Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday musings

Well happy 775th birthday to Berlin! Hard to believe that that quaint little town in Germany is that old. One could say that it is the capital of Europe these days. And when you consider how totally it was devastated by both indiscriminate Allied bombing and savage hand to hand combat by Russian troops in the Second World War, its' return from the ashes to global prominence is astounding.
It is a truly vibrant city with a personality unique among world class cities. I have many fond memories of my time there as well as the time I was arrested on the East German side of the city for trying to cross the Berlin Wall – kind of tells you my age doesn't it?
A so called Frankenstorm is to hit the east coast of North America starting this Sunday and into Monday and Tuesday. It will track up the eastern United States then veer into Ontario, Canada then travel east through Quebec and the Maritime provinces. Estimates of destruction on just the continental United States is over 1 billion dollars.
This does not include the cost and number of dead in the Caribbean and what will occur in Canada.
And speaking of the Caribbean, look at what has been done to Cuba, here is a quote and photo from my favourite Cuban blogger, Yoani Sanchez, in her blog, generation Y.... Thursday morning will never be forgotten by thousands of people in Eastern Cuba. The wind, flying roofs, heavy rains and trees falling on streets and houses, will remain as permanent memories of Hurricane Sandy. Nor will they be able to get out of their heads that first night after the disaster in which, from their battered beds or rickety sofas, they found nothing separating their faces from the starry night sky.

Will the world respond with assistance or will once again the spectre of American disapproval stop all aid in its tracks? One hopes that this is not the case but with the American Presidential election mere days away, anything is possible.
There supposedly was a truce called in Syria to observe a religious celebration. That lasted all of maybe a half hour at most. Of course the bloodbath continues. More attention was given in the United Staes to the Twitter photo in America of a semi topless Kardashian , Chris Jenner I believe, than to this disgrace to all of humanity. Does any government in the entire world really give a damn?
The evidence suggests otherwise.
Silvio Berlusconi of Italy was convicted of tax fraud and sentenced to four years in jail. Of course with appeals and the way the Italian legal systems bends for the wealthy and corrupt, this will never happen. Indeed he has vowed to remain active in politics. He feels it is his duty to force the reform of the legal system that had the temerity to convict let alone charge him. Of course the fact that charges against him for having sex with an underage female still are ongoing  is probably another instance of harassment by the authorities on this paragon of virtue.
There are elections this weekend in the Ukraine. Many European countries are watching this with anxious expectations as concerns over the health of democracy in that country mount. The European Union, which had put an association agreement with the Ukraine on hold following the conviction of former Prime Minister and now opposition Leader Yulia Tymoshenko for abuse of office last year, also voiced concern.
Apple of the US has released another tablet this week, I remember the late head honcho, Steve Jobs, declaring that the world did not need a 7” screen tablet and that the 10” Ipad was the ultimate – now there is a 7” Ipad mini with a premium price and a lower powered inside and poorer quality screen than its competitors. Do you get the feeling that Apple Corp is starting to drift now that he has been gone for over a year? Of course all the Apple “fanboys” will promptly attack this query and legions will happily shell out lots of money for the new toy, but you know, every empire has its' day in the sun before declining, that is a fact that cannot be disputed. With Apple, the only questions seems to be when and not if the decline starts.
And yes, Microsoft has finally started selling a tablet – called the Surface. Reviews are mixed but a number of so called experts say that this tablet and operating system are the way of the future. That remains to be seen but there will be a lot of people buying this I am sure. The reason is that so many technical “experts” have their heads so far up their rear ends and are so blinded by what they want from technology is that they have forgotten what many people really want in both computers and tablets. Many want a machine to do social networking, e mails, word and number processing and the ability to visit web sites for news, entertainment or to purchase items and to read books or watch movies/videos. They really do not want to “hack” the software, reprogram or install a gazillion “apps” to do everything from scanning your skin for moles to where the nearest specialty food store or bar is. I guess being a tech expert and blogging about it keeps these people off the streets at least!
Over in the Middle East the new head of Al Qaeda – what is his name anyway? - issued a call for the kidnapping of “infidels” to be exchanged for incarcerated terrorists and the imposition of Sharia law in Egypt. Why don't these whack jobs get a ton of money, buy a couple of islands somewhere in the middle of some ocean and set up their perfect little inner world there and leave the rest of humanity alone?
Too much to ask for I suppose.
Speaking of absurd... the federal Canadian government has passed legislation to have MP's and Senators actually put some of their money (paid by the taxpayer of course) into their gold plated pension plans. Well one bright light, a Senator named Grant Mitchell, has declared that there now exists a real possibility that senators who might have to have a home furnace repair will resort to accepting illegal bribes in brown paper bags to supplement their income. This to pay for things like that or send their kids to Harvard University in the United States. Oh yes, base salary for a Senator – with no job skills needed and no way of ever being fired? A paltry $132,000 a year plus tax free expense allowances and travel.
Poor babies!
I suspect that there would be a line up a couple of kilometers long of people wanting to “sacrifice” themselves to get such a thankless and poor paying job.
Can this Senator even look himself in the mirror?
When the New York Times reported that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabo family worth had vaulted from next to nothing to 2.7 billion – corresponding to his rise in the party to Premiership – the Chinese government in a fine example of transparency just shut down their website. How cool is that? Annoy or embarrass the government and they make you “disappear”.
The US Presidential elections is happening soon and like a lot of people around the world I am slightly puzzled. We see is a country whose government is paralyzed by electioneering  with no concerted effort on the debt, employment and oh so many other urgent issues. Instead we have a campaign focused on a person's race or on their wealth or the incredible fact that the candidates cannot promise everything to everybody and that no one will have to pay for it. I remember back in the 60's where American politics were compromise based and the electioneering was confined to the year of the election and not 365 days a year every year and no quarter given as it is now. And it is so sad to see so many MEN decide that they know better than women on what can and should be allowed for women when it comes to reproduction and control of their own bodies. For crying out loud, I even read a report where one candidate said rape was “God's will”.
And these Neanderthals run America?
Sanity in the American political system has to return – but will it? If not I do not just weep for America, I weep for the world.

So Halloween is this week, it will be interesting to see how many little ones come to our door. Back in Regina we would average about 50 or so, even though I recall when we first lived at our last house, we were on the edge of the city and busloads of kids from a couple of Native Reserves would come in to go door to door – about 200 or so! This year, I have no basement to hide in so that my better half would have to deal with the kids and I think I will be pressed into duty this time.... sigh...
I have a milestone (millstone?) birthday this week, time to check the bucket list and add to it ......
take care out there,

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