Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sunday musings

And a Happy New year to all!
Last week I said that I would do a mini review of things I wrote about so here we go.
The Arab Spring has come and swept governments from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya. In its wake you have a new government in Tunisia, a continuance of the military rule in Egypt, the deposition and death of Kaddafi in Libya. In Syria the government of Assad still maintains its hold, in spite of increasing violence and the involvement of Arab League observers who, as in the words of the immortal Sgt. Schultz of Hogan’s Hero’s fame – they see “nothing” even if it is happening in front of their noses. In fact Arab monitors call it the “Darfur Syndrome” in a dubious reference to what international observers managed not to see when they were in Darfur.
In the Middle East America lost a drone to the Iranians and they proudly showed it on their state television. While that is a big coup for them, it really does not change the fact that the Americans rule the skies and there is nothing that they can do about that little fact!
Iran continues on its road to become a nuclear weapon toting power. I find it ironic that countries like it and Northern Korea (more on that land later) like to threaten the world community with its own self destruction in order to get aid or whatever its bully pulpit wants. Look where Iran has been threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz, effectively stopping the transport of 35% of the flow of oil in the world while at the same time ignoring that 60% of its income comes from the export of oil itself through the same passageway. Now they say they will come back to the bargaining table to discuss removal of nuclear technology but only if economic sanctions are dropped.
Carrot and stick approach indeed.
Same with North Korea, fire off a few missiles and demand free food in return, which the rest of the world gladly gives to them.
North Korea now has a new leader for life and the citizens are exhorted to give their lives in defense of him. Why not air drop maps on how to get to the South to defect along with money? Quickest way to lose a country is if the people desert you and you are left to rule empty buildings.
There were a number of notable deaths this year. Steve Jobs of Apple Corp., the actress Elizabeth Taylor, Osama Bin Laden, a parasite, Johannes Heester, a Dutch actor and singer who was a favorite of Hitler and Herman Goering, Vaclav Havel, Czech playwright and politician, Andy Rooney, columnist,  Amy Winehouse, sadly tormented singer, Jack Kevorkian, proponent for assisted suicide, Jane Russell, actress and pin up girl from the second war .
The list goes on and on sadly.
Ah, my old friend the Euro. Now that is a story that just will bloody well never end will it? I read a column from Conrad Black the other day that had a number of good observations on the Euro. The one that struck me the most was that the Euro was an attempt by a number of minor European countries to reassert faded international prestige and power in the face of the mighty greenback. In essence trying to restore the days when Europe dominated world events and power reside in those capitals. The value of the Euro was based on a number of falsehoods such as devious currency valuations, “hidden” liabilities and wildly optimistic financial projections. Those buzzards have come home to roost with a vengeance according to Mr. Black and I tend to agree with him. The only country that seems to be working at getting out of this morass is Ireland and only time will tell if they will succeed. The continuing weakness of the Euro will hinder economic recovery for the rest of the world. In the United States there are signs however that the economy is slowly starting to improve. Economists forecast that the improvement will take the better part of the entire year however and that the housing market will only recover near the end of the year and still will be nowhere near what it was and what it should be. That crisis still has legs to it sadly.
And who can forget the silly season in politics that now grip the United States? The primary elections just to determine who the Republican candidate will be to oppose President Obama is just starting to gather steam. And the “bloodbath” of character assassination and mudslinging continues unabated. All the Republican candidates seem to be so obsessed with not offending the splinter Tea Party fraction that they forget what values they are supposed to be representing and instead bend in the wind trying to be everything to everybody and succeeding in alienating all instead.
Here in Canada we had a federal election where the ruling Conservative Party was returned with a majority and the separatist Bloc Quebecois reduced to a whimpering shadow of itself in its home province. The socialist New Democratic Party rode the coattails of charismatic Jack Layton to Official Opposition status only to have him pass away from cancer a few months later leaving a void that will never be filled.
Here in the Province of Saskatchewan, the ruling Saskatchewan Party was re-elected with an increased majority prompting the leader of the Opposition Party to quit his post on election night in a  well documented pout and flee the province to areas unknown – a true socialist would you not agree? The economy in Saskatchewan is predicted to march along at a boisterous rate again in 2012 which means more people moving into the province creating a demand for more and more goods and services for them. This also means that the cost of housing will continue to rise here –whereas it is predicted to moderate or decline in some parts of the rest of the country.  So if you are selling your house, 2012 will be a good year, but then again only if you are downsizing for to replace or go upsize will cost you dearly.
Also the cost of living will rise which unfortunately will impact the poor and those on fixed incomes.
Meanwhile the planet Earth continues to remind mankind that it still is a force to be reckoned with. From volcanoes in Alaska, Argentina to a massive tsunami that hit Japan, destruction was a result. I did read an interesting fact the other day though, and that there are less man made fires burning in Africa right now than at any other time in recorded history. This being determined by satellite imagery and carbon dating and other empirical evidence.
Ah, remember how happy I have been the last month with the almost complete lack of snow on the ground? That lasted until this past Thursday and, well, sure I am glad that I have a snow blower! Any fear of lack of moisture for the Spring season is now gone by the wayside. On the plus side, only a month until Argentina! And it is summer there at this time of the year so I will be able to parade around in my pale white knobby knees, thereby stunning the populace into total silence.
Some things I never got done this year?
Never got to ride my bike, never seemed to have time. I wanted to visit a number of small communities in the province to see their unique sites and attractions – only got to a couple, never seemed to have the time. Wanted to golf more than 7 games, never seemed to have the time.
This year I have a number of things I will do. First off I will book a sky dive session for my 60th birthday in November. I am going to start going for morning walks again, used to do so, about 30 pounds ago. Finally clean out the garage and basement, going to make time for that. Going to see if we can travel a bit more this year. I have a number of points for flights and I think we will use them up going to visit friend’s down East and out West.
What about you?
Any plans?
If I may offer some advice, time is too short to say, “maybe tomorrow’ because one day you will wake up and discover that the tomorrow you were waiting for has come and gone and you did nothing and are left with only regrets. Look after yourself and enjoy life while and when you can. There will be time enough to reflect on things when you are older and no longer desire to “set the world afire”.
So all the best for this, the New Year, 2012!
Take care out there,

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