Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday musings

So the wreck of the Costa  Concordia really was refloated and is on the way to the scrapyards. An amazing and costly (2 billion plus apparently) effort and not worthy of a blip on the world news desk. That is really too bad but what do you expect these days anyway?
Oh well.
These truly are the dog days of summer with many people seemingly indifferent to problems in the world. Or at least in the eyes of the media it appears.
Downed Malaysian jet - ho hum.
Downed Air Algerie plane - ho hum.
Carnage, death etc etc in Gaza - ho hum.
AIDS sweeping Africa - ho hum.
ISIS fanatics wanting to mutilate the genitals of all females - ho hum.
South Sudan faces the worlds worst food crisis according to the United Nations - ho hum.
Instead we get items like the President of Chechnya banning US President Obama from entering that country.
As if Obama would even think of jaunting over to that "country'/
Yet it rates an editorial in some US news sites.
 Yup, dog days for sure.
In the wonderful city of Buenos Aires, a "polar" cold snap is gripping it with temperatures plunging as low of 8 degrees C. some nights.

Oh my indeed.
On the Canadian Prairies, what was forecast as a long hot summer is not following any consistent pattern. A few hot days followed by periods of massive rain and cooler temperatures. Tornadoes, flooding - just a bit of the tough summer they are going through.
Climate change?
That being said, what can an individual do - really?
Ah, I know all the glib pablum spouted by so called activists about masses of people generating effective change.
Doubt it.
Reduce nuclear energy by solar?
The result is massive cost increases plunked onto the consumer and yet no activist points out how destructive to the environment the chemical toxins used to produce solar panels is.
Convenient isn't it?
Wind power?
Heck, just because the massive wind turbines generate horrible "white" noise and kill incredible amounts of birdlife - ah no problem right?
All those battery powered cars?
Check out the cost to the environment of first producing the large batteries and then look up the cost of replacing them when they expire and do not forget about the huge cost of disposing them.
Ah, no problem right?
Over on the great Sandwich island of Maui, sad news comes forth. Reports from that bustling burg of Wailuku state that the Lahaina,  & Pacific railine will be closing down as of August 1 this year.The iconic "Sugar Cane Train" started its run in 1969 and has carried over 15 million passengers over its 6 mile track.
Declining ridership and increasing maintenance costs are cited as reasons for the closure.
Has mankind stopped "reaching for the stars" do you think?
I cannot imagine a venture like landing  on the moon happening again.
I was going to list some great leaders from the past but was struck by what in retrospect is an obvious fact.
That is, all great leaders in the past had military might to support their goals.
Washington in America.
Simon Bolivar of Venuezala.
Kamehameha of Hawaii.
Roland of Germany.
Julius Caesar of Rome.
The list goes on and yes, the odd person influenced a large number of people  like Gandhi and Confucius. But that group is small compared to the latter.
Maybe might does make right or at least the ability to write history?
Anyway, it seems even the dog days are affecting this old blogger so rather than ramble on, time to go!
take care out there,

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday musings

Malaysian airline Boeing 777  jet shot down by a missile - the edge of conflict to come or ho hum?
And that is a serious question.
This is, at least the 3rd downing of a jet by military means in my memory and in each of the preceeding times, what ever resulted?
Correct, nothing.
The South Korean jet shot down by the Russians in 1983?
The Iran airlines plane shot down by the Americans in 1988?
El Al flight 402 shot down by Bulgarians in 1955?
You notice a pattern there?
Forget the outrage and horror of a large number of people.
The hard truth is that in all likelihood, the world will shrug its collective shoulders and turn back to watching some "reality" show about rich hillbillies and their duck call business.
Just as the world (that includes you by the way) looks on in titillated fear over the carnage happening in Gaza fueled by the Hamas folks and the Israeli response.
Nothing will happen there one way or the other as long as America shelters Israel with military arms and political support  and Russia supports however tacitly the other - will it?
And honestly, I do not definitively know which side has "right" on its side or whether it even matters.
Look at history - it is littered with cases of people being unjustly treated by others.
To the point of extinction.
That is humanity's legacy and future.
Want examples?
The Roma.
The Beothuks.
Endless list.
Man is not a good creature by and large and those with rose tinted glasses thinking so are sadly, fools.
Sorry, but that is reality.
If the United Nations cannot stop war in Ethiopia, Sudan, Iraq or change twisted regimes like that in North Korea but instead issues finger wagging notes about mean countries like Canada or Spain, well, what can you really expect?
So what will happen over the plane?
In all probability, bluster, posturing, cranky words, a bit of economic sanctions (they usually hit the ones most in need - not the dudes in big houses with fancy cars and loads of money) and then, the matter might just fade from memory after commission after commission is started to look into how such a "calamitous evil" could occur.
Numbness by commission and thousands of pages of meaningless drivel.
That being said, a whole lot of folks will make a ton of money on this.
But then again - some pundits liken the event to the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand that was part of the sequence of events that led to the partial global conflict of 194 - 1918.
We will see.
I suspect my version, while jaded, might be the one that does happen.
People leaving their homelands for work, illegally, continues to plaque the world.
More than 7,400 migrants have been arrested in the French Channel port of Calais for trying to illegally cross the Channel into Britain in the first half of 2014, more than double the figure a year ago, officials said this past week.
Isn't it ironic that the countries that a lot of the world loves to hate and vilify - well, they are the ones people want to live and work in.
How come no one packs boats and tries to get into places like Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan or Lesotho?
The ruling of the European Court of Human Rights this month to uphold France's 2011 ban on wearing the burqa and niqab veil in public has reignited the debate in Germany too. Many politicians say that in a pluralistic society, hiding ones face is wrong. They say that to live in an open and democratic style of country, one cannot pick and choose the parts of society they accept and reject the rest.
Interesting concept.
All or none.
Some might say this should also apply to those in North America that have become adept at using any and every means of public assistance and welfare to maintain a lifestyle without working. Thereby depriving the truly needy and disenfranchised of assistance. Many people know of generations of families that live a life on these programs and have adopted the belief that this is their "right" and society owes this to them.
Speaking of annoying spats between so called civilized countries - when are the Argentinians and the Brits ever going to resolve the hissy fit over the Falkland/Malvinas?
Or the Spanish and Brits over Gibralter?
Or all of East Asia over the Spratly Islands?
Probably never.
Anyway, over in Waikiki, this week saw the staging of the worlds longest running ukelele (44 years!) festival at the Kapiolani Park Bandstand and boy, would I have loved to have been there to hear that fabulous music. Derided by many as a toy - well, listen to some masters play and be prepared to change your mind. People like John King, Herb Ohta Sr. and the incomparable Brudah Iz are true masters. You might be surprised to know that Doris Day, Pete Townshend and even ol' swivel hips - Elvis also played the Uku.
And on Maui, proving once again that fireworks and people are a bad combination, a fire caused by careless use of them in a backyard on OE Street in Kihei burned down a house worth in excess of $520,000 USD. I recall being there this winter and seeing pallets of fireworks for sale in department stores and young folks buying them with little regard by the sales staff about permissible age requirements.
Something like kids buying cigarettes in convenience stores that happen all the time.
Funny how you never see outraged parents picketing those places at all?
Easier to picket an aquarium or zoo one supposes.
Not as tough on the conscience is it?
Here on my Island, the Capital city once again shows how not to lead as it had done in the waste water treatment saga I have relayed to you. Now... because some folks dislike cars at any speed - the city has decided to limit vehicle speed from 50 KPH to 30 KPH on a select number of roadways. Logic and clear thinking have been trumped by over vocal trumpeting of  "for the kids" and NIMBY efforts of a few folks. To heck with the majority - what they want, well - they seem to get. Just like the pedestrians and bike riders in that city - the law is on their side so the blasted cars had better watch out for them instead! Looks nice on the headstone - I was in the right! Somehow being right in a collision with a motor vehicle gives me cold comfort when a little common sense and courtesy would work the best for all involved.
Oh well, such is life here on the Left Coast.
And....only 5 more months until Christmas!
take care out there,

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday musings

America has a tough problem staring it in the face these days with the  illegal immigration of mainly Mexican children across its common border.
It seems large numbers of Mexican parents are loading these children on trucks or even tossing them over border fences into America in the belief that the children will be taken in by the Yanks.
The American President, Mr. Obama seems to be unable to focus on this issue and instead had adopted the political course of dodging and weaving and avoiding taking any position at all because he seems to want to avoid offending any or all people.
I dunno, when he became the first black President, the world media gushed like a giddy school girl over his role in the shaping of the future. Indeed he even got a Nobel Peace prize almost overnight.
Strangely, he seemed to have gotten that by doing nothing to deserve it.
His bold, visionary course for the thorny issue of the Middle East now appears one on persistent vacillation.
Now understand this, being the head of a small company, let alone the leader of the most powerful coutry in the world is truly a no-win situation.
Dammed if you do, dammed if you don't.
I understand this better than most - I went through decades of this in my business life as everyone can do better than you but sure as hell will not take that responsibility - much easier to sit on the sidelines and snipe (hmm, almost like some the these social activist twitter vipers full of spite but resolutely opposed to involvement all around these days). That being said, if elected to lead - do so or get out of the office.
America is the light that illuminates the world (for better or worse) and action, decisive and consistent was always its trademark, or at least it used to be.
It just seems that American Presidents lately are more committed to serving two terms regardless of the cost to the people of America and the world. And are surely more focused on their soon to be built Presidential Libraries (read monuments) and how soon they can get on the lucrative speech making circuit - just ask Mr. Clinton how much money he makes off that gig!
The expectations of the media that Mr. Obama mainly by virtue of being black, would be a superman style of President just because he was non white are in retrospect almost criminal.
Who could possibly live up to this type of expectation - especially if you look at his record in politics before the media fell in love with him.
The mass influx of Mexican children and the escalating carnage in the Middle East will not go away and will get much worse and one suspects that the President will continue to be paralyzed from action whatever the reason.
And that is the modern Great American tragedy now unfolding.
Speaking of the Middle East, reports state that the Israelis have targeted mosques and hospitals in Hamas controlled areas in retaliation for the continual bombardment via missiles of Israel by those folks.
And is it just me but the manufactured outrage and anger of the Arab politicians against this of saying to one and all  "they are attacking mosques and houses of innocents" rings so hollow these days? Because the fact, now plainly boasted about by the same folks, is that these buildings actually stockpile supplies of missiles and bombs and assorted weapons and use the people living in them as throw away human shields and they really do not give a damn if people die as long as they achieve their goals?
What is wrong with these people?
And now for the German word of the week -  Sturmholz
Kind of a cool word as it means literally storm -wood, or the uprooted trees after a storm.
Considering that the German custom is to use 55 letters where 4 would do, this is a fantastically brief, accurate word - will wonders never cease?
Monday sees the start of the final phase in the refloating of the ill fated liner Costa Concordia off Giglio Island in preparation of its last journey to the shipyard that built it for scrapping. One still marvels at the unbelievable feat of marine engineering that has been done to raise this wreck to the surface without any massive contamination of the seas from oil bunkers in the ship that would have been released if anything went even slightly wrong in the complete process - just incredible.
Man can do this but no one yet has developed a machine that can skim the oceans harvesting the floating plastic crap man has flushed there, and converting the debris into a fuel source or product?
And why not I ask you?
Hey, wonderful news just came across the Interweb to me this morning and that on my second most favourite island, Maui, that the MauiTVnews is back on the air ( ) after a much too long absence and life is better! This link has been a conduit for me to that fabled isle and was sorely missed.
Here on my island, well.... as stated last week, not too much except the usual 10,000 step walks and as we are in the middle of a two week heat wave without almost no rain, well, just a tad dry.
Here is a snap of a small bay near where we live.
Anyway, take care out there,

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sunday musings

Aha, told you so, back to the "normal" heading this week!
OK, where to start?
How about in that tattered ruined land once called Iraq where the area seized by that fanatical Muslim group of thugs called Isis has declared that the caliphate is in effect.
Yup, the same "gentlemen" who cut off folks right hands for offenses that they consider important. 
Why the right hand you say? 
Well, look it up in your local history tome and you will see the awful impact of this for the person in their social strata - horrible.
The same gentlemen who execute any of their supporters they consider too moderate?
The same gentlemen who consider women just a fraction of a step ahead of a goat in relevance? 
Yup, these wise guys.
So one has to ask this simple yet obviously complex question because no answer has been forthcoming at all so far.
And that is, where are the comments and reactions from all the leaders of any and all Muslim led countries in this?
And these leaders say they are fit to lead?
Hmmm, about as much courage and integrity as a bag of salted peanuts one can assume.
More bullets flying and blood flowing in the Ukraine these days. The Russian Bear seems more pre-occupied with censoring the Interweb and any critics of that marvelous great leader monsieur Putin than to clean up the brutal mess it started there.
Speaking of Mr. Putin, it seems Ukrainian astronomers have named a star in his dubious honour - Putin Huilo, which roughly translates into English as Putin is a d*ckhead.
Definitely ouch indeed.
 Sure glad that I am not on their list of naughty people!
And the violence, cruel death and mayhem bubbles up again in Israel and the West bank. Three Israelis killed and in retaliation, an Arab teenager burned alive by the Israelis. Those folks really live by an eye for an eye and to the devil with you.
Those girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria?
Still missing and probably all dead, or sold as slaves, raped, tortured or some other vile combination of evil at the hands of yet another faction of men that hide behind the cloak of religion as an excuse for being animals that walk upright.
Where is the outrage from nations in Africa anyway?
It seems that the nations on the African continent are known for blood diamonds, oil export, war, Ebola, war, religious fanaticism, incredible corruption but darned if any positive stories are ever told.
Why do they get a pass on the human condition?
Look at the woeful inept United Nations that leads the list in hurling charges against countries like Canada for the past and continuing treatment of its First Nations people and contrast that with its total silence about treatment of people in countries - say, like North Korea or Ethiopia?
And yes, the treatment of First Nations people in Canada was terrible in the past and must change from what it is today, no question. Yet what about the treatment of Armenians by Turkey? The First Nations peoples of the rain forest countries in South America? Gypsies in Europe? The list goes on but the common link is that many so called enlightened people who monopolize the electronic media have a free pass to savage countries that show some resolve to better the human condition of their minorities but turn a blind eye towards those that do not even acknowledge that they might have an issue to look at.
One says to those people - look in your own bloody backyard and do something there for crying out loud, then you just might have some right to yap against others.
Speaking of countries that just might be on the edge of turmoil - keep an eye on Egypt. This country has gone through a President being overthrown and a military member being "elected" to replace him and the banning of a religious based party with a fair amount of strife but in the total picture, rather calmly but now news emerges about something that can become a big deal there. The country is set to raise mainstream fuel prices by up to 78% in an attempt to ease the increase in the huge budget deficit. All hell might break lose as this hits the poor people the most and their reaction will be swift and violent one suspects.
This past week has been roughly hard on the Flatlands of Saskatchewan and its sister province of Manitoba with an incredible amount of rain falling in a short 48 span that has created a virtual wall of water and destruction that has and is still sweeping through large tracts of the 2 provinces. The damages are expected to exceed those of the floods of 2011 - which were then deemed "the flood of the century" Hmm, must have moved into the next century when I wasn't looking!
Over on the island of Kauai, fire crews battled valiantly against a stubborn fire in the historic Coco Palms Hotel. 
Why is this of note you ask?
Well.....that was the location for many scenes from the movie "Blue Hawaii" starring the crooner, old swivel hips himself, Elvis Presley.
OK, probably most folks do not care or even recognize the name but I am sure some of us "ol' geezers" do!
And over in Honolulu, an outrigger canoe race that started its yearly run in 1943 celebrated its 71st running this past week - how cool is that?
And in a sad tradition, once again a number of brush fires were started the past 4th of July on Maui by irresponsible folks intent on following their "right" to have fireworks detonated by themselves rather than professionals.
Amazing folks, my friends the Yanks, determined to protect any and every self determined right and freedom - whether right, wrong, illogical or in the odd case - stupid.
I still take them over folks like those from that nutcase group Isis though!
Have you looked at the American economy lately and its stock markets?
They are rattling off some impressive numbers and the rest of the economic world better pay attention as it seems that the Yanks may be coming out of the doldrums in a bloody hurry.
And...good for them.
Browsing through various "letters to the editor" from near and afar in North America, one theme that, at least as picked by the "impartial" editorial staff is that all the woes of the health/education-pick your option- system would be fixed by a tax hit to companies and a "tiny,tiny" tax to consumers. One recalls the comments from the early 1960's when programs like welfare and social assistance were introduced, in that it was pouring money into a black hole and never fixing a darn thing. That thinking may just apply nowadays.
Just see how much of your local government budget is consumed by health and education - be prepared to be shocked ant outraged by what you get in return because it does not seem fair at all. More money does not mean better. 
It really doesn't.
Here on my island, not too much to report on as the summer lassitude is well upon us and somehow the that feels just fine thank you.
My "daughter" the Realtor just informed me this week that she was in the process of crossing off one of her bucket list items - that of flying in a small plane around this island and boy am I jealous!!
Good on her though.

take care out there,