Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sunday musings

OK, I am posting this weeks column on Saturday evening for the reason that we are so far East on the globe that if I wait until Sunday morning, it will almost be Monday morning where many read it.
So, without further ado.....
So the French have launched military action in Mali, and unlike when America does so, the world community says sweet tweet about it. That is so typical of most of the world is it not? So blasted envious and angry at American society that it will immediately criticize but never would it criticize the French for something that the Yanks would do.
Remember when the Brits mounted military action against the Argentinians over the Falkland Islands a few years ago?
Yup, same lack of response.
So Mr. Chavez is undergoing further treatments in Cuba and no return date in sight for him to Venezuela. As said before, this does not sound right, but time will tell in his case, won't it?
Also in Venezuela there are reports of over 55 deaths in a riot at a prison. Have you ever read reports of the conditions in prisons in South America?
Chilling is too gentle a word.
The First Nations chief in Canada who had embarked on a somewhat controversial “diet/fast” stopped it this past week without getting the Federal Government to cave in to her demands.
One wonders if her actions have helped or hurt the cause for First Nations people in Canada.
It seems that as a result of the failure of American politicians to pass a budget, cuts to the military are going to come on stream. One action plan being reported on is to have ALL the civilian employees within the military take what is referred to in Hawaii as Aloha Fridays. That is a Friday as a day off with no pay. Great, financially hurt tax paying honest citizens for the cowardice of politicians.
How can these people even look themselves in the mirror based on their fanatical resolve to halt the running of the government and their hate of their elected President? Do they not realize that the people voted him in for a second term and maybe they should try to do their job and work with him as best as they can? Instead they are driving the country towards another recession – and it is their fault and no one else - that is for sure.
So North Korea is once again threatening to wage a relentless war against the Americans. Enough already. Let them do like so many other countries have in the past. Declare war, burn a few American flags, then say they surrender and then go in front of the world media to demand immediate American aid, money, food and reconstruction efforts as a “reward” for losing the war. And of course orchestrate left wing outrage against those “damn Yankees”.
So I read where a high ranking Al Qada terrorist has died from wounds in Yemen. Seems he was once housed in detention in Guantanamo Bay by the USA. Then so called libertarians, media and other apologists for terrorists everywhere were successful in pressuring the Americans to release him with the promise that he would not engage in terrorist activities again. Of course he broke that promise immediately and resumed his bloody ways. I have to ask you – how come there is total silence from those apologists now? Where is their moral high ground now? How come they never condemn these terrorists that revert to form after release?
Too easy to smugly criticize the Yanks isn't it?
Safer too.
Maybe these folks should move to those supposed havens and leave the rest of us alone?
Sometimes the passing of a person, who, while not a world famous person, still brings sadness. Such a person was a man that went by the nickname of “Metro” in the province of Saskatchewan. Les Pavilik was his name and I knew him. He became an accidental entertainer many years ago and released a comedy album of Christmas music that to his amazement became a “gold” album (by virtue of numbers sold) and a new career was born. His work raising a large amount of money for charities over the years is well documented. I am pleased to say I knew him and considered him a friend.
In Britain the Prime Minister has promised “something” on continued membership in the European Union. After reading his statements, he may put this to a vote but may or may not abide by the results. He may or may not ask for new terms for the country to remain in the union.
Actually, he sounds like he has completely mastered the art of being a professional politico and talking out of both sides of his mouth at one time.
Did you recall that it is 2 years now since the protests started in Egypt that led to the downfall of Hosni Mubarak? And what has happened since then? Well it appears that the country has replaced a semi dictatorial leader with a Islamic Brotherhood semi dictatorial leader.
Some things never seem to change do they?
So, we are here on the Sandwich Islands enjoying the sun,the surf and the sand.

Of course it is high season for tourists and based on the numbers and money that they spend, one might believe that the worst of the American recession is well past.
Sadly with the increase in tourists is the sight of waaay too many middle aged and older men walking along the beaches and sidewalks clad only in swim trunks and showing highly oiled bellies flopping side to side as they slowly stumble along.
Terrifying sight to say the least.
And yes, they should know better and obviously they do not and that is unfortunate.
Maybe men should consider wearing full coverage?
We were walking along a beach the other day and saw a whale lazing along on the surface near the shore. Of course even though state law forbids approaching closer than 100 yards, obviously the man on the paddle board believes that rules and laws apply to other people - certainly not him!

Still, it was an amazing sight. 
So, that is a short column for this week,

take care out there.
Flatlander 52

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday musings

I have not written about the protest movement underway by First Nations people here in Canada to date. One reason is that this is a subject and topic that is so fresh and raw at this time in the public discourse that one must be careful of any off the cuff incendiary comments. There are many valid opinions being expressed both for and against what the movement espouses. There are as many stupid and ignorant and wrong opinions also being espoused.
I believe that a gentleman by the name of Rex Murphy explained it well in the following article posted in the Canadian version of the Huffington Post on line this week. Here is the link:
I cannot properly articulate my thoughts on this at this time. I do not want to say anything disingenuous or just plain wrong on such a vital topic and movement for the Canadian people, and I mean all Canadians, not just the First Nations. One thing I will say is that this issue demands nothing but the most honest and sincere efforts from all parties. The consequences of status quo remaining is frightening.
Will real heroes emerge or will cowards and self interested individuals rule the day?
So Lance Armstrong goes on TV and admits he lied.
Does this mean all will soon be forgiven?
What about all those people whose lives and careers he destroyed by his lies and his legal action against them for speaking the truth?
And what of the rumoured 100 million he amassed by winning those bicycle races and product endorsements?
Doubt it.
Will he be another “celebrity” that with phoney confessions, with fake tears to attempt to hide a cynical expression of contempt for the general public be forgiven and probably rewarded for such a brava performance?
And yet we have witnessed the passing of a true American sports hero this week – Stan Musial at the age of 92.
Look him up.
Lance Armstrong would not even be a pimple on that mans' rear end.
One wishes Armstrong would just go away – period.
American President Obama will soon be sworn in for his second term. One wonders as to what the next 3 years will bring. As with previous Presidents, the fourth and final year will be spent trying to burnish his image for history and some sort of grand farewell tour probably.
He seems intent on changing the gun laws and culture of the land as well as further demoralizing and minimizing the Republican Party. Somewhere along the line the fact that the Government has been breaking the law of the land by not passing a budget for a number of years now will become a thorn in his side. As well, the fiscal cliff has been delayed and not prevented and there still seems no potential solution as long as the Republican Party is held hostage by its Tea Party element. Already stories and reports are coming along and being trumpeted by “impartial” (HA!) media sources of the impending devastation of the American economy as a result of the looming defence budget cuts. Sadly, so deeply has the military supported manufacturing industry entrenched itself into the economic structure of the country that any reduction in funds ripples through the whole land. The industry has, in the words ascribed to the bank industry, become too big to fail.
Is this right?
So, it seems that the new Canadian $20 bill has an illustration of a non native Maple Leaf on it. Various serious pointy head people – usually subsidized tenured professors who could not get and hold a real job in the real world – have moaned and wailed over this fact.
Like who really gives a damn?
Does it change the value of the bill?
Will it cause the country to fall apart?
After all Canada has survived Celine Deion and Justin Beiber quite well and dare I mention Bill Shatner or Carly Rae Jepsen?
Maybe society should take a hard look at the type of people instructing in Universities and the courses that are being offered. We read litany after litany of woe from young grads with degrees in the most idiotic fields who wonder where they will get high paying jobs instead of the barista work they now have.
As my father said to me many, many (way too many) years ago – having a trade may not be the most glamourous thing in the world, but it will always pay the bills and look after you, your partner and your retirement.
As true today as it was then.
Somewhere along the line people started accepting and believing the nonsense that so called enlightened intellectuals fed them.
You see the results today in the faces of the over educated and undertrained and unemployed young workforce.
March 10-11 will see yet another referendum in the Falkland/Malvina (British or Argentinian version) Islands whether the Islanders want to remain part of Britain or become part of Argentina. If they vote pro British, will the Argentine government accept the verdict? Or if they vote the other way will the British government agree?
Either way I doubt it.
The same thing happened here in Canada a couple of times in the province of Quebec where political forces bent on the destruction of the Canadian union by having Quebec declare itself a sovereign country having lost the referendum vote declare that the results were not binding and no matter how many times a new vote will be needed, they will accept only the one that agrees with their myopic version of A Brave New World (apologies to Mr. Huxley).
A hostage taking in Algeria and swift government action to end the affair. Dead terrorists and many dead hostages as well. Many will bemoan this but maybe world governments are starting to grasp the seriousness and depth of the international terrorist organizations like Al Quaeda and are starting to draw the proverbial line in the sand and saying no more concessions – period.
Many will agree and say that this is the correct thing to do.
In Nicaragua, a court sentenced 18 fake Mexican journalists to 30 years each for drug trafficking.
If more and more American states legalize the use and possession of pot, some things will have to happen. First off, some sort of tax structure will have to be put in place. Then, as in the case of alcohol, there should be legal penalties for driving under the “influence” of said product as well as instruments similar to roadside Breathalyzers to detect impairment. Also, as in smoking in public spaces with the documented ill effects of second hand smoke, will non smoking laws also be enacted? Health care premiums to reflect usage as is the case for heavy drinkers and smokers of tobacco?
Food for thought.
In a good news story, German authorities are happily confirming reports that say Dutch citizens are crossing the border in record amounts to purchase massive amounts of German beer and returning home with the fabulous suds. How wonderful for the economy is that?
Well, that is it for this week. Next week I will try to send you some photos from a different location just to add some variety to the column. In other words – on vacation!!!!

take care out there,
flatlander 52

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday musings

Do you know that it is over 13 years since we had the Y2K scare?
You remember, when all the computer “experts” said that there was a fatal flaw in all computer operating systems and that it would crash computers when the computer calendar changed over from 1999 to 2000?
Nothing happened except for massive sales of emergency power generators, survival food and of course weapons.
The just recently “experts” predicted the end of the world because they just “knew” that their understanding of a cryptic Mayan calender said so.
One of the unfortunate consequences of the World Web Web is that good, sound accurate forecast and “guesstimates” are drowned out by a flood of, honestly, just stupid pet theories and idiotic conspiracy theories. Because they make for more entertaining reading one supposes.
Remember that a Nazi German politician once said that if you repeated a lie, and the bigger the better, often enough, then people will eventually accept it as the truth no matter how insane it is.
Am I making a point about something specific here?
No, not really. I think we all can recall some item in the past or just recently that illustrates what I am writing about.
How about some dumb things people do?
In Germany, Manfred Heinz, a professional bird keeper is suing a store for selling him drip trays for his oven that were teflon coated. It seems that he had a 16 and 12 year old set of parrots in the kitchen and when he heated a pizza for a meal and then opened the oven doors when it was ready, “fumes” from the trays killed the birds. OK, almost all birder handbooks warn against having birds in kitchens and he is a professional and should know that. Also, as my dear friend Monty Python would say, the bloody birds are 12 and 16 for crying out loud – they should have bloody well perished years ago anyway!
Then on Vancouver Island a couple is suing 4 manufacturers of natural gas fireplaces over the fact that their 18 month old child touched a hand to the protective glass shield in front of the flames and burnt it because the glass was hot. Well, excuse the heck out of me, but for crying out loud, of course when a fireplace heats up, the glass will also heat up! And where is the responsibility of the parents in not supervising the activities of such a young child?
Come on, since when does everyone no longer have personal responsibility in this world?
It is never their fault anymore, but rather someone else or some company is to blame?
Or the idiocy of pedestrians and bike riders that think that just because the law might say that pedestrians crossings have the right of way or that bikers do not have to obey the laws of the road if they feel like it, that all motor traffic has to yield to their desires? So, morally and legally they are right to stride or bike onto a crosswalk in front of a car or truck doing 50 kph ten feet from them and expect it to stop in a second but maybe that should be carved on their headstone. Technically right but not immune to the laws of of physics.
Common sense folks, that's all.
Use it.
This was the third anniversary of the tragic earthquake in Haiti. Canada recently halted all aid pending a review of what results have flowed from the aid it has provided – and this country has been the third largest donor of funds to that country of any in the world. Of course opposition Canadian politicians have decried this lack of humanity by the government and the Haitian government has also been harsh on its vitriol.
Over 250,000 people still live in tent cities with little or no running water, facilities, hospital access or anything.
So where the heck has all the money gone to?
Someone, anyone give me an answer, I dare you.
Does the term greed, graft corruption of bloody theft ring a bell?
Where did all the money go?
Where is the universal outrage?
Instead lash out at a government wanting to have accountability for the money it spends.
Deny and attack.
Right, apathy rules.
This is also the first anniversary of the sinking of the cruise liner Costa Concordia. Reports indicated that this was the result of “human error”.
Anyway, it seems that the wreck will not be re-floated and salvaged for at least another year now. Guess now that the dead are buried and no longer front page news, clean up and helping the survivors get their lives rebuilt just does not matter does it?
Off the front pages and who cares?
It snowed this week in the Middle East in some areas.
Interesting as the concept one has of the Middle East is hot, sand, camels (for the romantic of mind) not snow.
And yes, the refugees in and from Syria sit and freeze in tents and the world ignores them.
It figures.
I once thought the the upcoming generation would be better educated, more sophisticated and equipped to improve the lot of the world. Maybe I was naive, I do not know. It just seems that they have surrendered without much of a fight. They seemed to have retreated into an electronic cocoon of remote “touching” with so called circles of friends, tweeting and Facebooking intimate aspects of their lives with no regards to personal privacy and security. They hold lawless demonstrations for things like free university tuition and then are outraged at the concept of paying their way in life, assuming that someone else will pay for it, surely not them! And yes, this is not true for all the people. No more than it was for my generation, yet somehow because of the 24/7 instant and overwhelming news flooding the airwaves, it seems so.
I read 2 side by side stories on a National Paper the other day in regards to the state of the “housing bubble” in Canada. One boldly stated prices were going to plummet 25% in an almost cheerful tone. The other said that price reductions have been modest as sellers are withdrawing from the market until prices firm up again and that any correction will be minor or not long term.
Are both of them liars?
Which story will be quoted more do you think?
The swearing in of Venezuelan President elect Hugo Chavez did not happen this week in spite of what is mandated by the countries constitution. It seems the law does not apply to those that make it if it irks them. He is still in Cuba recovering from his 4th cancer surgery. Reports circulate that he is in a coma and denials are immediate. Who really knows? The government is investigating a TV network for its reports on his health on the grounds that it is spreading civil unrest with non supported rumours about Mr. Chavez. One has to wonder at the supposed rule of democracy in that country.
Seems kind of spotty doesn't it?
Ok, back to reality.
A young lady named Emily Lavender this past week while stopping in Regina as part of her cross country tour for PETA, did something either incredibly brave or stupid. Remember that this is winter in the Prairies and in Regina it averaged around minus 25 this week with blowing wind (wind chill factor!) and then there were a couple of ugly snow storms there as well, anyway, you get the picture?
Well, she did a (hopefully a short duration) protest outside a downtown mall clad only in green body paint and green bikini in support of the vegan lifestyle.
Brave, yes, smart – well.....

Meanwhile here on the Island we had a brief dump of snow the other day but happily it is almost all melted now.
It seems that January sees the return of more days of sunshine but the temperature bottoms out around the minus 2 range at nights for a while. We went for a small motor jaunt to a hamlet called Coombs up the coastline and wandered about the markets and had a pleasant day devoid of crowds of people that will return in the Spring. Life really is different here and it is a treat to become part of it.
Anyway, time to sign off for this week,
take care out there,
flatlander 52

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday musings

Aurora, Colorado – remember that town name?
Yes, this is the town where 12 people were murdered in a movie theater last year. Now it seems that 4 more people have perished at the hands of a madman there. I just do not get it when it comes to guns and America. Maybe it is due to the culture that feed people glorious stories of the rugged individualism that made America great via movies/books/TV shows.
I do not know.
Forget the debate about guns, assault weapons and enough ammunition to fortify a third world nation in private hands, instead what about the mindset and can it be changed?
Maybe I am starting to show my age, but I think that this debate is over and done with. Nothing will change in American society and the almost weekly stories of murder and sorrow will never end.
So be it.
America, I feel so sad for you.
So Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is not well – at least this is now admitted to by the government of that country. Indeed it seems that he will not be able to receive the oath of office as detailed in the constitution, but as the Vice President has said, that is only a minor detail so who cares? It would be interesting to get an unfiltered analysis of the Chavez era where unbiased reporting of how the country has fared under his rule could be viewed/read. Sadly with most of the western media controlled by American interests, this is tough to do. It seems that the mention of the word socialism in regards to any government or government program casts that nation into the camp of bad guys. Indeed in the last US Presidential election, how many times was the phrase “Canadian socialistic health care” issued in sneering tones? I wonder if anyone told those talking heads that the US Medicare system is socialistic based? What about food stamps?
Anyway, back to Venezuela, I wonder how the lot of the poor has changed under the rule of Chavez. That would be a good indicator of pubic support one would think. Just remember that that country is and has been a major supplier of oil to the States over the years.
So, failed Presidential candidate Al Gore is in the news again these days. It is interesting that he made a fortune about the dangers of global warning and excessive uses of energy by people – all the while having his own jet airplane and mansions with huge utility bills while lambasting the average citizen about their wasteful habits. He owned a broadcasting company and was wanting to sell it but not to anyone with a different political viewpoint than his. Well, at least that is if they were American. He sold the company to the people that run the Al Jazeera network. A network that American media and politicians call radical and anti American and Israeli. And he sold it in time to beat a tax deadline – the stuff of money making that the opposition Republican Party would be proud of.
OK, I was not going to mention the fiscal cliff in America, but will say one thing about it. Yes, early week legislation deferred the “cliff” but lurking in the wings is a problem that will make this seems like kids play – and that is the government must deal with the following: 3 debt and budget issues as well as a vote on raising the debt ceiling. And the debt ceiling is the elephant in the room in this. And the battle lines are being drawn in the sand with little compromise in sight. One suspects that another credit downgrade for the government is in the future and just watch that impact and shake the American economy.
The killing continues in Syria and the United Nations says it is embarrassed that it has not stopped the slaughter.
Right, a totally useless, dysfunctional quasi intellectual body laments the fact that it cannot impose its will on any country is embarrassed? Why not be honest and shut the damn place down. The world would mourn its demise for maybe a minute – if that long.
A couple of hotspots in the world are rather quiet these days. Egypt, Iran even Bolivia have gone into some sort of slumber.
But in Russia, well, that is a little different. It seems that the government has passed a law declaring beer is alcohol based and as such can no longer be sold between 11 p.m. And 8 a.m. And not by street vendors with kiosks anymore. That must really suck for the beer drinker that is used to walking up the street to get a late night beer or 6 pack. Also restrictions are now in place to stop the sale of tobacco products from the same vendors. Estimates range up to 500,000 people losing their source of income as a probable result with the closure of the now unprofitable vendor kiosks.
Time to give my mid winter report from here on the Island. It definitely is soooo blasted different that that on the Prairies. We watch streaming video news reports from there and see the images of large snow banks, ruts in the ice covered streets and stories of minus 35 plus wind chill! Memories of our trip back in mid December confirm this and then we look outside our place and see the green lawns and light mist coming down and wonder at the change. I doubt if we will ever long for those cold days and the snow. This past week we went to a local park and did a walk around for about an hour and considered ourselves fortunate to be able to do so.
At the local grocers this morning they had winter pansies on sale – like, really? And one of our neighbours is coming over next week to help trim our apple tree and get it ready for Spring. Unbelievable.
But, I will take it.
Take care out there,
flatlander 52