Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sunday musings-well, actually late Sat. but Sunday will be busy!

Well the game is afoot with Jack Layton and the socialist NDP here in Canada in regards to the Canadian federation and Quebec's role in it. As I had mentioned before, a lot of  his party representatives in that province have soft independence leanings. He was forced to confirm his party's position that in the case of an independence vote that a vote of 50% plus 1 vote would be enough to allow Quebec to leave the country of Canada. Then on Friday he has started to back pedal and say that a strong Canada includes a separate, distinct province of Quebec. He also has stated support for legislation that would require the language of business in Quebec to be French and placing English in limbo. Meanwhile in the rest of Canada (ROC) bilingualism is mandatory in the Federal government offices but not in Quebec or if so, the person requesting English service is disrespected to say the least. The fallacy of the 50% plus1 is instantly apparent when one considers that in Canada getting a voter turnout of 63% is good. So what about the rights and votes of the remaining 37%? That is a question that I think is up to the Supreme Court to resolve and the sooner the better.
Have you heard of the Huffington Post blog site? If not it is a blog that has a decidedly right wing slant to it in the United States. They have opened up a Canadian version of the Post which has mainly the same features as the parent but also includes a number of articles from Canadians and news stories from Canada. After all these years of left wing Canadian Broadcasting Corporation ( funded by the way with taxpayer money) opinions it is refreshing to get a different perspective and one that is one that I tend to agree with most of the time.
There is a new book out that tells the story of how the Vatican and the Red Cross helped many Nazis flee Europe after the Second World War to avoid prosecution and probably death by the Soviets. My question is why is this such a newsworthy item now? It was a well documented fact that this occurred and that the American OSS helped bring in rocket scientists from Germany to kick start their own program. The OSS and their successor CIA helped former Nazis with new identities in Germany and the East Bloc in order to start their spying on the Russians after the War. Not everyone was convinced that the Russians were truly "good" guys and were to be trusted. I would think that if and when the classified documents on that era are made public, they will make fascinating reading and make many back room people appear to be geniuses.
The arrest of Ratko Mladic in Europe signals the possible start of the end of the war crimes trials with one of the 2 most sought after now behind bars. It was of interest to see and hear opinions from people on the street and the majority seemed to favour him and in some cases regard him as a hero. Quite the opposite of what other reports first suggested over the years. In fact during the years when I have talked to people that lived and participated in the Second World War, some had feelings about Hitler that echoed those mentioned earlier.
Is there a lesson in this for us?
I think that first off, one should not read too much in what those people expressed. It may be that time has modified memories of what actually occurred and the bad memories have dimmed more than the good. And to be sure there would have been good memories in those days, because a bad leader (dictator) would not survive very long if certain classes were not afforded priviledges not allowed before.
 Hybrid cars - what do you think of them?
With the price of petrol climbing all the time, many people are looking at getting one of these in order to save money. Well, I hate to burst a bubble or two on this but I think I should talk about the following. Studies have shown that with the premium you pay for the privilege of owning one, you would need 8 years of ownership and driving to start saving money. Secondly no one ever talks about the cost of replacement batteries and the impact on the environment of the old ones if they cannot be 100% recycled. I think a better idea for control of the price of petrol is to eliminate speculators from the market as they control 70% of the market without actually handling,storing or producing a barrel. It is about time that something was done about these people and their impact and the world economy.
Well how is your garden doing?
Ours is coming along quite well and there is greenery all around, even if I have daily fights with birds to keep them from having snacks from all the tender shoots. I must admit that at this stage they all resemble weeds so it is a good thing my wife points out the ones that are keepers and the ones that are not.
So on that cheery note, have a great day and take care out there,

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday musings

Sorry for being late today.
I was expecting to be one of the lucky few to enjoy the Rapture before the end of the world.
There is a sect in the United States that believed that yesterday was the beginning of the end of the world according to the Bible. These same people made the same claim a few years ago with the same results - or lack of. It seems that their reading of the signs was a tad off. But not to fear, send them some more of your hard earned money and sure as heck they probably will come out with another prediction. What about the people that believed this nonsense and sold all their assets - who is going to help them out?
Another week has come and gone and some things are still the same.
The horror story in Japan has slipped from the front pages but the radiation is still there.
Name your hot spot in the Middle East - Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Tunisia, the struggles continue.
It seems that in the United States there is a law that requires Congress to approve military actions after 60 days and that deadline is now upon them for Libya.
Will the President go ahead ignoring the law or will he submit to the rule of the law?
I read an article in a newspaper that said that when a Congressman was asked about a falsehood he had said in Congress, one of his spin people said that the comment was meant to be a untruth - this is Congress?
I mean, is it now OK to lie as long as someone later says it was not meant to be true?
So the head of the IMF has been arrested in New York on accusations of rape.
In Europe the reaction in France is a Gallic shrug of the shoulders and outrage over pictures of the arrested person - because they are an affront to his dignity?
Perhaps the media in North America has gone too far at times in stories like this but the difference in attitudes between this and their European cousins is immense.
Boys will be boys?
What a load of manure.
Do you think that the rush to make a Saint of the last Pope is a bit hasty?
The criteria for miracles is sure a lot less harder than it used to be. After all, he just did his job didn't he?
Did you ever ever notice that no Pope has come from Africa or Asia ?
Just a good old white European man.
Ever check out the demographics of Catholics and where they live?
On the sunny side,  the garden is now up. Amazing how little seeds that have sat in a package for a couple of years can be planted, watered and then sprout in a week. The only down side of this is that all produce ripens at the same time and you either can, pickle or eat the lot in a week.
But it sure tastes good though.
Do you have an e-reader?
Hottest thing since sliced bread according to all the techno folks. Yes I have one and do enjoy it. However what does stick in my craw is the constant babble of the techies on how books are so passe and doomed. just like CD's (don't get me going on that!).
Well that might be true in their little part of the universe but I hate to break bad news to them but there are loads of people that do not and never will own an e reader. There are loads of people that also like bound books for the pleasure of the reading experience. I know that on a cold winter day nothing is better than a cozy fire, hot drink and a book to read and probably fall asleep with in the afernoon sunbeams.
This reminds of the old saying that if you tell something often enough, no matter how true, false or outrageous it is, eventually it will be accepted as the truth.
Here in Canada it is a vacation weekend with the day of holiday being named after Queen Victoria. Even the Separatists in Quebec take the day off - interesting eh?
One of the wonders of the Internet is how you can connect to people and places so far away. As I do this blog I am listening to a radio station live from my favorite place on Earth - Maui. If there was one place that I would wish to live in, that is it. But being a prairie boy, the closest I get is the odd vacation to the enchanted Isle.
However, summer here is equal to the Isle except the ocean is quite far away. Nothing is more breathtaking than a golden prairie sunset or the absolute quite of a northern fishing camp looking at the Northern Lights.
So on this note, I wish you well,
take care out there,

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday musings

Today is going to be a hodge podge or thoughts and ramblings.
A full week has come and gone in Canada and life as we know it has not come to an end with a majority Conservative Government. All the self centered eastern media pundits who cannot conceal their affection for the Liberal party are slowly accepting this fact.
One person who still lives in a sort of dreamworld is the Leader of the Opposition NDP who seems to believe he has the mandate to rule and what laws and direction the government should follow is his to decide.
Time to wake up and smell the roses Jack - you have less ability to influence this government that you did when it was a minority government - they just do not need your support and there is nothing you can do that will change this fact.
So get over it will you Jack!
If you follow hockey (as there are few outside Canada and a number of American cities) then you are starting to see the end of the season nearing. The playoffs are in the semi final stages and that will result in 2 teams competing for the Stanley Cup trophy.
A season that seems to start in August will end near the end of May or early June - finally.
Both Canada and the United States are nearing the horrific end of a majour snow filled winter with flooding in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec in Canada and all along the Missouri river system. The costs for recovery will be huge and spread throughout the insurance system so that even those not affected by these events will end up paying through higher premiums for their insurance.
It is interesting to see that start of the American Presidential campaign now. Even though the election is over a year away, all the groundwork is being set into motion now.
It is hard to imagine that the Americans would consider electing a Donald Trump or Sarah Palin as President.
Speaking of titles, why are all former US Presidents still called Mr. President but the title of Prime Minister ends when the person leaves office in Canada?
It is of interest to see the thickening of borders in Europe as a result of mass refugee flooding in countries. You see the Italians giving temporary visas to Tunisians in order to get them to go to France and other countries. The Roma, which seemed to have been persecuted for centuries (most recently by the Nazis and the Russians under Stalin ) are also having trouble traveling between countries. Why is it that when certain troubles occur that the first response of governments is to tighten border access?
This also happened in the case of 9/11 when the Americans effectively closed  the border to Canada on the basis of false rumors that the terrorists came from Canada and not as in reality they came from within and were trained in flight protocols in America.
On to another tack, we planted our garden today!
It is funny in a kind of reflective way that the planting that would take an hour or so 20 years ago now takes at least 2 hours to do.
Is it my imagination or are the seeds themselves getting smaller every year?
We have raised garden beds (this makes it easier on the back for planting and weeding and the like) and every year have to smile when we uncover the small stashes of peanuts that squirrels so carefully plant to overwinter themselves - damn squirrels!
The higher price of gasoline is impacting everyone these days. From produce to clothes to books (for those that still read on paper that is) to nuts and bolts, all are priced higher to reflect the higher transportation costs to the supplier. Of course the end result is that the consumer pays.
I read a blog this week where some academic on the west coast (probably has tenure and drives a bike to school) says that high fuel costs benefit the wealthy and does not impact the poor- huh?
Try telling that to the people that have to budget every penny for food, housing, clothing and transportation. They cannot take these hits, not by any stretch of the imagination.
On a personal note - but then again this blog is of a personal note - I am pleased to see that among my readers is one from the Philippines - Thank you to one and all, seeing the readership slowly increase in baby steps keeps me encouraged to do more and better.
So this afternoon we will take our bikes out from the shed, dust them off, pump up the tire and ride around the 'hood - I can hear my screaming butt already!
So have a super day and take care out there,

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sunday musings

Well the Federal election has come and gone this week.
And what an election it was. The Conservatives were returned with a majority in Parliament and the Offical Opposition Liberal party was reduced to rump status while the socialist NDP replaced the Bloc in Quebec as well as becoming the Official Opposition. Oh yes, the Greens also elected their leader to a seat for the first time in political history - more on that later.
So what happens now?
First the Conservatives with a majority can now pass laws that reflect their aspirations and not have to compromise with other parties as in past when they were a minority government. I think you will see legislation removing the registry for long guns (rifles and the like) which has annoyed voters in rural parts of Canada.
There will be a move to restrict or eliminate the single order desk monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board. Many farmers have chafed at the Board over the years and say they can get better pricing on the world maeket for their product than the Board could. Ironically there is no similar move to do the same with the Cheese and Milk Boards in Quebec - another example of bowing to political threats from that Province in terms of leaving the Confederation.
There might also be legislation to remove public funding of political parties. This would force parties to rely on fundraising and donors rather than the public purse. With the Conservatives being very good at fundraising, this will benefit their party to the detriment of the others.
Increased funding and capital equipment purchases for the military will occur much to the dismay of the socialist Opposition.
Commitments militarily internationally will be maintained.
The new Official Opposition will have a steep learning curve to go through in a very short time. A large number of their members are first timers and will have to adapt quickly to the games in Ottawa. already one senior member has been quoted as saying that he did not believe that Osama Bin Ladin was killed and that no photographs exist of this. Another does not even live in her riding. Another was a former Separatist - is there such a thing as a former Separatist anyway?
If you had watched the post election speech of the leader of the NDP, you might have been forgiven if you has thought that that party had won the election. A lot of talk of what they are going to do and what changes they are going to achieve.
I think that they should have realized that even though they have risen greatly in seats elected, their ability to influence government policy has diminished greatly. When there was a minority government in power, the NDP were vital to its survival, so all legislation basically had to meet with their approval or the government would face defeat. Well with there now being a majority in power, that approval is no longer required.
Also now the NDP has to present rational, plausible and intelligent platforms and ideas to the Canadian public to press their case to become the Government.
Lost in the glow in the NDP headquarters is the fact that many Quebecois have switched from the separatist Bloc to their party but still have the same political goals. That is that this may be the last chance for this country to achieve some type of accord with Quebec and finally assure their place in Canada or if this fails, will drive them completely into the Separatist camp once and for all with the possible removal of Quebec from Canada. An irony of this is that with the defeat of the Bloc leader in this election, he will be getting a obscene pension plan from the country he wants to leave in value that the ordinary person can only dream of.
You ever notice that the spending and pensions of politicians are never voted on by their employer - the public?
The Liberals (and their Leader who also lost his seat) are now in a rebuild mode that may take a decade or more before they can return as the natural governing party of the country. Indeed many observers believe that the merger of the Liberals and the NDP is not too far off and the result will leave Canada like the United States with a 2 party system of right wing and left wing philosophies.
And we come to the single seat Green Party, with the case of the NDP, if you had listened to them election night you would have thought they were elected with a majority.
Oh yes, the next 4 years will be very interesting indeed.
Was it just me or did everyone find it a little weird that following the announcement from President Obama that special forces had killed Osama Bin Ladin that there was a chorus of voices raised asking it is legal? Even in the United States?
Are they kidding us?
Here was a man who admitted and bragged about masterminding the attacks on the twin towers, Pentagon, botched attempt on the White House, the USS Cole, 2 embassy attacks and people ask if this was legal?
What are those people thinking of anyway?
The next time an IED explodes and kill forces in Irag or Afghanistan, will the same chorus emerge?
I doubt it.
It is waaaaaaay too easy to sit in your easy chair munching on snacks, watching a huge plasma TV to be critical of those defending freedoms and your basic rights than to participate in any way at all in the basic rights of freedom and democracy. Let someone else do the dirty work but stand by to criticize if you feel slightly uneasy about the process. Freedoms and rights once lost are very hard if not impossible to regain.
One only has to look at recent history in Germany in the '30s where a nation stood by passively while an insane man and his minions lead the globe to another world war.
On another front, finally planting our garden starting today. What a wonderful way to spend an incredible amount of time and effort to produce food that ripens all at the same time and has to be eaten withing a week or so. Dusting, weeding, watering, fretting - how wonderful is that ?
Going to get the old bike out of hiding this week and give it a whirl.
It will probably be quite the sight to see this old fart wheezing and puffing like crazy - as he struggles with all his might to get his arse on the seat! Who knows what the actual driving will look like!
Oh well, beats the heck out of power walking at the mall with the seniors club!
In that vein, take care out there,

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday musings

I know this is not the 5th of the month but I would like to wish everyone a happy Cinco de Mayo day!
I think that every month should have a minimum of 2 holidays in it just to relieve the stress and tedium of the workweek.
Now on to business.
Only 1 day left until the Federal Election this Monday. All the socalled experts and pundits are in a lather over the so called Orange wave that they insist is sweeping the country.
Will we  - gasp - have a socialist NDP Government on Ottawa?
Will the Liberals disappear off the map?
Will the separatist Bloc be muzzled in Quebec?
Will the Conservatives be humiliated nationally?
All the polls say so. However, maybe someone should take a deep breath and look at things calmly.
Let us talk about these precious polls - does anyone think that they are really that accurate anymore?
Look at how they are conducted in the first place. Nearly all are done over landlines - the traditional way, you know, the saying, if it was good enough for my granddad, it is good enough for me. Did anyone take into account how many young voters no longer have landlines but use cell phones? I bet you no one did.
Does anyone think that maybe a lot of people say one thing in a poll yet revert to traditional patterns in the voting booth? How many polls are done that hit a certain group with a vested interest - say seniors who say that if the NDP will raise pensions, they will vote for them.
Policies - the NDP were given a free ride on this since no one thought they would become the governing party. They have promised to introduce  what is called a cap and trade system for energy producing provinces that is merely a wealth transfer tax from the West to the East - where the votes are.This is the National Energy Program created by the late Pierre Trudeau that did the same and brought the West to the brink of economic disaster. Western Premiers have vowed to never again let this happen without consequences to the rest of the country. This could be the start of a long and bitter struggle that could potentially split the country apart - that is how serious it is.
Leadership - the NDP leader has been in a bubble of his  own who no hard questions asked about how he can do things like spending $2,000 a week to travel 300 km and back to Toronto from Ottawa.
How do I see the election results?
Sadly the way the constitution is set up, the majority of seats in the House of Commons are in the East (that is from Ontario east) and generally all are decided before the results from the West are even stated to be counted. In effect it makes the Western vote useless as far as decision making. I think we will see a parliament that closely resembles the previous one with probably a minority Conservative Party at the head. That means in another 6 - 12 months we will endure yet again another election.
All one can do is vote  - and this is a rare privilege to have in the world today and see what occurs.
So the wrath of nature has descended on the United States yet once again, do you notice that once again the European community has been silent on even offering aid to the Americans? Not that they would take it in all likelihood, but you know, would it kill Europe to look past its nose sometimes?
People complain about the price of gas these days, yet you notice governments do nothing about it? They all say that this is the free market at work. Well that is a poor excuse this time as OPEC itself says that there is plenty of crude around. Big oil can buy anybody they want here in North America. In the States they have an enormous lobby that makes sure they pay no taxes and instead get incentives! Here in Canada the governments stay quiet as the higher the price of gas, the higher the amount of money they get from gas taxes.
France and Italy seem boxed in by refugees these days - especially those from Tunisia. It is ironic that the concept of open borders and immigration vanishes when it becomes NIMBY (not in my back yard) in regards to a mass influx of people. All of Europe seems to be saying that this is not their problem and maybe the people should be loaded onto boats and sent back to the country of origin. I think this may be a result of decades long use of guest workers in those countries doing work no one else would do and now the people of the countries realize that the guest workers and their families are here to stay and that they are not adopting the culture and customs of the countries but insisting on maintaining those of their mother countries. A new form of ghetto may be emerging.
Anyway, all the snow is finally gone here and slowly the flood waters on the river and lake systems are beginning to recede and ones thoughts turn to the yard and the nice warm days of summer. Those cannot come soon enough, that is for sure!
So take care out there,