Tag Archives: USA

Trump card

Now that Donald J Trump is officially the Republican Presidential nominee I expect to keep hearing even more stories about people from south of the border (and I don’t mean Mexicans) threatening to move to Canada should he become President of the USA. Trust me chaps, it’s a bad idea. Honestly, as this cartoon by the irrepressible XKCD points out. Our Winters can get a bit brutal, especially in the Rockies and Eastbound. Which is why most of us prefer to snuggle up close to the 49th Parallel or thereabouts. Even here in the comparatively mild Maritime climate of the Pacific Northwest it can get decidedly chilly. Especially Campbell River and north.

Dont move to canada To begin with, north of the 49th parallel we do not enjoy the same diversity of goods as in the US of A. Grocery stores do not stock wine or even lite beer. Did I also mention it’s more expensive to live up here as well? Food and rent prices are generally higher, and property costs more to buy, even with the current exchange rate. A lot of places close on public holidays as well as Sundays and Mondays and Wal-Mart is no longer taking VISA payments in some of its stores. And if you want to shop at Target instead… oh, wait. You can’t. They’re all shut. Permanently. Then there’s the bears. Who aren’t to be messed with, even in the suburbs of Vancouver. They’re are also known to break into cars (To be fair, it was a Lexus). On the plus side, the wildlife does tend to keep the human varmints indoors, when they’re not indulging in the odd gang shooting (The gang bangers, not the Bears or Cougars). Which keeps our local Police busy. Yes, and Marijuana isn’t fully legal just yet. So before you sell up and fill up the U-Haul, take a deep breath.

Then there’s the Governance. It’s a bit more, well, intrusive if you know what I mean. Especially at the local scale. We might currently have a progressive prime minister, but no, Canada is not the progressive paradise you might think it is. Trudeau or no.

Don’t even mention the First Nations land claims or the endless prevaricating over relatively simple decisions like building a new sewage treatment facility for BC’s provincial capital. Or that our Provincial Prime Minister avoids coming to Victoria as much as possible because there’s “No real people” here (Which I find a bit insulting). Dear me no. A can of worms? More like truckloads. It’s why things move at a slower pace up here in the not so frozen north. Especially immigration.

However, we like it, but for Americans some of our more, ahem, eccentric practices might be too much of an an acquired taste. So are you damn Yankees absolutely sure you’re going to head north if, or more likely when, Donald Trump becomes the next US President?

What he said

Read this article penned (or rather keyed) by the ever logical Mr Willis Eschenbach over at Wattsupwithat.com. Which is a fine analysis of exactly how many people get killed by the Police in the USA and more to the point, why. It makes interesting reading. Especially the information that two ‘white’ people die in Police related incidents for every single ‘black’ or African American. That’s right, double the deaths that the BLM activists are all worked up about. Not percentages, but actual cold hard numbers.

Back in my foot patrol days I recall a conversation with my old beat buddy Asif. It’s still clear in my memory even ten years on. We were bitching about the job, and what we were thinking of doing with our lives instead of pounding pavement, collecting abuse and blisters for the sake of parking tickets. I suggested to him that he might make a first class dog handler in the Police Force. Seriously, never met a better man with animals. He loved dogs (Especially German Shepherds) and would have been brilliant at it. Asif, as his pseudonym implies, is not ‘white’. Lovely bloke, but his own worst enemy.
He demurred, responding; “Yeah, but the Police beat up black people.”
To which I half-jokingly replied; “The Police beat up everybody. It’s their job.”
To my shame I was never able to convince him otherwise. He had this peer group driven belief that the Police arrested by skin colour alone instead of criminal behaviour and nothing would shift it. Sad really.

On a more serious note, I think there’s traction here for the various Police Unions in the USA to start some class action lawsuits against media and other organisations that exaggerate and twist the facts over Police related deaths. The proceeds from which should pay the college funds for the dependants of officers killed in the line of duty because of such propaganda. Hey, Gloogle, Farcebook and Twatter have billions. Maybe they should form a financial trust for the families of officers killed in the line of duty, seeing as it’s their platforms that are used to transmit much of the anti-Police rhetoric.

Just general stuff

Well that’s the beginning of our next big trip sorted out. Two new touring jackets and helmets, body armour etc. Matching his and hers ordered. Pricey, but I’ve got the money having made a good deal over the weekend, despite being out of the country. After that I pulled my assets out of stocks and shares because I’m concerned the US market may be close to peak, and don’t fancy losing all my gains if there’s a Wall Street Crash event while I’m busy elsewhere. So, a little profit taking has been done, and I’m standing back for a moment to catch my breath and see what’s going on in the background.

One of the people I’ve begun listening to a lot is Mark Blyth (See sample talk below)

He actually seems to have his finger on the pulse, talking clearly and concisely about macroeconomic matters and their consequences. He’s rational, logical, amusing, down to earth and makes an otherwise difficult topic, so often clouded with politically motivated bamboozlement by the doctrinaire, sound so simple. Save, don’t save, export, trade balances, assets, liabilities he covers a great swath of the worlds economic ills and their root causes. One to follow.

crow and half mastSo, we’re back from the northwestern USA, having seen a lot of flags flying at half mast in memory of the five murdered Dallas Police officers. Every Police station, city hall, fire department and quite a few businesses we saw were flying the stars and stripes thus. Which leads me into a puzzlement. How does whipping up others to kill Policemen advance the cause of the BLM activists? That’s a completely counter intuitive strategy, rather like fucking to increase virginity. Add to that the knowledge that a good many of the class warriors stirring things up are northern European in appearance. In short, what we used to call ‘rent-a-mob’. Turning up at any protest to scream and shout mainly because it gives their miserable lives a perverse sort of meaning.

Not that we saw much of their antics. Near the place we spent last weekend, we observed a great many people blundering around peering intently at their dumbphone screens, headphones on, almost oblivious to the outside world. Apparently many are engrossed in an online game called ‘Pokemon Go‘. Even to the point of playing while driving. Which may qualify them for a Darwin award. One man in New York state is known to have wrapped his car around a tree while playing (I’m surprised he’s the only one reported thus). Stories are emerging of players wandering aimlessly into busy traffic and various Police forces have issued safety warnings. There have been no reported fatalities as yet, but it’s early days. The shallow end of the gene pool always gets emptied first.

As for the Nice attack, words fail me. Well, apart from thinking how pointless it was. Like with Paris last year, we’re not changing next years travel plans for it.

Gosh, is that my cynicism? I was wondering where I’d left it.

I wish….

A plague of flies has briefly infested the homestead, and I’ve been picking dozens of bluebottle corpses out of everywhere this morning. The fly spray and paper have done their work and I’m picking up the fallout. As usual.

I’m also a little melancholy having taken in the news of the Brexit vote. Not that I think it’s not a result for those who want a proper say in how their country is run, because it is. I’m sad because a man I used to correspond with is not here to see it. Not sure what happened, only that he died in April last year.

We shared a lot of ideological ground, he and I, believing that people own themselves, and that relentless officialdom, no matter how well intentioned, often does more good than harm. He was a firm believer in common law and common decency, even if he liked to butt heads with authority rather than subvert.

It seems that a lot of people all over the world have had enough with the status quo. Iceland, in a result overshadowed by the Brexit vote and footie results, has installed an Independent in the President’s chair after kicking out the mainstream incumbent over a corruption scandal. In the USA, Donald Trump is overturning the political apple cart. Backed by those disenfranchised by a politics disconnected from the day to day. By ordinary people frustrated with helplessness against massive bureaucracy, having their privacy invaded at will and feeling that they can’t win against the forces of perverse conformity who are now speaking out and voting. They’re angry at so called ‘anti-fascists’ who are bigger fascists than the people they’re mad at, physically attacking people in the street with seeming impunity. Sick of being insulted online and off by these purveyors of poisonous doctrines simply for voicing a concern, however mildly. Well here’s the pushback. A true blue-collar revolution has the underdogs out of their kennels, teeth bared and snarling against the soft fascism sanctioned by self concerned political elites supported by a dishonest mainstream media.

As an aside; Mrs S is currently doing an online course about the EU with Barcelona University, and she’s looking at me with new respect. “You were right about it all along, Bill.” She said over breakfast this morning. “I’ve just been reading up on the misleading language in publicly available EU documents, and it’s really opened my eyes.” Frankly I’ve been sceptical about the EU for some time, but everything she’s fielded to me has confirmed that the EU is being run for the sake of vested interests and political cronies and bugger the rest of us. You know what’s crazy? All the evidence has always been out there in plain sight. All you need to do is read the treaties and documents carefully. Or have a high priced lawyer do it. But not many can afford the legal expertise necessary. Ergo the EU Commissars and friends been getting away with it. For years.

Sargon of Akkad has an intelligent view of things on his latest ‘Week in Stupid’ video.

Now the whole EU house of cards is looking like the hollow shell I’ve often suspected that it is. And I’m not the only one. The penny is dropping rapidly all over the world. Eyes are being opened and they don’t like what they see. It’s not just the UK, the whole globalist structure is in the spotlight. Not from journalists who need to trade favours for access, but from the common and uncommon man (Or woman) who has nothing to lose but his chains.

We live in interesting times. Somehow I think Ranty as his uncommon self would have approved. I just wish he’d lived to see it.

On a happier note; I’ve finally decided what my next motorcycle is going to be. One of these. I don’t care if I’ll need a Visa to cross European borders or not. That’s just a detail, and Mrs S and I are good at details.

Who said that….

” I think it will take a nonpolitician to break the logjam. Somebody with a big-picture outlook. “

I wonder who said that back in 2000? Hmmm.

First to answer doesn’t get a prize for being a smartass. I wouldn’t like to be around to argue with the mildly scary guys who are volunteering to do extra security for his supporters either. Oddly enough, I’ve seen rent-a-mobs fade away from such a robust response. Well, they don’t want their asses handed to them on a plate. It’s why vegan activists generally don’t throw things at big guys wearing lots of leather.

Gosh, this looks like it’s going to be fun.

That Brexit business

I’ve been reading some interesting history about the causes of the American Civil war recently, with more in depth contemporary sources from both sides of the Atlantic. Civil war Bill? Isn’t this post title about the UK leaving the EU? Okay, bear with me. All will become crystal in due course.

Now the US Civil War was fought over slavery, right? That’s what we’re taught in school. Erm… wrong! It began because of taxation. Ever hear of a thing called the Morrill Tariff? Those guys in Fort Sumter that got fired upon, kicking the whole thing off? Tax collectors, there to ensure the collection of said Washington imposed Tariff, which hiked internal Federal import duties for the Southern states from 20 to 47%. Yikes! Much to the annoyance of the Southern states and also the British, who were a major trading partner at the time.

Journalist and anti-slavery campaigner Charles Dickens (Yes, that Charles Dickens) wrote a number of scathing articles criticising the imposition of this tariff increase by the US Federal Government. Which of course went down like a lead balloon with our cousins in the north-eastern USA after they’d feted him in a grand tour. Myth, is it? Don’t think so.

As an aside, I’d never really realised what a nasty piece of work old Abraham Lincoln was. He actually gave orders to instigate the war. Other secret orders followed; orders for executions of civilians. A bizarre mass execution of 38 Minnesota Indians. Carte blanche for rampaging troops to burn and pillage. He wasn’t a lover of non-whites either, preferring to ship them back to Africa and suchlike after the war. Slaves might be freed by the Civil War, but they were definitely unwanted by the North.

As a history buff, I’m often amused by the way people keep on trying the same old games with highly similar results. History never exactly repeats itself, but you don’t have to be a towering intellect to understand that applying the same old answers to the same old questions always ends in tears. So, I’m given to think, will be the results of the breakup of the EU.

Now here’s a scenario. Say the ‘leave’ contingent of the electorate get their way and there is a massive vote to ditch the bureaucratic monstrosity that the EU has become. The UK begins the process of leaving, to which the EU’s response is a demand for a massive ‘penalty’ payment. To which the UK, quite rightly and like the Southern states did in 1861, says “F**k *ff”. The EU then imposes punitive tariffs on exports to the UK, and for a couple of months the Brits can’t get parts for their Fiats, Peugeots, Mercedes or BMW’s for love nor money, and they have to import their wine from Chile and Argentina. Amongst other things. Until said tariffs are circumvented by the simple expedient of shifting the paper trail of European imports via Norway. Norway’s economy booms with this new trade route, much to the chagrin of the Brussels bureaucrats.
Brexit
Unless of course Brexit is the first step in other major contributing countries deciding that the EU is more trouble than it’s worth. France for one. Some of the old Warsaw pact states and of course bankrupt Greece. The whole project could fold if Germany decides it’s not going to keep the whole shebang going on its own. Which would present challenges, but also many opportunities. As well as being one in the eye for those who think that Government always knows best (It doesn’t). Who will not like it, not one little bit, and will take measures of all sorts to make life difficult for countries who want out. Up to and including bullets and bombs. A close study of history teaches us that this is so.

As for slavery? In the mid 1850’s it was an institution that was on its way out, at least in the West. Allegedly.

Now I’m fully behind the idea of the UK leaving the EU, which was sold as a free trade area, but has turned into a massive greedy bureaucratic leech. One that is bloated, well past it’s sell-by date and needs a good rinse and spin to shrink it down to size. Unfortunately, too many useless mouths have got, in the words of my forbears “Too damn cosy with other people’s money.” But they will fight tooth and nail to maintain their lives of privilege and air conditioned offices. In their eyes ‘Brexit’ is a major threat which may require force. Rather like the US Civil War.

My final word on the topic (for a given value of ‘final’) Leave, but be prepared for a fight. Just in case.

Blood and sand!

I just checked my odometer on our faithful little SUV and got a bit of a shock. Since we began what I’m still minded to think of as our ‘little adventure’, the reading has gone from 71418 to 87974 Kilometres. Which means we’ve driven 16,556 Kilometres in the last six weeks. A shade over 10,000 (ten thousand) miles. About two fifths of the way around the Earth. The equivalent of driving from Victoria BC to Victoria in jolly old Londinium, UK, and back with miles to spare. Even if you could drive in a straight line without getting very damp crossing the Atlantic. We’ve driven well over the distance to Victoria Australia for heavens sake! My Guinness! I haven’t done that sort of mileage since my road warrior days back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Or even when I was working my way through college driving a van in the 1980’s, clocking up close to 50,000 personal miles in one year. Blood and sand! As I am often heard to expostulate.

The only mechanical issue encountered was a blowout of the rear drivers side tyre on the road between Amarillo, Texas and San Antonio. Which says a lot for our car. It has lugged us and our baggage all the way without missing a beat. However, for the moment I think our brave little Subaru has earned a rest and a thorough service for its travails. So it’s back to shopping and errands, with the odd commute on the side.

Anyway, what have I learned during our journey? Well actually quite a bit, but perhaps not quite so much as some would think. Then again, possibly more than I can enumerate at present as my brain is currently still processing all the sights, sounds and experiences of the last 42 (forty two) days, drip feeding them into long term memory and hard coding everything into my consciousness for easy retrieval. Normally I’m quite good at replaying the videotape of my memories back to myself, but the vastness of landscape and enormity of distance have left my subconscious running around in panic mode trying to file it all properly. I’ll have to refer to the thousand or so pictures we took to refresh my memory, just so I can bore people to tears with tall tales of derring don’t.

Mrs S remarked that her own brain is still a little overwhelmed because whilst the body may move at over sixty miles an hour, the brain follows at a more pedestrian pace. It’s small wonder we haven’t, metaphysically speaking, collided with ourselves on the way back. I may have to practice standing very still for the next couple of days while I catch up with myself.

The rest of the world will have to wait.

The end is nigh

Well actually it’s here. The long trip is over and we’re safe home to a leaky toilet and thoughts of moving to a less plumbing troubled apartment. Yesterday we crossed the border back into Canada and reached home. We are taking a huge tranche of memories and experiences, some of which I will be sharing with my last remaining reader as I shoehorn the relevant memories into some semblance of order. We’ve taken over a thousand pictures, some of which are actually in focus, a select few of which will be cropped, resized and posted on this blog, possibly with amusing captions and text.

One of the reasons I haven’t posted so much about our trip is simple; we’ve been too busy doing to write about it, and there’s been at least an hour a day when my brain’s been too overwhelmed to put everything down in a half way cogent fashion.

This content will not be appearing on Facebook. First because I’ve tried to shut my Facebook account down several times. Yes, I followed all the tips and hints religiously, but still the wretched thing has been resurrected so many times you’d think it had been buried in a Yo-yo. Second because I now do all my picture and video sharing with family and friends on Instagram. As our kids have migrated away from Facebook, so have we. Third because Facebook censors stuff it’s employees don’t like. It’s politically censorious because that was always part of its design. Which will eventually be the death of the site. Remember Friends reunited? Yes? No? Don’t care? That was big. Once upon a time. No doubt Facebook will follow as people tire of getting those annoying little ‘Your content has been removed’ notices. Tout passe, tout lasse, tout casse, et tout se remplace. I don’t care how many ’emotional speeches’ people make about their personal lives. You’d think they were the only people who’d ever suffered troubled times. Newsflash! Been there, done that. Not impressed with all the public caterwauling.

Any old road up, of which we have encountered many, I’ve got two major projects for this Summer. One is work related, but the other is to go through all the photo’s we took and spend a little time documenting our trip properly with all the events and anecdotes associated with our journey. From underwhelming hotel accommodation and nice surprises to random stuff like finding ‘white power’ visiting cards under our windscreen wiper one merry May morning. Which amused me, but also brought forth the snippet that there was an active community of such people in Boise. The noisy sort who hold marches and suchlike. We missed them all while we were there. They must have been taking the day off is all I can say.

Talking of taking the day off, I’ve just been looking for volunteer opportunities locally to help victims of the Fort McMurray fire. To which I must report I found none in Victoria. At least not online. There are plenty for Syrian refugees, SPCA, Eating Disorders, Invasive Plant Species, Farmers Markets, but none for sending supplies to the afflicted in Alberta. Maybe I’m just too late and all the fuss is over? Or is the well known BC prejudice against Oil Sands production making itself felt yet again? Hmm.

The big potato

That was a bit of a hike across from West Yellowstone to Boise. Across miles of hills, volcanic left overs (I can honestly report that I have been to see the Craters of the Moon) and potato fields. Miles and bloody miles of nothing but potato fields interspersed with the odd ranch. Well, this road trip is an exploration, and what we found in Idaho was mile after mile of potato fields.

Yellowstone by contrast was brilliant. We saw no bears or wolves, but did come across dozens of buffalo grazing by the roadside. Parts of the park were still closed because of snow and the real risk of being attacked and even eaten by a grizzly bear. Let me explain; bears come out of hibernation in the spring, having hibernated through the coldest months, and like anyone who’s had a nice long kip, they tend to wake up very hungry. Which isn’t much fun if Mr Bear is looking out for a little smackerel of something, and today it’s your turn on the menu under ‘dish of the day’.

Notwithstanding, Mrs S and I went “ooh!” and “ah!” at all the Geysers and hot springs, saw Old Faithful spout it’s stuff, went around the visitor centre and ate hot dogs purporting to be made from Bison before wending our directionally challenged way back to our Hotel. On that topic, there was a great deal of spirited discussion about how the hell we’d missed our turning back to the park entrance, and the additional interest of watching a rescue crew go to the aid of a car that had mistaken a river gorge for the road. Then watch in amazement as an ignorant driver tried to shove a stop sign bearing park ranger aside with their vehicle while reading a cell phone screen. A word to anyone out there who texts while driving; you’re a fucking moron whose name we hope to see in the obituary columns, hopefully without taking anyone else with you. That and I hope your insurance company refuses to pay for any damage done. Having seen the antics of drivers peering at their tiny cell phone screens while driving, I’m inclined to observe that texting while driving is worse than driving under the influence of any drug. A relapsing alcoholic is a better insurance risk. A shoot on sight policy may be necessary.

One additional note from recent news reports. About this whole transgender thing and public toilets. Here’s a suggestion; let those self identifying as neither fish nor flesh nor fowl use the disabled toilets. So all those parents fretting about perverts in public loos leering at their offspring can now breathe. I’m also minded to note that those who are male to female TG’s will never truly be biologically female, no matter how good their cosmetic surgery. Their glands will always be intrinsically male, and they can’t have ovaries. Likewise the female to male. Cosmetic surgery can’t give them a functional set of testicles or shrink their Corpus Callosum (Although recent studies have called the sexual dimorphism of this brain structure into doubt). Transgenders are self-disabling, they can neither be defined as male or female, so I would posit that the disabled toilets are where these unfortunately psycho-sexually scrambled individuals belong. Wasn’t that easy? No need for new laws or anything. Besides, there are so few real TG’s proportionately speaking in the population that I’m moved to ask why the hell this is even an issue requiring legislation. Or is this a case of Social Activists making a civil rights mountain out of a molehill? As per bloody usual. I suppose it gives them something to do. Although I wish they’d take up a more socially useful pursuit like building train sets or stamp collecting.

On an associated topic, having spent time in France on more than one occasion and become used to Frances eclectic mixture of public male and female sanitary facilities, I personally am less likely to be startled when Mom suddenly appears behind me while I’m recycling my coffee because junior is afraid to go to the loo on his own. As recently happened in one restaurant facility. I was siphoning the old python and heard the clicking of female heels behind me. Glancing curiously over my shoulder I saw a woman ushering her recalcitrant and protesting little boy towards the mens cubicles. “I’ll be here.” She reassured him. I looked at her with a sympathetic grimace and she graciously apologised for the intrusion. Which was fine. Kids sometimes do have issues when out in public. All you can do is accept any apology with a polite smile and make sure your zipper or fly buttons are properly closed before moving on to the washbasin and hand drier. It’s only good manners.

Above and below the snow line

That was fun, wasn’t it young Bill? All we needed was hail and a hurricane and we’ll have collected the set as far as weather is concerned on this trip. As you can see by the photo below we’ve been up above the snow line, watching the less prepared skid and swerve after powering past us on dry roads lower down. The chap in the picture below for example, was travelling on summer tyres and shortly after Mrs S took this picture shimmied into a left filter lane to let us past when the fog got too much for him.
Snow Joke driving Then he cut in behind us as we caught up with an eighteen wheeler on the downgrade, only to vanish off the road a few minutes later, having already stirred my survival instincts with his mildly erratic steering. Did he lose the road completely or lose his nerve? No idea. All I know is that he was there one second and gone the next. The three pickups and cars behind us showed no signs of alarm, so I assume he swung off into one of the laybys on the other side of the road to catch his breath. The old US-50 through the mountains isn’t a road I’d like to travel in less than totally dry conditions on summer rubber. Anyway, I digress.

A week left. Wow. I keep getting asked by various people about what I, as a Canadian and expat Brit, think about the USA. To which the answer is a big “Don’t know”. Which sounds like a bit of a cop-out and maybe it is, but my sense of scale is still in complete overload. ‘What I think’ is not something I care to distil into a single sentence. I could of course cheat and resort to vague and cheesy adjectives like ‘fantastic’, ‘amazing’ and even ‘awesome’, but these would be highly misleading. The USA is too diverse, too big to sum up in this fashion. From desert to swamp, farmland to forest, from flood plain to salt flat. Oh yes, regarding Bonneville salt flats (Another one ticked off my bucket list), this is what the raceway looked like yesterday.Bonneville salt flats 11th May 2016
The bullet hole riddled black sign (I estimate at least 20 perforations, and another 30 bullet dents) in the lower right of the picture is at the end of the access road. After that the rest of the area, several square miles, are two to six inches deep in water. By the end of the month this water will be gone. Evaporated, just like every year. We didn’t take our sturdy little SUV out on the waterlogged flats, as the fee for getting towed out of the mud and salt should you get stuck, is a cool twelve hundred bucks US. I’m not sure if the towing companies take credit cards either. Anyway, the salt will all have dried out by early June, and the crust will be hard and smooth enough for race week and speed record attempts by the blistering head of mid July and August. I’d like to see that. Fly into Salt Lake, hire a car, park out at the rest area at mile 104 with a big sunshade and my 20×50 binoculars and watch the fun.