Friday, 20 April 2018

Flaxen's Friday Rant of Doom

Political correctness is a disease that needs to be resisted with every fibre of our being. Tis cancer, a bitter cud that should be excised and destroyed. Why the will of a vocal minority be forced on the majority who sensibly despise the whole PC concept is an anathema to any free-born man. Tis an affront to our freedom of speech. A freedom that did not materialise overnight but is now a given right in a society which would deem itself civilised.

Much of this madness originates in our higher education institutions. A few ‘right on’ sociology Professors together with their student lackeys are keen to foist onto the student body and the University Administration their warped philosophy of intolerance. The idea that no one is to be offended, is obviously ridiculous.

What is particularly tragic is that higher education is perhaps the only time in an individual’s life where they will be subject to a range of diverse views. Views which challenge their cosy/rosy world of ‘reality’ and hopefully make the recipient think deeper about long-cherished ideas. Once out of college our instinct is to associate with our own; folk with a similar world outlook to ours which can lead to a form of intellectual atrophy. If we disagree with a speaker, then this should initiate debate and a free exchange of ideas without censure. To ban a speaker or upbraid someone because they are not in tune with your intellectual temper is a grievous sin. How can we form well-rounded and considered opinions on topics, various, if we are afraid to enunciate our thoughts? With every utterance, we create ‘victims’. Folk so divorced from reality that they run to a ‘safe space’ whenever someone disagrees with their world-view. Is this the society we crave? Are we to nurture a generation so disjointed from reality that they are socially paralysed when confronted with any perceived or real form of conflict? I'll leave my good readers to ponder and weep in equal measure.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Nibbles the Gerbil

Nibbles before his demise

I was sent a link concerning the demise of a certain gerbil, called Nibbles. The death of small rodents is generally not newsworthy. However, it was not the death of the gerbil which was deemed of note but the mode of his disposal. Most folk of a sentimental nature would shed a single tear as the small rodent disappeared down the toilet. At best the owners would have ensured that ‘Cuddles/Dimples/Fluffy/Truffles’ (delete as applicable) had slipped this mortal coil before consigning the creature to a watery grave. If you have a sick one it saves the mess of belting them to death with a hammer. A gentle drowning is infinitely preferable and doesn’t leave an unsightly stain on the carpet.

Anyway, when Nibbles, a denizen of Somerset England, popped his claws it was deemed that a more elaborate disposal was necessary. As the owners had pagan leanings it was decided to give the rapidly stiffening gerbil the dubious honour of a full Viking funeral. For those not familiar with a Norse funeral ritual then please read on and be agog. In times pagan, a Viking warrior would be laid out in full war regalia on a Viking longboat. The boat would contain pitch, tar, and kindling and set adrift on the frigid North Sea. At an appropriate moment, prominent warriors of the war band would unleash a volley of fire arrows into the boat causing a mass conflagration as it sailed majestically into deep water…….Frankly, I wouldn’t mind this for myself. No doubt my relatives could fashion a suitable vessel out of wooden pallets. My perfectly formed body, extra nipple notwithstanding, would be doused in petrol and I'd go off in a blaze of glory down the Birmingham to Dudley canal. I think I've digressed.

Getting back to Nibbles, the hapless gerbil. What the account doesn't mention is that soon after being cast adrift the flaming barge ran aground and the conveniently roasted body was immediately pounced upon by a clowder of feral cats. Poor Nibbles might have been a third-rate pet (gerbils are crap) but in death became a first-rate entree for Mittens and co. Thus are vicissitudes of death. 

Should have flushed the little bugger down the loo.   


Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Universal Basic Income

Flaxen Sackson in repose

Below represents a ‘Guest Post’ from an ex-student of mine. He normally comments under the name, Flaxen Sackson. The implication being that he is my actual biological son. This may be the case as I recall meeting his mother one dark Tipton night 26 years ago. Please note, the paternity test is pending.

Anyway, he has decided to offer the following article for publication on this esteemed site- may Woden forgive him, for he shall receive no forgiveness from my readers.

Needless to say, what follows is solely the considered opinion of my bastard seed and in no way represents my own viewpoint. This prose piece is proffered in the spirit of ‘freedom of speech’ and therefore I expect well thought out and polite responses. Be gentle and play nice. Arse.    

Money is the root of all evil.  It also happens to make the world go around, which is a rather unfortunate design oversight.  It is necessary for survival, if you don’t have a plot of land, adequate shelter (that you don’t have to pay exorbitant rent for), a steady source of fresh water, and the wherewithal to grow and cook your own food.  So what would happen if the government gave out free, unconditional money to every citizen or permanent resident of their country?

1 Yeah, never going to happen
Universal basic income (hereforthwith referred to as UBI because I’m lazy) is often thought of as an alternative to welfare – but there is still considerable indecision over what it is, or how to implement it.  The two most common camps are UBI as a replacement for all forms of welfare, versus UBI that can be supplemented by welfare.  In both these cases, the income is just enough to keep you over the poverty line – i.e. a barely liveable wage.  Ideally, this would be supplemented by an additional income, but it would be enough to keep you fed if you were out of work.   Some entitled millenials think UBI should provide enough income that seeking employment should be unnecessary, which just sounds like a pipe dream.

The idea of a basic income was raised as early as the 18th century by English radicals, because who wouldn’t want free money?  The discussion has become a lot more heated since the 2010s, mostly because the robotic uprising means many jobs have been lost to automation.  The idea of Saxon’s 15-hour work week seems less sweet when the mortgage payments aren’t getting any lower.  The main argument for UBI is that it would lower, or entirely eradicate, poverty in a way that our current welfare systems do not.  This is because current welfare systems come with a lot of hoops to jump through, all of which are designed to make unemployment figures look a little less bad.  They are also susceptible to the poverty trap – if you have welfare plus a job, then any raise in salary can often be taken out of your welfare, meaning you make the same (or occasionally less) amount of money than before.  This disincentivises effort, and gives way to the “lazy welfare” stereotype.  Because its amount is static per person, it also prevents breeding simply to receive more welfare – the downstream impact of this could quite literally save humanity.  The fact that everybody receives this income could have a positive effect on how people view those on welfare – one established gentleman I talked to complained about how their money was going to buy cigarettes for the lower class.  Of course, if the baby boomers hadn’t ruined the world’s economy, bought up all the decent land, and are just refusing to die, maybe there would be enough to go around.

   2 Not that I'm bitter or anything
The biggest question that is raised when UBI is involved is “where will the money come from?”.  The first solution is to dissolve other forms of welfare, and combine all their funding into UBI.  While this helps, the number often falls far short of what is necessary.  Increasing the tax rate is a less popular, but effective idea.  A basic income has been trialled in Finland, with potentially positive initial results, but over there the tax rate is above 50%.  Of course, raising the tax rate is always a pleasant experience, and is generally well-received by the populace (please note – this is sarcasm).  On a side note, raising taxes for the “rich” could be a plausible alternative.  Or it could be, if not for the failures of capitalism placing the power of the government in the hands of said individuals (easy, Sack’s Son).  In any case, taking money from those with too much and giving it to everybody else sounds familiar… 

All in all, the Universal Basic Income is an idea.  Whether good or bad, we don’t know yet.  It needs to be experimented upon, implemented in different ways, and thoroughly tested before it can either be widely used or completely discarded.  In this age of automation and increasing unemployment, people need something they can fall back on.  Personally, I think it’s a hopeful idea.  Once the previous generation eventually carks it, we millenials can finally focus on increasing automation and lowering costs, repairing the damage to the ecosystems, and bringing the world into a new Golden Age for the next baby boomers to destroy (arse).

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Autism is one of those conditions which was virtually unheard of 60 years ago but modern diagnostic criteria now classify 1 in 45 in the Western world, as autistic. Contrast this figure with the incidence recognised in the 1970s, of 1 in 2,000. Could it be that the condition has become easier and more efficiently diagnosed? Perhaps we have broadened the range of behaviours that are included? Could it be down to zealous clinicians over-diagnosing the condition? Perhaps the real incidence of autism is increasing by causes and agents, unknown?

 I’ll come back to this vexed question later. Terminology for autism has changed quite recently. Autism and Asperger syndrome are lumped into the inclusive ‘Autistic Spectrum Disorder’, or ASD. The interesting part of the terminology is the spectrum bit. It implies that a wide set of disparate/ desperate clinical criteria are involved. And we are not to be disappointed. Thus a child with profound intellectual deficit with no or very little speech can be easily inserted into the spectrum. So can a child with a high IQ. In this case, the gifted child will have accompanying social interaction problems together with obsessive repetitive behaviours. What a curious condition autism has become. To my mind, these two quite different clinical presentations represent two completely separate entities. Of course, if you insert the word, ‘spectrum’ this solves the apparent incongruity, or does it?  Clever physicians are apt to call this sort of thing, ‘Clinical heterogeneity’, but they would say that, wouldn't they?

From a genetic perspective, ASD is representative of a ‘multifactorial disorder’. Classically this describes a condition where several/many genes are involved. Although the cynically minded might contend that it represents a technical term for: ‘we have no bloody idea’. Regardless, there is no doubt that genetics plays a major role in the development of autism. Like the clinical classification, the genetics is considered heterogeneous. Furthermore, an ‘environmental trigger’ may be required in certain instances. Evidence indicates that in a minority of cases, the environment is paramount in eliciting the condition, especially during pregnancy. Autism mediated through environmental factors does not necessarily rule out the involvement of some form of genetic predisposing factor(s). 

So why is ASD so common nowadays in comparison to the recent past and is the increase 'real' or just a matter of semantics? As mentioned, the diagnostic criteria have undergone extensive rework recently and there seems little doubt that it has become more inclusive. Children and adults who were previously diagnosed with developmental delay or intellectual retardation are now considered part of the autistic spectrum. That said, the change in diagnosis cannot explain all of the increase in reported cases. When we look at the 'incidence plot' since 1975 to date we see something very interesting. The incidence does not show a smooth linear increase. What we observe is an exponential increase. In other words, the rate of increase is accelerating over time. If this rate is maintained the incidence of autism will become 50% by 2020. And there are doom-laden sayers who predict such a scenario. Of course, because the incidence exhibits an exponential rise currently it is not necessarily the case that this rate of increase will continue. Sensible clinicians and scientists predict a plateau.

Environmental factors may be at play although experts get increasingly vague when asked to cite these factors. It has been noted that premature babies are at a higher risk of autism. Today, in the First World at least, the survival rate for premature babies has increased dramatically. However, this influence would only account for a relatively small number of newly diagnosed cases. It is speculated that older parents may be to blame. Certainly, in the West, we are seeing a skewed parenthood demographic. Sensible folk are delaying parenthood possibly due to career choices and career pressures. A whole host of agents have been considered, such as the rise of the internet, GMO, pesticides, and vaccines. Graphs are readily produced showing a correlation between a given substance and the increase in autism. But correlation is not causation and for the most part, we are totally ignorant to why autism is on the apparent rise.

One thing is sure, vaccines do not cause autism, no matter how many undereducated celebs say yea. The fraudulent work by Dr. Wakefield, suggesting a link, has been thoroughly discredited. I'll cover this distressing story in a future post. Sadly, there are folk out there who take note of deluded celebs and bestow a verity to their ramblings which they do not deserve. The celebs in question are not qualified medics or scientists and they have not critically scrutinised the peer-reviewed literature on the subject. Thus the weight of their pontifications should count as chaff and add no mass to the debate in question. But their baleful influence on the gullible general public has been profound and has resulted in the increase of serious diseases in Western countries. For this, they must bear the burden of blame.      

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Rubicon has been crossed

The deed has been done and the die has been cast! Today, in our monthly departmental meeting, I announced my impending retirement. A solemn air descended upon the room before the whole department erupted into a chorus of cheering. I can only surmise that my colleagues were so overcome by emotion, due to my imminent departing, that it so unsettled their minds and temper thus triggering their mass hysteria. I reassured my colleagues that it would not be for another three months as I had teaching commitments and owed my students my continued diligence and professional courtesy to see them through their final exams in ten weeks time. An audible groan ensured from the mass of imploring faces. Again I suspect an overflow of palpable emotion for this seemingly inappropriate outburst.  

My wife, who is much younger than me, will retire at the same time. And it is my wife's predicament which has forced our hand. She suffers from a virulent and aggressive form of rheumatoid arthritis. Over the years she has suffered the painful indignity of 22 operations. She has had hip replacements, in the same leg, on three separate occasions. Subsequently, several ops were necessary to control rampant infection of the wounds. Because of the disease and the numerous anti-inflammatory medications, she is prone to infection which is hard to control. Various metal pins are scattered throughout both hands and feet and her shoulder joint has also been replaced. Apart from broken legs, a broken pelvis and broken ribs she has recently had two further ops on her cervical and lumbar spine. Again more metal pins and splints. She struggles to get out of bed in the morning and can only do so after a hefty dose of morphine. After a day's work, she slumps exhausted on the bed.

There is so much metal in her wracked body that she has to carry a special card explaining why she sets off the metal detectors at airports. At family gatherings, myself, my legitimate, and bastard offspring, amuse ourselves by throwing magnets at my long-suffering wife to see if they will stick. And if this is not enough, she has had to put up with me, over many years. Tis a wonder her natural flaxen locks have not turned gray.

The next two stages can be conflated. We need to tidy up the house and garden. Minor stuff for the most part. Carpets need to be deep cleaned and paintwork touched up. The exciting and perhaps scary bit involves finding a suitable property to live out our dotage. We have certain criteria which need to be satisfied: we would like a few acres of land where I can set up an archery range- don't want to shoot the proles as they wend their way past my property; police don't like it. I would also like a few chucks for the eggs and perhaps a goat/sheep to keep down the vegetation. A nice veggie patch where we can grow our own root vegetables and fruits would be ideal; I need a 'Man Shed' where I can consume home-brewed beer and work on my bow making projects; my wife needs a dedicated area/room/ annex to continue with a part-time dog grooming business. On Monday we are off to look at a couple of properties in the sunny Wairarapa. The weather is consistent and the summers are hot which is more than can be said for my present home of 'windy Wellington'. That said, I do like living in Wellington as the city has a lot of charm and is culturally vibrant.

So there we have it. I'm about to embark on the next, and last stage of life. I will keep my enthralled readers up to date with the progress of my final quest. Arse.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Napalm and the Joys of Jelly Wrestling

For today's image, I have to thank Ted Treen, one of my regulars and fellow Black country lad. He saw this image and immediately thought of me. Can't think why?

Now my readers have probably guessed by now that I'm drawn to bright shiny things and fire. Nothing pleases me more than to set alight to shiny things, except perhaps, jelly wrestling. I'm inclined to combine the two passions by infusing the jelly with petroleum products thus making napalm, arguably the most sublime of chemical concoctions. The whole ring would be a heaving conflagration and although the protagonists would weave and bob in a futile effort to prevent being consumed- naught would avail and the whole arena and vista would be aflame and aglow for a thousand years..........Actually, I'd probably be happy with a light singeing: stage and wrestlers alike. The problem being, of course, is that napalm is a rather sticky and cloying compound and it is difficult to assuage its ire/fire. My father learned this snippet of information, to his detriment, during the Korean war in the 1950s. Bless him.

Fun for the whole family

Friday, 16 March 2018

Ken Pod

Ken Pod with his proctology 'wand'
Sir Ken, ‘How Pickled I Am’, Pod has died in pieces at a rest home in ‘Tipton on Canal’. Famous for his anal probing stick which would insinuate into any public orifice on display. His catch phrases were endless; who can forget: “Oohh missus where’s me anal probing stick. O no, it’s rammed up your big, fat, ARSE.” And the timeless, “Ooohh missus I’ve lost my wrist applied chronograph. Has it slipped up your ARSE to remain supine on the second colo-rectal shelf?”  He did laugh.

He was often on stage with a coterie of midgets. They would shout and prance upon the stage caterwauling and howling like demented banshees. Occasionally, as a team and en masse, they would run offstage and retire to the local hostelry, ‘The Felching Ferret’, for a cheeky 15 pints of ‘Ole Scrote Blaster’. The audience didn’t seem to care or notice as they were mesmerised by Sir Pod’s frenetic antics. His hair would stand erect and move with the air currents in a hypnotic sway of despair. Meantime our buck toothed entertainer would regale and amaze the audience as he ate an apple through the mesh of a tennis racket. A true testament to his rather large protruding gnashers and dedication to flossing.    

Pod would cackle off jokes with rapid fire delivery. Here is a random selection of his most memorable routines: “Well missus, take my mother in law, call me a taxi; call the taxman”. And who can forget: “My dog has no nose”, with the inevitable report, “How does he smell?” and quick as a flash, Pod would reply, “He can’t you dozy cunt. Didn’t I just tell you that he’d lost the power of olfactory sense?”

His manager, Mr Tenpercent Magumbo, had this to say on the recent demise of the much loved comic: “A true comic genius with immaculate timing. We will never see his like again. Always paid his taxes on time except when he didn’t. A man of integrity who had a poor track record with engaging creative accountants.

Mrs Generic Mugumbo, of no fixed teeth, was unable for comment due to a particularly rampant and purulent case of moist scrofula.  

Sadly Sir Pod was never suspected of nefarious sexual activity involving midgets.

We have lost Ken Pod, Prof. Steven Hawking and Jim, ‘Could Have Been a Caravan’, Bowen in just a few scant days- surely there is no god!


Pissed Midgets