Monday, December 11, 2017

How to be a Big League op-ed writer

 First rule; don't get caught saying nice things about the Trump regime. And it is a regime. It's not a "government" anymore, it's a "regime."

I'm guessing in a couple of weeks we'll be talking about the "Trump Dictatorship."

Having said that, please remember to give Donny J a pat on the back if he happens to loose another round of Hellfire missiles at some random target peopled by (Muslim) evildoers.

That gave Fareed Zakaria the biggest boner of his life the last time it happened.

"Holy shit!... who knew this Trump clown could be so presidential?.."

Then, having avoided the toxic embrace of Trumpenstein, you MUST MUST MUST invoke a few hoary canards re: American Exceptionalism.

And you'll have to avoid sounding like Trump making America great again when you do that.

Make sure you bring up "rule of law" over and over.

"Rules-based world order" is a good one too, although we're getting into somewhat esoteric territory here...

Frankly, I'd be a lot happier if we could wrestle the narrative away from the Big Media types who want us to believe that everything was hunky-dory before Donny J barged in and upset the apple-cart.

Trump is a symptom.

Op-ed writers are paid to hide the disease.

 

Tards 'o terror take New York

Well, not quite, but this latest graduate from the Korody Nuttall Terrorist Academy did manage to give the talking heads at Fox and CNN and all the rest of them plenty to prattle about today.

(Editor's note: The Korody Nuttall Terrorist Academy is a top secret training facility for aspiring terrorists run by the RCMP in British Columbia. Among the mandatory entrance requirements are a history of mental illness and substance abuse, and an IQ score of <100 as tested by an accredited IQ testing facility. It is named after its original graduates, Amanda Korody and John Nuttall.)

The "experts" haven't yet come up with the low down on this Akayed Ullah chappie. Seems to have washed ashore from Bangladesh not too long ago. Couldn't make the grade as a cabbie, because the controls were different from the ox-carts he was used to driving in the old country.

Deprived of the opportunity to plow his cab through throngs of attendees at Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, he came up with Plan B; he was gonna go out in a blast of glory with his very own home-made suicide vest!

Alas, Ullah is so stunned that the suicide vest he built didn't even kill him let alone anyone else. He joins the shoe-bomber and the undie-bomber in the Towel-heads 'o Terror Hall of Shame.

Think about that.

For over sixteen years you've been giving up your right to privacy so that those who serve and protect us can keep us safe from harm. It's why your dear mother takes off her shoes and bends over for a TSA bum rub when she flies in for the Christmas holiday. It's why you have to arrive two hours before departure instead of fifteen minutes. It's why the exceptional nation has hundreds of thousands living in the streets and a trillion dollar defence budget with which to torment Muslim lands.

It's all to keep you safe... and to keep the multitudes of security consultants and security contractors and security sub-contractors rolling in more wealth than they ever imagined, some of which wealth will recycle through various Political Action Committees, just to keep the ball of democracy rolling.

Think about that a bit more.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Al G O'rythm ain't no friend of mine

When the big dogs of the digital infrastructure began tweaking their algorithms to weed out "fake news," it didn't occur to me that this could impact the totally inconsequential operation here at Falling Downs. I mean, there's three or four thousand looks a month here... ya I know; I can't understand why it isn't three or four thousand a day either.

Anyway, I've been noticing some strange shit. I know what usually happens when I push "publish." Within a minute or two there's half a dozen or so looks. Always.

Then things will creep up gradually. 

Had a couple of posts with Trump in the title and they went nowhere at all for at least 24 hours, while they chalked up well over a hundred looks at Before It's News.

Then earlier today I posted something with the words "Arab Spring" and "Israel" in the title. That got not a look for a good 15 minutes while the algorithms were passing it back and forth like a hot potato.

Isn't it nice to know that there are algorithms hard at work while you sleep, making sure you're only reading stuff that will leave you feeling the right way?

Arab Spring sweeps into Israel

They're coming out in the tens of thousands, the ingrates are, to protest against the greatest leader since Moses. It is due to the ingrates that this leader stands accused of criminal acts which, if proven, would end his career.

After the many years of selfless service this man has given to the nation!

Yes, it's a shame. Going overboard on the Trump Jerusalem thing may have been a bit of a miscalculation too. There's a lot of folks in America who can't figure out if it's Bibi that's got his head up Trump's ass or the other way around. Either way, the mere association gives a lot of folks pause.

Change may be coming. Let's hope it will be change for the better.

Globe and Mail gets a makeover

Been seven years in the making, apparently. The only "new" stuff I noticed was the obits are now at the back of the business section instead of the sports section, and there's a "new section for opinion writing," which isn't new at all, but its name has been changed to "Opinion" from "Focus."

Oh, and there's a nifty new feature called "Applause Please." Brad Wheeler wants you to forward the names of any unsung arts and culture heroes you may know so they can get the props they deserve. The inaugural unsung hero is one John H. Daniels, the unknown Torontonian whose name adorns the U of T's Faculty of Architecture. Maybe they should call it "More Applause Please."

Still with architecture, U of T's smarty-pants-at-large Mark Kingswell wants you to know that he's really smart and what universities are doing is indoctrinating students into something called "critical thinking." Of course they are. The recent stinkfest at Laurier is a great example. Had Lindsay Shepherd not left her iPhone in record mode we wouldn't have gleaned that great insight into just how hard universities work to foster critical thinking.

In the course of making his case, Kingswell drops the term "postmodernism" and tells us that "scholars who pay attention to accuracy will tell you that the term first surfaced in 1960s architectural lingo." Actually, I'd hope they wouldn't; the pot-addled hillbilly is no scholar, but even I can tell you Kingswell is a few decades off the mark with that assertion.

One of the more intriguing reads is Kate Taylor's piece on Call me by your name, the story of a love affair between a man and an underage boy. Hmm... I wonder when they're gonna film the love story about an assistant District Attorney and an underage girl in Alabama? And when they do, will it be deemed Oscar worthy?

Elsewhere, Doug Saunders get's our attention with the shocking headline that "Jerusalem was "Israel's last hope of peace - until Trump threw it away." Ya right. In the fifty years since the occupied territories were occupied, there's been plenty of time to move closer to the fictitious "two state solution." If anything, this story would provide a good point of departure for an investigation into Israeli influence in US politics, but apparently that topic remains taboo.

Overall, the "makeover" leaves me wondering who cares. Not as desperately daft as the exercise in "creative execution" from a couple of years ago, but seriously, what's the point? I'd rather they spent the money wasted on consultants in hiring back some of the proof-readers they used to have around the place. When you can't read the lead editorial in Canada's newspaper of record without tripping over multiple typos, the fact that they've tried to spruce up the old sow with a coat of fresh lipstick leaves one underwhelmed.

Maybe the "Head of Experience" will look into that.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sunny Daze slapped silly in China

Apparently PM Sunny Daze Trudeau is coming home from China without that vaunted free trade agreement in his back pocket.

According to our major media, this is a major failing.

They are aghast that he doesn't even have a timetable about when those "free trade" talks might start. We are supposed to think this is a big deal.

It ain't.

Trade between China and Canada seems pretty healthy, even without a "free trade" agreement.

They're not foregrounding this in your corporate press, but my hunch is Sunny Daze lost the room when he got onto the ancillary stuff. Ya, we'll have free trade only after you agree to write gay rights and women's rights and workers' rights into the deal.

Which was the moment when the leader of the PRC, population 1.2 billion, gave Sunny Daze, leader of a former Brit colony with a population a tiny fraction of that, a slap heard round the colonies.

That slap said "see you later, come back when you want to talk about trade. In the meantime stick your snotty "progressive agenda" where the sun don't shine"


I don't get it. They send us all the inventory for our dollar stores. We send them jobs and coal.

Looks to me like a "no-trade" deal with China might be a better idea than a "free trade" deal.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Trump's tax cuts; pure (evil) genius

The Trump tax cuts represent an unprecedented transfer of wealth to the .01% in a society already suffocating under the greatest disparity of wealth in the so-called first world.

That's just for starters. Somewhere down the road it's inevitable that these cuts will lead to the shredding of what's left of America's pitiful social safety net. With less tax revenue there's lots of stuff that's gonna go over the side, and you can bet the spending cuts won't be coming out of the obscenely bloated military budget. That'll prove especially true if America manages to add another war or two to the perpetual war playlist down the road, as seems increasingly likely.

Since the owners of the corporate media are on the winning side of the Trump tax cuts you won't be seeing a groundswell of opposition coming from there. Meanwhile, the alternative media are already having their wings clipped by the googletwitterfacebook combine's voluntary and all too enthusiastic censorship of "fake news."

Let's not lose sight of the fact that pretty much all the "alternative" news sites run on platforms owned by folks who also benefit bigly from Trump's tax cuts.

Maybe America can live in denial of her downward spiral for another generation or two. Maybe America can live with tens of millions of homeless instead of hundreds of thousands. Maybe the corporate media can bamboozle the public into supporting more war, even though America's wars are seldom won and never over.

Maybe...


Maybe not.

Trump doing God's work in Middle East

Of course he is!

Long-time Trump-watchers are unanimous that Donny J has finally found his real calling - as God's point man on earth. What, you thought that was the Pope?

The idea of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel crosses the minds of presidential candidates with some frequency. They tend to think aloud on the matter whilst on the campaign trail. It's a handy sop to some of the bigger donors, and a big vote-getter in the right-wing "Christian Zionist" constituency.

Once they're in office they tend to stop thinking about it, aloud or otherwise. After all, why piss off some of the biggest customers of America's military-industrial ecosystem? Russian or Chinese weapon systems would suit the Saudis just as well in a pinch.

So what's different this time round? For one thing, the imbecile in the White House is desperate for some headlines that aren't about one or another of the investigations around him. The imbecile in Riyadh, now firmly in Jared Kushner's pocket, is in way over his head and is keen to throw in his lot with what he sees as the big dogs, even if it means turning his back on the Palestinians.

The third cheerleader for this march to Armageddon is the greatest leader since Moses, Mr Netanyahu. He's having his own troubles with investigations and surely welcomes this diversion.

Trump, MbS, Netanyahu... we're not talking about the three wise men here.


What could go wrong?



Monday, December 4, 2017

Puppy tricks

We had to step out for a spell today and the Farm Manager was concerned about leaving the dogs alone after only a couple days getting to know one another. The Brindle in particular has been prone to bare her fangs and make ominous growly noises when little pup is getting too frisky with her.

So we devised a plan. The old girls would cosy up on the couch in front of the fireplace in the living room, per usual. New pup would be locked in the front hall, door to the living room shut and a baby gate blocking off the stairs. Seemed foolproof.

We get home a few hours later and little pup had totally laid waste to our plan. And a bank of potted plants in front of the living room window. And Uncle Henry's carpet runner, barely visible under an inch of potting soil.

The little shit had vaulted the baby gate, ran up the front stairs, down the back stairs, hopped a second baby gate between the kitchen and the living room, and then spent the afternoon partying hard with the old girls in front of the fireplace.

This put the FM in an incredibly foul mood...

My f@cking plants!

Uncle Henry's carpet runner!...

Ya, and your dog, I was tempted to add.

But I didn't. Instead I pitched in with the clean-up even before being told to. By the time we were finished I had convinced the FM that there was a silver lining.

We don't have to worry about the old girls harming the new baby. They'd just spent the afternoon together, without any human supervision whatsoever, and everything is A OK!

Well, at least dog-wise.

Next time we'll just leave them all on the couch in front of the fire.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Engine trouble grounds Globe and Mail in Grey-Bruce

No Globe and Mail today.

Not at the Korean's place. Not anywhere else in Wiarton. Not anywhere in Owen Sound. Nor anywhere in the entirety of the Grey-Bruce Hillbilly Sanctuary and World Biosphere Preserve.

Apparently one derelict local hillbilly bears on his stooped shoulders the full responsibility for delivering the Globe to the Grey-Bruce in his dilapidated 1992 Astro van, and he had engine trouble today.

Hey, at least we're not the Maritimes!


Phil had her first full day with us. Went for a car drive to fetch the Globe and Mail. Needless to say, that led to an unanticipated odyssey of epic proportions. Three or four hours into the drive, she had a puke beyond anything you can imagine coming out of a 15 week old pup. Luckily, whoever originally bought this Subaru ordered it with the "cargo tray," a rubber mat that sits in the back. Were it not for that, the carpet under that cargo tray would have been saturated with ten quarts of puppy puke.

Unable to score a Globe and Mail, (I miss you, Doug!) I eventually settled for a Toronto Star. For some reason it maintains it's '70's era girth, even though all the papers around it are folding. So far I've only got through the first section, and in so doing was reminded of why I choose the Globe.

At the Star they strive to put the "human interest" angle out front with every story.

At the Globe they're more about the nitty-gritty.

To hell with the human interest angle; I just want the news.

Bring back my Globe and Mail!

Ready for winter

I see where Trumpenstein has got his tax cuts through. That will radically enhance wealth disparity in America. The rich will get richer, and you already know what it means for the rest.

Here's why this is a good thing. With a little luck, more American's sucking on the hind teat will figure out that their "democracy" isn't working for them. Rich people need to get richer?

Get the fuck outta here!

But be that as it may, we're ready for winter here at Falling Downs. It helps that winter is at least a month late in coming.

Call it global warming.

Call it climate change.

Call it anthropocentric weather dysfunction... I don't give a shit what you call it...

But I like it!

Today I moved a couple of the garage relics into the barn, and that made room for the Mustang 50 and the Ninja. The Mustang got about five miles put on her this summer. The Ninja got about ten. I really don't know why I have this shit.

Gotta scale things down before I kick the bucket.

Junior wants the Mustang, and I'm cool with that. Not sure he can afford the insurance, but that's for him to figure out.

I haven't been able to interest any of the Juniors in the Ninja, so maybe she's gonna get buried with me. Except I'm heading for cremation rather than burial. Guess the bereft are gonna get stuck with an urn full of ash and a motorcycle.

That's OK.

That's a legacy I can live with when I'm dead.

We're ready for winter here at Falling Downs.


Friday, December 1, 2017

Another reason to read Neumann's blog

Aside from getting the low-down on where my dogs shit, you get the down-low about what kind of shit the big dogs are up to.

And you know who the big dogs are.

Apparently our imaginary peace mission to the dark continent is stalled.

All the smart money was on a mission to Mali.

Then I read on Neumann's blog about how all the big gold mines were played out anyway, so what's the point?


Which is why Justin is still up in the air about where to send our "peacekeepers."

Thursday, November 30, 2017

I don't get antisemitism

At least not when it's coming from "Christians."

Those folks have lost sight of the fact that Christianity started out as a Jewish cult. One of a multitude of cults within Judaism, from what I understand. Somehow this one got out of control. Today we'd say it went viral.

I guess the technical term for this would be "schism." The birth of Christianity represented a schism within the Judaic belief system.

It wasn't long before the usurpers infected vast swathes of the Roman Empire, and before you know it, the Jews who had masterminded the latest craze were turning on the Jews who didn't sign up.

The passage of time has allowed a lot of your Christians to forget their roots. The usurpers have in the interval also suffered numerous schisms. In fact, the earliest days of Christianity were schism city all the way.

Then you had your big split in the main church, and after that Martin Luther invented protestants. The fact that the word "protest" is part of their name is an irony lost on most of them today.

All this schisming has thrown some real absurdities at the canvas of history. Look at "the Troubles" for example. They're all white and they all love Jesus, but they're ready to start a new war if this Brexit thing gives them the excuse.

And apparently the schisming continues to this day. I heard that one of the local Amish communities suffered a schism because the Bishop made a couple of the brothers swap farms. There may have been some coveting involved... the neighbours's wife or ass or both.

Which underlines once again the fact that we're just human, no matter how many schisms it took to make us who we are.

We're all brothers in spite of the schisms.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Falling Downs going to the dogs

From time to time me and the Farm Manager talk about getting another dog. Boomer, our Rottweiler-Shepherd mix, is closing in on fourteen years. She's not quite as nimble as she used to be. Stumbles now and then on our morning ramble, and in the hot weather I'd shave a couple of kilometres off the walk just to make sure she's not over-stressed.

Our baby, the Tennessee Treeing Brindle, is seven. She's never known a day without another dog since she arrived here, and we intend to make sure she never does.

The upshot of these periodic discussions was that when the time was right, we'd add a third hound to the pack, and we developed a few criteria.

No puppies. They spend a year or more chewing everything they can clamp their jaws on. Lucy literally ate the better part of a couch, not to mention numerous shoes, random articles of clothing, and a Bible.

No sirree; no more puppies for us. We'd get a dog from the pound about Lucy's age. That way they'd hopefully expire around the same time, freeing us to explore some non-canine pet options.

Second criteria; it's time for a smaller dog. When the FM "walks" one of our girls she looks like she's wakeboarding. She's got both hands gripping the tow-rope while she struggles to stay upright... while the dog goes wherever it wants.

Here's the new hound.



Meet Phil. A fourteen week old Mastiff.

Ticked all the right boxes, obviously... Sure, fourteen weeks isn't quite seven years, and ya, she's maybe not gonna grow up to be a "small" dog, but what the hey. She'll be meeting her new sisters on the weekend.

We had dinner at the Twin Dragons tonight. Best water-view of any Owen Sound restaurant by far, and the food's pretty decent too. The two of us can get out of there for fifty bucks including the buffet, a couple of drinks, and a generous tip.

The FM's fortune cookie read:

A new member is joining your happy family soon.

I couldn't make that up.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Weed report

When I ran into that old school grower the other week he gave me a couple of samples to try. This guy is known for his organic stuff. It's popular among folks who care about what they're doing to their bodies... the same kind of folks who pay five bucks or more for a dozen farm-fresh eggs from free-range chickens.

Here's what I thought. Something branded CR was a decent mellow. I like that. Some people want to get messed up by the stuff they smoke. That's not me.

I just want to get mellow and stay there for a spell. If my mother calls during that spell, I want to be able to talk to her.

Not for me that new school bud that's been treated with every yield-boosting and buzz-boosting chemical known to man, by people who are just in it for the money.

And the other sample, called "green beer" or something, was more or less similar. I could function, but I knew I was stoned.

The reason I like to support these old school growers is a) because I've proven myself useless at growing my own, and b) I'd rather support these guys than the army of suits who have descended on the legal weed free-for-all.

Also, it's nice to know where your shit comes from.

It's not often we get to do that since Clint Eastwood stopped building Torinos.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Hats off to Prince Harry

 Prince Harry hogged the headlines all day.

Seems he bagged a lassie and they're gonna tie the knot. Why anybody would give a shit is the part I can't figure out.

Be that as it may, I'd like to take my hat off to Prince Harry with this salute to the time Prince Harry bagged a wog.

Oy, he's a real man... got blood on his hands.

There was a little diner in Neustadt called Hat's off to Harry. Harry, or whoever it was owned the place, had dreams.

He dreamed of owning a pool hall.

So he took the plunge and built one. On top of his diner. Yup, had to build an entire second story to accommodate the new venture. Even got himself a liquor license!

He done it up right.

He was ready to go!

Pool-cue totin' rubes from all around flocked to the place. Even made a couple visits myself.

Then the county's new smoking regs kicked in. If a denizen of the pool hall wished to smoke a cigarette, she or he would have to work their way down a long flight of stairs, and then move fifteen metres from the entrance way.

I know! That's what you do in a pool hall - smoke!

Smoke and drink beer. Billiards is an afterthought.


It was tits up for Harry.

Which is a timely reminder that sometimes the winds of propriety shift. Never mind the pool hall - I can remember when people smoked in the supermarket.

I can remember when I was a pump boy at John's Supertest in my teens, every other car that pulled in on a Friday or Saturday night had open liquor in it. That's not kosher anymore either.

Things change.

The winds of propriety shift...

Why the battle to preserve "net neutrality" has nothing to do with fighting censorship

The sacred world wide web is positively aflame with screeds denouncing the imminent collapse of a "free internet."

Hey, don't get me wrong; I too am 100% aboard for a "free internet." I'd be 200% aboard if the Farm Manager wasn't paying the equivalent of three cases of beer to access this "free" service every month. That ain't "free" where I come from.

But what's interesting is how much of this outpouring of concern conflates "net neutrality" with censorship. Check out this article at Salon, or check out the previous post about Sarah Kendzior.

The purveyors of this misconception want you to believe that the fate of the First Amendment hinges on a FCC vote that will be held on December 14.

It doesn't.

Big Tech are already censoring what you see by tweaking their search algorithms in such a way that you are far less likely to have your patriotic eyeballs alight on offensive and subversive anti-American propaganda.

It's entirely possible to preserve the "net neutrality" at stake in the FCC decision while expunging every trace of critical anti-Empire opinion from that neutral net.

We are being bamboozled yet again.


Sarah Kendzior; disingenuous, misguided, or just plain stupid?

I like Sarah Kendzior. Back when she was a freshly minted Dr. Phil who found herself squeezed off the tenure track, she used to write about that. The writing was heartfelt and convincing because she knew what she was talking about.

She has yet to find that track, but she may no longer care. Check out the brand she's built. This woman is going places! She's one 60 Minutes profile away from becoming a serious public intellectual!
 
But when I consider that, and when I read of the various accolades she has won over recent years (Foreign Policy named her one of the 100 people you should follow on Twitter to make sense of global events - as if Twitter is required to make sense of global events...), I have to marvel at the fact that the bar has been set so astoundingly low.

Take her latest effort as "op-ed columnist for the Globe and Mail" for example; Gutting net neutrality is a death knell for the resistance.

Ah yes, "the resistance!"

That one word conjures all sorts of imagery of heroic anti-Nazi derring-do in occupied Europe during the '40s. The French resistance. The Dutch resistance...

The Greeks and Poles resisted too. In every case we saw courageous citizens, infinitely out-manned and out-gunned, standing against the Nazi behemoth.

Although she is fully aware that's the image you'll carry in your mind's eye when you read the word "resistance," that's not the resistance Kendzior is talking about. No, she's talking about the resistance to Trump's election victory. This is not a resistance led by courageous partisans hiding out in the woods and risking their lives for a cause.

It is a resistance led by Hillary Clinton and a Democratic Party elite that a year ago lost an election in spite of having more Wall Street money behind it than any previous campaign in US electoral history.

It's not the resistance of the oppressed.

It is the resistance of an entitled ruling class clique who are pouting because another, perhaps slightly less entitled ruling class clique, grabbed the steering wheel out of their hands.                    

I can see why they'd be pissed.

At the same time, the claim that the Dem Party establishment or any of the mainstream media platforms Kendzior regularly appears on are even remotely threatened is beyond hokum.

Seriously?

Some players in the internet ecosystem want to squash net neutrality so they can make more money, not because they want to silence the Globe and Mail and the US news sites the Globe reflexively parots, the Washington Post and the NYT.

Pretty sure they're not interested in silencing Kendzior either.

As you know, all those platforms are vehemently anti-Trump.

What's being silenced are media platforms that question the narrative of Kendzior, Dem Party elites, and the "resistance," sites like RT and Sputnik and Michael Chossudovsky's Global Research.

So relax, Sarah... so long as you continue to faithfully toe the official DNC line, you've nothing to worry about!


Saturday, November 25, 2017

What the f@ck is a hubcap diamond star halo?

Seriously?

I mean, we listened to this shit all the time. Nice tune. You can kinda bop around to it if you're so inclined.

But what exactly is a hubcap diamond star halo?

I've spent the evening jogging down memory lane. Did you have any clue that Billy Idol had a duet thing out there with Miley?

Holy shit!

Who knew?

More to the point, who cares?

Anyway, laptop battery fading fast...

I'm outta here!

Maybe we should just turn the planet over to the millennials

After all, it's hard to imagine they'd fuck the place up more than our generation has done.

Here's a story that gives me hope. Seems both Ivanka Trump and Chelsea Clinton have chimed in to tell the media to lay off Malia Obama. That's the finest example of bipartisan solidarity we've seen in a long time.

I like it!

Both Chelsea and Ivanka strike me as kids who wouldn't hesitate to tell their respective daddies to go fuck themselves if they had serious misgivings about their policy initiatives.

That would be a good thing.


Friday, November 24, 2017

Credentialism

Credentialism is the feeding trough of the upwardly mobile.

The Farm Manager, in her capacity as a Educational Assistant in her day job, today took a one day course that rendered her a "Behaviour Management Systems Practitioner."

What the fuck does that mean?

In practical terms, nothing.

But she gets a certificate she can hang on the wall.

When one of my mentors in the world of commercial real estate, Vic Tucciarone, got his real estate license back in the '50's, it involved a five dollar fee paid at the Government of Ontario offices, and that was that.

No courses, no nothing.

Today an aspiring realtor has to take multiple courses that take many months and cost many thousands of dollars.

Does anybody really think this has given us "better" real estate agents?

I had a college prof, Al Jeffries, who warned us about this credentialism racket. Keep your resume to one page, he told us over and over again. Anything above that reeks of credentialism.

Then somebody dug up a copy of his resume.

It ran to fourteen pages.

The takeaway?

Credentialism pays!

I remember sitting in my dear uncle Werner's office at the University of Waterloo and admiring the many certificates/degrees/diplomas festooning the walls.

Tucked in amongst them was a Province of Alberta fishing licence circa 1962.

At least he had a sense of humour...

Jared Kushner is Trump's point man in the Middle East... what could go wrong?

Everything.

Jared Kushner is the proverbial teenager dressed up in an old man's suit.

Trump, a B-list Manhattan property developer, if that, reached into the A-list of Manhattan property developers to source his Middle East envoy.

The fact that young Kushner is his son-in-law just makes this story more interesting.

What are Jared's qualifications for being Middle East point man?

Well, he's a Jew.

So what. Chomsky is a Jew. Gilad Atzmon is a Jew. Norman Finkelstein is a Jew. None of them are likely to become presidential advisers any time soon.

But Kushner is the right kind of Jew. He's the kind of Jew who learned his Middle East history at the feet of that great scholar of Judaism, Benyamin Netanyahu.

As such, he's pretty much on the same page as Israel's current Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely.

Her take on Middle East affairs is that God promised that land to the Israelites all those many years ago, and if you're not on board with that, you are a God-defying antisemite.

Never before in history have so many atheists turned to the word of God to justify their racist policies than in the current Bibi cabinet.

As hilarious as this may be, it's only going to get funnier.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

It's fickle, it's fragile, and it's all f@cked up

A week ago a neighbour was going about his usual routine. A fifty-three year old guy whose adult children were just coming into their own. Decent all-round family type with a successful business. He had a great life, and he appreciated it.

Visitation was today.

They're burying him tomorrow.

At some point between then and now a pick-up truck ran a stop sign at one o'clock in the morning.

What are the odds?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Affordable housing

I've told this story before.

When my dear father (who just celebrated his 85th, and may God bless him with many more!..) got off the boat back in '56 his first job was shovelling coal. With a hand shovel.

By the time I was in my teens he'd remade himself as a real estate broker. I remember all us kids emptied our piggy banks to be part of the investment syndicate when he bought his first investment property.

I think it was on Barton Street, if I'm not mistaken.

Then we were all corralled into doing whatever we were capable of, from scraping old paint to applying new paint, so he could turn that place around.

The term "flip" had yet to be coined.

Dad was well on his way to joining the pantheon of post-war immigrants who done good in real estate.

And there was a ton of them. Germans, Italians, Ukrainians, Hungarians, and Jews from all over. I got to know lots of immigrants who did very well in the real estate business.

Some of them got seriously rich.

Most of them, and my father would be in this group, never got "rich," but they got seriously comfortable.

As a result of my father's success in that business, I was somewhat drawn to it myself, so I'd pick Dad's brain to get a handle on things.

So how do you know what a property is really worth?

It's worth whatever somebody is willing to pay for it.

What is "affordable housing?"

If somebody bought it, it was obviously affordable... and so on.

OK.

By that metric, when somebody pays five million for a penthouse condo in Toronto, it's obviously "affordable housing."

But that's not the definition of "affordable" that obtains when we discuss affordable housing today.

And that's where the private sector affordable housing model falls flat on its face. A $14/hr minimum wage means you'll never afford decent housing in places like Toronto.

Which is why governments need to get serious about public housing.


That's why we need a robust public housing strategy.

All you need is love: the Sunny Daze solution to Canada's affordable housing crisis

We're over half way through Justin's mandate, and the Liberal government just dropped their affordable housing strategy today.

They're gonna build 100,000 affordable housing units. Over ten years. Starting after the next election, nudge nudge wink...

Hmm.... a hundred thousand housing units?

And over the next ten years we'll be welcoming somewhere in the range of three to four million new arrivals?

And they'll live where?

Sorry Justin, this isn't an affordable housing policy.

It's a joke.

Irresistible clickbait: LA's homeless pooping in streets...

That gem is on view at Fox News as I write these words.

Alas, once you click on it, the homeless are no longer "pooping," they are "defecating." 

It's the old bait 'n switch; promise a poop but deliver mere defecation. I'm not sure I'd have clicked on that. "Poop" is so much more poetic. Puppies poop. Babies poop. It's a rather benign thing, pooping is.

Defecation seems much more clinical. Serious. Almost scholarly.

The truth of the matter is that LA's army of sidewalk dwellers don't poop and they don't defecate.

They shit. Fifty thousand of them take a shit in the street once or twice a day. More if you've got digestion issues, which I imagine you'd have often enough when you're eating out of dumpsters.

On the face of it you might be taken aback by this story. Isn't LA one of the great cities of America? And isn't America itself "the city on a hill?" The richest country in the world? The exceptional nation? The most advanced society in the history of history?..

And people shit in the street?

Get over yourself!

Coping with this phenomenon requires a global perspective. Think Mumbai, Lagos, Nairobi... all great cities where people shit in the street! LA is joining the ranks of the great international cities!

Having the homeless shit in the streets is a sign of America's rise to true world-class status!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Trump working hard to ensure USA remains most hated country in the world

To be sure, hating America isn't something that started with Trump.

Check out this morsel of statistical goodness from 2003.

Hey, if they hated us in 2003 you can bet they hate us even more today.

It didn't have to be this way.

Take a gander at this piece by Jeff Berg at Counterpunch.

Sure, if the USA spent 1% of its military budget on making sure everyone on this planet had access to clean water and a place to shit, America would be the bestie of besties!

Instead of hating us for our freedoms, they'd be loving us for a glass of clean water and a safe place to shit!

We wouldn't even need a military budget, because the whole world would be loving us!

Alas, that wouldn't do much for the bottom line at Boeing and Lockheed-Martin and General Dynamics and all the rest of them, would it?

The United States of Generals and Billionaires

Hey, how's that "democracy" of yours working out for ya, Yankee neighbours?

I see where the Trumpster has added N. Korea to the "state sponsor of terrorism" list. I'm guessing the impetus for that came from the Generals

Not that the Billionaire side of the cabinet would raise any objections. After all, the more enemies America has, the longer the back-order list at Lockheed Martin and Boeing and all the rest of them.

And there's not really any ideological daylight between the Generals and the Billionaires. The Generals in Trump's cabinet all aspire to great wealth, and the Billionaires all wish they were Generals.

It's what used to be called a "closed shop."

Closed off and sealed tight from any threat of common sense or basic human decency.

Speaking of state sponsors of terror, I can't wait till Uncle Sam adds his own name to the list.


But I won't hold my breath.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

We used to call this "firewood"



This is a piece of stove-length dried elm that hasn't been through the splitter yet.

It's also a $349.00 end table, according to something I saw in the "Style" section of the Globe and Mail today.

Holy shit!... I'm rich!!

Globe and Mail unmasks notorious Putin puppet

Campbell Clark and Mark MacKinnon are vying for yet another one of those "journalism awards" that mainstream media types periodically bestow upon one another for being really good at what mainstream journalists do; propagate official state propaganda.

By coincidence, I happened to catch a Jens Stoltenberg interview on CBC as I was driving into town to fork over the better part of ten bucks to the Korean extortionist for my Saturday Globe and Mail. Here's Jens on propaganda;

When we (NATO) are faced with Russian propaganda, we never reply with propaganda. We reply with facts. We reply with the truth.

The folks who wouldn't raise an eyebrow at that whopper are the kind of folks who are the target audience for the Clark - MacKinnon take-down of Michel Chossudovsky and the website he's run for the past fifteen years or so, Global Research.

I've been a news junkie pretty much since I learned to read, and one thing I know for sure is that there's no single news source that you can count on to tell the whole story. You have to read around.

I like to check out the NYT and Washington Post websites every day to see what's what in the world of news. Sputnik and RT can be relied on to supply another perspective. Deutsche Welle, France 24, AJE, Dawn, Haaretz, the JPost and Press TV round out my well-balanced daily news diet. And of course I like to  have a real newspaper in my hands every day, and that's generally the paper Clark and MacKinnon write for.

I don't get around to Global Research very often.

When I do, it looks like an op-ed aggregator more than anything. The people I'd be inclined to read there, Johnstone, Parry, the indefatigable Paul Craig Roberts (who, btw is a little too intense for my taste, but nevertheless well worth reading) I've already read elsewhere.

So why does the Globe see fit to devote two pages to Chossudovsky?

Because he's a Putin stooge.

That's right.

He promotes the conspiracy theory that "the ouster of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was a Western-backed coup rather than a popular revolution."

That's a conspiracy theory?

Not to anyone familiar with the Nuland - Pyatt tapes.

What the Clark - MacKinnon story alludes to but fails to follow up on, is that Big Tech in it's role as hand-maiden to Empire is already re-jigging their aggregator algorithms to make sure you're far less likely to accidentally happen upon Global Research and other non-conformist sites.

That's something to think about.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Now would be a good time to bid adieu to NATO


NATO promotes democratic values and guarantees the freedom and security of its members -NATO

According to this story by Evan Dyer at CBC, our NATO allies France, Britain, and the US, are actively engaged in tracking down and killing their own citizens who had volunteered to fight with ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Do these citizens of our NATO allies get the benefit of fair trials or the presumption of innocence or any of that fancy rule-of-law stuff?

No way Jose. Their names get added to a kill list and it's so-long Jihadi John.

That's what "democratic values" have been reduced to in the three most powerful NATO nations.

Do we really want to be part of that club?

Ever since its reason for being wafted away with the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO has been desperate to make itself relevant again.

Let's bomb Belgrade.

Let's liberate the women of Afghanistan.

Let's bomb Libya.... and so on.

Needless to say, none of these busy-work exercises did much for freedom or democratic values.

That's not all. How are "democratic values" faring in Turkey these days? Turkey is the NATO member with the second largest military after the US.

And how do our democratic values stack up against those of our NATO allies Poland and Hungary?

With tiny and entirely irrelevant Montenegro being made a full-patch NATO member just recently, it's beyond obvious that the leadership of the NATO gang sees goading Russia as a great strategy for keeping itself in business.

And just who is leading NATO?

Ostensibly it's General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, but every serious person knows that it's the US that calls the shots in NATO.

And as we know, the Commander in Chief of the USA is one Donald J. Trump.

I'll say it again; how badly do Canadians really want to be in that club?


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Copping a feel

Remember that?

If you were a teen guy coming up in the latter half of the 20th century, I'll bet you at least tried to cop a feel. I mean you had to try. It's what your date, not to mention society at large, expected of you.

The girls knew it too.

"Oh! I've been out with Benny three times now, and he hasn't even tried to cop a feel... I think he must be a fag!"

Yup, people talked like that.

I guess it's one thing to try for a feel when you're a teen out with another teen, and it's a little different when you're a fifty year old exec in the entertainment biz auditioning a teenage wannabee.

But here's the thing; all those middle-aged exec types are still teenagers at heart.

Hell, even Silvio Berlusconi still feels like he's a teen at heart!

They're not trying to take advantage of vulnerable kids...

They're just trying to recapture their youth.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Top cops launch medical marijuana biz

You'd think that with his pension for 23 years as a Toronto police officer, his pensions from three different cities where he served as chief of police, his pension from his stint as OPP commish, his MP pension, and his OAS and CPP pensions, veteran crime-fighter Julian Fantino would be spending his golden years under a beach umbrella making origami sculptures with his financial statements.

You'd be wrong!

Fantino has joined fellow top cop Raf Souccar, former Deputy Commissioner at the RCMP, in opening up a medical marijuana joint in Vaughn, north of Toronto.

As the CBC story points out, this is the same guy who once equated the legalization of pot with the legalization of murder.

I for one am glad that "science and the real world" have caused these gentlemen to reconsider the error of their Reefer Madness-inspired vendetta against pot smokers over the past fifty years.

The folks Julian and Raf put behind bars for their pot-related indiscretions will surely appreciate the irony of this story too!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sunny Daze progress report

So how is our PM Sunny Daze working out for you so far?

Frankly, I had high hopes for the guy, but I'm a little underwhelmed... but maybe that's actually a good thing in these days of negative interest rates.

My sense is that those constituencies that had high hopes of him are uniformly disappointed.

Veterans.

Natives.

Potheads.

Now, I don't want to put that last group on a par with the others, nor do I wish to speak for potheads, but it sure seems to me that he's giving the prize away to corporate weed.

And the distribution model is just retarded.

What was wrong with the Canada Post model?

I'm not impressed with the price point either. Ten bucks a gram? Really? I hear that's what folks pay on the street when they buy a gram of pot, but who buys a gram of pot?

I ran into a guy from way back the other day, I'll just call him "Old School," and he had some stuff on offer that, if I'm not mistaken, was also called Old School. Five bucks a gram.

And none of those extra taxes they're now piling onto what they believe will be a gravy train.

Ten bucks for a gram of weed, a one dollar special pot tax to grease political slush funds, and HST on top of that?

No thanks.

No, Canada's adventures in legal weed would have been better entrusted to the Wally Tuckers of this great land, but I guess it's too late for that.

Oh!... that five dollar a gram weed? Thumbs up!

So, Mr. Trudeau, you'll always have your base but you wouldn't have got in without those of us who were giving you the benefit of the doubt.

I'm not sure I can give you the benefit of the doubt next time round.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Wash cycle, rinse cycle, news cycle, spin cycle

Niall McGee has a fetching spot 'o news on page B5 of today's Globe. I like the vaguely cheeky tone of the headline; "No earnings, no problem: Investors buy Giustra's blockchain story."

The gist of the story is that legendary Vancouver flim-flam artiste and billionaire Frank Giustra's finger-prints are all over the meteoric rise of Hive Blockchain Technologies Inc, a "start-up" that's turned what was essentially a penny-stock shell company into a billion dollar concern.

Alas, nowhere in the article do we learn any more about Giustra, other than that he "worked with former US president Bill Clinton on philanthropic endeavours."

Did he ever!

All you have to do is type two words into your googlator, "giustra" and "clinton," and you'll be gobsmacked by what comes up. Between 2012 and 2016, scores of legit big-media platforms including the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bloomberg, CBC, and the Globe and Mail, ran stories that hinted at the foul odour emanating from the Clinton-Giustra "partnership in philanthropy."

Even the think tank here at Falling Downs got into the act with this effort from 5 November 2016.

Clearly things were building to a crescendo...

Three days later Trump won the US election and that was the end of that story. The "Trump Terror" has hogged the headlines ever since.

Giustra?

Oh ya... wasn't he the guy who did some philanthropy with Bill Clinton?...





Friday, November 10, 2017

Alabama: still putting the fun into fundamentalism

I see where Roy Moore's Senate run has hit some speed bumps.

Looks like they've found at least four women who used to be teens, and when they were teens Roy "Horndog" Moore allegedly had the hots for them.

This alleged discovery has caused GOP bigs like Mitch and McCain to call on Moore to fold his tent.

Which led to the local GOP folks stating, for the record, that they "don't give a shit" what Mitch and McCain say.

Good on them!

But wait! It gets way better!

Mary was a teen. Joseph was way older. They did the oinky boinky, and that's how we got the baby Jesus!


I don't want to rain on their parade, and my credentials as a biblical scholar probably won't hold up to serious scrutiny, but if I'm not mistaken, Mary and Joseph never did the oinky-boinky.

She was a virgin after all. The virgin Mary. It wasn't Joseph who planted his seed in her teenage womb, it was the Holy Spirit!


Joseph couldn't have been the sharpest tool in the shed if he fell for that one.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Change

I've always been a reader.

Got my start reading the funnies in the Guelph Daily Mercury in the late fifties.

Eventually got to the two Pauls, de Man and Feyerabend. I especially liked Feyerabend.

In the popular rendering of working class folks, we're a bunch of semi-literate yobs. There's an element of truth to that.

But there's always been a strong community of readers among us.

Like Johnny, who managed to get through most of the Globe and Mail crossword puzzle every day for thirty years. At work.

Or Andy, the pipefitter at Irving's shipyard in Saint John who happened to hold a degree in German Literature.

Or Dudley, who worked the pipe-bender at Kearney National during the week and partied with Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster on the weekend.

I'm still reading. Mostly I read stuff on my laptop these days, but I still indulge the luxury of the printed page from time to time. Like when the internet goes down.

Which is why I happened to pick up a copy of The New Yorker this evening and read about the legacy of the Sackler family. That legacy includes hundreds of thousands of opiod OD deaths and hundreds of millions in philanthropic gifts.

The two are intimately related.

That's the second time in a month I've read a mainstream take-down of the Sacklers.

And the mainstream has been busier than I could ever have imagined dismantling the legacy of Weinstein and his myriad fellow travellers.

Who ever imagined such a thing?

What's next?

A New Yorker critique of US foreign policy?

A NYT disavowal of capitalism?

A WaPo editorial slamming the occupation of the West Bank?


We are on the cusp of great changes.

Hold on to your hat... and keep reading.



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Browder script

You gotta admit it's a compelling story line. Can-do Yankee hedge-fund sharpie goes to Russia to teach the locals the ins and outs of capitalism. As he was looting, stuffing his pockets, plundering investing billions of dollars in post-Soviet Russia, he became alarmed at the strong-arm tactics Putin was using to extort hard-earned cash from well-meaning foreigners like himself.

Unlucky for Putin, Bill Browder wasn't just going to put up with that nonsense. No, Browder is a rule-of-law kinda guy. Luckily, Browder has all kinds of friends in all kinds of really high places, and thanks to his valiant and selfless efforts, "Magnitsky Act" legislation is sprouting up across the verdant democratic meadows throughout the Nations of Virtue.

Andrei Nekrasov is a well-regarded Russian film-maker who was an outspoken Putin critic. He was hired to direct the script Browder had written about his adventures in Russia.

That would seem a marriage made in heaven; a Putin critic of long standing with an impeccable reputation paired with a virtuous American hedge-fund manager with super-deep pockets to produce the ultimate anti-Putin opus.

Alas, it didn't take Nekrasov long to deviate from the script. The more he delved into the "facts" of the matter the more he had doubts about the script he was supposed to be working from. Browder and Nekrasov had an acrimonious falling out.

They're still at loggerheads to this day. On the one side, an internationally esteemed anti-Putin film-maker, and on the other side, a guy who siphoned billions out of Russia while the country was suffering an apocalyptic economic collapse.

I know whose integrity I'd be banking with, but I'm an outlier.

The Nekrasov documentary got finished, but good luck trying to watch it. Yes, it's available on YouTube, but for some reason I've not been able to find a version in which the sound actually works, so unless you're highly adept at lip-reading Russian speakers, it's pretty much useless.

Hmm... you don't think that could be censorship, do you?

Of course not!

We, after all, are the Nations of Virtue, and even though Browder had to renounce his US citizenship for tax reasons, he's one of ours.

And Nekrasov obviously found his way into Putin's pockets.

That's the Browder script, and I for one am sticking to it.




Climate Barbie goes off-script

I see where Environment Minister Catherine McKenna had herself a "my-face-is-red" moment when one of her minions inadvertently sent out a tweet praising Syria for joining the Paris climate accord.

Can't be having any of that now, can we! We must never forget that the eye doctor from Damascus is a blood-drenched monster who delights in gassing his own people, especially children! And suddenly we've got our Environment Minister high-fiving him for joining the fight against green-house gasses?

Well, she's obviously WAY off the script there, and it didn't take the men behind the curtain long to yank her leash. She's realized the error of her ways and is back on track.

The Syria script has always been a little dodgy to my way of thinking. On the one hand, we're constantly told Assad is unfit to inhabit this planet etc, and on the other hand the Canadian security establishment used to outsource their torture operations to the Assad regime. We don't do that stuff ourselves of course, but we're not above sending a few recalcitrant towel-heads over there to get their just desserts.

The ones who lived to tell the tale are subsequently made multi-millionaires by our guilt-ridden government. The ones who didn't, and there had to be more than a few, we never hear about.

And another dodgy aspect to the Syria script; let's assume for a moment that Assad is every bit the butcher we're constantly told he is. Then why do we arrest idealistic young Canadians on their way to Syria to join the fight against him? How does that make any sense?

Given how famous Canadians are (at least in Canada) for "punching above our weight," these idealistic young Canadians could have made all the difference.  Assad might very well be inhabiting the dustbin of history by now had we let them go. But no, we charged them with terror offences and locked them up, and Assad has all but won the war.

Were we yet again secretly in cahoots with Assad?

These are secrets known only to the script-writers.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

What up in the Kingdom?

Doug Saunders, Canada's answer to Thomas Friedman, laid a bit of an egg with his opinion piece in the Globe yesterday, if you want to know my six dollars and thirty cents worth. I mean, what was that other than another not-so-thinly veiled plug for his book?

Ya Doug, we know! You've got a book coming out. Maximum Canada... I hope a hundred million Canadians get to read it someday. Now try to write your column without mentioning that you've a book coming out.

By the way, I'm guessing you've noticed by now you miss-spelled the name of Canada's Immigration Minister. Five times in one editorial. Come on, Doug, pull up your socks! I pay $6.30 every Saturday to read this shit.

But anyway, what's afoot in The Kingdom? Looks to me like the boss princeling is working overtime putting his stamp on things. Let's see... so far, he's engineered the Yemen war.

Epic fail.

The collapse of global oil prices.

Epic fail. As far as I can see, that ambitious strike against Russia and Iran turned out to be a near-mortal self-inflicted wound more than anything.

Let's not forget the brouhaha with Qatar. The only question about that fail is how epic it'll turn out to be in the final analysis.

And now, the putsch. The "night of the long knives" as some are calling it. The KSA hasn't seen this much intrigue since Bandar Bush went AWOL for a spell a few years ago! The Hariri angle is the icing on the cake.

Netanyahu went overboard trying to make hay out of that one. Hmm... maybe Hariri knows something? Maybe he knows that the immediate future of his country is looking rather bleak, and he'd rather spend the next few weeks in Riyadh than in Beirut?

But back to the putsch. One thing I'm wondering; was this a preemptive strike? Did Crown Prince MBS get wind of something and decide he'd rather be the hammer than the nail? In any event, looks like there could be a rush of "high net worth" Saudi refugees looking for a roof soon.

Or a luxury suite. Or a few floors of a five star hotel. Luckily, Canada has the infrastructure in place to accommodate this imminent refugee flow.

The Lebanese won't be a problem either, once the fireworks start. I mean, half those folks already hold Canadian passports. They won't even be refugees... they'll just be coming home!

Hezbollah today, here tomorrow! That's OK too. At least it'll get easier to find a decent tabbouleh. And that divine Bekaa Valley Blonde those people are renowned for.

I wouldn't worry about the Israelis either. Most of those people already hold US or German passports, so let them go there. The rest we can take in as refugees. That would make up for the shame of the MS St. Louis debacle back in '39.

So between a half million Israelis, six million Lebanese, and whoever can escape the clutches of the Insane Clown Prince, I figure we could be welcoming a good ten million refugees in the next few months.

Looks like we'll be well on our way to Maximum Canada!





Suitable for first-time buyers or investors

Why is it that you can't scroll through real estate listings for more than two minutes without running across that line?

It's everywhere! That's bare-knuckle capitalism at its finest, isn't it? OK, immigrant family just starting out with your piddly savings from your minimum wage jobs... here's a cosy little starter for you! All you have to do is beat out all those savvy "investors" and the place is yours!

May the highest bidder win!

I'd say that's a competition highly skewed in the favour of the investors, wouldn't you think?

Time to roll out your affordable housing policy, Mr. Trudeau.

And make sure it's about affordable housing, not affordable investment vehicles.

Robert Mugabe reads this blog!

On 28th October I wrote about Zimbabwe being the only country in Africa without a US military presence, but not to worry - the National Endowment for Democracy are busy beavers there, so it's only a matter of time.

Six days later, Martha O'Donovan, an American working for a NED funded project in Zimbabwe, gets arrested for offending President Mugabe. Coincidence?

In its 2016 Annual Report NED reveals that amongst the million and a half dollars it sprinkled around the country that year was a $45,000 stipend to the Magamba Network, O'Donovan's employer, "to promote freedom of expression and pro-democracy activism by youth through the use of satire, citizen journalism, and creative new media platforms..."

That is so Uncle Sam, is it not?

How is it that the US government has money for the youth of Africa to promote all that good stuff, but not for the youth of Flint or Baltimore?

Anyway, Martha, the old coot is 93 and won't be around much longer. When he finally kicks the bucket all those pro-democracy activists that the NED and Open Society Institutes have been training for years will spring into action.

It might get a little messy.

It might require a few special ops guys on the ground to protect America's enduring interests.

But change is coming to Zimbabwe!

Flint and Baltimore will have to wait.


The convenient myopia of elite opinion-makers

It's Sunday once again, so The Sunday Star treats its readership to a recycled Friedman column from the New York Times circa Tuesday last; "Trump, Niger and Connecting the Dots." Much more "economically efficient" than producing original copy, I suppose. At least I'm not asked to pay $6.30 for it... yet.

So Friedman, certainly one of the most influential voices in English language media, wants us to know "just how foolish, how flat-out dumb President Donald J. Trump is. Trump is a person who doesn't connect dots - even when they're big fat polka dots."

Friedman furthermore wants us to know that unlike the imbecile Trump, he knows something about Niger. Take it away Thomas!

Connect those dots for us!

Which he does. He finds the climate change dots and the overpopulation dots and the poor governance dots and offers numerous asides about the ineptitude of the current President, all without ever mentioning the one humongous dot that arguably dwarfs all those others; Libya.

Those US special forces in Mali and Chad and Niger aren't there to fight climate change or desertification or overpopulation; they're there to fight "terrorists."

And why did these African states see a sudden rise in terror activities in 2012? Could it have anything to do with the US led destruction of the Libyan state in 2011?

That would be an exceptionally obese polka dot to leave out when one is purportedly connecting the dots in Niger, wouldn't you think?

Friedman knows this of course. The NATO assault on Libya and the murder of Gaddafi was a monstrously foolish and way-past-flat-out dumb decision. It unleashed forces that will destabilize the region for decades.

Unfortunately for the narrative Friedman is spinning, that White House decision was taken several years before Trump took up residence there.

Best to leave out stuff we can't pin on Trump!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Immigrant parents

The Farm Manager was more than pleased to inform me the other day that the most junior of our Juniors was carrying a 92% average in his second year at U of T.

Hmm... 92%?

On some level, I gotta say I'm kinda proud.

On another level, I gotta say "so what happened to the other 8%?"

That's what the FM's parents would have said to her.

That's what my parents said to me.

That's what responsible immigrant parents, no matter where they're from, say to their children to this day. If you're the child of immigrant parents, I'm guessing you can vouch for that.


Message to immigrant parents; if your kid only gets a 70 or a 60, or, God forbid, flunks out altogether, don't worry about it.

It's fine. Everything is OK!

That's called "assimilation."

And there's nothing wrong with that.


Friday, November 3, 2017

I was so dreadfully wrong about Donald J. Trump, and I'm so sorry...

Ran across this spot of brilliance in my travels this evening.

I was not even remotely acquainted with the word "dotard" at the time.

Thank-you, Kim Jong-un.

School bus shenanigans

I didn't have a plan for this blog when I fired it up six years ago, and some 5,000 posts later, I still don't.

At the back of my mind I figured maybe someday I'd do some editing and winnow things down a bit and maybe come out with a "Best of Falling Downs" e-book or something.

But editing and winnowing are way too much like work, whereas just slapping my latest insights into the human condition out into the world is rather enjoyable.

Which is why this blog is what it is. Critical analyses of US foreign policy interspersed with commentary about where my dogs shit and too-fond memories of "the good old days."

I have zero interest in editing those 5,000 posts.

But when I see which of those five thousand posts have been looked at on any given day, it can sometimes jog me into a trip down memory lane. That's what happened when it came to my attention that Wheel of Karma had a few page views recently.

Looking at that from my 2017 perspective, I'd say my school-pal Billy was guilty of molesting schoolgirls on the school bus.

At the time, it was all "boys will be boys."

Be that as it may, it got me to thinking about other goings-on on the school bus.

My friend Ev Dargie, who hails from Ripley, told me about how her school-bus driver would stop at the Ripley pub...

"Sit tight kids," he'd say, and they'd sit tight while he got tight. Never a problem. He could down three pints in the half hour the bus sat idling at the curb.

Then there were the hooligans on my bus who prided themselves on their ability to cover roadside hitch-hikers with spit as the bus drove by. I secretly wished the bus driver would stop for one of those dudes, just to find out how tough those spitters really were, but it never happened.

Bullying was a fact of life on the school bus. I got lots of that, at least till I grew big enough to kick the shit out of the bullies.

In grade nine, I'd get on the bus, and I'd hear "oh look, it's the Moose Jaw Kid!"

Guffaws all around.

By grade ten, I'd put on fifty pounds and grown six inches.

"Oh look, it's the Moose Jaw... "

Thwack thwack thwack...

Buddy had his nose flattened, was dribbling blood all over the place, and I got temporarily banned from the bus, but I was never again called "The Moose Jaw Kid."

By grade eleven I had my driver's license and a car, so it didn't matter. I was one of the cool dudes by then.

The best school bus story by far comes from my Ponsonby Public School days. That bus driver from Ev's childhood must have got a job there, because one night on the way home, the bus just slowed down and gently veered into the ditch.

The driver was sound asleep.

Or shit-faced drunk... take your pick.

No matter. One of the thirteen year old farm boys on that bus was able to manoeuvre it out of the ditch and finish the bus route.

That would be a front-page scandal were it to happen today.

Back then, you just did what you had to do.

Even if you were just a thirteen year old farm boy.








Thursday, November 2, 2017

Another good guy gone too soon

Just sent a condolence message to Phil's family. Thinking about Phil took me back to the night we met.

It was late at night and my pal Dave and I had been having an evening of it in Fergus. What did that look like? It looked like young hooligans gone wild. Tossed out of every drinking establishment in town, bloodied but determinedly unbowed. The town cops were closing in.

Back in the day, having the town cops actually catch up with you didn't necessarily mean you'd be facing charges. It did mean you were most likely in for a good thrashing that was intended to give you the message that you should take your assholery over to Elora instead. Or maybe Guelph or Elmira.

It was all fun and games till my 340 Dart ran out of gas. Oh-oh!

What-ever are we gonna do? Stand beside the car and listen to the sirens get louder?

Dave had a plan. His brother-in-law worked the night shift at the Moore's printing plant just a few blocks away. He'd be good for gas money!

We borrowed a couple of children's bicycles from an open garage door a couple houses away and high-tailed it to Moore's, pedalling those wee bikes as hard as we could. I remember wheelying my CCM Mustang past the guardhouse at the plant gate. The resident security guard abandoned his post and took off after us in hot pursuit.

Phil was found. Although unaccustomed to being accosted by drunken hooligans halfway through his midnight shift, he obligingly opened his wallet and forked over enough cash to get us safely out of town.

Our paths crossed from time to time, most recently when me and the Farm Manager were seated with him at a wedding a couple of years ago. He was the same quiet, unassuming, and gentle soul I'd first met forty years before.

He'd had more than his share of hard luck and bad breaks, but there wasn't a hint of bitterness in the guy. That's worth at least as much as fame and fortune.

Godspeed, Phil. Sorry you had to leave us so soon.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Your marijuana is in the mail...

Well, not quite yet it isn't, and there's quite a collection of do-gooders and law 'n order types coming together to lobby for a delay in legalization.

One of their main concerns is how to cope with the deluge of pot-addled drivers who are just itching to hit the highways clutching their bongs and vaporizers. All hell's gonna break loose, don't ya know!

Doesn't really add up when you think about it. Yes, there are people, at least a few, although I must say I'm not personally acquainted with any, who do not and never have and will never smoke pot for the simple reason that doing so breaks the law. But think about those folks for a minute. Are they gonna fire up a legal fattie and jump in the car for a road trip?

No!

Why not? Because that'll still be illegal! Does it make any sense that folks who didn't toke because it's illegal would suddenly have no qualms about breaking impaired driving laws?

But you never know... after all, if you've seen Reefer Madness you know that the addicts are pretty quick to toss their moral compass out the nearest window after they've had a toke.


Which doesn't mean you can't get your marijuana in the mail. A pal of mine sent me a few doobs in a Christmas card a couple years back. It was a particularly pungent crop that year. Keeping a sealed baggie in a desk drawer would stink up the whole house after a few days. Buddy figured the postman would drop the envelope off in my mailbox and everything would be cool.

Little did he realize that I pick up my mail at the Post Office in the village up the road, and I don't pick it up ever day, especially in winter, when I have to hitch up the hounds and mush hours over the frozen tundra.

So it's nearing the end of January by the time I finally retrieve that Christmas card. Jenny the Postmistress has got it shrink-wrapped in multiple layers of plastic. Couldn't smell a darn thing!

Ya gotta love country people!

Mericans even dumber than we thought

The latest chapter of Hillary's "Putin-made-me-lose" gambit is playing out in DC this week, where corporate nabobs from twittergooglefacebook are 'fessing up on how Putin's henchmen stole the election with $100,000 worth of Facebook ads.

The CBC even had David "Axis-of-evil" Frum on the other day explaining how this sinister "industrial scale" propaganda campaign worked. The ever-cunning Ruskies would put up adverts that subtly sowed seeds of doubt in the minds of gullible Americans. Even though the ads did not appear to be about the election at all, their cumulative effect was to sub-consciously guide the viewers to a place where they found themselves questioning American Exceptionalism.

You know what happens then; once that doubt reaches critical mass, unsuspecting Hillary voters suddenly find themselves getting aroused by Trump campaign slogans.

"Ya, I get it now! We really gotta make America great again! I'm voting Trump, dammit!"

Yup, that's how things went down. The most expensive election campaign in the history of democracy was blown out of the water by $100,000 in Facebook advertising.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

What I learned from my Globe and Mail today

Jeremy Freed informs me that I can spend $2,300 plus applicable taxes on a baseball cap!

I had no idea! But it's true; Stefano Ricci has opened up a boutique in Vancouver. Great! You'll just have to step over the homeless addicts on the sidewalk, and you too can put down $2,300 plus tax for a baseball cap!

Is this a great country or what!?

Elsewhere, Kelly's got an interesting profile of Tim Bezbatchenko. Even though I don't give a fig for football, a good writer can find the human interest angle in any story. But the best part of the sports section was the obit for Gregory Baum.

I've always been fascinated by obviously intelligent and well-educated people who manage to hold on to their religious convictions in spite of their intelligence and education, and Baum was such a man. It is somehow reassuring that such a thing is possible.

On A21 Lee Berthiaume tells the sorry tale of Canadian Special Forces who have been training the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Iraqi army for a couple of years. Yup, we trained them both and now they're fighting each other!

Good job, Canada! That was an obvious waste of resources, and underlines once again the folly of doing something just to be seen as doing something, even as you have no clue as to what you're doing.

Berthiaume completely misses the bigger story; most of the nominally independent Kurdish area in Iraq was retaken by Iraqi forces this past week in an operation so swift and seamless that it must have had the connivance of the American overlords.

Thanks for your help with ISIS, now forget about that Kurdish homeland nonsense and do as you're told.

Also on A21 we're treated to a Canadian Press story about a chap in Gatineau who inflicted a year's worth of violence on his teenage daughter for "removing her hijab when she was away from the family home." Hmm... wonder what culture that family hails from?

What a pity the Globe brain trust couldn't find room to place that story on A5, where Ingrid Peritz gets an entire half page to bemoan the fate of niqab-wearing women who are being bullied by Quebec's Bill 62. It would have made for great juxtaposing.

Frankly, I think Bill 62 is a pretty big hammer with which to thwart the scourge of a few dozen Muslim women choosing (or being coerced) to cover themselves. Is this really a "problem?" Don't they have bigger fish to fry?

No edition of the Globe is complete without at least some token Putin-bashing, and that's what you'll find on A6. Between hosting the latest Ukrainian PM and passing our version of a Browder Bill, we're still sticking it to Putin big time.

Finally, Renzetti uses her A2 slot for something other than professing her love for Hillary or contempt for Trump. She dumps on Amazon instead! How refreshing! There really needs to be more questioning of Amazon and Big Tech in major media, and it's a welcome thing to see at least a hint of it.

There you go. Was it worth $6.30?

Uncle Sam's adventures in Africa

The recent media kerfuffle over US troops in Niger didn't so much concern US troops in Niger as it did the Trump condolence call to one of the widows of the servicemen who died there. As such, the "story" wasn't about US troops in Africa, but about whether or not the POTUS is an a-hole, as if the answer to that question is somehow inconclusive and the matter requires further debate.

A host of your top-end US politicos have since come forward to claim that they had no idea there were US troops in Niger. According to some of the stuff I've been reading (admittedly on non MSM sites) the only country in Africa that does NOT have US boots on the ground is Zimbabwe. Not to worry; the National Endowment for Democracy (that US government "non-government organization" - and a shout-out to Orwell is in order here) have been busy beavers there, tilling the soil to prepare for the inevitable demise of the crotchety Bobby Mugabe. 

According to General Thomas Waldhauser, AFRICOM boss, the US has an "enduring interest" in Niger and is there to fight terrorists and create stability.

Of course!

Just like they'll soon be fighting terror and bringing stability to the entire continent!

They've been bringing stability to Somalia for forty years now, with underwhelming results. One could argue that Somalia enjoys far less stability today than it had when America first started gifting them stability, but that's another place where the US has "enduring interests."

Just like they'll soon have enduring interests all across Africa!

And might these "interests" have anything to do with the best interests of Africans?

Not likely. After all, Uncle Sam's regime doesn't run the USA in the best interests of 350 million Americans; it's unlikely that they've got the best interests of 1.2 billion Africans in mind.

No, General Waldhauser is talking about the enduring interests of America's one percent, the clique of war-profiteers and their acolytes who are determined to rule the world.

While I didn't notice much in the way of congratulatory reportage, AFRICOM celebrated it's tenth anniversary this month.

They're just getting started...


Friday, October 27, 2017

The Rolling Stones in Bogota; songs of revolution or songs of empire?

That's a righteous show the lads put on in Colombia last year, ain't it?

This is the band that had a hit with "Street fighting man" several lifetimes ago.

Who's streets are they fighting for now?

If you live in Bogota and you can afford to attend a Stones concert, you're not from the streets.

You're from somewhere else.

But you're cheering the Rolling Stones?

As much as I love Mick and Keith and the whole nine yards, I think it's high time we said goodbye to corporate rock and roll.

Twilight of the rock and roll Gods

It can't be much longer before the wave of whatever it is that just took down Weinstein is going to start nibbling away at the legacies of our rock and roll icons.

Ian Dury had a hit with "sex and drugs and rock and roll" back in the day.

Sex and drugs and rock and roll.

The drugs were ubiquitous and so was the sex, but here's the pivotal question; how "consensual" was the sex?

All these rock icons who boast of having had thousands of women may now be held to account.

I was an avid reader of Lester Bangs. Remember him? His reportage focused on sexual impropriety as much as it focused on music. Of course, back in the day, it wasn't "impropriety," it was liberation and letting it all hang out. And it was all good, wasn't it?

Sure it was! It's highly ironic that the high priest of licentiousness, Hugh Hefner, passed away almost without comment just before the Weinstein scandal broke. How does Hugh get a pass while Weinstein gets crucified? Weren't they all part of the same fame game?

As long as society worships fame and money and power, young people who crave fame will do whatever they can to ingratiate themselves with money and power.

Say what you will about Weinstein, but he was playing the game the way it's always been played. To pretend shock and dismay at the revelations coming out today is beyond disingenuous. Insofar as political correctitude is indeed a force, we'll be seeing a lot of careers crumble in the months ahead.

Wave bye-bye to your rock and roll icons...

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Why we won't be moving to the city any time soon

Lifestyle.

I've always found the term somewhat offensive.

Lifestyle?

How is your life a style?

I'm a working class guy who's life has always been whatever it's been. Calling it a "style" makes it sound like it was selected; a "lifestyle choice." Kinda like choosing between straight-leg and generous-fit Levis.

By default, we do have a "lifestyle" I guess.

The house is never locked.

The cars are parked in the drive, unlocked, with the keys in them.

You can take a whiz off the porch.

If somebody walks by with a gun nobody panics; it's just (take your pick) turkey/goose/bear/deer season.

If the cops nab a few dozen pot plants on your property you'll never be charged because everybody knows nobody grows the weed 'o wisdom on their own property...

Ya, I guess you could call it a "lifestyle."

And I've always got a million and one bullshit jobs on the to-do list.

Cutting an acre of grass with a 19" push mower.

Walking the dogs.

Re-arranging the parts vehicles behind the barn.

Fixing the (take your pick) snow-blower/wood-splitter/motorcycle/camper/etc.

Paint the kitchen, paint the bathroom, fix the bass amp, clean the basement, clean the attic...

There's always a ton of shit awaiting my attention.


What the fuck am I gonna do in an apartment in Toronto?

Sunny Daze Trudeau says tough sh@t to pensioners screwed by Sears Canada bankruptcy

Bad news is apparently more palatable when it's delivered by a guy in a turban. That's why PM Sunny Daze had Navdeep Bains break the news that his government has no plans to protect workers from engineered bankruptcies like the flame-out we're witnessing at Sears Canada.

They are, however, "open to consultations."

Great!

I'm sure they're busy "consulting" half a dozen business lobby groups even as you read these words.

Don't hold your breath.

Did pot-addled hillbilly coin term "fake news?"

I see where Callum Borchers at the Washington Post has sniffed out another Donny J fib. Apparently Trump has been bragging about inventing the term "fake news."

This has got Borchers righteously miffed. While he doesn't exactly claim that he personally coined the term, he does want you to know he used it before Trump ever did. His editors at WaPo seem to think that's newsworthy...

Hey dude, check out the title of this blog-post; Real news, fake news, and conspiracy theories, posted right here in February of 2012! Looks like I beat both you and Trump to the prize!

Not that I coined the term. I'm pretty sure Mark Twain mentioned "fake news" at one time or another...

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Retirement planning

From time to time the Farm Manager comes up with a plan to pack in this old farm and "retire" to the city. That's because four-fifths of the Juniors are in the general neighbourhood and we'd get to see them more often.

Now, I figure we'd get to see them more often if they bothered to come up here more often, but what the hell, the FM has a point. They're young folks with busy lives and we're old people with nothing better to do than six hours of driving every time we want to have a two hour visit with any one of them.

Ergo, we should sell the farm and move to the city.

And do what?

We've done the math. Things would be tight. We don't want to spend our golden years having to choose between the Netflix subscription and another bottle of wine.

So we're gonna have to work. The FM came up with the perfect scenario; she could get a part time gig at the liquor store, and I could get a part time gig at a marijuana dispensary.

Ya right... how long do you imagine that scenario is gonna last?

Besides, I see other issues around moving to the city. For one thing, I've never been completely domesticated. Out here at Falling Downs, when nature calls, no worries!

I just take a piss off the front porch!

How many times do you figure I'll be pissing off my tenth floor balcony on Yonge Street before people start to talk? And you know where that's gonna go...

Ya, you'll be reading my name in the Toronto Sun, that's where.


No thanks.




Sunday, October 22, 2017

Some thoughts about the "opioid crisis"

Have I got this right?

Big Pharma, or at least some province thereof, with the connivance of government regulators, unleashed an epidemic of opioid addiction. Lot's of hard-working regular folks got addicted to their government sanctioned legally prescribed opiate derivatives.

This raised an outcry. In response, governments have leaned on doctors to pull back on those prescriptions. So the hundreds of thousands or millions of people who got hooked on prescription opioids had a stark choice. Go cold turkey or go to the streets.

Not everyone is up to the cold turkey thing.

Whether you want to call it connivance or simple ineptitude, there's no denying the government played a role in this addiction crisis, and the overdose crisis today is the direct result of forcing those folks onto the streets.

Say what you want about Big Pharma, but at least they're not selling stuff that some college drop-out mixed in his apartment. They've got the top chem grads working for them in the most sophisticated labs in the world.

I heard an interview on the CBC the other day with a guy who was addicted to prescription pain-killers for 30 years. All along, he managed to be a productive tax-paying member of society. Then the government cracks down on opioid prescriptions, and his life becomes a shambles. In short order he loses his job, his family, and so far he's barely survived two overdoses.

How is this right?

The humane course of action here would be to severely curtail new opioid scrips, to stop the further growth of the addicted population, but for God's sake, lets show some mercy to the people who our medical-pharmaceutical industry already got hooked.

Do what it takes to keep them safe.




Asians gone bad

We were up in Lion's Head this morning breakfasting at Marydales. The FM had a breakfast wrap and I had the "really hungry" breakfast special, meaning three eggs and you don't have to choose between ham, bacon, and sausages; you get all of them!

We like to take the back road up, the one that goes through Barrow Bay. Just south of there we encountered a gaggle of trials bikers. That's a peculiar sort of motorcycle racing in which the objective seems to be to stand on the pegs and go as slow as you can. I was tempted to stop and ask a few questions, but I was hungry.

Breakfast was great, except for the crappy deep-fried potato cubes, but the dogs like them, so it's more or less a wash. But what really got our attention was the extended Asian family that had commandeered the middle of the room; four adults and a gang of nine or ten brats ranging in age from maybe three to about ten.

While I don't like to indulge stereotypes, my experience with Asian families is that their kids are generally well-behaved. Not this lot! The little hooligans were running about the place with the obnoxious precociousness one typically associates with spoiled middle-class white kids.

Then we figured out the problem. One of the adults was not like the others - he was a white dude. For the duration of our visit he never once took his eyes off his phone. He was oblivious to the mayhem around him. He never interacted with anyone. He ate with one hand while holding his phone in the other.

Obviously, one of the women in that extended family had made a terrible mistake. Now the entire clan is threatened by cultural assimilation. Let's just hope they come to their senses. Someday they may just leave phone dude in a restaurant somewhere and go home without him.

He won't notice, and they'll be the better for it.

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.