Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday musings

Nelson Mandela is back in a hospital in South Africa with a recurring lung inflection as the cause. This incredible man sadly is nearing the end (age 94) of a remarkable life and will be remembered by history as long as man keeps honest records. Without him, it is doubtful that South Africa would have democratically and peacefully transitioned from a white apartheid regime to what it is now. That is not to say that life today in South Africa is perfect, indeed it is far from it but still, what could have happened instead is a horror well avoided because of this man.
Well, North Korea has re-instated the war footing against South Korea and discarded the cease fire dating back to the early 1950's. It has promised “rivers of nuclear fire” destroying the South and ridiculed the “pumpkin skinned” American nation.
As stated last week, really?
What world do their leaders live in anyway?
Even China is starting to back away from its unconditional support of this regime and actually implementing some UN suggested sanctions against them.
And yet the North Koreans keep on going down this road of self immolation.
This story is not over by any stretch of the imagination and one suspects that the next month or two may possibly see armed conflict explode on the world scene.
After all, this week 2 American super stealth bombers flew from the States over to South Korea to participate in war drills and of course the North Koreans went bat crap crazy over that display of American military superiority.
Many suspect the new child leader of North Korea has been backed into a corner by his military and is running out of options to stay in power without resorting to war of any sort with the South.
The government of Cyprus has submitted to European bankers demands and now the banks in the country are imposing a 40% - 60% tax on all accounts over 100,000 Euros. This will effectively start the removal of most Russian funds that have been deposited over the years by uber rich Russians. Many observers think most of that money is somewhat “illegal” to put it mildly. This money has in effect subsidized the Cypriot economy over the past number of years and with its removal, will slash the economy drastically and in effect will make the crash of 2008 seem like a hiccup in comparison.
And yet again the Cypriots ask – why them and not the Greeks, Italians or the Spanish?
The brutal fact is it is because they are a minuscule part of the European economy and as such the rest do not give a damn about them. This is being done to prop up bigger economies that still have not done anything about correcting their own bloated spending and state subsidized economies.
That day of reckoning may still come though.
Argentina has submitted a proposal to an American court to settle outstanding claims over what is termed “vulture loans” that arose out of the fiscal crash of 2002. The odds do not appear be in favour of a settlement as American courts never see any fault in American dealings with other countries, only the faults of those countries. Just look at the softwood lumber dispute between America and Canada or the country of origin for meat labeling between the same 2 countries. In both cases, international courts and laws have sided with the Canadian producers but always the American government changes the laws, impose new sanctions, money bonds and other irritants in an effort to continue the money subsidy flow that goes from it to special interest producer groups in America. Of course the fact that costs are keep artificially high on the States is of little or no consequence as long as the lobby groups are kept happy.
In Venezuela the political rhetoric leading to the election to replace the late President Chavez is intensifying. Already the “temporary” President is comparing Chavez to a South American Redeemer Christ and followers of Chavez (called Chavistas) are his disciples!
Another part of the world that has troubled days ahead.
Canada lost a quality individual this week in the person of Ralph Klein. He was a former Premier of the Province of Alberta. Both friends and foes agree that he was a man of the people and was not the smooth glib talking political hack that seems to run any and all governments these days. Blunt, loquacious, crude, magnanimous, short tempered, abrasive and shy, that was Ralph Klein. Yet in the midst of his era he steered the province through difficult economic times and restructured the civil service and many government programs with the end result that his government was able to pay off the accumulated Provincial debt. Something no other government in this day and age is capable of or even willing to try.
Have you started using “cloud storage” for all your computer files including photos, music and the like instead on in your own computer ? It is all the rage with the pocket protector crowd as they endeavor to show how “cool” and with it in this great geek tech age they are.
Well...... I have a problem with a few features of the “cloud” and will list some for you.
What happens to your files if the “cloud” completely crashes one day and all files are wiped out or are “hacked” by cyber criminals? How do you get them back when they are gone forever?
With your own storage, you can have an external hard drive connected to back up all your files or burn these files to a DVD if you want and store either in another secure site.
What about security?
Do you feel comfortable with spreadsheets with your financials or budgets out of your hands and in an off site “cloud”?
And your photos, if any are stolen from the “cloud” who knows what purpose they will be put up to. And also the destruction of your privacy and actual ownership – what happens to that?
And then there is the cost of “cloud” storage. What will the fees be in a year-two or three?
And if you refuse to pay any increase, are the files held for “ransom” or just deleted forever?
Maybe this is a reflection of this brave new Twitter, Facebook age where privacy for younger people is a goofy concept where they post for all eternity pictures and details of their lives at a drop of a hat with no regard or care about consequences. I think we have all heard stories about pictures of people either drunk or drug impaired that were posted online and then became public and were viewed by potential employers or soon to be former friends. The data posted on the Internet if there forever. Just because you hit the delete key does not mean it is gone forever. Indeed there is a story circulating in the province of Saskatchewan, never denied by the government, that all e mails done in that province are copied over to the American CIA which stores them forever.
Blogs like this also share the same fate.
So, whatever you post – think of the consequences.
One of my favourite authors, D. Dalton has had some interesting news recently.
Amazon in the United States (that really, really big company) started a competition for authors who submitted a new book for judging to them with rewards for the winner. From all the thousands of submissions provided, a short list of 500 was determined. Her submission made that select group! How great is that? So, once again here is the link to the web site for those interested in purchasing some of Dalton's works -
Anyway, speaking of Spring I received an e mail from Regina the other day with a few photos of the condition of yards and I just had to compare them to yards here.

It is so hard to realize that plants will not sprout in Regina for another 2 months or so and yet here, things are just a-hopping. And now they are really starting to worry about possible extreme water flooding on the prairies all the way into the northern USA with some scenarios indicating almost the same level of devastation as occurred in 2011.
Hopefully this does not happen.
While here on the Island this is what our yard looks like-
Doesn't seem fair does it?

Take care out there,

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