Thursday, 26 February 2009

So regrettably true

Written beautifully by Phillip Pullman; Originally in the Times, but mysteriously now gone.

The new laws whisper:

You don't know who you are

You're mistaken about yourself

We know better than you do what you consist of, what labels apply to you, which facts about you are important and which are worthless

This has to be the most eloquent piece of writing I've ever read about the death of civil liberties in the UK. Mister Pullman is to be applauded.

Pass it on.


No longer to be found on the Times Website, but the text can be found here.

This beautiful piece of prose also shows up in this search of the Times website, but the link returns a 404.

A sad day

I think I've upset someone at the UK Daily Telegraph. Not that I'm all that bothered about it, but it has led to any comments I try to post, no matter how mild or non-contentious, being blocked. It may also have something to do with my router firewall blocking ICMP pings. Well chaps; the sidebar is being edited, and I'll get my news further up the media food chain in future.

Quite frankly, the UK Daily Telegraph's content has been sliding downhill like a toboggan for the past twelve months. I keep on asking myself, where's the penetrating investigative journalism I used to respect and revere? The quality content? Instead I am increasingly disappointed to find 'stories' about one-time 'celebrities' taking up the front page and reams of what can only be described as formulaic guff. Guys, if I wanted to read about them I'd be reading the Sun or News of the World. Trust me, downmarket is not the way to go, you should be raising your game not lowering it. Mrs S has noticed, and often remarks "Bill, is there any real news in this?" whenever she sees my glum expression staring in quiet disbelief at an item.

It's rather sad, like watching a once mighty battleship being towed to the scrapyard, neutered and helpless, bullied along by craft it could previously have so effortlessly blown out of the water. One could almost be moved to pitying tears at the pathos.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Giving out a rocket

From the lunatic asylum on the other side of the Atlantic comes this utter nonsense. A Professor Gerard DeGroot thinks America should scrap space exploration because of the abortive launch of the NASA CO2 measuring satellite earlier this week. He makes the case like so many luddites before him, and a pretty poor one at that; that the money spent on space exploration would be better spent here on Earth. I quote his article directly.
During a recent radio programme, a Nasa astronaut asked me how the American people might react if the next man on the moon were Chinese. I replied with a question: "why are Americans so insecure?" If the Chinese want that worthless rock, so be it.
I would ask the following by way of a reply; why is Professor DeGroot so anti-american? He decries the Ares space exploration program as proposed by Ex-US President George Bush, and does not suggest how the money spent on space exploration might otherwise be utilised, apart from a woolly reference to poverty and famine taken from an Eisenhower quote which was more about the waste of warfare than the exploration of space.

I would counter Professor DeGroots arguments thus; The US Space programme and NASA is not just about America. It provides employment for skilled Engineers and Technicians, both directly and indirectly. The information they generate and the technologies (GPS, Satellite communications to name but two) give employment indirectly to many others. Without it, the USA would not have risen to be a world superpower, both economic and military, and would the rest of the Western Democratic nations have enjoyed the economic well being without the energy and drive Americans put into the race to the moon? The space race generated, and still does generate economic activity and yes, wealth. It is one area where Government spending really does have a measurable economic effect. Or would we rather go back to the last ten years where most of the Western economies were overinflated by the rising price of housing and bankers selling nebulous products of 'risk'?

Professor DeGroot is listed as a historian. A Historian with a book to plug. So what is his book about? "The Magnificent Madness of the American Lunar Quest". I do so hope that he received no remuneration whatsoever for what was an unsubstantiated diatribe. We only need books like his to remind us why we should be taking the greatest leap of faith of all.

To conclude; in these straitened financial days, where the economy is formed from so many interlaced and fragile layers, we need hope and change. We need hope that this planet is not all there is. We need change from the anti-scientific small mindedness that keeps our species chained to this spinning ball of mostly molten rock. We need a focus to drive us out to our rightful place among the stars, or drown in the squalor of an overcrowded world. Without that goal, what have we to look forward to apart from perhaps forced Eugenics programmes to reduce the population? Take your pick. Explore the cosmos and take risks in doing so, or mandatory euthanasia when you are no longer a worthwhile economic unit? No pressure.....

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

A minor domestic matter

There is a source of nascent marital discord in our household. Not the kids, as our two are at differing universities studying for their degrees. Not the dog, despite his occasional gaseous alimentary effusions. It's not money. It has to do with time on the computer.

The thing is that since my old laptop finally gave up the ghost a few weeks ago, both Wife and I can only work on our one Computer. Wife uses Skype to keep in touch with her family. She will spend hours talking when I want / need to be writing and working. Her new job means that she does a lot of home based research.

Now from this humble male's perspective I think she does too much research, endlessly going over the same old ground immigrationwise in the seeming hope that things will somehow suddenly change. For myself I think she's often barking up the wrong tree in the wrong damn forest. From a chaps point of view this is annoying because we could be doing more fun stuff, like kayaking or taking trips.

Seeing as the rest of the world seems hell bent on sending itself to economic hades with climate cap and trade and other assorted moonbattery we might as well have some fun while we still can. I was even thinking of spending some cash on a hunting licence and a decent hunting crossbow, or maybe see if I can pass the gun course and buy myself a shotgun for hunting. At least that way we'd have a chance of staying properly fed if the worlds economy really does go tits up. Fresh venison anyone? I do a pretty decent hearty stew and have few qualms about killing and preparing my own dinner from field to dinner plate.

Maybe I'm just overreacting, and we humans will do what we normally do, muddle through the current mess somehow. A few people will get killed by storming winter palaces, barricades, and sauntering past overstressed riot police with their hands in their pockets, but I'm buggered if I'm going to be amongst their number. My days of kicking over the traces and trying to buck the system are long past. I'll protect my own kith and kin as best I can and let the rest look to themselves. Call me selfish, but my family comes first. I've seen the rest of society emotionally naked and red in tooth and claw in glorious technicolour close up, and I wasn't that impressed.

Update: Old computer has been scrounged and I've elected to install and learn Linux (God help me) so we can both carry on working at the same time. There is hope that any impending domestic apocalypse may yet be averted. Oh what the hell, if it was that easy, everyone would be doing it.

Monday, 23 February 2009

What drives people to....

What drives certain people to write ascerbic comments in or 'correct' library books? I'd dearly love to know. More than once my reading pleasure has been soured by some pompous moron who thinks they have the God-given to foist their own narrow minded little world view upon others. To them I address the following remarks; come on, this is public property, not yours to deface as you see fit. This behaviour is analagous to fly tipping, or taking an open air crap in the middle of a public park; what can only be described as an anti-social act of moronic vandalism.

To those who would justify such behaviour I would address the additional remarks; if it is okay for someone to write "I don't know why anyone would want to read this BS" upon the flyleaf of one of Tom Clancy's lesser known works, does that make it okay for others to write "This guy should have been impeached" on the flyleaf of Bill Clinton's autobiography? For my part, my own opinion is that neither is acceptable, and that the perpetrators of such public defacement and their apologists should be publicly buggered, hung, drawn, quartered, guillotined and gassed, just to make certain. The same goes for those who burn books. Any and all of them. I don't care which book it is that they have burned, to destroy the written word is a sin against a greater humanity and perhaps even God himself.

Shocked visitor:Gosh. That's a bit extreme Mr Sticker. Would you care to outline the rationalisation for your rather extreme views?

No problem. A book in a public lending library is in it's own way a repository of knowledge, however slight, open to all to read for their own edification or damnation. To me all books are equal. From pulp romances to major scientific works. They all contain, in whatever measure, some tiny essence of a civilisation. In any library that I had control over, I would keep copies of Mein Kampf and Das Kapital alongside the comic prose of P J O'Rourke for public perusal because by said juxtaposition those entering the library could see first hand what utter cobblers was written in the works of Marx and Hitler, then have a chuckle courtesy of P J to recover their sanity. I would even go so far as to have copies of the Bible, Talmud, Koran and all the holy books ever written on the same shelves so that those with a mind to do so could immerse themselves in the writings of all religions in a kind of 'contrast and compare' exercise, and thus become a more spritually enriched and perhaps enlightened human being.

Shocked visitor: Errr, that's all very well Bill, but why the extreme penalty?

To enlarge; To burn books is to destroy knowledge. Knowledge, both technical and otherwise forms the building blocks of civilisation and thus by various proxies protects us all from barbarity and the prospect of living in mud huts. To destroy knowledge is therefore a treason against both society and the greater aspirations of man, even if that aspiration is only for the latest forty inch plasma screen to watch a perfectly good fight turn into an Ice Hockey game. All written knowledge is therefore crucial to our well being, and should be sacrosanct against all violation. Including pompous, arrogant, jumped-up myopic cretins who scrawl on things that do not belong to them.

Shocked visitor: Well, that's all very lucid Bill, but if a library book is public property, then I, as a member of the public, am perfectly at liberty to make my views known if I disapprove of a books content.

You don't get it do you. Can I phrase my argument thus; If you don't like something, no-one is forcing you to read, listen to, or watch it. This is the basis of free speech, which is one of the very lynchpins of Democracy. The right of an individual to speak or write freely without some arrogant little tit behaving like the spoilt kid in the playground who will leap up and down screaming until everyone pays them their undivided attention is central to the whole principal of liberty, which ironically the spoilt child screaming is actually abusing to the detriment of others.

Shocked visitor: Even so; even a spoilt child should be heard.

Look pal, we can go round in circles with you asking dumb variations of the same stupid question, and me giving the same answer from a different angle so that some slight meaning might drip feed into that lump of turgid underused mush you call a brain. My point is that everyone should have a say, just don't annoy the hell out of me by defacing library books, got that!

Shocked visitor: Sorry. OW!

And don't do it again!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The return of...

For commenters who would like clarification about this blogs resurrection; I'm still living and working in British Columbia, Canada. The more I see in the mainstream media, the less I want to go back to the UK. However, I'm still maintaining my contacts over there. Even if only to indulge with some well-earned schadenfreude.

The new direction of the blog is Uncle Bill's tips for living and working in Canada. Oh yes, and the lighter side of life in comparison to the reported top down idiocy of the UK. In addition there will be helpful tips on who to talk to, what to do and where to go if you have troubles. All that jazz. Don't promise to have all the answers, but you can learn from my mistakes.

For those of you wishing to escape across the pond to a new life in a freer country, well there's pluses and minuses. The pluses are the better quality of life, better quality stuff, lower prices, huge vehicles; you could house an entire extended family in a Lincoln Navigator. Nicer people (At least where I live). Even officialdom has it's human side. The minuses are that officialdom over here can get really scary if you don't watch your step. Don't even think of trying to cross the Mounties, even if you've got a full dog sled team and rations for thirty days. Even the game wardens here are literally loaded for bear. Funnily enough I've seen a few of those too.

By the by, have been working on a little comic manuscript called 'Dear Doug', based on anecdotes and shared communications between ourselves and an old family friend here in BC while we were crossing the trans Canada highway from Victoria to CapeBreton, Nova Scotia, complete with marital discord over navigation and accomodation, and discovering my dogs hopeless addiction to Tim Hortons Doughnuts.

Watch this space.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Well I'm back

Just when you think the world can't get any more stupid and a certain section of the populace more credulous, they do. I am feeling very, very sarky indeed about the idiocy currently rampant in both North America and the UK.

Well whoop-ti-fuckin' do. Who cares?

Erm, me?
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