Tag Archives: USA

Slavery reparations – a modest proposal

Here at the Bill Sticker Institute for Truth, Justice and Just that we’ve been hearing a lot about reparations for the practice of slavery in the West up to and including the US Civil War, the shooting phase of which lasted from Apr. 12th, 1861 – Apr. 9th, 1865. It’s the current bargaining chip of the latest crop of Democrat Presidential hopefuls. Vote for us and we’ll give you free stuff, although not quite sort of thing. Now having looked at the situation, my trusty crew of Igors have stated that reparations for slavery are, on the whole, a brilliant idea. I say, great. Let’s do it. A one off lump sum payment to the descendants of slaves held in the Continental USA and CSA and dependent territories up to and including 9th April 1865. One million dollars for each claimant over eighteen years of age at a date to be decided should be more than enough.

Of course there would have to be specific legal provisions to make sure that the right people got exactly what they deserve.

For example; no reparation funds should go to organisations, only individual claimants who could provide verifiable (From government records) documentary proof upon demand that they are directly descended from slaves held up to and including the US Civil War in slave holding states. Of course, this would only apply to US citizens. No-one whose family fled to say, Canada would be eligible as for the purposes of this discussion only the family of slaves in the continental United States of America would be eligible for this scheme. Those claiming full eligibility would also have to be full blooded descendants of slaves, therefore those whose family tree having a direct ancestor (Either matrilineal or patrilineal, tested by DNA) who was not a slave up to and including the US Civil war, or who immigrated to the USA after Apr. 9, 1865 and therefore not a slave descendant, would have their reparations cut proportionally.

In the interests of complete fairness and equity, we would envisage the reparations formula working like this; for someone whose direct ancestry included all eight great grandparents being directly descended from slaves during the qualifying period, only they would receive the full amount payable. For each great grandparent not directly descended from slaves held in the USA or CSA up to and including the US Civil war (Apr. 12, 1861 – Apr. 9, 1865) the amount payable would be reduced by 12.5% and so on proportionally. If only one great grandparent of a claimant was directly descended from a slave held during the qualifying period, they would only receive 12.5% of the total amount claimed. Also, those successful claimants currently in receipt of government welfare would be expected to reimburse their government for the total cost of that welfare from age eighteen from the total amount of reparations due.

Those descended from slaves known to have been accepted forty acres and a mule at the end of the civil war would not be eligible to claim, as restitution would be judged to have already have been paid. Also claimants would be expected to pay reparations proportionately to those institutions and persons whose ancestors suffered loss or injury during the US civil war on the Union side and also for loss and injury to the descendants of persons during subsequent military operations engaged in to end the practice of slavery. This amount would be automatically deducted at source, for the convenience of the claimants and accounting staff.

Obviously these provisions would mean that claimants might not receive the vast sums their avarice might have at first envisaged, but those in receipt of such funds and their descendants would be excluded from any future payments. They would also be expected to shut the hell up about stuff no-one alive can possibly be held responsible for and join the rest of the human race in their daily struggle to make an honest(ish) dollar instead of whining about how unfair everything is.

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At least the Lemon Trees are doing well

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whole lotta shakin’

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

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

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

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

Conspiracy sunspots, Batman!

The Interweb has been ablaze with rumours about the closure of a Solar Sunspot Observatory, by of all people the FBI. Who turned up out of the blue in a Blackhawk helicopter and shut the whole site down, including the on-site post office. The site is normally open to the public and the local Sheriff was shut out too, which makes the whole affair even more puzzling. All sorts of stuff has been mooted from Aliens crossing the sun, pending massive solar storms, secret weapons tests, Chinese / Russian hacking / spying on the nearby White Sands Missile Range, Uncle Tom Cobley and all. No-one has mentioned the Mayans yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

So what is going on? No idea. Although the spying theory sounds the most likely.

A more studied perspective is available from Linda Moulton Howe, an American investigative journalist and Regional Emmy award-winning documentary film maker.

She has a World Domination Cat.  What’s not to like?

Update: As a point of interest, the adjacent Apache Point Observatory, a collection of telescopes about a half-mile away, was operating as normal on Friday, with about a dozen cars parked outside.  Nor have other solar observatories been closed down as stated in some quarters.  So, no Aliens then.  Again.

2nd UpdateAand it’s open again.  Phew, so those pesky little green men have given us the go by yet again.  Funny how often that happens.

 

Crazy like a fox

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

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

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

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

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

Deranged hatred

Having been woken up by spewing drunks trying to force their way into our rented Copenhagen apartment in the wee hours, I made the mistake of going online to see the news. Bad mistake. I should have hosed all the vomit from the stairwell first. But not only have I had to clean a startling display of projectile vomiting off a full flight of stairs and wall because no-one else would, but I have to listen to the unhinged ravings about Trump’s visit to the UK. A good deal of which is coming from official media sources.

I keep on hearing all the empty anti-Trump rhetoric and can’t help being bemused by the display of frothing anger. All the bad things he’s being accused of, Obama, Bush and Clinton did in spades.  Indeed Trump may be a bullshitter, but the hatred of him is so over the top even my wife and daughter, not the most political of animals, are looking askance at all the screaming nutcasery and going “Oh for heavens sake!”

Would someone please explain to li’l old thickie me, so everyone else can understand too; exactly what is so bad about what he is doing? Spare me the empty rhetoric, I want logic and reason, facts and figures. I understand this may cause unwarranted strain on certain people’s neurons.

For those expecting automatic slapdowns fear not, this is a serious request for information and I will engage with any rational and pertinent arguments. However, if I do not respond immediately, please be patient because I am travelling. For those who simply want to repeat meaningless mantra’s, my time is my own, not to be spent in fruitless arguments over whose dogma is being allowed to crap over whose lawn. Vomiting drunks notwithstanding.

Final note about the US President. Although I do not care for his style, I will confess to liking what Trump is doing for one reason only; he’s annoying all the right people. If this drives you to fits of incandescent rage, have you ever thought that most of the real problem lies between your own ears?

Update: Psychologist and Author Dr Jordan Peterson seems to have it nailed about Trump the man and President in the video below.

Back roads and pizza

Alberta is a completely different place to the one we first experienced when we did this trip almost ten years ago. Did I mention I’ve driven the trans-Canada end to end before? Must have done. All the way from Port Alberni in the far West of Vancouver Island to the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in the east. And it’s the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary since Canada began the process of confederation. About seven thousand five hundred Kilometres or a shade over four thousand seven hundred miles. Each way. In a ten year old Ford van. Mrs S, me and the dog, sleeping on an inflatable mattress on top of our worldly belongings. Beating up the highways and navigating with an out of date Michelin road map book across the flatlands.

Today found us scooting along arrow straight secondary roads past farms, woodland and fields in a six year old Subaru, (would you believe we’ve had it since new?) Mrs S at the wheel having all the fun. This part of Alberta isn’t as flat as it is along Highway One, on more northerly routes the land undulates gently like a gentle swell on the ocean. It’s a perfect landscape for a certain sport. Like God had decided this is where he wanted all the golf courses put. Not much traffic, but the cops were around so we stuck to the speed limit. Not that we would ever break it, heaven forfend. It just gets a little bent sometimes. But only slightly, honestly officer.

Even so we arrived at our next overnight on the Saskatchewan border two hours early, dined on very nice pizza and red wine and my policy of booking really good hotels after long and otherwise dull journeys paid off. This nights stopover put us in a King bedroom suite no less with two TV’s we don’t have to switch on, an absolutively bloomin’ big bed with a sod off big leather sofa in case either one of us snores too loudly.

Which turned out well. Unlike the UK election debate. What happened to Madam Tracey? I read in via my FT subscription that she was a no-show and had sent along the Home Secretary and even then Corbyn was fashionably late? What on earth is going on over there? Does Tracey want to miss an open goal? Are the UK Conservatives pacing themselves for a last minute surge? Or is this just tactics? There’s not enough information available to reach meaningful conclusions, especially as we’re on the move.

The other big news story as we speed across the midwest of Canada is Trump pulling out of the hideous Paris Climate accord which is the biggest wealth transfer con in history. I’m inclined to describe the Paris accord, without hyperbole, as the crime of the century, asset stripping the productive world to give a few powerful people and their proxies all their disposable income. Well, because it’s only fair, innit? It’s why certain Billionaires have been observed to be funding their own networks of advocacy groups. As well as funding media whores like Bill Nye and David Suzuki to push their message in a touchy-feely way. Which begs the question; when is a crime not a crime? To which the answer is; when politicians do it.

Another day, another hotel

Off onto the land of the rising sun, and I’m not talking Japan here. We’re heading Eastbound and sideways. Scenery is still completely awesome, we raised the tally to nine Black Bears observed in the last four days when we photographed a mother and two cubs studiously ignoring tourists on highway 16 east of Jasper.

Which raises the question; are Ursus Americanus ‘black’ enough? Or will BLM and their cohorts claim that’s one of their sacred ‘ists’, and since I’m not the ‘correct’ skin hue am I on the list of people allowed to refer to these creatures as ‘black’? Having photographed a mother and two cubs; again, can one call the female parent of a bear cub a ‘mother’? I’m told there are people who make the rules in Ontario who have views about that sort of thing. They have a hit list of non-approved words, and ‘mother’ is most definitely on it.

Also a bit gutted because I slept through a magnificent display of the Northern Lights last night. Fortunately I met a like minded geek over breakfast this morning who let me know what tonights peak activity was going to be like. We’re also 100km north and 200km east of our last lodgings, so I’m going to stay up way past my bedtime, camera in hand in ‘movie’ mode to try and capture the sky dancing. Posting of pictures and such may be a bit delayed as I haven’t loaded any photo and video editing software on my new ‘pooter. However, watch this space.

As for the forthcoming UK election; are there people who seriously have a remaining brain cell going to vote for Labour with Corbyn in the driving seat? He’s a wetter re-run of Michael Foot for heavens sake! At least Foot was anti-EU. Corbyn is so keen to play lovable puppy to Juncker and Merkin that he’ll become everyone’s bitch as far as BREXIT is concerned. May is far too authoritarian, but at least she’ll get the UK out of the EU. Corbyn won’t, he’ll fold faster than a black belt in Origami.

Glad to see that Trump fellow is backing out of the Paris accord on Climate Change. He may be bombastic and a little boorish in manner, but isn’t he annoying all the right people? Must buy some more popcorn tomorrow, as I’ve run out and my handy dandy little hot air popcorn maker has remained at home.

That’s all for the present. Having a splendid time and am going up a glacier some time in the next day or so. Play nice now.

Syria

With huge apologies to the great Dean Friedman and his 1978 hit song ‘Lydia’.

Syria keeps nerve agent in their armament and we complain.
Well, hardly never. And then jokingly they say
Boy, it’s been so long since we saw you, we nearly bombed them all to death. We nearly left them all for dead. Nearly left them all for dead.

Syria, Syria, how come we don’t understand?
We can offer them nothing at all. this is more than we had planned.
Syria, Syria we are trying to command, at least until Korea comes,
Then, we must be off again.

Syria, you know we always talk about making conscious decisions, about running all your lives. Well, maybe we’re just fooling ourselves. It’s a role we like to play.
Because more often than not we’re backed into a corner. We’re sorry we bombed you. Do you feel like some company? Refugees need a place to stay.

Syria, Syria, how come we don’t understand?
We can offer them nothing at all. this is more than we had planned.
Syria, Syria we are trying to command, at least until Korea comes,
Then, we must be off again.

We mess with a country who thinks we’re all dumb. well, maybe we are. no, that wouldn’t surprise anyone. we suspect that much is true.
But, Syria, if you only knew how much we love you. did you know that we love you? it’s the best that we can do.

Syria, Syria, how come we don’t understand?
We can offer them nothing at all. this is more than we had planned.
Syria, Syria we are trying to command, at least until Korea comes,
Then, we must be off again.
We must be off again.

Frying tonight

Ah, the days of youth. Fish and chips collected from the chip shop up the street, wrapped in a large square of grease proof paper and whatever newspaper you brought with you. Sitting on the floor with Ma (during divorce) at four years old in our rather empty front room dipping finger fulls of greasy chips and battered cod into a generous blob of Mr Heinz’ famous tomato ketchup. Ah nostalgia, it’s not like it used to be.

Now a few decades on, half way around the world, the saying ‘frying tonight’ takes on a whole new and sinister meaning. Specifically with regard to the batshit crazy pudding head currently occupying the North Korean dictators hot seat. Now I don’t know what sort of targeting technology the North Koreans have, but I’m guessing it’s pretty rudimentary. Think 1980’s Soviet era Scud with a CEP (Circular Area of Probability) accuracy, where half the missiles will fall within a radius of 6-700 metres at 3-550km range, but that’s with a conventional warhead. Put a nuclear warhead on that and the range drops by half and the accuracy likewise suffers. Let’s be generous and say the maximum range for nuclear Scud-level technology the North Koreans have reverse engineered scales with around about the same accuracy. Starting with a CEP error per thousand kilometres of 0.1 degrees. Which at 7,600 kilometres range between North Korea and the closest US territory of Hawaii is an approximate CEP of around 14 kilometres. Using simple trigonometry, this means that any range capable missile fired by the North Koreans might just about hit the biggest Hawaiian island. Or not. They’ve only just successfully tested an 800km capable missile. So a trans-pacific strike is hardly likely. At least not yet.

However if North Koreas frothing fruitcake regime did manage to make a missile capable of hitting Seattle (The closest major US mainland target) and we apply the same margin of error… Well, we in Victoria or Vancouver are as likely to be on the receiving end of North Korean ‘Bluff’ diplomacy as our cousins across the Juan De Fuca. Which would not please our large (Just under a million) ethnic Chinese population. Not that parts of Vancouver couldn’t do with a little urban renewal but this just isn’t funny.

That said, it’s far more likely that any ballistic missile attack from DPRK will be sent south rather than east, targeting US bases in South Korea rather than risk the embarrassment of hitting the wrong country entirely. What to do, it might muss our Prime Ministers lovely hair. The brutes.

From my perspective I’m hoping that the Chinese President sees his Florida meeting with Trump this week as an opportunity to negotiate an end to a regime that has become as big a thorn in China’s paw as to the USA and South Korea. Perhaps Kim Jong thingy and his top cohorts could meet with an ‘accident’ and in the ensuing confusion the Chinese could allow US aid in to feed North Korean refugees whilst they install a more business friendly regime.

I think I’ve said this before but a joint US / Chinese decapitation strike on Pyongyang is a far a better prospect than the possibility of the US or Canadian (Or maybe even the Mexican) West Coast ‘frying tonight’.

Update: Interesting way of ‘delivering a message’ to North Korea by sending 59 (Why not 60, or was one a dud?) cruise missiles winging into a Syrian air base suspected of dropping nerve agent onto civilians.  Production and stockpiling of that sort of chemical weapon has been illegal since 1993, so an airstrike can (just about) be justified with the backing of international law.  Providing of course that the Intelligence for the attack was solid.  However, knowing that a certain dictator had his older half brother assassinated by Nerve Agent one is temped to ask;  “Still feeling brave, Kimmy old thing?”  I have a feeling that Pyongyang may have to rethink their most recent bout of willy waving missile threats.

There’s news, and then there’s news

Now this post isn’t about ‘fake’ news, or op-eds decrying whichever side in the ongoing media wars that swamp all the mainstream outlets, but more the result of my nasty suspicious little mind. I’ve lived too long on this Earth to be anything less than cynical and as an investor, cynicism is a very useful tool. So it is with me.

There are lots of stories in the news about Iran preparing to give the USA a ‘slap in the face‘. Which looks like an act of monstrous ingratitude considering the bundle of cash Obama sent them special delivery over the much vaunted Iran Nuclear Deal. Why would this be? Weren’t the USA trying to be nice to the Iranians? Maybe it’s time to turn that sand into glass.

But hang on. Considering recent attempts to improve relations between Iran and the USA there’s more to this situation than meets the eye. Especially when I did a little googling of my own and found that the Iranians are having severe internal troubles. In one instance recently they deployed large numbers of elite units to Ahvaz in the agricultural region of Khuzestan where massive riots have broken out over a collapse in public services. And Iran being the type of state it is, is looking to do the old “Look! Over there!” trick by blaming the eternal enemy, the USA, which is the whipping boy for all Iran’s troubles. Nothing to do with Iran’s rulers cocking it up at all. Some sources are talking about another internal ‘Green Revolution’ against the hard line Islamic state. The one in 2009 failed, but what about this time round? Oil revenues are way down, so how are the Iranians going to fund this war-talk?

Similarly with North Korea and their threats to drop a nuclear bomb on the USA. If their missiles worked reliably and could carry such a warhead without the Yanks shooting it down. Now flip the news and consider the following. The Chinese, long North Korea’s biggest coal customer are pissed off over the Koreans bumping off Kim Jong Un’s older half brother, who was under Chinese protection and have been stopping shipments of coal at the border. No coal sales (for the rest of the year) mean no money, no wages and no food for all the soldiers that the North Koreans need to keep their top down militaristic state staggering along. Which in turn means economic collapse and somebody, no names, no pack drill, might just end up getting stomped to death by an angry mob while his bodyguards are having a suspiciously long tea break (or even his own bodyguards). So the North Korean state has to divert attention from the privations of their population. Nowadays I look at these repeated threats of a missile attack as being just North Korea’s funny little way of putting out the begging bowl for foreign aid. Essentially saying “We’ve got a missile and a bomb, honestly. Send money, we’re broke.”

Thinking about it, perhaps President Trump should be talking to the Chinese about letting the current North Korean regime collapse and maybe negotiate the withdrawal of US troops from the DMZ and South Korea with some form of ‘hands off’ agreement from both sides while a reunited Korea rebuilds and gets the North Koreans used to a better standard of living. The smart move would be to let the Chinese gain ‘face’ (Which is more important to them than money) and lose a troublesome neighbour. Then apart from the row over the Spratly’s, perhaps there could be a cooling down of tensions in the region. At least as far as the Chinese and Americans are concerned. The recent dispatch of an aircraft carrier to the region could then be turned into a ‘goodwill visit’ and allow the Chinese to have a field day trying to steal some of the USA’s less valuable military secrets. It’s a thought.

Mrs S and I often discuss these matters over our weekend breakfasts, and find it useful to look at the news as a ‘join the dots’ puzzle, because while a lot of people get ‘offended’ by superficial stuff then run around like headless chickens with their knickers rammed up their arses, the smarter folk take a breath, step back and try and get a feel for the broader picture, which is often very different from the one many news outlets would have you see.

The X-files were right about one thing, the truth is out there, but it’s not about aliens or strange phenomena. No, it’s far more interesting and profitable than that.

Update: The North Korean regime are now openly mocking China, as well as pissing off the relatively friendly Malaysians. This may be a great miscalculation on their part. China will not like losing face to these upstarts, and I can already hear the squeaking of economic screws tightening from all the way across the Pacific. This may be peppered with gunshots as the NK’s lash out (A very bad move) leading to a Chinese invasion. The NK’s may even have a go at the South (an even worse move), but burning their bridges with their only real protector is about as dumb as it gets.

So; what to do? That’s one for the military and political tacticians with a nod to the UN security council. Let the Chinese invade to the 38th Parallel? By negotiated arrangement of course. Then let the Chinese do their thing and install their own new puppet of a civilian administration. Add a little Chinese style capitalism, some inbound western investment and leave to brew for a decade.

Outcomes? Short term; very bad for the North Korean populace, so no change there. Medium term; very bad for the current North Korean regime. Which I don’t think anyone will shed any tears over. Long term; better for North Korea as it opens up to the greater world and finally discovers, like China, the delights capitalism can offer.

From the comments; just loved Elenamitchells nickname for NK dictator Kim Jong Un as ‘Spoonbanger’. Very apt.

Violence

Now I’ve been in a few scraps. Hand to hand stuff for which I’ve taken lumps and bruises, split lips, black eyes and even got my nose broken on one occasion. The younger Bill Sticker, despite his (usually) peaceful nature, developed a bit of a reputation for being able to handle himself in a fight. He also quickly learned that some things are not worth fighting over and when to walk away. How showing a contemptuous back to a would-be aggressor can stop them in their tracks but also how to spot the semi-psychotics who actually enjoy fighting.

Violence has a value, that much is true. When it comes to stopping someone hitting you, a good disabling Karate or Judo strike or throw, I’ve found, is invaluable. But only in self defence or other dire need.

What violence as a means of communication cannot do is change hearts and minds. It can only repress the expression of those ideas. Because ideas are something you can’t get rid of by any form of physical intervention. Even if you eliminate an entire population holding a given idea, tear down all their buildings, burn their books, wipe every trace of them from this earth, you can be sure that some bright spark will try to repeat it. Did the Inquisition stop Judaism or Islam? Nope, still here. Doing remarkably well, too. Did the Nazi Holocaust or Shoah get rid of all the Jews, Gays and political opposition? Hmm, I’d be inclined to say not. Will the violent ‘Antifa’ protests unseat President Trump or rescind his actions? No. Violence and its threat did stop large scale aggression on the parts of Napoleon and Hitler, but did the military necessity truly change any minds? Take a good careful look around before answering.

So when I posted that you can’t change someone’s mind by punching their lights out on one of Stefan Molyneux’s video’s, he simply replied “False though”. To which I wanted to respond with:

No. If someone physically hits me, it doesn’t ‘change my mind’ or alter my opinion on a given topic. What it does is make me want to hit them back harder and distracts from the original cause of the disagreement.

I would argue that violence as a negotiating tool only works so long as the oppressing party can maintain the state of fear the threat of assault is meant to engender.

But two attempts to post my answer to his reply led to ‘comment failed to post’. Fine, his gaff, his rules. He can only answer so many replies and I think he’s instituted a 48 hour shut out on commenting. However, I have this blog, so this is where I will post my thoughts on the matter. If Stefan or one of his friends cares to drop by and reply within the next 21 days (See comments policy), they’re welcome.

As for the violent ‘Antifa’ anti-Trump riots. The only thing those do is persuade me that these so-called black masked ‘anti-fascists’ are the very embodiment of fascism. Because they try to repress other opinions by physical intimidation, but their actions only serve to cement an opposition to their goals, at least in my mind. If asked, I’d say that these riots have all the sophistication and persuasiveness of a thwarted toddler pitching a fit at Mummy because she won’t let them have just one more sweetie.

Indeed, I am of the school of thought that violent action too often serves to prolong disputes. See Northern Ireland, where those on the shallow end of the IQ curve are still fighting the 1690 Battle of the Boyne.

Anyway, it’s snowing and I must get shovelling if Mrs S and I are to make our usual Friday lunch date.

World not doomed

Sister in law has been bragging how she’s signed the petition against a state visit to the UK by the new US President. For what? Because of the travel ban for nationals from half a dozen countries? Something Obama did back in 2011? I think Sister in law gets her politics from the dumpster behind her local Supermarket it’s so far past it’s sell-by date. That or CNN. They’re both just as tainted.

What’s not being widely, or sympathetically broadcast is the other side of the story. Trump has been negotiating ‘safe zones’ for refugees in country, allowing many more of those poor sods displaced by war to be helped closer to their own homeland without being transplanted to what is for them, an alien culture. Specifically the West, where they will have great difficulty getting decent jobs, extended families will be split, and the stage set for yet more terrorist attacks by disaffected youth funded by religious zealots with too much money… oh yes, and elements within Western regimes who use such zealotry for their own proxy wars. Oh yes, people can virtue signal about how much they ‘care’ about refugees, but if they really, truly ‘cared’ they would be looking more critically at the core issues and protesting Western middle eastern meddling like Hilary Clinton’s handling of the ‘Arab Spring’.

Well, the good news is that at least one source of funding for such groups may start drying up because of this little piece of financial news. Which is only of interest to those with a finger in an international pie. I hope it will lead to a reduction in monies flowing to groups subsidising terror attacks. Which will be good for all of those preferring not to be blown to bits because someone thinks their God has been insulted.

Those of you reading the article may go “WTF are you on, Bill? How does imposing tax on expats, tobacco and sugary drinks reduce the risk of terrorism?” To which I would answer, look at the wider picture. Oil revenues are shrinking due to the current glut and will continue to do so, which is leading to a rude awakening in some quarters. So much for ‘peak oil’, eh? Whether certain regimes will wise up and wind their necks in is down to them. I’m hoping the spare change which has been funding terror cells will shrink, because there’s no money in blowing people up for free.

Incidentally, have you seen the cost of ammunition recently? Well, that’s just the USA, but can be considered a reflection of a wider trend. Maybe terrorists will think twice before going on the rampage if they have to shell out more for bullets.

So yes, I’m optimistic. Less money for the radical Wahabi sect stirring up disaffection, which is fuelling the current Islamic terror attacks, should allow more moderate voices to shine through and begin internal reforms, which Islam as a whole seriously needs to address if it is to remain relevant in the 21st century. In fact all the interested parties could begin by considering the following; “It’s impossible to change minds after you’ve blown their brains out.”

As for the USA’s proposed new diplomatic stance with Russia, that’s good too. The cold war ended officially in 1989. So why the hell the West is farting about with military deployments instead of building metaphorical bridges and opening up broader trade links is beyond me. Russia isn’t the old Soviet Union any more.

Then there’s a wonderful sucking sound as the ‘Man Made Climate Change’ nonsense is relegated to a more realistic place in the USA’s threat list. Specifically the bottom. It was never more than a bogeyman to frighten the gullible into line anyway, because the models don’t work, and the real numbers are all wrong. And numbers, unlike people who want to keep riding their gravy train, don’t lie. As it is in international commerce, so it is in science. The real numbers are all that matter. Everything else is a Netflix ‘Documentary’, to be viewed only with a very critical eye.

So I’m not signing any silly ‘anti-Trump’ petition because I think he’s thought long and hard about the issues of this world and wants to try a more businesslike approach.

Beaches

We’re enjoying our new home. Not only is it only ten minutes from the stores, it’s less than ten minutes from the closest half way decent beach, there’s a small but perfectly formed fishing lake less than three hundred metres walk away, and I have my own full size office. It’s not beach weather, but it will be in a few months. And although the sand is a few shades darker than I’m used to, it’s still the same texture.

Mrs S is still hors de combat and will be until mid February / early March, so I’m having to ferry her around and perform various personal functions she has trouble with, like the simple action of pulling on a sock or lacing up her shoes. I don’t mind.

Our new place has a lot more space than our old apartment, and needs a few more sticks of furniture. Selection of which is a work in progress. New desk for her. New bookcases (Yes, more bookcases) for me. A new Ottoman for the front room. Small stuff. All of which I’m okay with. Pictures need to be hung. Two large mirrors need locating. All thieves of time, but hey, she is injured and needs time to heal properly, so I’m happy to go along. It’s just part of the whole “In sickness and in health” thing I signed up to. No biggie.

What I am getting annoyed with is the hatchet op-eds she keeps on insisting reading aloud about Trump and what a naughty man he is for doing exactly what he said he would do on the campaign trail. Why she and the various pundits are so surprised I have no idea, but if the FT doesn’t get back to reporting some proper financial news soonish, our subscriptions will be shut down. I pay for proper financial news, what’s really happening, not some Journo’s half-arsed emotion-ridden ‘opinion’.

If I wanted to read trashy personal attacks on Trump I’d go to CBC, CNN, the Huffington Post or similar. Although it’s such fun to read various Grauniad columnists getting their panties in a bunch over stuff Trump is doing which they gave Obama a total pass on. But I do so love the smell of burning hypocrisy in the morning.

Well it amuses me. But as I’m real bastard son of a bitch it would, wouldn’t it?

Well, there’s always the Winter beach and sea. There’s also a friendly Bernese Mountain dog who patrols one particular isolated little place and ‘adopts’ any moderately sensible human. The first time we met I half expected him to try and jump in the back of my car, just like my old mutt used to. But no, he just ambled on his way home to get fed, fussed and the sand brushed out of his coat by his real boss.

Watching history

This morning I watched the livestream of President Trumps inauguration. Prior to ten fifty a lot of which seemed to be taken up by two nervous looking Marines standing in front of a door. two-marines-and-a-door-still-life
Then just after ten to eleven (Eastern Standard time that is, in my case 9:00a.m. Pacific) the doors opened and Trump stepped into the light. And guess who he stepped through the door with? Like they were a couple of old business buddies?
trump-and-obama-01
Although I recognise the expression on Trumps face as he appears to be lectured by his predecessor. It was that; “I hear what you say, but I’m going to get my lawyers to check it over first.” Look. And well he might.

I was also watching the comments stream flashing by. Jeebus, what a throng of room temperature IQ’s from both sides of the aisle. Some trollish moron kept posting swastikas. Which is odd, as their sigil is probably more like the old Soviet hammer and sickle. Mrs S was kibitzing over my shoulder making sarcastic remarks all through Trump’s acceptance speech. Youngest posted something moronic like “Nice knowing you all.” Which I’d have posted had Clinton been taking the oath of office, because her Neocon leanings would definitely have put the West one step closer to a full blown war with Russia. Me, I’ll cut the guy some slack and see how things go.

Anyway, Friday’s major task is throwing out a carload of cardboard and paper from our recent move at the recycling depot. No doubt President Trump has his own garbage to be rid of. Let’s see how he manages the first hundred days. This could get very interesting.

Update: Looks like he’s started already.