Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday musings

Strange week across the world with many incidents that may foreshadow bigger after effects to follow. First you have the “accidental” shooting down of a Turkish jet by the Syrian military. At this time the Turkish response is muted but there are promises of an appropriate reaction to follow after it is determined as to what had actually happened in the whole affair. There are a whole series of dominoes that can topple if these 2 countries start action against each other. Iran is eager to assert what it feels is its role in the region as a major player. Israel will not stand by and Russia for sure will support Syria no matter how right or wrong it is, just look at the way it tried to ship embargoed weapons to Syria this week and then blandly issued a statement saying that these weapons were solely intended to repel foreign invaders – hogwash.
Then Hosni Mubarak of Egypt died, then did not die, then was on life support and dying and now is recovering from a fall in bathroom! Do you think the truth is not being shown and the military is desperately trying to buy time to defuse tension in the country from the recent presidential elections where as of Saturday night no winner has been declared?
Paraguay has punted its President from office and installed a new one through what some call a biased judicial format caused by some riots in the rural sector of the country that resulted in many deaths caused by the authorities. Democracy in this country has a fragile history and is mainly run by the military over the years so the next months will be crucial to the country.
On the environmental front the Rio+20 ended with a whimper and no agreements except to agree to meet again. Once again media hacks were running off at the keyboard as how regulations were going to be passed that would transfer enormous sums of money from polluting countries – conveniently mainly the West, not India or China for example (2 of the worst) to poor developing ones. This would basically create a socialist version of the world where all poor are equal in their suffering – except for the leaders and their families of course. This did not happen so we can expect Greenies to wail and gnash their teeth at this betrayal.
Speaking of that corrupt organization, the United Nations, a drone, oops, bureaucrat visited North Korea and came away dazzled by a health care system that should be a model for the world. Come on, what was this person smoking? A country with a gulag so horrible that thousands and thousand have entered never to return? A country that teaches how to hate America as a course in its schools? A country that shoots the entire family of real and would be defectors? A country that is starving its people to a slow painful death while making sure the military and leaders are well fed?
The UN is a joke.
Toothless, hijacked by tin pot dictator run countries with an equal vote to powers like Russia, Germany,United States and the Maldives (OK, the Maldives was a joke!) we should take the UN seriously?
I see where Julien Assange has take refuge in the embassy of Ecuador and is seeking political asylum because he believes that if he goes to Sweden to face charges of rape, that the Americans will spirit him away to their land in the dark of night to be murdered or something like that. This is turning into a sad story of a failed man who did something incredible with the formation of the Wikileaks site. Government deserve to have their dark evil secrets exposed in order to keep them doing what they are supposed to do and that is to govern legally and with honour, not by subversion and destruction of individuals and the suppression of people's rights in the process.
I was going to talk a little about the financial crisis in Europe and Canada's role or lack of in it but I have to admit that this afternoon I read a blog by Conrad Black (look up his story-fascinating reading to say the least) and he says it as well or better than I can - and as such here is the link to it ( it is in the Canadian National Post ) 

Here in Canada I have mentioned the student strike in Quebec against very minor increases in tuition costs passed by the lawfully elected provincial government a number of times. It seems that now with summer upon us, the students are leaving the strike marches to enjoy a “well deserved” summer vacation. Heaven forbid that principals would interfere with leisure time for these spoiled brats. Indeed a sympathy strike was called for in Toronto and a grand total of 7 (excluding about 50 media) showed up!
Easier to sip a latte than walk in the hot sun.
And yes, whatever happened to the 1% protesters anyway?
A man in China died this week after watching the Euro Cup (soccer championship) for 11 straights days without sleep. Cannot understand this level of sports intensity, because, it is just a game. Sadly too many people believe that sports is more than what it is and you see so many overpaid undereducated “athletes” literally destroy their bodies for obscene amounts of money that are drained from them as soon as they get it by parasitic hanger ons. And the result of all this punishment? Crippled, mentally damaged individuals living usually on the fringe of society in poverty, forgotten by all those that cheered them on in their youth.
So, the price of oil is around $80 a barrel and yet here in Regina, not a drop in the price at the pump. We are paying the same per litre as when oil was $125 a barrel. Of course the cowardly politicians are mute on this topic – they know who greases their way in life and after retirement.
Media scribes are drooling over poll reports indicating that the socialist New Democratic Party in Canada is more popular than the ruling Conservative Party federally. They are cheering a new government coming any day now – kind of funny as to how they ignore the fact that the next election is in 2015! Many things and opinions can change between now and then, indeed they can change in a fortnight. All for the desperate need for a catchy headline – perhaps for a bonus for the writer? The truth is the first casualty when reporters solemnly say they are telling the REAL truth.
It is kind of sad to see the overwhelming American media 24-7 coverage of the Sandusky child molestation trial. No question what was done was horribly wrong and evil, but there are more pressing stories from around the world to be told that America needs to know about. Perspective needs to be addressed but sadly, gruesome stories sell well.
Summer is officially here know and the weather has gone from dismal and wet to sunny and hot- yay! I finally got my first game of golf in this week and admit that I did fairly well. Surprised me and my golf buddy and it was fun. Also it is tinged with a bit of sadness as I suspect that I will only get in another 5 or 6 games before we move and never again will I golf the courses in this part of the world. I enjoyed every moment walking the course and savouring the view, the air and the game itself.
We went to a local vegan and gluten free cafe called the Green Spot run by 2 of our friends, actually they are more like a younger brother and sister to us on Saturday and spent some time with them. Their 2 little girls came running up to us to give big hugs all around, sure will miss them when we leave.
They are so funny and they call my better half Auntie and somehow I am Grandpa!
Little whippersnappers!
Oh well, it is always fun to be around the girls and they bring a ready smile to my face whenever I see them.
The 22nd of June marked the 4 month anniversary of the Once train crash in Buenos Aires. We were there when it happened and I still remember the screaming sirens as dozens of ambulances raced through the city streets from the site to nearby hospitals. The final report on the causes and who or what was responsible still is not done yet but hopefully this will happen soon. The dead deserve as much.
Argentina is such a wonderful land and the people are treasures.
Well, another week has flown by and so has this column. So have yourself a fun week and see you next Sunday!
Take care out there,

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday musings

Three elections happening across the world and the results will reverberate through the world.
Greece with one party vowing to default on the Euro and the government loans versus the other party that now says it still will stay with the Euro and loans but will renegotiate the terms.
And still the European Union does nothing. Typical indecision and wanting to have everything for nothing mindset of the European community.
In France, parliament elections will see if the new President, Hollande, will have enough new support to push through his policies of more taxes on the rich, more subsidies and more time off for the “average” worker.
In Egypt there is an election for President between an Islamic candidate and one with ties to the former regime of Mubarak.
Not too sure if this means anything as of now as the Supreme Court basically dissolved the Parliament this week and the military effectively took “official” control of the country – just as they have been doing all along anyway. This seems more a means of keeping the Islamic fundamentalists out of power and doing things like treating women like cattle and other such abuses based on incorrect interpretations of the Koran.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Nayef, a hawkish interior minister who crushed al Qaeda in the world’s top oil exporting nation, died on Saturday eight months after becoming heir to the throne, paving the way for a more reform-minded successor. One thing about the Saudi royal family, there seems to be no shortage of family available to fill this position.
Here in Canada a funny item crossed the news wires this week. One report said that there is a slump in the price of housing across the nation and there is a housing bubble bursting and the sky is falling!!! On the same page there was a report from Regina, Sask. that indicated (from actual sales) sales were up year to date from the previous year and prices had increased 7.4% as well. In addition Regina has an apartment rental of under 1%! Too many times lately it seems that the media decides on their own what a news story should be and they issue reportage that “proves” what they think is reality.
Too bad these so called people of integrity are not held accountable for their reporting. Instead they wave slogans like “freedom of the press” in your face and they have no problem in distorting reality. In fact have you sometimes seen video where they actually seem to be provoking authority in situations of confrontation or rioting? Also have you seen the odd clip where they drone on about “earth shaking”demonstration or the like in front of a massive crowd and then the camera accidentally pans back and there are maybe 20 – 30 people in all?
All in the pursuit of ratings and the demands of the 24/7 news cycle.
Getting just a little, heck, getting a lot tired of this nonsense.
More car bombs both in Pakistan and Iraq.
Maybe the view some people have of saying enough already, leave them to their own devices is correct. I do not know. It seems like a bottomless pit of dead soldiers and civilians, massive expenditures on the military and its chosen few suppliers and for what?
Some pundits say this is the start of another religious war driven by Islamic radicals determined to destroy Western civilization and replace it one based on their own “set of values”.
It certainly seems that there is more tolerance of the Muslim values in the West as compared to the denial of western values and customs in Muslim, countries. How many times have you seen female western video reporters wearing head scarves when reporting from those countries and how many times have you seen any female bare headed reporters in Muslim countries- period?
Food for thought.
China has launched their first female astronaut into space this week.
Nice to see Ms. Palin butting her way into the American Presidential election. In an address to an association of conservative bloggers she showed that she believed the last election was twisted against her by what she calls the lame stream media who focused on her wardrobe instead of the failings of then candidate Obama. This from someone that said she could see Russia from her home in Alaska and had virtually no grasp of world issues or where certain countries were on the map of the world? Sadly she single handedly set back equality of women even more than dinosaurs like Rush Limaugh in that election. And she continues to do so to this day unfortunately.
And in the meantime all business of the government has ground to a halt. It seems that there no longer is a desire to actually govern responsibly by the American politicians but rather they seem to e in an endless re-election mode and desperately desire not to offend anyone or more accurately any special interest group. The taxpaying American is largely ignored these days.
Any politicians wonder why the Tea Party has struck such a chord in the average citizens who feels impotent and ignored by Washington?
OK, enough of the outside world, time for my little corner of Paradise.
As some of you may know, I have the great honour of giving some assistance to an author in the production of her books in minor technical way. This past week I have finished my efforts on her latest work. Her name is Deb Dalton and the latest book will soon be available for purchase. It is titled Stone & Bone and is another volume in the sage of a heroine by the name of Derora Saxen. The entire series is a darn good read and I really recommend looking into it. You will not be disappointed. I am attaching a link to her web site and as you know, this is something that I never do normally but feel in this case is really worthwhile doing.
I always wanted to be a writer, only a complete lack of talent ever held me back but I never have lost my love for the well crafted written (typed?) word and admiration for those that have this gift. Without writers our world would be a grey and desolate place indeed.
Summer is in fine form here and with our move out to the west coast looming, I have taken the time to appreciate the yard and garden that we will be leaving behind. The onerous effort to maintain and enhance them is less tiring now as I know that the new place does not require hardly any of the same effort and yet, as I take pictures and video memories, I realize that I shall miss them. And this is part of the price of leaving I realize and must accept.
Our rose bushes are just starting to show the promise of an abundance of blooms and the northern ferns (which many so called “experts” said would never survive in Regina) are a veritable forest in the southwest corner of the backyard. I attaching a short clip to show you.
You may wonder why we have planted our garden boxes this year knowing that we would be moving. A good question and the answer is a simple one. We have always enjoyed our little "farm" and while we will be leaving it for others to enjoy, we will have some time to enjoy some of the produce it will provide. Already we have had rhubarb, chives and within a few short weeks will have lettuce and radishes and possibly some others as well. If not, then the new owners will have something to look forward to and enjoy from us as a welcome to your "new" home gift.
One thing I will not miss however is the ever constant wind that is a feature of living on the Canadian Plains. You can count on one hand the days in a year where the wind is less than 20KPH. In fact I say that the stiff breeze here is a natural insect repellant by blowing the little pests off of you!
Anyway, that is it for another week, thanks again for dropping in!
Take care out there,

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday musings

It seems that the so called “other shoe dropping” effect is starting in Europe.
Spain has asked for an immediate “loan” (as if it will ever be paid back!) of over 100 billion dollars to prop up its banking system. The good news is that there will be no extreme austerity measures required to do so as they have been in place for a while already.
If that is true, then where will savings be found to pay off the loan and rebuild the economy?
The average honest taxpayer is pretty well taxed to the maximum and barely able to afford to live as it is right now. So.... social programs appear to be the only option apparently. And that will truly be a thorny problem to implement.
I read an article about a young professional in Greece who decided that she was going to move from Athens back to the small town she grew up in. She decided that she was going to grow produce to sell on the market place and then refurbish a small restaurant and offer a more extensive menu for the clients. So the first thing she asked about was how to obtain state subsidies for the growing of the produce. Then she quickly discovered the real resistance of the locals to the “fancy city style” changes to the food fare in the restaurant much to her dismay. While on one hand I applaud her attempt to do this. The whole methodology is horrible.
State subsidies? Symptomatic of a generation trained to believe “entitlements” are a birth right (hello you striking students in Quebec!) . This also shows how the concept of free enterprise and its accompanying spirit of innovation and risk taken has been destroyed by the socialist nanny state governments that flourished in Europe after the second world war until now. Indeed this can also be seen in no small degree in the impact in Saskatchewan from the decades of state knows best and business is evil dogma of the once ruling New Democratic Party.
I think that this in no small part is partly responsible for the incredibly wrong pay packages for leaders of large corporations nowadays. Instead of people saying no to these people and having the courage to replace these people with someone else, they have been so dumbed down that they no longer can imagine that alternatives exist. The free enterprise spirit has been beaten down in us and we are held hostage to the few, admittedly, that know how to manage and manipulate the so called system.
I see where Germany is floating the idea that countries in the European Union place their gold reserves as collateral for any debt relieve loans. This is aimed mainly at Italy that may be the next on the list of countries needing a bailout. The thinking is that the Italians love their gold and have enormous amounts of it in the personal possession and in their federal bank vaults. So if they have to face the prospect of losing their precious commodity if they default, that they will actually reform their fiscal system and pay back the loans.
Interesting and novel idea is it not? If you want MY money then if YOU do not pay it back, you actually have to lose something? You cannot be like the Greeks and demand more and more with no fear of consequences. Only the Germans have the brass to do this and good for them, this should have happened a long time ago. Heck, try and get a loan from your bank and when it is due tell them that you are not going to pay it back and also want some more to buy some more baubles and if they do not like that, that you will be back soon again to demand even more! Would the bank door hit your rear end as they threw you out?
But governments get away with this crap and their citizens applaud this because their “entitlements” continue to flow.
Russian soccer (football actually, with apologies to my American friends) fans are showing the world how racist, ugly and violent they are in the European Cup tournament being held at this time. Beatings, drunkenness, racist taunting of the players – and little is done by the authorities.
Reminds me of the soccer riots in Egypt this February when we were in Argentina. It seems that nowadays when you get a large sports event, then the thugs and hoodlums attempt to hijack the event.
Where did civility in society go?
It seems that the former ruler of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak is in poor health as reports surface of his slipping in and out of consciousness emerge from that country. Another irony of fate that the man that many Egyptians regard as a war criminal will pass away in a soft bed while many of his victims are buried in nameless graves. Many a dictator, despot, terrorist etc have died in bed thought the years while their victims forever remain unavenged. It is a sad and strange world we live in that when these evil people are brought to justice, gives them little more than a slap on the wrist in terms of punishment because society will not do to them what they did to their victims – and they know it. I wonder how different if the world would be today if someone in power had had the courage to have Hitler shot by a sniper in the early 1940's instead of saying that “we” do not kill leaders of governments this way.
Hey, do you not just love the silliness coming from the Russian government these days about Syria? Instead of working to get rid of the depot Assad with others in the international community ( do not get me started on how twisted and useless the United Nations has become these days) they now say “they would not object” to his leaving the country. Oh boy, I bet that has him shaking in his boots! Probably this was said as they loaded another ship with arms for his regime. Will the Russians ever learn to lead rather than deceive the world community?
Have you been following the American presidential campaign at all?
It seems that minor items dominate the news, such as reports where a Romney ad spelt America as Amercia – like come on, who gives a rats ass anyway? This is a country that is the greatest in the world with some majour problems and facing a dysfunctional political system and this is the big thing?
What about the state of California and its crazy budget deficit – you look at what the politicians are saying there and shades of Greece, it seems that all the pet projects and wasteful social projects and education continue to expand. I do not for a moment advocate elimination of social programs, but I think that all jurisdictions need to review and streamline them. And not by a committee of self serving government appointees with a mandate of a year or more to do so. And when the mandated review is done, no one cares anymore, but rather by a team of free enterprise outsiders with a 6 month timeline and commitment to implement recommendations within another 6 months.
In the States as well as Canada we have generations now trained to live on welfare and social programs because to actually work for a living is not enough of an incentive as the recipients get almost as much money for sitting around, having kid after kid (for government subsidy money). This wastes money on ones not needing it and denies the truly needy instead. Something really wrong there.
America, the world looks to your leadership, and frankly it needs it, so please, get your act together. Without you, the future looks increasingly dim.
In Argentina the head of the rail system responsible for the subway station disaster in Buenos Aires in February is now facing criminal charges. It will be interesting to see how this progresses as the rail system there is underfunded and running with some obsolete machinery and probably the accident was a result of this and possibly poor maintenance. Problems that plague many public transportation systems throughout the world today. Because when times are tough fiscally, maintenance programs are always the first casualties of cutbacks.
Ray Bradbury died this week. He along with the great Australian writer Andre Norton, were responsible for this person learning the wonderful world of science fiction many, many decades ago. Travel in space, ray guns, aliens – all stuff of dreams and fantasy for a young child. These people are some of my heroes and they are missed.
Remember that I have talked a couple of times about moving out to the west coast of Canada?
Well that dream is now a reality as we are having a house built on Vancouver Island and it will be ready for us August 1 of this year. This is a time of great change for the two of us and while there are regrets to be sure and people that we will miss, the future looks exciting and we eagerly await it.
Take care out there,

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday musings

Insanity and evil knows no boundaries.
In this great land called Canada a madman has emerged from the shadows to shock the nation. A man identified by police as Luka Magnotta filmed his actions on murdering a man and then cutting off parts of the corpse that were mailed to a pair of federal political party offices.
Then the madman posted the video on the Internet in a sick attempt of self gratification.
How sad, how terrible.
How does this happen?
No one will ever be able to tell adequately understand or explain this horror.
No country has a lock on evil.
None at all.
So Queen Elizabeth celebrates her diamond jubilee.
So what?
I cannot believe that a modern democracy like Canada allows her to remain as head of state. And the Prime Minister acts like a boy with his first crush on a girl when he talks and deals with the Royal Family from England. He acts as the fool in this matter. A side consequence of this pathetic infatuation is the resurgence of alienation of the Quebec citizens towards the rest of Canada.
Remember how I tried to understand the financial worlds all consuming attraction to the internet company Google? And how it seemed crazy to have such a high value placed on the shares being offered to the public? Well, after a couple days of bidding frenzy, cold reality set in and the value of the stock has dropped like a stone. Probably not hitting bottom just yet I think.
The tech giant RIM is looking very weak these days as well. They have hired a couple of high powered American companies to figure out a survival strategy.
For crying out loud – they need this kind of outside help? 16,500 employees worldwide and they need this help to formulate a vision and set of goals? Unless some other company (hello Samsung or Google or Microsoft) steps in and buys the company- the future looks quite eerily like that which the now defunct Nortel Networks followed – bankruptcy.
In this hi tech world you either innovate and improve or you die.
Brutal but simple.
Hey you hear about the so called 1% that the protesters last year ( and to a lesser degree this year ) railed against and held accountable for all the woes of the world and wanted to have them support them? A recent study in Canada shows that a large number of the so called exploiters are doctors and others in the medical profession. How is that in your country? Anybody have the courage to reduce those peoples wages?
That is what I thought.
Time to find a new target I think.
Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has been found guilty of crimes in an overlong show trial this week. He was sentenced to life in prison. Apparently he had a “health” issue while flying by helicopter to prison and once again resides in a posh wing of a Cairo hospital.
Hey, if Mr. Putin really wants to prove to the world that Russia is a superpower, how about stopping the carnage in Syria? His government is actually propping up that regime and supplying it with weapons to murder its people. Can or will he show that he is capable of doing good? Or is the old Russian bear of badness never going to change?
In one of my favourite countries, Germany, another sad story has emerged.
The northern German city of Hamburg was caught up in a three-way battle between neo-Nazis, anti-Nazis and police on Saturday, hours after numerous police vehicles were set on fire.
That poor country. It has tried so hard to put the horrors of the past and the National Socialist Party ( Nazi ) behind it in words and actions and yet like a virus bubbling to the surface this happens. As Europe reels from the Greek/Spanish/Italian fiscal mess, more and more of the ordinary people turn to extremist political parties, especially the far right wing ones, to find any kind of social and fiscal relief.
History always repeats itself and this way will not work. And the effects will cut deep and hurt and be long lasting I am afraid to say.
Another sign of the deepening fiscal malaise spreading from Europe to Germany is the report that the insolvent German drugstore chain Schlecker is to be broken up with the loss of 13,200 jobs after a panel of creditors decided there was no way forward for the beleaguered business, administrators announced on Friday.
I sometimes wonder if the swiftness and length of this present world fiscal depression is partly caused and sustained by the effect of the instantaneous video and audio communication that we now have in the world. It is not the fault of the Internet but it has not helped.
Before it might take weeks for bad news to travel around the world or even to spread very far, but not now. A bank fails in a small town in Spain and that is world news and investors stampede.
Maybe it is time for a close look at the influence of investors and speculators in world stock markets. Look at the price of oil – below $90 a barrel US and yet prices at the pump remain high. Not completely the fault of the oil companies. Speculators drive up the price by buying future shipments based on what their greed figures the world will pay.
Maybe there should be controls put in place but is there any government brave enough to face down the powerful lobbyists?
I really doubt it.
In a sign of how absurd values have twisted - a rare 1932 hand-drawn cover of a Tintin comic goes for 1.3m euros at auction in Paris - setting a new record for the genre.
Really – 1.3 MILLION Euro's for a blasted comic?
Does anybody get it?
I sure do not.

OK, today in history time-
1875 Alexander Graham Bell makes 1st voice transmission
1083 Henry IV of Germany storms Rome, capturing St. Peter's Cathedral

So all our plants are in the outside pots and slowly growing and sprouting soon to be flowers. In the garden little green shoots are peeking through the ground and will later this year bring forth product. We have already taken our first round of rhubarb off and have been using onions and chives for a while now in meal preparation.
So, take time for a walk around your residence and enjoy the summer.
Take care out there,