Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday musings

Well, it is the weekend before Christmas. It seems, at least according to our weather officials, that Christmas in Regina will be a brown one, that is to say one without snow on the ground. Truly unseasonable warm weather and no snow since early November has left streets almost completely clean and many lawns have large areas of still green looking grass visible. In fact I am thinking of using the bar b q today to grill supper.
 A rare treat indeed!
I think I will talk about Christmas first and then about events here and there.
All the present (singular not plural you notice) for my better half have been bought and wrapped. It reminds me of the first year we were married and like all first year husbands, I believed that what my wife told me she wanted was truthful. So I believed her and bought her something sensible as she stated she wanted. How was I to know that winter snow tires would  not thrill her to pieces? The sickly pasted on smile did give me an inkling all was not perfect but I shrugged it off to a case of bad gas from the meal eaten earlier.
Next year I was given a fur coat that fit her to a "T" and finally realized what a boob I was the previous Christmas. That lack of foresight in gift giving was not repeated until the year where I forgot her birthday and instead treated myself to a new fishing rod - ouch indeed!
But I digress.
This week will be spent in preparation of the big Christmas Day dinner. Our guests will be my Mother and my wife's brother. The meal will be one that is of German origin. A truly traditional meal with all the trimmings.
First there will be the serving of a pigs foot soup with a side dish of sour pickled dandelion flowers.
Then the main course will follow accompanied with carol music played by bagpipes. The meal will be bratwurst soaked in beer set afire with a side dish once again of sour pickled dandelion flowers.
Dessert will be jellied sauerkraut garnished with red cabbage with a side dish of sour pickled dandelion flowers.
Also this will be accompanied with mugs of homemade stout beer and radishes.
I ask you - can any Christmas dinner be better than that?
And yes, that is really not what we will have for supper but I just could not resist putting that down just for the sheer enjoyment of it.
Now back to the serious world.
The crisis over the Euro sadly continues. The governments that agreed to do - I cannot remember what at the most recent summit of all summits, are now strangely quiet. They assumed that since the big announcement of reshuffling the chairs around the table, that all will be well and fine. And who wants their Christmas vacation ruined by something so mundane as a monetary crisis. Heaven knows, that has to be the Americans fault – doesn’t it? The last major tool available to stop the slide of the Euro is the ECB, European Currency Bank.
Why the ECB?
Well, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to see that for governments to reduce costs they have to do the following items. First, reduce the cost of government; this includes staff as well as programs. Second, sell off assets to raise cash to pay bills. Third, reduce pensions OK - you see where I am going with this? Well once you have less people working, you get less income from taxes. Then you get more of a drain on the economy when you pay Unemployment benefits to those you laid off. With less people working, there is less of a demand for manufactured products so employers have less of a need for workers, so they lay off staff who- you guessed it- apply for Unemployment benefits. And the cycle continues. Added into this mix is the fact that banks will no longer lend money to business to expand, modernize and/or hire new staff. In fact the banks have less money now that they have no income streaming in from non existing loans.
 Sooooooooooooo.................the banks are slowly being primed to fail and that means that the country has to borrow money at higher and higher interest rates which drives the country deeper and deeper in debt.
Just like Greece and Italy.
The ECB must step in and finance the banks to prime the economies of governments at risk. And it refuses to and the European governments seem to have forgotten that the ECB answers to them and not the other way around.
Of course not a word was ever said about tax cheats in Greece and Italy, where it is estimated that if they paid their taxes, a large portion of the debt crisis would be relieved.
The next quarter will be interesting indeed.
The last American troops are leaving Iraq after 9 years of war and sadness. Already the government is starting to fall apart and sectarian fighting is beginning. Iran is starting to send disguised fighters apparently into the country. What is it about Middle Eastern countries that appear doomed to one man/party rule anyway? Is democracy such an alien concept that only in Western countries can it flourish? Is this a result of the climate, history and or religion?
I find it of interest that here in Canada we welcome diverse cultures into the land believing they will enrich us and yet when people come here, many of them want to live exactly the way did in their old country, clothing, religion, politics- everything the same. If that is the case, then why come over here in the first place? Can anyone answer me that?
So Time magazine named the “Protester” person of the year and on the cover of the magazine had a drawing of a masked face to represent this person. I think I have made my opinion known on how I feel about many of these protesters that in some cases were actually hired to be part of the protests and in others, were trying to affix blame to society for the fact that they never wanted to bust their chops to get ahead in the world as others before have. That being said, many protesters became part of the movement because they feel lost and have no means of reattaching to a segment of productive society. And that the rest of society no longer seems to care about them.
I feel that the person of the year should be Mohamed Bouazizi, the brave shopkeeper in Tunisia who in protest against continued police and government corruption set himself on fire in protest and set the spark for the Arab Spring that swept the Middle East this year. His death inspired millions and may his name never be forgotten.
I ordered a replacement battery for one of my laptops 2 weeks ago from an on line site. I had to do so as I could find one here in Canada for under $100. So I assumed the site was in the States and awaited delivery. Usually when I order and have it sent by UPS, I get it in 5-7 days. Not this time. Two weeks go by and not a trace. So I e mail the order place and wait 2 days for a reply. I think to myself that maybe I was scammed. That would be new in all the times that I have ordered, but what the heck, that’s life right? Well I finally get a response and was set aback by it. The place was in Hong Kong and instead of UPS they sent it by United Post Service-regular mail! Then that afternoon the package arrives in the mail! Unbelievable and yet again proof positive on how small the world literally has become.
I see where radioactive materials were seized at a Russian airport where their final destination apparently was Iran. Good for the Russians for spotting and halting this shipment. Hopefully they find the people behind this and prosecute them. This would appear to substantiate Israeli and American claims about the non peaceful goals of the Iranian program. Indeed experts say that the cost to produce power from nuclear plants is ridiculously extravagant compared to just repairing existing oil refineries that have fallen into disrepair. This because while the Iranian clerics may run a strict government, they cannot fix bugger all mechanically and are embarrassed to ask the despised and ridiculed Western industries to help.
Beats all doesn’t’ it?
In China there is an amusement park that sits idle except for the occasional farmer that strolls through the abandoned site.Once promoted at the largest amusement park in Asia, construction stopped at the location, which sits on the outskirts of Beijing, in 1998, when funds were withdrawn due to disagreements over property prices with the local government and farmers,
Kind of a sad and lonely photo isn’t it?
Next time we talk it will be Christmas Day, so stay safe, take care of you and yours and have a Merry Christmas,

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