Tag Archives: People

Important stuff

Well, that’s that. Eldest is now in the Fabled land of Oz. Flight went on time, landed on time, and according to latest message update her immigration visa acceptance was ‘a breeze’. She has a decent place to live, friends in country and even two very reasonable job offers. It threatened to get a bit emotional when we took her to YVR, but my final words into eldest’s ears before we saw her off at the security barriers were; “For god’s sake don’t forget to send pictures and tell us what you’re up to, or your Mum will drive me nuts.”

On the way back to our hotel we had a near-comical Satnag failure where the screen went blank at eleven on a very wet Vancouver evening. Mrs S stressed out at me, but all we needed to do was pull off the main drag, work out what turn we’d missed and memorise an old fashioned road map before setting off in the right direction. Wasn’t that fun? No. If there’s one thing guaranteed to disrupt domestic harmony, it’s driving and navigation.

Notwithstanding, Eldest has a place to run to if things go sour because sister in law now ensconced up Brisbane way can take her in. Mrs S of course is missing her firstborn. Which comes as no surprise. All mothers have this issue, be their offspring two hours or twenty eight years old, ergo my beloved will be less than her usual efficient self for the next two or three days. So I will step into whatever breach is necessary and smooth the path, reminding where necessary, forgiving as much as I can. Settling back to work, planning our next trips to Europe, Australasia and possibly the Caribbean for a little snowbirding in February. Not only that, but Youngest is due for two weeks at Christmas, so there will be another emotional trauma to deal with when she goes back to her London job. Hi-ho, it’s all part of growing up and being part of a global family.

Over here, the story about the Wikileaks Clinton email release and DCleaks Soros information releases is starting to gain momentum. Those in the know have long suspected the interventions and manipulations of various Soros funded organisations, but it’s like being a villager watching for suspicious ripples in a murky swamp that tell you where the Monster is. You can’t see the beast, what it’s target is or what it’s looking at, but you’ve suspected for a long time said critter is up to no good. And you know damn well it’s hungry because stuff goes missing.

Now the evidence is out there in the public domain, defended by a flimsy cordon of hatred-stirring middle class student activist types with their faux-battlecries of ‘Social Justice’, and claiming to be for ‘the people’ when they themselves have no real idea what ‘people’ are really about. ‘People’ are something you can’t learn at a liberal arts university. ‘People’ requires observation and over thirty years of experience. And when you’ve seen ordinary folk in all their light and shadow, will know in your bones that there is no such thing as ‘the masses’ or ‘the people’, just individuals trying to make their way the best they can. Some reekingly bad, some downright monstrous, but also many unaccountably good, the startlingly kind and outrageously decent. All flawed, all imperfect. All in a big, constant murmuration of societal motion.

This being said, itshould come as no surprise that there are those who want to control the motion so that they might personally profit from it. So it seems with the Soros funding machine, which channels millions of dollars (Yikes!) to various politicians and political NGO’s via a series of foundations and ‘charities’, including the ‘Open Societies’ and ‘Tides’ Foundations, which argue and push for more state organisation under the guise of ‘Saving the planet’. For example the news that ‘Global Warming’ pundit Al Gore had at least ten million USD a year bunged his way to ‘aggressively’ push the catastrophic warming agenda should not come as a shock. And there are several thousand more Wikileaks cats gleefully bounding out of bags regarding back door multi-million bungs. So it’s not really surprising that everyone who is anyone wants a taste. It’s easy money these control freaks don’t have to produce or sell anything for and ultimately feeds off society rather than contributing to it in a form of vampire economics.

The word from the sceptical side has always been ‘follow the money’ because the science for Man Made Climate Change / whatever is so obviously weak for any impending man made climate catastrophe. Indeed, certain astrophysicists have predicted that a new Dalton Minimum (possibly worse), when the climate was colder back in the 1800’s will occur over the next thirty to forty years. But there’s no slush fund money for such research, no cash for the activists, so don’t expect to hear much about it outside of academia.

I’ve even heard astrophysicists say that shifts in Earth’s molten nickel iron core have had some effect on climate via changes in our planets Magnetosphere. Which apparently ups the rate of cloud formation. See Svensmark’s work on cloud formation due to cosmic rays (The strange spelling is due to translation errors from Danish to English). Although some atmospheric physicists have claimed that atmospheric CO2 causes shifts in the Earth’s core, which is a mechanism that I have more than a little trouble with, at least from a physical modelling perspective. CO2 is comparatively speaking a very weak climate influence, swamped by all the natural feedbacks and how humanity’s CO2 emissions could alter movements and rotation of the Earth’s core has yet to be satisfactorily explained. Like the laughable claim that all the heat retained by man made CO2 emissions went off to sulk in the deep ocean because no one was paying it any attention rather violates the basic principles of heat transfer.

But we knew all this really, didn’t we? Well, you would have if you’d really been paying attention.

Kill Bill

kill-bill-c16Panic not dear reader. I have not been receiving death threats or any other similar abuse. Not that I care much about such things, I’m ‘too old for that shit’ as they say, and tend to respond with “Yeah, right. Just don’t expect it to be easy.” I’ve survived too much for too long to have any other attitude. Been there, done that, called CCTV. Now when random people call out abuse or other strangeness, I tend to be unimpressed.

Take for example Saturday evening where I was meandering amiably up Government Street following a pleasant evening in the Bard and Banker with Mrs S and Eldest. I was walking along ahead of wife and stepdaughter, noting that the fudge and maple syrup shop was still open when a young woman approached me, right hand stuck out saying “Hi!” Very loudly and cheerfully. A little nonplussed, I gave her my best perplexed look, but did not take my own hand out of my pocket. At which she walked straight past me and made some shouted remark about her thinking that I was a very nice person but…, or some such nonsense. She’d obviously failed to understand that not everyone wants to shake hands with random strangers, no matter how ‘friendly’ they seem. At which I turned, smiled sadly at her, tipped my hat and carried on walking toward our bus stop. My wife and stepdaughter glanced at me with “What was all that about?” expressions, to which I gave a shrug. I had no idea. Drunk kids are all part of the bell curve of human existence and nothing I haven’t come across before. I’d had a few glasses of red and was in a placid state of mind, so I took no offence. It was just a little strange, that’s all.

No, today’s thoughts are focused on the iniquity of ‘speech codes’, and why it is plainest folly to codify what people may or may not say in their own private lives, into law. The Harper Government did a number of good things, and one of those was to remove the ‘Hate Speech’ provisions from the Canadian Human Rights Act with Bill C-304. Now those cuddly kittens in the Liberal party want it back so nanny can tell us all how to think about a tiny minority of freakish people (I’ve met a number of pre and post-op TV’s and TG’s, and yes, ‘freakish is the right word) who most are not likely to meet or interact with, nor even care about.

Apparently the motivation for such idiotic legislation is to stop Transgenders and Transexuals offing themselves because someone said something horrible to them, or failed to call them by their ‘correct’ gender pronoun. Sorry folks, but the bad news is that TG’s and TV’s have the highest suicide rate of any section of the population outside of Kamikaze pilots on a Sake drinking binge. Self loathing and self destructive urges are hard wired into the physiology of the condition. Between 42-46% of Transgenders will actually self destruct. End of. These figures do not of course include suicide attempts as in ‘cries for help’, just those who succeed. There seems to be an endemic self loathing built into transgenderism, a lack of connection with tribe and family, connections which are essential to general psychic well-being in well-balanced individuals.

The above being the case, why is it so essential to shackle the mouths of the rest of the population to spare the feelings of a few who are rabidly poised on the razors edge of self destruction? Will we save them, those who are incapable of saving themselves? Probably not, no matter how much we try to spare their feelings. The sad reality is that no matter what you do, you will trigger these people simply by looking away from them or any other behaviour other than treating them like you’re their newest best friend. Like with Saturday’s random young lady, even inaction is seen as somehow offensive. It’s a no-win scenario.

It’s all academic really, if the politically correct do get their way and Islam becomes the dominant culture, as seems the intent, all the TG’s, TV’s, gays and hard line feminists will be first on their knees for emergency height reduction surgery or a free flying lesson from the very people they sought to empower.

However, I take heart that this is not a certain outcome. Bill C-16 may die. The political pendulum may swing back to point sanity and the bills PC idiocy will fade into the realm of deranged lefty student politics from whence it came. I may die before it does, the University system that nurtures such beliefs may fail even if the bill should become law, and who knows, the horse sense of sanity may even learn to sing?

Reasons why

Trigger warningWarning: this entry probably constitutes ‘hate speech’ (Despite being in a written format) as defined by the loopiness of certain Social Activists, who really need to go out and get proper, productive jobs to occupy their time. It may also shortly be against the law to write what I’ve documented here. At least in Canada if bill C-16 passes. So I’m writing this down while I can still legally do so.

As an aside; Social Activists often say they want ‘free’ speech, but seem to have a strange Stalinesque idea of what ‘free’ actually means. FYI boys and girls, ‘Free’ means unfettered, unrestricted, and may include stuff critical of your chosen cause that you may not like. Yet Twatter, Farcebook and Google have agreed to ‘police’ online debate on given topics. I’m not really bothered because when the next big thing comes along and refuses to sell out to them, watch their stock plummet. One of my Brothers in law thinks Farcebook is here “Forever.” I disagree. Ten years and the next generation will be saying “Face-what?”

But that’s by the by. No poorly thought through legislation backed by our foolishly foppish prime minister, or anyone else, can change anything. You don’t change people’s minds by shutting them up, jailing them, calling them ‘haters’ or lambasting them with any other pejorative.

Anyway. One of the things I’ve given thought to every once in a while, is why certain issues have become more prevalent in Westernised societies all around the world over the past few decades. Why the upsurge in transgender issues (Reportedly up five fold, whatever that means) and the increase in homosexuality? (Up 42.4% in Canada since 2006) What has changed? Were these people always there and just shoved under the carpet? Or is there a bigger issue, one that underlies the increase? A root cause, so to speak.

So I did what I always do, and that is to go have a root around in the professional and medical documentation on a given topic and read up on it. Rather than rely on knee jerk, dog whistle reactive dogma based on incorrect assumptions. I’ve learned not to trust the media (They sell drama, not news) or one source alone, but try to have a look at what the real experts are saying and see if it stacks up against the anecdotal. I think about it this way; anecdotal evidence on its own is not enough to make a judgement, you have to see if the observed empirical evidence concurs. If the two match up, and you’ve winnowed out the impossible, then what you have must be close to the truth, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, right? If it’s a fact, how can it be ‘hate’?

So; here’s the skinny, as they say. Or is that too sizeist, thinnest, fattist, or some other invented and wholly artificial grievance? Dear gods, the economy is in the tank and all the government can come up with is outlawing ‘hate speech’ to buy the votes of professional victims? Clucking bell.

Notwithstanding. Many emotional and mental health issues have their genesis in early childhood emotional development. Modern post industrial society creates many opportunities for child rejection, like parents who place children in ‘childcare’ within weeks or even days of giving birth so they can go back to work. Way before the child is secure enough in its identity to resist the stress of perceived abandonment. Regarding parents; oddly enough it doesn’t seem to matter if both parents are men or women. Or even that the primary caregiver is not related by blood. The important thing is the bonding and nurturing. So long as the child does not suffer feelings of abandonment and feels needed at critical junctures in it’s emotional development, no problem. When this does not take place the child’s sense of loss and fear opens the door to self rejection, known to create emotional issues in later life like transgenderism, homosexuality, depression, addiction and chronic anxiety. All of said disorders are known to be related to dysfunctional upbringings and the inner rage associated with perceived rejection, abandonment or failures of nurture by either or both parents.

Now when a person “self rejects”, the only variable is what they will reject. A healthy body, misalignment of sexual identity, gender, sociality or humanity are all things the emotionally damaged turn against. None of which, it has been proven, have any physical or genetic component. Nor can these conditions be caught or passed on like a disease.

So you can stand next to that odd looking woman in the queue in perfect safety because it’s not contagious. Although sniggering quietly to yourself is a suitable deterrent because they’re so insecure they think everything is all about them. If challenged, come back with a tart; “Yes? What do you want? I’m rather busy.” There’s no law against laughing to yourself. Yet.

Anecdotal observation and several studies indicate that dramatic increases in such disorders have occurred since the mid and late 20th Century. This phenomenon is well known to psychologists but often not acknowledged by the psychiatric profession, who actually pander to transgender dysfunctions with hormone and surgical interventions. The intent being to placate these people’s troubled psyche’s when instead a given patient should be sent to a social psychologist who can help the afflicted reclaim their identities and learn to deal with the rage of perceived rejection that lives at the heart of their disorder.

Surgery and hormone treatment for transgenders is often seen as the solution, but if that is the cure, then why the huge recorded post operative suicide rate? Study here. This uptick in self destruction is attributable to the fact that hormone treatment and surgery and the subsequent public validation of their new gender identity only sublimates the individuals self rejection, confirming that their original gender identity was worthy of rejection, and ultimately resulting in the ultimate self-rejection of suicide. To quote from the study;

It is generally accepted that transsexuals have more psychiatric ill-health than the general population prior to the sex reassignment. It should therefore come as no surprise that studies have found high rates of depression, also after sex reassignment. Notably, however, in this study the increased risk for psychiatric hospitalisation persisted even after adjusting for psychiatric hospitalisation prior to sex reassignment. This suggests that even though sex reassignment alleviates gender dysphoria, there is a need to identify and treat co-occurring psychiatric morbidity in transsexual persons not only before but also after sex reassignment.

Which is a waste. Not only of life, but of the valuable health resources (Operating theatre costs, post operative costs, specialist staff, counselling, drugs, etcetera) expended to changing their gender. However, Trudeau can pass his silly law banning ‘Hate speech’ against a few hundred (?) individuals but it won’t address the problem, because transgenders will still keep self destructing at an alarming rate.

Downtown again

Afternoon, downtown Victoria having recently returned from the USA. The population of ‘street people’ a.k.a. beggars appears to have more than doubled since I last meandered around Fort, Douglas and Government Streets. Might be just a seasonal thing, might be to do with the increase from the homeless encampment back of the court buildings. I’ve got to the stage where I just tune all the begging out and carry on with where I’m going. Same for those raising petitions for ‘Transgender rights’ and suchlike. Frankly you couldn’t pay me to care. I’d probably raise an eyebrow if a person in a dress stood next to me in a public toilet to use the boys urinals, but so long as they keep themselves to themselves I’m not bothered. I’ve spent too much time in Paris and elsewhere to be fazed by such weirdness. Although if I still had small children, my reaction might be a leetle bit more defensive.

However, closer to the camp, Victoria’s usually moribund crime rate has rocketed 46% with all sorts off bad manners. For example; while having coffee yesterday, I observed more than the usual number of uniformed officers on foot. Not in a hurry, just walking purposefully as if they were on the lookout for somebody or something. Which piqued my curiosity. My reasoning is thus; if the local coppers are, then some kind of game is afoot.

I’ve also noted new security measures going up all around downtown in a subdued, very Victorian manner. New railings and barriers in car parks etcetera. I mean the crusties are not a real problem for those who used to people being less than well behaved, but for others who have a fit of the vapours and call 911 on the silliest of pretexts…. Well, perhaps that’s another story.

As for the camp itself, the hearing over its existence has been put back to September, something which a lot of people are not terribly enchanted about. Me, I think the whole issue is borderline out of control since well-meaning, but totally witless, people authorised the provision of plumbing and flush toilets instead of simply kicking out the less desirable elements and providing homeless shelter spaces for those in real need. Which act has made it more comfortable for the less than law-abiding and left local residents with an escalating crime problem. See the comment from ‘Wafflesdemonslayer’ on this thread. I’ll lay odds that’s not the only story of this nature.

At present Mrs S and I are contemplating a move away from Victoria itself. Working online as we do, we don’t need to be this close to downtown as the rents are too high and there’s not enough quality entertainment there to keep us coming back. On the other hand, if increasing crime sends over inflated property and rental prices spiralling downwards, I might be willing to buy in and campaign hard for the nuisance to be removed. On the other hand, knowing how wringing wet some vociferous people are around here, I’d probably be backing a losing horse.

Just as a fantasy exercise; I wonder what would happen if someone with real money wanted the crusties gone? Say they hired four dozen private security guys from off island to wash the camp off the map in the small hours of the night with fire hoses. The local hipsters get plausible deniability and the opportunity to virtue signal frantically about how horrible someone must be to be so mean to all these poor people. The less desirables get a serious eviction message and the crime rate takes a nosedive. But I don’t think anyone round here is really that ruthless. Not that I’m advocating anything of that nature, but it’s a thought.

A more palatable alternative might be to get the local cops to strictly enforce existing bylaws forbidding booze and other intoxicants from being consumed in BC’s public parks and confiscating any containers found. Back it up by threatening the liquor licences of stores who knowingly supply the camp. As it is in a public space, a tent there is not covered by legal restrictions on searches, so, no need for warrants. Sure it’s harassment, but the camp itself is already a source of harassment for local residents. Not that some seem to be interested. They’re more interested in painting the crosswalks.

Heavy sigh. We’ll see what this years tourist season brings.

Après le déluge, nous

Two weeks into our road trip and we’re out of Houston and in New Orleans. The storms have passed and the sky is as clear as if nothing has happened. Our first morning in Houston was another matter. Lightning, thunder and the car park and road outside at least two inches deep in water. All we could do was stand and watch the fireworks, mainly because I didn’t have to drive and didn’t really want to. Road trips are supposed to be fun, right? An adventure at least. So far it has been, but Houston is a business town more than anything else, and although the parks and museum districts are interesting, the rest, well, I’d give it a miss next time round.

After the morning rains passed, we took the bus into the Museum District, only to receive a friendly warning about walking around looking like Canadian tourists from the transit station security people. I can see what they mean, our end of Houston did look a bit worse for wear even after the flooding, and on the way home we had our first real stoner encounter. Talk about a zombiform human. A white guy in his 20’s, buzz cut sandy hair, hollow, hopeless eyes and a shuffling gait. He managed to sneak up close behind Mrs S, but I got her on the bus before he made contact. He was probably harmless, but my beloved certainly isn’t. I probably did him a favour by whisking her away.

New Orleans is a totally different kettle of seafood. It’s a party town, and we spent all nof today wandering around the French Quarter, finding one of the best breakfast spots in town (Camille) and inadvertently wandering into a gay bar for a beer. All of which completely failed to faze either Mrs S or myself. Maybe I’m just getting to old to worry about that shit any more.

I’ve decided I like New Orleans. It’s everything Vegas aspires to be but with attitude. Less of the glitz but more about people. The Big Easy has a history and culture which Vegas lacks, but more than that. At the grass roots it has a real beating heart made up of people. We had more small kindnesses come our way from the locals than in our entire journey so far. Nothing much. Unsolicited directions to great eating and sightseeing experiences. We got a little gentle backsass from certain locals, which we gave right back and got a laugh out of each encounter, which was fun. Even if the local accent is a bit broad, drawly and difficult to understand with all the background noise. Which made us want to return and do the place a little bit more justice than we could in our schedules forty eight hours.

New Orleans is a town not afraid to have some fun at it’s own expense. To be honest, if I was ever forced to walk the streets again, I wouldn’t mind doing it there.

I close my eyes

Successful day today.   I’m ahead of the game this morning, both in work and study.  So, it being a bright beautiful British Columbian day, Mrs S and I went out to sort out some last few details before we pootle off on our grand six week trans-american adventure in just over one weeks time.  We’re erring on the side of caution on our trip back across the Rocky Mountains and opting for the southerly route via I-70 via Colorado Springs and Grand Junction to miss the snows, then picking up the road north to Salt Lake City and Yellowstone Park.  We hope not to become asphyxiated by either the Sulphur or Carbon Dioxide emanations of the big caldera, or the Marijuana fumes while we’re passing through Colorado.  We’ve even set time aside so I can pay a flying visit to the Bonneville salt flats.  If they’ve dried out enough to drive on by mid May.

While Mrs S was shopping for last minute springtime clothes, I eschewed the normal respite of the Husband chair and sat outside in the main mall to enjoy the sunlight.  I put on my shades, closed my eyes, kicked back and let my other senses take over.  Why?  Let me explain.   When I was very small, I had a morbid fear of going blind.  No idea why, I just did.  Small children left to their own devices for too long often develop eccentric world views and I had a fairly solitary early childhood.  So in order to prepare for what I mistakenly thought was inevitable, I used to close my eyes and tried to use my hearing, smell and touch instead of visible light to fix my position in the world.  To train myself for the worst, if it happened.  Nothing serious, just trying to work out where I was, and what all the various noises and smells around me meant.  How the sound echoes off bare walls and in heavily furnished rooms.  Trying to use my ears and touch alone to echo-locate myself in the confines of my room.  Developing my sensitivity to sense the kiss of air on the back of my neck as someone passes close behind me, the sound of their footsteps dopplering from right to left, the scent of their body, perfumed or not if they come close enough.  Sensing the very electricity of their motion through the world, from the sparkling erratic uncertainty of small children, the fizzing of their older peers, crackling discharge anxieties of the born worriers with their erratic shallow breathing.  The soft grunts of an extremely overweight person as they make their heavy footway along the tiled mall.

As a boy I used to cheat, slightly opening my eyes so I had a visual memory to associate with the sensations surrounding me.  Now I don’t have to unless the smell is so obscure or the sound unfamiliar it falls outside my aural lexicon.

When you close your eyes the world of the other senses opens like a flower, swamping everything that sight normally blinds you to.  What is that approaching grumbling noise?  An Earthquake?  A massive truck?  Or more prosaically a deliveryman’s steel wheeled sack truck on concrete?   As he passes, a waft of Pepperoni, dough and cheese tells he just had pizza for lunch.  The “Yeah?”, “Right.”, and “Mm-hm”, “Well he like er..” and “She like er….” of multiple random cell phone conversations within earshot.  The meaningless squealing of teenage girls as they navigate their developing social vortices.  Does anyone really listen to themselves?  Or is that not the point?

Then the distinctively fleshy, slightly foetid, hormone heavy smell of a pregnant woman insinuates itself into my educated nostrils.  I can hear her behind me, the mildly waddling, shuffling gait, hesitantly stopping in front of the women’s clothing shop behind me, presumably looking enviously at all the elegant clothes she aspires to get back into when her child has come into the world.  I don’t know, there are things sound and smell alone cannot tell you, but the scent of a woman in late pregnancy is quite distinctive.

All the time the sheer background whispering roar of humanity and muted traffic noise passes by a single seated figure wearing sunglasses, head tilted slightly back, small smile ghosting across his face, precisely in the moment.  Privately wondering at the magic of it all and quietly praying that no-one interrupts his solitary enjoyment.

Then at the edge of hearing, a set of familiar footsteps that I know like my own heartbeat. Behind my shades, my eyes open and smile broadens.  “Hello love.  Got what you needed?”  Time to move on.  The rest of the day beckons.

Dictionaries are for everyone

I’m going to start keeping a dictionary by the front door. Let me explain; I have put up a simple ‘No soliciting’ sign so that Mrs S and I can work from home without unnecessary interruption. Necessary interruptions include delivery of ordered goods and cordially greeting those with an appointment. Unnecessary interruptions are canvassers for whatever purpose, door to door sales people and anyone who has not let me know they’re coming (Friends and family are exempt from this rule).

Yet still there are people who ring my doorbell to try and sell me stuff or worse, use emotional blackmail to try and wring twenty bucks a month direct from my bank account. I had one this afternoon who said; “Don’t get mad, I’m not soliciting.”
“Okay, what do you want? I am quite busy.” I stated, already knowing where this conversation was going.
“Can I just show you this leaflet for..”
“That’s soliciting. Good day.” I saw no benefit in prolonging this conversation with someone who seemed to have failed basic High School English. So I closed the door and locked it firmly behind me, not forgetting to loudly affix the safety chain.

Honestly, what is it with some people? Can they not understand simple written English?

Pronunciation: /səˈlɪsɪt/
VERB (solicits, soliciting, solicited)

1 [WITH OBJECT] Ask for or try to obtain (something) from someone:
he called a meeting to solicit their views
[NO OBJECT]: don’t solicit for money
More example sentences Synonyms
2 Ask (someone) for something:
historians and critics are solicited for opinions
3 [NO OBJECT] Accost someone and offer one’s or someone else’s services as a prostitute:
(as noun soliciting) although prostitution was not itself an offence, soliciting was


Late Middle English: from Old French solliciter, from Latin sollicitare ‘agitate’, from sollicitus ‘anxious’, from sollus ‘entire’ + citus (past participle of ciere ‘set in motion’).

General usage:
I solicit, am soliciting, have solicited
You solicit, are soliciting, have solicited
He solicits, is soliciting, has solicited
She solicits, is soliciting, has solicited
They solicit, are soliciting, have solicited

In short, ‘no soliciting’ can thus be defined as “Don’t ring my doorbell to try and sell me something I don’t want, or otherwise waste my time. Got that, bozo?”

Why the dictionary? Oh that’s not to explain anything, that’s to hit them with if they won’t go away.

Gun crime

If you open a newspaper or read an online news aggregator about guns and shootings south of the 49th Parallel you might be forgiven for thinking its Ker-razy down there with people being gunned down on every street corner. Well, pardon me for being a bit sceptical, but I’ve been to the States a few times, and the only guns I saw were on the hips of Police officers and the odd sporting goods store.

We keep on getting told that gun deaths are this and gun crime is that, so I thought I’d have a look at some fairly reliable up to date (2013 / 2014) sources instead of the panties-in-a-bunch hysteria that passes for news nowadays. For the USA, the stats have been culled from the FBI’s resource pages. Never mind about posturing by bought and paid for politicians, let’s see what the cold hard data tells us, as well as taking a gander at 20th century violent crime stats. Like in the UK, the murder rate peaked in 2001 / 02 (9/11 and all that) and has been on the decrease ever since.

The USA for example, is now almost twice as safe per 100,000 from murder as in 1960, for example; 1960 saw 9,110 homicides out of a quoted population of 179,323,175. Now if we do the same exercise for 2014, there were 14,249 homicides (All causes) out of a much higher population of 318,857,056. If you care to examine the data tables, homicide in the USA has become an even more rare event in 2014. That’s despite all the scawy stories that we’re even more dooooomed than last week. Ooo, and it’s so ‘unprecedented’. As for being shot by a Law enforcement official, that’s a gnats bollock more likely, but not much. At least in terms of deaths measured against population. The same seems to be true across the Westernised world. The figures do not lie.

Gun crime? I think the answer is right there in the statistics. Most of the gun murders in the US at least, appear to be in the Southern states. At a first glance, California and Texas look well dodgy, with urbane gun controlled California outdoing those gun-totin concealed carry Texans by a country mile. Yeehaw pardner! I think. What is more telling are the stats referring to homicides by age, sex, and ethnicity.

Handguns do, at least superficially, seem to be the major problem. But the stats make no distinction between legal and non-legal ownership. Which is something I can’t seem to find any information on. Although a cursory reading of the FBI’s 2013 homicide statistics indicate that the majority of gun killings are down to African-American and Hispanic males between 16 and 30 years of age. Which for most people should not come as a massive surprise. So is the answer a blanket ban on anyone from that social grouping under 30 owning a handgun? Which would only take the guns out of the hands of the law-abiding, because, you know those criminals, well they don’t obey things like laws….. Ooo, and wouldn’t that be ‘racial profiling’? So much better that people get killed than a few get racially profiled, eh?

As for ‘gun-free zones’ well they’ve been a great success, haven’t they, accounting for ‘only 13%’ of all ‘mass shootings’? Please note; the FBI defines a mass shooting where ‘four or more people are killed’ and the ‘Everytown’ published research on this topic has been described as ‘highly misleading‘. So if only three got cut down in their prime, or there wasn’t an obvious sign up, sorry chums but it just doesn’t count. Except to all those poor bloody bereaved family members who thought their precious ones were in a ‘safe’ place. Be it an Army base (Contrary to popular opinion, soldiers do not generally go around armed on base), school, temple, public office or even a coffee shop with a home made ‘gun free zone’ poster taped to the door. ‘Gun-Free’ zones are no use at all unless it is impossible for anyone with a firearm (legally held or not) to get in.

Right, so what’s the answer? The Freakonomics team came up with the notion that abortion on demand reduced the number of single parent households and reduced crime overall (With an 18 year lag). Which certainly appears to be the case. Fewer unwanted children with low social expectations and lower self esteem is obviously a good idea. A stable home life with strong role models has always been a key factor in preventing kids from going off the rails. Teaching that violence is not the best first idea when attempting to resolve disputes also has merit, but that’s only going to work if those testosterone charged and frustrated young men who seem to do most of the killing find a better way of burning off all their untapped aggression. Which won’t happen by giving them Macramé and poetry classes, or simply taking the guns off everyone. The killers will only use illegal guns, or resort to knives, and when the knives are taken away, golf clubs, baseball bats, rocks and eventually their bare hands. Okay, so no real answer there……

On the other hand, speaking as someone who, as a young (and sometimes very foolish) man who used to run with the rougher crowd, I feel the answer to gun crime, and homicide in general may be found outside the simple knee-jerk ‘ban it’ mindset. Martial arts clubs (Especially boxing; see this UK parliamentary all party report on it here and this US based example), serious competitive sport, or somewhere a strong physical role model can make an impact or mentor otherwise aimless and rebellious youth. Because young men in particular need robust peer group based self esteem and somewhere to burn off their natural aggression. Which whilst not the complete answer, will help divert their natural violent impulses from manifesting in more destructive ways. Like the intoxicant fuelled gang lifestyles that only add to the violence. Or social isolation, where those lacking the communication skills needed to negotiate their way in the world occasionally boil over or ‘go postal’.

Here in Canada, we generally have lower crime rates because the culture is different and most kids seem to be trained to seek non-violent means of ‘conflict resolution’ from an early age. Here we have an overall homicide rate of 1.45 per 100,000 for 2014, although you can easily double that for Toronto and Montreal. In BC, you’re more likely to get snacked on by a Bear or Cougar than shot, even in the gang enclaves of Abbotsford and around East Hastings in Downtown Vancouver.

It’s rather ironic, but perhaps controlled gladiatorial punch-ups might prove the best short term available answer to violent (and therefore gun) crime? As well as good, intelligence-led policing like that which seems to be working in Manchester, UK. At least until the demographics and culture have time to readjust to a less violent ‘normal’? For example; first time juvenile offenders sent to ‘sweep the gym’ for a year, just to knock the corners off them, rather than do expensive jail time in what have been termed ‘Universities of Crime’ (A.K.A. Prisons)? Maybe some form of legalised ‘fight club’ where the violent can learn that getting hit hurts, so maybe it’s not such a good idea to hit others. Hmm. Co-opt ethnic (or non-ethnic) peer groups into competing rather than killing via subsidised sports facilities. Ex-Military (Preferably combat veterans) would be the ideal recruits for such a long term program. Someone with a few rough edges who can earn and hold the respect of otherwise feral youth. Give them a decent raison d’etre.

You know, it’s such a crazy idea it might just work…….. And no US President would ever have to cry in public, ever again……..


Went to pick up Mrs S from her exercise class the other night and as I was driving through downtown was surprised to see a mini tent city had sprouted opposite Christ Church Cathedral near the junction of Quadra and Courtney Street. I knew things were tough, but it was the numbers that caught me off guard. We’re used to street beggars populating every street corner, but it seems a whole new influx are arriving to take advantage of the city bylaw that allows camping in city parks up to 7am in the morning. Here’s a Shaw TV special on Victoria’s problem panhandling (Begging) which barely scratches the surface.

Victoria, and BC in general has a homeless problem. To be frank it has everybody else’s homeless problems because the winters are generally mild and the culture generous and tolerant. A rough straw poll has down and outs from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and everywhere else, not just locals who have fallen on hard times. Local provision of homeless shelter places is (according to various sources) 175, with an additional seasonal 110, but it still doesn’t seem to be enough. My cynical side tells me it never will be. When the snows and real cold hits at the end of January / early February, even in the temperate climes we enjoy here, the city is going to be carting off human popsicles. As usual.

Which leaves Victorians with a problem. You can’t just let people starve and freeze to death, but how many have to turn up before downtown starts to get serious public order problems? More dependent people means more strain on local government, which has to cut other services or raise taxes to pay for all these extra mouths. Bylaw enforcement alone is currently costing the city CAD$700,00 a year and in September 2015 the figure of CAD$50 million (Now cut to CAD$30 million) was requested to build and run 367 housing units for homeless people. That’s right, fifty fucking million dollars, albeit over fifteen years. The additional taxes needed to raise this amount will put pressure on private landlords to raise rents, possibly resulting in even more homeless people. Then what? What with depressed resource prices, the economy not going anywhere fast, there will be less money overall to provide shelter and food. More beggars competing for fewer donations. Less tourism money as people get put off from return visits by being importuned at every street corner and then more cops needed to police the panhandling.

It’s got to the point where Mrs S and I are thinking of moving and buying a place in next door (and less expensive) Langford or Colwood. There’s no real economic advantage for us being this close to the downtown core, and so long as we have a viable fast Internet connection we can work from anywhere.

Now the homeless problem isn’t currently as bad as East Hastings in Vancouver or Seattle across the border, but it seems to me from an eyewitness point of view that despite all the money that seems to get thrown at the issue, homelessness is a bottomless pit. A slough of despond which takes a good chunk of determination for the afflicted to haul themselves out of, because no-one else can do it for you. I’ve been there. Had to live out of my car for a while a couple of decades ago and know how bloody cold and uncomfortable it can get, so I’m not totally unsympathetic.

It’s my observation that what keeps many people homeless are the little ‘luxury’ items like alcohol or drugs that they might take, just to make themselves “Feel a little better.” or take the edge off their misery, whilst at the same time prolonging it. I can tell you from personal experience that getting and staying out of that noisome hole takes willpower, persistence, and not a little luck. The intoxicants and non-essentials have to be ditched and every resource garnered to find work and a place to live. Anything but food and shelter has to take a back seat. Smartening up, swallowing pride and letting the slow burn fuel the push towards renewed prosperity. It’s a long, hard road with no short cuts and lots of potholes.

Sometimes I think the whole issue is like the foreign aid conundrum; give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he can feed his entire family. On the other hand; wells can be dug, irrigation taught, fish ponds created, seeds provided and the means to get produce to market improved, but if afterwards the buggers simply sit on their arses chewing Qat all day, or fight over everything, then you might as well have done nothing for them in the first place. Devil, deep blue sea…………

As for that New Years Eve business in Germany…. Can I join the Greek Chorus saying “We told you so!”

Tough love needed

Every week it seems that some entitled University student or other gets their panties in a bunch about something, whether it’s the racist ‘Rhodesmustfall’ campaign or some sensitive little petal getting all het up about ‘safe spaces’ where they are not able to see or hear anything that might possibly upset them, including people of another gender or ethnicity.   Not that there’s any such thing as a ‘safe space’. I was rather under the impression that Universities are places you go to learn things rather than just kick over apple carts, or is that just me being hopelessly naive?  Maybe the University authorities need to exercise a little tough love and ‘send down’ the odd less than diligent protestalot student once in a while. Rhodes scholar or no. I think ‘no tolerance’ for abuse of any sort (Including against University institutions, employees and faculty members) should be the policy, but that’s just me.

As for safety, should we not be teaching these ‘Childults‘ that there is no such thing as a ‘safe space’ because all risk is relative?  If these people truly want to be safe they’d never consider even crossing a deserted street because who knows what might come along.  They shouldn’t even think about applying for a driving licence or getting into a car because have you seen the UK road death figures lately?

Deaths for 2013
Pedestrians; 398
Cyclists; 109
Motorcyclist / Pillion; 331
Car occupant / driver; 785
Other; 90
Total road deaths; 1,713

Overall UK deaths data sheet here.
The Guardian’s accidental death comparison for 2007 and 2011.

That’s without examining the ROSPA reported approximate UK death toll of 6,000 every year(2002 figures), of people in their own homes. Hold hard a minute! Six thousand people a year, in the UK alone dying in home accidents? Most of which happen in the ironically titled ‘living’ room? That old grim reaper must have a hell of a job keeping his scythe sharp. If you can’t find safety in your own living room, where can you be ‘safe’? You’re ‘safer’ on the pillion of a drunk biker riding at 100mph plus? Who knew? Which isn’t strictly speaking true by the way, but statistically it might seem so. In the comparative period for 2010-2011 there were 636 homicides, 60 of whom were shot. That’s including one mass shooting incident where 12 people were killed. Of the total homicides 232 died from wounds given by a ‘sharp instrument’. Official UK report here.

For comparison, with official sources where available:
2011 US Death Stats Domestic (Unintentional deaths 96,753), Road (32,479), Homicide
2011 Canadian Death Domestic (No comparable figures), Road, Homicide
Now compare those with the rest of the world (Mapped data by worldlifeexpectancy.com)

So much for ‘safe spaces’, eh? By the way, around eight (8) people in the UK die by accident in their own bed every year. That’s twice the death rate of bee, wasp or hornet stings. Blood and sand.

Personally I’m not averse to a modicum of risk taking because you have to die of something. It’s part of the human condition. I will die, as will everyone else currently breathing. Mortality is built into our very DNA. We all have a ‘sell by’ date whether we like it or not. Death is a capricious beast and all we can do is manage our risks because if the statistics teach us anything, they show that there cannot be any such thing as a ‘safe space’. Life isn’t ‘fair’, never has been or will be. All you can do is keep your eyes open, grab a little ‘fairness’ for yourself and have some fun in the meantime. If it’s your time, then that’s that. Who wants to live forever?