Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Minimum wage rise to collapse economy?

Hey, if our economy depends on keeping tens of thousands of workers toiling in poverty, I say, let it fall! It ain't working for us!

The Metro grocery chain is the latest outfit to proclaim that the sky will fall if the proposed Ontario min wage rise goes forward. OMG, it's gonna cost Metro up to fifty million a year!!!

Hmm... fifty million on sales of 12 billion. A little elementary math tells me a cross-the-board price hike of less than .5% would bury the 50 million.

You or I won't notice a .5% increase in our grocery bill. What's an extra fifty cents when you spend a hundred bucks? If fifty cents upsets your weekly grocery budget, you're already getting your groceries at the food bank.

Metro's sacred net profits will be unscathed. All the other chains will be subject to the same minimum wage, so there's no competitive disadvantage.

Tens of thousands of their workers will notice a real difference in their take-home pay.

How is this even cause for debate?

Come on, Metro, don't be such tightwad bastards!

Celebrate the fact that you'll finally be paying your employees a living wage!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Fuck the algorithm

When I wake up, and that's consistently been in the morning for several decades now, thank you very much, I wobble over to the computer and check out the news stories that an algorithm has selected for me.

Algorithms pretty much decide everything I'm prompted to look at in the course of my day.

The folks who own the algorithms are now fine-tuning algorithms that will decide whether the news you access via the world wide web is real news or fake news.

Hmm... do we really want to be in a place where algorithms define reality for us?

Power has never been as concentrated as it is today

My dear Uncle Werner used to go traipsing all over Europe to deliver his papers. That's one sorry excuse of a paper route, I thought.

It was only after I got a little older that I realized that's what academics do; travel the world to read their papers to learned fellow-travellers. It's not at all like me reading my Globe and Mail at Dockside Willies.

Werner had some good stories about his various paper delivery adventures.  Aside from visiting places like Tubigen and Heidelberg, and any other place with a famous brewery, or so it seemed to me, he on occasion had to hop the Iron Curtain to attend conferences on that side of the fence. That's where his path would inevitably cross that of the Stasi, the state security outfit in East Germany.

He'd call up some esteemed Herr Doktor Professor, and someone would answer with the greeting "Staartssicherheit." This would be back in the ugly old Berlin Wall days.

Before the internet.

Before the digital revolution.

Before a small handful of private companies, all tied closely to American Empire, had a lock on global internet traffic.

I was impressed by what the Stasi could do in the '80's.

I can't even imagine what the NSA can do today.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fisk announces retirement?

Don't get me wrong; I think Robert Fisk is one of the the absolute go-to guys when it comes to news from the Middle East.

As near as I can tell he's got a pretty sweet gig going on, what with those papers who pay the rent on his waterfront flat in Beirut, and I've always thought he's a pretty credible guy.

In fact, he may have become too credible for his own good. And too honest.

Check this out;

There are still honourable Israelis who demand a state for the Palestinians; there are well-educated Saudis who object to the crazed Wahhabism upon which their kingdom is founded; there are millions of Americans, from sea to shining sea, who do not believe that Iran is their enemy nor Saudi Arabia their friend. But the problem today in both East and West is that our governments are not our friends. They are our oppressors or masters, suppressors of the truth and allies of the unjust.

What? 

Our governments are not our friends?

They are our oppressors?

Oh Robert! You must be fully convinced that your pension is sound if you risk your job like that!

But good on you!

Fresh brain fart from world's greatest intellectual smells suspiciously like last one

You don't have to work the google button very hard to find copious examples of the great BHL's ruminations on the need for regime change in Syria, and before that, Libya. In fact, he was advocating regime change in Syria even before the Coalition of the Self-Righteous was done murdering Gaddafi.

You'd think that the state of affairs in those two countries six years later would cast doubt on Mr. Levy's skills as a prognosticator, but apparently not. Here he is in my Globe and Mail today.

Yes, "we" have a duty to bring the gift of regime change to yet another country that's done absolutely nothing to threaten "us," but happens to be on Washington's shit-list, Venezuela.

Imperial meddling isn't just something we should do because we're militarily stronger and will get away with it. No, "we have a duty." Accordingly, Mr. Levy provides a long list of prescriptions for what the UN should do, what Washington and London and Paris should do, etc.

What is truly astonishing is even as his counsel has contributed to the destruction of the wealthiest country in Africa and the last secular Arab society in the Middle East, and created the worst refugee crisis in the modern era, reputable media outlets continue to offer him a platform to bray for more of the same.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

About the Ninja

I knew a guy once who owned a racehorse. He kept it at his buddy's place down the road. His wife knew nothing about the racehorse. He'd tell her that he was just heading over to Buddy's farm to help with the chores, and of course every Saturday he had to help Buddy out at the racetrack.

I was thinking about this as I was blasting down the side-road on the Ninja. She's an early eighties model, may have been a first year Ninja for all I know. Could be a collector item!

She's a four-stroke 500cc twin, not nearly as tempermental as those two-stroke 500cc triples Kawasaki was putting out in the early 70s. Still, she's got a redline of 11,000, and I generally lose my ambition by the time I'm half way there.

My pal Harvard lives at the end of the sideroad. He got his moniker because he's the only guy in these parts who actually went there. Hated it. Loves the quiet life up here in The Bruce.

I'm still up in the air about the Ninja. I haven't got round to registering it or getting insurance or any of that stuff, and I haven't actually bought a helmet. Frankly, the Ninja scares me a little bit.

That's not a bad thing. Being scared makes you careful.

As I was carefully negotiating the gravel side-road at a very decent clip, it occurred to me that I had something in common with Buddy and the racehorse.

The Farm Manager gets so into her Netflix she doesn't notice that I'm off on a ten mile toot round the block on the Ninja. Buddy's wife didn't realize her man owned a racehorse until that horse, after the top three favorites were unexpectedly scratched one Saturday night, won a race.

Buddy was so thrilled to have $7,049.50 in winnings he immediately went home and spilled the beans...

Maybe when I win a motorcycle race I'll do the same.






Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The clash of civilizations

When you think about it, it's no surprise that the European settlers were determined to wipe out the native population from the get-go.

On the one side, you had strict hierarchical regimentation of society. The ubermenschen ate first and ate the most, and the rest of the crowd scrambled for the left-overs.

On the other side, when the hunters brought home a moose or a caribou, everybody in the clan got to eat.

On the one side, even though the word "capitalism" had yet to be invented, the winner-take-all ethos was already well established.

On the other side, a communal ethos had been in place for millenia.

On the one side, rapacious exploitation was the norm.

On the other, sustainability was the norm.

Yes, there was indeed a clash of civilizations.

The folks who had the guns, germs, and steel on their side triumphed.

At least in the short term.


Fast forward a few centuries, and we are witnessing the death throes of this thing we call "capitalism."

It's become a tail-eating monster of a shit-show that feasts on constant expansion and constant war. It holds vast swathes of the so called civilized world in its thrall.

But, in spite of the best efforts of the settlers over these last five hundred blood-soaked years, there remains another side.

The communal side.

If we're to have a future, that's where we'll find it.