Monday, July 31, 2017

Quaternary glaciation and why I'm not sweating global warming

Here's a scholarly article that claims that the real estate I'm sitting on right now has been subject to multiple ice ages over the past million and a half years or so.

Before the glaciers of the last ice age receded, Falling Downs was stuck under two kilometers of ice. Obviously, it took a lot of global warming to melt all that ice, and that was long before us humans started using fossil fuels.

Sometimes I think all the hoo-ha about "global warming" is just a bunch of hucksters trying to sell me everything from new taxes to electric cars.

So the seas will rise and coastal areas will be underwater? Guess folks will have to move. The seas have been rising and falling for millennia. And humankind and our various ancestors have been moving out of the way just as long.

Nothing new there.

What's new is that our brightest minds have figured out how to financialize these historic ebbs and flows in the planetary ecosystem.

That's bound to be a dead end.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Breakfast with Ai Weiwei

It was Saturday morning and we headed into town for breakfast. The parking lot at the Topnotch was full to overflowing, so we thought we'd try Buddy's place down by the water, Dockside Willies. We'd breakfast there more often, but they serve those shitty deep-fried frozen potato cubes instead of real fried potatoes.

The Globe and Mail is up to $6.30 now at the Korean's. That's a long way from a "free press" in my world, but what can you do? Read the news on your laptop? I'm not ready for that... yet.

So we settle in at Dockside's at a table with a nice view of the harbour. Aside from my quibble with the potatoes, Buddy has really raised the bar since the place was known as Wiarton Willies. You wouldn't guess that by looking at Buddy and his four by four Ford pickup with the six inch lift. I mean, you can get smoked duck breast in your salad now if you're so inclined!

Anyway, I got to page A8 in my $6.30 paper, and was half way through a story about the great Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei when our food arrived.

The good thing about those potato cubes is that it gives us more leftovers to feed the hounds when we take them to the park on the other side of the bay. It was a beautiful morning and we spent the next hour enjoying the dogs and the water and the sunshine and the boats heading out before we meandered home.

We get back to Falling Downs and I'm keen to get back to Ai Weiwei. After all, he's just won the Adrienne Clarkson Prize for Global Citizenship and I want to read the rest of the story. I look for the paper... not on the dash, not on the back seat, not on the floor... I look at the Farm Manager and she looks at me.

"Oh for f@cks sakes!"

Dockside's was filling up fast with the lunch crowd when we left, and our newspaper would be long gone. I drive back to the Korean's and pay $6.30 for the Globe and Mail, for the second time in three hours. Mrs. Korean looks at me like maybe I'm a bit touched in the head.

I had an open mind about Ai Weiwei till he launched his "Straight" exhibit in Toronto in 2013. I wrote a post about it called The hokum of Ai Weiwei.

I don't know from "art" but I do have some experience with rebar, and that entire story about Ai Weiwei and his team laboriously chipping the concrete off 70 miles of rebar salvaged from collapsed school buildings in China was pure unadulterated bullshit.

By 2016, Ai Weiwei, or more probably his management team, had discovered the great European refugee crisis, prompting the artist to create his embarrassing tribute to Aylan Kurdi. Since then he's been keeping busy doing stuff with life-jackets supposedly left behind on the beaches of Lesbos (stuff that would get you or me arrested for trespass and vandalism), stood up to the anti-Semitic bullies of BDS with an exhibition in Jerusalem, and has something coming up in New York City called "Good Fences make Good Neighbours," which is ostensibly about walling/fencing people in/out.

That's obviously a timely issue, what with Trump's Mexican wall and all, but it would have been especially auspicious if he'd found the courage to mount that show in Israel last month, instead of the innocuous schlock on display at the Israel Museum. After all, nobody in today's world has more experience in walling/fencing people in/out than our Israeli friends.

But here's the thing with Ai Weiwei; he's mighty fussy about where he fights for human rights. His critical gaze finds room only for countries that are considered America's adversaries. Don't expect him to dig too deep into the root causes about why Aylan Kurdi and the thousands like him die fleeing their devastated homelands.

Then again, this may not be Ai's doing. Watch this interview he has with Jerry Cohen of the Council for Foreign Relations. (I know! Talk about friends in high places! How many artists get interviewed by the CFR?)

Does he answer the questions? Does he understand the questions? Are the questions even "questions?" It's a pretty gentle question session from what I can see, and his minder Jerry Cohen does a great job keeping things simple.

Shades of Chauncey Gardiner, perhaps?

Anyway, have to say I'm mighty skeptical. Apparently he's got a major film coming out, "Flow," all about refugees. At this very moment Ai Weiwei (or his management team) have no less than twenty film crews on location all over the world.

Maybe his forthcoming film will expose the causal relationship between American foreign policy and refugee flows.

Let's give him a chance.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Shop floor realities; yes, there's always been a black working class

The Farm Manager has been watching the doc "13th" all afternoon on Netflix, while I was putting way too much effort into the previous blog-post.

(What? Unfettered capitalism immiserates the working class? Who knew?...)

Anyway, she's watching it and I'm hearing the soundtrack, and from time to time I have to add a "PS."

At some point, I offered "PS, there used to be a black working class."

Which got me going down memory lane...

Back when I dropped out of high-school, the highest paying gig around for high-school drop-outs was Budd Automotive a fifteen minute drive away in Kitchener. Before that I'd toiled at Dayton Steel, which was just a very short step up from the bottom of the ladder.

The very bottom at the time belonged to Frank Hassenfratz's Linamar Machine out near Ariss.

Mind you, a lot of those high-school drop-outs at Frank's place got the last laugh. When Linamar was going public Frank had offered the old hands pre-IPO shares, and there were high-school drop-outs who had taken a job at the very bottom of the high-school drop-out employment ladder who are millionaires today thanks to that.

Anyway, I successfully dodged that bullet, and found myself at the apex of the employment ladder. I'd applied there before, and was rebuffed due to my age. UAW rules demanded that a new hire be at least eighteen years of age. So on my 18th birthday, I stood in line at the Budd hiring office again, amongst all manner of Jamaicans and Poles and Bulgarians and plain old working class Canadians.

Point being, you couldn't lift your eyes without seeing a black dude on the shop floor. Ergo, there WAS a black working class.

Not only that, but the Jamaicans were absolutely great guys and, not that I want to indulge stereotypes, always had a line on way-above-average weed.

Lot's of black guys on the shop floor when I worked at Frankel Steel too. Frankel was one of the biggest structural steel fab shops in Canada at the time, and it was a well-paying gig. The black guys and the white guys bought homes in the same middle class neighbourhoods and we felt the same sting when we were handed our lay-off notices.

Out in New Brunswick, at Irving's Shipyard, I worked alongside black dudes who could trace their family tree back to the days of the Loyalists that you heard about in history class. There was two hundred years of black working-class culture in New Brunswick!

Anyway, if you listen to the news today, you hear quite a lot about the white working class.

The black working class seems to have disappeared from the news.

There's a lot of realities about the lives of ordinary black folks that seem to have disappeared from mainstream consciousness. That's why I think, going by what I heard, that watching 13th would be a good way to spend an afternoon.

A second opinion on the opinion page

Sarah Kendzior gets the top slot on the Globe and Mail's opinion page today, with a timely rant about Trump throwing transgender folks under the bus if they happened to be planning a career in the US military.

Kendzior first appeared on my radar back in her Al Jazeera days. She was a freshly minted Doctor Phil whose favorite topic was the lack of tenure-track opportunities for aspiring academics. You got the sense she had a personal passion for the issue, which gave her writing an aura of authenticity.

To her credit, she didn't just sit around wallowing in self-pity. No, life may have gifted her a lemon, but she has turned that lemon into one impressive lemonade stand! That's the American can-do spirit, Sarah!

Alas, the writing seems a little contrived now. She's writing what Opinion Page editors in mainstream media want to read, and for now they seem to have an insatiable appetite for Trump bashing. Accordingly, she's become a DNC certified expert on all things Trump.

The Tweeter-in-Chief woke up the other morning and, apparently on a whim, decided that transgender candidates for the armed services would not be welcome after all. This came as news to the entire Pentagon hierarchy and created yet another unnecessary PR nightmare for the president, but I think it's a little early to invoke Martin Niemoeller.

As an aside, there's a story in the business section today about the NYT's digital subscriptions going up 63% over the past year. They call it the "Trump bump." The man is single-handedly saving mainstream media! That's why editors want more Trump stories!

Second up on the Op-ed page is Bjorn Lomborg, a think-tank entrepreneur who, like Kendzior, also knows which side his bread is buttered on. Lomborg specializes in finding capitalism-friendly solutions to problems created by capitalism. It's telling that he refers to the Copenhagen Consensus Center as "my think tank," and that's essentially what it is, a one man show.

This year the focus is on how rich white people from the global north might be able to help those poor dark people in Haiti. Lomborg never tires of telling you on his web-site how many Nobel Laureates he has lured to his various conferences, and sure enough, there was one in evidence at the Haiti conference, along with a throng of economists from Haiti and around the world.

The best idea they could come up with to improve the quality of life for the people of Haiti was to privatize the national power grid. The "experts" behind this proposal, a couple of keeners from Queen's who are struggling to figure out what to do with their economics Ph Ds, suggest "changing the institutional and regulatory framework, corporatizing and reforming the provider, and establishing cost-reflective tariffs."

Translation - let's privatize the publicly owned electricity provider and force the poorest people in the Western hemisphere to pay more for electricity!

Here's my countervailing opinion on how "we" can help Haiti:

1) Stop the interference in Haiti's political process by other states, including Canada.

2) Kick out the tens of thousands of NGOs who see Haiti primarily as a fund-raising tool.

3) Close the airports to prevent the return of the Haitian elites who live in Miami and Montreal and Switzerland.

4) Let the Haitians who actually live in Haiti decide the future of their country. Let them decide what outside help they want and what outside nations they want to align with.

Things would no doubt be nasty for a few months, but I have every confidence that the Haitian people are fully capable of running their own affairs.

Finally, a couple of academics at SFU pose the rhetorical question, "four years later, are Bangladeshi workers any safer?"

They're talking about the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013, and anybody who gives a moment's thought to that rhetorical question already knows the answer; of course not! The entire rationale for the Bangledeshi garment export industry in the first place is to hide the exploitative nature of global supply chains who are there for one reason and one reason only; Bangladesh is offering its labour to that global supply chain at a rate that undercuts every other country in the world! If they didn't, that supply chain would move on to someplace cheaper. Haiti maybe?

The problem isn't lax labour laws in Bangladesh. The problem is the global supply chain. We had a viable garment industry in North America right up until the dying decades of the 20th century. We have no reason to buy anything whatsoever from Bangladesh and the only reason we do is because we've been brainwashed to believe that this toxic network of global supply chains is the only way the global economy can be organized.

What's the common theme in these three opinion pieces? The immiseration of the people of Haiti, Bangladesh, and America's working class has a common cause; the triumph of rapacious winner-take-all capitalism that is held in place by America's hegemony over the global economy.

That would not have changed one iota had the other candidate won the election last December.

Sorry, Sarah.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Canadian women give up on equality, have lip-filler house parties instead

Lip-filler house parties? Yup, apparently that's a thing. After all, what Canadian gal wouldn't want to look like one of those vacuous plump-lipped Jenner airheads?

I wouldn't have dreamed, back in the heady days of the great feminist awakening in the sixties and seventies, that it would be conceivable to read such a story in 2017.

Progress?

What progress?

This is pathetic!

And here's another story that underlines how far we haven't come, about the suicide of a Spanish trophy hunter who happens to be a woman. Here's a few quotes from a very brief story in the Toronto Sun:

- the title refers to her as a "hot hunter"

- in first paragraph she is a "sexy Spanish hunter"

- para four tells us of her "smouldering looks"

- in para six she's "a rifle-wielding beauty."

Practically every other paragraph (and in the Sun the paragraphs are really just sentences) contains a gratuitous reference to the hunter's appearance.

I wouldn't have thought I'd be seeing "journalism" like that in 2017 either.

Doubly pathetic.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Boat shopping

It's that time of the year when the pot-addled hill-billy goes boat shopping. After all, who doesn't want to get out on the water in these three or four weeks we call "summer" around here?

It's something I've always done. It's easier now, though, thanks to the magic of the world wide web. What, somebody's got a good deal on a Marine Trader 32 in Croatia? I'll be right over for a look!

Must say the whole boat thing doesn't do much for the domestic life. As soon as I start talking boats, the Farm Manager, out of the blue, will start talking about painting the house.

What the hell is that about?

Not that she has anything to worry about.

I recall sitting down for a nice meal at that Sauble Beach restaurant with the patio right across from the water. The place next door sold all sorts of beach jive, including inflatable boats. I was with my wife of the time and our children, who were at that really cute stage of toddlerdom.

While we're awaiting our dinner, the kids are having a great time throwing themselves at the inflatables on display next door. I go over, mainly to reel them in and wreck their fun, but I managed to buy an eight foot inflatable dory while I was over there.

On hearing this news, the mother of my children said, and I quote; "does this mean you'll stop buying those boating magazines?"

When you think about it, that was a) really funny, and b) rather cruel.

No wonder things didn't work out.

Anyway, that eight foot inflatable didn't cut it, and I'm still boat shopping twenty-five years later.

The boat market has changed. If you're the proud owner of 36 feet of fibreglass more than twenty years old, powered by a pair of gasoline guzzling V-8s, you've basically got a recycling problem on your hands.

There's a lot of stuff for sale where the owners are in denial about that fundamental fact.

If, on the other hand, you're selling some forty year old mini-trawler piece of shit, powered by a 80 hp Lehman diesel, you're golden!

That would be worth three times what you paid for it back in '68.

I don't have a "bucket list" per se, but if I did, two things would be on it,

Number one would be sailing the North Channel from here to the Soo.

The second would be the Trent-Severn from Georgian Bay to Lake Ontario.

No sky-diving for me...

I see the odd realistically priced boat on offer that could make both of those trips happen.

But first, I really should do a little painting around here.


Maybe next year.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

How Taylorism spawned rock and roll

I don't know if it's some kind of anniversary of something to do with Toscanini, or a re-release of an album, or a new bio, but for some reason Arturo T has got into everything I've been reading lately.

It's Arturo this and Arturo that and Arturo and his mistress and his wife and his sordid saga all over the place.

Check out that orchestra that the maestro is conducting. There's gotta be at least a hundred people in the NBC Symphony Orchestra all trying to hit the same note at the same time in Beethoven's 9th.

You can't just blow a note and then riff off on a ten minute solo and pretend you meant to do it.

This is a very inefficient method of delivering music to the consumer.

A hundred musicians and they all have to hit the same note at the same time?

Fast forward fifty years...

Rock and roll is here to stay!

Now you've got four guys on stage instead of 100.

When somebody screws up they turn it into a ten minute solo and pretend they meant to do it.

The fans love it!

That's efficiency!

Does anybody audit those Blogger page-view numbers?

As of right now, when I check page views for today, I've had more from Poland than I've had from Canada.

Huh?

That's never happened before. Poland might show up half a dozen times a week. Canada is my second biggest audience after the USA. When I go to check all-time page views, Poland clocks in at 1313. That's number ten on the list - over six years!

That's compared to over 90,000 from the US, and 80,000 from Canada.

What gives?

I don't even follow news from Poland. I take it their big dog has ruffled some feathers with his move to consolidate more power in the President's office. The Soros crowd will not be pleased. And the fact that Oban or Orban from next door is giving what's his name in Poland the thumbs up must grate double.

What both of these leaders have in common is that they don't seem too keen to welcome the brown-skinned refugee hoards that American foreign policy has been flooding into Europe.

What I don't get is how it becomes a matter of Polish or Hungarian "racism" that they're not welcoming these refugees from US imperialist policies, but those US imperialist policies get a free pass?

Makes no sense to me.

Shouldn't it be up to the US to accommodate all those refugees their foreign policy is creating?

Friday, July 21, 2017

How to save Canada Post

Have you noticed that our hippy-dippy lovey-dovey PM Justin "Sunny Daze" Trudeau, who was elected on a promise of legalizing the weed 'o wisdom, has not yet, a year and a half into his mandate, done any such thing?

In fact, just the other day, I read that some of the provincial top-knobs were lobbying for an extension on the 2018 Canada Day deadline, so they could study the matter some more.

How pathetically Canadian, eh? We don't do much, but we are number one when it comes to studying the self-evident to death.

One of the issues troubling the Preems is who is gonna sell the stuff?

I pondered that for a moment and had a sudden brain wave...

THE POST OFFICE!!!

This has all the makings of a two-fer. Remember a couple of years ago when their twat of a CEO claimed they were ending door-to-door delivery because, in his words, he was besieged by calls from seniors needing an excuse to get out for a little exercise?

Ya, we all knew that was bullshit, but I think here's a chance to breathe new life into the moribund Canada Post. Giving them distribution rights should of course be contingent on restoring door to door delivery clear across the land. Hell, with all that new revenue, they should even be able to see their way clear to giving the posties a decent raise!

And while we're at it, lets bring basic banking services to the post office too. That would cut out the despicable greedbags who profit from running those cheque-cashing joints that are geared to further immiserating poor folks.

By golly, I think we got us a three-fer!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A million ain't what it used to be

Back when I was coming up, a million dollars was a lot of money. If you were worth a million bucks you were considered "rich." In a town of 50,000, there might have been a few dozen millionaires and half a dozen or so folks with a net worth of ten million or more.

Those were the "super-rich" of the era.

Today a million bucks won't buy you a house in Toronto or Vancouver.

I'm contemplating these numbers because of something I read in my Globe and Mail today.

The story quotes a Conservative Party website as saying "Justin Trudeau has made Khadr one of the wealthiest men in Canada..."

As you know, Khadr's lawyers negotiated a ten million dollar settlement with the government for violating his Charter rights.

Lot's of folks are having shit hemorrages over this. Go to Twitter and search "Khadr settlement" and you'll be mightily impressed (or depressed) at the bile emanating from your fellow Canadians.

You'd think Khadr was personally responsible for writing the Charter of Rights and then finagled his way into Gitmo, just to trick the government of Canada into violating his rights so he could sue them big time.

But back to that hoary claim that a ten million dollar settlement has made him "one of the wealthiest men in Canada."

Not likely. In that town of 50,000 I came up in, which is now a small city of 130,000, there are today many dozens of folks with a net worth of ten million or more. Extrapolate that across the country and you've got tens of thousands of men with a net worth of ten million, and more than a few women too.

So when you claim that this settlement, which is entirely in line with previous settlements our government has made with other Canadians who have had their Charter rights violated, makes Khadr one of the richest men in the country, you're engaging in something that used to be called "yellow journalism."

I might expect to see that in Ezra's arch racist Rebel Media, but I'm surprised to find it, unchallenged, in Canada's putative newspaper of record.

And I'm profoundly disturbed that the Conservative Party would stoop to this level of hate-mongering.







Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Blame the conniving incompetents of Canadian officialdom for making Omar Khadr newest member of Muslim Millionaires Club

Don't blame Khadr. He was a fifteen year old kid who thought he was fighting infidel invaders. Which he was, from a Muslim perspective.

When in 1913 fifteen year old kids from Halifax or Toronto lied about their age, joined the army, and went on to kill people, we celebrated them, and we celebrate them to this day.

One of the many pie-in-the-sky feel-good initiatives that various Canadian governments have championed over the past couple of decades has been the cause of "child soldiers." Obviously that was only intended to apply to the primitives on the Dark Continent, otherwise the opinion makers and the political do-gooders wouldn't have lost their zeal so quickly when a Canadian kid got caught on the wrong side of their good intentions.

Anyway, the financial settlement wasn't a reward for what he did or did not do as a 15 year old. It was compensation for our government's conniving in his illegal torture and detention in the years that followed, an ordeal that contravened both Canadian and international law.

As for those outraged over the settlement who compare the outcome of this case to the paltry compensation given our dead and maimed veterans, they're missing the point. They put on those CF uniforms to protect our values, foremost among which is the rule of law. This is what happens when our government tramples those values.

We should be grateful that our government can still be held accountable.

The fact that Khadr now joins the ranks of Arar, Almaki, El-Maati, and Nureddin in the Muslim Millionaires Club isn't Khadr's fault.

You'd hope the boffins in Ottawa are smart enough to detect a pattern here and make an effort to mend their ways.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

From one hipster twat to another

I don't actually spend any time reading the responses I get to the stuff I post on this blog,

Ken from BC would be an exception to that rule. He seems to get it.

But tonight I accidentally hit the "comments" button on my screen, and apparently there is somebody out there who figures I'm a "hipster twat."

Really?

OK, I might be a bit of a twat...

But a "hipster?"

Get the fuck outta here!

I'm about as hip as a 1962 Chevy pick-up truck.

By the way, I rolled one of those over in the ditch just outside of Ariss back in the day. Ended up upside down in a cornfield.


The farmer who owned that corn field hit me up for a hundred bucks.

That was big money in those days.

Singalong with Johnny Rotten

Spent the afternoon going down memory lane with the Sex Pistols when I should have been pushing the lawn mower around the yard. Shit happens, I guess... the lawn will still be there tomorrow.

I happened upon that video because it was attached to an email from my dear son Jake. Of all the Juniors, he's the one I worry about the most, mainly because he seems to have inherited his dear Daddy's appetite for excess.

Jake is a brilliant musician, but like most brilliant musicians, he's scratching out a living in the restaurant business. At least he's learning the craft in a top end place.

He's also the kid who "borrowed" my original pressing of the original Sex Pistols album.

The 2008 Sex Pistols reunion concert at Brixton Academy was remarkable for a number of reasons, the main one being that Mr. Rotten and crew are still alive, and still rotten. Without Sid, of course; may he rest in peace.

I especially liked where he called out his audience for being England's working class. All creeds, all races, but singularly working class.

Class solidarity forever!

Where is this happening in American music? Bruce campaigning for Hillsy? Get the fuck outta here!

The Sex Pistols were originally part of the reaction to the Thatcherite destruction of the working class. Great to see that Johnny Rotten is still rocking and Maggie has gone to her reward.

As for Jake, he seems to be doing OK. Tells me he's catching up with some of the music he's missed in the past; Gregorian chant, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Islamic Sufi music.

Don't know how he missed out on the Gregorian chant. I had at least six inches worth in my CD rack. Remember those?

Anyway, it's funny how he managed to "borrow" all my really good stuff but overlooked the Gregorian chant.

But I still worry, as parents do.

I recall busting into the storage locker of a prominent drug dealer with my dear pal Johnny H. Said dealer is long dead so I guess it's OK to tell the tale. Nothing in there except a couple of sheets of blotter acid. We tried a couple of tabs and nothing much happened. So we ate the entire sheets. Took weeks before I could make a sentence again.

That kind of stupidity could kill you today. There is stuff out there that we could not have imagined in my youth. One bad party night with fentanyl and it's all over.

Stay safe, dear son.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The phenomenal good value of the $10.99 buffet at the Topnotch

I recently raved about their buffet at $12.99.

Don't know if they dropped the price or I just got it wrong.

In any event, that's got to be about the best value out there.

We tried out the all-you-can-eat buffet at Pebbles in Varney recently. For $18.99 you get much less than what you get at the Topnotch. But they have the esoteric appeal of being an old-school Amish joint.

Me and the Farm Manager used to breakfast there before it fell into the hands of the Amish and before we had a farm. The Amish picked up the place for around half a million, which got them the restaurant, the motel, and the bungalow next door.

That was a shrewd deal.

In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find our Amish neighbours making a bad deal when it comes to real estate and business.

The bungalow next door would be worth close to half a million today.

But getting back to the point of value for your dining dollar, I strongly recommend that you drive by Pebbles and head for the Topnotch.

Ya, it's another hour, but what the hell..

Neo-colonialist Bernard-Henri Levi gets Globe & Mail platform to spew his neo-colonialist rubbish

The Globe's opinion page has been invaded by foreign prognosticators, which I suspect has more to do with Globe management cutting costs than anything else. After all, we've got plenty of competent pro-capitalist, pro-empire prognosticators right here at home.

But they generally want to be paid a living wage. Printing stuff from outside sources is a neat way around that.

Which might explain why the widely esteemed asshole BHL got a slot in today's paper. Maybe David Shribman is on vacation or something.

The gist of BHL's missive in the Globe today is that "we," meaning the Nations of Virtue, should be all in for granting the Kurds their own statelet in the Middle East, to be carved out of the countries we've been bombing to ratshit for the last twenty years or longer.

After all, the Israelis absolutely love the Kurds.

If the apartheid state of Israel is on board, we should be too, goes the conventional reasoning.

I'm not so sure.

Ya, they might hate Arabs, but check out this site re: female genital mutilation in Kurdistan.

Aside from hating Arabs, do we really have any common ground with the Kurds?

I think not so much.

How is it the responsibility of we in the West to meddle in the Middle East even more than we already have to ensure that a greater Kurdistan becomes a reality?

Haven't we caused enough damage?


Putin's hackers take down Bruce County internet

No, as I matter of fact I don't have any "proof," but we live in the post-proof era, don't we?

I'm pretty certain with a high degree of confidence that it was probably Russians, acting on the direct orders of you-know-who. Three of my neighbours and a guy I ran into at the liquor store think I might be right. That's pretty much a consensus, wouldn't you agree?

Me and the Farm Manager and the hounds drove into town this morning, blissfully unaware of this attack on our freedoms. We were looking forward to breakfast. Had to stop at the bank first, and that's where we ran into the first inkling of trouble. As I'm strolling towards the ATM, debit card in hand, a bank employee intercepts me.

I'm sorry sir, the ATM is down.

Oh, guess I have to stand in line at the counter.

No, I'm sorry, the whole system is down. We can't give you your money.

Bummer!

We go to The Korean's. His ATM is down too, and so is his debit machine. We don't have enough cash between us to buy our Globe and Mail!

We head to the Topnotch. Been a while since we had breakfast without the paper. Years... maybe we'll have to talk or something.

Get to the Topnotch. Guess what?

Yup! Nothing works there either.

By now we're a little frazzled. The Farm Manager figures we should try the liquor store. Surely they've got a bullet-proof system.

Damn! Out of luck again!

Grasping at straws I figure let's try Foodland.

The FM goes in and comes out a minute later waving a fistful of twenties.

Phew!

I run in and stock up on cash too. That machine ain't gonna be spitting out cash for long once folks realize it's the only working ATM in town.

After all that, there wasn't much worth reading in the Globe, the FM's BLT came drowned in mayo instead of with mayo on the side, which always makes her grumpy, and both dogs shit in the park where we take them for their traditional after-breakfast feast of left-overs...

So all in all it was not a successful trip into town, but it did hold a lesson. We have no idea how dependant we have become on this invisible infrastructure until we lose it for a couple of hours.

What would happen if there were a real cyber-attack and it was gone for a month?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Legacy moments in the history of rock and roll...

Here's where the late great John Bonham earned his slot in the firmament of rock and roll idols.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rvn6PKON4xU


I've heard more convincing drum solos in my basement.

Proves yet again it's not how you hit the skins... it's all about your PR team.

Can Savior Macron save Trump?

So what's up with the fresh new breeze wafting through the halls of power in the Nations of Virtue? Looks like Manny "The Redeemer" and Donny J are spending the day doing touristy stuff in the City of Light. Isn't this the same Macron who was just recently praised to the heavens for standing up to Trump?

What goes on here?

This is especially intriguing given the completely opposite treatment these two alleged political neophytes have gotten at the hands of mainstream Western media. On the one hand, Macron has been received with near universal adoration. He is the fresh new face of a new politics that is neither of the left or the right, or so we are lead to believe.

Trump, on the other hand, has endured a non-stop torrent of loathing and vitriol from the same media.

So what gives? Could it be that one flim-flam artist has recognised a kindred spirit in the other?

Or is there something more sinister afoot?

Recall that a mere six weeks ago Macron was being loudly lauded for standing up to Putin. The new kid gave Bad Vlad a stern finger wag over everything from election interference to Syrian chemical attacks to the nefarious propaganda that Russian state media outlets Sputnik and RT have been aiming at gullible dupes in the West. Yes, Macron was unflinching in his anti-Putin stand.

Yet when the two men met again at the G20 last weekend, the tone was much more muted. Hardly a month after their first meeting, Macron has noticed a tangible change in Russo-French relations and is "ready to move on to a new phase..."

Well, that about-face wasn't long in coming!

Could it be that the Russians have a dossier on Macron too?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

For a zero corporate tax rate

Lets end this race to the bottom once and for all. We see countries all over the world out-bidding one another for corporate HQs by offering lower corporate tax rates than their neighbours and their trading partners.

Let's go to zero and get it over with!

That may seem a little extravagant, especially coming from a self-identified small "c" commie, but hear me out.

While we're putting the corporate tax rate to zero, we have to bring in a few other measures, some from the past, some new.

First of all, we have to recognize the fact that contrary to what the Supreme Court of the USA thinks, corporations are not in fact people. This is a no-brainer to regular folks everywhere, but it's something that needs to have some legal backbone. Money eventually flows out of those corporations and into the accounts of actual people.

Secondly, let's bring back the marginal tax rates that obtained when America was a far more egalitarian country. After WWII America had a marginal tax rate of 90%. The rich still got richer, but not nearly as fast. The war debt got repaid. The working class prospered.

Third, we need to eliminate the practice of using corporate profits for share buy-backs. This has soaked up trillions of dollars for the benefit of shareholders and corporate management at the expense of society at large.

Four, let's tax capital gains as income, universally. Because that is exactly what it is. There are rich folks the world over who pay zero tax because their income is not considered income.

Finally, let's make the elimination of tax havens a global priority. What are tax havens other than a useful legal dodge that allows the wealthiest to avoid paying their share.

There you have it; advocacy for zero corporate taxes from a communist.

Manny "The Redeemer" Macron sheds white man's burden

And not a moment too soon!

The wunderkind of the neoliberal world order set the record straight on the challenges facing Africa at the weekend while in Hamburg for the G20 shindig.

Apparently the plight of many African nations today, poverty, instability, a ruling class made up largely of thugs and looters, has nothing to do with hundreds of years of rapacious colonialism.

Nope!

Not at all. Africa's problems are "civilizational."

Yup!

Africa's problems are due to the women of Africa's inexplicable prolificacy in popping out new Africans! That's it! Apparently all it would take to bring peace and prosperity to Africa and bring it into the modern era would be to have African women keep their legs shut.

You must admit it's quite an accomplishment to insult 1.2 billion Africans in one brief media interview!

Attaboy Manny!

You're showing the world what you're made of!

Emmanuel Macron is a colonial era reactionary shitbag whose ideas are as fresh as 1925, and quite possibly an imbecile to boot.

Good luck, France!

And God help Africa.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A case study in irresponsible parenting

Me and the Farm Manager were having breakfast at the Topnotch this morning, when this family of five strolls in; Mom and Dad and three kids between maybe four and nine. They settle in by the front window, and the first thing I notice is that nobody, adult or child, has any electronic device in evidence. No iphones. No tablets. No gameboys.

That in itself set alarm bells ringing. It's one thing if the grownups want to create a tech-free pseudo-reality for themselves, but what are they doing to their poor kids? Haven't those parents heard that we're living in the information age?

You won't believe what happened next. They pull out a little chessboard!

No shit! A chessboard! Who does that?

While they're waiting for their server, Mom and the older boy play chess. Dad is reading a magazine article to the younger kids. They're asking questions. They're engaged.

This goes on after they order. I notice not a one of the kids are expressing their youthful exuberance by running about the place raising hell and annoying the other patrons. Makes you wonder what kind of a regimented and coercive home life these poor youngsters must have.

Sure hope those kids get woke real soon. Call the Child Help Line before it's too late, kids!

Everybody deserves a normal childhood!

Otherwise, it's not hard to see what's going to happen here. Those kids are going to grow up to be engaged, chess-playing, highly literate independent thinkers as adults.

And as a society, that's certainly not something we want to encourage.








Saturday, July 8, 2017

The thing about Trump

What a lot of folks don't seem to get their heads around is the fact that Donny J is just a symptom. He is not the disease.

Those folks tend to believe that if we had a suave operator in the Oval Office everything would be hunky-dory. It's only due to the short-fingered vulgarian that America has become a laughing stock.

Suave like Hillsy.

Suave like Barry O. Barry was even better than Hillary; he allowed a lot of liberal white folks to congratulate themselves about how racially inclusive America has become.

Oh lookee! We have a black president! Everything is beyond cool!!!

Sure it is.

Don't look now, but countries like Croatia and Iran are giving America a good run on prosperity metrics like infant mortality and percentage of population working in poverty.

America continues its inexorable slide into decrepitude in all aspects of society save one; the illustrious military-industrial millstone around her neck.

Don't know if you caught Trump's speech in Poland the other day. Yup, America and her allies will prevail in the clash of civilizations. Pure PNAC boilerplate from end to end. I have no idea why PNAC stalwarts like Robert Kagan have such a hate on for Trump. After all, that Poland speech could have been written by some pro-empire twit like "axis-of-evil" maestro David Frum.

Maybe it's because they know that when Trump spews PNAC boilerplate he's just talking shit. His heart is not in it. He'd just as soon build condo towers in Tehran as nuke the place. That's not the kind of self-dealing opportunist that the PNAC crowd wants to see in the Oval Office.

They want a true believer in manifest destiny and American exceptionalism.

Donald J. Trump is not their man.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

This Independence Day, shadow of Omar Khadr casts pall on US-Canada relations

Especially when the news leaks out today, much to Justin's chagrin, that young Omar just scored a ten million plus settlement with the government of Canada.

Here at Falling Downs we opined early and often re the Khadr case. Check out this missive from 2012. That was five years ago!

Frankly, I don't believe for a moment that ten million dollars sets things right. But at least it's an acknowledgement that we went wrong somewhere.

Needless to say, the jackals on the radical right in Canadian media are having conniptions over this.


North Korea vows it will never accept a nuclear armed America

If you take a glance at the headlines more than once a week, you already know this headline is bullshit.

Here's the real headline.

North Korea doesn't have much choice about America having nuclear weapons. After all, America is the only country in the world that has ever used them. On a civilian population.

Those devious North Koreans took a lesson away from that.

If there's even the slightest chance that the Yanks will think there's a hot one coming back, they'll think twice about sending one your way...

It's worked so far.

This is a conundrum that has bedevilled America forever. How do we get the lesser peoples to forgo nukes when we've got them hanging over their heads all day every day?

Good question.

What to do when the cops impound your Ferrari

Great story here about some toff having his Ferrari 458 impounded for doing 200 kph on the Lion's Gate Bridge.

No indication in the story, but I'll hazard a guess that said toff was a Chinese kid studying at SFU who lives alone in a 4,000 foot waterview abode.

Vancouver is stuffed full of irascible youngsters just like that.

What's that poor kid gonna do for a week while his Ferrari is in impound?

Why, drive his Lambo of course!

Another reason you should have doubts about this thing we call "progress"

When I was fourteen years old I got a summer job with the farmer across the road. It was a fun job. I got to drive stuff. Tractors. Trucks. Random farm machinery. It was heaven for a fourteen year old!

The farmer was a guy named Alex Anderson, and the farm had one of those "Century Farm" plaques at the end of the laneway. Those were given out as part of Canada's centennial celebration to honour farms that had been in the same family at least since confederation in 1867.

I got paid a dollar an hour for my 60 hour week. Deducted from that generous wage was the value of the dinner I had at noon every day with Alex and his two spinster sisters, which left me with about forty bucks in my pocket at the end of the week. Not that I complained. That dinner was the real deal. Meat and potatoes and gravy every single day, and a slice of pie (100% home made) too!

After dinner Alex would tell stories about the good old days, and then he'd fade away for his daily after-dinner nap, leaving me to attend to some of the simpler chores to which I could be entrusted without supervision.

I got up to all sorts of hilarity on those unsupervised work hours. I made it a personal quest to see if I could get the speedometer in his old Chevy pick-up truck to touch the 100 mph mark as I was making my way back to the corn field.

Never made it, but the time I got real close (over 90 mph) kinda put a scare into me. Stayed on the gas a little too long and hit the brakes a little too late, and by God, for a split second I thought I'd be fired for sure and Alex would have to buy a new truck.

By the way, that "split second" still feels like it took fifteen minutes to play out.

But I saved it.

So one of the yarns Alex shared with me was about the guy who'd put up the concrete silo at his farm. He was an elderly Scotsman who had for decades earned his living as a master builder. He specialized in building bridges and water towers. He was in high demand. There remain bridges on county roads today that he built 100 years ago that you can still drive over.

None of his stuff ever fell down.

Alas, somewhere along the arc of progress, it was decreed that only a certified engineer could be entrusted with the task of putting up a bridge or a water tower. Buddy was not a certified engineer.

He was reduced to putting up farm silos for what was left of his working life.

When I lived in New Brunswick in the early '90s there was a story much in the news about the collapse of the new Fredericton water tower. That was a job that made oodles of work for oodles of certified engineers and project engineers and consulting engineers, so a lot of well-educated faces went red when the thing fell down the first time they tried to fill it with water.

That's not a good thing when you just had all those certified engineers put it up.

I'm reminded of this because of a story I read today. Seems that some engineering types have been busy analysing the concrete that the ancient Romans used on their infrastructure projects. The Romans had better concrete two thousand years ago than what our engineering brainiacs are using today.

Figures.

That's progress for you!

Islamic terror (finally) visits Canada

And not just any place in Canada, but at the beating heart of our very national identity; a Canadian Tire store!

Don't say the think tank here at Falling Downs hasn't warned you. We've been saying for years that sooner or later there's gonna be payback for all the stability we've been helping the NATO gang bring to Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq...

It was just a matter of time.

Now it's time for all right-thinking Canadians to shop in solidarity in this dark hour.

Go buy something at your local Canadian Tire store.

After 241 years, Uncle Sam still has head up arse

Figured I'd go to the patriotic network and see if I can glean what's on the minds of patriotic Americans this Independence Day. I wasn't disappointed. Fox News producer Steve Kurtz has a few timely thoughts. Along with the predictable clap-trap about the constitution and freedom of speech, and how American militarism has made the world a safer place etc., I found this gem:

7-11

Life is hard enough, so it's nice to know there's a place to go at 3 am, even if it's just for cigarettes and lottery tickets.

How true! Yup, nowhere else in history has anyone had the freedom to buy cigarettes and lottery tickets at 3 am! Shows yet again how much we take for granted, doesn't it!

Steve, you are truly a living testimonial to America's education system.

Elsewhere at Fox, Dr. Heather Wilson and General David Goldfein give themselves a shout-out for the great work the USAF has been doing in the Middle East.

Linger over that last paragraph. The US has been "in continuous combat for 26 years..."

Doing what?

"Providing stability..."

Hey, maybe after another 26 years of continuous combat the folks in Baghdad and Damascus will enjoy the freedom to step out for cigarettes and lottery tickets at 3 am!

God bless America!

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Kaka files; what to do when your laxative is choking you

Here's an ominous headline: Bayer recalls RestoraLAX due to potential choking hazard.

WTF?  I thought laxatives were about the tailpipe, not the windpipe!

So maybe this Bayer innovation opens up the one by closing off the other?

That's some crazy shit!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

How to bring Americans together

Legalize weed!

Check out this diverse gaggle lined up to buy legal weed in Nevada:

People wait in line at the Essence cannabis dispensary, Saturday in Las Vegas. Nevada dispensaries were legally allowed to sell recreational marijuana starting at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

I see a couple of Trump voters, a few Hillary voters, and that nerdy looking dude in the middle can only be a Bernie bro. They're all sharing the same space and there's no eye-gouging, no hair-pulling, and no angry hands at each other's throats.

Wanna truly make America great again? Legalize weed in all fifty states!