Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday musings

So it seems that the captain of a cruise ship in the Mediterranean could not read his ocean charts and ran his ship onto a reef tearing a 50 metre gash in the hull and flipping the ship on its' side resulting in the death of three passengers from the 3200 on board. The captain ignored convention and was one of the first to abandon ship! He is now under arrest, indeed it seems that there was not even a distress signal issued during the whole episode. I saw some pictures of the actual scene and cannot believe that anyone would be so careless as to steer their ship into waters so full of rock outcroppings with such a large ship. What was that fool thinking of anyway?
I see where the President of Iran is in Cuba visiting and attempting to show the world that his country is not impacted by the economic embargo that is causing unrest and true difficulties there. This just days before one of their top nuclear scientists was assassinated by a method similar to other assassinations of fellow scientists and while both the United States and Israel deny involvement, suspicion falls on them both for the planning and for the deadly accuracy as well. This with just released video footage of three gunboats harassing American warships (much like a fly buzzing an elephant) is raising the rhetoric and tensions in the region. Some analysts suspect that the Iranian government is using both episodes as a means of uniting the people against the sanctions and critics of the regime itself. At the same time the same officials are in discussions with other governments to allow nuclear inspectors back into Iran to check upon the status of its so called non military nuclear industry. If this does happen, the big question will be whether there will be full access to any and all facilities, or be limited to a few carefully chosen "clean" sites while the real ones are hidden from view.
It seems that even the Arab League is admitting that it’s so called observers are no more than a joke when it comes to monitoring abuses in Syria of the people by the government of Mr. Assad. Indeed when you consider which governments were supplying the monitors, you knew it would be a case of the pot calling the kettle black when it came to human right abuses. It is ironic that the Emir of Qatar is now calling for Arab troops to be sent into that country in order to ensure a smooth change over to democracy. This from a Monarch? How interesting is that?
One thing of interest is that even with the tension in the Gulf at present, the price of oil really has not increased at all.
As an aside, I see where American media - specifically the news network CNN has been promoting stories as to how Americans better get prepared to gasoline increases at the pump of nearly a dollar a gallon this summer.
This, from the now largest oil exporter in the world? That is correct; America is the world’s largest oil exporter now. And just wait until the shale oil and new Gulf deposits come on stream in the next few years
Now as if the Americans need any more crappy news from Afghanistan to incite the people against  them, a video surfaces of a group of their military urinating over the bodies of enemy combatants. I was never a warrior in my youth but I would hope that if I was in a situation where I was, that I would treat my dead opponents with some modicum of respect and sure as heck would not videotape it if I did and then broadcast to so called friends when I returned safely home.
Friday after the American stock markets had closed for the weekend, a bond rating agency, Standard and Poors, downgraded the credit rating of seven European countries. The two biggest hits were Italy and France. Italy is now at junk bond status when it issues bonds to raise capital and France is now where America is, and that is behind the excellent rating that both Germany and surprise - England enjoy. I think that now finally, we might see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel where it applies to the crisis over the Euro. I am by no measure an expert on currency and money markets, yet I believe that with the European governments now backed up against the proverbial wall, they will be forced to take action. The European Bank will have to backstop loans and inject more capital into the market. And possibly Greece will drop out of the Euro currency and declare bankruptcy and restructure its economy all over again. As an aside, in the United States, it is now official - the national debt equals the national GDP. In other words, they are spending as much as they make - just like Greece and Italy!
And this week that the American President, Obama, sent a letter to the Speaker of the Government House asking for a trillion dollar addition of cash to the budget in order to pay bills.
This brings me to Canadian perceptions of American politics. Through our media we have been taught to believe that the Democratic Party is the party that more closely resembles values that we Canadian espouse. While the Republicans are everything opposite. The party of rabid anti everything and super pro business and anti individual. With having time to channel surf and surf many blogs a different picture is seeming to emerge. The Democrats are unable (they do not want to upset the Greens and unions-part of their voting base) to approve a large crude oil pipeline from Canada to refineries in the States, the Republicans are in favour of it. The Democrats favour laws against free trade unless it works completely in their country's' favour. The Republicans seems to understand it works both ways. And probably the most important difference seems to be that the Democrats seem to think solving the budget problems is to print more money and expand many programs, the Republicans seem to believe that you should spend no more than you bring in. Agreed, this is a very simplistic view of the differences but it sure is quite different than that which is presented by most of the media in Canada.
And to resurrect an old Canadian beef against the Democrats, it is their existing head of Homeland Security that has often repeated the lie that the terrorists that flew the planes into the twin towers came through Canada to the States instead of the truth, which was that they entered directly into the States from Europe and got their flight training in the States as well!
Anyway, enough of that.
Next week I will talk about the Republican race for Presidential nomination and how wild and wacky that seems to be from a Canadian perspective.
 I have mentioned a few times that I am no longer a mere stripling of a youth but rather a person who has seen and continues to enjoy many of the pleasures of life. On the other hand, one also has to acknowledge that with age, you inevitably become a good friend with your mortal enemy and that is the end of life. This past week I have had news that brings this vividly back home. First off I learned that a university friend, who incidentally introduced me to my wife, is in the last stages of cancer. In addition I found out today that his father in law, whose daughter is my wife’s' best childhood friend, passed away this week. Then I learned an old chum that I played old timers hockey with had passed on. And late last night I heard the mother of another university friend had left us as well. Nothing ever prepares you for things like this, and it never gets easier with time. Indeed, it actually seems harder to accept as you get older.
The lesson in this?
Life is a precious gift. Indeed you only truly appreciate it when you are reminded of how short it really is. Take the time for yourself and enjoy what you have and do what you want to do and to the devil with those that try to pooh pooh you when you want to do things out of the ordinary.
Sooooooooooooooooooo, I bet you are wondering about the weather here aren't you? It still is hard to believe that we are in the middle of January and a goodly portion of the side lawn is still green and exposed with hardly any snow cover on the ground whatsoever. However next week we are supposed to get some really cold days and nights that are even colder than normal. There is a possibility of some snow flurries but not too much. As long as the snow holds off until we are gone on vacation, life will be fine.
Well, another week has come and gone and already we are at the halfway point of the month of January. This means Christmas cannot be too far away!
Take care out there,

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