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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

 

I should really give up

Last night I posted about the old fashioned fun we used to have at Halloween when I was growing lad, and how it wasn’t all about ‘Trick or treat’. I posted a similar view (Although much shorter) in response to one of the ‘your view’ commenters on the Daily Telegraph website. You can read the thread here.

One person took my words seriously amiss and tore into me personally because his / her Mother had been ‘Terrorised’ by some unsupervised ‘Trick or treat’ teenagers. In his / her own words;
“You (and these scumbags) can keep your 'sense of fun'.”

Which really says it all about the attitude of many in England. No doubt the poor Mother in question was alone at the time. She was so alone and afraid that a bunch of children in fancy dress knocking on her door and demanding sweets could traumatise her so. Yet instead of taking the trouble to help remedy said Mothers solitude, the person took umbrage against the whole festival and anyone who enjoyed it and said so.

Maybe it’s just me. I’m just so used to dealing with strangers and new situations that I’ve lost the conception of what it is to be isolated and scared of the world. To feel so alone and rejected all you want to do is hide. I go out and meet the world and am used to talking to anyone. Three years on the streets showed me that it wasn’t that difficult. All it takes is a touch of old fashioned common humanity and a little guts. My own Mother taught me that. She has a busier social life than I do.

This is the malaise that haunts my native country. The fear, too often reinforced by a sensationalising media that one cannot walk the streets in peace. The fear that you will be unjustly penalised for defending yourself, or murdered if you do. The fear promoted by a State which daily saps personal responsibility from the lives of everyone and then cannot deliver the safety it promises to the very people it should really be protecting (And I don’t mean Politicians).

I really should give up on people who have given up so much themselves. The poor souls can’t have any fun at all.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

 

All hallows eve

Everyone seems to complain about Halloween. In my heady youthful days before PC we had pub games like dunking for apples (Messy, but lots of fun), Yard of ale drinking contests, apples on a rope, pig or ox roasts and bonfires (No vegetarian option). Fancy dress (For all ages). Jumping the bonfires. All good clean fun with only the odd black eye after the 'kissing game' (Heterosexuals only please).

The local Police paid us the odd visit, but didn’t get in the way. Even the vicar used to put in an appearance just to check we pagan country folk weren't doing any worshipping of devils / human sacrifices etc. It could get a bit boisterous, but nobody forced you to join in. Fights were quickly broken up and anything but a one-on-one punch up (“Take it outside lads”) was unheard of. Two on one was actively discouraged and thought of as downright cowardice. Nobody sat in a corner with a disapproving sneer and glass of cheap white wine either. If they did that, they could stay at home. We had fun. Rumbustious, old fashioned fun.

That’s what I found was missing from the UK before I left. No one seemed to really enjoy anything but the discomfiture of some other poor sod any more. There was something mean and crabbed about life in general. Gangs of teenage children bullying others because they (The gangs) have no real self esteem (Or goals, or anything) of their own. Schadenfreude ruled, especially in the media. The anti-everything faction of which has done incalculable damage. They know who they are by their own confessions. The middle class wasters of the sixties and seventies, who like accountants, knew the price of everything and the value of nothing. Spawny eyed wassucks.

Recent Governments wanted to control everything so they could get the credit and cover themselves in glory. Now they do. You can’t play a tune in a pub without paying the ‘entertainment tax’ or having a special licence. Singing and dancing is Verboten. The threat of a visit from unfriendly gangs often puts a damper on parties before they get going. Once upon a time, the organisers could stand up to them and deny them entry, occasionally at gunpoint, but you can’t do that nowadays can you? The UK populace have all been made ‘victims’ and very rarely does anyone pitch in on the side of the good guys any more.

Ergo the feast of All Hallows, Samhain, Halloween. ‘Trick or treating’ over here in Canada can be fun if you make a little effort. I got a bowl of candy ready and used a glove puppet to answer the door last night. It was a barrel of laughs for all concerned. Used to do the same back in the UK. The looks on the little kids faces when you opened the door dressed as a hunchback “Yeth, young marsters and misstwethes?” was well worth the preparation. It was fun too. Good old fashioned fun. Wonder what happened to it.

Juvenile? Immature? Maybe. All I know is that it beats the hell out of the alternative.

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Scawy stories; inconvenient truths and unfortunate facts

Apparently, British MP’s are calling for ‘A Climate Change Minister’. This should be fun as all the legislation in the land has failed to make much of a difference so far.

When are these guys going to wise up to this simple fact;

All the ‘Global warming’ hype is just that – hype. The anthropocentric (Human caused) model of climate change has little to do with what is really happening to the Earths climate. The argument over Mann’s notorious and now discredited ‘Hockey Stick’ data model proved that.

The most notorious piece of hysteria; Al Gore's (Not Quayle - Sorry, I get them mixed up - wonder why) movie ‘An inconvenient truth’ has a number of critical errors. Here they are in no particular order;

1) A survey of 928 scientific articles on global warming shown stated not one of said studies disputed that man's gasses were mostly to blame for rising global temperatures.
Ahem: Actually, just 13 of those 928 articles ‘endorsed’ man-made global warming, and 34 of the articles cited actually rejected or doubted it.

2) Gore cited the work of the late Roger Revelle, Oceanographer who had noted the rise in global Co2 (Rather convenient that Professor Revelle is dead and can’t argue, isn’t it?)
Yerss: Might interest you to know that Professor Revelle himself co-authored a paper just before his death which stated "the scientific basis for a greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time".

3) In the movie it is claimed that Ice cores from Antarctica, that go back 650,000 years, show the world got warmer each time there was more carbon dioxide in the air.
Try this on for size: At least three University of California studies of ice cores show the earth first warmed and only then came more carbon dioxide, many hundreds of years later. Therefore the direct correlation highlighted by Mr Gore between global temperatures and Co2 is downright misleading.

4) In the movie Al Gore claimed global warming is causing lakes like Lake Chad and snow fields like Mt Kilimanjaro's to disappear. Glaciers are melting in the Himalayas – we’re all going to die!
Oh dear; Studies show that the drying of Lake Chad is down to its relative shallowness (It almost dried out before in 1908) and increased water abstraction for irrigation over the last 25 years. The loss of Mt Kilamanjaro’s snowfields has been linked to (So says a 2004 study in Nature) - deforestation cutting the local (Relatively) air’s moisture content. While these two items are human related, ‘Global Warming’ isn’t the culprit. Recent studies have shown that some of the melting glaciers specified in the movie are actually now growing.

5) Projected maps in the movie showed how the coastlines of New York and Shanghai would look when all the ice in Greenland has melted, causing anything up to a 20ft rise in sea levels.
Ah; Even the blinkered IPCC are only predicting a 120mm to 420mm rise in sea levels should all the ice in Greenland melt; but even so; various studies have shown stability or even increase in Greenlands ice cover. Antarctica’s Ice sheet has also had some thickening reported.

6) There is a claim in the movie that New Zealand has taken in refugees from drowning Pacific Islands (You will note he doesn’t specify which ones)
No, definitely not; According to a NZ climate scientist: "No one from the South Pacific islands has fled to New Zealand because of rising seas." In addition the Australian National Tidal Facility at Tuvalu in 2002 reported: "The historical record from 1978 through 1999 indicated a sea level rise of 0.07 mm per year." That’s 1.47mm. Less than a seventeenth of an inch. Big scary rise huh?

7) Gore claimed that Coral Reefs are ‘Bleaching’ because of Global Warming, Indicating that warmer seas are killing off the reefs.
How about this one; The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show the seas rapidly cooled from 2003 to 2005. Most ‘bleaching’ is caused by El Nĩno events, local pollution, and even plagues of ‘Crown of Thorns’ Starfish which have been going on for centuries and have very little (Apart from the pollution events) to do with human activity.

8) Gore claims that there are more and worse Hurricanes (Such as Katrina) and Tornadoes because of Human caused Global Warming.
Most certainly not; In the year Katrina hit New Orleans there were fewer Hurricanes. Even the Hurricane experts disagree with his assertions. In the words of a spokesman from the US National Hurricane Centre, "there has been no change in the number and intensity of (the strongest) hurricanes around the world in the last 15 years".

9) The claim that Global Warming is causing new diseases and allowing malarial mosquitoes to move to higher altitudes and latitudes is the last of the series of assertions the movie makes.
The truth of the matter as stated by the head of the Pasteur Institute's unit of insects and infectious diseases is: "Gore is completely wrong here………the new altitudes of malaria are lower than those recorded 100 years ago……….none of the 30 so-called new diseases Gore references are attributable to global warming".

10) Lets not forget the ‘The Gulf Stream will shut down’ chestnut around which assertion the Science fiction film ‘The day after tomorrow’ was based.
Well that one had climatologists rolling in the aisles and throwing peanuts at the screen didn’t it?

11) Drowning Polar bears? Oh yes, the four that died in a storm, not ‘drowned because they could no longer swim’. The culprit of course being anthropocentric Global Warming.
Baloney, as they say over here.

It occurs to this humble ex-public servant that all this nonsense about climate change is just that; nonsense. Seasons and weather patterns shift and change as they have always done. For example, was ‘Global Warming’ responsible for the glaciers over Europe melting and the formation of the English Channel? – Er, no. In Jurassic times the part of England where I lived was known to be desert. The earth is not a static organism (Unless of course you’re a rabid creationist). It changes, it even wobbles as it orbits around the sun. Solar activity varies.

What is the cause of the climatic variation then? Periodic weakenings of the Earth’s Magnetosphere and Solar variation have been cited. Even minor changes in the earth’s orbit and axial tilt are possible contributors, and let’s not forget the contributions by Volcanic activity. The human element in this particular case has been overstated, although there are places where we could be a little more careful with our planets biosphere. Over fishing being a case in point.

At the end of the 19th Century, pollution from industry was much worse than it is today. In the 1970’s things were still pretty bad (Remember the scandal of the Love canal in the USA?) That much is historically proven. Don’t believe me? Ever wondered how ‘The Black Country’ in the English midlands got it’s name, or how coal and wood powered heating turned Edinburgh into ‘Auld reekie’? Not to mention London’s notorious ‘Pea Souper’ fogs of the 19th, and much of the 20th century (Reference ‘Great Smog’ 1952). Heavy industry put out so much smoke and dust that washing put out to dry in many areas could end up grubbier than when it first went into the wash. This was true in England right up to the 1980’s, and still is in burgeoning industrial economies such as India and China. Now these examples really have been and are down to human activity. The thing is, they are mainly still (On a global scale at least), local phenomena.

As for the scientific veracity of the issue, a lot of the Climate change fog of war is derived, from what I can see at least, from opportunism, political bandwagon jumping, tenure soliciting, control freakery and downright lazy thinking. You could also throw in religious dogma and a whole heap of other confused agendas that plague the human population of Earth. The academics would tell you the whole truth if that were possible, but it isn’t because most people in academia want to keep their jobs, and like the eponymous Vicar of Bray they will often run with the pack of fashionable thinking. If those who have hold of the purse strings say the Earths naturally ever shifting climate is all the fault of those dreadful Americans, hey, who are they to argue? Money is money. We all have to eat.

There is of course a view (mine) that the concept of ‘Global Warming’ or ‘Climate Change’ is no more than a political tool to control opinion amongst the masses. Rather like the Nazi’s in the 1930’s and 40’s used anti semitism to divert their own populations attention from their (The Nazi party’s) manifest failings. Many Politicians don’t want you to realise that they know less about how the world works than the lowliest municipal toilet cleaner. All they really know is the smoke and mirrors of political deception.

Why they (the politicians) should need to divert public attention, apart from to justify their own moneyed existance and complete lack of competance, is not altogether clear. It could be the case that they are so frightened of losing a single vote that they have forgotten what the populace has hired them to do. On the other hand it could be general cluelessness, and when that happens I tend to think that the situation is due more to cock-up than conspiracy.

As for politicians telling us that legislation can change anything like the weather, let’s not forget the hot summer of 1976 when the then Labour Government created Denis Howell as ‘Minister for drought’. I still remember the cover of Private Eye under the headline “Enter the Drought Supremo” with a picture of Howell doing a photo op with children playing on a slide; His speech bubble said “Do you know why I’m Minister of Water?” To which one little boy is shown replying “Because you’re so wet.” What happened then? Oh yes, on August Bank Holiday 30th August a nationwide downpour began which in some places lasted for ten whole days.

No doubt when the global temperature drops and we go into a cycle of colder weather as some scientific authorities have surmised will happen around 2030, no doubt that will all be the fault of the USA and the west. This will be the case no matter what happens. Even in the unlikely event of a ‘Golden Age’ of peace, karma, and nice warm afternoons for leisurely outdoor lunches unparallelled in the annals of civilisation breaking out (Oops! Sorry! Flying pig alert!), some miserable whiny sod will find an excuse to make a fuss of what is a good thing.

Okay, if calling a spade a digging implement makes me a ‘climate change’ denier, then I’m guilty as charged (What you going to do about that, eh? Cut off my academic tenure, pal?). All I’ve got to say about that is at least I work from available evidence, chase up things for myself and don’t blindly accept what I’m told by self aggrandising pundits. I’d also like to state that no money was offered or changed hands in the writing of this blog entry and I am not an agent in the pay of anyone but me (More is the pity).

Update: What I am trying to say here is all the hysteria is a bit too late because the forces at work are too big and way beyond our feeble control. A Global change (And change is the only true constant of this planet) is occurring. No matter what we mere mortals do it will continue. It's not all our fault either, which is my main bitch with the guilt and panic mongers like Gore (Incidentally, nice house there Al - fully energy efficient is it?). Recycle, ride a bicycle, offset your 'carbon footprint' whatever; doesn't matter. We will just have to adapt to whatever happens, but isn't that what our species is good at?

As for using desktop appliances as a model for atmospheric change - bit of an over simplification of a complex global process there I think.

Sources:
Herald Sun, Australia
Evening Standard, London
Guardian Unlimited, EnglandDaily Telegraph, England
Times Online UK
And of course that great online resource; Wikipaedia.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

 

Housekeeping

Just been tidying up my sidebar a little. My there have been a lot of blog casualties of late. I've cut down the links sidebar by over 20. Site traffic is way down as well ever since I moved overseas. Hmm, have to think about that. Maybe start a new blog under my own name and let 'Bill Sticker' rest in peace.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

 

Ooo

 

Maybe we should

Browsing through the opinions of the Daily Telegraph’s ‘Your View’ during a bad quarter hour and felt moved to put my five pennorth in.

Far too often in those columns you can hear the rattling of tiny minds in large skulls. ‘Ban this’, ‘the government should do something about it’, and ‘God doesn’t like it’ seem to be widely held views. I would take issue with all three mindsets.

Let’s have a sidelong look at the ‘ban’ faction. They have no imagination and possibly even less charm. These are the Captain Mainwarings, the narrow, pompous, blustering people who don’t know much, only what they don’t like. Oh and incidentally – it shouldn’t be allowed – whatever it is. Especially if someone is doing no harm at all to others.

A lot of the ‘ban’ faction also belongs to the ‘the government should do something about it’ group. May I ask like what? Successive UK Governments have proved, not least of all the bunch of jokers currently holding the (Supposed) reins of power, to be superbly inept when it comes to ‘doing something’ for the people they purport to represent. When voting, I always feel that my franchise is rarely little more than a vain attempt at damage limitation.

Finally there is the ‘God says so’, or ‘it is against the will of the Lord’ body of opinion. Says who? Men who wander round in anachronistic clothing and belong to an institutionalised religion? I wonder how they know. I’m pretty certain that none of them have a direct line to God (Or the gods) and even if they did, wouldn’t be listening if he spoke to them.

Maybe we should stop listening to these people and just get on with the business of living. Maybe I should simply stop reading and commenting in said columns, but it's just so all fired tempting; and I can resist everything but temptation.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

 

Euwww

Out on the road with one of the Red Cross technicians yesterday, delivering kit to the infirm in apartment buildings. We do a lot of these kind of deliveries. The apartments are small and often very crowded but yesterday one beat them all.

The apartment building was very smart, if a little cramped by Canadian living standards. In London it would be 'Compact and bijou'. Most of these apartments are neat, airy and light, kept in good order by their tenants. The apartments living room are usually dominated by a massive TV. A 32 inch screen seems to be the smallest I've seen, their inhabitants idly channel surfing while we set up whatever we're delivering. This is not surprising, we deliver mobility aids and suchlike for the sick and infirm. They are probably not at their best when we come calling.

I digress. Friday's call was to one of these cramped apartments where a bomb blast would have counted as gentrification. My usually less than totally fastidious flesh crawled, as did the carpet. Let's start there. It was grey, threadbare and with rolls of fibre all over the place. I presume these folks didn't have a Vacuum cleaner. The walls weren't actually stained, but the paint had a uniform patina of grubbiness that would have shamed a hippies grow-op. Black bags were everywhere and shelves of canned food narrowed the entryway. Fortunately it was a nice sunny day and the window to the balcony was open so we had breathable air. Detritus was in every doorway, and the bathroom looked rarely used.

Two care workers were chucking stuff out, but as it was they were fighting a losing battle. My oppo and I fitted the two items we'd been asked to and beat a hasty retreat.

"That was pretty bad." Commented my oppo when we got back to the van.
"That was appaling. My flesh crawled." I responded with unconcealed disgust.
"Mm-hm."
"If I ever got that bad, I'd just open the doors and let the bears in."
"We get them like that." He was actively enjoying my discomfiture.
"Personal hygeine obviously happens to other people." I commented, wondering why their care workers hadn't helped the two invalids tidy up.

Back at base our Manager told us of a couple more horror stories and continual re infestations of fleas at a previous office that occurred when the little sods hitched a ride in the bottom seams of care workers trousers.

Needless to say, my first port of call on the way home was at the pet store where flea spray went to the top of my shopping list. Euwww.

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An apology

I'm trying to debug my blogs HTML code at the moment to see if it can be tidied up. This is interfering with writing posts. My other excuse is having do do a lot of dodging about because Mrs S's Social Insurance Number has now been activated, and I'm busy trying to find out whether she still needs to leave Canada every six months. This is not easy, as Mrs S is visiting Stepdaugters at college in England right now, and the bureaucrats won't tell me anything.

If anyone can shed any light on this, let me know.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

 

Pass it on

It's my own silly fault. I should have written about something else, but it was so damn tempting, what with all the media coverage. Now I feel obligated to follow through as they've linked to me.

When I get back home later today I'll post the ad on my sidebar with all the other bits of HTML I have to fix (Yes, I know the blog looks a bit of a mess at the moment). In the meantime, do not ignore this cri de couer from two desperate parents. There is a big reward on offer for Madeleine McCanns safe return.

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The secret of immortality

I was browsing through a few blogs while partaking of my morning bucket of coffee and jumbo sausage and bacon butty when I came across one of my favourites 'an Englishmans Castle'. In his daily op-ed he linked to this article in the Daily Telegraph online 'Why accountants live longer than builders'.

The article indicates that those in manual occupations subject to being told what to do all the time, living in poor housing and working in polluted environments is far more hazardous than having a little extra salt, fat, or alcohol in your diet. Notwithstanding that the 'health' goalposts seem to be constantly in motion.

This rather fits in with experience. Since crossing the pond I've become a lot less stressed and paranoid, my health has improved dramatically despite the stress of upping sticks and leaving my homeland for an unknown future. Despite this my diet hasn't altered that much (I'm eating more meat for one thing). In point of fact I've lost weight and three months on the injuries that forced my retirement from Parking Enforcement are hardly noticeable. Not having to deal with unsympathetic people (From all sides of the argument) has been good for me. My energy levels are higher and all the nastly little pains I've been used to have all but vanished. I feel as good as when I was my own man, long before I had to take a 'day job'.

Go figure it out for yourselves. The sun is shining and I'm off out.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

 

Just plain mean

There are some people in this world who would be better off keeping their poison pens locked away and keeping their even more poisonous mouths firmly shut. I write about the media saga of the McCanns, who lost their child in Portugal this summer. Please note, I choose my words carefully.

In desperation, the parents courted the media in order that they might get their child back alive. In return, they have been arrested, subjected to a media circus feeding frenzy, and had some pretty nasty things written about them. For their loss, and for their treatment by certain commentators, they have my utmost sympathy.

One of the nastiest of the rumours currently circulating in the Mainstream Media is that they ‘sedated’ their little girl before going out to dinner on the evening of their daughter’s disappearance. Okay, WHERE IS THE HARD EVIDENCE THAT THEY DID THIS? Who comes up with this crap? DNA in the boot of their rental car? I would be more suspicious if there was no DNA sample. Little kids get everywhere, snot, hair, urine, skin flakes and flecks of blood from scratches and insect bites, all over furniture, clothes, walls and luggage, which of course gets into the boot (trunk) of a rental car. Like puppies children are messy by nature, every parent knows this by experience. No sample would have suggested a suspiciously too-thorough cleaning job.

There’s also the issue of a certain author who used the McCann’s ‘story’ as a metaphor. Perhaps that might have been a bad career move, perhaps not. It certainly got the author in question publicity in a rather ruthless roundabout way. I shall not dignify the 2000 word piece with any links from this site. It was a clever piece of prose, but to me ill-judged.

No matter what the truth in this case turns out to be. If, like I strongly suspect, the parents of Madeleine McCann turn out to be nothing more than two ordinary human beings distraught enough to try anything to get their child back, then whoever spreads this unfounded conjecture should be held to account. No one has any right to make up spurious stories in a situation like this.

In addition, such stories actually end up interfering with investigations, and end up being just plain mean and hurtful. The allegations say nothing about the parents, but they do tell you something about the sickness in some writers’ hearts and minds. Hell, I may take the mickey about certain things, but there are events that should be treated with a little dignified forbearance until all the evidence is in and properly collated.

As a caring stepfather, I too would be frantic if either or both of my two stepdaughters went missing. Any commentator even suggesting that I was in some way guilty of wrongdoing would invoke my full and undying displeasure. If the McCann’s took legal action that ended with sackings in the media for publishing such unfounded allegations, they would be justified.

I hope when they are found innocent Madeleine McCann’s parents engage the services of a good libel lawyer. Then it will be their turn for a feeding frenzy.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

 

Binge drinking

For some time the press and moralisers in the UK have been panicking about 'binge drinking'. It's the cause of violence on the streets, unwanted pregnancies, loose morals and falling property values.

Here's my take on it; sometimes life in Britain felt so awful and crowded that getting absolutely off your face was the only sensible option. Had a bad day at work? Row with your best beloved? Boss on your case? Feel hemmed in? In debt? Your team lost? Weather awful? Depressed by all the moralisers and holier-than-thou timewaters, the Malvolio's of our society? - Have a couple of drinks to take the edge off your misery.

Sometimes you need more than a couple or simply forget to stop. It's sometimes the only way you can relax or escape from the ravages of life. Alcohol is a mood altering chemical after all.

Thinking about it, wanting to escape from Britain's dreary reality does seem like a good idea. Until the morning after of course. I remember my eldest's first real hangover when she turned 18, plenty of water, vitamin C and a little sugar helped after the painkillers took hold. Then we let her sleep the rest of the day.

Over here in BC no one seems to mind so long as you don't make a nuisance of yourself. They seem admirably free of that 'But what would the neighbours say' paranoia that plagues England. Even if the liquor stores over here are heavily regulated and controlled. Maybe that is it; the attitude of the people. Bar fights are not unknown here, but you rarely seem to get the mass aggro I've seen after the pubs close in the UK. The peer group structures are different, as is the attitude towards authority figures like the Police. Generally speaking, people are more relaxed, and don't feel the need to get off their faces.

Just my observation; but the reason the British have a history of over intoxication may be for one reason only; they feel they, individually speaking, haven't the ability to make a real difference in their lives. When you feel the restrictions are removed and you no longer feel threatened, the desire to drink alcohol is greatly reduced.

For me, I used to have a glass or two of wine or beer after a heavy shift on the streets just to take the edge off the day before hitting the keyboard, which might account for some of my more rabid blog entries. Since I moved over here to BC I have had the odd Whiskey, glass of wine or bottle of beer with friends, but for the most part, I've simply not felt the desire to imbibe as I once did.

Wouldn't it be ironic if the root causes of modern drunken debauch lay with the purveyors of moral panic and heads-up-their-arse puritan brigade themselves?

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Monday, October 22, 2007

 

Church Social

I’m not a religious man. It would be more accurate to say that I am irreverent verging on the sacrilegious. In short, I do not care for religions of whatever kidney because I believe organised religion has more to do with tribalism than a true belief in God. To me, priests and churches are more part of the problem rather than anything to do with the solution. I make no exemptions. The same for all my Satanist readers, yes, both of you.

Notwithstanding, one of our neighbours, a nice old chap, arrived at my back door two weeks ago with an invitation to the local Church spaghetti supper. “Ah.” Said I “You do realise that Mrs S and I aren’t exactly churchgoing folks?”
“No problem. Terry doesn’t next door, and we haven’t seen your landlady since she got divorced.” He replied without irony. With that said I accepted the invitation and discussed the matter with Mrs S.
“It’s how you get to know the neighbours.” She shrugged, as if this is something I should have known all along.
“Okay, I’m good with that.” I made the tea, there didn’t seem to be much more to add. Besides, Mrs S knows the set of my moral compass, and is quite happy to join in the ridicule.

Last Friday night we were greeted by our neighbours at the Anglican Church hall and ushered to two trestle tables set up in a magnolia painted church hall with four foot square sound deadening panels hanging from the ceiling. At one side a large servery hatch was open, and four people were busily decanting cooked spaghetti into a large catering three sectioned food warmer already full of Bolognese sauce and Garlic bread.

I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and was getting a bit crotchety because I get a bit irritable after 10 hours without food or drink. Especially when I felt Mrs S was shunting me from pillar to post without a chance to get any refreshment. Two steaming mugs of coffee later I was my old self, chatting to the others on my table, Mrs S on my right hand talking to our other new neighbours. I was lucky and got the irreverent faction, headed by an American lady from Carmel, California, who held court at my end of the table. We sang a silly song about spaghetti to the tune of Funiculi, funicula or Aus Italien by Strauss.

The local vicar, a young guy in his late twenties who looked more like some code crunchers I used to know who all had some form of Goatee beard, ‘entertained’ us by murdering a couple of tunes. Then he did a draw based on a pack of cards to see which tables got served first to much heckling and cheering. Our table was fourth I think. We got up and stood in line for a pile of home made linguini and Bolognese with a generous wedge of garlic bread. Good solid tucker which was woofed down by all, even those who had elected for a Caesar salad option.

The vicar and his singing partner then launched into some hymns and I took to watching the people around us, singing and clapping along to some of the more militaristic lyrics, “Onward Christian Soldiers” and the like. Although they did a “Christianised” version of “Lean on me” which was a bit cringe making. Nevertheless, I cast my eyes around and watched the true believers clapping and singing their hearts out. “They really believe don’t they?” Observed my wife. I nodded agreement before turning my attention back to a ribald anecdote about an absent minded millionaire living in California. As the tale teller reached the dénouement of her tale I looked around watching the unguarded devotion in people’s eyes as the vicar and his partner sang ever more loudly (and slightly off-key). Last time I saw the expressions thereon it was hardcore fans at a rock concert. Before that, chanting fans at Villa Park, Birmingham (So I was an Aston Villa supporter once - I’m much better now).

Before now I’d never properly understood what kind of motivation sits behind the eyes of zealots. Friday night was a revelation in that respect.

Friday night also brought new friends into our lives. I was promised an ‘interesting’ Halloween and have decided to join in the fun in my own idiosyncratic way. Could be fun this coming weekend for Samhain.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

 

Told you so

I spent a very smug half hour reading news stories about CCTV cameras last night before my Internet connection fell over because of a rainstorm and faulty installation. Back now, and much faster.

A while back I wrote a blog entry called ‘The truth about CCTV’ and how often it was of little help and why; also why we in Britain have nothing really to fear from the ‘surveillance society’ because of the cock-up factor naturally prevalent in local government operations. Notwithstanding my ex employers pathetic faith in purely technological solutions for law enforcement. In fact I’ve detailed several instances when I’ve had my own problems with certain CCTV operators and their camera systems limited functionality, back in the bad old days when I walked the streets as a Parking Enforcer. I'm not the only one to have written about it, but as one of the many voices shouting 'It doesn't work', I feel vindicated.

Again, thanks to PC Bloggs for the stuff about how bureaucratic procedures get in the way of the greatly feared 1984 ‘surveillance society’. You may be concerned about your every phone call being logged and recorded, but are you sure someone can actually be arsed to listen to the recording? Read ‘em and weep.

Times Online
Guardian Unlimited
Daily Telegraph
Reuters UK
Daily Mail

If that makes you mad, well here’s a calming picture I took from one of my apartment windows in the last half hour. No zoom, and the only photo manipulation done was to shrink the image down to 600 x 446 pixels. The Quail and occasional Cougar are visitors, and I’m told there is a Black Bear in the vicinity. Spooks the dog like nothing on earth.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

 

Spam filter

Just been clearing out the moral sewer that is my e-mails spam folder. All this effort to flog dodgy kit. I mean to say, who in their right mind believes all this shit anyway? Dodgy viagra, iffy Rolex watches, religion, solicitations from Russian ladies of eager virtue (That isn’t a typo), Chinese porn, Japanese porn, and the occasional once in a lifetime offer from a Nigerian who needs to reclaim two million dollars (tax free of course) in exchange for your bank account details. Never mind all those offers of cheap software, loaded with viruses and malware. Oh what jolly fun.

Just think how poor my existence is without a monster dick, cheap watch, strange belief system, Russian child bride, Sino-Japanese porn addiction all paid for by the guy from Nigeria who only needed to borrow my banking facilities. My credulity has never been so great.

Just as well I’ve got a good spam filter and only need to flush it once a month, isn’t it?

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Yes Dear

There is a phrase common to most married men which has it’s equivalent in every known human language. This phrase often is the last resort of the mature household peacekeeper and the disinterested male who really can’t be bother to listen to their other half kicking off about what is to them (The disinterested party), some trivial issue. You don’t really mean that you agree with everything that your spouse or significant other is saying, it’s just that you can’t be bothered right now and would like some peace and quiet to a) think b) watch the footie c) get out of doing any more bloody trudging round shopping centres.

The following may be useful as examples of the principle in action.

Figure 1: Evasion
Partner “Have you done the washing up / put up shelves / put out garbage / walked dog?”
You (Disinterestedly, carry on as before) “Yes dear.”
Half an hour later.
Partner “You haven’t done the washing up! Etc.”
You “Pardon?”
Partner “You said you’d done the washing up!”
You (With innocent surprise) “Did I?”
Partner “You said ‘yes dear’ when I asked you.”
You (Try to sound sincere at this point) “Sorry love, I thought you were asking about something else.”
Partner “Men! You’re all selectively deaf!”
You (Using pre emptive meekness) “Yes dear.” Now you can get the hell out of Dodge.

Figure 2: Pre emptive strike
You “Yes dear.”
Partner (Perplexed) “What?”
You (In tones of ironic apology) “Sorry love, thought you wanted something.” Now you can put those headphones back on or turn the volume back up safe in the knowledge that whatever you were going to be asked to do has been completely driven from your partners mind.

Figure 3: Passive – aggressive
Partner “You aren’t listening are you?”
You (Sweetly) “Yes dear.”
Partner “No you weren’t!”
You (All sweet reason and light) “Oh but I am now. What did you want?”
Partner (In frustration) “Owaarh!” Partner then shuts up and sulks for a bit so you can get on with whatever it was you wanted to do in the first place.

Mrs S and I often use the “Yes dear” on each other with an exchange that goes something like this;
Mrs S (Says something mildly contentious)
Me “Yes dear.”
Mrs S “I’ve been ‘Yes deared’ haven’t I?”
Me (With an evil grin) “Yes dear.”
Mrs S “Cheeky sod you are Bill.”
Me “Of course.”
Mrs S “I’ll get you later Bill.”
Me “Yes dear.”
Mrs S “Stop it!”
Me “Stop what?”
Mrs S “You know perfectly well what I mean.”
Me “Yes dear.”
Mrs S “Owaarh!”

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

 

Where there's smoke

I missed this one, but apparently the forces of repression are already closing in on Jeremy Clarkson for lighting up a pipe of something herbal (Skunk, Ganja, Weed? So long as it ain’t tobacco they haven’t really broken any laws eh?) with fellow presenter James May during a recording of Top Gear.


Even though Clarkson often espouses views opposed to my own, I can’t help admiring the guy for his forthright buffoonery.

Over in BC recently we had a guy on the radio who spoke about immigrants who didn’t want to ‘fit in’ with Canadian society. With John Howard like bluntness he said that people who didn’t want to integrate should go to another country to settle. There were a few calls for his resignation, but his colleagues rallied round and spoke up for him on air. Their mantra was “We have free speech here in Canada. If you don’t like what someone has said – ring in, disagree.“

What a breath of fresh air.

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Reciprocity

Right, I’m back from my travels and travails having finally sorted out an apartment and Internet link out in the boondocks of British Columbia. If you look on the sidebar, you’ll notice quite a few differences. The left hand sidebar has now got a section for publicising books written by fellow bloggers who have made a reciprocal agreement to plug my tome of rabid outpourings and rages against the machine on their sidebars or similar.

Recommended read now added to the sidebar is Nick Edwards “In Stitches – the highs and lows of an A&E Doctor” Don’t be tight – buy a copy, the reviews are good.

As for Anyone out there who still reads my semi literate offerings will also note the change in portrait. Same shape, greyer hair, and now a part time volunteer for the Canadian Red cross. Stepkids are still in England emerging from their adolescent chrysalis’ (Or should that by Chrysali?) to become fully fledged adults via University and College, but they have informed us that they will invade our new home at Christmas with Mother in law and the forces of chaos and darkness in tow.

For me, I’m sharing my new office with the dog and rapidly wearing out the keyboard of my trusty old laptop. Did have a look at a new one, but they all come with sodding Microsoft Vista, which anyone with any brains detests as it tries to do things for you instead of being a sensible operating system and doing what it is told without crashing. If I could lay my hands on a decent copy of WordPerfect’s Office suite I’d ditch Microsoft Office because it lacks certain features I grew to like way back when.

Personally I’m sticking to 2000, which for all it’s vices does not change the settings you so painstakingly configured three hours ago before ‘rolling back’ to it’s default settings like XP and Vista, or crashing twice a day like NT4 (95 or 98SE? – Don’t make me laugh). Did flirt with the idea of going ‘open source’ with Linux and a KDE desktop three years ago (Even thought about a Mac), but that would mean throwing away most of my licensed and properly paid for software. Give me stability every time. Yes, yes, I know that Linux has a wide range of open source application software out there for free, but I’m not that much of a code cruncher, and I’m too bloody lazy to spend that amount of time rebuilding and customising.

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New piccies

As I am no longer in the law enforcement business, I have taken the liberty of making a few alterations to the blog. Posting will resume as I have now got a decent place to live over in BC with a 5Meg internet connection. Anything more will be a waste as my old laptop can't go faster than that anyway. Well, not without an electronic version of an asthma attack.

Lots to write about. A fair bit of backdated stuff. Back to England in December before coming back to learn how to ice skate and not get creamed on the Hockey rink.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

 

Busy, busy

Not much time to blog at the moment. Too much to do with new apartments, hunting for jobs etc. Still, we've found a great little place out of town with sea views, Deer wandering down the road, Sea Otters (Half a dozen of the critters) startling the dog.

All we've got to do now is get some furniture in. I for one will be happier when our bed is delivered this friday (Along with other stuff) and I'm not sleeping / sitting on the cussed floor. Also need the phone and internet sorting out so posting and writing can continue as usual.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

 

The truth about cats and dogs

Passed my RCMP check and have been busy helping out with the Canadian Red Cross. Mrs S likewise.

Our major hurdle has been trying to find somewhere to live. This would not be a problem if we didn't have a dog because so many landlords say "No pets", even to one as obviously cute and well behaved as ours(Apart from being a world champion scrounger and kitchen hanger). That's the problem with having a pet; it either makes a nice between meals snack for some of the bigger wildlife (Plenty of cats go missing, and it ain't roadkill), or nobody wants it anywhere near their property.

Fortunately there are exceptions; and we're waiting for a phone call on one of the nicer places We've had to kiss a lot of frogs to find our preferred place, I'll write about one horror story once I can think about it and keep my breakfast down. It's just the right size for the three of us and my fingers are tightly crossed.

Most apartments and houses over here are priced in the 800-1300 dollar range per month, with and without various things like water, sewerage and electricity paid for. The great news is that there is no extortionate 'council tax' to double up on the bills. You pay for your local services out of local income tax. You also pay for garbage collection separately, but that's cheap as chips compared with the UK.

In closing, another thing I'd like to mention; Rain. It has chucked it down for the past day and a half, but unlike the UK there are few reports of flooding, and no one is panicking. Everyone just carries on. It feels surreal, but maybe that's just me and what I'm used to.

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Location: British Columbia, Canada

Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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