Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday musings

I must admit that I have one major hobby and that is photo taking and with that, of having a number of different cameras. I was looking at them this week in order to decide which ones to take along to Argentina. And then it struck me, I have a mini history of the evolution of digital cameras in my possession. The first one is a little one from the Gateway company (USA company) that my wife gave me for my birthday a number of years ago that boasted a massive 4 megapixel lens and a 2X zoom lens. As well it uses 4 batteries in its operation! The memory card maxed out at 1/2 gig if you can believe it. My newest non SLR has a 18 megapixel lens and 18X zoom and a 16 gig card which would hold about 4,400 photographs. This in the space of about 5 years I believe. The first one had no special filters of effects built in, the newest will remove red eye, will do a panoramic scene; add twinkles to sunlight and a number of other features.
Did you know that Kodak, the 131 year old company that is forever associated with Kodachrome film and the ubiquitous Kodak camera is on the verge of bankruptcy? And did you know that Kodak actually invented the digital camera but did not see any potential in it?
Technology does move at a rapid pace these days. I wonder why 3d TV has not caught on with the public yet. Do you think it might be the goofy glasses you have to wear? Or maybe the $2,000+ price tag?
So this week President Obama announced changes to the structure of the American military. Do you recall last year when I was talking about the failed budget meetings in Washington? That one of the results of the failure was an automatic trigger of cash cuts to the military budget? Well, that is happening and the process will be a painful one. Coupled with the ever increasing wage and retirement expenses, the armed forces will see a drastic reduction in its capabilities. There will be an ever increasing reliance on “drone” and non human machinery to wage war. It seems that the bitter lessons learned after the First, Second, and the Viet Nam wars have been forgotten. The manpower after each of those wars was drastically reduced and as soon as another conflict arose, the United States fielded forces that were ill equipped, ill trained and undermanned. This will happen again. The ability to wage war on 2 fronts will disappear. The big question for the rest of the world is this – which country or countries will have the courage to fill the gap now that the Yanks are gone? And rest assured, conflict will come quickly. Throughout history the world has needed a policeman to halt aggression and to help the less able countries to survive. Who now? Russia? Japan? Germany? Brazil? Anybody? I doubt it. No African country will, no European, South American or Asian, and definitely not Canada or Mexico. Maybe the Brits but they are so poor that I doubt it. On the flip side there will be many countries wanting to start their own dirty little war and expand their territory at the expense of weaker countries. Look in the Balkans, the Middle East, Asia and you will see what I mean.
Look at Syria and how little effect the inspections from the Arab League monitors are accomplishing. Go to Nigeria and see what I believe is the start of a dirty little religious war pitting extreme Muslims against Christian groups. In fact in many countries you are seeing a reverse of the so called Crusader wars of centuries past where Christians waged war against Muslims in the name of Jesus. It is ironic that while learned scholars and religious figures of both religions profess to believe in non violence and acceptance of others, extreme elements on both sides wage a vicious war believing that their God is the one and only true God.
Jamaica's new Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, has said she intends to make the island a republic, removing Queen Elizabeth as the head of state.
I wish Canada would do the same. Sadly the ruling party seems determined to promote the Queen throughout the country, especially in Quebec, which is akin to waving a red blanket in front of a charging bull.
Surely we can stand on our own 2 feet can’t we? After all, who sent how many thousands to aid England and Europe in the 2 World Wars both in Europe and in Asia? Canada did and did so as a sovereign country and not as a colony.
By the way, did you know that this year is the centenary of the ANC (African National Congress)? A party once led by Nelson Mandela?
The Iranians are planning another set of military exercises in the Straits of Hormuz. Wonderful news indeed. The Americans are sending more ships into the region and late breaking news indicates that the British are sending a warship there as well. This would indicate that the sanctions recently imposed on Iran by a number of nations are indeed impacting the economy and welfare of the citizens. The main problem I have with sanctions is that they hurt the average citizen who has done little to nothing to hurt anyone or any country. The ruling elite will still stuff their pie holes on fancy food and drive their ritzy cars. So I ask you – who do the sanctions really hurt in the long run?
Well, I have to tell you that the weather is still unreal so far this January. In fact on Monday it is supposed to hit plus 9C for crying out loud! This is starting the second week on January and we still have hardly snow on the ground. In fact, this week there were a couple of brush fires in the province-something unheard of in winter. By the side of the house we have a complete section of grass uncovered and it is a bright green, not the rust brown that it usually becomes when covered for a couple of months by snow in winter. And the forecast for the week is temperatures hovering around zero or slightly under. This definitely is the warmest winter that I can ever recall.
And I suppose I should comment on what I think this year will hold for Europe. I think energy prices, the restructuring of both the sovereign and corporate variety debt and social unrest will define 2012, potentially making it as grim as 2011, in spite of a weak American recovery. Indeed the American recovery, especially a halt in the decline in the price of houses will probably be the big story of the year on the economic front. One country to watch will be Russia if the price of oil declines as exporting oil is the biggest source of income for that country. If shale oil in the States comes on stream and world demand slows, the price will fall below $100 a barrel and that will have a negative impact on the Russian economy. With the potential of civil unrest already over the disputed elections, further declines in the economy could increase the likelihood of more unrest in that country. Canada will plug along, in all likelihood on the edge of a small recession will minor corrections in the major housing markets, with the exception of those markets in Saskatchewan and Alberta where the oil and mineral boom will continue to propel the local economies forward.I do think that the economic news will improve in the second half of the year.
And do not forget, this is the year of the American Presidential election and with that being said, anything can and probably will happen in that country which will impact the rest of the world.
Here in Canada it seems that while people like the Democratic party, the Republican party is the better one to do business with.

Well, that is it for another week.
Take care out there,

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