Thursday, 30 September 2010

Taking the fight to the enemy part 2

Originally this post was supposed to be a script treatise on the plight of a Western Australian family. Unfortunately I got stuck. The sticking point was defined by this question; Okay, I'm talking about taking the fight to the enemy, but who exactly are the 'enemy'?

This evening my question was answered; the enemy is the person so opposed to your way of life that they want you dead. The frothing Jihadi's that think killing innocent people randomly will advance their cause. The man who plots murder against his neighbours because their fence is six inches too high for his liking. The crazy cat lover who puts razor blades in bits of steak and throws them over the hedge because next doors dog barks a little too much during the day. The people who ram airliners into buildings full of civilians in peacetime because they think God wants them to (He doesn't). The gloriously, wonderfully, arse-bitingly crazy people who hate the world because the world doesn't do exactly what they tell it to, right this minute.

The ones who want all voices but theirs silenced by the oblivion of eternity.

Like anyone associated with the making of this video. In it's own way classic fantasy murder porn. Singularly round so many twists it's spinning like an electric drill.

The problem is that the crazy people who think it's okay to murder people over a difference of opinion about what changes the climate look just like you and me. This is why they must be engaged by truth, defeated by empiricism and held up to public opprobrium. Thereafter they should be publicly ignored, boycotted and snubbed. That is a far more apposite end than the death they wish upon those they label 'Skeptics' and 'Deniers'.

H/T These posts at The Angry Exile and Wattsupwiththat.

The 'enemy' I sought to define. The haters of humanity. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Update: Since the script was written by Richard Curtis, the film is supposedly 'funny'. Yeah, the kind of funny that thinks tying firecrackers to kittens and puppies is 'funny'. It's the cackling jollity of crazed old women found knitting in front of guillotines during the French Revolutions 'Terror'. The cretinous laughter of those who have no moral braking mechanism in their psyche.

In a way it's a superb own goal because it shows the eco-whacko's in their true light. The bunny huggers who turn out to be 'bunny boilers'.

The thing it, this movie was apparently meant to be shown in schools. Errr.... say that again? In schools? You're shittin' me - right? WTF? Hell, I'm all for freedom of expression, but sick propaganda in the classroom? No. Surely not.

No doubt the parodies will shortly be hitting Youtube.

Expecting snow and other matters

Local folklore is for snow this Winter from November onwards. People who've lived on this part of the Island for ten or more years are saying we'll catch our first big snowfall in Mid November, which will hang around for two weeks, followed by three or four intermediate to moderate falls right through to February. This is a lot of snow for the Island.

This year Mrs S and I are a bit better organised than the first BC Winter we encountered. Log store full. All weather tyres on van and truck. Alternative electrical lighting sources. Might invest in some sort of power storage unit like this one, just in case. Not that we'll freeze, with our Moloch of a Wood burning stove in the front room.

BC Hydro were pretty assiduous with their tree trimming programme last year, which stopped all those pesky pines leaning on the power lines, although we did get three power outages from January through to April. The longest was nine hours, which wasn't enough to seriously inconvenience us.

Am feeling a little down at present as I'm due to visit the UK from midweek onwards for 2-3 weeks. This will mean highly sporadic posting. I am not looking forward to the trip, as I will be confronted by close family members saying wonderfully encouraging things to my face as they are wont to do (Not). The highlight of the trip is liable to be the moment we clear Vancouver airport customs upon our return. I may even kiss the concrete outside the terminal door.

Will be taking camera just to record and post anything worthy of note. I'm feeling a Marvin episode coming on already. Hi ho.

Playing with layout

Am currently playing with the layout of this blog, adding pages so that the main thread of my febrile ranting remains relatively untrammelled. Other threads on other pages will appear as tabs on the main page.

'Taking the fight' posts, as they are so specialised, will be getting their own page under 'Advice and Guidance'. These posts will comprise some suggestions for those irritated by unfair implementation of laws, and some suggested points in 'fighting your corner'. These will cover some of the dark arts of spin and propaganda, suggested courses of action when faced by seeming insuperable obstacles. Nothing illegal or actionable, simply supporting the rights of the individual against the machine.

May consign the posts on Icelandic Volcanoes to their own page. Then again,this is very much work in progress. Posts on Canadiana and local weather will probably follow. Widgets and gadgets for same will migrate along with subject matter. News on a couple of light hearted treatise projects on family life like 'Stepdad' will be added. Stuff drawn from my own experience as a new Canadian Migrant. All that jazz. The problem is, there's so many different things it's hard to maintain a focus. Will try to do more amusing / trademark sarcasm stuff on the main thread.

Why do I get the feeling that I'm biting off more than I can chew? Oh what the hell, Bill. Just get on with it, eh?

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Taking the fight to the enemy part 1

Now I'm not much of a Libertarian, mainly because I know too much about my fellow man and am not overly impressed. Although I strongly believe that people should be allowed to do pretty much what they please, so long as it brings no quantifiable harm to others. Yet conversely I also am a firm believer in the rule of law. People need structure and protection that certain laws, and their even handed enforcement, are supposed to provide. Without that protection, we all might as well go armed during our daily round, dealing with wrongdoers according to our own personal moral code. To me at least, that is not acceptable.

The trouble is with law that there's always a lot of what some enforcement types call 'mission creep'. The expansion of law into areas not hitherto subject to its ministrations. Specifically their misuse; creating a worse series of injustices than the ones they were meant to get rid of.

There's currently a lot of that currently going on in Australia, where farmers are being forced off their land following complaints from vociferous minorities. A case in point is that of the Thompson family; law abiding, taxpaying people who complied with all the rules and regulations concerning an agricultural operation, yet now find themselves facing eviction from their own property after 21 complaints about the odour from their beef raising feedlot operation, for which the correct permissions had been obtained. The whole sorry saga is being covered extensively on Jo Nova's blog, and also over at Wattsupwiththat. If you wish to help the Thompsons to stay on their own land there is a 'Donate' button.

The problem is that this sort of thing is happening more and more in the Western world. Environmental laws rightly designed for the purpose of coming down heavily upon serious polluters are being used for enforcing comparatively petty complaints about 'smell'. In short the law becomes a NIMBY's charter to abuse at will. Having had a little experience with such people, I would say this; it's no use trying to reason with the complainers; nor is there any point. These are people with minds so small you couldn't swing a Gnat in them, never mind the proverbial moggy. These are people, who when confronted with something the rest of us would simply ignore good humouredly, over react, thrash about, and end up smashing other's lives like wilful children kill flies. Without conscience or remorse. Which is in a sense exactly what said complainers are. Ignorant, wilful, selfish and childish.

The only reasonable course of action seems to be to use the tools the complainers use against the heretofore law abiding. Specifically, constructed outrage; exaggeration of specific emotive points; targeted protest; and a very liberal attitude to the facts. Greensleaze and various similar groups have employed these tactics for decades. Perhaps it is time those affronted by the misuse of environmental laws took a leaf out of the eco-campaigners handbook.

For those interested I will be covering various suggested points in a series of tutorial style posts constructed in a 'how to' fashion taken from the handbook of the very enemies of liberty themselves. The first is a suggested short script treatment based around the plight of the Thompson family in Western Australia, with various suggested 'do's' and 'don'ts' on how to construct such a piece. At no time will I suggest or condone breaking the law in terms of violent confrontation or other anti-social behaviour. That is a line I personally am not prepared to cross. Violence is, as my proposed posts will outline, actually counter productive. As I have learned from a number of quarters; bullshit always baffles the finest brains.

Perhaps a reader will construct a campaigning video along the lines I suggest to help people like the Thompsons against the forces of eco-darkness. Perhaps it will leak into the mainstream and become a cause celebre. Stranger things have happened.

To be continued shortly.......

Monday, 27 September 2010

Qu'ils mangent de la brioche

There's a certain Mr Bean at the Bank of England who reputedly made a statement concerning savers who should "Stop moaning and start spending". Actually, he said
"Savers shouldn't necessarily expect to be able to live just off their income in times when interest rates are low. It may make sense for them to eat into their capital a bit."
Okay, no issue with that, that's what savings are for; a cushion against adversity and infirmity. Pensions are no bloody use after that @#!!!? @#$%$# #@@#$$$# $%#$%#$#%!! snotgobbler Brown had finished with them, having pissed the UK's hard earned up the wall. So yes, you need savings. However, said rates savers lend the banks should reflect something close to the rate of inflation, or you might as well stuff your wages in a mattress or convert it into something more solid. However, one should not trust the banks with one's savings in this format, because sooner or later, some politician or their placemen (Like Bean) will decide to do an FDR on people guilty of 'hoarding' precious metals and given fiat currency for your 'Nationalised' property.

Further on in the article we learn that UK Interest rates are being kept artificially low as a deliberate policy designed to 'persuade' savers to spend. Now hold hard a cotton picking minute there Mr Bean. You're telling us that because banks aren't lending, savers have to withdraw their liquidity and spend to create demand, so that banks can lend to businesses? Right. Ooookay. Here's a thought; if savers withdraw too much money from a bank (Called a 'run on a bank') because they aren't getting enough bang for their buck from the bankers, the banks will lose liquidity and still won't be able to invest in businesses. In the meantime, those banks that are lending are benefiting from a bigger than usual disparity in interest rates between saver and creditor. They can't lose, and in doing so, perpetuate the problem because their lending rates are too high. For Mr Bean to make such a comment looks like one of those "Let them eat cake" moments. Even if Rousseau made up the original quotation, which appeared for the first time in this work.

What needs to happen is for the banks to cut their lending rate a little, let the savers have a little better return on their investment, and maybe the current situation will ease. From what I can see, only the Banks and their friends in Politics are making money. How come Blair is so bloody rich? He didn't make that on a public salary. Heaven forfend that they should watch their hard earned slowly haemorrhage away like the rest of us. It wasn't the savers who gave money away to people who couldn't pay it back because it was 'fair'. It wasn't the savers who gambled with derivatives based on poor credit risks and needed taxpayer dollar to stop them going broke like any normal business. The Banks did it because their friends in politics used them to buy votes. Funny how quickly the Banks 'paid back' all the bailout money isn't it?

If I sound bitter, I am. We were brought to this point by bone brained political meddling with credit and investment. The politicians tried to buy the votes of the less credit worthy by forcing the banks to lend to poor risks on the basis of 'fairness' (To whom?). Pension funds were raided for the Politicians to give away, all for the sake of 'fairness'. The Banks and investment houses colluded with this practice as they were making a handsome profit. Until the inevitable bursting of the bubble, when the Bankers threatened to cut the politicians personal money supply. Not as in the Loan Shark "Give us it or we'll break yer legs." But more a; "Well you have shares in us, and if we go bust, you sink as well. How is little Tarquin doing at Winchester by the way?" fashion. Now the politicians and banks want small savers to bail them out of the mess the powers that be created by spending their resources while those guilty of creating the whole mess carry on exactly as before. Let them eat cake indeed.

Well screw you too....

Apparently, according to Jo Nova's blog, there's an EU Directive to the effect that if other countries do not take on the whole Cap 'n Trade / Emissions Trading malarkey by 2012 then their airlines will not be allowed in EU airspace.

This is intelligent isn't it? Or rather it's life Jim, but not as we know it. In order to enter EU airspace, Airlines will have to purchase a 'Licence to pollute', the cost of which they will pass on to the travelling, importing / exporting rest of humanity. Great say I, another pointless increase in the cost of getting around. Another witless and unnecessary bar to commerce. No doubt other countries will demand some kind of reciprocal agreement, charging European Airlines a fee to enter their airspace. Guess who gets handed the bill? Us. The travelling plebs. As usual.

There are so many things wrong with this Directive, that it makes me sweat just to think about it. Mind you, I can see the opportunities too.

Say the EU is stupid enough to implement this half assed nonsense, would other countries reciprocate with their own ban on EU aircraft? The USA and Canada might, which means some kind of halfway house would need to be established where airlines from North America and Europe could land and transfer. Iceland maybe? Great for the Icelanders as they would get to rake in all those juicy landing fees from both sides of the pond. Not to mention the stopovers. Not so good for those with business or holiday homes either side of the Atlantic. Are you a UK citizen with a holiday home near Disneyworld? Oh dear. The cost / logistics of flying will get more complicated / expensive from 2012 onwards.

Thinking about it, there must be vested interests from Frankfurt to Paris desperate to recoup their losses on Carbon Trading, which at the last look was pretty much flatlining. Especially over at the Chicago Exchange, which laid half it's staff off earlier this summer. One suspects that the situation in Europe isn't that much better. If a market crashes from say $7 per unit to .05 a unit inside eighteen months, then someone, somewhere has lost big time. I understand the carbon trading market is heavily subsidised, although I'm not sure how much sense that makes, economically speaking; yet sometime a line has to be drawn under a project. A decision has to be made not to waste any more money on a dead duck, but threatening this kind of ban is like pointing a 12 Gauge shotgun at your own foot and loosing off both barrels.

Last night Mrs S and I were watching a documentary about Ireland, and she pointed at the screen and said; "Bill, that's where we're going for our Wedding Anniversary." At the time I agreed with enthusiasm. This morning, I'm not so sure.

2035. A prediction

Okay. We've had all the hype about warming. Which has turned out not to be true.

Now I may actually live to see 2035 and the results of this prediction, barring accidents.

In 2035, I predict a cooler planet. Not by much. Half a degree or so overall, perhaps a vague smidgeon of a tad cooler. Some places mainly colder, others not. No 'runaway warming'. Enough ice to supply billions of cocktails and ice buckets. Winter sports will be big. Polar bears thriving and seen in more southerly locations in Alaska and BC. Arctic ice cap larger than at present. Mankind will still be here, as will most of the species we know, and quite a few others we've hitherto overlooked. Some species will be found after being declared 'extinct'. There will be the odd inconvenience from periodic volcanic eruptions. Some glaciers may be a little bigger. There will be the occasional large storm. Heavy warm clothing will be high fashion.

Oceans will not have turned into acid.

A giant meteorite will not have wiped out life on Earth.

Coral reefs will be doing well in some places, but suffering from pollution and occasional plagues of 'Crown of Thorns' starfish in others.

We will still have stupid people running around claiming the world is about to end.

None of the doom and gloom predictions of the neo-malthusians will have come true. As none of them have come true since the 1970's. Their predictions have been so far wrong it must be truly embarrassing.

If in 2035 I'm wrong you can call me a fool, but not for the next twenty five years.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Interesting.....

Belatedly dropped by at Wattsupwiththat to see the following guest essay on why glaciers have been growing and retreating over the last couple of hundred years. The author has noted an interesting correlation with Sea Surface Temperatures that has me wondering about moving further South. My current domicile is on the same latitude as the Island of Jersey, and it's pretty chilly compared with the same time last year. Overall, it's definitely been cooler than usual.

Over at the Devils Kitchen Knife the conversation has also turned to cooling, but for different reasons. They are watching the Bilderberg group. Me, I'm watching the cycles, because when it comes to climate prediction, they're the only things worth peddling.

Sunday interweb wandering thoughts

I always make time on a Sunday to pop over to the Tellytubbygraph's James Delingpole Blog. Not so much for the quality of the 'debate' as the hilarity of the troll control tactics employed by the various posters. I generally lurk without commenting, and don't generally get drawn into those tedious online bouts of protracted name calling which some find so engrossing. Occasionally, if I have something to say I'll make a post and then move on. If that is construed as 'drive by posting' then so be it. I have a life.

The one thing I will take issue with is the claims that those who don't unthinkingly ascribe to the view that mankind is responsible for the changes in the weather / climate are 'anti-science'. Now this assertion is complete nonsense and a very poor rhetorical argument. It's lazy soundbite driven thinking which bypasses all centres of significant neural activity. It's also one of those 'drawing a line in the sand' gestures of pointless witlessness which can only devalue an argument. Just because you disagree on one point doesn't necessarily mean you're a gun totin' - git orf mah land - anti abortion - redneck - Palin loving - creationist - God fearing Republican wingnut. Neither does the converse hold true, that just because you agree with a given proposition doesn't automatically make you a tofu eating - metrosexual - jazz lovin' - Darwinist - Obama worshipping - Atheistic Democrat Progressive. That's just ludicrous. It's also stereotyping, which is a crime against the intellect and one of the classic indicators of Persistent Waking Vegetative state. People of that mindset don't think, they don't examine before rejecting, they just have prejudices.

Take my own world view; I do not believe in man made climate change / Warble Gloaming / Buzzword of the moment. My own training in Engineering sciences (Ones proven in fact not theory) tells me the CO2 meme has serious holes in it, and having looked at the basics and tried to find a connection simply cannot accept the "We can't think of what else it can be" justification. That isn't science, that's reductio ad absurdum not sufficiently reductio'd. To compare; I am of the opinion that Darwin and Wallace were onto something regarding evolution back in the mid 1800's, although the tenets of their work have been horribly abused by some people. Yet there are things we don't understand about how evolution works. By the same token, Einstein did not have the last word on physics, and we don't know everything about gravity and space / time, not by a long chalk. Some have even contended that the age of scientific discovery is 'past' but there you would also find me in disagreement; there is always something new and fascinating. In short; the science is never 'settled'. New stuff comes along all the time. If it didn't, there would be no new toys in the store to keep the money going round. No improvements, just an endless round of drudgery reinforcing the status quo. A quasi-medieval mindset where heretics are burned in case all those uppity peasants get the idea that Mother Church doesn't really know much at all.

The only people who are truly 'anti-science' are those who, when confronted with dissension do not at least riffle through the pages of a theses and go; "Yup, that's fine... oh, hang on a moment, oops. My bad." Science is about enquiry, of re-examination and winnowing grains of truth from the chaff. It is not about 'consensus'. That is purely a political idea, which has nothing to do with the classical scientific method. The only thing you can say for certain about a 'scientific consensus' is that it is riding for a fall. Sooner or later some clever so-and-so will come along and the rule book will need another rewrite.

In terms of climate McKittrick and McIntyre have repeatedly demonstrated that one of the 'proofs' of man made climate change is based on nothing more than flawed models and statistics. Even the Bilderberg group, that invited clique of the not so great and good, once so enamoured of the CAGW postulate, are reputedly discussing the possibility of 'Global cooling'.

People are waking up. You've been had, and by proxy, so have I, and I'm not very pleased about it. All the tax money that has been thrown at a non-problem really scrolls my knurd. All the resources flushed down the fiscal toilet after phantasms when the real answers to energy, food, and water poverty have available solutions.

Think GM food is 'bad'? Well, everything in this life comes with a price tag; and ripping up field trials of GM crops with better yields and disease resistance just because some big corporate owns the technology is half witted. In an age when the cure for hunger is within our grasp, that's like putting your children at risk by not getting them properly vaccinated on the basis of one over-hyped study. Sheesh.

Don't want third world countries to make nuclear weapons? Don't sell them Uranium / Plutonium based reactor technology (How about Thorium? Can't make weapons from that). Although the news that Iran has got the Stuxnet virus in it's Nuclear programmes computer systems is not unamusing. That Ahvegottadinnerjacket character in Iran who so loves to parade things like 'Ambassadors of Death' and other assorted diplomatic willy waving must be looking for someone to blame. He'll probably claim it was the Israelis anyway.

Think there are too many people? Well you're a person aren't you? Do the decent thing and make room for someone who really wants a life. Seriously, you'll be doing the world a favour. As for those proposing others be sacrificed on the altar of future humanity. No, please. You first. Please, I insist. After you. No, no, I'll be along sometime after my 90th birthday, maybe. If I remember.

Regardless of the aforementioned; for a so-called 'denier' I'm very pro human progress. Despite a certain air of misanthropy in my posting, I have great faith in humanity. We have a habit of muddling through as a species, and when properly motivated can work wonders and shit miracles with or without divine intervention. We didn't become the worlds most successful tribal predator species by accident you know. What's that you say? You're not a tribal predator? You obviously haven't looked very carefully at your fellow humans.

A little wet weather

The rainstorms that hit the Island last night don't seem to have done much damage, although in the far north, the poor buggers up at Port Hardy seem to have had a time of it. Mudslides, power outages and all the inconveniences, but no one seems to be doing the drama queen like; OMG! It's raining! The Government should do something!

Well actually they did. People cut off at pulp mill without power; evacuated by boat. 100 others helicoptered out to a reception centre at Alert Bay. The spokesman for the rescue effort? An RCMP Sergeant. That's right, a Sergeant. Not an Inspector, a Commissioner or other high ranking panjandrum, but one of the guys who actually got his hands dirty. We haven't even had a visit from the Prime Minister, or even the Provincial Premier. That's how casually these things are treated over here. What the hey, it's the Island, as the saying goes locally.

The recent rains have been quite good for the local lawns, and everybody's yard is a spring like green. It's actually quite easy on the eyes. When the sun peeks through the clouds of course. Can get a bit loud on the roof sometimes, which has our mutt snuggling into his box with his paws over his ears, but no drama. I've got a fire laid in the log burner just in case, but no fuss.

Anyway, the coffee is brewed, and I am about to help myself to a mug of restorative on this damp and chilly morning.

Sleepless rumbling

A restive night has me up and meandering the interweb at the moment and I observed a short burst of tremor activity along the Icelandic portion of the mid Atlantic spreading zone, specifically the bits under Bárdarbunga and Loki-Fögrufjöll under the Vatnajökull glacier. As always I'll add the caveat that on its own this is just the general workaday grumbling of the Mid Atlantic spreading zone, and without other data re ground movement etc, should not betoken a repeat performance of April and May 2010's fun and games. Still, it bears watching, and I shall continue to do so until we fly out to the UK in early October.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Quote of the year

See, Progressivism is about selling fantastic dreams - work less, earn more, play more, become more attractive, be more admired by your peers, end hunger, end poverty, create world peace, abolish cancer, save the whales, save the planet all by simply voting once every few years and telling people, hey, I voted for cool. Musicians, actors, comedians… all manner of people who depend on being ‘in’ and ‘hip’ to make a living align themselves with progressive politics. Cos it’s cool. It’s one giant circle-jerk of ‘cool’.

Thank you Charlotte Gore. You're on the blogroll for that.

Variations on a breakfast

As someone who was brought up on a hearty diet of a bacon / sausage sandwich and mug of tea to kickstart the day, of late I've begun to experiment in an up marketish sort of way. Whilst the current English fashion appear to be a 'Healthy' BLT, which comprises of Bacon lettuce and tomato, I pride myself on being a traditionalist. FYI; The ingredients of a 'healthy' BLT are (Allegedly); two anaemic slivers of bacon with all the fun extracted, a thick slice of nondescript GM tomato, and a third of an taste free iceberg lettuce between two crumbly slices of toothbreaking 'wholegrain' bread which has all the detritus from the threshing floor thrown in.

Personally I eschew the 'traditional' (No such thing, it's pseudo-vegetarian propaganda) BLT and have altered the traditional formula for a bacon / sausage butty. To wit; A generous doorstep slice of toasted Focaccia liberally sprinkled with chilli flavoured extra virgin olive oil, a portion of Garlic Sausage, a small wedge of cheddar washed down with a mug of freshly made ground coffee (Not 'instant' - the horror, oh the horror). As a gesture to my wife's insistence, I also partook of a small bowl of oatmeal.

This meal enables me to get through the day with no more sustenance than a modest coffee and a cookie at lunchtime before a light evenings repast from which such items as chips and pasta are noticeable by their absence. In deference to the heavy influence of the Sinosphere in this locale, we do partake of quite a few stir fry dishes. I like it.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Of course it all looks better in real life

A comment on my last post by my Australian comrade in words the Angry Exile reminded me of a couple of shots I took from our deck on Tuesday evening. Both were taken with a pretty bog standard compact digital Camera, and have only been cropped, labelled and resized with no further photoshopping. I mean who do you think I am, the NCDC?

Optical Zoom on the first image was about 2.1 in 'Auto' mode, and the second, of the Moon / Jupiter conjunction was taken with the optical zoom in 'Night / Tripod' mode at x3. Both photo's were taken with the camera mounted on a tripod from eight feet in front of my kitchen window at around 7:30 and 10pm respectively Pacific Standard time. No tricks, no unpleasant bending, just being in a superb location.



Pity about the overexposure of the moon on the conjunction shot, but it was either that or lose Jupiter. Would have gotten some better pictures, but it clouded over last night, and it's been tipping it down this evening. Yet a camera can never quite do my view the justice it deserves. It's one of those things that are so much nicer in real life.

BTW: Mt Baker is in the USA, a shade under 94 miles away as the crow would fly, if it had the energy.

Recycled conversation

Mrs S and I have this conversation about once a year. The question generally comes out apropos of nothing and almost always catches me by surprise. It's usually kicked off by her maternal guilt chip going into anxiety mode over not being at my stepkids every whim. Generally three weeks after a problem has arisen and been resolved by a healthy dose of horse sense.
"Bill?" Says my other half.
"What?" Oh-oh I know this tone of voice.
"What would our lives be like if we'd stayed in the UK?"
"Going crazy stuck in the same jobs. Trying to make a difference in a mad tick box driven system. My blood pressure up through the roof, both of us in self destruct mode heading for divorce because we'd always be barking at each other about the crap TV, traffic, ever encroaching rules, useless customer service and the sheer day to day rudeness of the place." I say. I used to interpret this as homesickness. Now I know I'm just being used as a sounding board. It's almost reflexive now.
"Just checking. Thanks for reminding me."
"Thought so."
"You smartarse Bill."
"Ow!" This last expostulation arises when she playfully digs freshly sharpened talons into some tender fleshy morsel of my anatomy. Not that it hurts, because being a fairly robust chap I have a fairly high pain threshold. Again, it's almost got to the stage where the response is formulaic; Pavlovian, even. More style than substance.

Having read in the UK press about the mad Huhne and the greasy Cable; with their seeming desire to squeeze every taxpayer until the pips squeak their last, I am even more glad we bailed out when we did. Only sorry we couldn't persuade the kids to come with us at the time. Never mind; they'll join us next year for certain. We have a whole new life we're developing over here.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Stating the bleeding obvious....... as usual

Well, the UK electorate has disposed of one bunch of power crazed Hoons, only to take on another barking mad bunch of Huhnes. My reason gentle reader (You are gentle aren't you? I couldn't bear it if you were horrid), is sweet reason itself. Your current UK Energy Secretary proposes sticking something in the region of 30p a litre on the cost of gasoline and slamming extra taxes upon those of us who occasionally have to fly in and out of your wretched little poverty trap. Apparently this will replace all that juicy National Insurance fund money the tax man thinks is missing.

What will actually happen as people like myself decide that the UK, for all its heritage and charm, becomes too damn expensive to visit; all that lovely tax money will dry up like spit on a hot griddle and your government will have to get it from their traditional source. You. The 'carbon' tax will be no more than soot in the air, and the UK economy will be looking at a 'triple dip' recession as government struggles to recoup 'lost' revenue. Those few of you left with money enough to drive motor cars will think it a mercy when the local Chavs (or Neds if you prefer) have nicked your tyres and left your four wheel indulgence sitting forlornly on bricks. Not that there will be a market for used tyres, with UK petroleum prices chasing the rise in price of gold bullion, only the very well off will be rich enough to drive anything anywhere, and the price of loose house bricks for throwing enviously at them will be considered too wasteful. Too valuable for chocking up all those wicked cars my dear ex-compatriots.

The EU will have sucked the life from your financial institutions, leaving the once financially mighty City of London as a dried out husk of its former incarnation, so thousands of livelihoods dependent upon the financial sector will drift away like smoke on the breeze. Yet what will your glorious leaders be doing? Making it too bloody expensive for Mr / Mrs / Ms / Whatever to get into and around the UK.

This is the 'sustainability' and 'green' future your political masters will have brought you to with their ill timed eco-meddling. Labour / Liberal / Conservative have become mere labels for professional politicians who consider it is 'buggins turn' to rule, rather than their actual job to ensure the country the people who elected them live in is at the very least modestly prosperous.

Despite the phantasm of man made irritable climate syndrome being revealed as no more reliable than one of Mystic Megs newspaper horoscopes. Despite the complete non-impending doom of the planet. Despite the glaring gaps in the 'science', your political masters still think you're all doomed unless everyone gives up every advance in their standard of living since the 1930's and lets foreign corporations blot up all the wealth.

So, perhaps in a year or two; next time you're trudging your way to work (If you are fortunate to still be in work) through the porridge grey sameness of an awful British morning for a bus or train that has been cancelled, bear that in mind. Or perhaps splashing your rickety bicycle through crater concealing puddles, remember being warm in your own personal car-space, not shoulder to shoulder in a shoving, sweaty mass of damp spandex-clad cycle commuters straining up a once-unnoticed gradient. You may even see a dignitary speed past in one of the few remaining private motor cars, because only they are important enough to travel in such an environmentally unfriendly fashion. They will tell you you will be healthier for all the exercise. You may be told you will live longer, even should you feel such longevity is no longer such a good idea. In the brief four day hiatus of a rain free British Summer, there may be moments when you could even feel better. Until Autumn and Winter roll around, bringing their usual plague of chills and bronchitis. All these things I have known, and I'm jolly glad not to live in the UK any more.

Of course the moron Huhne's proposals may turn out to be nothing but Liberal Democrat conference hot air. One must hope for everybody's sake that this is the case. However, should his proposals come to pass, you're pretty much screwed. My sympathies to you all.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

A new one on me


Just finished supper before sundown this evening and saw this sight. Now the rainbow in itself isn't remarkable. What has me scratching my head a little is the 'ray' effect from due East over Vancouver. I think it's something to do with the rainbow because the rays centre was exactly in the middle of the bow had it been projected. Don't know what the proper name for this effect is, and if any passing astronomy buff knows what it is, I'd like to know. It's just that I've never seen this before.

Whatever it is, it's gorgeous.

BTW: The only photoshopping of this image was a crop and resize prior to upload. No rainbows were harmed in the making of this jpeg.

Anything new? Thought not.

Back in the land of the compos mentis after a nice nights sleep in my own bed. Has anything changed?

Dozy items insisting that we wreck the global economy because of ........................... (insert suggestion here) or go vote at Kates

Popes visit to UK attracts protest (If you aren't a Catholic you don't have to go). Who gives a shit anyway?

Grumbling tremors at Katla have subsided for now. A watched pot never boils.

The fog has lifted and I've got better things to do. I'm having the day off. TTFN.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Small missions of mercy

Have been busy ministering to ailing friends, sleeping on sofa's and assorted errand running. So not much sleep over the past 48 hours. Brain in standby mode. Body on automatic pilot. In dire need of rehydration and deathlike repose. Therapeutic tea and cookies are currently being administered followed by half a gallon of fluids and a solid shot of Tullamore Dew.

Norman Jervis will be exhumed as soon as possible.

Friday, 17 September 2010

The latest scare story

London overdue for 'killer' quake! Scream the headlines in the Tellytubbygraph, the Greeniad and all the other tabloid junk that passes for mainstream 'science' journalism in the UK nowadays. The real experts are sceptical, even derisive, and it even turns out that the word 'overdue' is a media invention.

As for a 5.5 being 'deadly'? Oh good grief! Out here on the Pacific rim, a 5.5 tremor is considered workaday and nothing exceptional. If there's a 5 or 6 out in the subduction zone out beyond Juan De Fuca, we often don't feel a thing hereabouts.

This is so much claptrap it's morphed into a kind of 'Truth-lite', or perhaps it's even the 'new truth' (H/T to Al Jahom there).

Call that 'science reporting'? Because I bloody well don't. And I haven't even had my morning coffee yet. Sheesh.

Led up the garden path

There is a phrase my maternal Grandfather taught me when I was very small. I'd been trying to play with some of the cats he kept as mousers in the barn and gotten royally spagged for my trouble. Tearfully nursing the injury as small boys do, I explained when challenged that I had not been pulling the cats tail. At this point Grandad guffawed and said; "You're leading me up the garden path!" In other words, 'You're pulling my leg'.

The saying is a phrase with interesting provenance, as I regularly point out in various blog comments. When taken in full this little axiom appears in a more sinister cast. "You're leading me up the garden path to have my throat slit." Is the full version. It refers to the smallholder pig slaughtering practice, a yearly event that occurred in rural England (and France & Germany) well into the 1940's. The practice was a family affair, as these things often were. The womenfolk stood by to rapidly process everything but the squeal onto useful provender, and the menfolk and children did the slaughtering and butchering. The pig was led on a leash with many treats up the garden, usually up close to the kitchen door over a low stout piece of garden furniture called a 'Pig bench', a long low rough hewn piece of timber with four legs. The slaughterer would sit on the pigs back, effectively pinning it in place on the bench. Then with a sharp knife or cheesewire, make a large incision in the pigs throat, holding the struggling squealing animal down while it's life blood drained into a relay of basins held by the children, which were then tipped into buckets ready for making into the delicacy known as 'Black pudding'. When freshly dead, the pig was butchered on the bench and converted into sausages, bacon, and all the carnivorous delights therefrom.

Nowadays the practice is unknown because we in the west have mostly become divorced from our rural roots, yet the phrase persists. Why? Because the meaning is so often apposite when dealing with the entrenched political elite. Particularly when Mrs / Mrs / Ms / Whatever Voter is promised all sorts of nice things at election times, only to find their fiscal life blood drained ever faster by a hungry state.

Like the pig, voters are gulled into acquiescence until the horrifying truth becomes apparent. All the nice things promised by the political establishment turn out to be little more than a trail of goodies to the taxation slaughtering bench. The benefits of taxation so often go to someone else, and rarely the intended.

As those who voted the current US administration / for the EU in are rapidly finding out; big government = big taxes. They are finding out how far up the garden path they have been led.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Rather like bloggers really.....



Likewise Bloggers are independents who share an agenda, but not a power structure. Interesting parallel.

Here we go again

First it was 'Global warming' - Now thoroughly discredited.
Next it was 'Man made climate change' - Unproven
Now it's 'Global climate disruption'

Can't these guys see that it really is 'game over' for political control of the weather? The physics are wrong for a starter. If this is 'science' then the moon really is made of green cheese.

The latest assertions from the White Houses John Holdren are such blatant nonsense I don't think it's worth further comment.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Northern lights over Katla

Had a peek at the Katla Webcam and was a trifle startled to see a ghostly grey spike in the darkness. Thinking I was first to see an eruption, I tried a screengrab which only returned a blank rectangle. Then I took a mental deep breath and had a second, far longer look at the dancing ghostly images.

It was the good old Aurora Borealis. The northern lights. To think I almost let the rice for this evenings supper burn for this. I feel rather foolish.

I think this calls for a song.

Hi ho.

Political aggregator

This is interesting. Ever wondered how to fact check what someone actually said or what really happened before the propagandists of whatever stripe began to scream? Poblish.org is a news aggregator I am going to pop into every now and again to cross-check various claims of veracity.

Could be useful in keeping Foot in Mouth disease to an acceptable minimum.

Veterans

This news item reminded me of how much better run Canada is than the UK. In the UK, if you serve your full 'twelve' in the Navy, Army or Air Force, see active service in wars or NATO, UN ops; once you finish or retire, that's it. No more involvement apart from through the British Legion and the informal 'old boys network' of ex-servicemen. Maybe a Forces pension. Or if you get seriously wounded a disability pension. Apart from that, you're on your own.

Here in Canada we have the Department of Veterans Affairs, special motoring insurance discounts for veterans with special numberplates and pensions. Even ex-members of the RCMP and Local Police force are eligible. There appears to be no cut off as the barracks gate shuts behind you for the last time. You served your country and this is part of the payback for that service.

A real life example is a friend who served in the Canadian Navy who has all his special health care needs dealt with via the DVA. They have made a number of visits and payments to him since he became seriously ill over the past two years, and, being the man he is, he's often voiced some small embarrassment at their largesse. All he has to do is ask.

The Canadians really seem to know how to treat their ex-servicemen. At least to this outsider. Yet the UK has not truly learned the lesson from Kipling's time when ex servicemen were discarded after discharge or crippling injury.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Morning on my deck


Taken at 8am this morning from just outside the kitchen window. The closer lumps poking out of the sea fog are Thetis and Kuiper Islands, with Saltspring in the distance behind. It may be cooler than the seasonal norm and we had a log fire going last night, but this mornings view? Ah, words! Superlatives fail me, but then I'm easily pleased.

Katla latest

I'm no expert on Volcanoes, simply an interested observer with an agenda of not getting stuck in any airports during a forthcoming transatlantic trip, but from the little knowledge I have, the tremors registered near Katla in Iceland recently may, and I say this guardedly, may have some significance. The tremors registered on the graphic screengrabbed and annotated by me from the Icelandic Met Offices web site, specifically A, B, & C within the last 24-36 hours have shallowed from recent activity 10+km under the earth to less than 100 metres down in less than thirty days in a fashion rather like an old fashioned coffee percolator.

With no other available information, what this means is debatable; and if a real expert on volcanoes can explain what's going on in terms of magma flows within the Katla vent system, I'll be more than happy to listen. So, I suspect, will a great many others. In the meantime I will be watching and reporting upon events in that area as they come to my attention.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Atmospherically speaking

Was chatting to a warmist chum the other day in the coffee shop who thinks I'm a very ignorant person for not believing in the 'CO2 drives the climate' meme. He treats me with the same attentive fanaticism an ardent missionary gives a pagan native. I for my part, treat him with an amused tolerance like that reserved for next doors precocious children.

He's always trying to 'convince' me (the poor fool) about Carbon Dioxides deleterious effects on the atmosphere and temperature. Take for example yesterday when he trotted out the old 'but look at Venus' argument with me.
"You know Bill, all this Carbon Dioxide we're putting out. Some day soon we're gonna end up like Venus. I mean, really."
"Really?" Quoth I.
"Yeah, it's a classic demonstration of the runaway greenhouse effect."
"Is it? I thought it was because Venus is much closer to the sun and has a thick atmosphere that boils landing craft." I replied.
"No, hey. Look at how much CO2 there is in Venus atmosphere, yeah?" Here he paused for dramatic effect. "Ninety five point six percent! No wonder it's so hot."
"And..." I said, with a rising inflection.
"Jeez Bill! You been taking the stupid pills, or what?"
"No."
"All that Carbon Dioxide has doomed Venus to be a hell planet!" He declaimed.
"What about Mars?" I cocked an eyebrow.
"What about it?"
"Ninety five point three two percent Carbon Dioxide." I countered with an amused smile.
"Yeah but the atmospheric pressure is way lower!" He protested.
"Why do you think that is?" I asked carefully. I like the guy, but he's not that savvy when it comes to the solar system.
"Well it's further away from the sun!"
"Yes. And your point is?" I said, pausing to take a sip of coffee and wait for his latest declaration of faith. I was greeted with silence. "Look." I said, trying not to sound unkind. "Venus, Mars and Earth are three totally different planets in different orbits. You can't expect to compare one with the other."
"Yeah, but Earth could end up like Venus!" He persisted.
"Only if you shifted Earth forty odd million kilometres towards the sun. Besides, Venus is a younger planet, at least as far as the surface is concerned."
"Hey, what happened to its oceans then?" He rejoindered, still determined to defend the Carbon meme by all means possible.
"What oceans?"
"The ones it used to have."
"Says who?"
"Scientists. You know."
"Really? Which ones?"
"You're asking for evidence again, aren't you?" He said a little sheepishly. "I don't know which ones."
"I think the study you were referring to was published in the late eighties." I remarked, trying not to sound unkind. "To the best of my recollection it only said there might have been oceans on Venus, not that there ever really were. Although if water formed that close to the sun, well, wouldn't it have been too hot to form oceans of liquid water?"
"Well, Bill. How come Earth's oceans haven't done the same?" He challenged with that slightly smug air of one about to strike a winning blow.
"Let me see now; where do you want me to start?" I was desperately trying not to yawn. Why are so many otherwise intelligent people convinced of this dumb idea? "Earth is over forty million kilometres further out from the sun than Venus."
"So what?" He challenged.
"Ever hear of the inverse square law applied to solar radiation?"
"What's that?"
"Simply put, the closer you are, the hotter it gets, and it isn't a straight line relationship, it's a curve." I saw the bemused look on his face. "Say the sun is here." I put my empty coffee cup on the table. "Venus is here, and Earth is here." I shoved a couple of cookie crumbs roughly into position. "How much more energy does Venus get from the sun than Earth?"
"About half as much again?" He hazarded.
"Wrong. Around one hundred and ninety percent more. Add to that Venus has no real magnetosphere to deflect the solar wind. Therefore it cops the lot. Solar flares, everything. The only shield it has against solar radiation are high level cloud layers."
"Huh?"
"All the clouds of Sulphuric acid etcetera, etcetera." I did the Yul Brynner wave from the King and I. It was wasted. Heavy sigh. "In addition, Venus has no solid nickel iron core like Earth and no plate tectonics. No nickel iron core means no protective magnetic field. No plate tectonics mean no effective heat circulation within the core. This means all the energy from the core goes into keeping the crust red hot. Venus' hot crust superheats its lower atmosphere, and the thick upper clouds prevent a heat loss rapid enough for Venus to cool. It's catching it from both directions. That's why Venus is so hot."
"Say again?"
"Venus has no real magnetic field, yes?" I ticked it off on my finger.
"If you say so."
"Check it out for yourself. Google Venus magnetic field."
"Okay."
"Earth has a magnetic field." I ticked off another point.
"For sure, everyone knows that."
"Right. Earth's magnetic field acts as a partial shield against the worst of solar radiation. Got that?" And another.
"I'm good with that."
"Venus is almost a third closer to the sun than Earth without Earth's magnetic shielding." This is getting hard work, I can see his eyes glazing over, and I can feel mine glazing over as well.
"Hey, how come if Venus has no magnetic field that it has a thicker atmosphere?" He smirks, thinking he's caught me out. "Wouldn't a thicker atmosphere be to do with the Carbon Dioxide? Hey, and if there's no magnetic field, what keeps the atmosphere in place?" He concludes with an air of triumph.
"Magnetism and gravity aren't the same thing. Look it up." Was that a sigh creeping into my voice? I knew I was fighting a losing battle with his attention span, but I ploughed on regardless. I was also straining my memory to come up with this stuff. What I really needed at this point was a decent text book. "It's not so much the Carbon Dioxide it's more the clouds keeping the heat from the crust in."
"So, nothing to do with Carbon Dioxide then?"
"Not so much." I conceded.
"Not so much? Are we backtracking a little here, Bill?"
"The point I'm trying to make is that CO2 is a very small part of the picture." I said (Slightly heavily at this point). "All the scare stories you read in the media about Earth turning into Venus are just that; scary stories to frighten the kiddies."
"Oh." His eyes went blank for a moment.
"I don't believe them any more."
"So you're still a denier then?" He teased.
"There's nothing to deny." I chuckled. He's a trier. Sometimes very trying.
"So all these people saying CO2 causes global warming don't know anything about it?"
"They're mainly media types and politicians. What do you think?" I said.
"How come they say so?"
"Because they probably don't know any better."
"How come you know?"
"Because I actually do research for my Science Fiction writing." I said with lead in my speech. This was getting really hard work. No one pays me for this, so why do I bother?
"And they don't?"
"Doesn't look like it. They just don't have the time for proper research I guess." I shrugged. "It's kind of like the Piltdown Man hoax. Someone plants fake fossils to prove a fake theory of racial superiority. All the vested interests agree because it suits their agenda, a lot of ordinary people get taken in because they want to believe, the news media don't care so long as they sell copies, and by the time the truth leaks out forty years later, everyone is too damn embarrassed to acknowledge they were wrong. Fancy another coffee?"
"No; gotta go. See ya Bill." And he left, leaving me feeling oddly tired. Not that he'll believe a word I say. Hell, if I pointed out a nice sunset he'd check the TV news to see if it was really happening.

And people ask me why I'm so cynical sometimes.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

If we disappeared tomorrow

Picked this up from the library this afternoon, and watched it while cooking supper. 'Life After people'; a neo-malthusians wet dream. A 'what if there were no people' scenario. It covers some of the ground, but misses out on a lot. Industrial leakage, fires from untended utilities, natural disasters, storms.


Personally I found it hopelessly over optimistic. 10,000 years? Our civilisation would be overgrown and gone long before that.

In your own time please.........zzzzzzzzzzz

After a rainy afternoon taking the piss of my fellow British Columbians and their relaxed attitude to green stop lights, I'm convinced that someone must be dumping THC in the water supply. Normal drivers the world over see the green light and are off the starting blocks like greyhounds out of the trap as follows;
Light changes to green
go
Here in our part of BC there seems to be a different imperative. The sequence goes like this;
Light changes to green
Look around startled as if you've been caught naked in public
Check radio is on
Scratch head
Examine steering wheel
Seem to realise that you're doing the driving
Depress accelerator, and apologise for getting it down
Move forward
I regularly see people taking a full five seconds to react to a traffic light change (Normally via my rear view mirror). Have no idea what they've been drinking or smoking, but it must be wicked stuff.

Of course it's very frustrating if you're behind them in the same lane at an intersection, and choruses of 'Why are we waiting' can often be heard emanating from the Drivers seat of our truck or van. That and cries of "When you're ready!" Sometimes the fun never starts.

Upon reflection, this reticence to get on with the business of driving may well be a learned reflex on the part of the locally trained motorist, as the average British Columbian pedestrian has an unnerving habit of stepping straight out into the road without pausing to look; crossing or no. The local rules of the road say that pedestrians have priority, and running them over is verboten, but locally I've never seen so many people with an avid death wish. Mrs S and I are of the opinion that those who leave the island ne'er to return do so because they have been run over in a foreign clime. Perhaps they belong to the local chapter of the Euthanasia Society and can't bear the thought of another meeting. All I know is that a good many of the local pedestrians seem to be bucking for a Darwin Award. And I thought the local Deer population were bad enough.

A pedestrian who simply stepped off the kerb into a two lane highway this afternoon left me feeling glad my reflexes, honed through years of riding and driving in the UK, are still in good shape. As are my brakes.

They never learn.......

According to the Tellytubbygraph, a number of public sector Union leaders are objecting to the inevitable public sector cuts. Said leaders appear to be very dense because they still haven't worked out that there's no more money left in the public purse. Even the moths have starved to death.

We saw the same thing back in the late 70's and the consequences are as predictable as a sunrise. Rubbish rotting in the streets, what's left of the Army fighting fires with antiquated equipment, bodies unburied, hospital patients untreated, and freezing pensioners. I was working in the UK's industrial Midlands at the time and it wasn't pretty. Now I'm growing ever more uneasy about my forthcoming trip to the UK. Because I remember the Winter of Discontent.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

A good quote

Don't normally comment on religion, apart from my little fishing related conversations with God, but this verse caught my eye. Which holy text is this quotation from?
Good and evil are not equal. Repel evil with what is best in goodness, and you will see that the one you had mutual enmity with, will turn around as if he were a close friend.
Not always true when you're dealing with psycho's and frothing at the brain madmen, but it works for most ordinary people. Pity it's so often hard to tell the difference.

9/11 24 hour Blog Silence

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Friday, 10 September 2010

Friday musical moment


Chris Rea, in prophetic mode;
Walk away from the leader
Walk away from the books
Walk away from the TV
Take a long hard look
And an old favourite from my days spent working as a van driver (I had to pay my tuition fees somehow);


I'm cool with it all today.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Does this surprise me..........? Not really

Revelations about the currently popular Blair biography, although God alone knows why it's so bloody popular; the man was a fucking disaster as Prime Minister. For proof, see current state of UK. Most of the damage was done during Blairs tenure as PM. Brown was even worse, although in his partial defence most of the groundwork had been laid by Blair. Economy going tits up, uncontrolled immigration, Social budget overspend like a runaway train, defence over committed and in tatters, speed cameras up and down the land, and that was only the stuff I saw before I left the UK in 2007.

Now in a sudden revelation of plagiaristic revisionism, we learn that bits of his so-called autobiography are pinched from a movie? Well this explains a lot. Blair might not have been lying to the UK public after all, he was possibly so in love with his own image that he truly believed he was doing a first rate job. If true this makes him a Billy Liar of a man, a fantasist who makes Baron Munchausen look like a pillar of veracity.

Yet am I really surprised? Not really, no. The shame of it is that so many were taken in by his glamour.

Katla tremors

Take your eye off the ball for five minutes and see what happens? Possible swarm type activity on the western side of the Katla Caldera in Iceland. What may be significant is not the amount of tremors, but the relatively shallow depth of their epicentres. A kilometre is apparently considered fairly shallow, and a possible harbinger of eruption. However, seeing as there were a few grumbles then nothing more, it may mean magma was draining rather than filling, which means no eruption. On the other hand; without data on uplift of the ground, or the nascence of a lava dome, there is not much information to go on. Could be something, could be nothing. It's so hard to tell.

As I've probably mentioned before, Mrs S and I are flying to the UK in a few weeks, so I'm keeping a weather eye on any possible disruption to our itinerary.

Update: All the grumbles have died away for the present. Will await future developments.

Regarding 'health'

There's been a lot of fuss over the effects, so called, of 'second hand smoke'. Apparently this stuff is more dangerous than Potassium Cyanide, sweating Gelignite, or rabid Gerbils. The merest whiff will kill you within fifty years, or so some authorities would have us all think. Bearing this in mind, some quite draconian bans have been put in place because of the implied threat.

Health Insurance companies, ever quick to improve their margins, refuse to pay up if the client has ever so much as looked admiringly at a Meerschaum pipe. In the world of work it's just as strange. You smoke cigars? Well you can't work here. Or there, or there; because they're 'smoke free'. In fact some North American employers will 'fine' you if you smoke more than four cigars a year in your own home. Wow. Land of the free? Not any more it isn't.

If, as we are all frequently told by various authorities on health or illness, we should all live healthier lifestyles, why the emphasis on sport? For example, running on hard surfaces is a medium to long term health hazard for your lower joints and feet. Athletes are frequently plagued by expensive to treat torn ligaments and other cartilaginous ailments. Is this 'healthy'? Doesn't sound like it, but are athletes threatened with exclusions or fines for their lifestyle choices? No? Do we hear about how much work time is lost through weekend sports injuries? Well not really. Funny that.

As far as tobacco, alcohol or weight are concerned I think certain otherwise intelligent people have slipped over the tolerance event horizon and disappeared into a point singularity of frothing antipathy. Weigh a bit more than some spurious chart tells you? - BAD! You're going to die and we're not going to treat you because it will cost too much. You've actually smelled tobacco smoke? Quick Nurse, the Oxygen! Drink more alcohol than another chart based on figures plucked out of thin air? Up to bed and no supper - NOW! It's the extremism, the hysterical over reaction to a perceived threat that bothers me.

Just as an aside; have you ever seen all those really healthy people who work in hospitals? The űbermensch-like 'health' professionals, those idols of perfection at whose feet the rest of us mere mortals are not fit to worship? The ones who want to dictate the lives of others? No? Having spent a couple of years working within the British NHS, I can say I never met any. Not amongst all the health neurotics, chocoholic nurses, overweight social workers, overtired medics and world weary Paramedics. None at all. We are all fallible and mortal. So who are they to dictate to the rest of us?

Maybe I'm being unfair here, and perhaps it's more 'Health' Management that are driving the charivari over 'healthy' lifestyles. You know, control freaks who are so insecure and fearful in themselves their mental pollution spills out contaminate the real world. Having thought about it, it's hard not to conclude that all the bansturbatory legislation has the smack of ham handed one-size-fits-all 'tick box' management. Rather like that taught in MBA courses.

Another thought occurs. All this 'healthy lifestyle' stuff is all so much guff really. For every study 'proving' that something is bad for you, there is another study which concludes negative correlation. Each study only told the experimenter the answer to the question posited. This doesn't change the reality that followers of 'healthy' lifestyles do not on the whole, appear to live much longer than their less strenuous brethren. I've known serious health freaks keel over from heart attacks and all sort of malignancies, without rhyme or reason. They convince themselves of a health regimen, and no logic or reason, nor crippling disability, can persuade them otherwise.

Now when you look at family histories it's easy to see where much mortality comes from. Let's say your Granddad died at forty five, so genetically speaking there's a 50:50 or less chance you will too. On the other hand you might not. Life is a lottery, and all you can do is live it. All the legislation in the known universe cannot change that simple truism, and you might as well enjoy yourself while you're breathing. Getting born and dying aren't important. It's what you achieve, the lives you touch while you're living that's crucial. Otherwise you're just marking time for the old grim reaper.

There was one particular overweight smoker and drinker whose name is revered in most sensible Western culture. Not perfect, but a man whose imperfections and mistakes did not limit him. He lived to the age of 91. You can make of that what you will.

As for other conditions; we have a family friend who is dying of Asbestosis contracted working around 1940's warship construction. He's 91. Never jogged, smoked cigars up until he was over 80, and only stopped drinking six months ago. To die so young, eh?

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

On burning books

Stopped by at Longrider's blog to see his comments on the proposed burning of copies of the Qu'ran by a bunch of Florida Evangelicals. Found myself moved to leave the following message in the comments;
Book burning is a crime, regardless of how good or bad you think the book is. On these grounds I find myself as opposed to burning copies of Islamic texts as Christian or any other. Why? Because the written word provides the knowledge and continuity which underpins any civilisation. Therefore destruction of same is a high crime against humanity, even if it is a Jeffrey Archer. Without language and the means to pass it on we are little more than screaming apes.

I say no book should burn because all should available for reading and critique for good or bad. No cow should be too sacred to take to the intellectual slaughterhouse. If books and the knowledge they contain are destroyed, then upon which giants shoulders should the next generation stand?

BTW: As an illustration of my last point, there are stories of early Christians burning Roman libraries during the 5th and 6th centuries, and it took humanity over a thousand years to rediscover what was lost.

(Sees soapbox under feet, steps down)

Despite the 'soapbox' meme, I'm deadly serious. Burning a book is murdering an idea. Ideas are what raise us above apes. Even truly dumb ideas like religion. Without examining dumb ideas or half assed backward cultural shibboleths and recognising them for the impostors they are, how the hell can humanity move forward?

It is therefore the contention of this blog that all Book burners, whatever their denomination, are ignorant scum, below pondlife.

I know September 11th was a crime too, but you don't punish one criminal by burning down his entire home town.

New sofa

Have an ultra comfy new leather sofa. It's just the right size for two adults to snuggle up and read or watch TV. Spent all yesterday evening curled up on it. Mrs S watching some TV detective stuff, and me reading. Much cosiness and domestic harmony (for a change).

Carry on. Talk amongst yourselves.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

What Plato said....

Went for my usual pootle round the blogs this morning, and found the latest proposed outrage against liberty from the HMRC. Give your pay to the taxman first? I think someone in HMRC is in dire need of a straitjacket and a nice quiet room. It's an insane proposal.

Having had dealings with the Byzantine and glacial workings of HMRC when I lived in the UK, I must say there is so much to go wrong with this idea that it doesn't bear thinking about. My other thought is shared by a more ancient philosopher who had this to say;
Tyranny is not a matter of minor theft and violence, but of wholsale plunder, sacred and profane, private or public.
Plato's Republic

Glad I don't live there any more.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Incoming

Well, this is interesting. Two modest size chunks of space rock are going to whiz past well inside Lunar orbit tomorrow. One around 0.2LD, which is under 80,000 Kilometres, or under 50,000 miles, the other at 0.6LD or a shade over 230,000Km or 143,000 Miles. At 10 and 16 metres across respectively nothing to panic about, but enough to put on a decent light show should they graze Earth's atmosphere. Pity it's raining over here and we'll miss it.

H/T for the heads up to Spaceweather.com

RIP Mike Edwards

Ex cellist with the Electric Light Orchestra. Playing on this under appreciated track from 'On the third day', one of my favourite instrumentals.


Killed by a rolling hay bale. I don't know whether to laugh or cry that such an excellent musician is no longer with us. Ave Mike. God rest you. Or Buddha. Whatever.

Those naughty bloggers

Over the weekend the UK lamestream has been taking prose pot shots at the blogosphere. Apparently bloggers are very naughty and should be spanked and sent to bed without any supper. So says Rod Liddle, hiding behind a paywall in the Times about Guido Fawkes over the Hague affair. Don't ask for a link as An Englishmans Castle and Longrider amongst others have done an able job of fisking Liddles tiresome diatribe, and the follow on in the Incontinent.

It seems the Lamestream mostly don't like bloggers because they don't like the competition. They don't like their purple prose picked over by a bunch of bloody upstart amateurs to be shown up as inaccurate, counter factual op-eds. They certainly don't like being beaten to the punch by people who are oftentimes closer to the source than 'professional' Journalists could ever be. Yet certain Journalists write some highly entertaining blogs. Those who don't / can't / won't might be considered to be on an extinction shortlist. There is no way round the fact that modern media is diversifying, splitting and spawning new mini entities by the day. Those who don't evolve, well, what can I say; Byee

The Times in particular is no friend to the 'Army of Davids' as the blogosphere's patron saint Glenn Reynolds once described those who embrace the new media. In particular the 'Thunderer', ironically once a leader in new media, has a history of 'Outing' bloggers who use pseudonyms to mask their everyday. Why? No one is really sure, but I'm sure sour grapes come into it somewhere. Maybe it's all some kind of rearguard action on their part. Perhaps like some Jurassic Apatosaurus they look disdainfully down from their high necks at all these new fangled little mammals dashing all over and vouchsafe; "They'll never catch on."

Time will tell.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Screwing up

Today has been a funny weekend full of 'Attaboys' cancelled out by one big 'Ohshit'. The 'Attaboys' were earned first thing Sunday morning when a pain wracked call from out of the blue sent both Mrs S and I riding to the rescue of an old family friend. Rides to hospital were organised and I spent most of my day hanging around Emergency, trying to be useful and keep out from under people's feet. This is not easy when the focus of your efforts is less than cooperative. However, we coped and ensured that people got what they needed and were comfortable. Family friend was admitted and put on Morphine.

The funny thing was that our family friend wouldn't call an Ambulance because they 'didn't want to make a fuss'. Yet obvious pain and lack of mobility almost meant we couldn't get our suffering friend into the van to get to Emergency. Regardless, we got them there and tried not to impersonate headless chickens in the process.

Quite impressed with all the technology in the local hospitals Emergency Room. Mobile Ultrasound units, very professional and businesslike staff, and in the five hours we were there never saw anyone wait more than fifteen minutes before getting attention. A sign at Registration about non-Canadian residents having to shell out $535 for treatment made me pause, as did a note about extra treatment charges to Quebeckers.

Everyone seemed to take all these complications in their stride and the thing that struck me was how reasonably good humoured both patients and staff seemed given the habitual background tension of Emergency Rooms everywhere. Even the Paramedics appeared laid back. Like a tensioned velvet covered spring.

We were doing well until a(nother) run in with a cell phone company and their lack of customer service left me fractious and upset. My best course of action of course would have been to take an hour to get myself properly fed and rested as I hadn't eaten all day, and maybe taken a break from worrying. Regrettably I did not follow my own internal advice and made some ill chosen remarks in the hearing of my other half. Mrs S was not amused. It graduated into a row. She walked out.

We have since spoken and I have apologised for my uncharacteristic ill humour pleading tiredness and low blood sugar. The matter is not fully resolved, but discussions between Mrs S and I will make it so. I have screwed up. Amends must be made.

Now it's raining. So much for a pleasant Labour Day weekend. Sometimes being a grown up truly sucks.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

EyeTube

For those people becoming annoyed with increasing Youtube censorship and pulling video content; please welcome Eyetube a video hosting service which promises free speech and probably free anything else, although I'm assuming that they'll draw the line at some things. This site will try and use it as much as practical.

Providing of course Eyetube don't buckle under to the first vexatious litigant to send in a letter threatening all kinds of legal nastiness. One hopes not.

H/T To the Angry Exile.

Sockeye

Mrs S and I have taken advantage of the current glut of Sockeye Salmon by stocking up the freezer. The "Fish farms are bad" lobby has temporarily been silenced. This massive run after several lean years has shouted that perhaps the issue is more complex than mere campaigners would have us believe. Questions are being asked about how vociferous advocacy groups have been allowed to sway fisheries policy.

Regardless of that; one of the things I noticed last night when serving a plateful for supper was the difference between a Coho or Pink, or even Russian Sockeye and the local stuff. It's like the difference between cotton and silk. Cotton is fine, but silk is wonderful, and fresh Sockeye has an almost silken texture as well as a richer, rounder flavour.

When I was a boy, canned red salmon sandwiches were a favourite treat for Sunday tea, dressed with malt vinegar and black pepper. When I could buy up a few cans I would, especially when there was a deal in the supermarket. Yet the canned stuff is a mere shadow of the fresh or smoked alternatives. Now I'm learning the difference between Salmon farmed and wild, fresh and frozen, and the textures and flavours are like a musical scale. Each having their own high points. Yet across the scale, fresh BC Sockeye Salmon beats them all.

How could you possibly.....,.,.




.....Miss?

Blood and sand, these anti war protesters must throw like girls.

Friday, 3 September 2010

No Tsunami today

Just saw the reports of a big Earthquake near Christchurch, New Zealand. Pleased to say that there is no Tsunami alert. There was another biggie down in Chile recently, an 8.8 no less, yet we haven't heard much about that in the mainstream. Neither is an alert issued for the latest 6.5 in the Aleutians.

Reports from Christchurch indicate widespread damage, but hopefully not that may casualties. How fragile we surely are.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

How fragile we are

Got into a minor spat over the impact mankind has on the planet over on James Delingpoles blog this morning. I made the comment that if Mankind were to disappear tomorrow, you'd be hard pushed to find we'd been here within five decades. All right, at the time I was indulging in a little hyperbole. Fifty years does sound a bit too close to home. Then again I thought about it and plundered the archives of my memory and my recollection of old derelict buildings, and thought; "Hold on. Maybe the fifty years figure isn't all that far off."

My family have been in property for generations, so I was brought up learning about the importance of regular property maintenance. External painting kept the pests and leaks out. Clearing the gutters every fall (Autumn) kept damp off the walls. Checking the roof for loose tiles ensures no nasty damp patches indoors. Regular small bits of gardening kept the weeds and pests at bay, and thus out of the house.

Neglect the aforementioned for more than five years and the pests get in. Wasps and other creepy crawlies invade. Small pests follow bringing seeds and spores indoors. Woodwork gets infected, and only hard aged oak can tolerate woodworm for more than five years. Tiles are shifted by storms, letting rain into the roof void, wet or dry Rot sets in and begins to eat joists and floors within five or ten years. By the time ten years have passed, you'll have a lexicon of property woes to write a book about. Another ten and the likelihood is the rot will be in the walls and floors. Another five and there will be holes everywhere. Another five and the floors and ceilings will in all probability be gone. Window frames will be glassless because the sealant has dried and fallen out. Damp will be in the walls, which will begin to sag. The whole building will be weed ridden and sagging. Forty years and collapse becomes likely. By the time forty five years is up, the neglected property is an overgrown heap of wood and bricks. Fifty years and times up. What house? A row of neglected properties will go even faster. Storm and fire can ravage even brickwork and leave nothing more than hummocks of rubble. A summer lightning storm setting fire to a tree will catch on to uncleared underbrush and then the entire neighbourhood can go up in smoke, and the number of lightning started woodland fires, even in well managed places like the UK is surprising. The result is the same. To expect a house to remain untrammelled after fifty years is pure wishful thinking.

Even in relatively temperate climates the erosive power of nature is quite staggering, especially if left unfixed. Where storms abound, like in the South East and central USA whole suburbs can still be wiped off the map, property maintenance or no. A 'Pineapple Express' or one of the regular Winter storms up here on the Island can pry a couple of shingles loose to let the elements in and begin the time lapse of decay. Tout passe, tout lasse, tout casse.

So if mankind did disappear, the natural process of rot and erosion would be as devastating to man made structures as a major Earthquake, Storm or Tsunami. Our legacy would be mere archaeology before fifty years was out. For all mankinds achievements, it just goes to show that we will always be running to catch up against the natural world.
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