Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday musings

I have had a number of readers criticize me over the years (yes, hard to believe but this blog is almost 3 years old!) on what they see as my tendency to "love" America as compared to other countries around the world.
Sorry, that aint gonna change soon.
As a counterpoint to their argument, may I present a recap of what has happened recently in that great bastion of human rights and democracy - the DPRK - or as is commonly referred to, North Korea.
That august country has seen fit to imprison an American tourist for over a month now.
Did I mention that this person deemed a criminal by the North Koreans is 85 years old?
His "crime" was that he fought on behalf of the United Nations ( cue my feelings about that body!) in the early 1950's in the so called police action to halt the illegal invasion of the South by the same North Koreans.
He has been shown on state media reading a prepared "apology" for his criminal acts.
And yes, I know life in America has a pot full of warts and bad things, but ya think that this kind of behavior would occur?
Don't think so.
Anyway... seems like things are heating up in the seas around China where that country and Japan are embroiled over claims as to the ownership of a couple of tiny uninhabited islands that just happen to be directly over some potentially vast reserves of natural resources. The Chinese have officially expanded their national airspace  claims over the islands and in response to this, American, South Korean and Japanese air forces have done overflights - just to remind the Chinese that just saying something is not the same as having actual ownership. One outcome may be actual joint ownership of the resources by both nations.
That being said, that might be too sensible a thing to expect isn't it?
In Canada this week we had, what could be called a story that is a bit of a head scratcher in my opinion. There is a national world class, respected police force called the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and as part of its reason for existence is the enforcement of laws of the land.
Sounds simple right?
Well....  here in Canada people can get medical permission to smoke "pot" after strict conditions are met ( sadly for some observers, not so apparently in America, especially California where merely having a sore wrist can qualify one apparently) without fear of arrest and prosecution. That being said, basic common sense would dictate that the consumption be done by the individual in a discrete manner both in location and away from areas where the fumes/smell/stink can affect those that do not want to inhale this products air borne byproducts. Similar to the reasons why smoking of tobacco has restrictions when done in public areas these days. But there seems to be a driving need for many of today's' folks that they demand special treatment for them so as to not bruise their delicate emotions. A member of the force decided to try and basically embarrass the force in front of conveniently assembled media carnivores by smoking a "joint" while in full ceremonial red serge uniform while demanding that exemptions be made for him because of a medical (PTSD) condition brought on by his employment. First off, this is not to dispute his condition, not one bit. However what is/was he thinking of by promoting the use of an illegal substance in the uniform of a police force?
It seems like once again, someone wants rules just for them - and too bad for everyone else in the process.
You think youth unemployment is tough in your area?
Try Italy where in the 15 - 24 age bracket, the rate is 42.1%.
Yes, 42.1%.
Unemployment has affected 3.2 million Italians this year as compared to 2.9 million a year ago.
 In a burst of joy the Spanish government has declared that the current recession is officially over as it has stats that record that the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) grew this past third quarter. What was not said was that the growth was a staggering  0.1% and the unemployment rate is at 25.98% and that means 5.9 million folks are looking for work.
Something like the old medical joke where the punch line is "the operation was a complete success but the patient died."
One weeps for those people.
The mayor of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mr. Macri, had grim news for his taxpayers this week. As a result of inflation running at 30% (his numbers as compared to the "official" government number of 10.4%) he will have to raise property taxes by a staggering 40%. Time seems to be running out on the hopes of keeping inflation and possible social unrest at bay. And that is a tragedy as that wonderful country has just recently crawled out of financial grief and after a short invigorating burst of prosperity faces a potentially grim future. And yet the government, just like in next door Venuezala keeps saying all is well and any problems come from "outsiders".
Tough to swallow.
Seems like the Ukraine has decided to sign an economic pact with Russia instead of the European union this week. It seems the turning point was the insistence of the EU that the government release from prison a former Prime Minister which was not negotiable with the Ukrainian government. I admit to not knowing whether the former politician is guilty or innocent but once again there is the sight of an economic deal being conditional of what could be called interference of an outside body into a sovereign country's legal system.
The more I learn about the world, the more I am perplexed by it.
This week America celebrated Thanksgiving and the strangest of cultural phenomenons called Black Friday. This is a day of sales nation wide that showcases deals on all kinds of merchandise not normally available during the rest of the year. People camp out overnight in front of stores. People storm entrances at store opening. People knock others down in the actual run through the shopping aisles. People even shoot each other for crying out loud. One sees news videos of people with actual blank looks in their eyes, honestly it is both scary and saddening.
Supposedly a great American tradition but honestly, the more I see of it, the more I am perplexed by it and what it says about the society that takes some sort of pride in it.
One of the strangest things about Thanksgiving in America is the yearly reports where people have "accidents" when they prepare their turkey meal. No, not in the traditional oven cooking method, but in the newfangled method of having a large drum full of cooking oil and deep frying the bird. Sadly many folks seems to think that you can drop the bird - frozen - into the hot oil and have no consequences. Right, so each year you have 4,300 fires, 27 million in damages and 15 deaths as a result.
Boggles the mind doesn't it?
Oh well....
 So on my Island this week folks have started to decorate their yards with Christmas (nope, never going to call it Holiday in submission to the Political Correct wimps) lights and figurines. Even thought this is now our second Christmas time here, it is not getting easier to see all this without snow and biting cold all around.

Actually, it is kind of nice!
take care out there,

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