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Far too often these days, particularly in writing or the arts, projects are being cancelled because someone says something other people don't like. Shame on those who cave in. I want to hear what people think. But now a lot of vile thoughts and opinions are being driven underground. I want to know that so-and-so is a balloon. But I can't do that if they are silenced by Cancel Culture.  Let these idiots condemn themselves with their words. It is good know that your English boss refers to Scots as "Oatmeal Savages".  Down With Self Appointed Censors. 

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I have a definition of Hell. It’s a sort of Flying Dutchman thing. It would be a flight from Boston to Glasgow that never touches down. The ingredients would be first of all the addition several extra rows of seats on the plane. This ensures that if the person directly in front of you reclines their seat it rests against your forehead. Then don’t upgrade the air circulation system to cope with all the extra passengers crammed into the Smartie Tube with Wings thanks to the added seating. Make it as stuffy as possible.  But here’s the kicker. Offer free booze to the passengers as compensation for something. This will ensure that many of the male adult passengers become pissed and obnoxious. And that their wives and girlfriends start nagging and rowing with them.  And there you’ve for your recipe for a Living Hell.

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When the BBC started out,  it claimed to be about Nation Speaking to Nation. But nowadays one of the Bs in BBC must stand for Bourgeois. The BBC is firmly in the hands of the Ruling Class and they are supported by a mass of employees drawn from the Home Counties Chattering Classes. It also tends to turn for international coverage to the bourgeois of whatever country is being discussed. That makes sense to an extent because the correspondent, as members of their own country's upper middle class, can be expected to have some English language competence. But there are two problems. One is that many of them have more in common with their English  Home Counties mentors than they do with 95% of the population of their respective countries. The second is that the supposed correspondents, their families and friends, are often key players in the events they are supposedly impartially reporting  on. For instance, there is not a single true democracy in Africa or anything close to it. But you won't hear that that much because so many of the  BBC correspondents there are part themselves part of The Problem. 

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My heart sank this past Saturday when I realised that the BBC World Service's Newshour  was being presented by the obnoxious Razia Iqbal. Novelist Salman Rushdie had just been seriously injured in an attack during a book event in New York State. I knew Iqbal would be out of her depth. And right enough, minutes into the programme one of the interviewees attacked the majority of Muslims for allegedly failing to condemn the fatwa issued against Rushdie and then declared Islam is a religion of hate. A tricky situation. But a broadcaster worth his or her salt would have handled it. Iqbal did not. Maybe she should stick to Pony Club News. 

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I once knew a guy I thought of as a friend, let's call him So-and-So. I know, ominous start. This guy it would appear wanted to be a legend in his own lunchtime, as they used to say. Part of what I liked about him was that he seemed to be up for all sorts of capers. We had a lot of fun. But I noticed that people started asking if it was true that So-and-So had done such-and- such. Well, yes, he had done some of the things he claimed. But more often I'd played a part that was not credited in the version he was putting out. And sometimes it  it was me , not him, who had done the thing in question. It was hard to know what to tell people. I had no need to be a legend. Not even in my own lunchtime. 

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One  of the disturbing elements that has come out of Covid is the number of masked creepy people prowling the streets in the early hours of the morning. In normal times the police would be entitled to stop someone wandering around in a mask in the middle of the night. Now, not so much. There is no good reason for cycling around in the very early hours of the day wearing a mask. I doubt if these people are the sort who really care about the danger of giving folk Covid. And at 4am there are not generally a lot of people around to give Covid to. But the mask might make it hard for a victim of crime to identify their attacker.

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I've just heard another radio trailer for something calling itself Being Black in Canada. It promises me the "Black Experience in Canada Today". Racist Tommy Rot. The programme can no more encapsulate the life and experiences of all black people in Canada than I can encapsulate the white, or whitish. Or old The White Heather Club on television captured what it was like to be Scottish. Radio should be celebrating what we have in common, not creating ghettos.  PS - I suggested Remembered Memory might be the next example of pointless repetition alongside the likes of Lived Experience. It turned out to be Residential Home. The so-called journalists that perpetrate this nonsense are supposed to be professional communicators.

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There used to by a BBC radio show called Just a Minute in which panelists were challenged to speak for a minute on a subject. Other panelists could take the topic on if they caught the panelist talking repeating themselves and could win the round by addressing the topic when the one minute buzzer sounded. The BBC could take a leaf out of that game show. Surely reference to pre-prepared military positions in Ukraine is blatant repetition. Any reference to pre-prepared is yet another example of redundant repetition – along with lived experience, etc. But pre-prepared is truly pathetic. The “pre” is already there in the first three letters of prepared. Another example is "continue on". How long before the idiots start talking about "remembered memory"? 

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Last Friday was Canada Day. Only apparently there are people who believe the public holiday should not be called Canada Day because that celebrates Settler Colonialism. I think people should be more honest. Taking land is as old as mankind. Here in Canada many Indians like to be called First Nations. I doubt most  were the first inhabitants of the land they now occupy. One of the supposed First Nations here in Alberta are the Nakota Sioux. The Sioux are originally a woodland tribe from way further east than prairie Alberta, Minnesota I believe. Maybe someone should look into who the Sioux robbed of their land. Is this not an example of Settler Colonialism? Or is it just white people who are responsible for that? 

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I heard a radio programme recently about people living in exile. What struck me was that all the participants were members of the upper middle classes in their former homelands. The ability to speak some kind of English may have weighted the participation rate but perhaps more effort should have been made to widen the social spectrum. The fact that most of the radio production team were probably middle class too was also a factor in the misrepresentation. That kind of class bias, intended or otherwise, can lead to distortion. The lionisation of the odious Aung San Suu Ky is one example. She was one of the Oxbridge chattering classes who dominate the all but the very senior ranks of the BBC. One of Us. Only fool would believe that her supposed commitment to democracy went beyond redressing that fact that as a girlie she could not be part of the military junta established in Burma by her father. She was putting the boot to the Rohingya Muslims long before her regime started murdering them. But she still has sainted status on the BBC.  I wonder how the BBC would cover the war in Ukraine if Putin had gone to Oxford and spoke English with a plummy accent. 

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I had hoped to head this Why Does Mickey Mouse Hate Canada. But it turns out that though Disney bought much of the Fox media chain, it did not buy Fox News. And it is Fox News which is advocating the overthrow of Canada’s “Creepy Trudeau Government”. I take it that Fox News fully endorses its right wing, almost neofascist presenters and what they say on air. There is such a thing as Freedom of Speech. But shouting “Fire” in the crowded cinema is criminal. Sedition is a crime. Overthrowing a democratically elected government surely counts as sedition. Though Fox News is not big on democracy and appears to support voter disqualification measures which favour the Republican Party.  Perhaps the answer is to discourage Fox presenters from exercising their supposed right to freedom of speech when it comes to neighbouring countries. They are of course free to spout insidious rubbish that encourages polarisation and violence in their own country. Let's just stick to inciting riots at the Capitol Building and leave the Canadian House of Commons alone.

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When I was younger and travelled more I couldn't help noticing when I arrived somewhere new how many gorgeous women the community contained. But then the longer I was in a place, the less true that seemed to be. I think what was happening that as I got to know a place better the more women were screened out of the equation by my brain and were effectively rendered invisible. Some vanished from my view because they were married or otherwise unavailable. Others were screened out because they were crazy. Or turned out to completely lack a personality. Let's not forget that a lot of good looking women don't think they need a pleasant personality or to exercise their brains because they can get what they want with a bat of their eyelids or wiggle of the hips. Mind you, I still think Norway got Scotland's share of good looking women. No, actually I think Norway's more equitable society means the female population  is not afflicted by the poor health and poverty that stops so many of their Scottish sisters fulfilling their potential in the Looks Department.

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Regular readers won't by surprised that when  I lived in the UK I wasn't much of a fan of the Royal Family. What with my odd antipathy to the perpetuation of privilege. And as a newspaper reporter I hated covering Royal Visits. In those days that consisted of interviewing people who had actually exchanged words with a real live Royal. Usually Sad People. But now that I live in Canada I reluctantly have to support the continued presence of the Crown. I still have little time for the dysfunctional family of intellectually stunted inbreds who personify The Crown. But not having a monarch would mean reopening the Canadian constitution and would require the unanimous approval of all the Provinces. Quite frankly few of the provincial government heads could be trusted to run a bath, never mind managing a major change of political constitution. So, as the alternative is undoubtedly worse, Long Live the King. The monarch's representative in Canada is the Governor General, in theory the Queen's choice but in reality a Canadian Government appointment. In 2008 GG Michaelle   Jean agreed to suspended parliament when it looked as though the minority Tory regime  was about to brought down when the opposition briefly reached a rare moment of unanimity. Tory Prime Minister Stephen Harper correctly calculated that by the time parliament reconvened the opposition parties would have fallen out again and his government would survive. But even a hiccup like that is better than fiddling with the Canadian Constitution. Talk about not opening Pandora's Box. Which some of you probably know was not a box at all. 

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When I prattle on about English public schoolboys I also mean their Scottish clones. Some are so cloned, that they even speak with English accents. I guess it helps them fit in when they join our rulers. I would hope that few people would dispute that the privately educated are over represented in several job categories such as the civil service and its cousin, the Armed Forces. One answer might be to say if the State is not good enough to educate someone, then it's not good enough to employ them either. But that's not going to happen in my lifetime, what's left it. But here's something quicker. Take the charitable status from the Scottish private schools. Let the parents who want to buy their kids a decent job pay the actual cost. The bursaries which supposedly give normal working class kids a place at these bastions of perpetuated privilege are a sham. The money raised from the private schools when they lose their charitable status could be used to improve the State sector. And perhaps people would get jobs based on their ability rather than parental wealth.

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One of the, few, interesting things about The Canadian Football League (think a slight variation on American Football) is that most of the top players are Americans. They are, in fact, rejects from the National Football League who are not good enough to get a game in their own country. Regina has a CFL, team, The Saskatchewan Roughriders. They have a fanatical fan base. And the American imports play up to that by praising Regina and Saskatchewan to the skies in local media. But when I worked in Regina that praise struck me as scripted. I was pretty sure many of the Americans would not be able to find Regina on a map and their professed love for the city was part of their employment contract. I suspected in reality they  lost track of where they where when they boarded the plane in, say, Raleigh, North Carolina. I mentioned to my boss that I thought Regina deserved better. I was told I had no right to express an opinion as I wasn't from Saskatchewan. Luckily for me, the Americans proved my point not long afterwards when they won a major competition and couldn't sign up with NFL teams and get out of Regina quickly enough. 

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Hey, what kind of experience is not lived? As with the card game poker, there are "tells" in life.  When people  use of the phrase "lived experience" tells me is that person uttering it is a bit of a waste of space. The same goes for non-Americans using the words "gotten" or "normalcy". What's the point of replacing perfectly acceptable words such as "got" and "normality" with these grotesques? Don't people know that "normalcy" was a word made up by Warren Harding, until recently reckoned to be the stupidest man to ever become president of the United States? Harding was mocked at the time for not knowing there was a word "normality". Recently, I heard a radio presenter lamenting the lack of either, I can't remember which, a fulsome investigation or fulsome explanation. I think, suspect, that she thought the "ful" in fulsome somehow meant "fuller" or more detailed. But I'm getting fed up having to guess what people who should know how to use the language are trying to say. 

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I seem to remember being told as a kid not write in books. Certainly, it's not something I've ever done. I recently came across a book discarded by the Edmonton Public Library because it had been heavily, very heavily, marked up by a "reader". Most of the comments were inane, some were profane. All, I reckon, were a waste of pencil lead. I can't know for sure because I just went through the book with a rubber and erased them all, most unread. Now, I guess sometimes comments added by readers are useful; to correct an error for example. And marginalia from a person famous for their interest in the book's subject might even add value to its second hand value. But most of the capitalised scrawl in this book was simply vacuous comment. Whoever was responsible obvious has no friends prepared to listen to his or her thoughts. My overwhelming reaction was "Get a Life". 

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I'm not one of those who deplores the wearing of socks with sandals. But, personally, I wouldn't wear socks with "Jesus Boots".  Socks kind of negate the point of sandals, which is surely to give the feet as much air circulation as possible. 'Least, that's what I think. But if people are going to wear socks with sandals, why wear white ones? They must get dirty black and greasy pretty quick as a person trudges the city streets. Can they ever be white again? What are people who wear white socks with sandals trying to say? That they are so rich that they only wear a pair of socks once? Or that they are so wealthy that they can afford to employ someone whose job is to get their socks blindingly white again? What is it with sandals and white socks?

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There are groups of people who feel they have been discriminated against when it comes to making a living. They have a good case. But now they have escaped that sad state of affairs they  want what they call positive discrimination. I encountered one such group recently. I won't identify them because they are far from alone in this misguided belief that they are entitled to engineer an unlevel playing field to make up for past years of poor treatment. No-one should be discriminated against on grounds of skin tone, gender or creed. It's a waste of talent. But so is creating an unlevel playing field which favours only certain groups. 

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Those of you who keep up to date with  Book Briefing will have noticed that I quite often mention when American spelling is used in what I thought were British books. There's nothing wrong with American spelling, in several instances it makes more sense than the British version. My problem is that most of the visitors to this site are based in the United Kingdom. So, I use British spelling. Overexposure to American spelling can result in me failing to spot when there is an alternative British version I should be using. And then there are the word processing programs which automatically substitute American spellings and the danger of me failing to notice the change if I get too used to the "wrong" version. 

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