Friday, June 30, 2017

Props to an old pal

Me and Dave hooked up at Ponsonby PS in grade four. We were inseparable buddies till about grade seven or eight, after which our high school careers took us in different directions.

I'm thinking about Dave because there's a story in today's Globe, penned by major league practitioners of the dismal science, that heavily references my old pal.

Seems Dave was the first Dismal Scientist to stick his neck out for the proposition that increasing the minimum wage did not necessarily mean that jobs would be lost. He more or less got his head chopped off for that.

Twenty years later everything old is new again.

Raising the minimum wage is not a job-killer after all!

Dave will no doubt have a Nobel with his name attached in a few years.

Good on you, buddy!

Forget about those towelheads 'o terror; YOU MUST FEAR THE BIKERS!!!

Laura Stone has a front pager in my Globe today about retiring RCMP Commish Bob Paulson.

Paulson has been Canada's top cop for the past five years, heading up the 30,000 strong Mountie outfit.

After we're told that "organized crime" is a bigger threat to Canada than the various strands of Islamic militants, he gets around to naming names; "he said the national police force has noticed a resurgence in outlaw motorcycle gangs , such as the Hells Angels, across Canada."

Really? Do you think that might be due to the fact that the only actual "Islamic terror attacks" in Canada have been carried out by a couple of Frenchie nutters? And that most of the anti-terror operations that the RCMP have squandered hundreds of millions of dollars on have been around whack jobs like the infamous "tards 'o terror," Nuttall and Korody?

It's not just the bikers we must fear... you know, those dastardly demon-seeds who are so secretive their clubhouses are on Google Street-View. Nope, it's our Italian neighbours too!

Oh, give it a rest, Bob!

You guys have been waving the bikers and the mafia at us forever to sow fear and raise your budgets! If the pols did the sensible thing and treated addiction as a health problem instead of a law enforcement problem, 99% of "organized crime" would be out of business overnight.

Other than that, Paulson seems to be a reasonable enough guy. He speaks against the militarization of police forces and for community policing, initiatives that the think tank here at Falling Downs has long been in favour of. Good on you, Mr. Paulson!

But I wouldn't be too hasty in writing off the towellers. Just in the past few days we've seen all manner of chest-thumping in our national media about how great one of our snipers was for setting a new world record for a long-distance kill. Of a Muslim, of course.

There's got to be a Muslim refugee somewhere who takes umbrage with all that gloating...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Trump's foreign policy; too much too fast

I'm not suggesting that Trump actually has a "foreign policy". It is well beyond obvious at this juncture that Trump has no policies whatsoever.

I'm pretty sure he just makes shit up on the fly.

But when you're the putative leader of the "free world," making shit up on the fly has consequences.

Getting a building permit for a new build in Manhattan is no doubt a tough gig. I respect Donny J for having the smarts to do that.

Policing the world is a challenge of an entirely different magnitude.

The "deep state" operators who determine America's future have never had a more pliable piece of putty in their hands than they have in Donny J today.

Not Nixon.

Not Carter.

Not Clinton or anyone with the surname "Bush."

So if our deep state operators find it expedient to nuke N. Korea, they've got the perfect patsy in the White House, don't they?

I hope I'm wrong.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ten bucks for sausage on a bun?

Get the f*ck outta here, you say...

I don't blame you. That's what I said too.

But me and the Farm Manager just got home from sharing one of those ten dollar sausages on a bun from Megan's food cart in Big Bay, strategically located on the corner just outside the Big Bay ice cream shop.

Gotta say it was well worth the ten bucks.

That was dinner for the two of us. For ten bucks? We're talking serious good value here, folks.

And shooting the shit with Megan for a few minutes, if she's not too busy, is worth the ten bucks even without the sausage on a bun.

I've known Megan since she was a brittle teen... she's a tough old bitch these days. Her dear Daddy was a big deal in the Canadian mining industry for many years. Made millions and squandered even more several times over. If I had any money I'd put it in his next project.

So if you're on a tour of the near north this summer, take a side trip to Big Bay. There's a great ice cream to be had, and if you have a serious hunger on, ramble over to Nork's Pork for one of those ten dollar sausages on a bun.

Tell her Neumann sent you.

You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A random sample of good-news bad-news stories from the CBC today

Here's a good news/bad news story out of Edmonton.

The bad news is that Edmonton still employs the widely discredited carding strategy to harass Natives and black folks living in poverty in the capital city of Canada's most prosperous province. At least it was the most prosperous till very recently.

Thankfully, the Edmonton chapter of Black Lives Matter is shining some light on this travesty.

Stop those "street checks" on Indians and black folks, you racist Edmonton cops!

The good news is that when they stop, we'll be better able to ignore the systemic racism that leaves Natives and black folks living in the streets in the first place.

Here's another one. Looks like the Trump Care initiative to repeal Obamacare is going nowhere fast. Trump Care is bad news. Obamacare was bad news. The good news is that studies have shown for decades that a vast majority of Americans want a single-payer health care system just like most civilized nations in the world enjoy today.

If, per Leonard Cohen, democracy ever comes to the USA, they'll have single-payer in no time.

And here's a good one; Ontario taxpayers just made a commitment to clean up the mercury poisoning in the English-Wabigoon river system that's been in the news since I was a teenager. The story talks about $85 millions, but that will only scratch the surface. We'll spend ten times that and there'll still be mercury poisoning in that river system.

But at least we're finally making an effort. The bad news is that the heirs of the greed-bags who poisoned those waters in the first place live unscathed in their posh mansions and get accolades for their various philanthropic endeavours.

As a taxpayer, I gotta say that sucks.

Finally, here's a good news/bad news story out of the Holy Land. Seems a few mainstream Canadian Jews have their kippas in a twist over the fact that the arch-racist Netanyahu regime has reneged on a promise to allow men and women to pray together at the Wailing Wall.

They didn't notice the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

They didn't notice the egregious colonizing of stolen land.

They didn't notice Netanyahu turning Israel into a pariah state.

They didn't notice the creeping apartheid.

But by God, they're paying attention now that the prayer-wall has been re-segregated!

And that's good! Maybe now they'll be more amenable to noticing all that other stuff.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Wheels of justice turn extra slow in Waco

What do these folks have in common? They're all collateral damage in the long-forgotten "Waco biker massacre"  of 2015.

 waco 24 mugshots

I must admit that I too forgot about the story. Then, while killing time indoors on account of the monsoon rains battering The Bruce today, I decided to check in with The Aging Rebel website.  That's run by a guy who's an advocate for bikers' rights, and he's been on top of this story from the get go.

So what's new in Waco?


The same clique of lying douchebags who were sandbagging the constitutional rights of the folks whose faces you see here are still hard at it two years later! Yes, the jiggery-pokery continues unabated. Why this story is so under the radar of big media is a bit of a mystery.

But maybe not. Don't forget these are all "bikers," and big media and their sources in law enforcement have been brainwashing the public for a quarter century that bikers=criminals.

The bikers will need some powerful allies if this case is ever going to get the attention of Wapo and the NYT.

I think I've got a plan...

Check out the dude in the bottom row, fifth from the left. Is there something about him that makes him not like the other ones? I dare say we could be looking at an African-American!

Let's get Black Lives Matter on the case! Waco would be on the front page of every major newspaper in the land in no time flat!

Friday, June 23, 2017

When your national pride is contingent on killing a man two miles away, you're f*cked

Lots of hoo-ha and boo-ya and chest thumping in Canada today about that remarkable story of a Canadian sniper setting a new record for a long-distance kill.

So far, the only noteworthy political voice calling this gloating into question has been Angry Tom.

Must say I was pleased to see that the Globe and Mail saw fit to print several letters to Ed from folks appalled by the news coverage around this disgusting story.

One of those letters actually drew a line from this story to future Islamic terrorism in Canada. That's a letter-writer who'll be getting a visit from CSIS in short order.

Good luck to you, pal!

How to fight terrorism while sponsoring terrorists

This Mohammad bin Salman dude who is now boss of Saudi Arabia has quite a track record for such a youthful world leader.

He's the architect of the collapse in world oil prices, a strategy that has been an epic fail. It has hurt Saudi Arabia more than any of the intended targets.

He's also the architect of the Yemen war, which is an unmitigated disaster and also an epic fail.

And as of this week, he's also the heir apparent to the leadership of the sclerotic state of Saudi Arabia.

Ya, Saudi Arabia is fucked.

Oddly enough, President Trump wasted no time offering congrats to this incorrigible youngster. He sees an eager vassal keen to do the bidding of Uncle Sam, and that's true to a point.

There are any number of policy initiatives taken by this imbecile that threaten catastrophic blow-back not only to Saudi Arabia but to the Middle East in general.

Sucking up to Israel will never fly in the Arab street. Perhaps it's a valid concept among the princelings in the Kingdom, but it will never find favour among the masses.

The Trump initiated quarantine of Qatar is another goose on its way to being cooked. If you've read this far you already know the hilarious demands that MBS and his Arab acolytes (all US vassal states, by the way) have made of Qatar.

Shut down Al Jazeera. Theoretically this should raise the hackles of freedom of speech advocates worldwide, but thus far the condemnation of this initiative has been muted.

Break commercial ties with Iran. After all, as Trump and the entire upper echelon of US power-brokers never tire of reminding us, Iran is the mother ship of terror networks world-wide.

Stop supporting terrorism. There's no question that Qatar has supported terrorism... in Syria. A far bigger sponsor of terrorism has been the very state that MBS is now the putative and temporary head of. The Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas and Hezbollah are only "terror" entities in countries where Israeli lobbying has succeeded in rendering them as such.

How many 9/11 terrorists hailed from Qatar?

How many from Saudi Arabia?

Kick Turkey out of their base in Qatar. This could get interesting. The US has a far larger base in Qatar. The US and Turkey are NATO allies. Turkey is essentially a Muslim Brotherhood hood. That won't change anytime soon. Read up on Erdogan's approval ratings. He's doing much better than Trump.

Interesting times indeed!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Canada is number one!

A couple of life-times ago I was on a flight from Saint John to Toronto, seated next to a dude in the Canadian Forces. He'd just spent six weeks at Gagetown for a spell of sniper training.

Over a few brews we sort of bonded, especially after he let it slip that he'd been expelled from the University of Guelph.

Expelled from U of Goo? That got my attention! UG is one of my alma maters. Try as I might I never succeeded in getting expelled. Have I mentioned the time I got my car stuck on that stairway between Johnson Hall and the academic building next to it? Ya, it was the end of a long night at the Bullring... but I'm getting off topic here.

While I was never expelled, I did get intimately acquainted with university governance. I was on a first name basis with several members of the "senate." You can see why Buddy's story caused me to pay attention.

Buddy went to Gagetown to get his sniper qualifications. If I remember correctly, that involved lots of practice, and for your final exam you had to put five out of five shots through a loonie-size target from a thousand metres.

Buddy passed his exam!

So when I read today that a Canadian sniper had set a new world record for a long distance kill, you can appreciate why my thoughts immediately went to that long ago flight from Saint John to Toronto.

Our latest Canadian hero has set a new standard in sniperdom by killing a man three and a half kilometres away. With one extremely well executed shot.

Boo ya!

I hadn't been back to Ontario for a year or so, and I enquired of my new friend what the price of a case of beer might be these days.

He didn't know the answer to that, but he knew the price of a keg right down to the penny.

I guess that's the difference between the folks who actually succeed in getting expelled from university and the also-rans.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

As dream of starter home fades in Toronto, it's time to look elsewhere

All the Very Wise People who have been promoting Toronto as a go-to destination both for tech businesses and their attendant employees forgot one little detail.

Yes, Mr. Florida, I'm calling you out.

They're not gonna come to Toronto if they can't afford to live there.

And I truly believe we have achieved that critical mass.

The big dogs in global business are busy as can be grinding wages down.

Meanwhile, their ideological cousins who control the local real estate markets are busy as can be bidding up local prices to international levels.

That's why a 450 square foot condo in downtown Toronto is worth half a million bucks, which is pretty much what my 100 acre farm three hours away is worth.

Who do you think has a better quality of life? The guy on the farm or the guy in that condo?

Why the Toronto Star deserves to fail

I'm looking at the front page of the business section of today's Toronto Star. Four stories are introduced to us on the front page.

Dream of starter homes fades in TO.

HBC's activist investor has been here before.

Wynne welcomes Amazon in Canada.

Airports ban ads from passenger aid company.

In the first story, Tess Kalinowski informs us that Toronto's chief planner, Jenn Keesmaat, is sad that regular folks can no longer afford a single family home in Toronto. But she is happy that when a family of five squeezes into a 500 square foot condo, they leave a smaller footprint.

Well, I guess that's nice.

But Keesmaat also informs us that Toronto home-buyers are competing with global capital.

So tough shit, I guess. My question would be this; does Jenn Keesmatt draw her generous salary for planning a city for global capital, or does she draw it for planning for Toronto residents?

Too bad the Star never asks this question.

Then Jennifer Wells has a reasonably informative story about a big-league finance sharpie, Jonathan Litt, who is offering unsolicited advice to Hudson Bay Company on how to stay afloat. Monetize your real estate!

HBC is run by another finance sharpie, Rick Baker, who has done very well by doing exactly that. This is the guy who made billions selling the Zeller's leases to Target, and is now making more billions selling them again after Target went tits up.

Seems retail is stressed because "disrupters" are turning the retail world upside down!

So here's the next story; Wynne welcomes Amazon to Canada.

Oh ya! Amazon! The "disrupter" par excellence!

HBC is on the ropes and Target and Zellers are long gone but we should welcome, as Wynne does, the "disrupters." Apparently if we are not on board in destroying our retail infrastructure we will be "followers" instead of leaders...

Alrighty then!

So far the Star has told us it's OK that Toronto only builds housing for "global capital" and retail is fucked anyway so let's spread 'em wide for Amazon.

Last story on the front page of the Star's business section today tells us that a company that helps airline passengers get compensated for delayed, cancelled, or overbooked flights has had their adverts blocked from Toronto's only international airport!

What a surprise!

What's the common theme in these four tales from the front page of the business section on the Toronto Star?

The way I read it, they're telling the regular folks to fuck off and suck it up. Big Biz knows best!

Remember, this is Canada's "liberal" newspaper of record.

Remember too, that although the Star can't afford to hire someone to connect the dots between their various stories, they can afford to keep a correspondent in DC to catalogue the lies of Donald Trump, because... that's what Canadians are really interested in?

All of these stories would be toxic to Star founder Joe Atkinson, a guy who believed that the common man deserved at least a little bit of truth-telling.

Meanwhile, the five multi-millionaire families who have controlled the Star forever are busy lobbying the government for subsidies so they can stay in business.

I say, let 'em sink.

We already have a CBC.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

This story stinks

By now I'm sure you've heard the sordid story of the woman in Mississauga who demanded that her child be seen by a "white doctor."




And this allegedly happened in Mississauga, one of the most ethnically diverse constituencies in all the land?

Get the fuck outta here!

I have no clue how any white person would manage to live a life in Mississauga without regular and intimate contact with brown people.

Especially if they have any contact with... the health care system?

The judicial system?

The education system?

Their neighbourhood Tim Hortons?

This story is bullshit from end to end and top to bottom.

Here's my theory; this "story" was an end-of-semester project by theatre arts students from York or Ryerson. Now that it's gone viral, they're guaranteed an A+.

If I'm wrong, this story is far stinkier than I ever could have imagined.

Frogs and lawnmowers

Frogs and lawnmowers are not a healthy combo. At least not for the frogs.

Just to be clear, after the Stumpy episode I instituted frog-friendly lawn-mowing protocols here at Falling Downs.

Yes, frogs have the right-of-way at all times.

If you're not sure where Froggy went, shut down the mower and do a search in the immediate vicinity.

I think this frog-friendly approach I've taken is at least partially responsible for the fact there's no frog shortage in these parts. In fact, at certain times of the year you can't drive down Concession 20 without annihilating dozens of them. You're literally driving over a carpet of frogs.

But today I witnessed something I've never seen before. I'm pushing the mower through the grass in the side-yard between the house and the barn, when a good sized frog launches himself right onto the mower deck.

That's no big deal. It's happened before. But whenever it's happened before, the next hop is to get the fuck outta there!

Not this dude. No, he just settled in, a couple inches behind the motor, and enjoyed the ride! Ya, for ten minutes or so he just sat there as I pushed the mower back and forth.

Had all his appendages from what I could tell, so it wasn't Stumpy.

Spawn of Stumpy, perhaps?

Technology and Totalitarianism

I recall reading a quote by Albert Speer somewhere, perhaps in his prison memoirs, that if TV had been around in the Nazi era, Hitler's henchmen would be ruling the world today.

Hell, even without TV they came a little too close.

Wonder what Herr Speer would think of the technology loose on the planet today?

How is it possible that a tiny handful of tech companies, all of them tied in one way or another to America's "deep state," have a stranglehold on the world's internet traffic?

Not only does the Google-Facebook-Amazon-Microsoft-Apple combine control the world's internet traffic, but they are, to much popular acclaim, setting themselves up to be the arbiters of what is real and what is fake in the world of "news."

Ponder that for a moment or two.

Poor old Albert's probably getting a boner in his grave!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day

Hey Dad,

Remember the time the cops came to the house to pick me up, and by the time they got me to the police station you had a lawyer there awaiting my arrival? That was pretty cool! Not sure if I ever thanked you.

Then again, maybe you were being a little overindulgent. You were like that sometimes. Other times, not so much. By my late teens I'd pretty much honed my A-hole skills to a fine edge, and some contemplative quietude in the hoosegow might have given me the opportunity to reconsider the road I was on.

Anyway, that's just another bridge under the water at this juncture, is it not?

I have to admit that I didn't really develop any serious appreciation for your accomplishments as a father until I became one myself. That's when the inevitable comparisons began.

You were born into a family so poor you were farmed out to relatives for upbringing.

I was born into a family that, thanks to your indefatigable work ethic, never materially wanted for anything.

Your childhood was shattered by World War Two.

My childhood was shattered by the fact that you reneged on your promise to allow me to play Pee Wee hockey if I got straight A's on my grade three report card. I know...  I've always been a bit of a snowflake.

You grew up in a refugee camp in Denmark. You made the decision to apprentice as a baker on the theory that a baker's children would never go hungry. It didn't occur to me until I was well into middle age that such a choice could only be made by someone who had known hunger.

I've never known hunger. I've never felt any need to make career decisions, and it was only through dumb luck that I eventually landed in something that resembled one.

You took your young family away from everything familiar to take a chance on a new life in a new and totally foreign country. That took serious courage.

I've only gone to foreign countries to take pictures and smoke dope. That took zero courage.

Your philosophy as a businessman was that it's an honourable thing to leave something on the table for the next guy. My philosophy as a businessman was, if the pie turns out tasty, try to grab the whole thing. Maybe that's why your business career spanned sixty years and mine flamed out in bankruptcy court in less than sixty months.

But we're not complete opposites, Dad.

Like you, I don't give a shit what the neighbours think.

Like you, I'm not much for trends and fads.

Like you, I get up and go to work every day.

And just like you, my number one deal has always been to make sure my kids are OK.

Thanks for everything, Dad.

Happy fathers day!


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Food Truck Follies

My dear step-daughter Hanna called this evening. She called from the confines of a Toronto food truck.

She works in that food truck. She works in that food truck a year after graduating from York University with a Sociology degree.

Who says a Soc degree is a dead end?

Her boss Hoonan the Iranian runs a fleet of food trucks in Toronto. I think there's at least three in the fleet by now. Quite a lot of the time Hoonan's trucks require a tow to their destination.

I've always thought that makes them glorified hot-dog carts instead of "food trucks," but no matter.

The trucks all have very clever names.

The Rooster.

The Fig Leaf.

The Mustache.

Hoonan's employees just know them as Death Trap One, Death Trap Two, etc...

Today Hanna's truck apparently snagged a spot near Roy Thomson Hall.

It's almost 30 degrees Celsius outside; I shudder to think what the temperature is inside the food truck.

Hanna must be baked half to death!

But the reason she called wasn't because she's baked half to death. No, she called because she's worried about her Muslim assistant who is observing Ramadan. The poor kid doesn't even allow himself a drink of water during a ten hour shift in Death Trap One.

Hanna feels major guilt pangs for guzzling water in front of him all day long.

All I can say to Hanna is this; when you're trapped in a 45 C food truck for a ten hour shift during Ramadan, just be thankful you're a Jew and not a Muslim!

Thirty years ago we used to attend the Toronto Symphony on a semi-regular basis. We'd park under RTH and walk down the street to Meyer's Deli for a nice dinner.

I don't recall ever seeing a food truck in the neighbourhood.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Toronto 2050: bring on the favelas!

Toronto 2050.
Image result for favelas

That's a shot of the Humber River Valley circa 2050. None of that stuff was built with official building permits. No, officialdom is out of the picture in these "unofficial" subdivisions that have been popping up since the early '20s. Word is you get your building permit from the Crips or the Hells Angels instead, but the good news is they come through in three weeks instead of three years.

And the building code is a little loosey-goosey. The prevailing ethos has it that it's your house; if you want to build with used shipping pallets and recycled corrugated steel, more power to you.

How did it come to this?

Back in the early 21st century governments at all levels were gung-ho on bringing in unlimited numbers of immigrants without any kind of concomitant housing policy. While the newcomers tried to make the best of it for a while, doubling and trebling and quadrupling up in 450 square foot downtown condos, eventually something had to give.

It was inevitable that the barren banks of the Don and Humber valleys would have to be colonized. Previously inhabited by a few thousand homeless folks, it didn't take this gentrification movement long to take hold. After all, you can buy a tiny condo downtown for two thou per foot, or you can spend a week scavenging and put up the same square footage, with a pleasant view of the Humber valley, for nothing more than the sweat of your brow!

Today (2050) the banks of the Humber are estimated to house at least half a million Torontonians. Nobody knows for sure because government census takers, like all representatives of officialdom, are generally unwelcome. These suburbs tend to be self-regulating. The economy is largely barter-based. I'll hook up your computer in return for a couple of pan-ready bunnies from your roof-top rabbit farm.

Oddly enough, quality-of-life surveys done by the prestigious Richard Florida Centre for Studies in Gentrification consistently show that the residents of Favelaville have a higher level of life satisfaction than the residents of Toronto proper.

It's all good!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The real reason housing is so expensive

Supply and demand!

Canada is a nation of immigrants. That's cool; I'm an immigrant myself. Current immigration policy is aiming to bring a further 300-350 thousand immigrants per year into the country going forward. On top of that you have TFWs and International Mobility permit holders adding a further 250-300 thousand per year. Presumably they need to live somewhere too.

All told, we've got somewhere around 600,000 new folks looking for a roof every year. That doesn't mean we need 600,000 new homes of course. Average household size is about 2.5 persons. Do the math and you'll find that Canada needs at least 240,000 new housing units per year just to keep up with immigration.

The latest numbers I can find show housing starts at an annualised rate of 194,000 as of May 2017. In other words, the housing stock is falling behind at the rate of roughly 50,000 units per year compared to the growth of the population.

That tells me we're in a national housing crisis that's only going to get worse. And where is our federal government on the matter? Missing in action, that's where.

There is no federal housing policy whatsoever.

Mind you, they've got policy initiatives galore when it comes to boosting immigration. After all, more workers means downward pressure on wages. Employers are hunky-dory with that. Employers tend to have a louder voice in Ottawa than do employees.

And you don't hear a lot of uproar about over-priced housing from the big developers and homebuilders and landlords. Like the employers, they've got loads of schlep at every level of government too, whereas you don't.

That needs to change.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Turtle time

I'm sitting on the stoop tapping away on my laptop. Once in a while I'll hear a car. There's one coming down the Burgess side-road right now.

Most of the time all I hear is the birds. Frogs too. A mourning dove has been particularly vocal this evening. Probably a pair of them, talking back and forth. Various hummingbirds visit the feeder hanging over my head. A pair of sandhill cranes sound pissed off and fly away.

What you never hear is turtles. You sometimes get to see them though. Here at Falling Downs it's turtle time, when the mamma turtles come out of the marsh to lay their eggs in the gravel shoulder of the road.

This morning when I walked the hounds there were three in a row on the south shoulder of the road. Tonight the raccoons will dig up what they can. Only once have I met a newborn - about the size of a toonie and completely soft to the touch. The birds must have a field-day with them.

Picked up a book today that I've had lying on the kitchen table for a few weeks. The Farm Manager's dear mother lent it to me; Elizabeth Bettina's It Happened in Italy: The Untold Story of how the People of Italy Defied the Horrors of the Holocaust.

It's quite the story. Lots of Italian Catholics chose not to say something when they saw something during the Nazi era, often at considerable risk to their own well-being. As a result many Jewish lives were saved. At a time when Canada closed her borders to Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis, they could still get into Italy without a visa.

I want to believe that there are many people of all faiths who would chose not to rat out the vulnerable in their midst. In fact, I think it's an innately human drive to help your fellow humans, but it's become ensnared in the miasma of contemporary me-firstism.

Heard a news story a year or two ago about the funeral of a much loved priest who worked most of his career in indigenous communities in Saskatchewan. Ya right! A much loved priest on a native reservation? Get outta here! But no, dozens of car-loads of folks from those reservations drove hours to pay their respects. He must have been one of those people who still had that inner light that drove him to do good rather than ill, a light we well know was not universally shared among his kind.

As we all know whenever we open a paper or turn on the news, it's a fucked up world. There are pressures on all sides that push us into being nasty rather than kind. We don't have to go that way.

My neighbour has a theory about those three mamma turtles. She figures they've got a Moms Support Group happening. Hey girls, let's climb that embankment and lay those eggs! Then we can go for lunch...

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Life is good

Gotta get hold of my old pal Kipling soon. He's been my primary source of the weed 'o wisdom for years. By God, we used to share the sacrament whilst still in our teens.

Kipling has had an extraordinary life, and probably the most extraordinary thing about it is that he's still living it!

Somebody should write a book about him.

He's a grampa now, and apparently that little fact eclipses all prior relationships with folks who have come to depend on his primo organic weed to deal with the ebb and flow of life's many challenges.

But I digress...

My dear daughter called me today. She lives in Thornhill. She's got it all going on. She hardly ever calls her dear Daddy. She wants to know what I'd like for Father's Day.


Father's Day?

Oh ya... that's when I call my dad and say happy father's day...

Never in my life has a child or a near child or a step-child called and inquired as to what I might like for Father's Day.

She was wondering if I might appreciate a subscription to the New Yorker Magazine as a Father's Day gift.

Get the fuck outta here!

You mean it's gonna come right to the local post office?

All the time?

I vaguely hinted I might prefer The Atlantic, but whatever.

A couple hours later I was rooting through the junk file on my Outlook account, and there was the New Yorker wishing me happy reading on my gift subscription.

Thank you, dear daughter!

What? Trump has an "agenda?"

Who knew?

I don't think Trump had any agenda whatsoever. After he was goaded into the primaries by his old pal Hillsy, his only agenda was to beat those establishment fuckers. That's Donald. He's an alpha male who wants to win whatever race he's in.

We all applauded when he prevailed over those establishment fuckers. But neither Donald or anyone else on the planet expected he would actually win the election. No plan, no platform, no nothing.

Then the inconceivable happened.

While we're all still in a state of shock, I'm sure Donald was more shocked than anyone.

He didn't really want the job. He was confident that his long-time pal Hillary would triumph, and he would be able to go back to his regular life of egregious self-promotion and the occasional real estate development project, and of course squiring around the nubile young women who show up for his various beauty pageants.

Unfortunately for everyone, he won.

I have a lot of respect for Naomi Klein. Her Shock Doctrine book is pretty much on the money as far as I'm concerned. You see that strategy playing out everywhere you look, from school boards closing your local school to national governments suddenly changing direction and declaring long-time ally Qatar a sponsor of terrorism.

Hit hard, hit fast, and impose your "solution" to whatever crisis is at hand before folks have a chance to regain their equilibrium.

That's why I'm more than a little leery of Naomi's screed on view at The Intercept today.

That's Glenn Greenwald's baby. The Intercept has taken a bit of flak for outing leaker Reality Winner this past week.

As a leaker of note himself, Greenwald is undoubtedly keen to distance himself from the Winner scandal. What better way to get your eye off the ball than to push out a boffo Naomi Klein story?

So Trump has an agenda and Greenwald is in the clear.

We're spared questioning Greenwald about his agenda, about who pays his bills, and who he's really working for.

Come on Naomi, you're better than that.

Israel no longer part of Middle East

Picked up my Saturday Globe at The Korean's place this morning and then me and the Farm Manager settled in for a leisurely breakfast at the Topnotch.

There's been an older woman around The Korean's place lately. I assume she's the mom or the mother-in-law. She appears to be in charge of watering the plants in the garden centre that springs up in the parking lot of The Korean's store every spring. Doesn't seem to have much English. Wonder if her papers are in order?

Sometimes you have to work around that papers-in-order bullshit. My dear grandmother eventually became a legal resident of Canada and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Guelph, but she'd spent extended spells with us in the early sixties that I suspect far surpassed what the technically legal limits of a "visit" would have been. She didn't have any English either.

The Topnotch was busy, so busy we couldn't get one of the booths. Maybe I gotta stop writing about it...

Listen up, folks; DO NOT GO TO THE TOPNOTCH RESTAURANT! Especially on Saturday morning. It's a terrifying experience, and besides, I want our booth back.

There were bikers at the Topnotch today. Bucket-list bikers. Their Harley's were as shiny and new as the leather chaps these folks were sporting. They were making the most of the all-you-can-eat buffet, which, by the way, is an astonishingly good value at $12.99.

But back to breakfast with the Globe and Mail. Just yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that big media are ignoring the Qatar brouhaha, and today Mark MacKinnon is all over the story. He's got at least four feet worth of column inches on A15 titled "A week of chaos, crisis in the Middle East."

I read through it. Hmm... there's something missing here. Read it again...


That's what's missing! Thousands of words on chaos and crisis in the Middle East, and the word "Israel" does not appear anywhere in the text?

He's got the Ruskies and the Germans and the Turks and the Persians and the Saudis in the story, and of course the patron of all Middle East crises, Uncle Sam, but not a single reference to Israel?

Who can even imagine such an oversight?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Most explosive story in the world ignored by US media

Hot on the heels of Erdogan's announcement that Turkey is sending 5,000 troops to Qatar, comes news that Pakistan is sending a further 20,000.

Ostensibly they will be there to discourage any untoward moves by Qatar's suddenly hostile neighbours. In reality, who knows?

Maybe they're just there to ensure first dibs on the looting of Qatar as soon as they get the green light from DC? After all, if you think Donny J is unpredictable, try following Pak or Turk politics for fifteen minutes.

This is the most important story in the world at this moment. Our GCC allies are turning on one another with a vengeance, but you don't see much about it in American media because everyone is obsessed with the Comey non-story unfolding in Washington.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Waiting for Corbyn

According to what's being reported on exit polls in the UK, Ms. May is heading for victory in the election, but with a greatly reduced number of seats. That win is as good as a loss going by what she said when she called this unnecessary election. She wanted a strong mandate to negotiate Brexit. Instead, she'll have a substantially weaker hand than she might have had if she'd left well enough alone.

Anyway, it'll be a few hours yet before we know anything for sure. In the meantime, let's have some fun speculating about why the prevailing political order in the Nations of Virtue has taken such a tumble over the past couple of years.

In the UK the fortunes of Labour have had a remarkable resurgence under that fuddy-duddy Jeremy Corbyn. I would have thought that anything Labour would be toast forever once the country woke up from the long night of Blairism. But no, the most boring man in British politics has breathed new life into the left-for-dead Labour Party. About the kindest thing you can say about Corbyn's public profile is that he's a Bernie Sanders without the charisma.

At the same time, the man speaks some indubitable truths. When is the last time you heard a mainstream pol state the most obvious of self-evident facts; we'll never defeat Islamic terrorism as long as we're busy terrorising Islamic nations. If I'm not mistaken, British bombs have rained in abundance on Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen over the past fifteen years. Hundreds of thousands have died, millions have been displaced, but at the end of the day, it's all for the greater good...

But it's a complete shock, an unmitigated outrage, and a heinous crime against humanity when a Muslim detonates a suicide bomb that claims twenty-two in Manchester?

Anyway, Corbyn is that rarest of rare birds; a politician willing to speak uncomfortable truths. Long may he prosper!

Across the channel the establishment media are still congratulating the "newcomer" Marcon, who we are told incessantly has brought a fresh approach to politics. Being of neither the left or the right, he will guide France into a brave new world of non-partisan consensus.

What a load of hooey! The same media outlets trumpeting the arrival of the Savior Marcon forget that France has essentially suffered one-party rule for decades. The line between Republican and Socialist was effectively gone long before Macron supposedly erased it. What is the number one priority of this "new" force in French politics?

Labour reform. He wants to do for France's working class what Thatcher did for Britain's; destroy it. It's something both the governing parties have failed at after many years of trying. This is the extent of the fresh new thinking in French politics. The kindest thing to be said for Macron is that he thus far has not hired on BHL as an advisor, at least not that I'm aware of.

Here in Canada, I must admit I was one of many who succumbed to the anybody-but-Harper movement in the last election. Yes, by all accounts the Harper era was a dark decade. At least the Harper cabinet was blessed with many larger-than-life cartoonish villians like Old Vic and Big John Baird, guys who were easy to lampoon.

Sunny Daze Trudeau is a different kettle of lobster, and his faux feminism and cheery disposition have given him more or less a free ride for the first year and a half of his run. But what's he actually accomplished?

How are things moving on the marijuana file?

How are things looking on the indigenous education and health care files?

And does anybody know what our foreign policy actually is?

What can be gleaned from the major speeches delivered by two of his star cabinet appointments this week?

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland was first on the soapbox. Freeland is famously Russophobic and was already banned from Russia when Sunny Daze made her Foreign Affairs Minister. Is that the kind of appointment you make when Russia is supposedly our adversary? Even Harper wouldn't have made that appointment.

Freeland comes by her Russophobia honestly. Her grandfather was a Nazi collaborator of note. She was brought up on the teat of Russophobia. We don't necessarily need her to change her opinions, but we don't need a bear-baiter to be Foreign Minister either.

According to the delusional speech she delivered, Canada is preparing to step into the void left by Trump's withdrawal from the world stage. That is so stupid on so many levels it's hard to know where to begin with a critique.

That was followed up by a major speech by our Defence Minister. The guy wears a turban and so is obviously a walking testament to Canada's world-beating experiment in multi-culti. But what did he actually say?

Oddly enough, he announced major defence spending increases that will bring Canada much closer to that 2% of GDP that Trump was haranguing the me-too NATO nations about in Brussels just a few weeks ago. Yup, on Tuesday the Foreign Affairs Minister announces we're stepping into Trump's shoes in this post-USA world. On Wednesday the Defence Minister announces we're following Trump's orders. Try to follow that without risking a nasty case of whiplash.

It was always great sport making fun of Harper's plans to refit our Navy. He set 26 billions aside for the project. They never built a ship, although that didn't prevent them from holding "naming ceremonies" for imaginary warships on multiple occasions. Mr. Sajjan has tossed Harpers budget and promised 60 billions to refit the Navy. We'll see if that's about actual ships or more photo ops.

There's also oodles of dollars for new jets and drones and all manner of war-toys. Why? Whether we spend 26 billion or 60 billion, we'll always be a pip-squeak on the world stage, so why bother?

Well, because we have to support our allies, ie NATO, that American invention designed to spread the values of the Nations of Virtue across the world. What values? Why, respect for democracy, human rights, and unfettered winner-take-all capitalism of course. In just the last few years NATO has successfully spread those values to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. How could Sunny Daze not want to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to remain a part of that club?

NATO has become something far removed from the values it ostensibly promotes. What values do we have in common with Erdogan's Turkey? What values do we have in common with the newest NATO member, the corruption infested gangster state of Montenegro?

I for one would be far happier if we turned our back on NATO and used those hundreds of billions to address the needs of folks right here at home. One new jet fighter would put clean drinking water on tap in every indigenous community in Canada. Forego a couple more jet fighters and we'd pretty much have the native housing crisis licked.

But don't get me started. War is stupid and war toys are a criminal waste of money. I think a lot of Canadians share that belief. Sunny Daze Trudeau isn't one of them.

Time to turn on the TV and see how things are going for Corbyn.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The wily Erdogan outflanks team Trump in Qatar

For the first couple of days after Saudi Arabia announced the excommunication of Qatar from the community of US vassal states in the Gulf, the punditocracy was unanimous that Qatar's goose was cooked. They'd have no choice but to deep-six their civil relationship with Iran. They'd have no choice but to drastically rein in their pain-in-the-ass Al Jazeera network. In fact, there was widespread talk that regime change wouldn't be long in coming.

What's coming instead is the Turkish military, and they're not coming to expedite the removal of the Emir. Quite to the contrary. Qatar and Turkey are two of the main sponsors of the Muslim Brotherhood. Thanks mainly to Israeli lobbying efforts, the MB have long been a listed terrorist outfit in much of the West, and also in Saudi Arabia. I would hazard a guess that if and when push comes to shove, an Erdogan-led Turkey would have more loyalty to the MB than to NATO.

Israel's main problem with the MB is that it's the backbone of the democratically elected government in Gaza. There was a time when Israel happily nurtured the fledgling Hamas to undercut the PLO. Those days are long gone. Today, the PLO/PA are generally seen as Israel's bum-boys, while Hamas are considered Palestinian patriots.

This unfolding shitstorm was unleashed by Trump's bombastic rhetoric on the occasion of his visit to Riyadh last week, when he demanded that his audience stand with America in the war to exterminate "terrorism" once and for all. Even in mainstream American media it's widely acknowledged that it's the Saudis who are the primary enablers of this thing we call terrorism.

Not that the Qatari's have clean hands, but after the putative leader of the free world put things so baldly, it was just a matter of time before the finger-pointing got serious.

So here we are. The Saudis are doing way more to keep the order books of Lockheed and Raytheon and Boeing plumped up than Qatar is, which is why they've got more cred in the West, at least for now. But with Erdogan throwing this spanner into the works and Washington in chaos, it's impossible to predict what's next.

Interesting times indeed!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

An embarrassment of good-news riches

Yes, news headlines have been beyond bleak of late. Nothing but Trump this and terror that no matter where you look.

But I think we've turned a corner. Check out this headline from CBC. Obama wings his way to Canada to offer us some hope!

Not to be outdone, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland offered up some hope to the whole world. If you've been down in the dumps since Donald dragged The Exceptional Nation into the dumpster, lighten up! According to Freeland, "Canada will step up to lead on world stage."

Take that, Trump!

If that's not enough good news for you, check this out; scientists have discovered that good old Wonderbread could be just as good for you as that artisanal sourdough stuff you've been paying six bucks a loaf for!

And we're not done yet; Here's my favourite;  seems that playing video games could actually help your kid succeed in university!

Who knew?!

Wow! I think I could be on the brink of a good-news overdose... gonna have to lie down till my head stops spinning...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Qatar get's voted off Trump's "Arab NATO" island

Trump made a lot of noise in his speech in Riyadh a week ago about Iran's supposed underwriting of terrorism. No doubt more than a few of the assembled Sheikhs felt the sweat beading up under their Keffiyas; after all, no one knows better than they who's really been behind the financing of Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, ISIS, and sundry other chapters of Head-choppers Inc.

Not that it's much of a secret. Those e-mails Putin stole off Hillary's computer last year revealed that she's been aware of the game for years and obviously was wholly untroubled by the fact.

It's certainly not something you read about in American media of course. We prefer to hew to the Israeli line that Iran is the troublemaker in the neighbourhood. But with Trump shining the presidential spotlight on the matter, something was bound to give.

And today, Trump's "Arab NATO" chums discovered the traitor in their midst; Qatar. Yup, one of the Sunni Kingdoms has indeed been sponsoring ISIS et al. And not only that, they've been way too chummy with Israel's number one existential threat for quite some time.

Looks like we're seeing a new power bloc stepping out of the shadows; a US/Saudi/Egypt/Israel combine. Forget democracy, forget human rights, and above all, forget the Palestinians.

If you think we live in interesting times, you ain't seen nothing yet!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Theunis rocks the world

Great picture of Theunis Wessels cutting his lawn.

Great metaphor for the folly of human kind.

Suburb-man has got his little section of the prairie walled off. Walled off from what?

The prairie?

The tornado?

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Macneumann Firewood Company

Regular readers will be acquainted with the boffo business ideas that have emerged from the think tank here at Falling Downs.

The Big Ass Chair Company.

The Stink Foot Cheese Company.

Regrettably, these boffo ideas have produced next to nothing in terms of tangible results.

A few garden benches that can accommodate a big ass.

No cheese yet.

But that's about to change!

Yup, me and my pal Mac have come up with a business plan for the Macneumann Firewood Company.

We spent months on our business plan.

It's been said that necessity is the mother of invention. Well, when I got away from heating with wood, I had a problem. I've got a chainsaw and a 22 ton wood-splitter and a truck that have nothing to do. All my heat-with-wood paraphernalia has been sitting idle.

Oh, I also have two woodlots; ten acres on the south side of the road and fifteen on this side. They've been sitting idle too.

These are necessities crying out for mothering.

So me and Mac devised this business plan. The key factor was beer. Can we make enough off the firewood to pay for the beer that would inevitably be consumed in the course of cutting and splitting the wood?

I am happy to report that after running our business plan through multiple potential scenarios, the unanimous answer is YES WE CAN!

Globe and Mail tells you twice, in case you missed it the first time

The folks on the bridge of the Good Ship Globe & Mail want you to believe that the USA was a benign hegemon from 1945 till January 20 of this year. Sure, those Yanks may have made a misstep here or there once or twice, but that's to be expected when the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and besides, even those missteps were clearly cases of good intentions gone sour - through no fault of America, of course.

Yup, for over seventy years the planet basked in an unprecedented era of peace and freedom and democracy and prosperity, thanks to America's leadership.

Then Donald ascended to the oval office and darkness descended on the planet.

Just how dark is it?

Oh, dark enough to give Doug Saunders some prime Focus section real estate in today's paper. Chances are if you're a regular G&M reader you already know Doug's opinion on Trump, so there's nothing new here.

Maybe that's why the guys who make the big decisions at 351 King decided to commission an article by an actual history professor from U of T to run right beside Doug's rant saying more or less the same stuff.

See! Doug's not full of shit; real live history professors from Canada's number one university agree with him!

In fairness, Doug does see a bit of a silver lining; "the West may regroup," whereas our U of T historian claims "the fracturing of the transatlantic relationship is a disaster for the world."

What's been a disaster for much of the world has been the last seventy plus years of American leadership. Sure, Western Europe has enjoyed relative peace and prosperity, but there's more to the world than Western Europe.

How has Southeast Asia enjoyed these last seventy years of US leadership?

Or Central America?

Or Afghanistan or Iraq or Libya?

How are our European allies enjoying the refugee crisis that US foreign policy has gifted them?

How are the people of Greece enjoying the austerity enema that our idol Angela has been forcing on them for the past few years?

Yes, great things will happen if the West "regroups" behind the leadership of big-bank toadies Merkel and Macron!

Doug, I fear you are sadly mistaken.

Night did not fall on the 20th of January. In much of the world, it's been getting darker for a long time.

Trump is a mere symptom.

"American exceptionalism" is the disease.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Porsche Cayenne and why I can't really believe anything I see...

There I was, nose pressed to the window at the Topnotch, having a leisurely breakfast, when a Porsche Cayenne rolls by pulling an Airstream trailer.

Get the fuck outta here!

A Porsche pulling an Airstream?

Surely if you can afford that get-up you can afford waterfront on the Bruce?!

But what the fuck do I know?

It's a fucked-up world...

But at least you can still get honest home-fries at the Topnotch.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Real estate anxiety

 Apparently "anxiety" is a bona fide mental disorder. Google it. Yup, if your doctor is worth her salt she'll figure out what pill will fix you up.

From what I read on my Google search, up to 25 million Americans may suffer from anxiety disorder.

That's nothing!

Here in Canada, with approximately one tenth of America's population, at least 25 million people are suffering from real estate anxiety.

The millennials are anxious because they'll never own their own home.

Their parents are anxious because their kids will never own their own home.

Pretty much the only folks not suffering real estate anxiety are the ones already sitting on multiple properties.

There are more of those than you might think, and they're not all shady Chinese investors.

I was at a wedding last summer and there was lots of boasting around the room about how clever people were to own two, three, four or even more Toronto houses.

And they are clever!

Toronto has had year after year of double digit residential real estate inflation. Let's say you picked up a little Downsview bungalow for 500k a few years ago. You got in with a 25k down payment. A year later that bungalow is worth 600k.

You just made a 400% return on your investment!

You're a genius!

Unfortunately, the Toronto real estate market is today infested with thousands of such geniuses. Many of them are "professional realtors." Apparently there is no sanction against self-dealing in the realtor's code of ethics.

Those are the folks enthusiastically blowing more air into the balloon.

The correction is long overdue.

Maybe some day our kids will be able to get off those pills and into homes of their own.