Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday musings

Well, another week, and yet another horrific train accident. In Spain over 78 people are dead with video footage showing a train traveling at incredibly high speed rounding a corner of the track line at what experts believe is over double the maximum allowable rate and then flipping on its side and the cars behind it slamming into a concrete wall. The driver is facing possible murder charges and also in a bizarre twist apparently posted on either his Twitter or Facebook site pictures of the speedometer in the engine cab with the speed needle at over 200 KPH!
In a sign of true humanity, in the moments and hours after the crash, calls went out on all media formats for blood donors and pictures show literally columns of people lining streets to donate.
Maybe mankind is not as completely bad as many suggest.
The Pope is in Brazil this week and generating quite a buzz among the young especially. Regardless of whether one agrees with any form of religion in any shape or form, the fact that an individual can possibly galvanize a segment of the population towards good – well, isn't that worthy of support?
It does not forgive excesses done in the name of religion in the past and indeed in what is happening parts of the Middle East today as an example, but hope does spring eternal.
Because if you want examples of what many might term the interference of religion in the running of a state, look no further than the riots in Tunisia, Egypt, and suicide bombings at mosques in Pakistan.
In Egypt the violence continues to spiral towards a point where soon it will be out of control by anyone.
And there seems no solution in sight, none at all.
In America, another bizarre story of a politician who really, really believes that the electorate are either stupid or not intelligent or just do not care about things like honesty and morals is unfolding in New York. There , a former elected member of the Federal Government who resigned after his involvement with women and posting photos of his “equipment” became public is now running for the office of Mayor of that city. So, after he held that oh so public news conference and had his wife stand by his side as his issued his mea culpas, he promised never, no never to stray and do so again. Well it seems never in his mind meant a week or two. For within the following year it seems he started the whole sad nonsense again. And now that the latest photo/sexting issue has emerged, he said in yet another news conference, well, there may be more such reports coming out and how it has strained his marriage and all the while his wife stood by his side yet again. And in doing so, seemed to imply that cruel fate has done this to him and that he actually is some sort of victim!
Oh, and he is still running to be the mayor and people should focus on the issues – not his personal life!
Where does lying, deceiving the public – your employer by the way and cheating on your legal partner fit in with being an honest politician?
The phrase “morals of an alley cat” come to mind.
That is so disrespectful to alley cats!
Arrggghhhh.....
In what must be considered an incredibly brilliant and inspired move by the Canadian Federal Government in terms of promoting a job creation program to the general public, it was decided to distribute brochures to Canadians via their Government Members free mailing accounts (thereby not costing the party itself money, just the long suffering taxpayer).
Great move right?
Especially since it was decided to make sure that the blind could also be informed by having Braille included on the brochure.
Duh – some fool decided to print the Braille and not have the dots raised as is the proper case. So while the blind “read” Braille by use of their fingertips running over the raised type, this is not possible here.
And the taxpayers pay these goofballs to govern?
Oh sigh.....
Did you know that this is the 60th anniversary of the truce in the bloody war in Korea?
Not peace but a truce and both sides are still technically at war?
In a sign that all is not well in Germany, the large hardware chain, Max Bahr filed for bankruptcy this week.
Over 5,100 people are now out of work.
And yes, that really is a big deal.
And yet in France, it seems that the government believes it can still spend and borrow its way out of the fiscal nightmare that has been around since 2009. A new study from the OECD (Organization for the Economic Co-operation and Development) states that France spends 33 percent of its gross domestic product on welfare spending.
That figure represents more than any other OECD country.
And France lectures countries like Spain and Italy and Greece about fiscal responsibility.
Speaking of Spain yet again, medics in the city of Ibiza needed the help of buzz saw wielding firefighters last week to free a German male tourist from the “tender” clutches of a jammed steel sex toy. It seems that the firemen needed 2 changes of batteries as well as a second blade for the buzz saw in their successful attempt to free the man as reported by the local paper, the Diario de Mallorca
Crazy buggers those Germans.
Strange world we live in these days, in the Unites States, there is more and more acceptance of gay weddings and yet more assaults on the rights of women to control their own reproductive organs while in Russia yet another set of anti gay laws are passed. Sometimes it seems that the biggest “bullies” against the gay community are those that are either so terrified of them or possibly might secretly actually be gay themselves and to protect themselves attack the gay community. And you know, really, at the end of the day, we are talking about people here.
Just like it is wrong to discriminate against those of colour, religion, do not the gay folks also qualify as human?
Right?
Mick Jagger turns 70 this month and rocks on while rock legend JJ Cale leaves us after suffering a massive heart attack. Look him up and download some of his music – just brilliant.
Too many giants of my time are leaving too soon it seems.
So.... did you know that last week on my second favourite Island, Maui, that the second of two yearly Lahaina Noons occurred?
This is unique to Maui in that with its proximity to the equator, there are 2 times a year where the sun is directly overhead and any straight structure (or person standing completely straight) leaves no shadow.
How cool is that?
OK, on my Island, we have news of more home grown tomato sightings!


Slowly but surely they are getting a little larger – almost enough to feed a tiny tot one supposes but in that aspect, they signal the forthcoming arrival of the dreaded Fall and Winter seasons – can this really be true?
Take care out there,
flatlander52

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday musings

In America, the once mighty city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy protection this week. Interestingly this announcement seems to hardly created a ripple in the minds of the citizens, economists and even more importantly – news media and their reporters. Instead the media focus is more bent towards the impending birth of a child to a couple in Britain. So does this mean that this news is not news at all and means little in the “real” world? Or that the public is done with news of this type? Where is the reaction of the President and big shots of the Federal Government?
Strangely silent.
Does it make sense to you?
The culprit(s) in the demise of Detroit have been identified as the last number of Mayors who plunged the city deeper and deeper into debt by spending more and more borrowed money to buy labour peace by increasing the number of city employees and ever increasing pension plan money payments and benefits while watching cash flow dry up from the exodus of ever increased taxed businesses and individuals. The city is a shell of itself in terms of population and businesses and the bills keep mounting. So now the city has filed for protection that means suppliers get stiffed for overdue payments, employees get laid off, pension obligations get dropped or radically reduced – oh and the banks and governments are protected and are first to get money owed plus interest down the road.
Something like Canada where if you shut your doors as a business owner, all creditors and employees have to stand in line for any crumbs of money in the liquidation of the firms assets but only after Revenue Canada, and other Federal agencies and banks get their money first.
So at one time not so far back, the default of a tiny city in California sent ripples through the American economy and financial world, and now it seems like very little is happening. But maybe it is still early in the process and events will show different in time.
We will watch and see.
A week has passed in America since the acquittal verdict in the murder charges brought against a Mr. Zimmerman. His victim was a black man named Trayvon Martin. Many expected riots and extreme violence to erupt throughout the United States in response to what was seem as a white man killing a black man and getting away with it. While there have been demonstrations, for the most part, they were peaceful and most commentary has been thoughtful and reasoned. Perhaps the future relations between the blacks of Americas and the rest of the country will change for the better as a result. Human nature being what it is, do not expect big dramatic changes but rather, small, hesitant steps forward. Rarely does humanity make giant leaps forward in social thinking, that just does not happen. We can only try to do our own little part to make life better for all people – regardless of colour.
Speaking of man's humanity – or in this case lack of same – remember the reports of the train crash last week in France? It happened near Br├ętigny-sur-Orge, and a police report has emerged that indicates that in the middle of the death and carnage, thieves strolled around robbing victims and pelting police and medical personal with rocks when they showed up to aid the injured and bring order to the scene.
It would be easy to pick on the French people for this, but you know, one has to suspect that this would occur in many other jurisdictions don't you think?
Good news may be indeed emerging from Italy about the state of its economy. Industrial orders in Italy rose for the third month, official data showed on Friday, in a tentative sign that nearly two years of recession could be nearing an end. The same type of report has also come from Spain and that is really, really something the global economy has been waiting for. If this does continue, hopefully a trend will start in other European countries and that means more employment, more revenue for government coffers and better times ahead for many people.
One can only hope so.
In Rome, a man dressed like the late Pope John Paul ll and posing with tourists by the Coliseum was arrested and charged with “usurpation of title” and stripped of his costume. One police officer was quoted as saying "If he had been dressed like Tutankhamun nothing would have happened."
Sigh, only in Rome apparently.
And people thought the influence of the Catholic Church was waning?
Not in Italy it seems.
In a little reported event, the European Union has notified Israel that future EU money for Israeli projects will be tied to the condition that it doesn't end up in Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories. And that Israel must agree to that condition in writing. This could signal a majour change in support away from Israel and a new commitment to Palestine. And that definitely has the Israelis and their biggest supporter and ally, the United States talking.
This bears a closer look – wonder whether the media will explore this at all or remain fixated on the latest exploits the rapper Kanye?
Easy answer isn't it?
But, the bigger impact on the world will flow from what happens as a result of the EU decision – no question and yes once again the media gets a big fail for their indifferent lack of effort and integrity in matters like this.
Speaking of stories that consumed us and now are gone – what happened to the massive debris field from the tsunami in Japan from March 2011? Not a single reports is available through normal search engines on the InterWeb it seems. And yet the original floating debris field was 75 miles long – so what happened?
This week saw the 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela, and this icon still is clinging to life and the news is that he seems to be improving. If so, good news. Let's hope that this is not disinformation to buy the government time to prepare for his death. They have had years to do so and to not be prepared is to dishonour the man.
Also, this week would have seen the 79th birthday of my Uncle KHK in central British Columbia. Not world famous, but a great and good man to many people.
We went on a short drive to the small town of Comox this week and really were impressed with it and the people there. Indeed, this whole Island is incredible and I know we will never have enough time to see and do all the things and places that we want to in the years ahead of us.


Take care out there,
Flatlander52

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday musings

A couple of horrific train accidents, continents apart and a horrific airplane crash in the United States headlined the news this week unfortunately.
One train wreck was in Canada in a small town called Lac-Megantic where unbelievably, a unmanned, run away train comprised of oil cars carrying crude oil crashed into the town centre with an ensuing fireball causing deaths of at least 33 and possibly another 17 or more as authorities work hard and tirelessly to recover and identify any and all remains. The other crash was in Paris, France where a passenger train derailed and at least 7 died.
The plane crash in America was caught on video and amazingly only 3 people lost their lives, one by being run over by a firetruck arriving at the scene apparently as the plane wreckage was being engulfed in flames. A very low death toll in what was a horrible crash.
It is indeed tragic when people die in cases like this but many forget that in the bigger context of train travel train transport and airline travel, the amount of deaths and injuries is very small compared to the number of people traveling and total of all goods shipped by rail.
In this micro magnified media run world these days, the clamour invariably emerges to ban shipping oil by rail, putting super safety measures on planes and trains for passengers.
But is this really realistic?
Don't think so.
Pretty soon all the softies in the world will demand that governments all over issue people with inflatable cocoons to travel/walk/drive/fly in to ensure that no one ever gets a boo-boo.
Arrgghhh....
A noted Canadian eco spokesman made an interesting statement to an interviewer this week in regards to his opinion on the value of immigration to Canada. He seems to say that the country has no more capacity for more immigrants (yes, Canada is the third largest country in the world, but I digress...) and indeed, that Canada is guilty of stealing the cream of the crop from countries where the immigrants come from thereby intellectually impoverishing those countries.
Really?
So Canada should not welcome immigrants and refugees as well?
I guess using that logic and the way apologists all around these days are, maybe Canadians that were not born here should return to the land where they came from? That means everyone except first nations people right? And would this “learned” person lead the way by finding out where in Japan his ancestors came from and return there? No, that really would be wrong and as we all know, 2 wrongs do not make 1 right in any way, shape or form.
Sadly one must conclude that his views in this subject are just wrong – period.
And let us just leave it at that. And not extend the disapproval to his other views, which, in my opinion, some are not always correct, but all are valid and deserve discussion and where consensus is reached, generate positive action for the environment.
So at the end of July, the nation of Zimbabwe under the rule of Mr. Mugabe goes to the polls in a general election. The last one was held 5 years ago and featured total corruption, intimidation, terror tactics, brutality and murder. Now the country is even poorer if that can be imagined (cronyism and theft by government supporters-AKA looters) and the same litany of abuses will prevail again. What a terrible downward spiral of a once proud and extremely prosperous country.
And nothing is done by the rest of the world.
Figures.
Easier to attack countries like the USA, Canada and the like isn't it?
Speaking of news that is happening but most people are blissfully unaware of it because the media has decided that it is not “cool” enough, things are happening in Bulgaria these days. For the past month demonstrations have occurred daily throughout the country protesting the corruption in the government and calling for the resignation of the government even though it has only been in power for 2 months.
So here you have a country in turmoil but here in North America – not a peep. Indeed there is more coverage of the lifestyle of Justin Bieber and the pathetic antics he is involved in. More interest in a spoiled brat instead of the struggles of an entire country – how wonderful eh?
And the members of the media wonder in self pity why people distrust them these days?
Not like they deserve it is it?
In the last 10 – 15 years the corruption of the once proud and independent, analytical media by new ownership driven by audience ratings and also reflecting, in many cases, the extreme far right personal political leanings of the new owners, has destroyed the credibility of them.
And that is so sad and tragic.
And the news people get is filtered through biased short bursts on the InterWeb.
No wonder people are confused and distraught these days at times.
Remember how in France this last year the President, Mr. Hollande, declared that he was going to increase the taxes paid by the wealthy? Well as a result of this declaration and the passage of some laws, there is a parliamentary report being issued this week that indicates that almost 3,000 wealthy French citizens stashed close to $5 billion in HSBC accounts in Switzerland. Wealthy people by and large have no problem in paying what they believe is their fair share of taxes but really have a problem when they believe that they have been targeted unfairly by their governments. And sometimes it is hard not to agree with them. As the number of lower income people are dropped off tax rolls and the uncontrolled appetite for money by all levels of government continues, it is so easy to target the wealthy. Many forget that the wealthy pay a large amount of taxes already and that business and industries are developed by the wealthy and they employ many people who in their turn pay taxes and feed their families.
Here in British Columbia, a recent example of government ineptitude shows why government waste has to be brought under control – perhaps the lawmakers should be held legally liable for spending more money than they have – similar like what happens to you when you stop making house payments when you do not have enough money – you lose the house. Perhaps a fiscal penalty or even jail time might make the do their job properly. Anyway, getting back to the example I mentioned... the BC Ferry Corporation has been losing money like crazy over the past number of years and as a result has increased fares to incredibly high levels causing ridership to drop (go figure that one out!) and needs funding bail out as a result. So... in a stroke of brilliance, they decided because work staff days off due to injuries had declined in the last year a bit, to award a $300 credit card to all employees to use toward joining a fitness club or buying fitness wear.
You have to shake your head at this folly.
But if there is no fiscal penalty for incompetence, then why should anyone care?
Sigh....
The running of the bulls this week in Spain has produced casualties of course, darn fools....
More worrisome is the report that shipyard workers are on strike in the Ferrol estuary in Spain as word comes that the European Union is considering whether or not to demand repayment of some $3 billion Euros given to the industry during the years 2005 to 2011. Many fear the death of the industry with job losses exceeding 87,000 jobs.
Do you get the feeling that way too much power seems to be in the hands of faceless and nameless bureaucrats in the EU corridors? It is like no one cares that there are real people being devastated by the continuing onslaught on the working class.
Does anyone care anymore?
In the United States interesting news emerges in the murder trial of a Mr. Zimmerman accused of taking the life of a young man, Trayvon Martin. Last year when the story exploded on the public media, mass demonstrations erupted as many accused Mr. Zimmerman of killing a harmless black boy. Clearly, in the eyes of many, a racial killing. Even the American President chimed in that if had a son, that the boy would be like Trayvon Martin.
The obvious implication was that the accused was guilty – period.
So, now the a verdict comes in – not guilty.
So, to quote a wise man, I expect all Hell to break loose in the coming week.
That is something to talk about next blog time I think.
Great story in that the girl who was cowardly shot by thugs from the Taliban, Ms. Malala Yousafzai, addressed the United Nations Youth Assembly this week on her 16th birthday. She has done well recovering from terrible head wounds and her message of hope for all young women is incredible.
The world needs more people like her.
Here on the Island, life continues its slumberous way for us .
And that works jut fine for me.... however another link in the saga of the 10,000 step torture emerges...I unwittingly agreed to a “SMALL” walk around a lake/beach site in town here this day. Well it seems that my definition of small differs vastly from that of my better half. 17,000 steps later I dragged my sorry butt back into our vehicle for the tortuous ride back home. I swear that there should have been defibrillators installed on that walking path for people like me!


And those pictures were of the “level” parts of the path!
Nuts!
Speaking of gardens, we had our first home grown tomato this week.
A wag suggested it would be great with caviar on a cracker.....

Take care out there,
flatlander52

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday musings

Yes, I had mentioned that events in Egypt were deteriorating but there is no happiness at all in the slow almost death spiral that seems to be enveloping that proud country. President Morsi is under house arrest and leaders of the religious party that backs him and controlled the Egyptian Government regardless of the supposed rules of democracy which they ignored, are being arrested by the score. Already there is a growing list of dead and that will surely increase in the days ahead.
That poor, poor country.
And new riots have occurred in Istanbul, Turkey at the site of the park that sparked the first set of clashes between citizens and authorities.
Another country looking at the dark abyss.
It just never ends does it?
It is the human condition but gee whiz, don't ya just get tired of it sometimes?
An irony of the desire of people to purchase the best possible products at prices that they know are either subsidized or masking inferior products is the bankruptcy of a German solar panel manufacturing company, Conergy this week. They cite cheap Chinese imports as the reason. As I said recently, if all the good paying jobs disappear, where do you get the money to buy the fancy “stuff?” Take a look around your own country and see how many industries are really left these days. Not that many are there? Where is your clothing made? Electronics? Heck, even motor bikes?
And you wonder why the youth of today seem so frustrated and angry?
I remember back a oh so short time ago, a young person could get a good paying job without going deeply into debt for a University degree by just completing high school. Trades were open, manufacturing boomed and the agriculture sector thrived.
Not the same anymore is it?
And where did the slavish devotion to a University degree come from? Why not ask the self serving academics that question. Indeed, people attack civil servants for their job benefits, how about the “tenure” that University professors get that insures that they will never get fired for incompetence?
Classes of subjects that do diddly squat in the real world only benefit those teaching them, not the students or society one may say.
A report out of France says that genealogists have “extensively” researched the background of both Prince William and Princess Kate of England and breathlessly announced that the soon to be born child will indeed be a descendant of the prophet Mohammed through French nobility.
Humph indeed.....
In that case, I suppose I am a descendant of Charlemagne through German bratwurst and beer!
Twaddle....
And speaking of bull.... the Spanish city of Pamplona is getting geared up for the annual running of said animals. And every year we see a video clip of some airhead running ahead of the released pack and of course slipping, falling and then being run over – how much fun is that?
Oh well....
For the 21st consecutive month, industrial output in Spain has dropped and unemployment has increased now to a staggering 27%. Add to this a blistering heat wave, and the “summer of discontent” has the potential to ignite a firestorm there. Or, perhaps the Spanish people have just about given up all hope for the future – we shall see in the next few months I think.
News media are carrying reports about the exciting news that head transplants may be possible in the near future. Heck, that is old news as I have worked with many people who had horses arses transplanted on them!
Terrorism visited Canada this past Canada Day ( or for us old timers- Dominion Day!) when the RCMP revealed details at a press conference of the arrest of 2 individuals accused of planting “pressure cooker type” bombs among crowds of people at the British Columbia Capital city of Victoria. While no explosion or death and damage occurred, it is a stark reminder to all how vile and cowardly these terrorists really are. We always must be vigilant in the defense of our freedoms.
Of course a number of so called human rights activists immediately found fault with the way the authorities handled the whole process. Easy to find fault while all the while enjoying all the benefits of an open democratic society without having to personally shoulder some of the burden isn't it?
OK, for all the folks who rail against the Canadian oilsand industry, proclaiming it to be the bearer of the Apocalypse of pestilence, disease and famine – damn Canada! - how come ya never bleat at industrial China? Reports in Al Jazeera say that China's Yellow Sea is being choked by its largest ever growth of algae. This algae has covered tens of thousands of square kilometres of the Chinese coastline.
This is not a natural occurrence my friends.
We were fortunate enough a number of years ago to have a waterfront cottage at a lovely Saskatchewan Lake. Every summer the same type of algae growth happened and it was and continues to be as a DIRECT result of the leaching of pesticide and farm chemicals as well as improperly treated and released sewage from the city of Regina upstream into the river system that feeds the lake.
But China gets a pass doesn't it?
What about India by the way?
There just is no money to be made from supporters from attacking those countries is there?
Just saying....
Meanwhile, on my second favourite Island- Maui, the County Department of Transportation announced Friday that its new double-decker bus will be placed into public service Saturday as part of the official Maui Bus fleet. Unbelievable, while in my old home town of Regina, city officials struggle with lack of ridership issues and the possibility of downsizing the fleet. All the while their population is over 200,000 and that of all Maui Island is just over 144,00 and the bus will only service central and south Maui area!
Go figure.
Also on Maui the debate rages yet again over the pluses vs the minuses of sugar cane stubble burning. This is so like the debate that happens every year back on the flatlands of Saskatchewan with the burn of crop stubble. To many city dwellers, it seems as if there is a conspiracy from the farmers to burn the evil smelling stuff only on days when the ash and smell will drift slowly, lovingly and directly over the city. Just like in Kihei, Maui. Australia does what is termed green chop to remove the stubble, how come the sugar companies on Maui and the grain farmers in Saskatchewan cannot do the same?
The cynic in me says, probably because it costs more to do it that way.
Oh well ( for the second time!).....
My friend the author in America (web link here - http://www.deborahdalton.net ) is near the launch of one novel hopefully in August and possibly another later in the year – great reads.
I do so admire people that can write, and write well. My few stabs at this, including this column, well, the best that can be said is that I never tried to make a living doing so – that is for sure as I would have literally starved to death.
Something called talent....
Here on MY Island, we went to the annual Dragon Boat races in the city harbour this weekend. Huge crowds, indeed more than those that came out to celebrate Canada Day apparently. Maybe it was the offer of a free pancake breakfast on both days that brought the people in. Whatever the reason, a fun filled time for everyone.

We also did a tour of the small town of Chemainus and were suitably impressed with the place both with the attractions as well as the cleanliness. A feature of the town is that they have over 30 some murals painted on the exterior walls of different buildings throughout and it is very impressive to see. Definitely we will return to spend more time there. 



Did I mention about the 10,000 step regime my better half has enlisted me in?
Aghhh........do I really want/need the body of a Greek god?
I am starting to develop bumps on my legs – something she refers to as muscles!!
Oh, the horror....
take care out there,
flatlander52