Tag Archives: People

Officialdom, an object lesson

Well, as with any return to home base, there’s always good and bad news. The snail mail contained a number of not quite unforeseen bills and the usual round of things which had to be paid right now. A couple of difficult to reach taps had stuck. The phone wouldn’t work until I’d spent half an hour with tech support on the line while stripping out the modem for several hard reboots. And sadly my Tomato plants have died. That’s right, all of them. The watering device worked, but the recent BC cold snap took it’s toll and there is nothing to be done but recycle as compost. Such is life.

Still recovering from jet lag, but one item of personal news had me pumping my right hand and saying “YES!” in a loud triumphant tone. Let me enlarge. Just before we were due to leave for the fabled land of Oz I had a run in with a minor branch of Canada’s bureaucracy. What they were demanding would almost certainly have demolished our travel plans and they were quite willing, one would say even eager, to wave the full force of authority in our face with threats of fines and even imprisonment. Over a relatively minor matter, but that’s bureaucracy for you. Even though I thought we had done nothing wrong and was gearing up to fight these faceless fuckers to their last breath. However, Mrs S tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me of advice which I have so often given to others. “Don’t get mad – get devious.”

Now after my last run in with British bureaucrats two years ago I knew there was no point in taking their Canadian counterparts head on. Public sector employees love those who resist emotionally because they have the law, well at least their interpretation of it, on their side. So they think they can just tick a few boxes and hey presto, you’re up before the Judge, fuming with outrage and struggling to put together a defence while watching lawyers fees chew merrily through your hard won resources.

Now for those of you who think that butting heads with officialdom Ranty-style is the right thing to do, take a tip from your Uncle Bill. Don’t. Don’t ever play the bureaucrats game because they make up and interpret the rules as they go along. Seriously. I’ve worked alongside these people and this is how they think. They’re right, you’re wrong, so pucker up buttercup. You will lose because they have a full house of two’s and fours against your piddling pair of threes, and they know the house rules better than you do. So don’t play their game.

What you need in these troubled times is a big friend who can ring the bureaucrats boss and say; “Your people are out of control, stop it.” For UK local government there are ombudsmen and all sorts of referees who will listen if you can take a deep breath and a slow step back before playing the victim trump card oh so carefully. Over here we have our local politicians. Federal Members of Parliament and Provincial Members of the Legislative Assemblies. These are the people who make the rules. And guess what? They work for you. Find one hungry enough for your vote, make your case without getting too histrionic and and there is a strong probability that they can get the mindless machine of bureaucracy to back off. Because that’s what a bureaucracy is, a barely-accountable brainless behemoth that follows set rules, no matter how square-headed and insane those rules might seem. All you have to do is find someone higher up the food chain to push the right button. The idea being to make your oppressors dinky little jackboots do a smart about face and quick march in the opposite direction. Away from you.

In short; when in doubt, escalate. Field your problem upstairs. Don’t shout, don’t threaten, don’t, whatever you do, simply get angry with the forces of dead-headed conformity. Because when you’re angry you’re not thinking straight exactly when when you most need to have your mind right and firing on all cylinders. And if you start shouting, any message will immediately get lost in all the emotion. The best you’ll get in that case is being put on hold as the person who really doesn’t need your shit buggers off for a coffee. If you get mad, they will win because all they have to do is nothing while you rail on at a dead line or some poor zero hours contract call centre drone on little better than minimum wage. Oh, and it goes without saying that you should record everything and refer back to any minor concession on their part in painstaking detail. Better still, speak softly, and let someone else wield the big stick on your behalf.

Furthermore. Don’t bother with junior management or departmental heads because they are the very people who would cheerfully sign the Dalai Llama’s death warrant if it meant they could finish early on Friday. So immediately go over their heads to someone with a little real power and make a carefully worded complaint, detailing how you think these public sector pen pushers are out of order. Which is what we did. And bless me Vicar, this time it worked. Hence my minor celebration. A letter has even arrived apologising for the ‘misunderstanding’. Although they can’t guarantee it won’t happen again. So, only a partial success. Just a reprieve.

Not that I believe the oily platitudes, but like someone who has been stung by nettles, or a bully who has just been kneed in the unmentionables, they will leave us alone for now. They may be back, but in the meantime I’m changing my phone number and migrating to a new email address. Which will do. The trick with bureaucrats, like with petty criminals, is to make their life just difficult enough so that is not worth the effort to bother you, but not so tricky as to make your life awkward. Or for now, which in our case will be long enough before we slip away into the mists and out of their reach. Which may just take the Sticker family even further than it has gone to date.

Which is another happy thought.

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Melbourne

Well here we are in the cooler climes of jolly old Melbourne and despite nutters occasionally driving vans into crowds, thinking it will somehow advance the cause of their religion, Mrs S and I are safe and sound. We’re more at risk from some of the local rogue skateboarders. Seriously.

Being ten degrees cooler than up in Cairns comes as a bit of a relief. Much as the lack of sunshine is a little bit disappointing, we’re enjoying the free tram travel throughout the city centre north of the Yarra river. Which means we will be watching the fireworks from somewhere in town. Not sure from where, as the city Fathers (Mothers? Who actually gives a shit, really? It’s a freaking free New Years firework display) have decided that there are to be several sites. All we have to do is stroll out of the hotel lobby, round the corner and watch the show tonight.

The local Police have determined that there shall be a ‘ring of steel’ around the city centre so we mere mortals who just want some old fashioned fun as opposed to the miserablist regime of those who claim to represent the religion of being blown to pieces can do so without too much aggravation. No one, at least anyone with any sense, would give a monkeys about any religion if they didn’t want to kill everyone who disagrees with them.

Speaking of aggravation, if like me you don’t like hard sell, avoid the Italian Restaurants in Hardware Lane. The restaurateurs who inhabit this one little bit of Melbourne take the absolute Biscotti with added double Espresso. Seriously, talk about pushy, we had trouble getting half way down the bloody street. It’s not that the food isn’t all right, it was just the sheer in yer face insistence that pissed me off. The only thing that kept me from flipping the whole damn lot the bird and walking away this evening was Mrs S. One guy followed us half way down the bloody street for heavens sake. Guess where I won’t be going back to?

Today is street market day at Queen Victoria Street market. Which might seem a little strange, but I love street markets. There’s a vibe, a buzz that goes with them that I find somehow seriously addictive. Might even visit the Old Melbourne jail where they hanged notorious bushranger Ned Kelly.

G’day mates.

Minor hitches

Have somehow managed to pick up a small case of sore throat. Perhaps I mistook it for a large case of beer. I don’t know. Must see if I need glasses. Which has led to a mildly unpleasant 48 hours. However my mild fever has broken and aside from a minor frog and a few aches and pains, that’s it.

Seriously chums it’s too darned hot, it really is. The temperature feels like the low forties Celsius, which I’m told is usual for this time of year, and the humidity even has the Wallabies in hiding. I’ve been tasked with pootling down the the local ‘Bottle-o’ (Off licence or liquor store) and keeping the ‘Eskies’ or cool boxes full of beer topped up with ice for tonights party. Which in the words of Jonah Lewie, is why you’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties. Why? Well you wouldn’t want me to report that some crafty so and so had scarfed all the best vino now would you?

The Stepkids on the other hand are thriving on this oppressive heat. By thriving I mean they’re using the pool sunbathing and making themselves useful for their antipodean Aunt and Uncle.

TTFN

Regards.

A very hot and sticky Bill. Merry Christmas, solstice, Yule, whatever.

Totally tropical

Up in Queensland today, sampling the delights of Brother in laws Tropical domicile. The heat is taking a little bit of time to get used to, but with two showers a day and sufficient cold beer, I’m actually enjoying myself. The only minor upset was when I found I’d forgotten to pack my swimming shorts, so I’ll have to go shopping for a new pair, may the lord have mercy on my soul. Mrs S will no doubt insist I get something a little more colourful, but what the hell.

Which rather sums up my attitude in general. Currently I’m so laid back that I could probably turn my head and kiss my own bum, figuratively speaking. Seen my first Kangaroos. Quite a lot of them actually. Grazing the roadside grassland like some outlandish Megarabbits. I thought we had a lot of Deer in BC, but Kangaroos, they go around in herds of forty or fifty. There are so many that you half expect the buggers to come bounding out of the damn fridge (See below).

I’m told the meat is good though. One of my ambitions to to prepare some barbecued ‘Roo this year, just to see what it’s like. Maybe wrapped in bacon. So brother in law and I will be heading down to the local market to provision the household after Mrs S and I return from a brief sojourn up country to see the Barrier reef, Sharks, Crocs and Koalas. Maybe go see if the legend of the Drop-Bears is true.

I see the war of words between the extreme left and right is making Twatter suspend and delete accounts, again. It still won’t make me use it. Too many room temperature IQ’s screaming at each other like chimps for my liking. Too much knee-jerk emotion. Little reasoned examination of ideas, few cooler heads, too often it’s like watching toddlers in a playground. Where do they think they are, parliament?

One of the things I am getting, from various tours and conversations is an insight into is Aboriginal or First Nations issues, which seem to arise because the natives never had any concept of land ownership. Previously they always lived on the land, but did little or nothing with it. Their territory shifted when they did. Yes, interesting oral traditions and well-adapted way of life, but no real development. Because their societies don’t adapt readily to societal change. Which is where conflict arises between them and incoming cultures. A nomadic tradition will always be at odds with the modern ideas of personal property rights, self determination and challenging old orders. It’s really no wonder they’re so prone to drink and drugs problems. Their traditional way of life is highly structured and when that structure conflicts with external influences, or breaks down the bond between generations, many just can’t cope.

So when someone comes in to build a bunch of new houses the indigenous often don’t really understand why these incomers want to live where they do, and hang on a bit, there was a mountain there last year. Didn’t someone say that was sacred or something? Modern culture doesn’t just live in a place, it actively manages landscapes. Which hunter gatherer societies don’t seem to get. Gardening for example, at least as far as aboriginal cultures are concerned, generally happens to other people.

Off the leash

The Sticker clan’s guard dog (Me) got let off the leash today and went lamp post sniffing in his own figuratively inimitable fashion, just ambling around Darling harbour, peoplewatching, doing the museums on a grey and humid Sydney day. Mrs S wanted to go shopping with daughters and friends, so I pleaded for a time out and slipped my collar shortly after breakfast. And I’ve had a throughly pleasant time. Totally failed to get up to any mischief, which might disappoint my last remaining reader, but this is real life. There’s a flight to catch in the morning and we’ll be back here in Sydney in just under three weeks, so anything left undone can be done then.

It’s definitely two shower a day weather, and I’m trying to keep sweet and relatively odour free after sweating buckets and failing to drink enough. Which is a matter I intend to remedy later on after putting on fresh clothes and ensconcing myself in the nearest pub. Let the rest max out their credit cards Christmas shopping, there’s beer to drink, even if the CAD to AUS exchange rate is not currently in my favour.

The downside is that I now have a working cell phone so Mrs S, Stepdaughters, uncle Tom Cobley and all can now find me. Not that I’ll be giving out my Australian number anywhere, but will be sloping down to the bar for a beer or two to replace all the fluid I lost in perspiration throughout the day.

Interesting question from last night; how does a devout, fully paid up member of the religion of blown to pieces get errant husband out of a bar when she’s all burka’d up and therefore not allowed in? Simple, she sends in her cute as a button little kiddy to go tug on daddy’s trouser leg. Aren’t workarounds wonderful?

To the bar. See you lot of mongrels later.

G’day

Well here we are in the middle of Sydney ‘stralia and overjoyed at connecting with Eldest once more. Youngest has just landed after winging her way cross dark and foreign lands having qualified as a genuine honest-to-goodness fully fledged lawyer. Give her any trouble and you’ll be ass-deep in lawsuits before you know it.

For me, the time travel lag travelling from BC to Sydney hasn’t been that bad, despite being cooped up in an alloy tube with about three hundred other souls for over fourteen hours. The cabin crew kept us fed and watered, although the menu was a bit starchy for my liking, so we just tucked into what protein there was and left the sweet and stodgy stuff alone.

So, Sydney. First impressions. I like it. We overnighted in Redfern before heading to our downtown base in one of the more upmarket hotels. Redfern is a cute little place full of narrow streets lined with iron ballustraded houses, and at this time of year the blooms are blooming colourful. The architecture reminds me a little of French Quarter New Orleans with narrower roads. Very relaxed. Very old colonial. Redfern used to have a bad rep for shall we say the less salubrious type of Bogan, but since the 2000 Olympics, when they were shunted out wholesale, the Pink Dollar has taken over as the main currency and coffee shops abound. The main shopping areas surpass Vancouver, even if it seems that half the city is being dug up to install tramlines. The atmosphere is overall busy, friendly and fun.

Oddly enough about these new trams, Mrs S and I were tucking into some salads on our first day and on a hoarding across the way there were pictures of the old tramlines from the 1940’s and 50’s. Wonder how long it will be until these tramlines are removed for the next big thing.

Currently suffering a little from retail induced migraine. Which is a condition induced by doing too much shopping with female companions. A man needs man stuff, or he becomes little better than a pet, a lapdog. Which is something women often don’t really understand. However, I growl every once in a while and do the equivalent of a good scratch at the door so Mrs S knows when to let my inner geek off the leash. She goes off with the girls, and I get to take a stroll through the gadget stores, Science museums and suchlike. Seems to work.

Oh yes. The spiders over here are kind of big. Saw my first Huntsman splayed across a fence in Eldest’s back yard. Not a big one, only three inches across. I’m told they come way bigger, but the little ones like Redbacks are more poisonous. Rather like the Black Widows we get in our woodpiles back in BC. So a little caution when sticking vulnerable tootsies in sandals or when negotiating midnight bathrooms is warranted. Then there are the three inch long cockroaches, which amble through the most active night time pedestrian areas as if they owned the place.

What else? The Gay marriage thing is big local news at the moment, and since Redfern has more of those folk than generally speaking the campaigning is a bit in yer face, but people can’t help what they are, so I tend to deflect with a friendly “I’m just a boring old heterosexual – not really my issue.” excuse. Which nobody seems to mind. Although when the divorce bills come in they’ll probably get the hint, but like I say, not my issue. Just remember that we warned you guys. Civil partnerships are far less legally problematic. And it’s not like the non-heterosexual demographic will be actively breeding, so the out of wedlock side of things won’t be an issue. Nor the fact that their genes won’t be swirling around the gene pool if fifty or so years. Which is probably an ‘ist’ or ‘ism’ thought crime by modern standards, and if so I’m guilty as charged but don’t really care any more. I’ll cop a plea in mitigation of total apathy about the SJW obsession if I’m ever brought to book. Whatever...

Aside from that, I find the directness of the Aussies rather refreshing after the cloying PC-ness of BC. Yesterday morning for example, I found myself explaining the whole business where some Feminist ‘comedians’ in Canada would only work to female only audiences with no heckling allowed. To which my partner in conversation could only stand aghast. They, like me, understood that Comedians, in order to be any good at all need to learn their craft in a hostile environment. Honing their wits and reacting to their audience so that they can communicate effectively and do their job, which is to help make people laugh. Simply standing up on stage telling lame simpering stories with bad punchlines to an audience which cannot criticise does not develop any would be comedians talent. Such milquetoast routines centuries before would have a local ruler sending their old style medieval fool to the scaffold for a quick downsize. Nowadays the only thing such restrictions will kill is the art of comedy.

This is where modern ‘third wave’ feminism fails because it’s not funny at all. Yes, and I include Amy Schumer in this statement. ‘Feminist’ comedy is often two-dimensional, lamely unfunny and takes itself way too seriously, then compounds the error by shutting out almost half the population from the audience. From where I stand they’re all gimme, gimme, gimmie for nothing in return. This isn’t a bid for equality. It’s an attempt to get something for nothing.

My own stepdaughters understand this, which is why they are well liked and already modestly successful in their own fields. As capable young women they are both well able to make their way in the world without the irritating whining of media feminists. This is how we brought them up to be. Seems to be working.

On being an Expat

Apropos yesterdays post. Another in-car conversation on life, the Universe and everything found Mrs S and I discussing our lives. Why we keep so few real friends, which is more an act of personal preference than anything else. Neither of us have ever been manic socialisers. Although we are decent enough folk, well, we like to think so, we find that there’s little point getting involved as everyone else has stuff to do and so have we. So dinner parties are rare events as neither of us is that keen on small talk and always find ourselves at odds with some of the regurgitated media talking points certain people call their opinions.

There are sayings that “You can never go home again.” or “You can’t cross the same river twice.” and now ten years after Mrs S and I began our Canadian adventure I find there is much truth in them. Having gone back to blighty on five separate occasions, visiting places where I grew up only to find a chilly welcome and a “Oh, what’re you doing back here?” No one wants to know you. Old work mates make repeated excuses to not have a beer and a chin wag like you used to, even when you’ve spent thousands to go and see them. When you meet people you thought were good friends it’s a little spooky to watch their faces close down when you say “Hi.” Like while you’ve been living and working overseas you’ve been doing something they’re ashamed of, but it’s not simply that. There’s often a mix of jealousy and disconnection which gives you the sense of being a stranger in your old home town. A feeling of isolation within familiar spaces. Like you’re just a tourist. Which feels like truth. Because it’s not your home any more. You moved on, they stayed. You’re now an outsider, an exile, who shouldn’t ever have come back. This is not your tribe.

There’s a century old story about a man who went to Australia and made his fortune. I think it was told as an anecdote in one Thomas Hardy’s Wessex Novels, not sure which. (Correction: From Laurie Lee’s classic “Cider with Rosie” – A staple of my Senior School English Literature classes – Thank you to the commenters for this correction)  Now the story goes that this newly enriched Australian came back to visit the English village he’d grown up in but left twenty years before. While he’s there he shares his good fortune with old friends and neighbours. Even spending one evening in the village pub buying drinks for everyone. Yet on his way back to his lodgings he was beaten up and robbed by some of the very people he’d once called friend. The very people he’d tried to share his good fortune with.

Life is a river, and like water, time flows in only one direction, unless you’re a very advanced physicist. Sometimes it pools, other times it bounds along, effortlessly carving its own way through solid rock. But always onwards, down to an estuarine end, or abruptly off a cliff or down a hole. So it is with old friendships and family. Those who stay still get left behind. This can breed resentment within them because perhaps they did not really want to stay, but somehow lacked the impetus, like me, to begin new lives for themselves in a different land, or even wonder, and feel a little betrayed by, my need to do so. In their minds, I left them. Which may have bred ill-feeling.

Which leaves me in a dilemma. I have to visit the UK next year anyway, but knowing what I do now, do I go visit and try to reconnect, or just accept what I’ve been told at face value and forever suffer a small nagging doubt? Considering my family history, or rather lack thereof, it has been characterised by a certain; “You don’t need to know that.” feeling. Indeed, trying to track my own Mother’s side of the family has proven interesting* because I was always shut out of the conversation because my very existence (Well I am a bastard from a time when this was frowned upon) is a source of embarrassment. Very few will even acknowledge that I am a blood relative. That and my Mother’s tendency to ‘re-invent’ herself every twenty years or so has not helped.

Oh bugger it, I’ll go and knock on some doors while I’m back in the UK. What can my relatives really do apart from tell me to sod off?

Update: There is also the thought that if we were such great friends and family, all my emails and letters would have been answered. But instead responses dried up fairly quickly, so maybe my erstwhile family and friends don’t really want to know at all. Heart says go and see, head says that they haven’t been in touch because they don’t want to be. Rather like an old mate who broke surface only to disappear into the mists of the Interweb. I offered to come over next time I was in the UK and have a chat over old times and where our lives had taken us. Result; complete radio silence. I’ll take my Aunt and her son out for dinner next time I’m in Blighty, but as for the rest, yes, well. Their lack of interest has been duly noted. Moving on…

* “Interesting” in like pulling a Bull’s teeth without anaesthesia.

Best Christmas message ever

Got a letter today. An old fashioned honest to goodness handwritten letter on ten pages of paper written in real pen from one of my two surviving Aunts. It absolutely has made my entire Christmas because it’s helped me reconnect with people who I didn’t think cared I still existed. My extended family. The pages repeatedly scanned today could not have been more precious if they were written in diamond on 24 carat solid platinum sheets. All right, my Aunt hand wrote the letter because her printer ran out of ink and my cousins won’t be visiting until next weekend to buy and fit a new cartridge for her, but as I read my crusty old eyes were almost moved to sentimental tears. Even if she hadn’t sent a Christmas card, this was far better.

I say better because all the sentiment within was genuine, not forced or the grisly secondhand saccharine sloppiness or ghastly lame humour of the usual run of Christmas cards. The letter was chock full of the dark humour typical of my clan, stuffed with information on a branch of the family who I thought had forgotten all about yours truly decades ago. Some of the news was sad, about a distant aunt and uncle who have left this world, but more was happy because people I used to love and trust, and think I still do, are still around and sinning despite all life’s vicissitudes. No, none of us do ‘Social media’, we have real lives. We connect in four dimensions not the two of Farcebook or Twatter.

Which gladdens my scabby blackened old heart. As my good lady wife observed having noticed my smile; “Well, something undid a twist in your soul Bill.” With which I agree, because I feel part of my own special river of humanity again. Connected. No longer as distant or excluded. And you know what? It feels good and it’s the best Christmas present I’ve had for decades. Possibly the best seasonal missive I’ve ever had.

Honestly, I’ve come over all North Brummagem.

I’ve been told that some of our lot are visiting Oz at the same time Mrs S and I are. It would be interesting to run into them and see what they’re really like, or if we’ll even recognise each other after so much time estranged. Family, eh? Who knew?

Non Disclosure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A fall in Autumn

We’ve got snow on the deck! What the hell, this is sunny Victoria, we’re not meant to get snow until January! We’re still in Autumn for heavens sake! Looks a bit strange with the leaves still on the trees. See above picture of deck at 7:30am today. Damn. I may have to call Nanook of the North. And he charges like a bad tempered Rhino on LSD.

No seriously, nothing to see here move along, it’s just weather and part of the normal cycle of things here in the sunny south west tip of Canada. Every so often we get the odd fall of snow. Which is why we have Winter sports locations like Mt Washington in the mid island. Here’s the current state of the Tube run via webcam. Which is getting a huge inflated inner tube, dragging it to the top of a snowy slope and sliding in it all the way to the bottom and then some. Which is fun for non-skiers like me and works out way cheaper than getting all the kit and only using it once a year. According to reports Mt Washington had no snow last night, but I can tell them where it ended up if they’d care to collect. I had an inkling that we were due for a long cold Winter after the long and hot Summer we’ve just had. Simply because one usually follows the other. And no computer models needed consulting. They only get it wrong anyway.

No skin off my nose because our little SUV is kitted out and ready with all wheel drive and all weather tyres, and we’re on a main bus route which gets the snowplough first and regular clearings throughout the day and night. The downside of which means I may have to get out and go dig an exit through the icy berm they always leave in front of our drive. Or I could stay home today and stand in the front room with a nice hot cup of coffee admiring the view. (Pops into front room for a look – returns) No, no berm and the roads are clear. Well that’s saved me a job, and Nanook’s callout charges.

Our propane stove is now lit and pumping out all that healthy CO2 and a good tranche of heat. Which will prove a saving on our electrickery bills. Which can get astronomical because idiot politicians think that wind and solar power can replace even a few fossil fuel power stations. Or that an atmospheric trace gas affects climate in the long term manner they claim. Or that we don’t know that the CO2=climate is bad science being used to support one of the biggest wealth transfer schemes of all time. Fossil fuel stations we don’t use much because most of Canada’s electric power is Hydro based. Compared with other nations our use of fossil fuel and nuclear is tiny. To replace even one large power plant with wind power you’d have to cut down huge tranches of forest, at least in BC because what we do have is trees. Lots of them. Hundreds of thousands of square miles of trees. Just over 20% or the worlds boreal forests in fact. Cut down those to put up inefficient sources of electricity? I console myself thus; at least the trees can be replanted and grow back when this idiotic flirtation with retrograde technology is over.

So what’s going on in the big wide world? It the FT I see Gas (petrol) prices will rise because the Saudi’s are closing the spigot. Which may help the current misery of the Venezuelans, or maybe not. Maduro has big debts to pay before the extra oil money can trickle down into the rest of Venezuelan economy. Me, I think he’s cocked up big time and the country will be bankrupted before he’s finished. Despite their oil reserves. Up here Trudeau is losing popularity because he keeps on hitting working Canadians in their bank accounts and blocking pipelines while wittering on about how unfair it is about girls not being allowed to play in the big wide world. Which isn’t true by the way. Women can do just as well in commerce as men if they’re willing to pay the same price. George Soros is dying (I’ve seen recent pictures – no one looks like that and lives for long), which I think he knows, so has pushed USD$18 billion into his network of politically meddling non-profits. Just so he can go screwing up economies from beyond the grave. That Trump chap is motivating idiots to go and ‘scream at the sky’ on the 4th November because he won an election. One of them screams at me, I’ll simply laugh in their face and walk away. However, he doesn’t seem to let all the hit pieces and political sabotage get to him, he’s just doing what he said he would. And you have to admire someone like that, even if you don’t totally agree with them.

Update: Tesla shares drop over 5% with the potential end of US subsidies for EV’s.  Oh well, that’s that.  More EV’s for museum exhibits.