Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday musings

In France a madman kills 2 soldiers and then 3 French Jews before being found and killed by security forces. The spin on this tragedy by 2 different faiths is sad. The people of Jewish faith see this as an attack on Jews in general and evidence of a rising tide of antisemitism in Europe and all the more reason for Jews in the world to move to Israel for self defence. On the Muslim side cries rise against fears of Islamphobia – and what the Hell is that about anyway? It seems that anyone who questions the results of fanatical Muslim faith based killers is somehow prejudiced against all Muslims?
That is an easy way to deflect hard questions. And this type of vapid defence is not the defence of only the Muslim faith. We see it trotted out by almost all religions nowadays.
The hope that religious fanaticism was on the decline in this so-called modern era is quickly becoming a vain one. The more “civilized” society becomes, the more inflexible towards the religious views of others that it, it becomes.
And yet all the religions base their foundations on respect for others. Whether by faith or by gender or by sexual orientation.
Maybe someone should hold the leaders responsible and deal out justice to them accordingly.
Dick Cheney, former vice president of the United States had a heart transplant this Saturday. Amazing even now, that a heart can be transplanted and the person can survive and live a number of productive years. Critics might decry this as a sample of rich people getting better treatment than the poor – but honestly, this has always been the case in history and always will. You can only hope that either by birth or hard work will you be one of the wealthy.
Here in Canada the NDP believe (as did the Marxists of Communist Russia) that it is better to drag all people down to the lowest common denominator so that there is no one group more favoured than an other. Of course history has shown that the party ignores these concepts when it comes to rewarding party faithful, and relatives! What is the incentive for people to work hard, save money and be fiscally prudent when they see others that have never worked a day in their lives collect monthly cash amounts, get subsidized health and housing benefits, indeed see a system that installs day cares in schools for teen age mothers and then also give them living/spending money with no obligation to pay this all back?
The same applies for retirement where a person works hard and puts fiscal plans in place for when they stop working and then see others who deliberately did not pay into public pension and supplemental pension plans – collect from them! Where the Hell is the fairness and justice in that? Indeed, you are penalized for planning for your retirement by having to pay income tax on your pension income!
And the federal politicians who for decades have created and expanded this unfair system do nothing, indeed they have their own self managed and non accountable gold plated pension to fall back on and the mundane shit like having to worry about inflation and medical costs will never have to disturb their leisure days in retirement!
And they wonder why the public loathes them?
There is only 1 taxpayer and I have to tell you that he is getting real tired of becoming an over used and shrinking resource.
In Quebec students are protesting plans to increase university tuition over 5 years to become the third lowest in Canada.
Spoiled brats.
Get in step with the rest of the working world. Give up your cell phones, get a summer job, take out loans as the rest of us did- then complain, but not until then!
I see Hugo Chavez flew back to Cuba Saturday for chemo treatment for his latest bout with cancer. Somehow I think that he does not have long to live. If this is the case, it will bear watching as to how events unfold in Venezuela as well as the reaction and policies of the United States towards it. There has been a love hate relationship between the two countries ever since Chavez came to power.
Indeed it seems that the political spirit of the States is becoming a little confused. The rise of the Tea Party and the influence of religion in a supposedly non religious style government in world policy is of concern. The Republican Party seems to have been hijacked by these people who espouse extreme values such as imposing chauvinistic morality on woman in terms of abortion and reproductive choice. It seems perfectly right to these people to pass a law denying access to birth control pills to women. In fact one of their arrogant mouth pieces, a Mr. Rush Limbaugh said if they were to get access then they should post videos of their sexual acts on the Internet. What a pathetic excuse for a thinking man – and I use both those words in despair in his case. Also they have passed in a number of states a law requiring a doctor to insert a ten inch ultra sound probe into a woman to force her to see the unborn before allowing her to get an abortion. Would these heroes react the same way if it was their bodies that were so subjected?
I doubt it.
Cowards all of them.
Speaking of changes, this week we decided that we are going to move from here in the middle of the Prairies out to the West Coast. A dream we have had for over 30+ years. Not an easy decision but one that had to be done. I mentioned last week that we had been to see an ill friend and that visit changed my outlook on a number of things. Perhaps the biggest was the realization that time no longer is my friend and that things put off for years are now at the stage where they either get done or be forgotten. I turn 60 this year and do not want to blink my eyes,find out that I am 70 and in poor health and unable to do things I once had wanted to. If this makes me selfish, then so be it. I owe it to myself and my long suffering partner to do this. I am eager to start this new phase in life and look forward to the challenges ahead.
So that is it for this week, wish I had more space for there were a number of other things I wanted to discuss but those will have to wait until next week.
Take care out there,


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday musings - a mini blog!

Well, this has been a wild three days. Friday we hit the road for an eight hour drive to Calgary. Then spent Saturday with an old pair of friends, and then this morning returned home.
The reason for such a short brutal trip?
He is not well, not well at all and it was time to see him again before things get worse. She has been a dear friend of my wife since childhood and he and I met in university many many years ago. My wife and I were in their wedding party and that is how we met and eventually ended up getting married as well.
We have few friends but the ones we do have we hold dear and value beyond measure. What is happening now hurts more than a few words can describe.
So all I will say is that I will need time to understand and process this weekend. But I do know that my awe of their courage and love for each other is great.
I do not know if I could deal with life the way they are.
I  do know that this has opened my mind to certain things in my own life and firmed up thoughts into decisions on matters that I will take. Not everyone will be happy with these decisions, but it is my life and that is the bottom line.
So, sadly, this is a short blog for this week. Next week I will return with a "normal" column and I look forward to "talking" with you again.
Take care out there,

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday musings

Another week, and more rivers of blood and death in Syria. The madness continues and the world stands idly by. What a tragedy and will the victims ever forgive us for ignoring them?
I doubt it, and we do not deserve such forgiveness for allowing this horror story to have happened.
Shame on the world.

I see where Greece has given a financial “haircut” to private investors to the tune of 70% loss on loans. I find it interesting that the loans from other governments were not touched in the same way. With such a precedent can countries like Spain, Portugal and Ireland be far behind in demanding the same concessions? The downward drag on global economies will happen starting this summer as money markets drawn down and the fragile global economic recovery will probably stall in its tracks.
In the midst of this, banks in North America continue to raise fees and post record profits.
I sometimes wonder if the economic protesters of last fall did have some justifiable complaints in the way today’s economic systems are structured.
Indeed, in the United States it seems that the Republican Party is determined to eliminate all tax responsibilities of the uber rich on the dubious claim that the wealthy re-invest in the economy thereby promoting employment for all. I know from experience that those with lots of money tend to keep it very close to themselves and rarely plow it back into the general economy. Indeed the only ones that seem to spend  all their money are the young athletes in professional sports with no money sense who splurge their sudden windfalls away to relatives, hanger ons and sometimes to various drugs and the like. These same athletes after leaving the sport that made them rich, leave broken in body and in poor financial situation and many end up on depending on others and public support programs.
I see where a video has been posted on YouTube in regards to a terrorist by the name of Kony of Uganda. He is head of the Lords Liberation Army which over the years has kidnapped thousands of children and turned them into child soldiers to kill and destroy through the countryside in an attempt to overthrow the government. The video has been posted to spur efforts to capture him. It is sad that this happens now rather than 10 years ago when the whole debacle started.
And in America, the seeming endless race to choose a Republican Party Presidential candidate continues. And all the candidates seem to actually hate each other and continue to promise whatever they think will get them nominated – no matter how right or wrong it is. Take for example the situation in Iran with economic sanctions slowly impoverishing the country into opening up their nuclear sites for inspection to verify that weapons are not there. Well, bombs away some of them say – to hell with the consequences. Any and everything to save Israel and the rest of the world from Iran. This approach is probably the best way to get the entire Arab world united into some form of retaliation against the West. Whether through military means or as simple as ending all oil exports, that could happen. But these dudes do not care. Anything to get rid of Obama and get themselves elected in his place. Well like in countless other elections, once you become the government, things are different and suddenly all the wonderful things you promised with gobs of money that supposedly is there waiting to be spent, well, this does not happen as usually the cupboard is bare and once you give a penny to one interest group, countless others line up at the self entitlement trough to demand their share.
Be careful what you wish for – you might get it!
Hey, did you know that it has been a year since the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan? Also the nuclear reactor meltdown there as well?
Check on the 'net to see the progress of the debris stream from there, it will surprise you. Also, have your views on nuclear power changed? I know that I am of a different mindset now. Before, I never gave it a thought as we do not have one in this province and the effects of a meltdown seemed so far away. But now, I do not know, it seems that safety measures have stood still in the '70's and safeguards are inadequate nowadays. Surely science and industry can and must do better if it is to survive as a power source.
Hugo Chavez of Venezuela had another surgery to remove a second cancerous growth, from the same region as an earlier one. Once again the surgery was done in Cuba – a testament to the skill of the doctors there. One must wonder at his long term outlook. And yet he has indicated, in a number of typically long winded speeches that seem common to South American politicians, that he intends to run in this years Presidential elections again. Sad news for extreme right wing American politicians!
Over in Russia, protests continue over the re-election of Mr. Putin as leader of the country. The next couple of years for that country will be interesting as he has stated that he wants to increase the military and political clout of Russia in the world to the level that it had in years past. I wonder who will pay for all that? It just might be a problem to achieve now that the people have higher expectations for their own standard of living and expect more from the government and seem less willing to follow blindly along party dictates.
Time will indeed tell.
So, International Woman’s Day was this week. I remember years ago when we were visiting Cuba, that we went on a tour of a cigar factory. There, row upon row of women were sitting at long tables hand rolling cigars for export and sale to other countries. In the middle of the tour a buzzer sounded and groups of men came in and handed out handfuls of roses to the male tourists to give to the ladies (and get kissed in return!) in appreciation of them. One brief ray of sunshine in what normally was a dull and dreary workday for these women.
That memory has never left me.
I hope that you took a moment to express your appreciation to your lady on that day – they deserve that and more.
It has been 2 weeks since we have returned from Buenos Aires, and this is the first time in a very long time where I am still having difficulty returning to the routine of life at home. There is a sense of restlessness that I have not had when done with other vacations. Not even the advent of snow melting days has eased this feeling. I should be looking forward to yard work, golfing and other spring and summer events.
Yet, I do not.
Time to change things?
So, Apple has unleashed the latest iPad version on the world. Better display,better battery life, more data consumption (hurrah shout the telco's!). And of course pre-orders are sold out and before it goes on sale there is a waiting list – again. Apple sure does have their consumers well trained don't they?
But then again, they have more money in the bank than the American government!
Well, that is it for this week. Next weeks column might be a little late in posting as we have to drive to Calgary on Friday to visit a old friend who is not that well, and...well enough said.
Take care out there,

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday musings

Well,after a month away, time to review what has changed in the world – better yet, what has stayed the same.
Russia has its election for President this week and all reports indicate that Mr. Putin will win on the first ballot. Indications are that the results will be 60% in his favour which is a big drop in approval from his heyday of years before. The report, supported by him, that he and Mr. Medvedev cooked up the scheme to have him become Prime Minister and then return to the presidency in order to skirt the election laws have outraged many of the people. Mr. Putin will face a middle class that has grown as a result of measures that he introduced years ago to bolster the economy (as well as supported by the sums from oil exports) who due to the new affluence, will not hesitate to criticize policies that affect them. In years before people would accept whatever happened – I think these days are over.
In an interview with foreign media, Mr. Putin seemed to soften his hard line of support for President Assad of Syria and apparently indicated that changes to that regime should happen much sooner than later.
Over in the United States there has been a number of interesting stories this week. One is the continuing Republican nomination primary contest and how the many televised debates seem to be causing the positive perception of the party to diminish in the voters eyes. More and more reports indicate that after each debate, approval for the President increases to the detriment of the Republicans.
There is a conservative Republican announcer named Rush Limbaugh who has a radio broadcast from which he issues all sorts of opinions on any and every matter on the political front. This week the Republicans in the government tried to have a bill passed to allow employers to refuse to pay for birth controls pills for employees in the health plans on religious grounds. (Here in Canada, that is not included in almost every plan unless negotiated in by a union agreement) The Republicans had held a men only meeting to discuss this (I guess women were not qualified to sit on the panel – after all, they are just women and it seems in the eyes of many regressive Republicans, that disqualifies them) and a woman presenter passed on her views to the panel on the need for the pills while she attended a religious university. Well......this so called “intelligent” man, Limbaugh, called her a slut and if she and women wanted paid birth control pills – then to repay the employer and mankind in general, they should film their sexual encounters and post said encounters on the Internet!
What an ass!
Of course he apparently, according to reports, has no problem accepting paid for Viagra pills.
Reminds me of the sanctimonious Newt Gingrich who used his bully pulpit to condemn President Clinton over his conduct with Monica Lewinsky – at the same time he was cheating on his wife of the time!
Meanwhile the States are being ravaged by late winter tornadoes with death and destruction spread over a wide area. Your heart goes out to the victims as they appear on TV, shattered and bewildered by what has happened to them in a blink of an eye.
Once again, no offers of help from the international community – the same community that demands, not asks for aid when any disaster hits their backyard.
In Syria the battle in the city of Homs grows uglier every day with reports of over 100 people a day dying as a result of shelling and fire from government forces.
And the world stands by.
Would this be allowed if there was vast quantities of oil there?
Just saying.
Meanwhile the leader of Israel was in Canada (on his way to the USA) to drum up support for a probable strike on Iran in order to destroy its infant nuclear arms program. Surprisingly Mr. Harper did not as he usually does, jump up and blindly agree with whatever the Israeli leader said. Instead he urged caution and economic sanctions instead. Hard to believe as Mr. Harper has drastically changed the historical Canadian position on Israel and Palestine from support of both states to one of support for only Israel and condemnation of any Arab state or opinion.
I see where the sister ship of the ill fated Costa Concordia suffered engine failure and had to be towed over three days to the nearest port in the Seychelles. Forgive me for not being too terribly sympathetic for the passengers who complained that they went through Hell on those three days. No toilets, no air conditioning, no ice cubes for their drinks. Well,you know what? They all had enough food to eat, had beds, either in their rooms or on deck and there was plenty of fluids around. Tell the people of Homs or the survivors of the tornadoes in the States about the struggles of these people will you? How dare they complain so bitterly? Life sure as Hell can be a lot worse. Ask the dead from the Costa Concordia will you?
OK, so the Oscars have come and gone for another year. Am I the only person to notice how horribly skinny the arms of Angelina Jolie were when she flashed her leg onstage?
This is a role model?
So Iceland wants to adopt the Canadian dollar. Works for me. It should not impact on the Canadian economy. Just as long as they do not want to join Canada. Nothing against them but if a country wants to join Canada, I would prefer one from where the climate is warm in the winter. That way we could vacation there using our money and keeping the money in the Canadian system.
In Canada there is a growing storyline about phoney election direction call made in the last federal election. It seems that over 31,000 people were given directions to go to the wrong polling station by unknown parties. All opposition parties are blaming the ruling Conservative party, who, predictably deny the charges. It will be interesting to see how much traction this story will have.
Spring is less than three weeks away and even though we missed a month of it, will be welcome when it arrives. It cannot come soon enough. Already my house and yard list grows day by day. In fact if it continues at the present rate, it may force me to hire an assistant to do all the items my better half has added to it!
Anyway, that is it for this week,
take care out there,