Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Meanwhile, back in real life......

Were talking to Youngest via Skype this morning when she dropped a metaphorical bombshell. A bombshell that suddenly connects all the dots enough for me to have one of those revelatory 'so that's it' moments.

I may have mentioned in a previous post the pestilential personality that is Mrs S's ex-husband (Although without quite so much alliteration). In a recent acrimonious exchange of angry e-mails, he has accused Mrs S of "Shirking her responsibilities" and being "a bad mother" over Eldests current crop of financial misfortunes. All this despite us taking some of our carefully nurtured capital to assist Eldest past her crisis. He has demanded Bank details. He has demanded that we pay him so he can be the conduit of funds, yet at no time has he ever listened to Mrs S when she tells him she is doing what she can from our end. We have elected to deal direct with Eldest, as I don't trust the slippery son of a bitch one nanometre.

Now for my part I'd previously always tried to treat with the guy fairly. Despite Mrs S dripping venom at the very mention of his name, I let him into the house to see his daughters and tried not to be judgemental about my lady wife's previous choice of husband material. Had I known then what I know now, I would have never let the guy in the bloody street.

I've probably blogged before that he remarried not long after he and Mrs S had parted company for good, and was now getting divorced again earlier this year, but the reasons behind said divorce were never vouchsafed in our direction. My thoughts at the time were something along the lines of the triumph of hope over experience. As well as; "Go 'way son, you're bothering me." When he came around demanding money with menaces. Now we've been told that he is to remarry in Africa, and already has a five year old daughter there. The funds he has been demanding from us that he says he wants wants to 'give' to our girls may well be somewhat anaemic by the time they reach their intended destination. Word is that he lost big time on the stock market last year, and is looking for cash to pay school fees for the latest addition to his offspring and fund his new wife and families business venture. Ergo, we strongly suspect that he wanted to siphon off some of our bloody money to pay for his new flaming family.

Three words describe my reaction. Chance. No. Bloody. Cheeky bastard. I think the phrase "he can go and fuck himself" has some synergy here.

Our girls are angry, and so is Mrs S. I can hear her steaming right now from two rooms away. My own reaction is more mixed. Amusement at his chutzpah. Annoyance that he'd think of stiffing us to fund his new familial allegiances and responsibilities. Determination to ensure that he'll never get away with trying to put one over on us again.

All I'm going to add is this; it's going in the MSS 'Stepdad'. Heh, heh, heh.

Hockey stick graphs

Thank you Steve McIntyre and Ross McKittrick for finally administering the coup de grace to the evil of climate pseudoscience. The beast of Anthropogenic Global Warming is dying, eyes glazing over as blood drains from a fatal wound. Wailing acolytes will no doubt gather at the corpse and deny their false god is no more, but it is too late. The corpse lies bleeding in the arena for all to see. With their statistical swords steeped in gory false assertions, the two mathematical matadors have rightly earned rose laden accolades from their sceptical audience.

All right, I'm waxing a bit lyrical with the bullfight imagery, but what two Canadian statisticians have done is monumental. By proving that the notorious graph predicting 'runaway climate change' was based on flawed data, they may have saved the western world from self destruct. That, I am convinced, is no hyperbole.

Compare and contrast the images below. The top is the original 'Hockey stick' graph predicting runaway temperature rises by the years 2000-2010, and underneath is McIntyres comparison which shows what happens when all the data available was used using the same statistical methodologies. The red line is the original flawed prediction, the black line shows the actual trend using all the tree ring proxy data available from the Yamal study. Same data set, only the original 'Hockey stick' used carefully selected (and limited) data intended to produce a particular result. Excuse me, but that isn't science, that's cheating. Jones, Briffa et al should be facing some kind of disciplinary for this.

Now let's see what the thermometers are actually telling us about the threatened apocalypse.

Ah. Looks like time to invest in Winter sports gear and thermal underwear. Anyone seen the Damart catalogue?

Bishop Hill's take on the subject is highly enlightening too.

H/T Wattsupwithat, Climate Audit, Jennifer Marohasy, Bishop Hill

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

I talk to the trees....

Was over at wattsupwithat looking at a rather academic article about tree ring data. Now being only a thickie Technician and ex Street Pounder it's sometimes difficult for me to follow the arguments there without spraining my poor over abused brain cells. However, the article was about trees, and I've cut down a few of those when clearing land or gardens and lived in old 'quaint' (Read draughty and expensive to heat) English houses with lots of exposed beams. Not to mention cutting quite a few tons of logs for firewood over the years. My Mothers house is one such example of 17th Century (or possibly earlier) English vernacular architecture. So if only by way of observation, I've stared (occasionally gloomily and sometimes out of breath) at many cross sections of cut timber. Living in BC, I walk around lots of forest, and although many pieces of woodland look like manufactories for telegraph poles, nothing grows entirely straight.

The thing that strikes me is that no tree I've ever seen cut through, not even the straightest Douglas Fir, is symmetrical all the way through. The tree rings all vary in thickness around the circumference, and the centre of a tree is usually off centre caused by various local variations like where it grew, the amount of shade it was in, nutrients and animal disturbance. All sorts of local environmental factors including temperature, rainfall, and a phenomena called thunder or lightning shake caused by nearby or direct lightning strikes. Then again, trees have their own ecosystems and sections of woodland their own microclimates which cause them to grow asymmetrically. Trees grow well when the growing season has a) Enough Sunshine and b) Sufficient rain. If there is too much sunshine and too little rain, this can have an almost indistinguishable effect on tree growth as a cold wet growing season.

It is said that there is no such thing in nature as a straight line. Most of us mere mortals are asymmetrical, I mean how many times have you overheard girls complaining that one boob is slightly bigger than the other? You haven't? Then may I suggest you improve your listening skills, or get out a little more. Gentlemens' wedding tackle 'dresses' either left or right and your other important little places only look truly symmetrical with some discrete work with a good camera and some photoshop. So it is with trees.

Now there's a branch of science called Dendrochronology which purports to date trees by comparing the width of tree rings. Now said samples are generally taken with a coring tool which only takes a 'sample' from the bark to the approximate centre of a tree or wood section. Which if you'll forgive my non-scientific credentials, can only give a very limited view of the tree rings inside said sampled piece of timber. At each point on the circumference of a tree there is a slight variation in tree ring width. You can only see the complete picture by cutting the entire tree down and looking at the rings as a whole.

What I'm driving at is this; when certain climate scientists and researchers performing tree ring proxy studies (Wide tree rings warm, thin ones cold) they are only working with a very small sliver of historical data dependent on which bit of the tree was sampled. Even using an average across a great number of trees in a given area only tells you what the growth was at that part of the trees radius sampled. Thus it can be demonstrated that you can't use trees as accurate temperature 'proxies' and deliver results reliable to 0.1 of a degree Fahrenheit or Celsius. All tree ring data really tells anyone is about the growing conditions for that particular tree in that particular place, at that particular angle of the trunk sampled.

I might also ask if these climate 'researchers' gather their own original data or do they just look it up in a library? This brings up a secondary issue. Relying on measurements made by someone else introduces a thing ex engineering students like me call 'compound error' which can throw calculations so far off you can't see them with a bloody telescope. To demonstrate what 'compound error' means; try to measure a piece of something to put up a shelf. Using your measuring tool, measure from one end to where the first set of screws are to go. Now measure between the planned screw holes. Repeat as necessary. Now measure from the other end to the holes. Write these measurements down and add them up. Now measure the whole workpiece. Are the two measurements the same? No? Congratulations, you've just discovered what compound error is. Many statistical studies are riddled with it.

Ergo; all these arguments over 'tree ring proxies' giving an accurate picture of historical 'climate change' to an accuracy of 0.1 of a degree are meaningless. Once that is established, can anyone explain to me how you can 'predict' changes in climate from unreliable source data like tree ring proxies?

Monday, 28 September 2009

Dave's not there

The link to 'Coppers blog' remains read only, and I'm not one of on the approved reading list. I've popped an e-mail to Dave at his old UKCopper e-mail address without reply, but the word is that Dave is having a blogging sabbatical and a rethink about blogging per se. It's a shame that he's decided to put everything beyond public reach.

Dave was one of the inspirations for the original Bill Sticker 'Walking the Streets' blog, which still draws three times the visitors than this particular collection of half assed rants and raves gets. Then again, this blog doesn't have a handy dandy section on how to deal with parking tickets or hating Christmas, so that's only to be expected. The other inspiration was Cass Brown, the now-deceased chronicler of 'Cancergiggles'.

Since January 2005 I've been pouring my particular brand of (very) occasionally humorous bile out into the blogosphere. To what end I'm still not sure, apart from it being a brain dump of all the toxic humours that build up in my life. I suppose it's needing a moderately anonymous place to vent all my contentious non-PC thoughts, that's all. Reading other blogs that loosely fit in with my own world view reminds me that I'm not alone, that there are others who feel that the lunatics have the asylum keys and are letting all the homicidal psychopaths out of the secure wing in the name of 'fairness'.

So Dave; if you ever visit this pile of disjointed mumblings from your new home in Edmonton, Alberta; do me a favour and add me to the invited list for 'Coppers blog'. You've got my e-mail address. I don't think I'm the only one either.

You thought it was all over - it is now

Dropped over to this post at the Bishop Hill blog, and thence to this post at Climate Audit, and from there to Wattsupwithat.

Manns 1998 'proof' of runaway anthropogenic climate change, the infamous 'Hockey stick' graph is dead, demolished, and completely discredited. This parrot is no more, it has ceased to be.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Domestic matters

There is a saying amongst those of us with a slightly jaundiced weltanshauung; "What a really nice day, now watch some bastard come and ruin it."

Another gloriously sunny BC Sunday afternoon, Mrs S and I were enjoying the sunshine; she reading a new author, and me getting rapidly bored with a Clive Cussler. Computer makes ringing noises. It is a Skype call from England. Mother in law has taken ill with a Transient ischemic Attack, otherwise known as a TIA, or more colloquially, a 'mini-stroke'. She is around ninety, and so such things are to be expected. This is not to say that they are in any way, shape or form, welcome.

Mrs S just flipped from relaxed into mild anxiety state, and for my part, I am ensuring she has suitable quantities of Ice Cream and Hot Chocolate as mild endorphin stimulants. When presented with these goodies, my much better half opined that I was reading her mind again. This is not true, these measures are simply a well rehearsed first line of response on my part in case the situation deteriorates and I need to think quickly without too many divers alarums and histrionics polluting my decision making processes. As we are six thousand miles away, there is little we can do but leave the lines of communication open and stand by for action. There is no immediate point Mrs S leaping straight onto the next flight eastbound, as her youngest sister is on the scene already. As is to be expected, the transatlantic telephonic wires will be running slightly warmer than usual.

I suppose it was too good to last. Mrs S was feeling good about herself and her work, my own is ticking over nicely, and we were feeling pretty optimistic for once. Both of us were nicely chilled. Now the apple cart may not be upset, but it is teetering precariously, and my job is to try and hold everything together at this end while fate plays out it's sneaky double dealing hand. While in no way an outright emergency, this distant situation threatens disharmony too soon after the last batch. Emotional rollercoasters can be fun, but quite frankly I could do without the reverse double upside down twist and double loop of it all. Oh well. Heavy sigh. I suppose I'd only get bored otherwise.

A timely reminder

One of the problems with being an ex-pat, although some might not see it as a problem, is a partial divorce from my English language roots. I love English as a written and spoken language. As a lingua franca it has few peers, and when spoken correctly has a cadence and music all of its own. It is the language built and catalogued by Chaucer, Shakespeare and Johnson, of truly great works of literature and poetry. Yet it is still being hammered, white hot, into new shapes on the anvil of common parlance.

For my part I like to remember how the language is best spoken, and to remind myself of the differences in pronunciation for when my spoken 't' turns into a lazy North American 'd' and my flattened 'o' turns into a 'u'. This rhyme comes in handy sometimes.

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

(Wheeze, wheeze, gasp) H/T Theo Spark

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Oh Gawd. Not another f**king beautiful day!

'Fraid so. We appear to be having some very pleasant weather of late, which rather makes up for the cooler than usual August. The BC skies have been wonderfully blue, which has made curmudgeonly old me quite uncharacteristically mellow. It's tough being a sarky old sod when you come over all Fotherington-Thomas because the sun's been shining a lot. Hi-ho, life's a bitch etcetera, etcetera.

Likewise, Mrs S has cheered up a lot, which has made my life a lot easier. I've finally convinced her to look on the brighter side of things and as she says herself, she's having some fun for once. Now if only I could do that for myself.

We're still looking for a larger place, as everywhere we've viewed so far except one has had issues; traffic noise, strange interior decoration, odd smells, no real view, or other location based phenomena.

Today sent us zipping north to another town to see what it would be like to live there and although the place we looked at wasn't too bad, the location was tucked in a dip where there was no view apart from other houses. Geography militated against the property. However, it gave me some clues as to where the better part of town was. I shall confine my searches a little more closely in future.

Now that the sci-fi is mostly out of the way, I'll be moving my attention to the 'Stepdad' MSS, and maybe cheer this ruddy blog up. Take the piss more often. Employ a bit more bathos and hyperbole. Do some fun stuff.

How come?

How come the G20 protesters get loads of sympathetic press coverage despite there only being a couple of hundred or so of them, but when around a million ordinary folk protest in Washington DC about excessive taxation, they are treated as pariahs or patronised by much of the mainstream media? No wonder many mainstream publications are in serious financial trouble when their integrity has been found wanting on a multiplicity of other important issues.

If these failing publications would ditch the political agenda's and do some proper investigative work again they might regain the trust of the public. Until then they'll have to be content to watch their sales figures slide.


A senior UK Police Officer has said at an inquest that it is 'not the job' of Police Officers to deal with 'anti-social behaviour'. Erm, well whose job is it then? Vigilantes?

Well I'm very glad to say that it is very much the job of the RCMP to deal with antisocial behaviour over here in our part of BC. However, seeing as social responsibility is drilled into kids at pre-school and by parents, most of the anti-social behaviour is confined to certain problem households. All the children I've come across in Canada have been polite, very pleasant, and full of energy. No gangs on the streets shouting abuse at passers by as I regularly witnessed in the UK. No big crowds of unsupervised children at all.

This is definitely where I want any putative grandchildren to grow up.

Friday, 25 September 2009

My fevered imaginings

Imagine a world which has cooled to the point where you can walk from Norway to Iceland across shifting pack ice.

Imagine a world where the USA and Canada are now a single very cold and politically isolated country.

Imagine a world where the EU is now the harshly theocratic Gaian republic, where dissent brings summary execution for 'thought crime'. Where the Middle East from Morocco to Bangladesh has been wiped out in a Nuclear war.

Imagine being able to fly to new worlds.

Can you? Would you?

Such is my first completed Science Fiction MSS in a series of three. Two more are nearly finished.

Now imagine I can sell the bloody things.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Not so fast, Kyoto!

If this post at Watts up with that is to be believed, and given their sources I see no reason not to, the 'Climate Change' aganda is to be effectively sidelined. This hopefully means that lip service alone will be paid to what is effectively a course of economic suicide. Good.

Maybe these world leaders are looking at the way the 'Carbon trading' market has tanked and are looking for the weasel words that will get them out of the 'climate change' mess.

Looks like the curse of Jonah Brown strikes again. The moment the current British Prime Monster makes a statement, the cause he purports to support vanishes down the plug'ole, or suffers a serious setback. The 1960's Hollies track "King Midas is reverse" in the YouTube clip above contains a line "Everything he touches turns to dust" How appropos.

My Dad an ex-Navy type, had a suggestion about Jonah's (Definition 2). "A dark night, and over the side with him." He once told me when he was in a dark and vengeful mood about something.

What with the UK Attorney General being rather free with her interpretation of the law when it comes to her own misdoings, resignation of PPS's, and the general state of the UK for which Brown personally is culpable, as well as Blair; my late father's somewhat superstitious suggestion bears looking at with fresh eyes. Over the side with the bugger before you're sunk for good. Doing so might not stop the economic storm, but might help the UK lighten ship, and so survive a little more readily. It might be advisable to tie a chunk of 'climate change' to Browns leg to make sure he never surfaces again. The same fate might be applied to all those who insist on the big eco-guilt trip when we need to address more pressing issues.

Birds, stone. Job done.

Update: Have just seen this at Wattsupwithat. Has the source data upon which all this 'Climate Change' malarkey relies upon gone missing like in the dog ate my homework? Is there mileage in the assertions that the data as described never existed in the first place. Wow, talk about a goof. How the hell do you lose that much data? Especially information of such crucial importance to 'proving' the 'theory' of anthropogenic climate change. Now they're going to tell us it was all a gag, right?

Another "glad I don't live there any more" moment

The UK government is about to impose a 'broadband tax' upon every phone line to raise money for 'super fast broadband' in the UK. Ooo. That's intelligent. In the middle of a deep economic downturn they're imposing yet another tax on the hard pushed British public. Well, woger me wigid with a spwinterwy bwoomstick.

Excuse me, but will someone explain to poor old stupid me exactly why it is governments job to take extra money from the public to pay for infrastructure maintained and owned by 'private' Telecoms companies? The privatised water companies upgraded their networks back in the 90's around my old home without the government putting an extra tax to pay for it. We paid for the water main upgrades and replacements out of our own water and sewage bills.

I'm betting this proposed new law won't result in 'super fast broadband' for everyone at all. Local regulations forbid the installation of new infrastructure for various reasons (Conservation, planning etc) as was the case where I used to live. We could have had 2Mb connections, but the council forbade the cable company from installing new cable in our street because of 'conservation' regulations. Most of our neighbours wanted a faster connection, but the council said no to the cable company. Ergo we were stuck with a 512k DSL connection at best whilst round the corner in the next street, other neighbours had the cable companies services already. Less than thirty feet from our front door was a concrete manhole cover belonging to the cable company. Sheesh.

My bet is that this extra tax won't pay for anything at all, as the cost of collection and non-jobs will swallow up the extra taxation, and the net flow of funds to actually pay for mere fripperies like reels of cabling and digging necessary holes in the road will be close to nil.

Over here in BC I have a 2Mb broadband connection for the same price as a UK 512k DSL, and both Federal and Provincial Government expects the cable and telecoms people to fund their own upgrades. Overall we get a pretty good service. Shaw, our local cable company have an excellent customer service setup. Maximum wait time for an operator on the helpline was fifteen minutes, my line and modem was installed in two days, and the Technician turned up on the day he said he would (After first phoning ahead to let me know he was coming) within an hour of the time specified. Despite occasional breaks in service due to trees falling across the lines and heavy snow causing power cuts in winter, I'm quite satisfied with their service. Contrast this with my old BT broadband; it took four calls of over half an hour each to get through to an operator to request the DSL links, having first navigated BT's tortuous automated phone menu's. Two weeks to get an Engineer to 'install' the DSL link at my house (Most of his work done in a nice warm telephone exchange). The technician did not even turn up for the first appointment, and was half a day late for the second. In the end I ditched BT after their incompetence in providing proper DNS resolution screwed up a perfectly good server. "You'll have to rebuild your server." Said the ignoramus on their helpdesk when I called to resolve the problem. By contrast, Shaw have sent Technicians out within twenty four hours on the two occasions when their service was at fault.

Spoke to my Mother last week and she described things over in the UK as 'dire'. The UK's big government model was promising a lot, interfering too much, and basically ramping the cost of living up for everyone. Oh my. Am I glad we don't live there any more.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


Getting a lift home with a co-worker this afternoon and we were talking when the news came on the car radio. Gordon Bennett but the pro AGW lobby is getting desperate. There were three separate items on a three and a half minute news segment that were about politicians talking up 'Global Warming'. I was going to mention this to my co-worker, but he ignored the broadcast and carried on talking about a couple of work related items we'd been discussing.

I know this is the West Coast and we've got more hippy types per square mile than most areas, but come on. There was another item about Tasers and an internal Police investigation which we discussed, yet the tiresome political preaching about 'Global warming' went unremarked.

This is becoming routine. A lot of ordinary people in BC are getting massively pissed off at all the hype and extra taxes. The only people who really approve the 'carbon taxes' are the 'muddled moderns' who have turned their 'green' credentials into a perverted type of one upmanship, and the unemployable muesli munchers who don't need to drive like regular folk.

If the people who were really interested in reducing pollution from traffic, they'd realise we need better transport systems and invest in a replacement for the car, rather than expensive half measures like Hybrids which actually use more of the Earth's resources to build and run. The batteries will need replacing regularly, and they still burn gas, so what's the point? Bicycles won't do if you have a commute over ten kilometres every morning. Buses and trains run to fixed routes and timetables which are often inconvenient. If you get a cab you're just not driving yourself, so where are the realistic transport solutions from the 'Greens'? Apart from bankrupting ourselves back to 'sustainability'. That isn't saving the planet, it's cultural suicide.

Well, that's listening to the radio off my list of entertainments. TV is much the same apart from the sports channel, and despite efforts to acclimatise, I still haven't decided about Ice Hockey yet. Maybe I'll stick to fishing and later on next year some hunting.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Copenhagen climate talks doomed to failure

Well they will be if Jonah Brown makes good on his promise to grace them with his presence.

Evil snigger.

I'm gonna get me a gun

Well not really. I’ve decided to get back to my rural roots and take up hunting for the first time in twenty five years. Bowhunting to be precise with a fifty inch 45 pound draw short Hunter recurve. Rather like the latest incarnation of Robin Hood (See above). Athough the real Robertus Hoode, Fugivitus shot an English Longbow, not a bloody recurve, which were a Turkish or Magyar pattern. I’ve had a short recurve for years, a smooth shooting little thing with a lovely flat trajectory at anything up to sixty yards. When I first used to shoot I could get a ‘cast’ (total range) of almost two hundred and fifty yards with a 11/32” diameter cedar shafted arrow carrying a 150-grain steel point. This would deliver close on eighty-five foot pounds of energy on impact at anywhere between fifteen and a hundred and ten yards. Should be great for potting rabbits. When I can hit the bloody things, it’s not easy ‘barebow’.

Put simply; at the distances quoted my arrows will (and did), routinely penetrate full length, an eighteen inch thick bale of straw, a newish compressed straw archery target boss with anything from 4-6 inches of the shaft and point sticking through on the other side. This made me very popular with the Archery club I was once a member of. Not. At a demonstration shoot I once put a shaft halfway through a scrap car door with this particular bow at just under thirty yards. Didn’t do it again because it wrecked my arrow. I know that I used to break a lot on field shoots, but the demonstrations were really hard on kit. Got the piss taken out of me royally for having a ‘pixie’ bow when I first brought it to my club. Until of course my fellow archers saw it in action. “Your arrows make an evil hiss.” A fellow club member said one frosty winters morning club shoot. “Do they?” I replied with an innocent look. Heh, heh, heh.

I’m looking forward to getting togged up warmly and going loaded for Deer one early morning, just for the pot you understand, as I’m not a ‘trophy’ kind of guy. I would hesitate to take a shot at a bear, because I’m not confident of a clean one shot kill. I might only tickle mister bruin and end up as a human skin rug on his den’s wall. “Yup.” I can see a proud Papa bear saying to his goggling cubs. “I bagged me that there human when the durned fool tried to shoot me with this here silly ol’ stick.” What is the quotation? "Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you." Then there’s bow fishing, also legal over here with the appropriate license, where I might pot me a big Steelhead when they aren’t rising to my lures like last year. Again for the freezer. Might save a few dollars off the shopping bill.

Regrettably all this will have to wait as said bow currently languishes at my Mothers house in the UK along with many of my other paltry possessions. I will purchase a couple of new strings mail order, and get Mrs S or one of the kids to bring it over on their next trip to or from the UK.

The bowhunting season has already started here in BC, but I’m putting off getting my license until I’ve got my bow and spent some time on walk through field shoots before buddying up and heading up country. There’s also the issue of buying a new hunting knife and assorted gear. Broadheads, which are 2 to 4 vaned hunting points are readily available over the counter. Not like in the UK where you have to be a paid up member of the British Longbow society or similar to purchase anything remotely resembling hunting gear, and then only with a note from your mother and the Chief Constable promising not to be a bad boy.

Bowhunting is not legal in the UK, along with so many other things nowadays. The governing legislation is ensconced in the countryside and wildlife act of 1981 and under Section 4 of the Deer Act 1991 although hunting with deer and game with a rifle or shotgun is still legal. Said measures had more to do with poaching than anything else, as no ‘sportsman’ would ever stoop to using a ‘peasants’ weapon like a bow. Despite taking ten times the skill to kill with a bow as it does with a gun. Any bloody fool can point and hit something with a gun. Bowmanship is a skill that takes at least a month to learn the basics of, and a lifetime to perfect. Traditional or field shooting takes even longer.

Anyway, I’ll be looking at getting all my old field kit shipped over. Unfortunately I gave all my old field shafts away to Aginoth before we left the UK, which means I will have to buy new ones at five or six bucks a shaft. However, if I can find somewhere which sells the plain wooden shafts, I can make my own arrows because I still have a fletching jig and the makings. I’m really looking forward to it.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Fishing thoughts

Whenever I've wandered down the foreshore of late, I've noted how many Black Sea Nettle Jellyfish get washed up at this time of year. From early September onwards to the end of October the shingle beach not far from our little domicile is liberally littered with purplish sticky (I've trod in one) gelatinous cowpats. Today I was standing on the rocks with rod in hand (Which can bring tears to your eyes Guv) and observed literally dozens of these things floating down the tide.

This is just an observation, and I'm not going to do the hundred metres conclusion jump, but the thought occurred that perhaps these things are partially responsible for the shortfall in the Fraser River Salmon run. They are carnivorous, and feed off zooplankton, so what effect do they have on Salmon fry or juvenile Salmon? I know many authorities go on about Sea Lice and the great evil of commercial Salmon farms, but I find myself wondering how many Salmon die in the wild due to the stinging tentacles of these nasty little beasties. Anecdotally speaking, there do seem to be rather a lot of these sea nettles and other Jellyfish around at present, and overall during the past couple of years I've lived here.

Jellyfish have killed Salmon before, in this specific incident they wiped out an entire Salmon farm. This blog keeps track of such large swarms, which seem to indicate that there is a definite problem, whatever its source. Unfortunately, while certain Environmental activists are leaping up and down to blame 'global warming' for everything even slightly out of the ordinary, no proper research into the Jellyfish blooms goes on.

Working on the basis that for every issue there is rarely a single definable cause, I wonder what effect a glut of jellyfish have on the Salmon population, and how much of an effect overfishing has on jellyfish blooms. Maybe there's something in it, but so long as the global warming activists are getting in the way, we aren't going to find out in a hurry.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

My dog eats Oranges

Well, not so much Oranges as Clementines. Mrs S was eating one this morning and on a whim she gave our mutt a segment as a treat. Said Clementine segment was consumed with gusto. This amused her so much that she peeled a whole orange for him, just in case this was one of his 'eat anything' phases. Moments later I watched, slightly gobsmacked as he sat and begged avidly for the whole damn thing.

Upon reflection he will enthusiastically tuck into apples as well. Braeburns or Fuji's for preference. We first found this out about five years ago when Mrs S's lunchtime apples kept on disappearing. It wasn't until we found half a gnawed apple core in his basket that the culprit had been found. We confirmed our suspicions by offering him a fresh apple which he took out into the garden and gnawed said apple between his paws before consuming it core and all. Now he gets all the apple cores, which promptly disappear.

I have yet to try him on Broccoli or Lettuce, but there's this weird notion rolling round the back of my mind that he might be a closet vegetarian. On the other hand no, as he seems to enjoy slurping the last morsel of any of my various stews and curries off a plate when they have been given to him as a treat. Last time we gave him leftover stew for a treat, the casserole dish was snuffled half way up our neighbours yard as he fought to lick the last morsel off the inside.

The thought occurs that every single pet, with the exception of the White Mice I once had when I was ten years old, that I have ever owned have been eccentric goofballs. Failing that and my Dog is far more intelligent than I, and is playing some sort of strange canine head game with me. This may be a distinct possibility.

Oh well, at least it will cut down on the recycling.

Update: Last nights 'Do' left us with a box of fruit in the shape of 5kg of seedless Clementines that nobody wanted, and I am currently relearning the fine art of Jam making. Fortunately Ma Sticker was and is an avid jam maker, and second son (me) learned much by watching her in the kitchen. Thus I have come up with the following grown up recipe for Clementine conserve. Well, you didn't think I was going to feed all that fruit to my dog did you?

Peel ten Clementines and throw peeled fruit into Blender (Liquidiser) Whizz thoroughly.
Decant into smallish saucepan (A half litre or 1 pint size is about right).
Add one cup of sugar.
Add one teaspoon Ground Cinnamon.
Add large pinch of Ground Ginger.
Add a brief shake of Ground Nutmeg.
Heat to boiling point and boil until reduced to almost half original volume.
Remove from heat and allow to cool for five minutes.
Warm up a Jam Har using hot tap water then dry.
Fill jar with contents of saucepan and fit a lid over the jamjar after ten minutes. This will kill any bacteria in the jar, but the pressure differential after the contents have cooled may make the jar difficult to open for seven stone weaklings.

Once cooled, a dab of this fairly sophisticated Clementine conserve has been found to go very nicely with a large scoop of Vanilla ice cream. Kitchen theorists have mooted that it may spice up a sponge pudding, Victoria Sponge, or even give a twist to Duck as a sauce base when used in moderation.

Petting zoos and climate nonsense

I see that petting zoos are now bad for you. Well, I'd say that some are, and some aren't. I'd agree that taking kids under five to anything like this is a poor judgement call, as children of that age have no real sense of cleanliness. As anyone who has cared for an under five will know, they will stick anything in their mouths because they don't know any better. Of course mummy's little angel is going to get E-coli food poisoning if they stick their hands in the shit of a working farm and then eat their scrummy packed lunches without washing their hands properly. Especially if their immune systems aren't properly developed though living in houses devoid of useful, immune system developing bacteria.

Don't care for "petting zoos" that don't teach where your meat and milk come from. Like the ones populated with fluffy bunnies and 'pets'. That type of institution teaches the cultural pollution of anthropomorphism. They teach that animals are little humans in cute, fur covered bodies. For this alone, they are guilty of heinous sins against their own species. These should be closed down. Not the ones attached to working farms.

In the news I see there is a claim that Arctic Sea Ice is at it's third lowest level 'ever'. Since when pray? Here's the graph and source that the information is taken from.

When does the graph start? 2002? Hardly enough to extrapolate a melting trend from don't you think? There is far too much of this in the media. Too many scare stories from people unqualified to make such predictions. Too many silly and largely ignorant people pulling stupid stunts for an increasingly discredited phenomenon. Too much lazy cut and paste 'journalism'. Too much emotionalising on a subject where a more studied approach is called for, and way too many press releases from organisations that should know better. The mainstream media might 'believe' in Carbon Dioxide driven man made climate change, but the public countercurrents of scepticism grow ever stronger as more and more doomsaying predictions fail to come true.

Sod it, the Sun is shining, the tide is right and I am off to play my part in the food chain. The fish are going to have to take their own chances.

Aar. An it also be International talk loike a pirate day me hearties. Anyone who upsets ol' Cap'n Bill gets to walk the plank. Avast! Now, back to work ye scurvy dogs.

Friday, 18 September 2009

An interesting evening....

In which I rediscovered the delights of Belly Dancers and chocolate covered strawberries while schmoozing with local civic leaders and on the way home getting stopped at an RCMP checkpoint. Now it's way past my bedtime.

And as if these things meant anything; the results of another personality test. Heavy sigh. Now if only I could develop a personality.
Your results:
You are Iron Man

Iron Man
Green Lantern
The Flash
Wonder Woman

Inventor. Businessman. Genius.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Rediscovering G K Chesterton

As anyone who has read my rabid rambling nonsense since 2005 will know, I'm quite a fan of the writings of Rudyard Kipling. His complete works once helped me keep my sanity during a prolonged and life threatening illness. Yet I feel my literary education is far from complete. Up until recently I had never read the following poem by G K Chesterton, which seems particularly appropriate in light of the political situation in the UK and increasingly throughout all the western nations;
They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger or honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs.

Upon reading those words I feel a strangely prescient chill.

Like hospital food do ya?

Traction Man, currently languishing in a UK NHS hospital has developed a splendid game called hospital food bingo which is just going viral. He's even got his own 'downfall' video on YouTube. See below. It's bloody hilarious.

Having worked in UK hospitals before all the PC lo-salt, fat, and sugar regimen came on board, I can appreciate his hilarity. UK NHS Hospital food has never been wonderful because it has to be prepared at a central location, put on individual trays, then trucked, cooling all the time, to where the patients are in ‘insulated’ carriers, often serving more than two wards. From kitchen to patient can take thirty minutes or more.

The food wouldn't be so bad if it was made school dinner style and brought to the wards in large heated containers reminiscent of school dinners or Service Stations and measured out individually from a large 'Hostess' type trolley, hot food like Scrambled egg and bacon in one layer, desserts on second shelf, with a second trolley laden with chilled diet and salad stuff. At least patients could say (Having seen the concoction they are about to be served) "Erm, is there anything else?" Such a means of delivery might reduce 'choice' a little, but failing having a specialised cook and server attached to each ward like in some Canadian Hospitals, might just improve matters.

Instead, food which might have started out as quite edible, is all measured as per diet sheet in the kitchen, put on a tray and left to go manky while it is heated and reheated en route to the ward. There's your problem area. Although hospital kitchens appear to have tried to improve the look of their food output by adding artificial colourants like in 'Hospital food bingo', this merely detracts even further from their outputs comestibility. The problem remains, as it always does, with the 'centralise it' box ticking logistical model. Top down political 'management' strikes again. This is what happens when 'bean counters' are in power.

What did I have for breakfast? Small cheese omelette, three rashers bacon, toast, coffee and grapefruit. Sigh life is so hard. Poor old traction man will be stuck with soggy bacon, concrete eggs, the toast won't be bad because for some strange reason certain UK hospitals keep a toaster on each ward. Although in my recollection, as regards drinks, the tea makers did need some serious retraining and the coffee didn't bear thinking about (Horrorstruck shudder).

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

This rather contradicts what I've been told.....

About US health care.

My eyes have been opened a little.

H/T Theo Spark

Don't trust Satnav

The plans for all cars to be tracked by satellite navigation devices have rightfully been shelved, mainly because, well let's not put too fine a point on it, you could do it better with a map. Satnavs are only as good as the software updates in their systems and seem not to be too well programmed with one way systems, how to discriminate between types of right of way. In my time on the streets I regularly had to direct drivers to their destination when their Satnav tried to send them the wrong way up one way streets, through pedestrianised areas, through bollards (Ouch) and on one risible occasion, trying to drive up a narrow footpath.

I recall being out delivering one day as a volunteer just over a year or so gone, and we had a brand new Satellite Navigation system in the van. Our line Manager had insisted we use it. Some kind of directive from regional head office I think. My mate who was driving had his own ideas, and took a different route. When he disobeyed the command 'turn right here', at the second prompt it sounded snappish, and on the third I swear this bloody thing, a machine, actually sounded hurt. My driver got us where we needed to be on time (and avoided heavy traffic to boot), but we had such a bloody good guffaw at the ever more petulant female voice that the Satnav unit got informally named after one of my buddy's more difficult ex-girlfriends. Eventually we just switched the damn thing off because the delivery drivers always knew their way around town far better than the Satnav unit.

Such incidents rarely make the news, but they do happen more often than you think. My own experience has been less anxiety causing, but it has taught me that technology may be wonderful; but it's no excuse for not exercising the lumpy reddish grey stuff between your ears.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


This movie goes on my must see list as it should be showing near us shortly. The reviews sound promising despite the controversy. Unless of course the Producer is just making excuses for cocking up. Nonetheless, Paul Bettany is always good value for money in these period character roles, and I'm sure Mrs S will agree. Shame it isn't going to be distributed in the USA. I didn't think the Americans were that closed minded about such things. Maybe it's just the Distributors. Never mind, I look on the bright side; at least we'll get to see this before my Sister in law in Minneapolis does.

Updated 17th September as original trailer had been removed due to a pesky 'rights violation'.

Keith Floyd Requiescat in pace

The world is a little poorer today. One of those who added a certain piquancy of flavour to it's sauce is no more.

Keith Floyd, at least in my household, was always compulsive viewing. A cook who could Martini-style, cook any time, any place, anywhere. Always with a large glass of something alcoholic at his elbow, and always with a certain ebullient irreverence.

Keith was the best booze fuelled bon viveur of his time, and backed it up with no little erudition and wit. He had what is so sadly lacking in TV (Which is probably why haven't watched it in five years); character.

He inspired my own amateurish culinary style which relies not so much on the studied Delia Smith, cook-by-the-numbers method as the "taste, texture, and let's try a bit of that" intuitive method of preparing meals. Mrs S seems to like it, but she does get a bit exasperated when I won't cook certain dishes the same way twice. She doesn't seem to understand that my slightly experimental approach to cuisine is because the dishes aren't 'perfect' yet. Good, maybe, but not perfect.

I owe a good deal of what I know about food preparation to Keith Floyd. I shall mourn his passing but celebrate (With of course the odd glass or two) the fact that he lived.

Monday, 14 September 2009

The usual suspects

Have been perusing the UK Daily Telegraph blogs and comment section and note that nothing much changes. The same user names keep popping up with the same tired, humourless old left wing rhetoric. You know the sort of thing; everyone's a victim, it was all nasty Margaret Thatchers fault, global warming is real and all the rest of their half baked regurgitated claptrap. Class warriors to a man, somehow convinced that they are actually achieving anything with their predictable ad hominem attacks on other posters who disagree in a supposedly 'right wing' newspaper. Somehow under the delusion that bullying others into shutting up actually contributes anything positive to a debate. I occasionally post, but my heart's not really in it. I enjoy my life too much to waste it sitting up all day and night at the keyboard as these guys seem to do. Are they real people or several working in shifts? Do they have real jobs? Real lives? You wouldn't think so. Maybe they work for lobbyists, trying to bestir public opinion in favour of their cause. Got news for you kiddies, it ain't working.

I've written a lengthy (1600+ words) post about how I once knew one of these (I've since had the misfortune to meet several) 'classless warriors' and will stuff it on this blog at some time or other. I lived in the same student house as he, and ended up hating the son of a bitches guts. If I decide to put the post up you'll see why. Everyone else in the house hated him as well.

Anyway, talking of things I should be doing, my dog heard the rattle of keyboard and has crept over to the other side of the room, scrunched down behind a chair, and is currently staring at me from under said chair so that I do not forget to feed him. He too is very predictable. It's almost his tea time, and this animal has a stomach with the accuracy of an atomic clock. He is currently breathing meaningfully at me from across the room and must perforce be fed. TTFN.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Tea Party protests

As my Sister and Mother in law went to the Tea Party protest in Minneapolis earlier this year, I've been trying to gauge the numbers involved in the movement, and how many people turned up at the Washington DC rally. All sorts of figures have been bandied about from the totally risible 300 through the more realistic 70,000+ people and the scarcely credible million plus to the almost unbelievable two million. Which version is closest to the truth? The original time lapse video below was 'removed due to rights violation" But I've replaced it with others so you can make up your own mind.

So I went picking through the coverage for aerial shots that would give a better idea and found this at moderate in the middle and Gateway pundit. Wow. That's a lot of pissed off people. As for being a 'mob'. Maybe they were, but weren't they tidy?

No wonder our regular summer American visitors are trying to stay here for the full six months they're allowed in Canada this year.

Sources: Small Dead Animals, Instapundit, Gateway Pundit.

Updated Wednesday 16th September 2009


Well, it's official. The Large Hadron Collider, like so many other things, is not going to cause the world to end. That's nice. Instead researchers have tried to calculate how long it would take to defrost a pizza. I have to say that as a keen amateur cook myself there are possibly better methods of reheating a frozen thin crust Neapolitan with extra pepperoni than sticking it in the beam path of the world's largest particle accelerator. On the other hand it's probably very easy to get peckish whilst watching the particle counters tick over and the canteen is closed.

Yes, yes. I know it's only one of those comparison studies to say that this is the actual amount of energy this thing will generate; so how the hell can the machine in question create a world destroying gravitational singularity or 'black hole'? Still conjures up Pratchetesque visions of Ponder Stibbons like figures falling asleep face down in a Banana and Sardine Klatchian special with extra hots while the Universe threatens to implode around him.

Rather makes the people who filed the lawsuit trying to halt the switching on of said machine rather foolish. As does the silly teenager who 'didn't want to die a virgin' because she thought the world was going to end when the LHC was switched on. Sheesh.

There's far too much bad journalism that goes on with regards to reporting scientific achievement. No one seems to do, or have the scientific background for, any proper fact checking any more. Same for all this global warming malarkey. 'Polar bears' could be extinct in seventy years, Ice caps could melt, sea levels might rise and turn the world into a low budget Waterworld. The barrage of mainstream misinformation is staggering. The public protest (Read any unmoderated comments section on any climate change related article) but are seemingly ignored while a vociferous minority of 'believers' hold sway on the issue. Ever more ridiculous schemes are mooted for 'climate control' while the raw data indicates that there is no real anthropogenically enhanced trend at all.

We aren't doomed. I appreciate that this may be a severe blow to those who choose to believe that technology is bad (mainly because they are too impatient / stupid / whatever to understand it) and that 'heretics' should all be severely spanked (Ooh rather matron, careful with that riding crop) and sent to bed early for even thinking that climatic apocalypse is not imminent, yet I can't help thinking that all this craziness comes from somewhere in the human psyche. People want certainty, and the 'end of the world' hullabaloo provides that certainty. It allows a sense of definitiveness that is sadly lacking in our uncertain world. It says; "Hey! Become part of the 'climate change' gang and you will be saved!" type of grouping. Rather reminds me of an archetypal Christian revivalist meeting mentality. "Believe in Jesus and you will be saved from sin!" In this way, bad science reporting panders to that base facet of human thinking. It cries wolf to draw attention to itself, but as for the 'end of the world' prognostications, ask yourself this; when even the Jehovah's Witnesses have given up making them, you know it's time to relax, pour yourself a large drink and enjoy the sunshine. Whilst it is warm enough to do so.

Notwithstanding, all this crying wolf will not do humanity one speck of good when a real crisis comes along. It'll be something like a fleet of Vogon Constructor ships come to demolish the Earth to make way for a new Hyperspace bypass; completely out of left field, and just enough time to have a last couple of stiff drinks with friends before the Universe goes 'foom'. Ever since I was a boy I've heard story after story about how we're all doomed and we're all a gonna die. The most credible of which were during the Cold War when nuclear Armageddon did come a little too close for comfort. The threat is still there, but nothing quite as imminent as it was. For that little comfort, let us all be grateful. Al Quaeda and their pointless suicide bombings are a mere inconvenience by comparison.

There are more important things to do. The sun is shining, and there's fishing to be done. Even if I don't catch anything; but that's not the point is it?


I try to be fair minded. Sometimes it's very difficult with all the daft knee-jerk stupidity out there. I don't think of myself as racially prejudiced, because I've lived and worked amongst all creeds and colours quite happily, and have no real issues with anyone providing they are willing to pull their weight. My guiding axiom in this matter is 'all blood is red'. And no, I'm not going to say 'but some of my best friends are..." because I try not to discriminate. If you are an honourable hard working and peaceable person, then as far as I am concerned you're all right by me. You get on with your life, and I'll get on with mine.

On this issue I've found myself almost involuntarily drawn into a little blog spat on Dan Hannans Telegraph blog under the soubriquet 'wmsticker'. The subject being the anti-semitism of the political left, which is to my mind exactly the same as racism. I've never really understood it. Maybe I don't have the anti-semitic gene or something. Why specifically hate the Jews? They're just another loose racial / religio- cultural grouping with strong familial structures. So what? There are a lot of other, similar groupings around the world. You might as well vent your spleen on a lump of rock.

Over the years I have heard people from supposedly 'enlightened' parts of society, particularly the left leaning, and especially card carrying Socialists and Communists, spout some pretty vile things about Israel, Zionists or Jews (As well as 'Toffs' and Capitalism). Mainly in private. I'm not going to repeat their assertions here because I try not to do that sort of stuff. I've actually been quite shocked by the virulence of these outpourings, and I'm not that easily shockable. I heard these views so often that to this day I automatically assume that people espousing leftist politics are anti-semitic. Talking of knee jerk prejudices. That's one of mine. Lefties (although they're not the only ones) hate Jews. I'm not going to doubt what I've heard with my own ears.

In many parts of society you are taught to expect anti-semitic prejudice. Especially in my family where my parents views would have made Atilla the Hun look like some commie pinko wussie. As they always tended to the far right of the political spectrum, I simply rather expected it of them. Ergo, I paid their views no mind and just went on my merry way, talking to whomsoever I pleased and trying to be me. Whoever that is / was / going to be.

Upon careful reflection, I tend to think that such reflexive prejudice is part of the natural xenophobia hard wired into all humans and possibly mammals. It's an instinctive reaction that anyone who is even vaguely self aware should seek to overcome because of its destructiveness. Seen in context with our primitive forbears it's so atavistic. Very tribal. Which rather confirms my long held view that humanity is best described as a 'bipedal tribal predator' species.

Look at it this way; Ug the Neanderthal and his tribe have their own valley full of game and wild berries. For generations they live undisturbed lives, hunting, gathering and fishing, making sure granny, the wife and kids are fed and sheltered. Putting up wonky neolithic shelves in their modest little cave complex. The generations come and go. Then along come some Cro Magnons who set up home at the other end of the valley. What is Ug the Neanderthal's first reflex? Suspicion of the newcomers because they are different. He tells his daughters that they will be disowned if they have anything to do with the newcomers. Who are these people in our valley, killing all the game and nicking all the juiciest wild berries? Who do they think they are with their horrible smooth skin and that silly mop of hair on their head? I mean, call that a spear? Bleedin' outsiders! Pass me that rock. Here are the roots of prejudice and racism.

To me it's part of the biological imperative. Such behaviour can be observed in all vaguely tribal animals. Meerkats, Lions, you name it. Newcomers are only assimilated with careful introduction, and even then the newcomer will be subject to attack while the tribes / prides / whatever pecking order is rearranged. Moving down the biological orders a little, ever seen two Ant colonies at war? Interesting from our god like (To the Ants) perspective to see red and black ants going at it hammer and tongs. Not much fun if you are an Ant. Such are the results of prejudice, be that anti-whatever. Sometimes I think that this world is getting a little too small for such knee-jerk reactions, and we as a species have to find something slightly better to do with our time.

Maybe this is what W H Auden meant when he said we must love one another or die.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Work in progress; Axiom 1

Been busy hitting the keyboard and digging up archives for the new project, and I came across this paragraph which I feel to be particularly true;
Having assumed the mantle of stepfather, you can survive relatively unscathed because of one simple axiom; yes there may be stepfathers and mothers who are cruel sociopaths and serial child abusers as seen on Oprah and other ‘reality’ TV shows, but they are the extreme minority. Yet for every heartless child abuser there are literally hundreds of thousands of good, honourable men and women who, when faced with the absolute worst emotional abuse their stepchildren can throw at them, simply bite their tongue and pick up the broken toys because they are strong of heart. This single thread of veracity cuts across every race, creed, and class.

I like it. Sod the Dickensian stereotypes.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Even better....

Have been a little concerned over this past week about the state of my health. I'm not sure whether it was the stress of the immigration paperwork or family visits and all their attendant problems, or even the abrasion of my relationship with Mrs S over related issues, but I was definitely feeling below par. Because I was waking up in the middle of the night to visit the toilet and having seen all the scary adverts about possible prostate problems, I took myself off to see my Doctor.

Although it's a bit disconcerting to be poked and prodded around by someone twenty years my junior, I related my symptoms and concerns. Last week I was given tablets to take, and packed off to get blood and urine tests. This morning I sat a little nervously in a consulting room, wondering what the news would be. Worrying not about myself, but how to break any putative bad news to my family. The tablets hadn't been agreeing with me, and had made me decidedly fuzzy headed and woozy. I'd stopped taking the bloody things because the side effects were turning out worse than the original damn symptoms. I wasn't looking forward to any more medication and wanted to avoid more pills if possible.

Well, the news is that my blood tests are clear, electrolytes nicely balanced, kidney function fine, blood pressure one twenty over eighty, resting pulse just under sixty, blood enzymes well within limits, so no incipient heart problems or indication of atheroma. No infections, viruses or other lurgi. Just a short term enlargement of the prostate, which I'm told is par for the course for a gentleman of my tender years. Considering the gratuitous self abuse I've lavished on this body over the years its resilience is nothing short of bloody miraculous.

Said to Doctor that I'd come in response to media coverage of prostate problems and some relatively minor symptoms. Her response. "I wouldn't bother about the media coverage. They just want us to be scared." Then promptly tossed the rest of my untaken medication into the recycling bin with unconcealed disdain. Good on yer, Doc. With that single gesture she won my complete confidence in her abilities as my physician.

In addition I spent half an hour on the phone this morning with one of my line managers who reassured me that they like what I'm doing, and to please carry on with the good work. So the sense that I think I've been banging my head against a brick wall for the past eighteen months is nothing they haven't seen before. They obviously haven't seen my expenses claim for last month then. Arf.

Mrs S and I had a nice lunch out to celebrate and we talked about me writing my experiences of Stepfatherhood into a book, the idea of which she approves.

It's been a nice day, but there's this nasty feeling lurking in the back of my mind that someone, somewhere is going to try and louse it up. Better make sure it's not me, then.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Much better.....

Have mucked about with this blogs appearance and changed the template. Had a brief mess about with some of the new templates HTML and I'm quite pleased with the result. For those who are interested, or even not, the big raft floating in the middle of the new header picture is a log boom some four hundred metres long, and roughly ninety wide. That's a lot of lumber.

Went to see the new house. Yep, it's bigger and although I haven't been inside looks like the view from the deck is superb. Hope they don't price the rent out of our pocket.

Another unique perspective

Here is Piers Corbyn giving his 100 year Weather forecast for planet Earth. It contains no warming, and furthermore predicts that the Earth will get appreciably cooler for the next 130 years. I have a lot of time for Piers. He may look like a nutty professor but he's got a very good track record on Weather prediction, unlike those who support the 'warming' hypothesis.

UK Met office - Wrong!
Michael Mann, James Hansen, Al Gore, David Suzuki and all their political camp followers - Wrong!
In fact so far over the wrongness event horizon their 'science' has disappeared into an alternate fantasy universe that would have ordinary folk either in straitjackets or consigned to 'care in the community' wearing tinfoil hats.

In Piers I see a proper scientist, one who derives his hypothesis from actual data, not fudged statistics and models. His hypothesis appears to derive from the interaction of Solar and Lunar influences which are far a more credible standpoint than the CO2 fantasy which is currently fashionable. Disagree? Ask yourself this question; Are or are not the tides linked to Lunar influences? Talk amongst yourselves, I'm off to look at a possible new house.

A unique viewpoint?

I don't usually do posts about comments, but this got me thinking, I'm not the only one am I?

Scoacat, nice chap that he is, made the following comment on my "just idle musing' post a couple of days ago, about me writing some sort of survival guide for stepfathers based on my own experience. Scoacat's comment was;
"It's a unique point of view, good luck!"

and I responded with a slightly panicked;
"Unique point of view? Really? So other stepfathers don't struggle to help bring up a family full of split loyalties to be reasonably stable human beings?

Am I missing something?"

I know from personal experience that bringing up someone else's children is a tough gig. On the other hand, am I just making heavy weather of a job everyone else finds soup and nuts? If so, where were you buggers when I needed advice?

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

More climate change wibbling

It's been a very cool summer over here in mid Vancouver Island, apart from that brief hot spot in July, yet over the pond I still see that band of morons (Along with other nations environmental munchkins) saying that it's a gonna get hotter an we're all a gonna DIE!.

The wheels are coming off the man made climate change bandwagon as the empirical evidence stacks up against it, and the true believers in CO2 caused Global Warming are left circling the wagons to defend the indefensible while the sceptics point and laugh at them from outside. The much vaunted computer models aren't predicting the weather patterns as per claims, and even the densest of politicians are looking nervously sideways at the electorate as they make their ever more tiresome pronouncements of faux-doom.

Over here in BC the ever mounting burden of 'green' taxation is proving anything but environmentally friendly. There's widespread resentment about the extra provincial 'carbon' tax on gasoline over here, which only serves (As predicted) to put the cost of everything else up. Yet a leading 'Green' politician, having lost their seat in Ontario, has moved over here to BC in the hope of getting elected. Boy is she in for a shock. As far as extra taxation is concerned, lead balloons aren't in it. Push hard enough and people will vote their wallets and bugger the environment. We care about the natural world, but all this extra taxation won't help plant any trees to save forests and preserve fisheries if that money isn't going to be used for those purposes.

The situation regarding this climate change malarkey looks increasingly like watching that amusing piece of Iraq war footage as the military garbed apologist for the Ba'ath regime, 'Comical Ali' predicted that Coalition forces would never take Baghdad; only to see American Abrams tanks meandering almost casually unchallenged along the opposite bank of the river behind him. The empirical evidence just won't support the hypothesis, no matter how many peer reviewed papers get published. Peer review is meaningless if the predictions won't come true, no matter how much screaming and shouting goes on. It won't melt one cubic inch of ice or make the Earth any warmer. Fine, post that it's all the fault of apologists for 'Big Oil' etcetera, but that's immaterial if the weather won't do what the peer reviewed papers and computer models say it should.

I believe peer reviewed research says that certain things are impossible, but that hasn't stopped said things happening. It just means that the peer reviewed papers in question are full of bullshit. Well structured and argued bullshit, but bullshit nonetheless.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Just idle musing

I've been thinking....

I see all these self help books on the market and I think I've spotted a niche.

What if.... I wrote about my experiences as a stepfather. What it's really like, without all the buzzwords like 'energise' or 'empowerment'. Just one bloke's average(ish) take on the workaday heartbreaks and hilarity of trying to help two kids to stable (ish) adulthood. The multitudinous problems with feckless and manipulative ex husbands appearing at inopportune moments and screwing everyone else's plans up. What it's like to be thrown under suspicion as a child abuser just because the kids aren't biologically yours. Winning respect from the kids the hard way, getting your heart broken by repeated hurtful remarks and still having the self control to bite your tongue and not say something reflexively stupid and nasty. That and learning to love two young strangers who at times make it plain they don't love you at all.

I've penned some notes on the subject, quite a lot of them in fact. All they need is putting into some kind of context. Never before seen stuff. Just idle musing you understand, but I'll have a go and see what happens.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Labour day

It's Labour day today, which means, apart from one minor foray to look at a new house, it's a fishing day.

Mrs S fed and watered - check
Dog fed and walked - check
Cap on - check
Rod - check
Reel with new line - check
Tackle box and lures - check
Shades on - check
Beer - check


Sunday, 6 September 2009

Wildlife and stuff

Read in the local news about a little girl being pulled off a wharf by a Harbour seal while her father was fishing. Fortunately she was wearing a life jacket and bobbed to the surface. The theory goes that the Seals, so emboldened by being hand fed at said wharf, decided to try and get a little further up the food supply chain. Maybe the little girl was trying to pet the Seal and it took offence. In short, it bit her.

In a local magazine recently, a columnist wrote an article about how to handle an encounter with a Bear. A reader, a professional Hunter and guide, wrote in reply and basically told the columnist that he was talking a load of eco-rubbish and that columnists advice would result in the untimely demise of anyone who was daft enough to follow it. One of the pieces of advice that the hunter rubbished was the 'roll over and play dead' item on the columnists list. The hunter indicated that anyone following such advice would be readily killed by any species of bear. He quite vehemently indicated that if a bear is that hungry, you're lunch.

I would tend to trust advice from an experienced hunter and guide rather than some deskbound columnist, and apart from giving any bear a generous chance to walk away, would be fully prepared to give any such creature a jolly good reason not to think of me as an al fresco dinner. While Mister Mrs or Ms Bear might be hungry for a little extra something to stock up before Winter's long kip, this particular hyper evolved monkey carries a big stick when out in the woods and would make the bill for trying to lunch on his errant hide very steep indeed. However, he is quite happy to live and let live, but don't push your luck buster.

A hunting shooting and fishing friend once said to me "Walt Disney should have been shot for crimes against humanity." Referring to the twee anthropomorphic animations and wildlife 'documentaries' issuing from that studio. I'm not so sure. I think Disney, along with the Harman-Ising animations simply filled a niche in the human psyche. A highly atavistic niche at that where certain animals are sometimes almost instinctively regarded as avatars. Gods in animal form, by whose contact it is possible to obtain the animal's 'power'. People have pictures of Wolves, Eagles and Bears etc in their houses for very similar reasons.

Legends of the local Coast Salish peoples say that a black bear with a white blaze on its chest is a creature of portent. The opportune arrival of particular animals is seen, even by relatively civilised people as full of meaning. This meaning will be divined regardless of the actual reason for said animal's presence. Yet cultures down the ages have manipulated such 'omens' for individual advantage. As such, I am led to conclude that animal 'omens' relating to the supernatural are meaningless. For a hypothetical example, let's say the Chief of a clan falls ill and the shaman says "Hey guys, remember that funny looking fish Ug caught last month? The moment I saw it I knew trouble was coming." Or making repeated unproveable assertions and then claiming success when an unrelated unfortunate incident comes to pass. Remind you of anything?

As one with a healthy regard for both his own skin, and a thoroughly rural upbringing I learned as a boy that animals, even so called 'tamed' domestic species are not little humans in different form. They do not speak words, and their thinking is in my observation, very simple and follows it's own agenda. Animals are not like the fairytale sort, not like the rabbits of 'Watership Down', where the animal characters have human speech, thoughts and emotions. Humans to animals are by turn a source of fear, threat, curiosity and in various ways, food.

In addition, animals don't have fingers and opposable thumbs to manipulate their world like we do, all they have is their mouths, tongues, and Didja see the teeth? Even 'gentle' herbivores can deliver a nasty bite. Hippo's are vegetarians, yet more people in Africa are killed by those 'Water Horses' than any by carnivorous crocodile. Sharks 'taste test' surfers because from underneath a paddling surfer resembles their favourite entrée of Seal or Turtle. As an additional example, Sheep have been known to sink their grazing incisors into people if they get too cheeky. Same for any animal, domesticated or not. As a five year old I took a highly educational nip from a pet rabbit, and at age nine from a colt. Those two occasions permanently cured me of any anthropomorphic inclinations.

My Dog, to whom I am pack leader and provider of all good things, puts up with my occasional strangeness just to sit at my feet while I work. Why? It's how dogs are. In the wild they are pack animals and live in tribes with a particular pecking order. His behaviour to me is merely a mild perversion of his Lupine forbears. It developed from a highly successful survival strategy. Yes he's a bright dog, and does understand maybe a hundred words or so of what I say, but most of it is in my tone and body positioning. How do I know? Because certain words, no matter how they are delivered, always evoke a particular response from him. That implies aural pattern recognition specific to language. However, his intelligence is limited, especially when it comes to repeating mistakes. On the other hand, when it comes to unashamed scrounging, he could rival Einstein. He's a dog, what can I say?

Humans, particularly urban humans, seem to have a common idea that anything with four legs and fur is 'cute', which in extremis leads to incidents like the one at the Vancouver Wharf. A game warden at Yellowstone Park stopped a woman painting her ten year old son's face with honey in order to encourage a black bear to lick it for a photo, seemingly unaware that Mr Bear would be sorely tempted to do a bit more than lick a lump of deliciously honey basted protein popsicle given the opportunity.

On a more domestic note, how many people have been bitten or clawed by their 'tame' pets for overstepping the mark, or simply being late with the habitual meal. Hundreds of incidents every day should teach us that the species we tempt into our homes and gardens do not think like us and never will. Yet we ignore, we project, we rationalise, we apply incomplete and childish thinking which leads to occasionally fatal human / animal encounters.

It is said in some circles that we are a modern society in neolithic bodies. I find myself agreeing, but only to a point. Observe human culture, the way it functions against logic and experience, and you will be drawn to the same conclusion as I am; that we are not part of a 'modern' or 'rational' society. If we were, Anthropomorphism would be extinct. We are primitive and tribal, it is part of our nature. If asked the question 'what is man?'; my most succinct answer would be 'Bipedal tribal predator', which to me seems to tick all the necessary boxes if you exclude aberrations. Skin us down to our cultural bones, and that is what you will find.

What this really means is that we don't apply logic and experience when it comes to other non human species, or anything else. Our frontal lobes are not always fully engaged. The end result is human children being seen as a food source by wildlife, because hey, protein is protein.
Related Posts with Thumbnails