Friday, 13 May 2011


Blogger censors blogs. 3 Comments and an update missing from the last post.

Sod you lot, I'm off to Wordpress.

Update: So it was cock up rather than censorship. I stand corrected. I'm still off to Wordpress.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Romequake! (Not)

Just took this screengrab of the area surrounding Rome following the scare story that the current alignment of planets (Meaningless apart from it being nice to see a tidy solar system) might cause a large earthquake near Rome. Well, according to all the online resources, no earthquake. So those who left the city and headed for the hills may have been a tad ill advised. Although heading for the hills might have been a teensy error of judgement, considering where the last largish quake occurred. My annotation.

Hi ho, gotta go. Duty calls.

Hi ho

There are some days when the world has a definite "Oh, FFS!" air about it. Thoughts don't gel, arrangements are difficult, research leads to too many dead ends. Today is one such day, hence the old Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band number. You have to cheer yourself up somehow.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

When is a volunteer not.....

What is a Volunteer'? I'd always thought it was someone who gives up some of their time to good causes instead of vegetating in front of the idiot box. Voluntary work is what I do on average for eight hours unpaid each week, sometimes as much as twelve or fourteen. For the accepted usage of the term, see the definition below, which is derived from several sources.
  1. A person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking.
  2. A person who performs a service willingly and without pay.
  3. Military . a person who enters the service voluntarily rather than through conscription or draft, especially for special or temporary service rather than as a member of the regular or permanent army.

obsolete French 'voluntaire' (now volontaire), from voluntaire, adjective, voluntary, from Old French, from Latin 'voluntarius' (Adjective; willing)
First Known Use: circa 1600
Now nowhere in that lot does the phrase "Made redundant then asked to come back by your ex-employers to do your old job for zip."

Someone needs to send the UK Cameroonies and their 'big society' a dictionary. Dozy lot.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The evil of PAF C23

Back in the bad old days of slavery in the United States, there was a thing called the 'Underground railroad' which spirited escaped slaves over the border into the anti-slavery (Abolished in 1834) British run Province of Canada amongst other places. Many into Ontario, although a number of notable families who can trace their lineage back to those days ended up in BC to make their mark in a free (ish) country.

The 'railroad' hit its peak during the US Civil War years with estimates of up to 100,000 freed slaves being bandied about, although sources indicate that the successful number is closer to 30,000, or even as low as 6,000. Considering the network of safe houses was mostly informal, the lowest figure seems the most likely.

The reason I bring this up is the continuing furore about 'secret courts' and forced adoptions in the UK, the most high profile of which is the recently leaked case of Vicky Haigh, which may only be the tip of a very large and polluted iceberg. From what I can see, various UK Social Service departments have been operating against basic human rights laws, and the Police have been complicit. Although in their defence I'd say that the Police are fed a line, and are bound to comply with the demands of Social Services. All Social Services have to do is make an allegation, and the blind juggernaut of Police and Courts rumbles into action.

The heart of the problem lies with PAF C23, which sets out 'targets' for adoptions and care orders. At this point I blink heavily and suppress the need to go "WTF?" How can you set targets for Social Service driven adoptions like a commercial sales operation? What complete fucking genius came up with that crazy idea? What affectioned time pleaser first mooted Key Performance Indicators for adoption? Which sectionable bunch of cretins put it into action? Who insist that the practice continues? Ofsted, that's who. I discussed the matter this morning with Mrs S, who opined that giving Social Workers 'adoption targets' was a licence for corruption. To quote from the UK Parliament early day motion;
Ofsted continues to put pressure on local authorities to increase the number of adoptions; recognises that the only significant way in which this can be done is to increase the adoptions of babies and toddlers
Such is the motivation for stealing unweaned children from their parents almost literally at birth. One of the cited reasons for such evil is an unverifiable 'risk of emotional abuse'. Now being a parent, I know that low level 'emotional abuse' is pretty much a two way street in any family. I've been on the receiving end, and tried very hard not to pay back in kind (Not always possible). And it's a pretty flimsy excuse for such a draconian measure.

There's also the accusation that certain people are using the Foster Care system as a regular source of income. At twenty thousand pounds a year per child, all you've got to do is foster two or three and it's easy street, at least financially speaking. Decline the unruly teens (Who the unscrupulous would just dump back into the 'care' system) and go for the toddlers. Three children, and you can live quite comfortably. Mrs S and I brought our two up on a net income of almost half that. We never starved.

Some families under threat of such child theft leave the UK and often flounder in new circumstances. Others, like Miss Haigh, have a wide circle of friends and associates overseas who have perhaps assisted her with tips about where to find accommodation, shielding her identity / location from officialdom where necessary. Others may seek practical assistance from Ian Josephs 'Forced adoption' website. Although I think Ian could do with a little assistance in creating a more user friendly site. Too many words Ian. It needs restructuring into something a little more practical and user friendly.

Here in Canada, we are still recovering from the scandal of 'Residential schools' where First Nations children were taken to Borstal like establishments to be 'educated'. The fallout is still making money for various ambulance chasing lawyers, who up until 2009 had big billboards up on Highway 19 north of town with wording like "Victim of Residential School system?" The scandal has cost the Canadian Taxpayer not far short of a billion dollars;
Total Compensation as of March 01, 2011: CAD$960,247,668
Taken from the original source here. When the scandal finally breaks (As break it must, injunctions or no) in the UK, guess who will be picking up the tab? Got it in one - Taxpayers

Perhaps the powers that be should recognise that, like with slavery, people (Even small and helpless ones) are not property.

Although I won't be holding my breath for that penny to drop.

Cross posted at Orphans of Liberty. Or rather not.

Friday, 6 May 2011

For weekends, everywhere

One from the very, very, early days of a mis-spent youth. Full volume. From one of the classic albums of all time.

Every screen grab tells a story

Over 2 to one against. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

UK Referendum results

Official UK referendum results will be found on this web page, here. The results should start coming up at 4pm UK time, that's 8am Pacific Standard time. So I shall have a leisurely breakfast and watch the fallout from the Wet Coast of Canada, as my shift doesn't start until 10am local time tomorrow.

As for the local stuff and by elections, the Tellytubbygraph have a nice little map thingy which is already showing some results. There's also a page for the Scottish elections, here and the Welsh elections here.

Pundits are predicting a caning for the Lib Dems. Scottish safe seats are trembling in the face of a possible SNP majority. The fat lady hasn't sung yet, but hearken! Are those vocal scales I can hear being practised from the backstage dressing room?

Oooooh dear.

Canadian Census 2011

Have just completed my first ever online census for Canada. Not all that onerous, and about as basic as it gets. Essentially it boiled down to these questions;
  1. Who are you?
  2. How many live there permanently?
  3. Who are they?
  4. Is this your correct address?
Remarkably painless. Five minutes. I can do this.

Hate sites and the law

The new Harper Government here in Canada may be about to make rather a large mistake. In their proposed new crime bill C-51 there is a clause that will effectively make it an offence for a Canadian web site owner to link to a 'hate' site, or one deemed to have 'offensive' material. From the Parliamentary publication here; Hate Propaganda (Clauses 4 and 5)
Hate propaganda offences must be committed against an “identifiable group.” Clause 4 of the bill adds “national origin” to the definition of “identifiable group.”8

Clause 5 of the bill provides that the offences of public incitement of hatred and wilful promotion of hatred may be committed by any means of communication and include making hate material available, by creating a hyperlink that directs web surfers to a website where hate material is posted, for example.

Okay. I can see a few potential issues here. As one who occasionally writes "Fuck" or in an exasperated expostulation "What the fucking hell were they thinking of?" does this make this blog a 'hate' site? A number of the web sites and blogs I link to regularly use pejorative language on various topics. They also express what some (but not all) might call 'extreme' views on various issues. Which I link to because it's interesting / howlingly ridiculous / amusingly apposite. I cannot control their content, and if that content changes without my knowledge I have no say in the matter. If I might not wholly agree with someone's point of view or the way they express it, does that mean I have to remove all reference from this or any other blog I contribute to?

Such a policy is unworkable, and here's why. Even the most vaguely web savvy person knows about the Wayback machine where everything is laid bare. So if the authorities were to send me a nasty email threatening prosecution about such an errant link or post, even if said 'hate' link or post is taken down, it's already too late. The material will still be available for as long as those cacheing servers exist. Seeing as they are based in the USA (as are the servers upon which this blog is based) and all over the world, such a threatened prosecution would be pointless. I couldn't really comply, even if I wanted to. The offending material would remain.

It's worth noting that the authorities in Canada have tried to prosecute bloggers in the past over 'hate' material, one 'hate' blogger has even done time pre trial, but I understand no prosecutions have taken the offending content down. All they've actually done is kept some lawyers in work.

The idea of trying to regulate an international medium based on a domestic standard is on a hiding to nothing. Firewalls leak (Great Firewall of China). News gets out (Like from Iran and Syria). The only way to stop people saying things you don't like is to pull the plug entirely. No Internet at all. In today's web enabled world, is that workable?

As far as offensive content goes, my own take is that everyone is entitled to say what they damn well please on their own web space. It is their god given right to make a fool of themselves in a public forum, just as it is my right to ignore, highlight or hold them up for ridicule. The web allows everyone that privilege. In that way it's very democratic. However, if this clause in crime bill C-51 stays, that right of critique goes with it, because linking to 'hate' material, whatever that might be, and for whatever reason, may invite prosecution. Likewise discussing contentious issues regarding other cultures. Debate is essential. Democracy cannot really function without it. And 'hate' is such a very subjective term.

As always, the law of unintended consequences will be found grinning and lurking in the shadows where web related matters are subject to legislation. For example, the bit about 'harassing messages' in clause 11 may end up biting a few credit control companies in the ass. This could get interesting....

Cross posted at Orphans of Liberty.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Carbon Cycle

Shamelessly nicked from the Australian 'No Carbon tax' campaign site. Comes under the category of 'many a true word spoken in jest'.

You know it's weird. Despite multiple failures of prophecy, there's a strata of society who have got degrees and suchlike coming out of their ears who still support the premise. One is tempted to ask why. Do they know better than the rest of us? Observation would suggest not. Seems to me that the modern education process is missing something, like critical path thinking. Or perhaps more accurately that elements which should be considered are dismissed for purely idealogical reasons.

The weather consistently fails to do what us poor peasants are told it's going to do by the ever-fearful advocates. Those with a sceptical eye are told we're in the pay of some eeeevil secret clique of industrialists. Okay, where's my cheque then? Yet when you examine the millions being thrown at doctrinaire pro disaster activist groups by both governments and private trusts, you can't help but think 'what's in it for them'? The whole 'trace gas runs the climate' is such an arrant piece of tinfoil hattery that it's hardly worth pointing and laughing at. Yet policy makers the world over appear to be right behind it.

In short, as the diagram comically indicates, there's money to be made. The only problem is that in reality 'Carbon taxes' are a classic economic implosion in the making. To be succinct; reduction in productive activity (Industry) to prevent (unproven and unproveable predictions of) changes in climate will be followed by a shrinking resource base (Taxpayers) as industry shrinks and the 'green' economy fails to deliver. This will be paralleled by a massive redistribution of everyone else's wealth to god alone knows where, possibly via the Cayman Islands to the proverbial Swiss Bank Account. Thence into vaults for gloating over, big yachts, private jets, exclusive holiday homes that rarely see visitors (Including the owners), and other such essentials to the human condition.

It's not that I mind other people getting wealthy. It's just that I'd rather they worked for it, rather than having my tax dollars automatically siphoned into their pockets.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Alternative vote

After the recent Canadian Federal General Election, I was surprised to find out that the Alternative Vote system of election has been tried and discarded in British Columbia, Canada. In the early 1950's no less. Back in the UK, the Alternative Vote system is being touted as a 'fairer' system of apportioning the popular mandate, but is it really?

Taking the 1953 BC election as a yardstick, where AV was the voting system. This being a real world example of the practice in action, not theory or modelling, but real live, in your face numbers.

In 1953 the victorious Social Credit party started out at the first count with just under 38% of the total vote, which increased to just under 46% of the vote after 'adjustment'. The smaller parties who were knocked out after the first count had their votes allocated to the winning party, not spread amongst the others. See Wikipedia entry here. Er, hold the phone. So how is that 'fairer' than the first past the post system? Explain it to me. By that I mean explain it without any flim-flam, in words an ordinary voter can understand. Especially when we're voting for a specific person to represent us, not merely their party.

The words say 'fairer', but the numbers add up to something else. As far as AV is concerned, I'm not convinced. Needs more thought.

Cross posted at Orphans of Liberty.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Canada has a majority government

Have been watching the Canadian federal election results come in. Regarding the screen grab taken at 22:10 PST 2nd May 2011 (02:10 ET 3rd May). Looks like we have a majority government at long last. With over a 60% turnout, no less. Glad to see our local incumbent retain her seat, as she's a good solid constituency MP. The Liberals and Bloc Quebecois are pretty much toast, electorally speaking. The Greens have one seat in the lower Gulf Islands. Although their victory is hardly surprising out here on the hippy drippy West coast. From observations based on other countries it has to be said that Green MP's tend to have the electoral life span of Mayflies. Especially when the voters find out what all those eco-friendly policies really mean. They'll learn. With an overall majority in power the Greens are still pretty much irrelevant anyway.

Interestingly, a bunch calling themselves the Pirate Party of Canada fielded a candidate who won 331 votes locally, see their Manifesto here. Incidentally, the Libertarian party vote (A smidgeon short of 6,000) just (but only just) outstripped the PC Party.

Harper's Conservatives, regardless of their other (often hysterically over hyped) failings, have proved a steady hand on Canada's tiller of state in these economically straitened times, and have thus earned their (current) twelve seat majority. It was an eleven seat majority as per screengrab, but that's the thing about dynamic web content, you set your screen to auto refresh, and the news moves faster than the speed of blog.

All results culled from Elections Canada date and time as screengrab. However, these are only the preliminary polling day results. As a non-citizen I don't have a vote, but I will be watching the final results with interest in the morning.

Good grief

Have been asked to send the odd expatriate piece to the brand new group blog 'Orphans of Liberty'. Frankly I'm surprised they wanted an ex-enforcement officer and sometime 'agent of oppression' on the site, but there you go. However, I'm all better now, and my days of confronting the inconsiderate are almost four years in my past, which is slightly longer than I spent in that wretched job.

I see there is a lot of whining about the UK Police arresting known troublemakers to stop them getting in the way of last Fridays public celebrations. Oddly enough for someone of a (mildly) libertarian bent, I'm with Julia M on this. Julia posted that it was okay to keep known agitators away from the pomp and circumstance. I agree. That day was for the people who love and revere the Royal Family to express their devotion, not to have the day marred by some self aggrandising eejit haranguing them, lying down in front of Royal Coaches, and any other bit of childish attention grabbing mischief said self aggrandising eejits could generate.

If you don't like a party, that's fine, don't go. What is most definitely not fine is to spoil it for others. That's like stomping petty jackboots along a table laid out for a kids street party, kicking the jelly and sandwiches to the ground because their laughter annoys you. Liberty is right and good, but the line is most definitely crossed to oppression when you intend to interfere in the happiness of others.

As far as the celebrations were concerned, I'm an ex-monarchist. However, this does not entitle me to disrupt proceedings, no matter how strongly I feel that the terms of my UK citizenship have been altered without my consent. The old ways will decline and fade without my intervention. I will make my destiny elsewhere. That, after all, is what I left the UK to do.

As for the Alternate vote thing; hey, how come people in the UK get to vote on the voting system, and not on the greater issue of whether they want to be part of a European superstate? The only vote on the matter was back in the 70's, and that was for an entirely different beast.

Regarding AV, over here in Canada the briefly adopted Alternate Voting system was ditched after one election, and a Single Transferable Voting system proposed. Although we've still got first past the post as the 2005 referendum to adopt STV missed it's mark by 3%.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

A day of modestly good news...ah

Having had the experiences with UK Social Services that I have, I'm heartened by the dropping of the planned Child database. Anything that gives these people, a number of whom have some very strange ideas indeed in my personal experience, less power can only be an improvement. The current scandal over the SS trying to seize the unborn child of Trainer and ex-Jockey Vicky Haigh has been quite alarming. Surely that sort of measure should only be applied if a child is in genuine danger, not just because Ms Haigh had a stand up row with her ex at a petrol station. A more sensible decision would have been to drag both parties before the beak and tell them to stay clear if they couldn't stand the sight of each other. Mind you, in my experience, UK Social Services don't always (some never) do sensible. My reflexive response to the statement "I'm a social worker" is generally to nod, smile, and look for the nearest exit without telling them my name.

On a more cheerful note, recent family discussions about the near to medium term, and what the next generation is going to get up to have all centred around Vancouver and the west coast. Youngest is talking about getting Canadian experience for six month after she's graduated to see if she likes it, as is Eldest. However, as a parent, one should always be aware that these are merely discussions. Although preparing contingency plans in case they both decide to turn up on the same day may be a good idea.

There's even more work than of late, so blogging has had to take a back seat. I just don't have the time to do everything.

The bagging of Bin Laden should come as good news to all sides of the religious divide. That is, if the news of his death is not an exaggeration, and not like the famous Nizam of Hydrabad, who was allegedly feeling 'much better' after his widely reported demise. Ironically, Bin Laden's boys have to date reportedly killed more Muslims than any other religious grouping. Funny that, seeing as they apparently want to 'defend Islam' against all us wicked 'Crusaders'. Not that I'm a 'Crusader' myself, my antecedents were all peasant and Yeoman farmers to a man (And woman). None of us C of E, either. As a historical note, most 'Crusaders' were the Templars and Hospitallers, who were driven from the Jerusalem area by the 1300's. Later on these groups were denounced as heretics, murdered and their fortunes plundered by the European Church and Nobles of the time. So the 'crusader' thing is a bit of a reach really.

Just as an observation, without Bin Laden and his cohorts ramming of Airliners into the World Trade Center, we might have been spared a couple of wars. So I for one am not sorry he's been slabbed. In a corner of Hell the fires will be burning a merry little glow of welcoming. The only trouble is, that he's probably inspired a lot more of the suicidal fruitcake fraternity to keep the pointless slaughter going for a while. The cell structure of Al Qaeda will remain without its figurehead, and many more will die for one man's vanity.

Oh well, what the hell, it's Canadian Federal Election day tomorrow, so I shall watch the results come in online, and although I can't vote yet, our local incumbent has my best wishes. She's a good constituency MP, and that buys my vote every time, even if I don't totally agree with her Party's policies.
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