Saturday, October 21, 2017

Learning to live with global warming

Ya gotta love this global warming, eh! Here were are a month into autumn and we're getting the finest summer weather we've had all year!

That's brought an unusual late-season infestation of asian beetles to Falling Downs. I'm sitting on the stoop writing this and they're walking around on my laptop, and on everything else in sight for that matter. They seem to be particularly fond of my Rocky hunting boots. I have to remember to give them a good shake before I pull them on again.

Back in the spring we had part of the apple tree come down in a wind storm. It just narrowly missed the tent camper that was parked underneath it, or so I thought. This is the second or third summer in a row that we've not used it, so I figured what the heck, might as well move it out to the road and stick a for sale sign on it.

I've always enjoyed camping. Me and the Farm Manager used to take a few trips every summer. Made it as far as the Rocky Mountains one year. That was a fun trip and made memories for a lifetime for the kids. Mostly bad memories for them, but that's another story. Suffice it to say that none of them grew up to be particularly avid campers.

We got all the way out to BC and back with a couple of tents. Three dogs and three kids and all our camping gear in a Pontiac van. Yoho remains one of my favourite camping destinations of all time.

Once the kids were out of the house the FM decided she was getting too old and brittle for tent camping, which is how we ended up with that used Rockwood tent trailer. I had no problem with the tents, but I must admit the trailer was the lap of luxury. It was almost as lux as the Winnebago I had a couple of lifetimes ago.

The first summer we had it, we took a tour of Manitoulin Island and spent some time around Massey, where the FM was thrilled to discover the Jewish section of the local cemetery. The next year we took it over to Macgregor Point a couple of times. The third year, I opened it up, and the Farm Manager found it smelled "musty." It's been parked under the apple tree ever since.

On closer inspection, it's obvious that the apple tree clipped the back corner of the trailer on the way down. Hmm... that could have a deleterious impact on my asking price. Worst case scenario; if it doesn't sell I can always strip it down to the frame and make it into a utility trailer. The one I got from Uncle Bruno is sitting behind the woodshed with two flat tires and the floor rotted out.

Anyway, it's out by the road now, and we'll see what happens... In the meantime, the FM is marvelling at how I can do a half hour of work and then spend two hours writing about it.

I must admit that's pretty impressive. But I've moved the trailer, and now I can get at the apple tree with the Stihl. We'll be having a few campfires right here at home.

The ladybugs are all over everything. They're getting down my shirt and up my trousers. This would be phenomenal camping weather, but we don't have a camper. Might as well fire up the chainsaw.

I'm looking around for a good used Winnebago.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Welcome to the empire of imbeciles

And that's where we're at, ain't it?

Imbeciles rule the world.

Who can look at American foreign policy over the last fifty years and not conclude that imbeciles rule the world?

We're done.

Not sure whether we're baked or cooked, but we're done.

The front-burner issues for the best and the brightest in the firmament of US foreign policy at this moment are a) can we stop the N. Korea nuke program and b) can we stop BDS.

The North Korea nuke program is 99% aspirational and 1% factual.

BDS is a cesspool of anti-semites...

Fashioning a peaceable world going forward is not even on the agenda.

Welcome to the empire of imbeciles.

Billionaires have too much money

Money is power, they say.

Well, money isn't power when somebody with a gun takes the money away from you.

This may explain why the USA leads the world in both the number of billionaires and the number of guns.

America's guns do not threaten those billionaires, though.

America's guns, at every level, defend those billionaires.

I'm not sure why it's considered desirable to have such a thing as billionaires in society, but for whatever reason, that's where we're at. Look at the Trump cabinet.

If you're an American working at the minimum wage, you can work from age fourteen until you die and all your piddly paychecks added together won't amount to a million dollars.

A billion means a thousand times a million. Your top hedge fund guys are embarrassed if they don't up their net worth by at least a billion a year.

Being a billionaire means never having to say you're sorry. And why would you? You're obviously worth at least a thousand times more than whatever your most well-heeled critics are worth.

Being a billionaire means you can do whatever the fuck you want with no consequences. Read up on Jeff Epstein if you don't believe me.


But the times may be a-changing.

Sir Richard Branson's name is seeping into the scandal unleashed by the Weinstein affair.


Rich men take advantage of vulnerable women?

Who knew?

Wasn't that Obama cavorting on Branson's yacht after his exit from the White House?

He obviously had no idea either...

Sandhill cranes staging at Falling Downs

The first sighting of a Sandhill crane here was by my step-daughter Hanna back when we first bought the place. She was taking a ramble through the meadows and thought she'd seen a terradactyl. I can't blame her. They do look marvellously pre-historic.

This week, we've had several fly-overs of flocks of Sandhills. They're warming up for their trip to Mexico. When I say flocks, I mean dozens upon dozens.

Tonight we witnessed a fly-over of several hundred of them. They're still practising up for the big trip. There's a lot of talk back and forth. Their flying "Vs" don't have quite the definition as those of the Canada geese, but they're working on it.

There are benefits to living in the hinterlands. Ya, a Saturday Globe and Mail may run you $6.30, but where else do you get treated to a flyover of hundreds of Sandhill cranes, so close you can feel the whooshing of their wings?

Too big too fast, too much too soon

Big news in Toronto these days.

Google has got a lot of laudatory column inches re: their "Sidewalk Labs" development on the waterfront. Yup, the natives (and I mean native Torontonians, not native Natives) have been fumbling that file for as long as I can remember, so thank God some foreigners are finally coming in to put things right.

Because we need the Alphabet crowd to show us how real estate development can be done...

But that's nothing compared to the fuss being made over the Amazon HQ2 lottery. The Bezos empire is looking to put down roots somewhere for a second HQ, because one is not enough. From what I've been reading, at least 150 cities in North America are vying to be chosen as the home base for their second headquarters.

This is allegedly going to provide 50,000 high-end (60k/yr and up) tech jobs for a lot of really smart and hyper-educated millennials.

What does it mean, "vying to be chosen?"

A cynic might say it's gonna come down to who can a) bend over best, and b) provide the most lubricant. Because whoever manages that will end up with the prize.

That said, Toronto has some advantages. First of all, it's in another country, a country that conveniently has a substantially lower corporate tax rate than the US.

Secondly, it's a lot easier to get your hyper-educated India and China millennials into Canada than into the US. The reactionary regime in DC today can turn off the gushing tap of H1-Bs on a whim. In Canada, we "celebrate diversity." And even though a sixty thousand a year income won't get you on the lowest rung of Toronto's over-priced real estate market, that still looks like decent money to folks from India and China.

So I figure we're gonna bend over for the "disrupters," because tomorrow belongs to them.

And that's the problem.

Google and Amazon between them have hundreds of billions stashed in off-shore tax-havens. Why? Because they're run by new-age entrepreneurs who have been lauded for their "disruptions" all their lives and don't understand why they should pay taxes like corporations used to in the bad old days.

And "disruption" is good, isn't it?

Of course it is!

Look at Uber!

Instead of calling a cab, which is inevitably piloted by a first generation immigrant trying to make a go of it by playing by the rules, you can just call Uber and a college kid in a new Toyota Corolla will be there in a jiffy and will save you money to boot!

What's not to like about that?

Well, first of all, what's not to like is that Uber has pretty much bulldozed its way over taxi regulations in every city it operates in. With very few exceptions, cities around the world have rolled over for them, knowing that their meagre financial resources are no match to the billions available to Uber for protracted legal conflicts. In most places Uber operates, the rule of law gave up without even putting up a fight.

That's why we'd be wise to be skeptical of the Google/Amazon invasion of Toronto. Between them they've got hundreds of billions sloshing around in off-shore tax havens. Official Plans and zoning regulations mean bugger-all when your pockets are that deep, and the initial reaction of the political classes seems to be, "well, they're gonna have their way anyway, so we might as well save millions in legal fees and bend over now."

Welcome Google!

Welcome Amazon!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The new face of real estate development in Toronto

Move over Bratty and Muzzo and Del Zotto.

There's a new sheriff in town.


Yup, Google's "Sidewalk Labs" is touted as the saviour of the portlands. They're gonna put fifty millions into their new development on the Toronto waterfront.

Ironically, this announcement comes hard on the heels of another announcement that three levels of government are combining to sink 1.25 billions into an infrastructure upgrade for the portlands.

Hmm... the taxpayer is putting in one and a quarter billion.

Google is investing fifty million.

Who do you think will walk away with the profits?

We're setting the stage for Google to "disrupt" the development industry the way Uber "disrupted" the taxi industry.

That is, they'll break all the rules and then put the onus on their victims to prove wrongdoing. And, like Uber, they'll get away it with because, after all, they've got a bottomless pool of off-shore capital that's locked and loaded to blow the traditional legal bulwarks off the zoning maps.

Some of the locals may have deep pockets, but they've got nothing compared to the Googlites.

Surrender now!

Resistance is futile.

Dan's Republic of Congo, Marc Faber's (career) suicide note, and the Alzheimer highway

I've been trying to make sense of Faber's harikari.

I simply can't.

None of it makes any sense. Unless...

Unless Faber is motoring carefree down that Alzheimer highway with not a worry in the world.

Thank God America was colonized by white people?

Well, he's got one thing right; America certainly was colonized by white people. No doubt about that.

But he seems oblivious to the fact that it's also white people who have totally fucked America up.

Was it brown people who decided to teach those gooks a lesson in Viet Nam?

Was it brown people who decided America should intervene in Grenada and Panama and El Salvador and Nicaragua and Honduras?

Was it brown people who made the decision to invade Iraq? Afghanistan? Syria?

Are brown people pushing America into war with Iran? Russia? China?

I think not.

And who is pushing the never-ending wars in the DRC,  also known in some circles as "Dan's Republic?" Sure, there's Museveni and Kagami, but who do you think the enablers are?

It's the interminable wars against brown people the world over that are destroying America. The more America bombs, the more people hate America.

It's not rocket science.

Or perhaps we can call it Political Rocket Science. Polyrocketsci for short.

The Marc Faber who made a stellar rep for himself by being a savvy analyst of what's going on in the world would know all this. He's been around for a long time. He's basked in oodles of mainstream adulation. He's always known where to draw the line in terms of crossing the line, if you know what I mean.

The fact that he's lost it tells me one thing; he's lost it.

He's careening down the Alzheimer Highway with the pedal to the metal and no place to go...