Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday musings

This is a case where being wrong in something makes no difference – the result is still horrible.
I have mentioned recently that the senseless civil war in Syria might be the precursor to a wider conflict in the Middle East. Sadly it appears that the old enemies of the area – Hamas and Israel will take the lead point instead. In retaliation for rockets being fired into Israel, the killing of a senior Hamas leader by the Israelis in retaliation ratcheted up the tensions and now more rockets are thundering into Israel and counter attacks are occurring. Military reserves are being called up by Israel and a ground war seems more likely than at any time in recent history.
Much can be said and indeed has been said over the years about this conflict. It seems there are experts that are legion on both sides of the debate/war/tragedy. I am not a qualified pundit and indeed, what would my opinion matter anyway? That being said, I cannot believe that something like this can not be resolved – if there are honourable men and women on both sides willing to commit to peace and justice. But there are fanatics and idiots that abound on all sides that sabotage any attempt to do so.
I dunno....
News reports indicate that as soon as 2025 the United States will become a net EXPORTER of crude oil. Am I the only one wondering what the heck is going on here? If like me, you recall, over the past decade more and more so called petrol experts and indeed, even eco fanatics were trumpeting the soon to happen disappearance of crude oil and the end of western civilization, especially the much reviled (by these experts at least) United States. And lo, there was much joy at these pronouncements. Yes, the Yanks will finally get their comeuppance and the world can revert to the life style so wondrous and so in harmony with nature – you guessed – the Middle Ages. Of course things like health care, medicine, electricity, Iphones, hot tubs and the like would somehow still work for the “enlightened” people – never could figure out that B.S. Amazing how these folks want the worst for everyone else but definitely not for themselves. But I digress, anyway it seems that the Americans have been finding oil in their country at an incredible pace and will be self sufficient pretty soon. Darn them anyway!
Actually what will also probably happen is that the Americans will continue to purchase massive amounts of Canadian crude at NAFTA (look that up if interested) imposed world price discounts to fuel their economy while exporting all their crude at higher world rates thereby making money on the whole deal. One suspects Canada will be among those buying their crude for its Eastern provinces because the small minded premiers of most provinces in Canada refuse to allow pipelines to cross their borders purely for political gain all the while ignoring the needs of their populace.
Ironic that an exporter of crude pays higher price for gas internally than a country like the US which for a short while longer still imports its oil.
Oh Canada indeed!
The looming "fiscal cliff" in America is approaching at a blinding speed. Year end is the deadline for any resolution to their fiscal impasse. The political heads all profess good faith and a willingness to compromise for the greater good - yet if you look closely, you can see the small smirks on the faces as they say that. They really believe that the people accept what they are saying as honest. Read a little deeper into their comments and you still see the hardline positions that brought them to this dangerous precipice. These political hacks really think the average American is stupid and does not see what they are doing or rather what they refuse to do. They are so used to hearing their own lies and that of political supplicants and donors that they live in a cotton candy world of their own. Well, the world money markets are taking notice of this and sadly, the probably of a new world recession with the United States leading the downward economic spiral becomes more of a reality with each passing day.
OK- over to Bremen, Germany we go.
Once again this year, the SlowFisch convention has celebrated local fishing traditions and artisanal food production. A local businessman has built a website called ‘Fisch vom Kutter’ which means ‘fish from boats’ in German. The site gathers SMS messages from fishermen who are returning to shore with their day's haul. Customers can go online and find out what kind of fish is for sale at which port. The project is now two years old and the site tallies around 600 hits a day. This way people are assured of fish when they go to market instead of times before when many went shopping and returned with nothing due to poor catches or other conditions making purchase of fish impossible.
Good idea.
Crafty buggers those Germans!
This Tuesday there will be a national strike in Argentina. Protests against the economic direction the country is taking as well as general unease about the rate of inflation, cutbacks and economic difficulties are spreading. This week also saw the majour power supply companies in the country report huge operating deficits with no relief in sight. In the space of a couple of years Argentina seems to gone from an economic tiger to one in need of help.
This is not good for all of South America and not just Argentina.
In France, tens of thousands of people , along with Catholic church leaders, marched Saturday in protest against plans by the government to introduce same sex marriage This in a country that prides and indeed promotes itself as a paragon of tolerance and an attitude of joie de vivre?
The President of France, Mr. Hollande plans to introduce a tax rate of 75% on everyone earning over 1 million Euros per year in the next few months. As a result there seems to be a mass exodus of wealthy people from France to countries like Belgium where the tax rate is much lower. The latest appears to be Gerard Depardieu the famous actor of over 170 films who has purchased/is purchasing property in Nechin. One realizes that is is fashionable to rail against the “1%” and demand that they pay more in taxes. Perhaps the discussion should focus a little more on having equitable tax rate for all. Some people think that the so called 1% do nothing in life and are parasites on the economy. Well, maybe some are but definitely not all or even a slim majourity at that. Even the rich over paid athletes or reality stars that I have occasionally mentioned put real money into the economy. For all they earn/are paid, they spend lots on clothes goods and services. They have extensive staff who are paid and in turn pay taxes and spend money. Indeed one hears many stories of once high flying athletes that essentially squandered all their money and live almost destitute after their bodies have worn out on the field and the limelight has left them.
For the so called capitalist owners – well, in almost all cases, these are small business owners. Indeed I was once one of them. They gambled on an idea, concept, product or a service with their time, effort and money. And many times they (and I write from personal experience) did without a paycheque while their staff faithfully got theirs in the formative years of the company they founded. And it was their house and savings on the line with the bank or credit union if things went wrong – not the employees. So if they want to declare a dividend or take some more money home or lease a car or whatever once the company is doing well, then why not? I say good for them. They have created jobs, not like government that by its nature is parasitical in form. Governments are funded by the taxpayer – something many governments at all levels tend to forget in their arrogance at times. Governments do not create wealth – unless one counts graft, corruption and nepotism to friends and family that is.
The second wife of TS Eliot passed away this week. Kind of shows my ignorance of he and his life as I assumed he was a person of letters from the 1800's. This modern day has its own giants, sometimes we just do not see them sadly.
Speaking of the useless United Nations, once again in secretive meetings not open to the public, attempts by many governments to impose control over the Internet continue. Reports emerge that Russia apparently wants each country to have total control over what is posted on the Web in its area. Something like what appears to be the norm in China one assumes. It seems to be the case also in countries like Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan.....getting a picture from this? The theory once so fervently espoused by academics of a wired global village sharing common values and ideals is revealed as no more than a poor jest fuelled by naivety or even stupidity.
In India, Bal Thackeray, a somewhat controversial politician who dominated affairs in Mumbai for over 40 years and increased sectarianism in the city died of cardiac arrest at the age of 86.
I went into the inner harbour business area this week for my regular hair cut, a process that as time marches on produces smaller, fewer and thinner clippings on the plastic “bib” that is fastened around ones neck. Darn. Anyway, while walking around the area I walked by and then had to stop and back up to view a storefront that seemed like a glimpse of yesterday.

I think most of us recall the days when stores had great signage on them. Whether as in this case, a rotating globe or flashing neon, animated figures or the like, the signage was fun and cheerful and individual. Nowadays, well, blah is probably the best word that comes to mind. This city has many such stores and maybe though other writings, I will show a few more to you.
Well, another week has flown by, indeed only 5 more weeks until Christmas and yes, for the first time in decades, I have not bought the presents for my better half by June of this year. You blink and the months rush by you. But that being said, now is the time to start the list. And for those among you that like good reading, I shamelessly offer one of my favourite authors to you – Deb Dalton – and here is a link to her site –
And with that, take care out there,
flatlander 52

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