Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Paranoia in the USA

The NRA types who read this blog have nothing to worry about; I'm not going to make the tragedy in Idaho into a screed for gun control.

But let me take a shot at making it a screed for common sense.

How is it possible that you can't go shopping, at Walmart, without taking your gun?


Hell, they don't even have black folks up there; what is there to be afraid of?

According to various media reports, carrying a gun in Idaho isn't about protection. No, it's just about something called "gun culture."

I've been to Idaho, and I have to say that the cross-section of folks I met were just decent working folks who you'd love to have as friends or neighbours. They didn't strike me as "paranoid."

And since you're not paranoid, and you've got absolutely nothing to fear from a trip to the local Walmart, why not leave the gun at home?

Miracle at Vatican! Statue of baby Jesus craps nappy!

The old year went out with a poop at the Vatican, as a statue of the baby Jesus was found to have soiled its diaper with genuine baby poo!

The Associated Press

His Holiness moves in for a sniff to ascertain authenticity of miracle

Pope Francis verified the miracle to reporters shortly after Vespers Mass on New Years Eve. "As the procession mounted the steps to the Sanctuary a very foul smell became noticeable," said the Pontiff. "At first I thought one of the Cardinals had ripped forth a fart. They often do that just to annoy those behind them. But the smell got stronger and stronger and that's when we were able to pin-point the source."

Vatican scholars confirmed the miracle later. Monsignor Bruno Spassmacher, head of the Vatican's Department of Miracles and Stigmata Research, said "usually we find these miracles in a peasant shack in the Peruvian Andes; it's quite unusual to find one so close to home. We are  tentatively interpreting this as the return of the Spirit of Christ to the Holy See after an absence of many centuries."

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Montreal wedding

We're a little behind with the wood this year.

Mind you, we were completely run out by this time last year, which resulted in a oil bill of over $4000 by the time spring rolled around.

When you're the guy responsible for getting the wood into the house, that $4000 oil bill does not help a marriage. Instead, it tends to foster all sorts of sarcastic banter, mostly at my expense.

But speaking of marriage, let's get back to Montreal!

Been there for a couple of weddings.

Dixie and Ron got married at a hotel by the Dorval Airport. Well, they didn't get married in the hotel per se... they tied the knot in a really nice church downtown.

But the reception was out by the airport.

Wood heating is a funny thing. It's very cost efficient, unless you start to factor in your own labour in falling the trees, cutting the trees, splitting the wood, loading the truck, fixing the truck when it breaks down between the woodlot and the house, unloading the truck, piling the firewood in the woodshed, hand-bombing the wood into the basement, and so on...

When you do the math on all that, electric heat suddenly seems like a smart choice!

So all I remember about the wedding is that most of the wedding party partied at my room at the hotel, and the marriage itself didn't last very long.

Which is too bad. I liked Ron; I liked Dixie. You don't even want to cheer for anybody.

It's just a sad thing.

And I'll tell you another sad thing; the number of guys who get killed by logging mishaps when they're taking down trees! I didn't even factor that in to the above calculations!

Why is it always guys who die in chain-saw accidents? Where do all the feminists suddenly disappear to when it's time to drop that 60 foot elm?

They may be equal, but they're not stupid.

Then there was that other Montreal wedding, and I am happy to report that this one has stood the test of time, and survives to this day.

This was in one of those posh English-speaking suburbs, and since this was a relative of mine I was a little taken aback by that, but nevertheless, it was a classy affair.

It's nice to be invited to one of those once in awhile.

It was my Prussian-German-Schwabian-Canadian cousin Wolfgang, who now lives in one of those posh English suburbs in the biggest French-Canadian city in the land, hooking up with his Egyptian-Canadian girlfriend.

We are super multi-culti in my family!

So me and cousin Johnny motored up to Montreal together. I picked him up at his place in Toronto, and our first stop was a liquor store around the corner where Johnny picked up two cases of Grolsch tallboys.

Our next stop was Montreal, where, upon opening the door of the Subaru, empty Grolsch cans cascaded into the parking lot at our hotel.

So, having a Montreal wedding is a 50/50 kind of deal.

Might work.

Might not.

As for the wood thing, I look at it this way.

I'm outta the house.

The freedom is exhilarating. If I want to spend all day fixing a ten-minute problem, that's what I do. It's a dog-fuckers dream life!

Chain saws, wood-splitters, trucks are inherently cool.

The house just smells nicer when you heat with wood.

Add all that together, and it's worth way more than $4000!

Obama opens taps for Canadian tar-sands crude

I don't know whether to call it a whopper or a little fib, but there's something disingenuous about the first sentence in this story from Reuters. With West Texas Intermediate trading under $54/bbl today, nobody expects this move to "open the door for selling more domestic shale oil abroad."

The only shale oil coming out of the ground today is stuff that was sold forward months ago at prices that work. For virtually every shale producer in America, $54 doesn't.

So what's this story really about?

Moving Canadian tar-sands oil out of American ports.

Why can't Canada move it's oil out of her own ports?

Well, that's a long story...



Federal-provincial bickering...

Common sense...

In spite of the neo-liberal onslaught of recent years, there remains a good sturdy rump of obstinate Canadians who a) don't see the need to mine tar sands in the first place, b) don't see the rush to build pipe-lines willy nilly to get the stuff to market, and c) truly believe that this country should have far more important priorities than a & b above.

I'm with them.

Qatar climb-down signals imminent release of Jazeera journos

In the front office and on the front page, the Emirs of Qatar have officially turned their backs on the MB. That means those three Jazeera journalists who have been cooling their heels in a Cairo prison for the past year will be coming home soon.

Meanwhile, who knows what's going on in the back rooms? Just because Qatar has left the MB to hang, does that mean their support for the far more radical IS types in Iraq and Syria is over?

And would somebody, anybody, please make sure those three guys are released very soon, otherwise the ever-unctuous Canadian FM will take credit for their release!

"Please Massah, send in some Paveways!..."

Apparently things aren't going that well for our Peshmerga allies attempting to secure their imaginary realm from the Towel-Heads of Terror.

That's why both the Kurds and the nominal joke government in Baghdad are pleading with the Nations of Virtue to send in some death and destruction to help tip the balance in Kirkuk.

While that may be a laudable short-term strategy, it has some ultimately fatal flaws in the long term.

Memo to Kurdistan; the USAF cannot pretend to be the Kurdish Air Force indefinitely! Sooner or later you're going to have to make it on your own... or not.

There's a great deal of confusion among the American populace about just who is who and what is what in this latest round of Middle East adventurism. Our Peshmerga pals are, as of this writing, still on the official "Terror List." The IS underwriters in Qatar and Saudi are officially our best buddies in the ME right after the Chosen People, who for their part, variously support either the Kurds or the IS, depending on vagaries of weather, geography, expediency, time of day, etc...

Long story short, I think it's safe to say that there's a whole lot of Big Dogs here in the Nations of Virtue who are beyond thrilled to see our various "enemies" killing one another off, and the fact that they're doing it with weaponry that keeps our armament manufacturers humming, well, bonus!

So rest assured the Paveways are on their way... and, depending on how things fare out this week, perhaps next week we'll have our Saudi pals send a few transports of Paveways to the IS, just to keep things fair and square!

Alex Navalny proves freedom of speech stronger in Russia than USA

Let's do an experiment.

If you're a confirmed Obama hater, gather up a few dozen of your supporters, and march down Pennsylvania Avenue shouting "this regime must be destroyed!"

Whadya figure's gonna happen?

Do you think the Washington authorities will be content to escort you back home to serve your house arrest term?

Or might something more ominous lie in store for you?

Likewise those fake "punk rockers," Pussy Riot. Let them bring an "Obama Prayer" to defile the National Cathedral and see what happens.

The NED crowd promote the fiction that America is some sort of "exceptional" role model to the rest of the world when it comes to matters of liberty and freedom of speech.

Like all great prevailing fictions, this one holds a kernel of truth; if you speak for big capital in America you will enjoy great freedoms.

If not, you're out of luck.

And quite often dead or in jail.

Why "failed" UN Palestine vote should be a wake-up call for Israel and her US enablers

The headlines about today's failed Palestinian statehood vote in the UNSC are more than a little misleading.

In fact, eight Security Council members voted FOR the statehood resolution, and only two voted against. UN rules require nine yes votes to pass a resolution.

So the pro status-quo crowd had a really close call. If only one of the abstaining countries had voted aye, it would be a whole 'nother ball game tonight. Let's have a quick look at the abstainers.

Lithuania. There's a perfect example of a little country that can't. A darling of the neolibs, Lithuania under its current regime can be expected to remain firmly in Obama's back pocket, and even more firmly in the back pocket of whichever Republican takes the reins from America's first Black President... like America's second Black President, Ben Carson, currently on a tour of the Holy Land to polish up his pro-Israel bona fides?

Nigeria. There's a big country that can't, and also a big country in really deep doo-doo. Nigeria is the failed state par excellence. The ultimate kleptocracy, Nigeria is headed for a fiscal cliff a little faster every day that oil remains under $100. The only reason the country will not completely implode is that the elite have done such a thorough job plundering the oil wealth, that the impoverished masses will never realize that the party's over! If anything like authentic democracy prevailed in Nigeria, the Nigerian vote would have gone aye.

South Korea. Well, everybody knows whose back pocket Seoul is in, but their turn on the Security Council is over as of tomorrow. They will be replaced by Malaysia, a country that is 60% Muslim. Any bets where that vote will go next time round?

Rwanda. Another pliable US/UK lackey state, Rwanda is out the door of the UNSC the day after tomorrow too, to be replaced by Angola. Any bets on where that vote will go?

So in all likelihood, had today's vote been deferred a week, we would instead see this headline;

US vetoes Palestinian State!

Well, would not a stink ensue then?! Especially at this particularly sensitive moment in time, when the Yanks desperately need that Arab beard for their latest assault on Iraq and Syria? Yes, as long as Washington can point to some lame-duck Arab dictatorships as their "partners" in the war on Islamic State, all's well that ends well, at least for now, in this latest imperialist adventure that surely won't.

Wake up folks!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The first order of business is to keep yourself in business

That's a game the Carlyle types have mastered.

When your business is selling guns and bullets and bombs and rockets to the people who need guns and bullets and bombs and rockets, and half of your board of directors are or were State Department bigs, then it's not hard to see how a lot of folks in Washington have a vested interest in stirring up and stringing out violent conflict all over the globe.

Forget the horseshit about the city on the hill; America has become the purveyor par excellence of death-dealing hardware around the world. Apparently they have easy payment plans to go with the hardware. Not ready to pay cash up front?

No problem!

101 international institutions will be more than happy to find a way to allow otherwise bankrupt failed states to spend billions in Uncle Sam's great weapons bazaar! 

As long as you've got something valuable in the ground, be it oil or gas or rare earth metals, Uncle Sam's got a financing package for you!

No credit? No problem!

Money is never an issue! Here in Uncle Samistan we just print more of the stuff when the fundamentals don't add up! 

After all, spending more on guns and bombs than all our "enemies" combined has to count for something!

They hate us for our freedom to rape their children

Turns out W only told us half the story when he famously remarked that "terrorists hate us for our freedom."

Seems the rest of the story has been effectively suppressed until now.

This isn't going to cause a lot of outrage in the Arab world; they've lived with their outrage for years. That's why ISIS has no trouble finding recruits. This story has been old news in the Arab street for ten years.

It does however come at an awkward time for America's reinvigorated war on Iraq and Syria. It's not so much awkward for the US as it is for America's Arab allies.

It's really tough to sell your illegitimate government in Jordan or Bahrain or Saudi Arabia (to mention just a few) to your people when you're up to your neck in colluding with the world bully who steals your resources and rapes your children.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Let's destroy police unions once and for all

Can you see where things are going with all this anti-cop ranting and raving?

Cops are cops. In some places more of them happen to be white than black. In other places they are more often black than white. Up in Winnipeg Manitoba, a black dude just became the first black dude to lead a major police department in Canada.

Being a cop is a shit job. Ya, being turned loose with a Glock and a Harley sounds cool enough, but read the fine print.

There's a shit-load of retarded laws that you are expected to enforce.

That kid blazing a doob outside the 7-11?


Unless of course you happen to be a cop in Colorado or Washington State, in which case that kid is 100% in the right.

Which makes Colorado and Washington anathema to the prisons-for-profit crowd.

And that's a crowd that has some serious schlep in Washington. If you can't throw a 18 year old nigger in the tank for 25 years for smoking a doobie, the entire prisons-for-profit business model is gonna go for a complete shit!

Which is why I'm a little perturbed by what the NYPD guys are doing.

Ya, it might be a nice gesture of solidarity to give de Blasio the finger, but what comes after that?

de Blasio is in his heart of hearts a union guy. He's OK with a unionized cop making 90k. You seriously want to turn your back on de Blasio?

Well officer, there's tons of folks out there who would be more than happy to make policing just another min wage shit job.

Keep showing de Blasio your backs, and your worst nightmares will come true.

When the whip comes down

Here's a little slice of rock & roll from the wayback machine. The whip comes down around the 17 minute mark.

What's noteworthy about this recording is how ahead of the times the Stones were in some respects.

"I was gay in New York, a fag in L.A." were not lyrics that dropped easily from the lips of the big rock stars of the era, no matter how gay or faggy they might have been off stage.

That queer-friendly thumbs up by rock icons helped ease the path for a lot of regular folks to reconsider their approach to the queer brother, sister, nephew, niece, friend, hiding out in the family tree.

And that's a good thing.

The future of Afghanistan

Today is a big day. After a thirteen year occupation, the Nations of Virtue are giving the country back to the warlords and religious nutters.

But not really. Read the fine print, and you'll see that "leaving" Afghanistan entails leaving behind 13,000 troops plus an indeterminate number of "contractors."

In other words, today's ceremonies are primarily a PR exercise intended for domestic consumption in the Nations of Virtue.

So what does the future hold for Afghanistan?

Well, since nothing has changed, I think it's reasonable to expect lots more of the same...

And thank God for a reliable source of cheap heroin now that it's becoming more and more dodgy to get a refill on your oxy script!

Canada to consider mandatory driver training after series of high-profile road accidents

Scotland Street crash

Authorities in Canada are considering compulsory driver licensing after a rash of embarrassing road accidents.

Canada is one of the few advanced nations that does not require any kind of testing before new drivers are allowed on the road. "That's a headache," said police spokesperson Wanda Dunkelwasser. "Basically you've got folks getting off the airplane from Nairobi or Calcutta who never drove anything more powerful than an ox-cart. Next thing you know they're behind the wheel of a 300 horsepower police car or even a bus or a street car. Shit's gonna happen!"


Bieber and Baldwin to spend New Year holiday at Falling Downs

Ya, no shit, I'm as surprised as you are!

Is he gonna have his entire entourage with him?

And who the hell is this Baldwin person?

Small town South Ontario is a pretty tiny place. Everybody knows somebody who knew Justin when he was just a hopeless dork.

Anyway, I'm gonna grab a couple extra two-fours and keep them in the back room, just in case...

Putin shoots down another airliner

Yup, no doubt about it; Putin's fingerprints are all over this job.

After all, there is no other explanation for the inexplicable disappearance of yet another passenger jet from southeast Asia.

There is a smoking gun, and the Murdoch free press will no doubt have pictures of it, in Putin's hands, by the time tomorrow's papers hit the newsstands.

Let's just hope we die before we get old

Here's a story about a gal who is pissed about what the old folk's home fed her dear daddy for Christmas dinner.

I don't know... a couple of cold cuts and some macaroni salad?

Sounds yummy to me!

What the fuck did she expect when she put her daddy in a home?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Social housing

What the fuck does that mean?

Does that mean every low-lifer no-lifer is entitled to a roof?

Get the fuck outta here!

Put those shit-bags in jail!

Oh, jail costs how much per year?

You mean we could provide social housing for less than half what it costs to keep our folks in jail?

From A-list to shit-list in three easy steps

Getting to the top of the pile in the small pond we call the Canadian cultural scene takes three things; a modicum of talent, good luck, and good management.

Once you're there, it's pretty much guaranteed to be a lifetime gig. The Canadian cultural scene is chock full 'o folks whose best days are decades behind them.

Every once in awhile fate will lift someone out of the little pond and deposit them on the world stage. Alice Munro for example.

I'm pretty sure Jian Ghomeshi believed he was destined for the world stage too.

Alas, it was not to be.

Instead, Jian's wagon went the other way, and fast.

While we were motoring home from the city the other day, the Farm Manager was reading me the Globe and Mail, and while she was reciting the list of big names in a story about some fund-raiser or other that Toronto's beautiful people had blessed with both their funds and their presence, it occurred to me that something was missing from the attendant photos.

Jian Ghomeshi.

A year ago the same story about the same event had Jian posed in several pictures.

Now it's "Jian who?"

Since it's a stultifyingly long drive from the city to Falling Downs, we had ample time to diagnose the root causes of Jian's demise.

How did a guy who was on top of the world six months ago make himself a has-been overnight?

Step one; forget about the good luck and the good management and assume it's all about you.

Step two; since you've convinced yourself that you're the kind of gigantic talent that comes along once in a generation, ease up on any filters that may have stood between you and your public self. Let it all hang out!

Step three; having let it all hang out, so to speak, assume that the adoring public will rush to your defense, because after all, you're a talent that comes along once in a generation, a household name... good luck and good management be damned, you're bigger than that...

So Jian wakes up in the ditch, having been abandoned by his good luck and his good management.

At least he still has his talent.

Frank joins the club

Must be a bit of an anti-climax for Frank Hasenfratz to be inducted into the Order of Canada.

After all, his arch-rival Frank Stronach made it there 15 years ago.

But good on Frank!

I've written about Frank before, but his story bears repeating. He made his way as an old-school capitalist, the kind even a dyed-in-the-wool pinko like me can respect. He built a business by making stuff that other people wanted to buy. His shop out on the Silvercreek extension just north of Guelph was the employer of last resort in those parts back when I was coming up.

From penniless immigrant to billionaire member of the Order of Canada... oh, what a great country we live in!

And that's in spite of a political class that works ceaselessly to screw it up!

Congratulations Mr. Hasenfratz!

Friday, December 26, 2014

How is it even remotely possible that Green Day are in the Rock Hall of Fame but DJ Kool Herc is not?

Green Day does some really cool covers of Rolling Stones tunes. And they're very good at it. Green Day's cover of "Rip This Joint" is way better than anything the Stones ever did with that tune.

No wonder Green Day has been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

All DJ Kool Herc ever did was invent an entire new genre...

Is it even remotely possible that Green Day is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but Joe Cocker is not?

Shame on the Hall of Fame!

How dare you lie to me on Christmas day, Mr. Prime Minister!

I am just one of 34,000,000 more or less Canadians who got this message from Big Steve yesterday, Christmas day;

Full text of Harper’s Christmas message:
This Christmas, we Canadians have many reasons to celebrate.
We live in a beautiful country, a compassionate country,2 a prosperous country.3
Despite the difficulties elsewhere in the world, Canada’s economy is getting ever stronger, and more Canadians have more opportunities and better jobs than ever before. 5
Importantly, around the world our country is also known for doing what is good and right, 6 and for protecting the vulnerable, promoting peace, and defending the freedom of all people. 7
Amid all the festivities, please say a prayer of thanks for the brave men and women in uniform, who serve this Christmas in harm’s way, especially those fighting the terrorists of the so-called Islamic State. 8
In our abundance, and in the spirit of Christmas, I’d also ask you to show kindness to the less fortunate. 9
And as you gather with friends and family, may you be filled with love, joy, peace and most of all, hope for the future. 10
On behalf of the Government of Canada and from my family to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Season’s Greetings.

Just a few things, Steve:

1. We do indeed live in a beautiful country. I would ask you to restore the Parks Canada budget to keep it that way.

2. I'd like to see a little more compassion extended to Syrian refugees. Your government has been talking big but doing next to nothing to solve the Syrian refugee crisis.

3. Not nearly as prosperous as we used to be.

4. More Canadians than ever before are doing shit jobs or working two or more shit jobs in a desperate attempt to keep things together.

5. Canada is awash in recent university grads who do not have a hope in hell of a career in their chosen field.

6. Like forcing the democratically elected prime minister of Haiti out of office. Twice.

7. How are the people of Libya enjoying the "freedom" we and our NATO pals gifted them?

8. The "so-called Islamic State" grows stronger with every Paveway 500 pounder the CAF drops on them, Steve. You're not solving problems with this mission in Iraq; you're creating new problems.

9. I will, Steve. Thanks to your policies there are more "less fortunate" in Canada today than ever before.

10. Thank you! Our best hope for the future rests in getting rid of your government. But thanks for the kind thoughts, and I hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy Chanuka too!

Season's Greetings to all!

Lemmy's warts

I was watching a BBC doc about the old-school psychedelic band "Hawkwind," and they had a number of clips of Lemmy Kilmister. So there's Lemmy, after fifty years in rock 'n roll, with these grotesque protuberances hanging off his face.

The reason I got down that road was because Junior gave me the Nick Mason biography of Pink Floyd for a Christmas present.

I love Pink Floyd, but rooting around in the archives brought up another old-school psychedelic band; Hawkwind.

In my youth I actually owned original vinyl pressings of "A Saucerful of Secrets" and "Silver Machine."

Junior filched the both of them, the little bastard... but at least I can take credit for the exquisite taste he has in music today!

I figure that at this point in his career, Lemmy could well afford to have his warts removed by a legitimately qualified specialist.

If he wanted to.

IF he felt like it...

Ergo, it's not at the top of his to-do list.

Ergo, he could not possibly give a flying fuck...

And is that not the essence of rock and roll, before it became a commodity?

Even if you've never heard of Hawkwind and never cared for Motorhead, you gotta love that about the guy.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Putin behind Sony hack

Rupert Murdoch's minions at The Times must have sensed a void in the sea of speculation around the now infamous Sony hack. The North Koreans must have been behind it, until they weren't. Or the Chinese. Or a disgruntled Sony insider. Or some underground PR lab retained by Sony to goose an otherwise lame movie.

Planet Murdoch has now put forward a new theory. Citing anonymous analysts, the paper has revealed that the hackers were Russian. And that can only mean one thing; Putin himself must have engineered the Sony job!

After all, regular Murdoch news consumers already know that nothing moves in Russia without the approval of the great dictator, that he is rebuilding the Soviet Union, and that he is bent on world domination at all costs.

Clearly, the Sony hack is merely the latest building block in Putin's campaign.

Netanyahu reaches out to his Christian base

In a sly bit of electioneering, Israeli PM Netanyahu has reached out to his American Christian base with a feel-good Christmas message.

Netanyahu has always been more popular in the US than in Israel. They see him as one of them, which compared to someone like Lieberman he clearly is. His perfect east coast English and knowledge of American culture give him a veneer of innocuous familiarity in American eyes.

Netanyahu has used that to his advantage throughout his political career, which is based on endless fear-mongering at home combined with selling himself as the man most likely to keep America's unquestioning military support.

Alas, there have been signs that the schtick is growing tired. The ill-advised call for new elections with two years remaining on the meter, the courts trying to prevent him from running again, and the unexpected rise of a Labour party long ago left for dead, have all conspired together to create the perfect storm. The wily fox may have out-foxed even himself!

Count on Netanyahu to double down on the only strategy he's ever known. He will shamelessly ramp up the fear-mongering at home and boost his profile on America's TV screens between now and March.

Santa leaves steaming heap 'o reindeer turds for Lieberman

The political ambitions of Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, have taken a hopefully fatal turn as police rounded up dozens of suspects close to his Yisrael Beitenu party in a major anti-corruption operation.

With less than three months to go before the election, this should put paid to any hopes that Lieberman harboured about succeeding Netanyahu as PM.

One can only hope that this gives the electorate pause to consider the integrity of the ruling clique. They have brought neither peace nor prosperity. Perhaps it's time for the country to consider another direction.

Saudi Arabia and Iran: The things that didn't add up two years ago still don't add up today

Check this out.

Saudi is all in to kill the global fracking industry. They are committed to eliminating competition...

Think about it for a moment.

Who else benefits by getting the frackers out of the market?


But aren't Iran and Saudi mortal enemies?...

Check this out again.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Jordan on edge after ISIS win; celebrates campaign against smoking instead

Ya, it's not looking great in the war on terror... but by golly, look how we're doing in the war on cigarettes!

In fact, that's what took the life of Eric Garner, didn't it?

He was selling duty-free smokes in the street. That's why he had to be strangled to death. A policeman was enforcing the cigarette taxes.

That is so far beyond fucked up, I'm not even going to try to make a joke of it.

Jordan is on the cusp of revolutionary change. The big dogs in Jordan, who are pretty much invisible dogs in Washington and Brussels, are declaring war on cigarettes, when one of their warplanes just got shot down by fellow Arabs while carrying out a bombing mission on fellow Arabs.

This is, to say the least, confusing.

But I'm guessing the Jordanians can figure it out...

Ghosts of Christmas present...

This was the very first time that the clan has got together on Christmas Eve without the presence of my dear mother.

We got together at the home of my successful brother, the one who didn't go to university.

That's not quite true.

He got into McGill on an athletic scholarship. The folks delivered him to Montreal in their motor home. They took the scenic route back to their base in South Ontario... and he was back home before they were!

He has prospered ever since, without benefit of post-secondary education.

Tonight he and I were crammed into the same smallish sofa, and we were doing the usual Christmas carol routine we always do, and we were about to unleash one of the German classics, and he says, "oh shit, Mom used to sing this to me... it's gonna make me cry!"

So we start singing, and he starts sniffling...


Well, that just got me started...

So before you know it, there's more sniffling than singing.

I had to excuse myself before I completely lost my composure.

It just ain't the same without Mom.

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Turkey to legalize polygamy?

You have to wonder what the wily Erdogan has up his sleeve for his next surprise. The think tank here at Falling Downs had a round table discussion around the round table in the computer room the other night, and we've concluded that all signs point to the legalization of polygamy!

Polygamy has been illegal since 1926 in Turkey, the first Muslim country to pass such a law. This is the legacy of Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey. While Erdogan often pays lip service to Ataturk, he is also very much a conservative Muslim, and this would be a chance to roll back one of Ataturks excesses.

That would cement Erdogan's legacy as the father of post-modern Turkey!

What are the signs pointing in such a direction? First of all, it is obvious that the man is driven to leave his mark on the nation. He wants a bigger legacy than Ataturk. So far he only has a bigger palace.

Secondly, he seems obsessed with the role of women in Turkish society. The tide of secularism that Ataturk unleashed on the land has resulted in a lot of Turkish women getting comfortable with the idea that they are equal to men, which isn't how Erdogan or any other pious Muslim male sees it.

Thirdly, Erdogan's concern over Turkey's birth-rate affords a unique opportunity to down several birds with one shot, so to speak. Birth control may be a crime against the state, but not one which can be readily criminalized. Imagine the international uproar! Erdogan would come away looking like a misogynistic third-world-despot buffoon!

That is not the legacy he envisions for himself.

But properly implemented, the restoration of the honourable practice of polygamy would undo the damage done to the nation by birth control. A programme of generous financial incentives would soon see many Turkish men appreciate the wisdom of having three, four, possibly even five wives!

Hell, why stop there? What's wrong with twenty or thirty wives? Come to think of it, this could also help alleviate the Syrian refugee crisis!

So remember, you read it here first! Having declared victory over his arch-nemesis Gulen, the wily Erdogan is looking for a lasting legacy.

Polygamy could be it!

Man ducks rape in Turkish village

The folks at Turkish news site Hurriyet are very happy to have avoided the recent crack-down on journalists, and have responded with a lot of high-impact stories like this one; man rapes duck...

Well, by golly, you know how sometimes your eyes play tricks on ya?.. well, I thought I read "man ducks rape," so immediately I wondered if some hapless wanderer had stumbled into a remote Turkish village and been set upon either by a gang of sodomites or a a gang of rapacious Turkish vixens. Either way, ya gotta find out how this story ends!

So I click on the story, and there's a picture of a duck!

Oh-oh! This ain't going where I thought...

Talk about not getting along with the in-laws!

Monday, December 22, 2014

WaPo offers Holder 7 tips guaranteed to inflame anti-cop prejudices

The Washington Post site has on view an opinion piece by Paul Cassell, a former federal judge, that purports to offer suggestions to "help prevent more police officers from being murdered."

1. Holder should send 30 government representatives to the funerals of officers Liu and Ramos. Why 30? Well, he sent three to Michael Browns funeral. This is a way of showing that a police officer's life is way more important.

2. Visit the officer's families. No reason given, other than to balance out the fact that he met with Brown's family.

3. Clear Officer Darren Wilson in a public report. Officer Wilson should stand trial; if a jury of his peers finds him not guilty, he'll be cleared. It's not up to Holder or Cassell or journalists to clear him.

4. Meet with Officer Wilson. How this would prevent police officers from being murdered we are not told.

5. Expedite the Garner investigation. When he says "expedite" he appears to mean "clear" the officers involved in his death. Again, those responsible for Garner's death have the opportunity to be cleared in a court of law, but they would have to be charged first.

6. Stop tolerating law-breaking by protesters. Apparently Ishmaaiyl Brinsley was motivated to drive from Baltimore to NYC and kill Officers Liu and Ramos because some anti-police-brutality protests turned violent.

7. Institute a national police appreciation day. Yes, that will make police officers safer. A former federal judge says so and the Washington Post published it.

To be sure, police officers in New York or Ferguson are not responsible for 400 years of systemic racism in America, but Cassell gives no indication that he is even remotely aware that there are millions of dispossessed Americans who are fed up with being on the dirty end of that deal. That is but one of the oversights in his seven useless suggestions.

America has evolved into a brutal winner-take-all society in which the marginalized are expected to know their place. When they get "uppity" the police are expected to refresh their memories. The marginalized see the police primarily as the protectors of the privileged. Having an annual "Hug a Cop Day" isn't going to change that.

While opportunists on all sides, from Al Sharpton to Rudy Giuliani, are busy trying to make political hay out of the NYPD tragedy, nobody has raised the question of why, in the wealthiest country in the world, a mentally ill man cannot be treated for his mental illness, but can be allowed to own a gun.

It also doesn't help that police forces across North America have become increasingly militarized over the past 20 or 30 years. There's been an odious trend toward sending senior police officials to Israel for training in how to deal with restive populations. While it's true that the law enforcement establishment in Israel has extensive expertise in dealing with violent protests, that's because they are essentially an occupation force. Who decided that makes them an appropriate role model for American law enforcement?

As long as you have millions of pissed off disenfranchised citizens, with no opportunity for improving their situation, no health care for their mental illnesses, no meaningful gun control, and police forces that increasingly look and act like an occupying army, the peope vs. the police is going to become an increasing common meme in America.

Rouble up 50% on week!

So where are all the headlines proclaiming that fact? After all, we certainly had no shortage of headlines celebrating the rouble "collapse."

After bottoming out at 78.5 roubles/1USD a week ago, the rouble is trading in the 55 range today. A week ago a million roubles were worth $12,700.  Today that million roubles is worth over $18,000 US. Normally this would be considered a robust recovery, but our news reportage about all things Russian is not normal.

Instead, all major Western media continue to hew to the politically dictated script.

Putin bad.

Rouble in free-fall.

Russia on verge of collapse.

Colour revolution to break out imminently...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tony Abbott auditions for spot in Canada cabinet

He must be auditioning for a spot in Harper's cabinet; how else do you explain something this stupid?

Abbott claims that his scrapping of the carbon tax was a gigantic gift to the women of Australia.


Well, Tony knows that women are particularly focussed on the household budget, and therefore the $550/year the repeal of the carbon tax will gift the average Aussie household is in fact a gift to women!

That's exactly the kind of non-logic that the Harper gang makes much mileage from. After all, Canada's much bally-hooed campaign to save women and girls is nothing more than a cover story for Canada's policy of subsidizing Monsanto and Dow Chemical and the rest of the usual suspects.

So Tony's double-speak was sure to find eager ears in Canada.

Celebrating the Winter Solstice

If you check on Wikipedia, Winter Solstice is about the axial tilt of the earth or some such gyroscopic horseshit.


I like to think of it as that special day when the Farm Manager gets up an hour and a half before the crack of dawn to fix us a pitcher of vodka smoothies!

She's the Queen of Smoothies, the Farm Manager is. Under normal circumstances she's doing weird shit with hemp seeds and strange grains from parts of the world that are generally starving, but for Winter Solstice, she lets it all hang out, and I get something out of the smoothie-making technology that makes me forget how much I resent it the rest of the year.

And I have to admit, it works to put the Farm Manager herself into an amenable frame of mind. We were just discussing her placement of a license plate as decor item in the kitchen here at Falling Downs. Now, you would naturally assume, if you're any kind of regular reader, that decorating with license plates would be my department, and not hers, and you'd be right.

I immediately offered to refinish the dining room ceiling with the stack of old license plates I have stashed in the garage. I'm a bit of a collector that way. Old plates. Every time I nail a 1950s era plate on the barn wall I ponder about what vehicle that plate may once have graced, and who was driving the vehicle, and who bought it new, and how and where the plates eventually came off that car and found their way into my collection.

There's a hundred stories in every old license plate. Keep reading The View From Falling Downs and I promise I'll eventually bore you with every one of them.

That offer was rather hastily declined. There will be one and only one plate on display, because it came from the only vehicle she ever bought in her life, on her own account, for herself. A brand new 2003 Montana.

So the reason ARET 192 is on view here in the kitchen at Falling Downs, is because it's a reminder of a long journey...

And that's a fitting way to salute the Winter Solstice...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Top twit oversees 400+ Twitter accounts

Bullshittin' Baird never fails to surprise. According to this story in the Globe and Mail, Baird's Department of Foreign Affairs runs an impressive 400+ Twitter accounts!

Twitter; propaganda for dummies! The media platform for the content challenged... 140 characters is a lot when you have nothing to say...

Apparently Mr. Baird is also branching out to Buzzfeed, because rampant Twitter addiction does not, in itself, trivialize Canada's foreign policy sufficiently.

So far Baird's minions have only used Buzzfeed a couple of times, to take gratuitous pot-shots at Iran and Russia.

The Russia post last week is particularly embarrassing. As the Canadian dollar swoons to five year lows, Baird uses sophmoric sarcasm to chide Russia on the the decline of the ruble. Shouldn't senior Canadian politicians be using their time to solve Canada's problems, instead of publicly gloating over the problems of other nations?

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the UN General Assembly just voted 170-6 to have Israel compensate Lebanon almost $1 billion US for the environmental disaster that ensued when one of Israel's "hard slaps" against "terrorists" blew up an oil hub on the Lebanese coast.

You can pretty much guess who the six naysayers were; Israel, the US, Pacific powerhouses Micronesia and Marshall Islands, Australia, and of course Canada.

That's  embarrassing.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Bibi whips out Holocaust card to shame EU

Netanyahu nearly shit himself when the European Court voted to delist Hamas from the international terror list the other day. It took one hell of a lobbying drive to have them put on there in the first place.

All that hard work for nothing!

What this story makes plain is that the days when the Holocaust could be invoked to automatically justify any and all Israeli crimes are coming to an end.

This would of course come as a shock to Israel's political elite. Heretofore the Holocaust card has never failed to work its magic. Whenever international opprobrium about Israel's egregious land-thieving and human rights abuses gets too loud, whipping out the Holocaust card has automatically granted the moral high ground to the apologists for Israel's misconduct.

The greatest leader since Moses just found out those days are over.

Instead, those Europeans are now asking what a Nazi pogrom three quarters of a century ago has to do with Israel expanding illegal settlements in Palestine today.

Good question.

Victimology 101 at Dalhousie

I've always been a little suspicious of dentists, especially after seeing Marathon Man. Really, there's folks who want to spend years in training just so they can spend their working lives looking in my gob and figuring out what I had for dinner yesterday.... YUK!

Dentists have incomes and suicide rates that are both well above average. What does that tell you?

So while I'm beyond thrilled and delighted with my own dentist these past four or five years, Doctor Bob, I'd hazard a guess that folks who heed the call of dentistry are not necessarily the most well-adjusted people on the planet.

I wonder about proctologists too. Same deal; they're just at the other end of the pipeline.

But this flap at Dalhousie University is another matter entirely.

In a nutshell, this is about a bunch of not-too-mature young males impressing one another with their lurid fantasies about what they'd like to do with/to their female colleagues. They're dentistry students. Their fantasy life is their sex life.

They may be pathetic wankers today, but someday they might grow up into responsible Mercedes-driving professionals who raise solid middle-class kids and pay their taxes.

In the meantime, they are indulging in some immature sexist banter of the sort that immature males have exchanged in locker rooms throughout the world since the beginning of time.

"Ya, I'd like to give Mabel a double dose of chloroform and bone her up the ...."

At which point one of the speaker's mates would most probably chime in, " ya, good luck Bernie, it's gonna take at least a triple dose before somebody as ugly as you bones anybody anywhere..."

That used to be considered locker room banter.

The Dalhousie dolts, being perhaps not the sharpest tools in the Dalhousie Dental School tool-kit, had the poor judgement to put their locker room banter on Facebook!

Bad call...

The CBC News is now treating its listeners to frequent interviews with "victims" who claim they no longer feel safe at Dalhousie or in dentists' offices...

They want the naughty would-be dentists expelled from the university and expunged from their chosen profession.

I think that's a bit over the top.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Some questions about Russia's economic crisis

There's been a lot of triumphalist gloating in our media of late about how our sanctions and oil-price-manipulation have got the Russian economy on the brink.

The usual anti-Putin pundits (pretty much the only ones we get to meet on CNN et al) are gleefully suggesting Putin prepare an exit plan.

On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that the Russian economy is in far better shape, even with sanctions and $50 oil, than the US economy. There is no doubt that Russia can weather a sustained run of sub-$60 oil. The US fracking industry can't.

Long before Russia is crippled, the US fracking industry and the $500 billion in debt obligations tied to it will be ancient history. How that $500 billion write-off will effect the US economy remains to be seen.

Perhaps the prospect of that half-trillion $ default is one reason for the desperate lobbying by Citigroup and others to have Dodd-Frank emasculated. The big banks will have those toxic 500 billions repacked and sold off to one another in some form, and before you know, oopsie!... well what a surprise, the taxpayers are on the hook yet again!

Meanwhile, winter has descended on Europe, as it predictably does at this time of year, and Europe has very limited short and medium term options when it comes to replacing Russian gas. For the most part, they can't and they won't. That makes them half-hearted participants at best in the Washington-driven sanctions regime. Quite aside from their dependence on Russian gas, they must deal with the pressure of their own business communities who are saddled with substantial losses as a result of sanctions.

Obama imposes sanctions; France, Germany, Poland pay the price. How long do you suppose that's going to fly in Europe once sanctions start hurting European employment and economic well-being? While the more obsequious ass-kissers among the European leadership (Cameron, Tusk) make much noise about Putin, the reality is that European business leaders generally consider Russia a sound business partner.

Also overlooked in this recent euphoria is that Russian energy is sold to Europe in dollars. The much-ballyhooed "collapse" of the rouble this week was nothing of the sort. Instead, it was a short-term aberration driven by speculators, and even the most deep-pocketed and well-connected speculators will be unable to sustain it, at least not without having their potential losses underwritten by the US tax-payer or the US government's printing presses. So long as the dollars and euros keep pouring in from outside, it's inevitable that the rouble will rebound.

Short term, the Russian economy is taking some unwarranted bad press in the West, but that's hardly new. The usual suspects who have been salivating for regime change there probably see this as their last best chance.

Unfortunately for them, Putin's popularity in Russia seems to be holding up, and in the medium to longer term, the Russian economy is on much firmer ground than America's.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cuba - USA rapprochement; why now?

After all, the Yanks have had well over 50 years to set this right.

So why, after well over fifty years of missed opportunities, is this happening today?

My theory is that when some slow-burning back-burner story like this explodes, it's because the news gatekeepers are trying to take your eye off something else...

Like the EU striking Hamas off the terror list...

Like Islamist militants scoring hard in Pakistan and Afghanistan and Nigeria

Like the torture debate in America

Like the racism debate in America

Like the last round of concessions to the big banks

Like the bankruptcy of the USA

Like the fact that democracy in the USA has become a plaything of the .01%

Like the American elite's commitment to perpetual war

Like the rapidly disintegrating status quo around America's foster child in the Middle East...

When you think about it, there's never been a better time to make peace with Cuba!

There's a lot of stuff out there they want us to take our eyes off.

War is a tonic

Have a gander at this chart:

LocationPopulation Under Age 15
American SamoaN/A
Antigua and Barbuda28%
Bosnia and Herzegovina15%
Bouvet IslandN/A
British Indian Ocean TerritoryN/A
British Virgin IslandsN/A
Brunei Darussalam26%
Burkina Faso45%
Cape Verde32%
Cayman IslandsN/A
Central African Republic40%
Christmas IslandN/A
Cocos (Keeling Islands)N/A
Congo (Dem. Republic of)46%
Cook IslandsN/A
Costa Rica24%
Cote d'Ivoire41%
Czech Republic14%
Dominican Republic31%
El Salvador32%
Equatorial Guinea39%
Faeroe IslandsN/A
Falkland Islands (Malvinas)N/A
French Guiana35%
French Polynesia25%
French Southern Territories and Antarctic LandsN/A
Heard Island and McDonald IslandsN/A
Iran (Islamic Republic of)24%
Johnston AtollN/A
Korea (Dem. Peo. Rep. of)23%
Korea (Republic of)16%
Lao People's Democratic Rep.38%
Macedonia (The former Yugoslav Republic of)17%
Marshall Islands42%
Micronesia (Federated States of)31%
Moldova (Republic of)16%
Netherlands AntillesN/A
New Caledonia26%
New Zealand20%
Norfolk IslandN/A
Northern Mariana IslandsN/A
Papua New Guinea38%
Pitcairn IslandN/A
Puerto Rico20%
Russian Federation15%
Saint HelenaN/A
Saint Kitts and Nevis23%
Saint Lucia24%
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines31%
San Marino15%
Sao Tome and Principe43%
Saudi Arabia30%
Sierra Leone43%
Solomon Islands40%
South Africa31%
Sri Lanka25%
Svalbard and Jan Mayen IslandsN/A
Syrian Arab Republic36%
Tanzania (United Rep. of)45%
Timor Leste42%
Trinidad and Tobago25%
Turks and Caicos IslandN/A
United Arab Emirates17%
United Kingdom18%
United States of America20%
Virgin Islands (U.S.)N/A
Wake IslandN/A
Wallis and Futuna IslandsN/A
West Bank and Gaza42%
Western Sahara29%

That's a read on what countries have the highest populations under the age of 15 as of 2012. Anything stand out? Do you notice that the higher your percentage of young people, the greater the likelihood that the country is involved in some kind of violent turmoil?

That's because you can't have wars without able-bodied young men to fight them.

That's not a new insight of course. Neil Wiener made that observation a pillar of his career, and deep thinkers all the way back to Aristotle have noted the same phenomenon. 

Which raises a question; if we've known for three thousand years that a surplus of young males leads to violent conflict, why don't we find them something else to do?

The answer lies in the fact that too many older rich men have learned to profit from the endeavours of the young. Disputes between Liechtenstein(16% pop< 15 years of age) and Switzerland (15%) tend to be resolved by middle-aged men with brief-cases and law degrees. Disputes between Eritrea (42%) and Ethiopia (41%) tend to be resolved (or not) by young men with guns.

But both Switzerland and Liechtenstein are home to many investors who profit handsomely from the conflicts raging between Eritrea and Ethiopia. 

If you look at the two countries most ravaged by American wars of choice in the past 15 years, Afghanistan (46%) and Iraq (43%), you realize immediately that the trillions spent annihilating those societies could have easily been spent providing every young man in those countries with a mud shack and a couple of acres to grow a garden. While that might have kept them too busy to wage war, it wouldn't have done a damned thing for the plump white shareholders at Boeing and Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics and all the rest of them.

Wars also provide an opportunity for countries to ship their restive youth to neighbouring conflicts. For example, both Uganda (48%) and Rwanda (42%) have kept the home fires relatively peaceable by exporting their youthful hotheads to the DRC (46%) to keep the flames of war burning brightly there.

A similar phenomenon plays itself out in the North. America's "volunteer army" would be an impossibility were it not for the dearth of opportunity available to so many young Americans. All those dispossessed young inner-city blacks and trailer trash honkies could stir up a lot of hoo-ha on the home front. It's so much better for everybody (except them and their victims) if we ship them to Iraq and Afghanistan to "keep us safe."

Same with the hordes of young Muslims fleeing the Arab ghettoes of Europe to lose themselves in the hell that is Syria. That's an invaluable safety-valve for the great cities of the continent. This media-generated fear-wave about what they might get up to if they come "home" to Sweden and France and Britain is largely hypothetical. The vast majority are going to Syria to die, but before they do, they will fire off many made-in-the-USA rounds from many different Western armament suppliers, which will make those plump shareholders very happy and even more plump.

So do not despair, dear reader. War may be immoral, but it is never senseless. It makes perfect sense for the people profiting from it. And when, as in America, those are also the people making foreign policy, don't expect this bonanza to whither away any time soon.