Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday musings

Here in Canada, for the last year and a bit, the media has been flogging, what to them is a GREAT story, that being of the doom ahead for this bucolic country when the dreaded mortgage interest rate charged to prospective home owners as well as those refinancing, climbs and how that will devastate the Canadian economy.
Followed by massive unemployment...
Then by riots...
And followed by a visit from the horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Week after week these banner headlines have trumpeted this and oh so many pundits gleefully chimed in and probably got whiplash from the vigorous head nodding that ensued.
OK, a tiny, tiny item on the back section of a financial posting this week said the home mortgage rates have climbed since February from 2.99% to 4%.
Deafening silence from all the “experts”.
No riots.
No breadlines.
No horsemen.
Sometimes, the whole aspect of this 24/7 news cycle smacks of a certain type of “wrongness”.
I fully agree that news is important and that the more informed a person is, the better they are able to view things and interact with others. That being said, there are so many people, frankly, that hear selected bits of information and do not completely and properly process it, that many false and dangerous attitudes and beliefs can be fostered.
Remember when the American economy tanked a few years back and how the auto industry warned of ruin and crippling of the economy because people would stop buying cars and as a result got massive “loans” and outright non repayable grants? I think upon examination one will find that this seemed like a great way to get interest free loans and grants to retool at the consumers expense.
How about the hateful media campaign against Ms Paula Deen in America because of the reported racial comments she made and the court case by a former employee alleging racial discrimination? Her business was devastated and her reputation is ruined. By the way – the suit by the former employee was dismissed due to lack of any supporting evidence and the fact that the former employee is white!
But the damage is done and it was fed by continuous media reports of the same storyline over and over again.
And no contrition from any in the media.
Or here on the Island where immense focus is devoted to the "any moment now the big one” will happen.
Earthquake that is.
Some people have an agenda to have every structure built to super strong capabilities – whatever the cost and the taxpayer be dammed. Media reports hammer home this viewpoint with nary a murmur of disagreement. Well, history has shown that no matter how strong a structure is built, a severe earthquake usually wins the battle. But many folks are left feeling and believing – that the “big one” will happen in the next 15 minutes after being constantly hammered by the professional Cassandra's who are the darlings of the media.
Is balanced and objective media reporting dead these days?
Is it all about ratings and the truth be dammed?
You be the judge.
This week saw the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's “I have a dream” speech. While much has changed for the betterment of black people in the United States, much has remained as bad as then. Indeed, it seems like more and more groups of people are falling through the social and economic cracks of that great country.
So, President Obama might be thinking of doing “something” about the carnage in Syria.
It seems the whole world wants to fault him personally for the lack of any response and yet, how come no one asks Great Britain, France, Russia, Argentina (you get my drift?) why the heck they aren't doing anything either?
Oh, I forget, we have the Useless Nations, sorry, United Nations and golly, they sure act promptly don't they?
Why is it that the Americans always have to clean up the world anyway?
And why is it that the world always love to hate the Yanks?
Admittedly, the Americans can come across as inward gazing and some may say somewhat arrogant, but hey, show me a perfect country then!
The CEO of Microsoft will be retiring soon. According to reports, when he took over from Mr. Gates, the company was worth over 6 billion and now has a net worth of over 2 billion. If correct, not a lustrous legacy is it? The once predominant tech company is now in a three way dogfight with Android and Apple for industry dominance.
He will probably get a hefty financial going away gift. Strange how that works isn't it? His company loses a whack of its value – so he gets an “Executive” payout, BUT if you do that at work – ya get fired and don't let the door hit your butt on the way out!
The battle over the implementation of changes to the American health care system (termed Obamacare by the critics) continues to rage. A report credited to Forbes magazine says that Delta Airlines expects its health care costs to rise $100 million dollars in the year 2014.
These are some scary numbers being tossed around. If correct, the hit on the economy will be severe, if not, then the degree of possible dis-information is horrible.
Either way, no wonder so many people are frightened by this in the USA.
Now here is a terrible stat regarding suicides in the United States. And I post this not to approve or disapprove of the act but rather to point out with sadness how life can overwhelm people and the tragic consequences of that. The statistics tell us that about 150 Americans commit suicide every day, and that somewhere around 38,000 will do so this year.
Damn, that is so tragic in all aspects.
Meanwhile, in Germany, a house renter in the town of Diepholz in Lower Saxony bought a self-inflatable air mattress as he had no furniture in his new home. But the mattress was leaky, so he used an industrial strength puncture repair spray to try and fix it. Some of the spray escaped from the mattress as he was pumping it in and it reacted with the built in electric pump, causing a violent explosion which threw him across the room, ripped doors off their hinges and smashed windows.
Charges may be pending – but really, how cool is that?
Only in Germany I suspect.
Back in Canada, the Leader of the Federal Liberal Party has admitted to smoking pot recently. Of course the governing party is all out on the offensive against this information, portraying him as “a bad person”.
Ooh la la indeed.
Most people do not care one way or the other apparently. The one aspect of the discussion about pot that all parties seem to ignore is the danger of second hand smoke – just as is the case of cigarettes. Somehow no one seems to care how the smoke in public will affect non smokers – strange. Also, not a peep on impairment charges as many studies indicate pot usage can possibly cause impairment to a degree approaching that of alcohol. I am not too sure about the prospect of even more pot smokers “toking” and driving, but does any one else care?
Seems not.
Ironic indeed.
Showing that they have their priorities right on my second favourite Island, that being Maui, police arrested a Lahaina man after he was seen going onto the Pacific Whale Foundation's Ocean Quest vessel and leaving with a can of beer early Thursday.
Bail was set at $1,000.
Remember last week I “talked” about exceeding the maximum height requirements for a glider ride (OK, that and weight too) and instead was looking at Zip lining instead?
Well......seems the local Zip line here has some silly type regulation of the max mass allowed as well....OK.....maybe I will have to go on a mass density consolidation program (otherwise known as a diet-sigh) so that come our trip to the Sandwich islands, I can go on the Zip line at Haleakala crater – now that will really be cool!!!!

take care out there,

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday musings

The violence and unrest continues to escalate in Egypt by the day. The government is on the verge of banning the Muslim Brotherhood Party and mobs of Muslims have torched Christian Churches. And the American government continues to send financial and military aid and only murmurs small words of quasi disappointment over the carnage and death.
Indeed the whole American foreign policy of late has been one of almost quiet indifference to world events.
Are we witnessing the start of a silent return to the isolationism of the 1930's from America?
Is America so preoccupied with internal events such as the continuing controversy of the revisions to the health care system (called by opponents - Obamacare) and further revelations over possible illegal privacy intrusions on the general population by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the general state of the economy itself that all eyes are now turned inward?
A quick perusal of many American news headlines show a dearth of items – more than the usual indifference – about any world affairs. It is almost as if the world has vanished outside the borders of that great country.
There are many struggling nations in the world that fervently hope that this is not the case.
The ugly, vicious, unchecked war in Syria continues.
Sigh... does anyone care?
Speaking – or is writing? - of old hot spots re-emerging, Spain and England seem to be upping the “polite” discourse over the fate of the island of Malta. Both claim it as their own. Argentina and England are upping the “polite” discourse over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands. Both claim it as their own.
Sigh... does anyone care?
In Canada the ongoing farce concerning the expenses of certain Members of the Federal Government Senate continues with one being assessed over $100,000 of wrongly allowed expenses and her promising to pay it all back with interest. Not a criminal charge in sight for this politician. And the Federal Auditor General announced that his office will now look at the expenses of all sitting Senators – and of course the Prime Minister keeps his mouth shut and apparently hopes that the electorate will soon lose interest in the affair. Some call this behaviour contemptuous.
Sigh... does anyone care?
Also, in Canada, a young man working at a oil change shop was dismayed to find out that he was fired after posting a plea for dope on his Twitter account. Sorry, but anyone who thinks postings on any social Internet site are private, is , sadly, just a dope.
What did he expect – a promotion for asking for an illegal drug?
OK, once again... sigh...
However in Spain, that poor beleaguered, impoverished proud land, a glimmer of hope appeared this week. In the southeast part of that country, the town of Vera triumphantly broke the Guinness World Record for the most people in one spot baring all for the biggest ever group skinny dip with with 729 participants shedding all clothing to get wet in the warm Mediterranean.
Kinda restores your faith in humanity doesn't it?
Remember the sinking of the cruise liner, Costa Concordia in January 2012 off the Tuscan island of Giglio? It seems that the operation to raise the wreck and remove it will start in September. It is and will continue to be a massive undertaking and will be well worth following as it proceeds. And the trial of the Captain is still not done with. How slowly justice can happen sometimes is frustrating to many, especially the families of the victims, over 32 in total.
Sadness from my other favourite island, Maui, where the last member of the famous 'Farden Sisters” of Lahaina, Edna Paulani Farden Bekeart died recently at the age of 95.
She will long be remembered for songs such as “Maunalua Bay,” “Christmas Love,” and “Ginger Memories” and the 1960s children’s hit “Sassy Little Mynah Bird” (co-composed with sister Irmgard Aluli).
So yet another legend leaves us.
Well, with my better half heading out East in a little while, I figured I could possibly attempt to cross one item of my so called “bucket list”. That term is from an American movie where one actor whose character was slowly dieing drafted a list of things to do before he did die – a “before I kick the bucket list”. On mine is the desire to one day have a glider plane ride. So.... I did some research and found that indeed there is an airport glider company a short drive from here and does offer these flights to the public. Of course the fee made me gulp...ouch... but what the heck, it is on my bucket list so... and then I read where there is a height and weight maximum and sadly discovered that I am 3 inches too tall and, shall I delicately say, just a couple of pounds over the max weight limit.
Drats... too tall!!!!
So, with that off the list.... hmmm.... I wonder if there is a Zip line around here?

Take care out there,

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday musings

Hmmm, you ever have one of those days (but in my case, here on my Island, one of those weeks) where you blink and the day (week) just zipped by and you are darned if you can remember what the heck happened?
This past week has been like that for me in that after 6 weeks of an incredible summer with cloudless skies, no rain and warm, actually borderline hot days, the “daze” of summer that one had as a child returned to me. You remember those days – a seemingly endless cycle of, sun, fun and harmless activities?
Same here.
Anyway, as always the real world does have a tendency to intrude at the darnedest times and remind you that indeed, you are part of it.
Well, a week after the United States closed 19 or so embassies around the world in response to intercepted InterWeb “chatter” from people associated with the terrorist group Al Qaida (notice how depending on which international news service is reporting on them – that the spelling of that name has at least a half dozen variations?) indicating attacks were soon to commence against those embassies, 18 were re-opened.
Also during the week, a bomb alert closed down the Eiffel Tower this past Friday and was reopened hours later after authorities swept the site and found nothing.
And in Iraq, a wave of car bombings targeting those celebrating the end of Ramadan killed 69 people as a bloody reminder of the inability of Iraqi authorities to stop violence threatening to spiral out of control.
Truly a grim reminder of how violent and evil the world can be at times.
It never will end will it?
In what some observers see as a strange change of victims – a Buddhist mob attacked a mosque in the Grandpass area of the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, leaving at least five people injured.
Isn't it usually a case where Muslim extremists attack other religious groups?
And if this seems like deja vu all over again – it is -  the Syrian government is sending its air force to bomb and strafe villages it suspects of harbouring insurgents. And yes, once again the Useless Nations (oops the UN) looks at its navel and belches and drifts in a fog of somnolent indifference.
Over in Vancouver, an example of the extreme sensitivity of companies to social media emerged this week. A national chain store had for sale for little children, small head dresses in the style worn by First Nations people. Of course the feathers were plastic and rainbow hued – quite similar to head dresses sold years ago all across North America with no complaint. Well, a First Nations lady visiting from the province of Manitoba saw these head dresses and immediately fired of a complaint via social media to the company and to “the world in general”. And of course within hours the product was withdraw from sale to the public. It would be easy to dismiss the criticism and say that the company is too cautious to any perceived slights against different groups but you know, maybe it is not such a bad thing all in all. Perhaps if more care was given to different cultures values, whether in terms of dress or culture and beliefs, less strife and grief might be a net result. Is it such a big deal to respect head gear such as First Nations head dresses or the turbans of the Sikh community? If it promotes tolerance and respect, hey, why not?
Media reports continue to surface about attempts via social media to boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia as retaliation for the passing of some strict anti gay laws recently. So far it has earned one giant shrug of indifference from the Russians. Of course the IOC knew years ago about the progress of the law through various levels of the Russian government but did not bring any attention to that when it dealt the Games to the Russians. Then was the time to stop the law. As well, did you know how many corporate American Companies involved also turned a blind eye to this?
Maybe someone should ask them some pointed questions.
Remember how last week I mentioned about the dire economic situation in Spain?
Well, you wonder why the Spanish people hate the European Union and the IMF (International Monetary Fund, run by those overpaid insular fat cats out of Brussels?) this week the European Commissioner, a Mr. Olli Rehn ignited the fury of Spain's unions, employers and politicians with an article he published in a blog. Rehn appeared to support an IMF report that suggested that Spain slash wages across the board by 10% to promote economic growth and tackle unemployment in the country. Apparently he was dead serious until he was confronted by reporters and then his back tracking was definitely of Olympic caliber to say the least!
Unbelievable isn't it?
The sheer unmitigated arrogance of those with secure non touchable and non accountable to anyone jobs – they displayed what Marie Antoinette was wrongly attributed to say, an attitude of “let them eat cake” stupidity.
OK, now from Germany, which sadly may confirm perceptions of some towards the Germans, a report from the town of North Rhine-Westphalia, where a 79-year-old man caught three youngsters red-handed as they stole plums from a tree in his garden. After repeated warnings that were ignored, he pulled out a BB gun and shot at them, wounding one slightly.
Boy, those Germans take ownership of fruit trees really seriously don't they?
The European Commission is changing rules on labeling products within the EU, prompting fears that the prized “Made in Germany” logo may disappear. It seems that the changes would, for example, enable a bag made in Germany from Tunisian leather brought into the country to have the“Made in Tunisia.” logo stamped on it rather than the German one.
Interesting indeed.
Taking the concept of country of origin used in the labeling of food products to a ridiculous extreme.
Idiot bureaucrats.
Have you heard anything about the political crisis in the Czech republic?
Thought not. Not attractive enough of a story for the media is it?
For 2 months gridlock has halted the work of government as one regime has fallen but all efforts to install a replacement have failed.
That is not good news for the country and indeed, for Europe. Something to look into I think – if you can find any items that is.
Another well known entertainment figure left us this week.
Eydie (interesting spelling isn't it?) Gorme passed at the age of 84.
Great voice, great lady.
And we are now left with the likes of Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber – oh how the gods do weep!
Sometimes it seems like the world is just passing by waaaaay too quickly doesn't it?
Speaking  of the weather....
Have you folks in North America noticed how the sun is setting sooner and sooner and yet at the same time rising later and later nowadays?
And that the nights are not as warm, indeed they have a coolnes to them now?
It is August and as my parents used to say, once the local Exhibition and Fair was over with, then it was time to order the coal for the furnace for the winter and also check the state of the garden to see what we would have for the winter to store in the root cellar.
Is it that time already?
Where has the Summer slipped away to?
Yet I look at the tomato plants we have and I see them loaded with produce and some, heck lots, are starting to turn red already! And the stalls in the local Farmers Markets, while having produce there for sale, are not as filled to overflowing as they were earlier in the season.
I am not ready for Fall, no, not at all.
But...then again.. we have decided to return to the Sandwich Islands when the wet winter rains return and that is truly something to look forward to....aloha!

take care out there,

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday musings

So in Zimbabwe Mr. Mugabe, age 89, was once again re-elected as President of that fiscally destroyed and brutalized country.
And it only took the Electoral College under and hour and with less than 16% of the vote to declare him as President.
How cool is that?
16% and that gives you a victory – gawd, many many other “democratic” leaders wish desperately for something like this?
I guarantee you that our friends the Americans would not stand a moment for this, despite having an Electoral College with a wacky voting system, just look at the election lost by Mr. Gore for President as an example.
Here in Canada, many virulent on line posters that hate the Prime Minister, Mr. Harper have enough trouble with the fact he won a majourity of votes to become Prime Minister in their belief that he is not the leader of the country since he does not fit their idea of what a Prime minster should be and act like.
Sadly many of those posters are left wing people with blinders on and while loudly proclaiming the historic destiny of the socialist NDP to become the government of Canada, they overlook or ignore the fact that in many provinces where the NDP formed government, they did so by splitting the free enterprise vote and winning with a MINORITY of total votes.
Go figure....
In Italy, the Supreme Court upheld the criminal conviction of former Prime Minister Berlusconi and immediately as a result Mr. Berlusconi appeared on national TV (coincidentally a TV chain he owns) and demanded that he be given a Presidential pardon and warned that violence was very, very possible, even probable if he did not get his way.
Impressive bully isn't he?
One set of rules for him and one set for the rest of the people.
In the Canadian province of Manitoba there is an inquiry into the death of a young First Nations child in 2005.
Why so long for an inquiry anyway?
But to continue, the child was in and out of the foster care system but at the time of her death was with her birth parents.
Plain and simple, they starved her, they beat her and then they killed her.
And yet the inquiry hears from Elders from the First Nations community that this was the result of historic white man's colonialism.
Really...yes really...
A prominent observer wrote a column about this twisted logic and asked when will the First Nations community take responsibility for their lives and stop always blaming others for it? And many people see this as a valid question, especially in the context of the murder of a child by her parents – and not by white society.
It seems that there are more and more people openly asking the same question as they point to immigrants that come to Canada with hardly a penny and carve out a successful life for themselves and their families by dint of hard work, sweat and tears. And they ask if the immigrants can do so, why cannot the First Nations also?
Interesting times ahead one thinks.
Oh poor Spain.
Last week the IMF (International Monetary Fund) released a report that predicts that the country faces at least 5 more years with an unemployment rate in the 25% range. The report urges the Spanish Government to pass new reforms including ones that helps firms cut wages instead of firing people – oops, reducing staff...
The report also predicts a 1.6 % contraction of the economy this year and zero in 2014 and .03% in 2015 – bloody wonderful outlook eh?
What more can the people of Spain do or endure? Honestly, they have had jobs slashed year after year after year as well as pensions hacked to bits, banks failing, social welfare nets destroyed – what are they to do?
You know, this modern era reminds me of what I have read many years ago about the end of the Roman Empire. Incredible wealth, incredible poverty, incredible excesses (look at the rap singers, and athletes in America and the obscene money they “earn” and spend on trash and drugs and the like) and a general mood of despair and melancholy as well as anger against the infamous “them” no matter who they are or what they represent. Whether the “them” are a cultural subset, a race or of a different sexual orientation, it does not matter for they are seen to be the architects of the peoples despair and ill fortune.
I would not want to be a young infant this days with the future looking so clouded.
No, not at all and for that I grieve for them.
What world have we left them?
Not as good or as hopeful as the one we inherited I think.
Meanwhile, the French have shown the world that when it comes to big crimes – they can produce world class ones!
It seems that a lone gunman struck a luxury Cannes hotel last week, snatching a sack with more than $136 million in jewels in it before vanishing in the crowded French Riviera.
That will surely buy an incredible amount of McDonald's hamburgers you might think.
$136 million – simply incredible.
In Cleveland in the United States the individual (he will remain nameless as what he did destroys any chance of him being granted the courtesy of being called a man) who abducted 3 women and held them captive for years all the while beating and sexually assaulting them was sentenced to life in prison with no parole and an additional 1,000 years tacked on. Unbelievably in a statement to the court this individual claims that he is a victim as well as he was abused sexually as a child.
What the heck is with evildoers like this person who claim that the evil they did was not their fault – no, it always is somebody else at fault.
I am so tired of this nonsense and so tired that some people actually believe this crap and make excuses for them.
As a Judge on an American TV court show says, “man up and be a man” and be accountable.
But that is too much to expect from cowards isn't it?
OK, off to Hawaii and burning news about the state of preparedness of the local emergency sirens comes forth. Nineteen emergency sirens failed in Maui County, Hawai'i County and Kaua'i County in Thursday's monthly test, according to county officials.
And on the Island of Maui, the Maui Brewing Company is expanding its operations to keep up with demand for its beers, and for anyone who likes their beer — that’s good news for the Valley Isle and Hawaii.
Kind of put things in a better light, right?
Not all is gloom and doom, for if it was, well in the words of the immortal singer/songwriter, Jimmy Buffet - “ if we weren't all crazy, I would go insane”.
I would be remiss if I did not talk about the month of July here on my Island. We set a record for the most consecutive days without rain and also with the most sunlight this past month – 33 to be exact.
And I have to be honest here, a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius is not warm, it is downright hot! And yet, on the flatlands where I came from, that would just be warmish and hot is in the 35 plus range. Not too sure why the difference but no matter why, sure is welcome.
I continue to be impressed with how long the growing season is and the size plant become.
Those plants are 3 months old (actually a bit more but I digress...) and I marvel at them every day when I sit outside having a morning tea. And all I can grow are silk plants from the department store! These are the results of care from my better half who amazes me with what she can do with plants in this part of the world.
                                          3.5 months ago

We went to the harbour front this past week to show an air show put on by the world famous SnowBirds and what a treat that was for us and the thousands along the area. Precision flying at its best.

All in all, another great week here on my Island...
take care out there,