Saturday, January 20, 2018

#metoo and Mick Jagger

I'm waiting for the next shoe to drop... a call-out of Sir Mick by the #metoo crowd.

Mick is of course one of our cultural icons over the past fifty years or so...

Mick does some cool shit with his band every now and then. He is also a very famous libertine. Is it even conceivable that all of Sir Mick's sexual encounters were fully consensual?

And what does that even mean?

I know for a fact that there's not a bevy of nubile young women waiting outside my door to treat me to a leg-spread. Believe me, I check the porch once in awhile.



But I'm not Mick.

We've seen a few Hollywood bigs brought low by this wave of neo-puritanism.

Our rock and roll icons will be next.

After all, what did "consent" mean in 1964?

Welcome to Canada, unemployed welders of the world! See you at Roxham Road!

Five years ago I wrote a post decrying Canada's dependence on temp foreign workers.

Temporary foreign workers are a bad idea for a lot of reasons. The program is not fair to those foreign  workers, for one thing. Sure, come to Canada and take a job at min wage that any Canadian would insist on $20 an hour to do.

And if your employer happens to be an immigrant-hating racist shit-bag, you're stuck with them for the duration of your foreign worker contract.

The "maximum Canada" crowd would dismiss these outrages as growing pains.

We're still down a shit-load of skilled workers in Canada. Not Justin nor Big Steve before him ever showed any initiative whatsoever in training up Canadian kids to make up the shortfall.

And why would they?

The Temporary Foreign Worker program will bring you all the skilled trades you need.

Let those Canadian kids hone their VR skills in their parents' basements!

Learning to love those Google algorithms

It's been barely a month since the good patriotic folks at GoogleTwitterFacebook announced that they'd modified their algorithms to weed out seditious anti-American propaganda.

We're fully aware that we're small potatoes here at Falling Downs, but holy shit, we had no idea how small we actually were. And we got way smaller after the big dogs clamped down on "Russian propaganda" and all that shit.

That "Russia stole our election" canard has got to be one of the most odious examples of state propaganda in our time. Unfortunately, the think tank here at Falling Downs has fallen victim to this witch hunt. Thanks to Google's algorithm adjustment, we're down to two or three page views per day instead of two or three hundred.

Apparently there are ways to circumvent the algorithm censorship regime.

Let me try a few of them out:

  • Trump invented lying 
  • Trump introduced lying to politics
  • Trump introduced racism to America   
  • Trump is just one awful dude
  • Trump is the most racist fucking shit-bag white supremacist to ever occupy the White House
  • Trump this and Trump that and Trump up the ying yang

That little outburst will, hopefully, restore my viewership to three dozen per day from three. That should get us off the Google never-Trump shit list...

At least until the thought police see this:

 Image result for Trump Al Sharpton

Yup, that's Donny J and the right Reverend Al Sharpton in happier times...

Under pressure

Five years ago this month the Farm Manager bought herself an Instant Pot. That made her an "early adaptor" of what's since become the biggest selling kitchen gadget on Amazon.

The gizmo sat in the pantry waiting for its inaugural test drive, and then a couple of months later the Boston Marathon thing happened. That totally put the FM off pressure cookers. It's sat in the pantry, unopened, ever since. 

Until today.

First she did up a turn of rice. Took twenty minutes and turned out super fluffy. The best-cooked rice I ever tasted.

Then she took a stab at hard-boiled eggs. We've been helping the local economy by buying eggs from free-ranging hens from one of the neighbours. Hell, if they ranged a little further they could just drop the eggs right in our barn and we wouldn't even have to pay for them!

This arrangement has gifted us an abundance of eggs. I'll whip up a batch of my killer egg salad once a week or so, and we're getting into pickled eggs. If that works out you may find a jar of Farm Manager brand pickled eggs at a farmer's market near you in the near future.

If that's not enough, she then turned out the tastiest chicken vindaloo you can imagine. From into the pot to down the gullet in no more than half an hour. I swear, this gizmo is a genius invention!

It's led to a rethink of our retirement plans. We're gonna give Hoonan the Iranian a run for his money on the food truck scene. Give the FM three or four of these Instant Pots in a food truck and we'll be rocking the Toronto street-food landscape in no time!

Chicken vindaloo on a bun. Lamb vindaloo on a bun. Chilli on a bun. Seafood chowder... on a bun?

We'll have to work out the details, but I think we've got a winning plan here.

Minimum Wage Paradise - live large in Seacow Pond

In what is more or less a paean to the marvels of unbridled immigration, David Parkinson has a multi-page feature in the Globe and Mail today about the economic boom in PEI. The caption to one of the pictures tells us that "...Royal Star Foods has increasingly been forced to rely on temporary foreign workers..."

We know that scenario intimately. Employers are "forced" to hire foreign workers because they offer shit jobs for shit wages, end of story. Pay a decent wage and your labour shortage will disappear, you greedy bastards.

Just to confirm my suspicions, I took a quick trip to Tignish on the Canada Job Bank. Sure enough, Royal Star Foods has a job listing still posted from last October looking for 50 workers for their lobster processing plant. The pay? $12.50 an hour.

That's a full $1.25 an hour above the PEI minimum wage. So maybe they're not the greediest greedbags in the biz, but still... what kind of a life can you live on $12.50 an hour?

Fired up the googlator to do some investigating. The single most debilitating expense for low income workers anywhere in Canada is the cost of housing. The average cost of a single family home nationwide hovers around the half-million mark. How does Seacow Pond stack up?

If you're used to Toronto prices you're in for a shock. Check out this two-bedroom charmer in downtown Tignish with a $34,700 asking price. That's the full price of the house and lot - not the amount of the deposit cheque or the down payment.

In case you don't have the headroom on your Mastercard to buy the place outright, I ran the numbers through the TD mortgage calculator. TD tells me that a $30,000 mortgage at their three year fixed rate of 3.34% is going to run me $152.36.

Per month!

The lobster gig runs roughly April to December. That's more than enough to accumulate the 910 hours of work to qualify for EI for the other three or four months. A typical fisheries worker can easily make $30k/yr. The big banks don't want you spending more than 30% of your annual gross on mortgage and taxes. Looks to me like virtually anybody working, including at minimum wage, can afford to buy their own place in this corner of PEI.

Go east, young man!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Modern living v old school

Modern living is the greatest, is it not?

You can get a whole roast chicken at any of the mega chains for well under ten bucks. What with these damned socialists upping the minimum wage to a luxuriant fifteen plump and rosy-cheeked dollars for every hour of so-called "work," (texting while ignoring customers, which happens all the time these days) the minimum wage crowd can now buy a whole roast chicken for about 45 minutes in the yoke.

A whole roast chicken, paired with a bag of pannini buns from Bunsmaster, and a 4L box of Keller Estates Dry Red, will keep a family of four going for two or three days, easy.

Looks to me like the millennial crowd is pretty close to recapturing the standard of living we (the working class) had in the pre-industrial era. Bread and wine and a roast chicken or locally made sausage on the dinner table.

Remember, this was the pre-industrial era. "Jobs" had yet to be invented. You were a butcher or a baker or a shoemaker and that's what you did and that's who you were.

Thankfully, we've been liberated from all that old school hippy dippy shit. Everything is way more efficient.

Just take that roast chicken, for example. Back in the day, lot's of folks would keep a few chickens. You'd get the eggs for two or three years and then you'd have a roast chicken. That's a stupendously inefficient way of getting your roast chicken.

That roast chicken our newly flush underclass will be chowing down on going forward doesn't come from there, obviously.  It comes from the kind of "farms" you'll see if you take a drive up the Elora Road. Just past my alma mater, Ponsonby Public School, you pass about a mile's worth of nondescript agricultural buildings.

Those are chicken factories.

Those chickens will never see a ray of sunshine or eat a blade of grass. They are the epitome of factory to plate dining.

Ya, I can see where you can wring inefficiencies out of things, but how far down that road do you go before you're wringing the soul out of them too?

I think we need to look to the past for our future.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The view from the top of the hill

Interesting contrast in the two stories on the front page of the Globe's Opinion section today. Neocon David Frum gets the top half of the page and uses it to give us a nostalgia bath in America's golden age - the "before Trump" era; ie before Trump started "sabotaging the institutions and agencies that protect the United States and sustain the peace of the world."

Yup, that's what America's been up to; sustaining the peace of the world.

In North Korea from 1950 on.

In Vietnam.

In Laos.

In Cambodia.

In Grenada and Panama and Iraq and Afghanistan and so many other places...

Sustaining the peace in the world?

I marvel at how far one must have one's head up one's arse to make such a statement.

Yanis Varoufakis gets the bottom half of the page for what is essentially a eulogy for the same neoliberal order that brought us all that peace that Frum laments the passing of.

Perhaps they're both right.

Strapped on the snowshoes and made my way to the top of the hill this afternoon, just me and the hounds. Bought a pair of those newfangled metal and plastic jobs at Crappy Tire recently because they were on sale. I was an old-school wood and leather guy till last winter, when I blew a binding on a hike around Bass Lake. Took fifteen minutes to get in and an hour and a half to get out.

From the top of our hill I can see the Meaford Tank Range, aka the "4th Division Training Centre Meaford," a good twenty or thirty miles distant. As much as we revel in being out of harm's way, I can't help but wonder if that might become a target in a worst case scenario.

Another reason to say bye-bye to the NATO gang and forge a future as a neutral nation as far as I'm concerned.

Elsewhere in the Globe you'll find a huge thumbs-up from David Shribman for Frum's latest book. Shribman shows up a lot in the pages of the Globe & Mail these days. I know it's hard times in the newspaper biz, and maybe they don't actually pay a real salary in Pittsburgh any more and he pays his bills with this free-lance stuff we see in the Globe.

According to Shribman, Frum's book is "a masterful diatribe against Trump's presidency." Shribman is another guy who believes America's golden age ended last January. Nothing like fobbing off a book review to someone who is on the same page of the hymnal as the guy whose book you're reviewing.

I enjoyed how he pegs Frum as "Canadian royalty." Interesting to see ourselves through the eyes of an outsider. What is Canadian royalty? Why, you're Canadian royalty when mom was a marquis name at the CBC and your sister is in the senate. Shribman forgot to mention that Papa Frum's mega millions helped that other stuff happen.

But maybe I'm being too cynical. I always had the highest regard for Barbara Frum's journalism, and while Murray Frum may not have invented the strip mall, anybody who can build a fortune out of such a pedestrian concept has my undying respect.

Finally, I have to admit to being alarmed by something Jeremy Freed wrote in what used to be called the "Style" section of the paper before all those high-priced consultants prevailed in the G & M makeover battles. Apparently ugly fashion is in! Yup, serious people who know the latest trends are looking at folks who dress like me and asking "are they really cool or is that just an ugly outfit?"

So if you see an old geezer in baffed out SAS shuffleboard shoes and baggy jeans loitering about the U of T campus, it's just me visiting. Say hello if you want, but trust me; I'm NOT cool.

Once I got them on and properly adjusted, the new snowshoes worked out OK. The problem is it took a good twenty minutes for the "adjustment" part of the process. That's because the plastic bindings are wonderfully pliable in the store at room temperature, but virtually impossible to manipulate in the cold.

I would consider that a major shortcoming in snowshoes.