Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sixteen years in, US still winning war in Afghanistan

I was in the car today when I heard CBC News quote General John Nicholson Jr. claiming that the situation in Afghanistan was showing "incremental improvement."

He can't possibly believe this bullshit, can he?

This comes as the evil-doers light up a truck bomb at the gates of the so-called "Green Zone," inflicting casualties that eclipse the Manchester terror attack by a factor of four or five or more.

No word yet on when Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber and Katy Perry are planning a benefit concert to demonstrate their solidarity with the people of Kabul.

RIP Kara Mathews

We got a bit of a shock here at Falling Downs with the news that Kara had passed at the grossly unfair age of 38.

Kara worked with special needs kids her whole working life and by all accounts was an absolute all-star in her chosen profession. Both the Farm Manager and my step-daughter Hanna knew her well and worked with her extensively.

Seems she went to the doctor feeling out of sorts a couple of weeks ago.

Two weeks later; gone at thirty-eight.

While she never had children of her own, her kids will miss her greatly.

Condolences to family and friends.

Rest in peace, Kara.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Preem Kathleen dips into loot-bag and gifts Ontario min wage workees 30% raise

But it doesn't kick in till after the next provincial election, nudge nudge wink!

On the face of it, that may appear to be a cynical bit of political opportunism - vote for me and get a 30% raise.

In reality, she's gifting a cohort that tends to be under-represented in the voting booth. Min wage workers are often too busy, too disillusioned, too distracted and too discouraged to bother voting. Maybe this will get their attention.

After all, it's beyond the pale that ANY worker in one of the most prosperous jurisdictions on the planet labour in poverty.

Enough already!

Brace yourself for the chorus of bleating that is guaranteed to issue forth from those sectors of the economy that depend on full-time workers toiling for poverty wages.

Whaaaaa!! We're gonna move our restaurant to Alabama...

Well, off you go then.

Somebody else will figure out how to deep fry frozen potatos while paying a living wage.

Sure, prices at restaurants will have to go up somewhat, but look at how many more people will be able to afford a dinner out.

This is a small step in the right direction, but at least it's a start.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

U of Goo mired in PC poo

Oh, how the times have changed.

My fat ass graced or disgraced the U of G campus for a few semesters back in the early eighties. I made my contribution to campus life by penning a few diatribes for the Ontarion and subsidizing the campus pubs to the best of my ability.

Alas, it seems that was not nearly enough.

According to reports from legit media sources, the Student Union at UG had collective kittens over a Lou Reed tune that has been an anthem among queerish folks for close to fifty years.

Take a walk on the wild side indeed!

What the fuck is wrong with these people?

N*ggers made America great

Two American icons just passed away within a day of one another.

Actually, one of them wasn't a "real" American.

No, he was a Pollock. Or a Pollack.

Zbigniew Brzezinski was one of the prime architects of that toxic artifice known as "American exceptionalism." He's been a beltway insider with tons of schlep for at least the last fifty years.

The other American icon was Gregg Allman. He was one of many white musicians who made a good living appropriating the music of black America.

Over the last fifty years America has had only one worthwhile export; music.

Gregg Allman did yeoman's work popularising American music.

The think tank here at Falling Downs doesn't consider weapons and war to be worthwhile exports.


That's cool!

And what is that "American" music that Gregg Allman helped make popular?

N*gger music.

Between the old-school gospel and the blues and the rhythm and blues and the jazz and jump gospel and the rock and roll, America truly gave something great to the world!

Yup, the only meaningful contribution America has made to the betterment of civilization is n*gger music...

And as you know, those folks were African before they were African-American.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Surfing a tsunami of lies

We in the Nations of Virtue, ensconced as we are in our comfortable lives, are shocked that the evil-doers have yet again managed to strike at the soft underbelly of our civilization, this time in Manchester.

Twenty-two dead. The death toll in Europe from attacks by various strands of "Islamic terrorists" now stands in the multiple hundreds. Every one of the dead was a sister, a brother, a mother, daughter, son or father much missed by those they left behind.

Our grief and outrage know no bounds. Just watch BBC or CNN for a while and you'll see what I mean.

The death toll in the Islamic world from attacks by the Nations of Virtue over the past fifteen years stands in the multiple hundreds of thousands, quite possibly millions. Every one of the dead was a sister, a brother, a mother, daughter, son or father much missed by those they left behind.

The day before the Manchester massacre President Trump stood before an assembly of Western-backed Arab despots in Riyadh and brazenly claimed that day was night and night was day. They, the un-elected tyrants of the Islamic world, were our friends and allies in the fight against terror.

The Republic of Iran, which had just elected a moderate president in a free and fair democratic election, is the prime sponsor of terror, not the sheikhs of Saudi Arabia or Qatar who have generously supported every Islamic terror outfit from Al Qaeda to Al Nusra to ISIS.

Democratic Iran must be relentlessly sanctioned and bullied and provoked at every turn.

Our autocratic terror-enabling sheikhs in Riyadh will be gifted with hundreds of billions worth of US weapons to help us win the war on terror.

What could go wrong?

How many more Manchesters will it take before we come to our senses?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Academic freedom takes a siesta at Yale

Apparently the concept of academic freedom does not apply when the academic is writing Yelp reviews.

What's unusual about this story is that it marks a rare instance of the wet blanket of political correctitude being used to smother a non-white voice in the alleged interest of upholding the dignity of white folks. That's a departure from the sort of issues we have come to expect university administrators to hold back the academic freedom card on.

Dean Chu lost no time in issuing an appropriately grovelling apology.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Hey Shinzo, we gotta say hello to these people

They've paid me a fortune over the years...

And that's how the president of the USA and the Prime Minister of Japan happened to photo-bomb the wedding of a young couple who got married at Mar-a-Lago at the same time that Donny J was hosting the Japanese PM.

The personal is indeed political.

And the political gets way more personal. Look at how young Jared is faring out.

He married Donald's daughter.

That in itself would seem to be a pretty decent score.

Then his father-in-law becomes President of the USA?


Look at Jared now.

Mastermind of the US-Saudi 100 billion arms deal, from what I'm reading.

Young Jared will never want for a dollar or a job again. He's snatched the brass ring!

There'll be so many directorships of big weapons manufacturers on offer that young Jared may want to lie down for a nap before he makes a decision!

But of course his number one file is Israel.

Do you ever wonder why the imaginary Russian interference in American democracy gets massive headlines while the very real Israeli interference gets a free pass?

That would be a good question to put to Jared.

The pros and cons of riding mowers

I don't mind walking.

I think it's what's kept me alive.

My doctor EJ Crispin once predicted, whilst I was still enjoying (or not so much) my early twenties, that I would not live to see thirty.

EJ, may he rest in peace, would be shocked to see me now. I must admit I'm pleasantly surprised myself.

His theory was that the line between "experimentation" and "substance abuse" can be more than a little nebulous, and it is always prudent to err on the side of moderation. My theory has been, if you can keep a job and pay your bills, you're doing OK, regardless of what you may do in your spare time.

If that spare time includes excessive amounts of excess... well, just walk it off when you come out of it.

That's led to some great walks. I recall walking up a mountain in the Austrian Alps. It was a dreary drizzly day. I walked and walked and walked. Then I walked and walked some more. The drizzle became an enveloping mist. I kept walking.

After maybe eight or ten hours of walking I imagined I heard voices... I was getting high into the mountain. It was getting dark.

Perhaps I was hearing the angels talking amongst themselves?

I kept walking. The voices became more prominent. Wait a minute - those voices were speaking in German.

Obviously not the angels...

No, I'd taken the scenic hike to a mountain-top resort. I took the gondola down the other side. Twelve hours to walk up the hill, twenty minutes to take the gondola back to town.

I'm still walking. Walking behind a push-mower has just been another mode of walking, at least until recently.

My first mower was a Canadian Tire special that I inherited from my brother in law. It was about ten years old when I got it. It did yeoman's service for another ten years. Zero maintenance. For ten years all I had to do was put gas in it.

It finally calved when I had my place in Durham. I splurged and bought a fancy Sears walk-behind. Close to five hundred bucks. That lasted for ten years or so.

Then I bought another Sears mower. Just over five hundred bucks this time. Didn't make it through four seasons.

Do you see a pattern here?

The manufacturers have got the lifespan of a lawnmower down to four years from twenty-plus.

That's progress for you.

I then bought the cheapest piece-of-shit mower I could find, $199 at Home Hardware. It's more asthmatic than I am. I can hardly get it through the dandelions.

Here at Falling Downs I figure I've got somewhere close to an acre of lawn which, at this time of year, requires a good three hours behind the push mower. More than a few people have wondered why I haven't gone to a rider.

Good question. After all, I don't really do enough substance abuse anymore to justify that amount of walking. I don't have anything to walk off for three hours a week.

It does give me time to think, though.

I think about what a waste it is to cut all that grass when it would be perfectly good feed for goats or rabbits or something.

I think about what a great market garden that acre of lawn would make. But that's a shit-load of work, which is something I'd rather avoid.

I think it might be time for a ride-on.

My dear son Jake has pointed out the potential benefits of a riding mower.

Instead of seeing grass-cutting as a chore, it could be an adventure!

Have a few beers and a huff on the vaporizer, then cut the grass! And the Cub Cadet ride-on I've been eyeing at Hasties has cup-holders! You could have more beers while doing the lawn!

I'm undecided.

I spent three hours behind the pusher today. It's gonna need three more hours before next weekend.

Undecided perhaps, but I have a rough idea where this is going...

Friday, May 19, 2017

President Trump and the People of The Book

President Trump?

Holy shit, how did the condo promoter from Manhattan pull that off?

We're pretty sure the new prez hates his new job. Sure, he had a lot of fun on the campaign trail burying the establishment stiffs, but seriously...

He was no more prepared to actually win that election than we were to see him win it.

Anyway, the interminable wingeing of the Wapo and NYT professional crybabies aside, it looks like Donny J, perhaps the most compromised presidential candidate of the modern era (even leaving aside the shit-storm of fake news about his Russia connections,) will be POTUS for the next three and a half years.

So look at the itinerary for his first presidential field trip.

Saudi Arabia. Home of the two sites most sacred to the Muslim faith.

Israel. Eternal home of God's Chosen People.

The Vatican. Home of you-know-who.

Looks to me like the sly (non-believing) opportunist is attempting an end run around the Beltway aristocracy by appealing directly to the Keepers of the People of The Book.

We're counting on America's free press to ensure he doesn't get away with this latest outrage.

The torists are back

Yes, I know they are properly "tourists," but in these parts that's pronounced tor-ists.

Torists are the folks who have million-dollar summer shacks on the Bruce. That would be the Bruce Peninsula, if you're not from around here.

You can have a leisurely breakfast at a window seat in the Top Notch and watch them roll by all day long. Range Rovers and BMWs and a never-ending caravan of $80,000 pick-ups pulling Sea-doos and ATVs and BBQs and summer fun accessories of every description.

They clog up the Timmies, make the Foodland parking lot into a nightmare, and hog all the good seats in the local dining establishments.

But they're more than welcome.

Our new Foodland was built and stocked with the affluent summer crowd in mind. They're not carrying Sambal Oelek chili paste and Kitchen of Love Spicy Quinoa for the benefit of the locals, I can assure you of that.

Couple of things you should know about Wiarton. They tore down a school to build that Timmies. Speaks to our priorities around here.

Also, right up until the sea lamprey found its way into the Great Lakes almost a hundred years ago, Wiarton was a major commercial fishing hub. Wiarton's population was higher a hundred years ago than it is today.

Up until very recently, that fact translated into very reasonable real estate prices. That's changing fast.

The Muskokas are pretty much built out, but you can still get quality Georgian Bay waterfront on the Bruce for well under a million. And once you factor in the inevitable traffic jam on the 400 heading out of town on the Friday of a long weekend, we're really not any farther away from Toronto than is Lake Joe.

So forget Lake Joseph and come take a look at the Bruce.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Falling Downs narrowly avoids mid-air collision

I was sitting in the yard, eyes on the heavens, when I noticed two vapour trails that seemed to be heading for the same space in the sky.

Oh my God, there's gonna be a mid-air collision!

Then I'd be duty-bound to assist in the search for the remains of the passengers. Not to mention the remains of their wallets...

I ran in the house and googled up Flightradar24.

Turns out the plane out of the southwest was a Delta Airbus heading from Detroit to Paris.

The vapour trail coming out of the north belonged to UAL808, a Boeing 777 on a direct flight from Beijing to Washington.

You'd have to agree that mid-air collision would make for some interesting wallets.

Alas, the Boeing was flying at 39,000 feet. The Airbus was at 35,000. They had nearly a mile of vertical clearance between them as they crossed paths overhead.

But it looked promising from the ground.

Top Canadian journalist predicts military coup in US

I see where Canadian journo Heather Mallick is counting on a military coup to ease her Trump burden.

It's really weighing her down, apparently.

Those Generals in the US forces will eventually tire of wondering how koo-koo Trump really is, and just take over America to save it from Trump, who has self esteem "as tiny as a lentil or a pill."

I don't know about that, Heather. Seems that one thing he has in spades is self-esteem.

I would agree that it is largely unwarranted self-esteem. Trump is another example of rich-kid syndrome, where certain rich kids assume they were born rich because they were extra special, and proceed accordingly. If they're lucky, they stay rich even after they've squandered most of the wealth they were born into. Read up on Conrad Black or Edgar Bronfman Jr. to get a sense of what I'm talking about, but the point is, these guys are not lacking in self-esteem.

You have to wonder about that part where Trump "began tossing state secrets to the Russians like candy at a parade." Come on Heather! Really? Are you being a professional journalist here or are you letting your prejudices get the better of you?

As for those Generals, I wouldn't count on them to ease your Trump burden, Heather.

After all, he's already given them a 10% hike on the most extravagantly bloated military budget in the history of history.

From the Generals' point of view, what's not to like?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The wily Erdogan meets his match

The Trump-Erdogan gab-fest was all but missed by the mainstream news purveyors today, mainly because they are busy having fake shit-hemorrages over Trump's supposed spilling of top-secret beans to Lavrov and the Russian ambassador last week. Another media-manufactured tempest in a teacup, but it's a good one, isn't it?

First Donny J fires FBI boss Comey to kill that investigation into his collusion with the Ruskies, and then he turns around and shares national secrets with those very same Ruskies!

Holy moly... this man must be stopped, at least if you take your cues from the NYT and the Washington Post!

Those commies... er, I mean Russians, obviously have Trump by the short and curlies.

Trump must be tempted to take a few tips from Erdogan on how to deal with pesky media. In America the Trumpists chant lock 'em up. It's a feel-good thing, much along the lines of chanting "go Leafs go!" In Turkey they're just locked up indefinitely, thereby proving that America still has something called a "free press."

Erdogan dodged a few bullets last summer, quite literally, when his former pal turned arch nemesis Fethulla Gulen launched a surprise attack on this government. Gulen has been cooling his heels a couple of hours north of CIA HQ for what, twenty years now? Does anybody really believe that this leader of a global socio-religious educational organization with millions of followers worldwide could enjoy US hospitality for that long without the express connivance of the highest levels of America's multi-faceted  spook infrastructure?

The CIA may not have invented Gulen, but they've certainly nurtured him over the years. Had things gone to plan, the ornery and unpredictable Erdogan would have given way to the infinitely more pliable Fethullah Gulen.

The failure of the coup last summer was a bitter pill for the Deep State, a disappointment trumped only by the election of you-know-who in November.

The string-pullers must have been seething today, and the "free press" did their bit by ignoring the Erdogan-Trump shindig.

Shouldn't take more than a few days for the Times and the Post to front-page a list of state secrets Trump spilled to the Turks today.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The American way

Condoleeza Rice has a new book out.

"Democracy" it's called.

Not sure if I'll get around to reading the book, but I did read Walter Russell Mead's review.

Mead forgot to mention that the Chevron oil multinational once named an oil tanker after her. Quite an honour for the future Sec of State, and a glaring omission on Mead's part. That oil tanker speaks to who's interests Condi represents.  Mead's failure to mention it tells me he's kowtowing to the same interests.

Anyway, that quibble aside, Mead seems confident that American exceptionalism will carry the day, in spite of this temporary shadow cast by the short-fingered vulgarian currently occupying the White House.

That expression, by the way, was originally coined as a put-down of certain merchants, the ones who were apt to short-change you. The vulgarian part came later. It wasn't until Trump Rage hit terminal velocity that the expression was sexualized.

But I digress. Condi continues to be amply rewarded for her service to Empire, and she was all-in for Trump's choice of Rexxon Tillerson to take her old job.

My sister just came back from a brief family visit to LA. She was shocked to see block after block of homeless folks living in tents on the sidewalks.

Don't sweat it, dear sister; that's how they roll in the richest nation on the planet. There may be more homeless on the sidewalks and under bridges, but take heart... there are more billionaires in cabinet than ever before!

Drove by a Costco the other day. You can save big when you buy in bulk. Costco's days at the top of the retail pile are probably numbered. From Kresge to Walton to Bezos, great fortunes have been made in figuring out how to get more people to buy more shit that, as often as not, they don't really need.

The emerging Bezos model of retail will kill Costco. The only thing better than buying in bulk is having a drone deliver that bulk right to your apartment balcony.

There was a time when having enough made us fat and happy.

Now we've got more than we can ever use, but we're obese and depressed.

The exceptional nation is waiting for Donald Trump to make it great again.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Thirty-six hours

It's been something of a roller-coaster here at Falling Downs.

Thursday night, after I'd stepped out for my bed-time toke, Chloe the Cat slipped out the door as I was slipping in.

That's not like Chloe. She'll maybe venture onto the front stoop on a sunny afternoon, but that's about it.

I didn't give it much thought, but reminded the Farm Manager to let the cat in before she retires for the evening.

Friday morning comes and there's no Chloe in the house. Apparently she was nowhere to be seen when the FM went to let her in.

We spent the morning looking for her, around the house, the garage, the barn, calling her name and shaking a bag of cat treats.


Chloe is somewhere around twenty years old. We braced ourselves for the worst. I spent the afternoon researching "behaviour of dying cats."

There's a vast trove of info out there about how ageing cats are wont to steal away and die alone when the time has come.

We had obviously come to that time.

I must admit we both got a little misty-eyed contemplating the demise of our beloved companion of twenty years. She could be, depending on her mood, aloof, cloyingly affectionate, distainful, or openly hostile. All
within a fifteen minute span.

Now she was gone... oh how I wished I could have rubbed her belly one last time.

Too late for that.

Even as tears flowed freely, I was able to discern the outlines of a silver lining.

We didn't have to pay $350 for the vet to put her down.

So we'd made peace with the fact that Chloe was gone to her reward. I was sitting out on the stoop around midnight last night, well into my cups, having that bed-time toke, when I thought I heard a meow.

When you're half in the bag and you just fired up a fattie you don't believe the first thing you hear, and I didn't.

Then I heard it again.

And again.

I got up and wobbled off in the general direction of the meowing.

It was coming from the barn. It briefly occurred to me that I should inform the FM of our good fortune but I thought better of it.

This could be a hallucination, triggered by grief and wishful thinking and good weed.

When I got closer to the barn I actually saw her, the dead cat I'd been mourning moments before. Then she ducked into the barn.

The barn here at Falling Downs is of course falling down, so we don't venture in there without good cause. This was good cause. By then I'd alerted the FM and between us we retrieved our dear Chloe.

We celebrated well into the morning!

We woke up just in time to see the Lundys off-loading their cow-calf pairs in the barnyard. The cows had wintered at their home farm, but were now set free to graze in our lush meadows for the summer.

It's one thing to see wee calfs romp and frolic and kick up their heels. It's quite another to witness a 1400 lb. cow do the same. They were just delighted to be here!

We were even more delighted to see them here.

And tonight, twenty-year-old Chloe caught a mouse.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Macron will have his hands full, and his trousers too

Interesting story out of France today about workers taking over a car parts plant. That just doesn't happen here, does it?

Remember when the GM Diesel plant in London was shut down by Caterpillar and hundreds of $30 an hour jobs turned into $12 an hour jobs in one of America's "right to work for less" states? Remember what their union did for them?

Negotiated an improvement in the severance package, and that's about all.

Over in France there's still a working class who see themselves as working class and don't mind letting their bosses know it.

Here's a shout-out and a tip of the cap to the lads and lassies at the GM&S plant who are fighting to save their jobs, something we rarely get around to doing on this side of the Atlantic.

The class struggle is far from over, regardless of how we the workers have been dissed and dismissed by mainstream media here. There's still life in the working class in France.

They still know how to stand up for their rights in China.

Not that threatening to throw yourself from the factory roof is going to get you far here in North America. To the ground for sure, but that's about it.

So we'll see how the new bum-boy of the bosses, the new Prime Minister of France, tackles this little hiccup in Creuse.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

News update from Falling Downs

Notice I called it a news update and not a "news flash?"

That's because there ain't much newsworthy here at the farm.

Gotta call my pal Kipling soon because we're running a little short on the weed 'o wisdom. If you found my last several posts particularly stupid, that's why.

Got the Mustang 50 on the battery charger overnight. She's been working A++ till I went to fire her up this morning.


Last time I ran her was when I gave Grant Mackenzie a ride back to his place to fetch his four-wheeler. Grant and his family had put a couple of kayaks and a canoe in the water up by the bikers' place upstream from us but across the road from them.

Grant and family came down the Indian Creek in fine style. The dogs heard them long before we did, as dogs will do. The young 'uns in their kayaks and then Ma and Pa and Lilly the family dog in the canoe. The entire Mackenzie family armada. What a sight!

So I gave Grant a lift in the 'stang, came home and parked her, and she's been deader than dead ever since.

Hoping that overnight battery charge makes a difference.

We hung up a bird feeder on the front porch over the winter. It was great fun when the wee birds were at it. If they shit, we didn't notice.

Then the bigger birds discovered it. Starlings. Woodpeckers. Blue Jays. These birds shit large. The wee birds are long gone but the front porch is plastered end to end with bird shit.

That's country life, I guess.

Left the garage door open the last time I put away the Ninja a couple weeks ago. Still don't have that helmet, but I've got birds nesting in the garage. Can't close the door now because the babies would die.

That's how the world unfolds at Falling Downs...

2016 - 2020; Twilight of the American Plutocracy

I was driving through town this afternoon when I saw a young lad, no more than seven or eight, heading home from school. He was making detours onto people's lawns to pick dandelions. Maybe as a gift for his Mom. Maybe just because.

Give him a couple of years and he'll be walking home from school with his eyeballs stuck to a screen, like all the big kids and the adults do these days. He'll never see another flower again.

The REALLY BIG NEWS in the news today is Trump's axing of FBI director Comey. Mostly that's big news among the Hillary oriented media who have been hyperventilating about supposed Russian interference in US democracy for the past six months.

They're uber-hyperventilating today, if such a thing can be imagined. After all, wasn't Comey investigating those shady links between Russia and team Trump? This is the proof! This is a cover-up!

This is bullshit. It's Trump getting rid of a mediocre guy at the top of the FBI while at the same time throwing a bone to his old pal Hillary. After all, until today Comey was one of the top suspects in throwing the election to Trump, according to Hillary and her acolytes in the media.

Speaking of elections, I see where South Korea just elected a new leader who, at least on the face of things, sees his first responsibility as serving the interests of the Korean people instead of the interests of Washington. That THAAD installation America just pushed into South Korea? The new guy quite properly sees it as a provocation not only of North Korea but of China as well.

To them it's a hostile American military installation protected by 50 million South Korean human shields.

We'll see how long this THAAD thing lasts... elections can be such a pain in the ass when you're trying to rule the world.

Which brings me to the next US presidential election coming up not nearly soon enough. In 2016 the two most popular candidates were Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. In spite of their differences they had one thing in common; they both ran on a promise to dismantle the status quo, ie the rule of the plutocrats. This is what made them popular.

The fact that both men subsequently betrayed their core supporters is beyond obvious by now, and is not a point I need to expand on here. The more important point is that these disaffected, disillusioned, and largely disenfranchised voters are still there, and will be when the 2020 race gets serious.

They will remember who sold them out.

They'll be ripe for a third party candidate who campaigns on meaningful reform. Universal health care. A massive shrinkage of the military budget. Housing and education for the people. Getting big money donors out of politics. Ending the myriad tax dodges that allow billionaires to make politics their playpen. Bringing in a tax code that taxes the rich more than the middle...

It's a long list.

It has to be a third party. No movement that involves the Democratic Party has the cred to turn America around. No astro-turf fake-left outfit funded by Soros can be allowed to play a leadership role.

America is ripe for the return of democracy.

Unless everybody is so glued to their little screens they don't even notice their country is well on its way down the toilet.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

How not to get rich

Oh, let me tell you the ways...

Writing is a sure-fire way to stay poor.

That's why I was somewhat mystified by the last couple of paragraphs of Elizabeth Renzetti's love letter to Hillary in today's Globe. Hillary is obviously not a conniving greed-bag, because look, she'll be writing a book!

She will almost certainly be criticized as a cash-hungry monster by people who do not realize that writing books is precisely the wrong way to get rich (unless you're JK Rowling).


Here's a story from Forbes that claims the Clintons have made at least 23 millions for their previous books, and that includes the eight million advance Hillary got for her last memoir.

Eight million for a book might not be getting rich, but it's getting close. And however many millions she gets for her next book should put her into the rich zone for sure.

So I agree with Liz that writing a book is precisely the wrong way (among many) to get rich.

Unless you're Hillary Clinton.

Get in on the ground floor with this outrageously talented new recording artist

Ya OK, he's my kid... that doesn't mean he's not outrageously talented.

Although I will admit to a spot of parental bias.

I remember taking him and his gear to a gig at the Anzac club in Toronto when he was sixteen years old. What bent my mind was when my kid took the stage people stopped talking and paid attention.

The trouble with Jake is he doesn't make nearly enough effort to get his shit out there.

He should do an Anzac every week and he'd be playing Massey Hall before you know it.

But as much as I wish him every success, that's gotta be his deal.

Not mine.

Life lessons from The Korean

When I drove into town today to pick up my Saturday Globe, I found The Korean's wife and mother-in-law out in the parking lot putting up a tent.

I made a lame joke about it being shitty weather for camping. They laughed.

The Korean is a bit of a joker himself. He scans the bar-code on my paper and announces "five hundred and twenty-five dollar please!"

Ha ha... not enough good news in the world for that price, I tell him.

He settles for $5.25.

Have to say the paper was on the thin side today.

Big feature in the Focus section on condo flippers messing up the Toronto real estate market. That might be mildly interesting if you don't already have multiple friends and relatives milking that for all it's worth. You view them with a mix of envy and contempt; envy because at some level you wish you'd jumped into the game when the jumping was good.

Contempt because they're one of the reasons your children will never own property in Toronto.

But their children will.

Interesting, but nothing like the tour de force Cathal Kelly had on view a couple of weeks ago.

"Too drunk to fuck" indeed!

There's a couple of stories that cast well-deserved aspersions on Justin's captaincy of the ship of state. On page B-1 unpaid intern Rachelle Younglai has a story about shrinking paycheques for the working and middle classes.

On page A-4 Bill Curry has a story about how Justin's infrastructure initiatives are being massaged by the very people who will "ultimately own and manage infrastructure assets."

Public money, private profits; that's hardly a news story.

One thing I'd like to see more of in the Globe is coverage of the Supreme Court case that Rocco Galati has been pursuing for years now on behalf of COMER, the Committee for Monetary and Economic Reform. Follow that story and you soon realize there's no reason whatsoever for our infrastructure assets to end up in the pockets of Black Rock or the multitude of like-minded hedgies and finance sharpies.

But that's not a story the Globe is keen to spread around.

Elsewhere, Liz Renzetti uses her A-2 slot to let us know she's still pouty about Hillary's very bad and awfully terrible day six months ago. Apparently it wasn't just Russian interference in America's democratic process that sunk Hillary, although the Ruskies do get several shout-outs in her column.

No, it was even worse than that, if such a thing can be imagined.

There was a "pink elephant" in the room.

That would be sexism, for those too stunned to figure it out.

Well... sure.


I'd hazard a guess that the pink elephants were bigger when Golda became PM in the sixties or Maggie became PM in the seventies, but maybe Liz isn't old enough to remember those days.

Hillary lost because she and her army of consultants and advisers were outworked and outsmarted at every turn by a condo salesman from Manhattan.

Best story by far in today's paper was the profile of Toronto restauranteur Jen Agg. A far more palatable role model for young women than Hillary, if you ask me.

She's kicking the shit out of pink elephants every day, and may God bless her for it.

Anyway, I've come to accept that The Korean isn't responsible for what's in the newspaper he sells me.

His wife and mother-in-law were putting up that tent to protect the plants that all the Korean variety stores have on offer this time of year.

The weather channel is suggesting we'll get snow tonight.

So the flowers are camping tonight, I offer.

Yes! We must be prepared, he says.

Sound advice from The Korean.

Be prepared.

Things to do with a sociology degree

My step-daughter Hanna texted me this morning with the news that she'd just served Marc Emery a hot-dog. Apparently the plucky Persian had one of his food "trucks" towed to Queens Park today for the Global Marijuana March. Shrewd call, Hoonan!

Which is what brought Emery to the scene, logically enough. I told her to put a Wally-burger on the menu in honour of the original Prince of Pot, Wally Tucker. 

So Hanna is slinging hot-dogs with her soc degree. But that's not the only road open to a recent graduate. You could be an Uber driver. Many soc grads find meaningful work in retail.

Hey, the sky's the limit!

There's no such thing as too much education...

Personally, I found my sociology degree hardly held back my welding career at all. Sure, the other folks on the shop floor will view you with a degree of suspicion at first, but one thing sociology grads understand is how to blend in.

Hanna in Hoonan's food truck.

Me in Irving's shipyard.

There's always the option of more education, of course. Go for the graduate degree. Go all the way and get yourself a Doctor Phil. Your Uber clients will be massively impressed when you drop that tidbit. 

Even thirty years ago the job market was tight for soc grads. I remember a sessional at UGuelph wingeing about the lack of tenure-track opportunities back in the early eighties. He'd been on the sessional track with his Ph.D. for ten years at that point, and the problem has gotten exponentially worse since. He often expressed his regret at not having become a high-school teacher instead.

Which is not to say there are zero tenure track opportunities. Who gets a crack at them though is a mighty sketchy business. White males would be pretty much SOL. White females perhaps slightly less so. What's required, beyond a visible identity as a member of an oppressed subset of society, is an appetite for political correctitude and advanced ass-kissing skills.

Hanna has more people skills when she's sleep-walking than I could ever conjure on my best day, but I'm afraid she shares my skills deficit in the ass-kissing department.

But lets not forget that a university education isn't intended as job training. Unless you're in medicine or engineering, of course. It's about building character and building a network, don't ya know!

I shared many a pint with my various profs over the years in the interest of building a network. One of the folks I really liked was a guy named Ian Currie. He was a sessional, and if I recall correctly, he didn't even have a Doctor Phil to wave around, but he had a best-selling book out at the time which I suppose, in the eyes of the hiring committee, made up for that short-coming.

Alas, he took himself to his reward before my budding networking skills had a chance to fully blossom. 

And Hanna met some illustrious mentors whilst doing her degree at York, including a couple of folks I'd studied with thirty years before. The most illustrious by far was Mel Watkins. I didn't realize the old pinko was still alive till Hanna nonchalantly mentioned that he often walked her home after his evening class. Don't know if a letter of recommendation from Mel would still open many doors.

Whatever else he is or was, there's no getting around the fact that he's still a white male.

I've suggested to Hanna that she should consider a law degree. Sure, there's plenty of folks with those who are under-employed too, but Hanna has the smarts and people skills to stand out in the crowd.

She's all in if I pay for it.

Well kid, I've got a lovely batch of seedlings that I'm planning to put in just over the fence-line just as soon as I'm sure the danger of frost is over for good. The way Justin is going about his legalization gambit will ensure a healthy grey-market for ganja for years to come.

There's hope with dope, even when you have a sociology degree.

Friday, May 5, 2017


Back in the middle sixties, my dear Daddy bought a plot of land a couple of miles north-west of Guelph and built our very first new house. Quite an accomplishment for DP's barely ten years into their new lives in the new country.

I wasn't yet into my teens, but I was highly attracted to all things loud and fast and motorized. The Andrews boys around the corner ran a '58 Chevy on the local dirt track, and they had their test 'n tune days on the gravel road in front of our new house. Needless to say, they were my idols.

I made a deal with Dad. If I carved a little circle through the scrub brush that covered our ten acres, he'd buy me an old beater, something that in this era and in these parts would be known as a "field car," and I would henceforth be free to hone my roundy-round chops to my heart's content.

Look out Pearson and Yarborough and Petty! Here comes Neumann!

Much to my father's surprise, I actually succeeded in carving out that circle. With an axe. It would have been maybe a really short eighth miler. Nevertheless, I'd built the track. So I went to Dad and reminded him of the other part of the deal.

Here's why you should get every deal in writing, even when it's with your Dad. He had utterly no memory of our deal to provide the race car if I provided the race track. This went back and forth for months until we struck a compromise; he bought me a motorcycle instead.

The motorcycle he bought me was an old Suzuki 80 street bike that he got from a workmate for forty bucks. It had but one mechanical flaw; it was forever stuck in second gear.

Even on my significantly less than one eighth mile track, second gear didn't cut it. So I abandoned my track and fashioned a new one around Mom's kitchen garden. It was maybe fifty by a hundred feet, and you got perfect circumlocutions without needing anything other than second gear!

That's where I honed my flat-track finesse. I'd circle that garden for hours on end with the back wheel hanging out and my left foot on the ground. No shifting required when you've only got second!

That Suzi paved the way to bikes on which the transmission actually worked. I went through a series of small-bore dirt-bikes till I landed a 175 Bultaco.

The Bultaco had the gears and brakes on the opposite side of where the Japanese bikes had them, a fact that wreaked havoc on the raspberry patch of Bruce Dickinson's mom the first time I took it for a test drive. Bruce was the school pal I was buying the Bultaco from. His mom was not impressed.

I graduated from the Bultaco to a Honda three-wheeler I got at Zdeno Cycle in Guelph. I had one of the first ever sold in Canada.

Could I ever do tricks on that little monster! I could side-wheelie for miles at a time. I could keep the front in the air for miles at a time. One of my favourite memories was when I'd line up my four younger siblings and jump over them, Knievel style!

Nobody ever got hurt, just for the record.

Alas, I hit the ripe age of 16 and it was all cars after that. Flat-tracking around Mom's garden had nothing on burying the speedometer on a 440 cubic inch Chrysler.

Oddly enough, just as I was getting out of motorcycles, my younger brother "the tree guy" was getting into them. His first ride was a 350 Honda. Then he was up to a 750, which I remember taking well over a 100mph.

Without a helmet.

My glasses blew off in the wind.

He's riding a 1200 sport twin today, commuting back and forth to work.

So I was away from motorcycles for forty years or so, till I picked up that 500 Ninja on the cusp of 60. Not sure where to take things from here. I take it for short runs around the neighbourhood once in awhile, but I don't feel I'm ready for the highway.

Where to from here?

Gonna buy a helmet tomorrow.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Uncle Henry's carpet runner

As I write these words, Lucy the Treeing Tennessee Brindle is busy licking the carpet runner that runs from under my feet to the front of the fireplace. She licks it a lot.

Here's why.

When Uncle Henry went to his reward a few years back me and the Farm Manager were pretty much the last ones on the scene to pick over what he'd left behind in that little apartment just off Bathurst. All we got was the carpet runners. One is in the upstairs hall, and the other one, from Henry's kitchen, is the one Lucy's licking.

Uncle Henry came from one of those shit-hole shtettls in Poland where you had to be plenty quick on your feet to avoid the cattle cars and the camps back in the forties. Henry successfully avoided both.

Henry washed up in Toronto sometime after the WW II, and led a quiet and eminently civilized life just off Bathurst. He was a tailor by trade, and that's how he made his modest but honest living until he retired.

But his passion was cooking!

Uncle Henry was renowned for his beet borscht, his carp dishes that everybody hated, his gefillte fish, and his matzo ball soup. And he made the most impressive lemon meringue pie.

He'd whip up these delights in his kitchen and then wobble down that carpet runner to the dining room...

Which is why, ten years after his passing, Lucy still licks that carpet runner.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

In the shadow of the crooked pine

Winter is a bummer. But without winter, we wouldn't appreciate summer.

I appreciate all four seasons. That's why I live here.

We've got a crooked pine along the driveway. I've been many times tempted to cut her down. She tilts noticeably to the north while all the other pines along the driveway are straight up and down.

Crooked pine vs. straight pine...

But I love that crooked pine!

She's still standing.


I usually head out to the front stoop early in the afternoon, glass in hand, after I've digested the daily news, and if necessary, posted a blog or two.

The daily news today is chock-full of bad news from South Sudan. That's the "newest" country in the world, don't ya know!?

They're having a famine crisis.

The reason South Sudan is the newest country in the world is because a pack of assholes in the US State Department connived long and hard to break South Sudan away from Sudan. Follow the links in this blog post to find out about their tactics and motivation.

Point is, Uncle Sam is the baby-daddy of out-of-wedlock South Sudan. Without the interference of all those smug American "wonks," there would be no South Sudan today. Too bad the citizens of this newest nation are on the brink of starvation.

Will Uncle Sam be held to account!

Of course not!

 But you can bet your bottom dollar that US armaments manufacturers are pocketing profits aplenty from both sides of the Sudanese civil war.

That's a big part of the exceptional nation's reason for being in the modern era; stir up hatred and violence and then sell guns and bombs to both sides.

After all, the USA and the Me-Too states don't really export much else. (Except the Germans of course...)

It's how we roll here in the Nations of Virtue.

In the afternoon the sun eventually goes down behind that crooked pine, at least till about the first of May. I am happy to report that with the advent of Spring and the sun getting ever-higher on the horizon, its evening trajectory now clears the top of the crooked pine.

Yup, I'm bathing in sunshine all afternoon long.

Too bad about those starving folks in South Sudan...