Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday musings

The insanity of people continues with a beheading on public streets in England and a stabbing in the neck in France by what authorities claim are religious terrorists.
It does not stop does it?
Murder in the name of religion.
And the speakers for the faith remain silent.
Maybe the world is just too small these days with the far reaching effects of communications. Now what happens in a corner of one country is spread world wide in less than 12 hours it seems, actually sometimes it seems to spread in seconds.
Many long for the days of telegraph and ticker tape as means of spreading news.
And there is something in that concept. Perhaps the instant rage and reaction to events nowadays would be tempered and slowed if time would be taken for events to be understood.
Who knows....
So many people are so done with flash rallies and artificial concern and rage that seems manufactured on a moments notice.
Indeed, just the other day on an Island news broadcast some city councillor is earnestly promoting the concept of a bylaw banning the riding of dogs in the back of truck beds as a safety concern.
And in the same city a proposed sewage treatment plant is being apparently dropped into a residential area with no recourse to the people living there.
And he spends his time on dog welfare instead of representing the people in the city?
In what seems another step in equality for women in Europe, suicide bombers are more and more of the female sex these days. Just recently one exploded herself in Dagestan killing 18.
You ever notice young people never seem to actually lead conflicts? All the head honchos are older men usually and there is no way you would ever find them at the “front” lines would you?
You have to wonder how long these conflicts would last if the old guys would be put in a room and told to fight to the death don't you?
The mayor of the Canadian city of Toronto is in the news lately over alleged video footage supposedly showing him using crack cocaine. Comedians all across the United States are having a field day with this item. From way out here on the Island I am puzzled at the ferocity of the continued and virulent attacks on the Mayor by the media in that city. If, he is incompetent, inept or just over his head in the political field and office, then start a campaign to replace him at the next election. But not this way by slander, innuendo and “unnamed” sources stating unverifiable facts bound to alarm and anger the voter.
Once again it brings to mind the role of media these days and where it is going as impartiality no longer seems the rule but as shown first by Fox News and CNN in America, blatant bias scores ratings and apparently, the truth be dammed as a consequence.
And that is too dammed bad.....
Once again in the Ya Gotta Love dem French folks come this little item in the news this week. During the French Presidential elections last year, the successful candidate, Mr. Hollande promised stiff new laws on executive compensation as a way of “levelling” out wealth in the country. You know, the head of a corporation employing a couple hundred workers should earn just a little more than one of the staff members. (similar to what Socialists in Canada believe in and dream of) Well, that plan is now in the dustbin of history it seems.
No explanation given, just dropped.
As George Orwell said, not all pigs are equal are they?
And from Germany comes the fun word of the week my friends – sitzfleisch-cool word indeed. Look that up and have a chuckle. Indeed, one of the things I love about the German language is how they can use 57 letters to make a Germanic version of a 5 letter English word – brilliant!
And I would be remiss if I did not mention that this is the anniversary of the 200th birthday of the famous German composer Wagner.
In Spain a large bank named Bankia lost half its value in one day this week, savaging once again the savings of depositors. Is the middle class doomed in this world? Are we going to end up with rich, very rich, obscenely rich and as well the rest of the people living well below middle class expectations of a generation ago? Somewhere between making ends meet and living on the public dole?
Sure seems like that at times.
This week in Argentina celebrations were marked on the 203rd Anniversary of National Day. Thar day was the start of independence from colonial Spain. Quite a long and storied history in that country.
In America, this is Memorial Day weekend. They celebrate this day as well as Veterans Day in the Fall of every year. Here in Canada there seems to be less appreciation of the vets from the Federal Government as it continues to diminish benefits to them even while there seems to be an upswing in interest and respect from the general public for them.
Brazil has written off over 900 million in debt from various African countries this past week. All in part of an aid program to the sub continent. The question to be asked is this – will Africa ever be self sufficient? For a part of the world blessed with massive resources and people, there never seems to be an end to corruption, violence, death and poverty there.
Well, Farmers Market season is in full swing here on the island and there are so many weekly ones to go to in the area. There is quite the variety of food and consumer products available for one and all. From wild rose honey to custom smoked jerky to various articles of clothing, there is lots to spend ones money on.
It is a slower paced life here and that is kind of fun for us.
Take care out there,

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday musings

A former dictator of Argentina, Jorge Videla, died peacefully while in prison this week. His regime was responsible for incredible misery, murder and economic ruin of that wondrous country during the years 1976 to 1983.
It is ironic isn't it that in this modern era, thugs like him, and others from places like Bosnia, Africa, can be allowed to live out their lives after losing power.
Tell that to their victims.
They murdered scores, did unspeakable horror and there is no justice?
And yet justice can be swift and unforgiving to the average citizen if they do something as “wrong” as not being current in income taxes – oh indeed, the compounded penalty interest charges, and auditing and possible property seizure and even prison.
What gives anyway?
The same applies to drug use in places like the United States. Rappers and media “bad boys” are photographed with drugs and smoking pot in public -in spite of very explicit laws, and what happens? Absolutely nothing happens except maybe getting their pictures posted in celeb magazines on shown on celeb TV.
Never an arrest or bust for them.
Tell the young high school kid who gets pulled over, arrested, jailed and either fined or imprisoned that this is equal justice for all OK?
In British Columbia this week, a provincial election had the governing Liberal Party re-elected to majority rule. This was in spite of all polls indicating that the socialist NDP was going to win in a landslide.
Of course the NDP are blaming their campaign of niceness instead of using so called “attack” ads. And they blame the average citizen for not seeing how good and great the NDP is/was. They blame everybody but themselves. Perhaps the average citizen actually wants to have economic growth instead of government staff growth? That perhaps the taxpayer no longer wants to pay and pay and pay even more for programs that appear to reward those not willing to actually work and pay taxes?
One interesting thing that emerged was in the over the top reporting on election night, all the talking heads constantly referred to active “Twitter” postings as if this was doctrine to be followed. Is it not interesting that these professionals have not grasped the fact that it seems that when people “live” their lives and beliefs on “Twitter”, that many of the same people abdicate any and all involvement in the real world? They post their real or imagined outrage against governments, companies, individuals and figure that that is enough. No need for them to actually vote and effect change.
No need at all.
And one day all the businesses that react so quickly to Twitter campaigns and stated moral outrage will say, you know, these comments are from a few thousand or so people, the rest of the people, to quote a famous American politician, the silent majority are the ones we will look after.
And all the good that has/was done to date will vanish – and that is tragic.
In America, all the goodwill built up for the President, Mr. Obama, after re-election is fading quickly. Whether it is the strange details emerging over the attacks and response in Benghazi, the IRS treatment of the political Tea Party or the reading of Associated Press accounts (supposedly confidential without a court order and none seems to have been issued) more and more people are wondering what is going on with their government.
In Canada, the Federal government is starting to be perceived as one of cronyism and corruption. A number of Conservative Senators are being investigated for misuse of money rules and the Prime Ministers reaction seems to be one of “who cares?'
If both instances are really true and reflective of the Leaders, what is going on?
Is there no honour or integrity anymore in any level of government?
And yet, I read the local paper and am so encouraged to see how times the citizenry rally in small groups to pressure local governments on causes dear to them. Usually they are unsuccessful but darn it, they do keep trying and that holds out hope for the future.
More effective that Tweets or Letters to the Editor in my opinion.
And honestly, is any other political system better?
I thought not.
Just to remind the world that they are not going away from the world stage, good ole North Korea test fired some short range missiles off their east coast.
Isn't someone going to spank them soon?
They are so tiresome......
A recent poll in Germany indicates that support for the country to ditch the Euro and return to the D Mark, which is scaring the bejeesus out of the rest of the European community.
Interesting to say the least.
I suspect the leaders of say, Cyprus, Greece, Spain are not sleeping well these nights/ And of course let us not forget the French with a well earned reputation of not being, let's say, not the most industrious country, who talk and dream big but rarely back up their words with actions.
David Beckham is retiring from professional soccer, and the big question is – so?
Just another overpaid athlete, no more no less.
One of the sad things about obscenely paid athletes is that so many retire crippled from injuries and within years are broke. Hanger-ons, instant  “relatives”, flim flam financial advisers strip money off them so quickly and drop them as soon as the money trains ends and yet pro sport leagues do absolutely nothing to help them secure their futures. Where is their responsibility in this? So many of the athletes are basically over sized kids with little real education and yet they are given literally bags of money with no “strings” attached.
Something is really wrong with that.
Almost like modern day gladiators being thrown to the lions like in days of ancient Rome isn't it?
So, a couple of weeks ago I talked about the possible flooding on the Prairies?
Well, now that is a dim memory and reports emerge about a dry spell engulfing the area?
And a long hot summer is forecast as well!
What the heck anyway?
This week on the Island we had 2 cruise ships call into port.
What a sight they were.
Massive beasts of the ocean discharging lots of tight fisted sight seeing tourists. Somehow the local merchants that thought these same tourists would shell out big bucks for items forgot that when they go on tours themselves, all they care for are tacky t shirts and fridge magnets for souvenirs. And good meals, better on board than onshore as on board they are paid for one never knows the food safety of shore meals no matter how good they look and taste.
So why would these tourists be any different?
That being said, these boats and tourists do bring outside cash into the local economy and every dollar should be appreciated.
We went to the harbour front and visited the local trade fair and had some wharf side entertainment provided while there.

Ah summertime, marvelous!
Take care out there,

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday musings

So last week I mentioned that the Argentinian Peso was approaching the 10 to 1 ratio against the US Dollar and how that was/is not a good sign?
Well, it blew through the 10 to 1 psychological barrier and now is at nearly 10.50 to 1 and the government has announced some form of amnesty law of forgiveness to citizens if they “declare” hidden US money at home or abroad so long as they also convert them immediately into Pesos.
Fat chance one suspects.
A former high ranking finance official in that country has declared that the economic situation is worse than it was back in 2002 when the country started on the road to rampant inflation and fiscal default of international loans.
One hopes for the best but has to fear what may soon be a possibility in that storied land.
It is so hard to believe the rapid change that has occurred there since we visited there last year in February.
A car bomb exploded in Turkey killing 43 and raising fears that the violence in Syria is starting to spread to other countries.
Whether this is true or not, how many times in the past was the international political opinion that even if the ruler of a country was a despotic deranged killer, at least he was keeping the (a) communists (b) socialists (c) religious fanatics (fill in the blank______) at bay and keeping the rest of the world safe for democracy.Thereby action was not required to effect change in that country by the international community? How many died for this lack of moral courage from world leaders?
Many so called democratic countries rushed into invading Iraq on the threat of non existent weapons of mass destruction but these same countries sit on their hands in the instance of North Korea and Syria.
Pathetic isn't it?
In America, as mentioned earlier here, all the small airport control towers (well over 100) that were to close as a result of the dreaded “sequester” and financial cliff twaddle once again have gotten more money to stay open.
Just like all the border staff are still working.....
And politicians wonder why the public is so sick and tired of them and their cynical ways?
Pretty easy to answer that isn't it?
In Canada, a Federal Government Senator who somehow misread the rules on expenses (oh no-not his fault-just ask him!) and was forced kicking and screaming to pay pay some $90,000 is now being praised by his fellow politicos as being a paragon of fiscal responsibility for doing so.
Sounds like he could give Lindsey Lohan some tips doesn't it?
But in Germany, here is good news clip - a center in Nuremberg is offering a course to sex industry professionals on how to cater to the sexual needs of disabled clients!
Practical people those Germans.
In Pakistan where elections were held, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has claimed victory based on partial vote counts showing his party in the lead. The day, much like the campaign, was marred by violence that claimed at least 24 lives. Yet in spite of these attacks, attributed to Islamic fundamentalist styled groups of terrorists who believe democracy is contrary to the way of Islam, people voted and participated in the process – good for them.
History, not just recent by the way, is sadly filled with examples where groups of “people” intent on violent societal change operate under the guise of religion – and not just one but many different religions have been so used. For all the pointing at Islam today, one also should look at the Crusades or the Inquisition, the history of the Southern Hemisphere under colonial Spain and the list goes on and on.
Will mankind ever change?
Remember how a short number of years ago we were bombarded with stories from so many “experts” that the world would be out of oil by 2010 or so? The American colossus was to be brought to its knees because it was the largest importer and consumer of oil in the world? How solar, wind, nuclear was the only hope for mankind and no matter what the cost had to developed right away?
With recent discoveries America is now a net exporter of oil and even Israel is poised to become one as well.
So what happened?
Speaking of oil, I remember being taught that oil was created from the decayed corpses of extinct dinosaurs many millennium ago. Sure must have been one heck of lot of those dino's around wouldn't you agree?
Is that theory still in vogue or is there one that could be said, more realistic?
Also, how come while oil has been under $100 a barrel for quite a while now, that the price of a litre of gas here on the Island has gone up over 20% in the past 7 months?
And the politicians remain strangely quiet.....
Speaking again of oil, you ever wondered how much money Al Gore while crisscrossing the globe in polluting private jets preaching against evil oil, has made?
Has he kept it all or donated any to eco activities?
Remember how he sold his Current TV network to the Emir of oil producing Qatar which owns Al Jazeera?
And people still follow him blindly?
Well, whatever.......
A Canadian man collapsed and died this past Tuesday afternoon after hiking on a Hawaiian lava field little more than 50 metres from a subdivision on the Big Island. Yes, it is tragic, but... really? This is an active lava flow field and I have been to it years ago and I have to tell you that (a) it is clearly marked as to being off limits to people and (b) incredibly bloody hot because, duh, the lava is not ancient but new as in it usually is hours or days old as it oozes out of the ground there. So why is it that people are so entitled these days that they can ignore warning signs and instructions to stay away from things like this or as in the case in B.C., walk/snowshoe into the bush in winter on CLOSED hiking trails due to snow avalanche dangers and then expect to be rescued and at no cost financially to them?
Rules aren't meant for them now?
Speaking of Hawaii, a boat carrying 60 people on a dinner cruise ran aground in Lahaina Harbour this week. Fortunately all were rescued with no injuries. Where is Jimmy Buffet with a song when you need him anyway?
Lahaina town is one of those must see places when one goes to Maui where besides what is arguably the largest banyan tree in Hawaii, there is also fabulous ice cream and shaved ice available at Lapperts Ice Cream shop and superb hamburgers at the local Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant – well worth the time and effort to visit as we have done over the years.

So in talking with people back on the Prairies, it seems that golf season in almost there and the local greenhouses are slowly starting to display product on the once barren shelves.
That is a good thing.
For as much as the economy there has diversified from mainly being farming, in the case of Saskatchewan, grain is, and always will be, needed by the world and the sooner the crop is in the ground, the better.
And finally, a report on my most recent golf round. It is almost embarrassing but a score of 82 was my result and I have not shot such a low score in decades to be truthful.My buddy in Regina brought me back to Earth when after being told of this wonder, inquired if I had either only played 9 holes or had hit any windmills on what must have been a mini golf course!
Take care out there,
flatlander 52

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday musings

A report out of Argentina gives a chilling taste of possible things to come in negotiations between governments and employees for civic governments all through the democratic world. In this case, the Labour and Transport Ministry reached an agreement with the striking bus drivers union,UTA, for a 23% wage increase.
Everybody is happy right?
Well, not really. It seems the Ministry did not involve the civic administration who has to pay the wages of the drivers in this agreement. And that administration says it has no money to pay for this incredible pay increase.
So, the strike continues and both administrations blame each other.
How bizarre and if you think about it for your part of the world, scary is this?
And the Argentinian peso continues to slump in value to the American dollar- almost at the once unthinkable exchange rate of 10 to 1 now.
But the government still says not to worry.
I think that I would be, well maybe not worried – more like terrified about inflation, rampant price increases, lost savings – the usual effects of an economic failure.
Oh Argentina, what is happening to you?
Meanwhile in France, the European Commission issued a report painting a bleak picture of the country's public deficit. It projects an increase of 4.2 per cent next year as compared to government projections of 3.9 per cent. Another sign that one of the stronger economies of Europe is not doing well at all.
Over in Cyprus, €400m worth of gold are up for sale, as the country has to up its contributions to the bailout program that so far consists of €9bn from European institutions and €1bn from the IMF. Another €10.9bn will free up in the winding down of Laiki Bank. And yes, all that money, €23bn, will be needed to just keep the country afloat until the beginning of 2016. Will there be anything of value left in that country soon as it submits to the harsh controls of the ECB Directors?
Speaking of money, have you ever heard of any banking officials getting their wages cut as a result of their actions at all?
Didn't think so.
Actually do they not get raises, bonuses or at worse incredible golden fiscal parachutes when they quit and walk away from the havoc their misdeeds do to economies around the world?
Yup, thought so...
Over in the Middle East, once again Israel launched an airstrike into another country – Syria in this instance to supposedly destroy arms shipments to Hezbollah fighters from that country. It does show how powerful that country's military is because no Arab country launched air counter attacks- did they?
In Canada, a report came out that detailed the number of jobs lost and taxes not collected as a result of consumers crossing the border into America to fly from American airports rather than pay the high fares in Canada. The reports points out the incredible high Federal taxes on everything from fuel, to property taxes to airport improvement fees and the like. So of course in a brilliant broadcast statement, a government member blandly says, too bad but we (the government) will not reduce taxes because the only people that fly are wealthy people going to exotic vacation destinations. And they can afford it.
He of course, is, well to be charitable, is.... wrong ( I am soooo tempted to say stupid, but what the heck). Have you looked at the cost to fly from say, Vancouver to Thunder Bay? Or Regina to Halifax? Heck, you can fly to Cuba for a 1 week vacation with room included for that ransom amount!
Of course this intelligent person has as a Member of Parliament, FREE flight passes paid for by the taxpayer, so why should he care about the cost-right?
Also, remember a while ago I mentioned the restaurant in Vancouver, Canada that was situated in a poor end of the city and how it was being picketed by “people” determined to keep the area in poverty and riddled with crime and drugs? The so called anti gentrification people? Well they are still attacking the place it seems. This past week, on May Day , a group of these “people” wearing hoods and carrying burning torches attempted to get into the place with probable destruction as their intent. And now the police are looking for a female that tried chaining the doors shut of the establishment as another attempt to get rid of a good employer (employs many people of that area that were previously on government subsidy programs and not paying taxes) and community corporate citizen.
What is wrong with “people”like that anyway?
You see it all around North America, South America and Europe these days, where people want, no actually demand or use violent means to get “something for nothing”. As if the world owes them everything just for that fact that they are alive.
What gives with them?
Go back as many generations as you want but always there was a work ethic taught to people. And that if you worked hard, good things would result. Of course this never was 100% doable or possible, but for so many people it worked. They did that and had a better life than their parents and that gave their children an opportunity to advance further along than they had. But now there is a disconnect apparently. No longer does a work ethic matter. Instead, it is easier to rail against the 1%, to demand “free” health services, “free” daycare”, “free” university education with no taxes and the lists gets bigger and bigger every day.
Have I missed something here?
I just do not know....
Anyway, here, back on the Island, life continues to unfold in a very pleasant way indeed. This weekend the temperatures have hit 27 and 29 degrees Celsius and honestly, it so felt like summer that it is hard to believe that it is only the first weekend of May. We are off to the first Farmers Market of the year in a small town called Lantzville and are looking forward to early spring produce to purchase. We still marvel at how soon the growing season starts here as back in Regina, we would start looking at seed catalogs now and consider planting around the May holiday Long weekend at months end. Here we installed another hanging plant outside!

And as mentioned before, reports from the Prairies indicate that the snow cover is in full melt mode and a sure sign of this is the fact that all the streets in cities and towns now are clear and exposing many various sized potholes all over the place – a common hazard of spring driving on the Canadian Flatlands with all the attendant repair costs involved when one's vehicle travels too fast and abruptly encounters one in a bone jarring hit.
Spring in Saskatchewan – gotta love it!
Tine for another golf game this week, indeed, I have already golfed more in the past month or so than I did all of last year back in Regina, interesting...
Oh, by the way,  have a happy Cinco de Mayo day today to one and all!

Take care out there,