We here at the Bill Sticker Sarcastic Society for the protection of Words must once more mobilise our keyboards and raise our screenstrained eyes to stare down the dyslexic forces of darkness. Even now our Volunteer legion of word jugglers, stunt editors and grammarian marksmen (and women) are dusting off their arsenal of semi automatic .303 Oxford English dictionaries and .50 calibre Merriam Webster spellcheckers. Trying to ignore the naked porn queens cavorting through the reference section (and you thought libraries were boring, huh?) girding their weary loins to do battle once more for today’s much victimised collection of syllables:

Phobia
Line breaks: pho¦bia
Pronunciation: /ˈfəʊbɪə
/
Definition of phobia in English:
noun
An extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. Eg: she suffered from a phobia about birds.  Medical definition here.

It is important to differentiate between fear and phobia. Fear is an anxiety which does not have to be irrational. Indeed, it is the act of an extremely rational mind to feel anxious in the face of a very real threat. One cannot buck the Autonomic response. Say for example you are in the vicinity of a large and hungry wild predator capable of killing you, or of a known to be violent person (or associated with their doctrine) carrying a firearm and whose stated intent is the extinction of your culture and everything you have come to hold dear including you. To suffer extreme anxiety in these cases falls firmly under justifiable fear. In neither case is the fear irrational. To call such a fear a phobia is fundamentally (I know) dishonest and possibly even maliciously mendacious.

Furthermore, to call a mild aversion to a ‘phobia’ is likewise inaccurate, and a cheap tool in the arsenal of louche propagandisers.  Like using the excuse “Sorry I’m allergic” when you really mean “I’m sorry but I don’t particularly like Tofu Sausages.” or “I’m squeamish but don’t want to sound like the self obsessed fuckwit I am.”  Real allergies can range from that which raises a light rash to a truly life threatening condition, throwing the body into something as dire as Anaphylactic shock.  Anything less is simply a food intolerance (and possibly not even that) which may only result in mild indigestion and excessive farting.  Conflating the two is simply being a complete diet obsessive tit or a drama queen who needs to get out more. So it is with Phobias. Blurring the lines between a rational fear and irrational phobia is simply a cheap “I don’t want to hear that – La-la-la. You can’t say what I don’t like or I’ll scream and scream until I’m sick!” shut up line and therefore can be discounted.

Thank you.

Why I vote for……..

The silliest candidate available.

Apropos of Sweet Fanny Adams; when I resided in the UK, it was the Monster Raving Looney Party. Even my late mother used to vote for them. Mainly, she said, because the mainstream parties had grown so unrepresentative of the everyday folk, that having a complete self avowed barmcake schlepping down the corridors of power in clown shoes would be a definite improvement. Yes, you’d still get roads and bridges to nowhere, but mandatory caravans as second homes for MP’s, population limitation to 63 million and an end to the war on terror, along with repatriation of anyone who emigrated to the UK prior to 55AD, which is a bit of tough luck for all those Saxons, Vikings, Normans, Huguenots and other johnny-come-latelies thinking that it was safe to take a breather and revert to their native accent. The OMRLP are also firmly opposed to Greyhound and Whippet racing to prevent the country going to the dogs. Which can only be deemed a sensible policy. Dog track goers might disagree.

Why I used to vote the Monster Looney ticket was mainly because the UK’s three mainstream parties were, and are, far sillier than any nonsense the ‘fringe’ parties can come up with. I mean, never mind the economy, the Tories main achievements in this term will be Gay Marriage and Plain Packaging for cigarettes. Which, lets face it, are hardly mission critical issues. Although if UKIP get a larger share of the vote on May 7th, I may have to modify this statement. UKIP I feel, would reduce the overall silliness quotient of the UK’s Parliament.
Although……..

Meanwhile, back towards the topic; in IT, when we want to say a software application application is complete and utter pants, we call it “Counter intuitive”. So bearing in mind their total ineffectiveness, the LibLabCon of mainstream UK parties can therefore be designated “Counter intuitive”. So can those institutions terminally infected by the PC virus like the BBC. So that no matter how many times a right of centre French politician says “No, we’re not connected”, the bimbo interrogator insists “Yes, but you love that Nigel Farage bloke and want to have his babies don’t you?” Without letting said politician finish, or in at least two places, even start their answer. No wonder the man in the street is increasingly losing faith in mainstream politics. It’s got so bad even the Guardian has noticed although the ‘globalisation’ attribution is missing the goal by a country mile.

Here in Canada the Harper Government has, for all its many faults, remained a steady hand on the economic tiller. Economically speaking, I wouldn’t trust any left of centre party like the NDP or Liberals because they simply don’t have a clue and would have strode in lockstep down the road to economic disaster with our cousins south of the 49th parallel. Just so no-one would call them ‘racist’ for not seeing the current President in his true colours. For the record; my sole criteria is; never mind his skin colour, is the guy any good at his job? Which in Barack Obama’s case, the answer has to come back as a ringing and emphatic ‘No’. Neither was Bush Jnr, but that’s by the by.

So, Harper and Co will probably get my first Federal Canadian vote this 2015 because overall they are far less silly than the alternatives.

Great bacon

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

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

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

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

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

Funny thing, life

A couple of weeks ago, an old mate I hadn’t spoken to for a couple of decades tracked my real life self down. He’s dying of a lung condition, poor bastard. Since then we’ve been corresponding via e-mail. Me trying to cheer him up with a few less than socially responsible anecdotes. Him bringing me up to date with the fates of a few shared acquaintances back in the old country (Remember so-and-so? A wall fell on him back in ’99). Playing the old nostalgia game as you do with old drinking buddies. What with one thing and another, it’s making me feel, not nostalgic because I don’t have fond memories of some people, but thoughtful. Mindful of who I am and how easily I could have shuffled off this mortal coil any number of times in my half century of life. Right! Who was that who shouted “Shame!”? Spawny eyed wassuck. Go stand in the corner. I hope you brought enough sarcasm for everyone.

Also mindful of my ancestors, who, it turns out were not exactly villains, but let’s just say consistently non-conformist. My parents. My Grandparents. Great Grandad was a right tearaway so I’m told. Always in trouble which almost, but never quite, ended with him hauled up before the beak. Including an incident over a spring gun set to scare water cress poachers. A few great Uncles who were less than pillars of society. A couple who never made it back intact from WW1. One who went down on the Lusitania (and we’re not talking about sex here). I think he was one of the Deck or Engineering crew, family history is a bit fuzzy after almost a century. Granddad kept his bedroom as a bit of a shrine at the old family farm. I recall seeing it when I was knee high back in the early sixties. A sepia portrait of a young man who never came home and an ageing poster of the liner itself. A made up brass framed bed and net curtains over a small window are the only other impressions I recall.

Other family legends include a Great Aunt who ‘took to her bed’ at the age of seventy something, only getting up for that last ride down to the graveyard thirteen years later. From her family memoirs came the wonderful little tale of the late Victorian era couple who never married despite raising eight children. She took in laundry and he worked as a road mender. Constantly managing to thwart the efforts of the local Minister, who apparently thought that having such a well known couple ‘living in sin’ on his patch was a personal affront. My Great Aunt’s version of the tale ends with the couple finally agreeing to walk up the aisle (in their 70’s with great grandchildren no less), then on the day the little old road mender goes missing. The local Minister, irate at this breach of promise goes searching for him, finally finding the little Parish Road Mender at his usual resting place, lying as though asleep at the side of the road with his road mending kit and sandwich box nearby. Dead as his flask of cold tea with a smile on his face as though he’d cheated the forces of conformity.

Then my own parents and the hows and whys I got brought into the world. Which makes me aware that all of my immediate forbears have been self employed and small business owners, yet Dad wanted me in an industrial ‘job for life’. Which never really worked out as such employment doesn’t really exist any more. Nor am I really employee material, I’m a maverick from a long line of mavericks. A self motivating self starter who can self manage and just hates control freaks looking over his shoulders all the time. Nor do I play well with others, mostly because I’d rather not play their games at all.

Wonder where I get it from? (Not)

Working class hero

New year in a couple of hours. At least in this time zone – it’s already New years day in Oz. There’s also a curious sense of change in the wind. Although maybe not the ‘change’ those on the big government side were hoping for to keep them in their cosy sinecures. Or the ones Lennon hoped for. He forgot that class is a veneer, an illusion, which can be altered by anyone with a minor talent and will to change. It’s the secret of self made people all over the planet. Want to be working class? Dead easy; take on an accent, move to a new town, slip into that way of life and you’re there. Want to be upper class? More difficult as the credentials are harder to fake. Ask any con man. Better to be (the toughest option by far) your own person. Besides, the notion of class is merely a hangover from feudal times. You don’t have to be in any class if you don’t want to.

As far as this blog is concerned, I’m going to put a few things together and post them, just for fun. See what happens when lightning strikes. (Igor! Throw the switch! Not at me! You just can’t get the henchmen nowadays, I blame the media.) I’m sick of bitching about the ‘do as I tell you’ brigade. Fuck ‘em. They don’t listen anyway, so I’ll be returning the compliment. Apart from sticking my oar in on the occasional blog post or lamestream comment thread. So, no change there then.

In future, I’ll be focusing a little more on the humorous, satirical, scatological and sarcastic. That and perfecting my Martini mixing technique. I’m developing quite the taste for them.

TTFN. See you next year.

Why worry?

Every day it seems, some public figure pontificates that life would be so much better if we just did what their pet academic suggests. Give up another freedom, do what you’re told peasant, because we’re so much more clever than wot you is, thickie. We will save the world if you just sit down and shut up (although I’d really, really like to know who they’re saving it for and what from – probably for themselves and the hoi polloi, surprise, surprise, won’t get a look in). After all, they’ve got all those letters after their names, nary a one from the bailiffs (That we hear about), so they must know what they’re talking about, right? So the rest of we mortals should just shut our moronic mouths, bend over, and take it up the chuff. Whether we like it or not. As usual. Yet wasn’t something similar out of their mouths in 2011?

Excuse me if I sound a smidge more grouchy than usual, because I’ve been having a fairly unfestive reduced fat, salt and taste Christmas at the in-laws this year. Both of whom are slimly built with BMI’s in the ‘normal’ range, doing enough exercise to keep two couples their age fit. Yet, according to their physicians, both have blood pressure and cholesterol ‘issues’ meaning both are on a permanent regime of statins. My drug use by comparison, is limited to a couple of painkillers every now and again. Maybe once a month, if that. My blood pressure, on a diet rich in fats, proteins and salt, although very light on grains and gluten, is (wait for it) a rather staid one twenty five over eighty at rest.

In addition, despite all the in-laws talk of how many fabulous, just fabulous dahleeng, recipe’s they knew, none of said comestibles were observed on or anywhere near our plates. So, following a less than happy yuletide visit I will say this; whatever my dear wife’s blandishments I’m not going there again because next Christmas I intend to be somewhere else. Berlin perhaps. China maybe. Or Alpha Centauri, the Andromeda galaxy, whatever. And all the festive seasons thereafter. Somewhere I don’t have to keep my bloody mouth clamped firmly shut because my wife’s sister and her husband have ‘mainstream’ (Islingtonite) corporate views. Sorry Bill, but you can’t say you don’t believe in man made global warming and totalitarianism, that would like saying you like to torture kittens. Notwithstanding, I rather like animals. In-laws by comparison, have never been observed to have so much as a goldfish around the house. They didn’t much like my dog while he was alive, either. Bill Sticker rule of socialisation 64B para 4: Never trust anybody who doesn’t like animals.

Sister in law hasn’t liked me since the moment Mrs S introduced me to her clan and sis-in-law greeted my appearance with “Oh, it speaks!” Now I know I’m a big quiet (mostly – honest officer) guy who can appear (very) intimidating at times, but really I’m just a big ol’ teddy bear who likes nothing better than having his back scratched, a good book and a quiet corner. But doesn’t much care for being prodded. Nor insulted to my face by a then total stranger. Then told I couldn’t simply ignore their bad manners or retaliate in any way shape or form. On last visit sis-in-law also called me paranoid for not wanting big government to oversee my every motion. Which firmly zipped my lip for the rest of the visit. If it wasn’t for my deep and abiding affection for my lady wife, I would have verbally ripped Sis-in-law a new one on the spot and walked out never to return, but you can’t do that (So I’m told). Anyway, that’s beside the point. She is a lifetime corporate drone with an awful letterbox grimace doing duty as a smile. So much so even I can see where the “A smile is evolved from a threat gesture” idea came from. Her conversation was limited to how rich and wonderful ‘her’ friends are. Repeatedly.

Speaking of which, now where was I? Oh yes. Academics and public authority figures. Now let me make this clear, I have nothing against others having a more extended education. Let those who are best suited to such study keep going to college or Uni. Let those degrees pile up. Let them expand their minds and delve into the very essence of matter and space / time and the tiniest nuances of DNA. Develop their intellects to Charles Atlas like proportion. Only I wish others would keep more of it to themselves instead of trying to kick intellectual sand in other people’s faces.

There was a time when Academics, oh best beloved, were rarer and stuck to their studies, mostly eschewing the world outside their dreaming spires and ivory towers, leaving the rest of us mere mortals alone. Now they twitter, tweet and publish, making all sorts of theoretical claims. Now pay attention at the back. I say, you boy! Remember that word, theory. Which some people confuse with postulate, which isn’t even enough to qualify as an hypothesis. Theories are partially ‘proven’ (Under given criteria), postulates are not, got that? I will be asking questions later. I hope you brought enough Scientific Method for everybody or the whole class has to stay behind.

Now all this would be fine if these wild postulates stayed corralled within the realm of academia. Academics should discuss and argue their postulates and theories. Between themselves. The problem is funding. Academics need to live too. Under the current system, to live they must publish in academic journals. Which is unfortunate, as a lot of ideas that really need the lumps knocked off them are published way too soon. Then politicians and activists sink their claws in and go quoting specific papers as gospel, when the publications in question are really just ideas for checking, duplication, replication, proof or rebuttal. Let’s say, ‘When reverse pummeling Transept A, B and C did K. I think it’s because K is a specific value of N, a subset of D which correlates with F. Does anyone else get the same answers?’ Which is what may have a lot of science researchers doing massive faceplalms when the media get hold of (or are fed) their carefully thought out postulations. Perhaps vouchsafing; “Oh God, I never said that K was related to mutant flesh eating bacteria at all. Can’t these people read. Who wrote that effing press release?” Then heaving a massive sigh of relief because publication means they actually get paid for the next year. Only a politician or activist on the make would ever claim “The science is settled.” Because science is never settled. Even Hawking says he got it wrong about event horizons (abstract here) and has since amended his views in the light of evidence. Peer review or no.

Speaking of evidence, are the polar ice caps and glaciers still there? Er yes. Polar Bears? Doing nicely thank you. World not ended because someone switched on the Large Hadron Collider? Still here. Is the Oil running out. Cheaper and more plentiful than ever it would seem. More superstorms? Not so you’d notice, no. The end of snow? Not in Las Vegas this year, or the year before. Ahem, are we noticing a developing theme here? Not doomed? That’s nice. Denier? Who’s them then? Not me. The only people in denial are the prophets of doom. You know who you are. Wankers.

/rantmode

To everyone else, a very anxiety free, safe, prosperous and above all happy 2015 (Yes, even to my insulting Sister-in-law). See you next year sometime.