Sunday, January 31, 2016

Death spiral of Alberta economy wildly exaggerated

It's been nothing but bad news out of Alberta for the past year or so.

Yup, first the price of oil goes for a shit.

Then Notley's socialist hordes seize power...

That's pretty much gotta be the end of the road for the Wildrose province.

I've got a soft spot for Alberta. Put in some time there back in the '70s. In fact, the all-time worst welding gig I ever had was in Edmonton.

Worked at an outfit called Tandem Industries. Decent enough rate of pay, and, for the most part, a nice variety of work. Tandem did truck and trailer maintenance and repair. They claimed to be the only place in the West, north of California, to be certified in repairing the big compressed gas tankers.

But, that wasn't the only stuff they repaired. The worst job ever was when an offal truck came in for a rework. In case you don't know, offal is the stuff left over at abattoirs after they've made every possible bit of edible protein into hot-dogs or chicken nuggets. I'm not sure where it goes, but they use tanker trucks to take it there.

So with the gazillion doom and gloom stories festooning the nation's news platforms, I thought I'd pay a visit to the Canada Job Bank for a look-see. Are there any jobs out there at all?

What an eye-opener! Search "heavy equipment mechanic, Alberta" and there's dozens of open jobs!

Search "welder, Alberta," and you gets stuff like this; Jacobs Industrial Services has thirty welding jobs open. Now. At $45.79 per hour.

So it's not all doom and gloom after all. The 300 horsepower snowmobile and the 75 grand pick-up truck are still within reach if you've got the right tickets!

But back to the '70s. That offal rig needed a partial re-skin. That involved mostly working inside the tank. As soon as this unit was pulled into the shop you had guys retching all over the place. Man was it foul! Needless to say nobody stepped up for this assignment, so we drew straws.

Me and Buddy got the two shortest. Buddy was probably the top gun in that shop, a can-do overachiever who had ambitions of opening his own shop. I was a pot-addled wanker with no ambitions whatsoever.

So first day we had to climb into that tank, I was mostly pre-occupied with fighting my retch reflex.

We drag in fans, O-A hoses, welding cables, more fans, and we're good to go.

It's amazing how fast you acclimatize to the absolutely foulest of smells. After a couple of hours you didn't even notice it.

Buddy the overachiever figures we can do this job in two days max. But because he's a favorite with the front office, he's privy to inside info; he knows they've told the client this is a two week job, and by God, we're going to live up to their expectations!

So I'm clambering into that tank as of day two with a coffee in hand and a Edmonton Journal in the back pocket of my Big Bill overalls. Even though the unit was allegedly steam cleaned before it came into the shop, there's a two or three inch crust of petrified offal encrusted on the sides of the tank, which is literally seething with maggots. You'd sit there for an hour or two burning off the maggots with a rosebud before you could get round to any actual work.

We realized from the get-go that there was zero likelihood of any supervisors paying a surprise visit to this particular job. I was therefore able to read the Journal cover to cover and mostly complete the crossword puzzle before we even fired up the torches. Buddy used to disappear for long stretches at a time... I think he was already getting his own business off the ground.

But who wants to read the paper with the walls around them writhing with maggots? I didn't last long at that job. As for Buddy, I hear through the grape-vine that he went on to huge success in his own business and is a millionaire many times over.

As for the prospects for young folks thinking about a career in Alberta today, get yourself the right credentials and it is obviously still a land of opportunity.

Especially if you don't mind reading among the maggots.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Introducing Uber policing

Here's a thought; why not replace your local police force with an Uber app on your smartphone?

After all, if Uber can replace regulated cabbies, why not let them replace regulated law enforcement as well?

My ruminations re: Uber policing were triggered by an opinion column in the Toronto Star by a couple of criminologists at U of Ottawa. It's titled We need a leaner, modern police service, and can be found on page A15 of today's paper.

No, I'm not providing a link. You can buy the paper like I did.

So with your Uber-cops, instead of dialling 911, you'll just hit the Uber app.

The nearest Uber-cop will respond way quicker than a conventional cop to whatever emergency you happen to be mixed up in.

Neighbour's party too loud? Hell, this doesn't require the services of two or more $100,000/year Toronto Police Services constables to sort out. Some off-season CFL linebacker can fix that up for twenty bucks!

And that's mostly the kind of stuff "real cops" do when they're not directing traffic.

Yup, Professors Kempa and Waller are onto something here. And they should know. Being professional academics, they've seen how a leaner, modern professoriat has taken over teaching in universities across the country.

In fact, most of the "teaching" your kid is gonna get at the undergrad level when she toddles off to U of Ottawa or any other school in North America is going to be provided by "sessionals" or "adjunct professors." Those are folks with Doctor Phils working full-time hours for poverty wages, hoping against hope that eventually they'll find a tenure track position.

Like Professor Kempa and Professor Waller.

Ya, even though these guys are prescribing lean and modern for the cops, they're part of the old school Ivory Tower, not the lean and modern professoriat.

The Ontario "sunshine list" shows associate professor Michael Kempa pulling down $122,000 for 2014. Full professor Irvin Waller clocks in at $171,000.

That's the kind of guys who give lectures on the importance of other people working for less!

My Facebook shame

Back in the days of the over-hyped build-up to the Facebook IPO the think tank here at Falling Downs revelled in playing the party pooper.

"Go short, my friends!"

Indeed, for about six short months, I looked like a genius!

Folks have generally forgotten that FB lost 50% of its IPO price in the first six months after they went public.
That October you could buy Facebook shares for less than half the issue price, but why would you?...

Fast forward four years; FB hit a new high today; $112. That's roughly a 300% gain on the issue price. Or a 600% gain on the lows of that October.

Good thing I'm just an amateur stock-picker; I only lose my own money.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

What up with Sting @ NBA All Star game?

Whoa!!!... somebody had a brain cramp!

Sting doing the half-time show at the NBA All Star game?


The fans want him?  Not!

Here's our theory - Adam Silver's been a fan for a long time, and they're neighbours in Manhattan, so why not?


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Toronto Star boss calls SunPostMedia boss a liar

Oh, you gotta love it when the Big Dogs get into a catfight!

And you gotta love how John Honderich hedges the truth... he doesn't out and out call Godfrey a liar; he simply suggests he is "trifling with the truth."

Jeez, I wish I'd been acquainted with that particular turn of phrase in my childhood!

Honest, mom, I wasn't lying, I was just trifling with the truth!

Into your room (wack) you little shit (wack) trifling with the truth (wack) is LYING! (wack, wack, wack!).

Mr. Honderich is of course trifling with the truth just a bit himself on this one. Claiming that Torstar offered "a bid of around $800 million" is more than a little disingenuous.

So do tell, Mr. Honderich; how much of that $800 million was fresh unencumbered cash, and how much was taking over CanWest debt obligations?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Why would it ever be right to give less to native children?...

That's the question Cindy Blackstock is asking today.

Well Cindy, "Old Stock" Canada has the answer for you.

As everybody knows, you people just waste the money.

When you're not spending it on booze, you're spending it on meth or crack.

Old Stock Canadians understand that giving you and your folks more money is just a recipe for disaster.

That's why Old Stock Canadians want to help you with underfunding!

Underfunding for health care.

Underfunding for education.

Underfunding for housing.

Underfunding for addiction treatment...

I could go on, but I think you'll agree that we've pretty much got the underfunding thing nailed when it comes to First Nations...

Just remember; it's for your own good!

Postmaster Godfrey elected to Canadian News Hall of Shame

I see where SunPostMediaNetworks boss Paul Godfrey has been elected to the Canadian News Hall of Fame.

Contrary to what some naysayers have been trying to tell you (probably just sour grapes from some of the thousands of journos fired by Mr. Godfrey, who has been the most prolific terminator of journalists in the history of Canadian journalism), there actually IS a Canadian News Hall of Fame - it's downtown right next to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

No shit. Been there. Seen it with my own eyes.

Since Godfrey was never a typesetter or a journalist, you'll find him in the "Builder's Section." Yup, just like the hockey guys, they've got a Builder's Section. That's where you'll find Max Aiken and Conrad Black.

And as of a couple of months back, Paul Godfrey.

Now, I know there's bound to be a few cynics who are gonna claim that Godfrey has been more of an "un-builder" than a builder; a destroyer if you will. (See ref to sour grapes above.)

But look at it this way; times have changed. New times present new challenges, and in spite of these challenges the Postmaster has succeeded in creating the largest conglomeration of news titles in the history of this fair land!

Yes, the days where we felt obliged to hold a Royal Commission on concentration of media ownership at least once every decade are long behind us, obviously.

Not only that, but Godfrey has managed to shake off the shackles of the onerous and entirely arbitrary "Canadian Ownership" regs as well! Today's Canadian news colossus is 100% at the mercy of the US vulture funds that have been bleeding it to death since its inception.

Congratulations Mr. Godfrey!

Putin's billions

Just last week we were shocked to learn that a secret British inquiry into the death of former Russian secret agent Alexander Litvinenko ten years ago concluded that his demise was "probably" approved by Bad Vlad.

This week the news gets even worse; not only is Putin probably responsible for the death of Litvinenko, he's probably corrupt as well! Yup the tried, tested, and possibly somewhat true fable of Putin's billions is making its annual fly-past!

Here's today's story a year ago at Business Insider; Putin worth $200 billions.

Here's Bloomberg in 2013; Vladimir Putin: the richest man on earth.

And here's The Guardian speculating about Bad Vlad's billions all the way back in 2007!

So why does this old story, notably devoid of any actual facts, reappear on such a regular basis? Easy! It takes the Western news consumer's eye off what's actually going on in the world. Right now Putin is playing a role in two unfolding stories.

In the US, where Putin-phobia is a well-established psychosis, the political establishment is using Putin as a stick with which to beat Donald Trump. Yup, Trump must be nutso 'cause he says he admires Putin. Let's remind the public just what a murderous embezzling whack job this Putin chap is and hopefully they'll come to their senses about Trump. Worth a try at least.

The other story giving our elites a spot of indigestion is the exposure of our dear friend, ally, and NATO partner, the wily Erdogan, as a back-stabbing double-dealing fraud. Since Russia joined the war on ISIS in September, it's become completely obvious that Erdogan's "war on terror" has not been on ISIS at all, but on the Kurds, generally considered "our" most effective anti-ISIS ground forces. That's a story that could shake NATO to its foundations...

Heck, if enough folks ask enough questions, this could throw the entire NATO project into disrepute!

Quick! Let's wave Putin's billions around for a few days to get their minds off the real story.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Bob from Calgary proves trolls trump bloggers

I was dimly aware of Bob's story as his 15 minutes were garlanding his front door. After all, I read those news sites as obsessively as Bob comments on them. Good on you, Bob!

Darn right I'm jealous!

I've written what, almost 5,000 blog-posts?..  and the nearest I came to mainstream attention was when some junior BBC producer called, and then realized that the guy offering those razor-sharp insights into Middle East politics was the same guy finding crop circles on his farm that proved Justin Bieber/ Tony Blair/Bibi were at one time or another the Messiah.

That was the end of that!

Ya, I can see where that wouldn't sit well with the executive producer types at the Beeb.

But Bob does make one great central point in his centralist platform; in Canada we've by and large managed to avoid the over-heated extremes of the political spectrum, and we will continue to do so as long as we can keep the Ezras and the O'Learys at the margins.

As a committed leftralist I can honestly say I've never voted for a right-wing party.

But I've seldom voted for the left-wing party either.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Inside every sixty year old there's a sixteen year old wondering what the fuck happened...

And I'm there, baby...

It's another hellish winter at Falling Downs. As usual, there was no hint whatsoever that winter was coming. One day in December it's warm and there's still green shit standing proud in our ten by ten garden; next day our ten by ten garden is under two feet of snow.


Then begins the soul-searching and the recriminations re: the snow-removal technology. Fuck me, it took three days just to find the snow shovel. It's under the fucking snow.

I was lucky to find it at all.

But that's the least of my worries.

Here at Falling Downs we have a short driveway by country standards but a long driveway by city standards, which is a nice way of saying there's no fucking way I'm doing that driveway with a shovel.

Long story short, I sprung for a new snow-blower this year. That other piece of shit has been such a pain in the ass that I'm just totally fed up with three hours of belt adjustments for every twenty minutes of snow-blowing.

Then there's the rig that hooks up to the tractor. The problem with that is it's massive snowblower overkill. You should NEVER be using a diesel tractor for a five minute job of any kind. That just destroys the life expectancy of the diesel.

If I was sixteen years old, I suppose I'd just shovel out the drive.

At sixty, that's just asking for a medical emergency...

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Journalism is... doomed

I see where Carleton and Ryerson and Postmedia remain major sponsors of the Journalism Is... PR campaign designed to entice gullible youth into a journalism programme.

Wonder how that's working out?

I don't imagine Postmedia will remain a corporate sponsor of this campaign for much longer. Postmedia Networks has sacked more journos in Canada than any other employer over the past few years, so the brazen hypocrisy of their sponsorship is eventually going to contaminate the entire campaign.

Journalism used to be an honourable profession, one that I contemplated committing to at one time. Had a few stories in the Ontarion back in my U of Goo days. It was all fun and games when you're getting high with the Downchild Blues Band, but write something critical about the Big Dogs at the OVC, and all of a sudden "journalism" got downright creepy.

Yup, the Rolex crowd didn't waste any time letting me know what I had to change in my stories.

Oddly enough, the hippy dippy rebels running the Ontarion at the time were more than a little ambivalent about exposing the bullying of those Big Dogs. Truth be told, I pretty much knuckled under too.

So it was with some mixture of nostalgia and bemusement that I read Marsha Lederman's impassioned paean to the profession in today's Globe. Marsha's getting the A2 space these days, so obviously the big dogs at the Globe are on board.

According to Marsha, professional journalism has forestalled many a catastrophe in these times. For instance, it was only the professional journalists at the Toronto Star who short-circuited the second term of mayoral nightmare Rob Ford.


What I recall of that fiasco is that the "professional journalists" were pretty much as cringe-worthy as Fat Ford himself. Ya, on one side you've got this dude with obvious substance abuse problems, and on the other side, the side of virtuous professional journalism, you've got folks buying up videos of Ford's drunken rants to better facilitate the mayor's public shaming.

JournalismIS... that?

I'd like to think not.

Best. Restaurant. Review... Ever!

I read restaurant reviews in the same spirit that I read movie reviews; I'll probably never get around to going, but it's nice to know what I'm missing.

Globe and Mail restaurant reviewer Chris Nuttall-Smith tunes me up on page M6 of today's paper ($4.50 at the Korean variety store in Wiarton) re: the pros and cons of a place called Parcae.

After the first two paragraphs I was drooling. "Devastatingly tasty?"

I'm in!

A few paragraphs later I was marvelling at the sheer virtuosity on display as Chris NS manages to work Depeche Mode, trip hop, and high-class Berlin sex dungeons into a restaurant review!

By the end I'm laughing so hard I have to get a friggin' kleenex to wipe my eyes!

So Buddy and other Buddy drop three hundred bucks on dinner and have to stop for cheeseburgers at The Burger Priest on the way home!

Ya gotta love it!

Here's a link.

NEWS FLASH: the rich should intervene in politics!

You mean they don't now and they haven't before?

That's the latest bullshitic twattery emanating from Davos, courtesy of hedge-fund sharpie Anthony Scaramucci.

While Tony may be a hedge-fund sharpie, he doesn't seem that sharp overall. He's backing Jeb for the the 2016 White House race?

Get outta here!

And what's this crap about the government taking more than 50% of every dollar he "earns?" Having been a key cog in The Mittster's run at the White House in the 2012 campaign, Tony would be well acquainted with the fact that his fellow hedgie got tons of ink over his paying a mere 14% on his declared 20 million per year income.

So hedgie Mitt pays 14%, but hedgie Tony pays over 50%?

Not bloody likely!.. that's just raw sewage if you ask me.

The other obvious omission in the discussion about Romney's taxes was that carefully crafted disclaimer that this number referred to Mitt's declared US income. Hey, it's obvious as can be that the reason hedgies have bank accounts in tax havens like the Caymans is so they can AVOID declaring income in the US!

They're not called tax havens for nothing!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The fake fury over the Litvinenko Inquiry

It is widely acknowledged that once a week President Obama reviews a "death list" of prospective drone targets around the world. He peruses this list and gives the thumbs up or thumbs down on this entirely arbitrary and extra-judicial kill list, and signs off on who will live and who will die. Rumour has it that Obama tends to give the thumbs up to extra-judicial murder as a matter of course.

This is not a concern for any mainstream media platform in the Western World. We are, after all, the Nations of Virtue, and that makes the POTUS the most powerful and virtuous man on the planet.

Ten years ago one Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian FSB agent who had defected to the UK in 2000, died in a London hospital. Litvinenko had made a good living in England, primarily as a "consultant" to British intelligence.

So a high-ranking Russians intelligence operative crosses to the other side and mysteriously dies a few years later... this is a scandal? A mystery? An outrage?

I think not.

There are certainly ways to quit the FSB or the CIA or the Mafia or the Hells Angels and live a long and blessed retirement. Writing books and giving critical interviews about your former employer probably isn't one of them. Litvinenko became the darling of the Putin-bashers, a role he embraced, and it's fair to say, he milked to the max.

So the fact that he had an unexpected demise a few years later should not have been unexpected to anyone who gives these matters more than a passing thought.

Nevertheless, authorities in the UK were determined to exploit his demise for maximum political advantage. Hence the Litvinenko Inquiry.

Said Inquiry revealed its findings today. Apparently Litvinenko's demise was "probably" approved by Mr. Putin himself.


I'd guess they're probably right.

A top spook crosses over and finds himself dead...

How is this headline news?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Decisions this stupid can only be taken at the very top

I see where the SunPostMedia gang are gonna slice off another 90 journalism jobs for the sake of efficiency.

Because the paper-buying public will never notice that the Ottawa Citizen and the Ottawa Sun have merged newsrooms...

As the think-tank here at Falling Downs has been relentlessly pointing out for years now, the SunPostMedia conglomerate isn't about the news business anymore.


Instead, it's about paying off a couple of hedgies who bought up CanWest debt at pennies on the dollar back in the day.

Yup, those dudes have been working miracles in Canadian journalism ever since!

What's really extra funny, just in case you haven't had enough yet, is that these assholes have the gall to sponsor those galling J-School promos designed to convince idealistic but gullible youth that the once-honourable profession of journalism has a future.

Real reason Canada snubbed at anti-Muslim conclave of Nations of Virtue

Ya, I get he's not a Muslim, but nevertheless he is a victim of towellerphobia..

Canada's new Minister of Defense does sport a turban...

And that's the REAL reason why Canada was not invited to the very important meeting of the Nations of Virtue on how best to continue the totally ineffectual and entirely illegal bombing of Islamic State.


Bloomberg has bad news for Trump

Check out this headline at Bloomberg; Trump is losing the Davos primary among his fellow billionaires.

Yup, there's billionaires at Davos who are pretty darned sure Trump's gonna be gunning for them once he's done with the Muslims and the Mexicans!

How would that be a bad thing? Oh, for the billionaires maybe, but it's high time America stopped catering to the 1% anyway...

Or the .001%.

Anyway, the Davos primary isn't the one that matters...


Canadian media across the board, from the drooling knuckle-draggers at the Sun to the pinkos at the Star, are aghast that our new badass Minister of Defence, the nattily turbaned Harjit Sajjan, was not extended an invite to today's conflab of the anti-ISIS coalition!

They allege with one voice that this can only be due to POTHEAD's promise to end our participation in the illegal bombing of Syria and Iraq, led as always by our ally the USA, which leads the world in illegal bombing missions against sovereign nations.

Mainly Muslim sovereign nations, by some fluke of happenstance...

And our fourth estate is unanimous in declaring this a bad thing?

Frankly, I'm hoping the Big Dog and the Me-Too nations kick us out of the bully-boy club altogether. No more NATO. No more F-35 bullshit where we spend hundreds of billions for the sake of "interoperability" with the rest of the war criminals.

Let's make Canada an independent country again!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Hunter Harrison makes good on promise to change CP Rail culture

Check out this story about Transport Canada's "unprecedented" order against CP Rail to change their scheduling practices because they are an "immediate threat" to rail safety.

Reading the story, it's obvious that "Hitman" Harrison has succeeded in creating a culture of fear at the venerated CP Rail.

Now back up a few years, when Harrison was the widely lauded "new Sheriff" in town. Yup, he'd just trousered his fifty million dollar signing bonus from hedgie Bill Ackman, and he was gonna shake up that "spoiled, horrible, permissive" work culture at CP Rail.

Sounds like he's succeeded!

Those lucky folks still on the payroll now have a culture of fear instead of the awful spoiled, horrible, and permissive culture that prevailed in the Fred Green era!

But it's not all coming up posies at CP Rail...

Take a gander at the CPR share price history over the past five years. Ackman was loading up on shares back in 2011 when they were in the fifty dollar range. Peaked at well over two hundred in late 2014. By then Ackman had announced an ambitious share buy-back plan designed to drive the share price even higher.

Hasn't quite worked out that way. As of today, CP Rail shares have lost over half their value from that peak.

The think tank here at Falling Downs would like to think that our January 2014 research report had some small role to play in helping the markets get over their Ackman-Harrison euphoria.

It's high time I renamed this blog the "Bolshevik Bruce Research Report" or some such nonsense and fobbed it off as an "investment strategy advisory"...

...or some such nonsense. And of course charged big dollars for an annual subscription!

Maybe if I could get Todd Hirsch to do a guest spot once in awhile...

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Why the world's huddled masses are walking to Germany; the immigration lottery you cannot lose

Here's a great story from Deutsche Welle.

You can bet it's being read right now all over Africa and the near East. Maybe even the far East.

Guaranteed roof and groceries. A free pass on groping the Frauleins...

Whether you're a "legal" migrant or not...

Golly, I'm thinking of walking there myself, and I was born there! Perhaps I should run for the arms of Mutti Merkel before she is voted out of office and the drawbridge gets pulled up...

Kevin O'Leary ponders political run, promptly trumped by Rachel Notley!

Kevin O'Leary, the guy who got famous playing a successful investor on Dragons Den, was musing aloud on CBC recently about how he might be the right fit for the leadership of the Conservative Party now that Big Steve has been put out to pasture.

The unilingual O'Leary immediately set out to showcase his political acumen by picking a fight with NDP premier of Alberta Rachel Notley. She and her neophyte lefties simply aren't the right people to manage Alberta's resources, he informed us. These are tough times, and tough times demand tax cuts on the oil industry, not tax hikes. She should resign, he said, and if she did, he would personally invest a million dollars to revive Alberta's energy industry.

Notley promptly rejoindered that the last time affluent businessmen fanned the flames of her demise she was elected premier a few days later!

Here's a headline from the Financial Post, five months before Notley was elected; Almost $60 billion in Canadian projects in peril as collapse in oil investment echoes the dark days of 1999.

$60 billion! And O'Leary's gonna turn around the Alberta economy by investing one million on the condition that Notley quits?

What kind of a moron is this guy?

At the time that headline was written, Alberta and its resources had been managed by right-wing parties for 80 years. Notley inherited an empty cupboard, not to mention a depleted sovereign wealth fund and a collapsed global commodities market.

Pinning the current mess on the NDP after eight decades of right-wing mismanagement is certainly a gutsy launch for the political career of Canada's next right-wing leader!

Friday, January 15, 2016

It's time for Europe's Muslim leadership to police their own

Hard on the heels of the Cologne New Year's Eve scandal comes news that the nearby city of Bornheim has banned migrants from the public baths. Why? Apparently there's a certain cohort of dimwitted young males who truly believe that women in swim-suits who allow the eyes of strangers to alight on their bodies are making themselves available.

This requires a stronger response than having the local social workers ask them to stop being naughty. If you read up on early immigrant communities in America it's common to find instances of self-policing. If you were a youthful idiot bringing shame to the Irish/Polish/Italian community in Boston or New York or Philadelphia, it was only a matter of time before powerful forces within your own community would knock on your door and tell you to smarten up. Bring more shame to your community, and those forces would be knocking on more than your door.

It worked. One of the historical verities of immigrant assimilation in America is the fact that immigrant communities wanted the respect of the broader society. Those among them whose behavior undermined that respect were given some assistance to see the error of their ways, and failing that, they were weeded out.

By their own.

That needs to start happening in places like Bornheim and Cologne.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Why Kevin O'Leary is not Canada's Donald Trump

Michael Den Tandt is a local boy who made good. He's one of the few professional journalists still drawing a paycheque from that floundering colossus, SunPostMedia, the media empire that just keeps giving back to the hedgies who bought its corporate debt for pennies on the dollar a few years back. Most of what you read in Postmedia properties these days is courtesy of unpaid interns, but Den Tandt is the real deal, and his opinion pieces play coast to coast and are generally worth a look.

Folks who follow this stuff will know that Kevin O'Leary was thinking out loud the other day about throwing his hat into the ring to replace Big Steve in the big chair at Canada's Conservative Party. Today Den Tandt offers an enthusiastic endorsement of O'Leary's delusions of grandeur.

I think Michael's got it right that O'Leary is not Trump, even though they superficially have that same "blow-hard" persona. Where I think he's got it wrong is in how they're different. True, O'Leary has yet to disgrace himself with xenophobic clap-trap geared to the prejudices of the baying masses. Instead, he is a man of principles.

And that's the problem. His principles are the tried, tested, and manifestly failed pillars of the Thatcher era; welfare state too generous, unions too powerful, government too big, and taxes too high. We can only bring back prosperity by slashing and burning and cutting taxes.

It's a recipe that hasn't worked since the Thatcher era, and there's no reason to think it will work with just a little more slashing, burning, etc.

So while Trump fill stadiums with his rancid appeals to emotion, it's hard to imagine O'Leary doing the same with his appeals for more austerity.

Not only that, but what really makes Trump important is that he threatens the very foundations of America's sclerotic two-party system. He's the only candidate telling the public that the system is broken. O'Leary leading the Conservative Party would be a more engaging personality bringing you four or five more years of Big Steve.

And who needs that?

Turkey unleashes massive barrage of tank and artillery fire on ISIS

I see where Turkey PM Ahmet Davutoglu is doing a little chest-thumping over those 200 ISIS baddies his guys have dispatched in the past 48 hours. This is apparently pay-back for that terror-bombing in Istanbul's tourist quarter the other day.


Is Davutoglu admitting that Turkey knew the locations of 500 ISIS encampments all along, but has done absolutely nothing about them until now? That would seem to support the school of thought that believes the Turks have been mentoring and coddling the "Islamic State" all along...

Sounds like a massive barrage of bullshit to me.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Delay, deny, and let 'em die...

For the think tank here at Falling Downs, one of the more odious Harperite deceptions was how they loved to wrap themselves in the flag and pose as super-patriots while at the same time stabbing the rank and file vets of the Canadian Forces in the back.

We  certainly weren't the only folks to notice. Former Canadian Forces Sergeant David MacLeod had a book out last year, A Dirty Little Skirmish, that gave the lie to that fake Harperite patriotism.

Now there's another book coming out, authored by Colonel Pat Stogran, former 'Veterans' Ombudsman,' appointed by Harper himself to look out for the interests of Canadian Forces veterans; Rude Awakening;the Government's secret war against veterans.

Big Steve must have figured Colonel Stogran was going to be sufficiently dazzled by the prospect of hanging with the big dogs that he'd forget all about his fellow veterans.

That was obviously a gross underestimation of Colonel Stogran.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Small farming in the 21st century

Back a few lifetimes ago, I was eyeballing a failed "estate development" a couple miles north of Guelph. Some wannabe developer had done all the dirty work and had all the approvals for an estate subdivision carved out of Wellington County farmlands.

Twenty-five "estate lots" on fifty acres of prime agricultural real estate. Our wannabe developer had enough money to rough in the road and build the model home; the one he lived in.

That's where things stalled out.

So after a couple of years of no takers on these estate lots, the entire development came up for sale, which is when my squinty eye appraised the possibilities. I figured let's rethink this "estate" shit and market this as a "market gardening" opportunity. After all, it's sitting on prime Ontario agricultural land. Instead of 4000 sq. ft. McMansions, we'll promote this project as an ideal location for a modest home, plus an acre or two of prime black soil.

A market gardening subdivision!

Drew up a business plan. Presented it to a few of my colleagues in the business. Presented it to my dear daddy, who had been in the business forever. Presented it to my friends at the bank I owed a million dollars to...

They unanimously agreed that I was obviously fucked in the head.

Fast forward thirty years or so. I'm having lunch with one of these kids who are the new face of farming. While she may have a P. Eng. in her back pocket, she lives and breathes organic farming. She tells me she just ordered her seeds for the coming year; a thousand bucks.

So what kind of a return do you figure you'll see on that thousand dollars?

Around forty grand.

How big is your garden?

I've scaled back this year; I'm down to one acre.

She's scaled back this year because she's so pregnant I was half expecting she'd calve right there in our booth at the Teviotdale Truck Stop.

Thankfully she didn't. But she is the face of small farming going forward. There's a generation of really smart and well-educated young people who have a passion for growing stuff. They want nothing to do with big agro-chem.

They are the future!

Which proves yet again that I wasn't a failure; I was merely ahead of my time.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Shucking and jiving our way to a new foreign policy

No matter how toxic Canada's foreign policy was in the Baird-Harper era, it had one redeeming feature; it was predictable.

Saudi Arabia was good.

Israel was even better.

Iran was Satan-on-Earth...

With POTHEAD at the helm, all that stability is in flux.

We were outraged at that mass execution in Saudi Arabia the other day, but just blink, and you're seeing this story. Yup, we should be strengthening our ties with Saudi Arabia!

Meanwhile, after a stink-up about children finding themselves on the terrorist no-fly list, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale comes out with the news that airlines will no longer have to vet anyone under 18 years of age.

Which sounds really great! After all, we're inviting in a shitload of folks from all those Islamic countries we and our allies have been bombing, and if we were to deny their children airplane rides... heck, they wouldn't even be able to get here in the first place!

And then you read something like this.

Oopsie! A fourteen year old can be a suicide bomber?... Guess Ralph Goodale could be a little bereft of actual facts, eh?

Oh, it's a mess alright...

But the think tank here at Falling Downs has a suggestion.

Maybe if we stopped bombing the Muslim nations, they'd stop screwing with us?

Give it some thought, Mr. POTHEAD.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

They've got POTUS, we've got POTHEAD

That's short for Pierre's Offspring The Hottie Elected As Dictator, in case you're wondering.

So how's POTHEAD doing these first few months?

Too soon to tell in my books. I certainly liked that "hey, let's make a guy with a turban Minister of Defence" gambit, but that could have been a deke for all I know. Maybe the turban guy is gonna make the Harper crew sorry they didn't shove him in there back when Mackay was fucking up the file.

Time will tell...

Speaking of which, it seems that the "biggest win in Canadian export history" is coming back to bite the new government. That was the sale of 5,000 armored cars out of General Dynamics London Ontario plant which was announced two years ago. At the time, the mainstream media were up and down about this. The business pages were clapping so hard their hands fell off. Among the editorializers you saw even in those early days some concerns about the appalling human rights record of Saudi Arabia.

Well, now that POTHEAD is parked in the big chair, there's a clamour rising that he should cancel the deal. This is already way louder than any calls that arose two years ago not to do the deal in the first place.

POTHEAD needs to take a deep breath and ignore those braying imbeciles. The think tank here at Falling Downs spelled it out way back when the deal was first announced.

Those 5,000 armored cars are no threat to human rights in Saudi Arabia. In fact, they are a giant step forward. Those armored vehicles will be used to transport the Bangladeshi guest workers to the beach or to the border, wherever they wish to go. Not to mention giving the regulars in Riyadh's underground gay scene a safe ride home at the end of the evening...

So stand tall, POTHEAD; don't let those media hucksters talk you into cancelling this deal.

After all, 3,000 Canadian jobs depend on it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Fried chicken and cigarettes

I was in Owen Sound today, and today being Tuesday, I couldn't resist popping into the KFC for a "Tuesday Special."

I really should know better. That particular KFC is famous for its high employee turnover. That can only mean one thing; they're not particularly good to their staff. They're not particularly good to their chickens either, and I feel bad about that, but by God, I'm willing to overlook my principles once in a while for a taste of the Colonel's fried chicken.

And even though I've been enjoying it for 60 years, the Farm Manager has put fried chicken on the blacklist, not on account of how they treat their workers or their chickens, but because greasy fried chicken is allegedly not healthy.

But she's back at the farm and I know Boomer and Lucy aren't gonna spill the beans! This is one of our little indulgences, like those smoked sausages from Sullivan's Butcher Shop when we're in Wiarton (motto; "our meat can't be beat!")

I get to quench my fried chicken craving, the hounds enjoy the scraps, and the FM never needs to know!

So while I'm standing there waiting for my Tuesday Special, I mention to the teens behind the counter that the Public Health Unit is on the hunt for a few keen teen employees. This I suppose is the good deed that assuages my conscience about stopping here in the first place. If they work at KFC they're probably job hunting on the side, and I'm sure the Public Health Unit has gotta be a pretty good gig.

As near as I can tell, they're sort of a "health propaganda" unit. Led by the intrepid $350,000 a year Dr. Hazel Lynn, they berate the locals regularly over the fact that we're fatter than average, smoke more, and drink too much. Beyond that they're pretty much limited to handing out free condoms at the high schools and trying to drive Michael Schmidt, the satan-worshipping communist unpasteurized milk purveyor, out of business.

Why would the Public Health Unit be recruiting teens! Here's why; they're looking for Tobacco Test Shoppers! Yup, those kids will make out like bandits instead of having to bust their butts at KFC, and all they gotta do is keep going around to the corner stores, pestering the Koreans to sell them cigarettes!

As I'm driving out the parking lot I notice in my rear-view mirror both those kids running out the door in the direction of the new Temple of Public Health a couple of blocks away. Geez, I don't think they even locked that door behind them...

Frankly, I think the KFC gets a bit of a bad rap. Sure, you only make minimum wage, and sure, their supply chain is a little rough on the chickens, but I have it on good authority from multiple former employees that you get to take the leftover fried chicken home at the end of the day!

For free!

Anyway, the Farm Manager is never gonna allow me to apply for that gig, so no point fantasizing about it.

So I'm driving down the road while eating my health-destroying fried chicken, wondering what the local health tyrant would think of that. After all, eating while driving isn't the innocent pastime it used to be. I know Dr. Hazel Lynn would not approve. Not only am I risking obesity and all its attendant evils, I'm endangering every other vehicle on the road!

If folks are being fined for eating burgers while driving, eating fried chicken is that much worse, at least if you're determined to keep chicken grease off your clothes. Try it! You'll agree this offence merits a few demerit points at the least.

Maybe even a license suspension.

As for those kids and their employment opportunity, I wish them well. I know the Public Health Unit is one gold-plated gig. Hell, they got fifteen people on the official "sunshine list!" Even the Director of Tobacco Enforcement and Variety Store Entrapment pulls down well over $100,000 a year!

But I should ease up on those folks. I'm sure they mean just as well as they earn. After all, Canada didn't become a world leader in warnings on cigarette packaging without the efforts of many well paid people who really care. In fact, there is statistical proof that their perpetual anti-smoking campaign is paying big dividends; Canadian cigarette consumption is now ranked at 63rd in the world!

Thank you Hazel Lynn!

There's just one thing I'd like her to explain. According to the latest OECD life expectancy stats (2013), Japan, Spain, and Switzerland rank first, second, and third in life expectancy, while Canada languishes in 13th place.

In each of those three countries, per capita cigarette consumption is well over double that in Canada.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Oregon and "white privilege"

There's a lot of internet chatter about how those so-called patriots converging on Oregon today are the beneficiaries of something called "white privilege." That's where white folks allegedly get away with shit that black folks would get shot down in the street for, no questions asked.

I would direct those who subscribe to this theory to Waco massacre one (1993) and Waco massacre two (2015).

In both cases, having a white ass did nothing to save those seen as a possible threat, no matter how insignificant, to the Empire.

Religious nutters.



Black teens...

It's all the same to Uncle Sam.

Four days on, Dubai skyscraper gutted by fire still standing

Silly me!

I went on the record a couple of times predicting the imminent collapse of that 63 floors of steel and glass.

After all, that's what happens when steel and glass buildings go up in flames, isn't it?

So, my face is red... sorry folks!

Obviously it takes a lot more than a fire to bring down one of those!

We'll see $150 oil overnight if the Iran-Saudi spat becomes a shooting war

Both countries have the capacity to cripple each other's oil infrastructure. Ponder that for awhile when you contemplate the potential ramifications of the scary headlines you're seeing today.

Outrage over Saudi's execution of a prominent Shia cleric has got the entire neighbourhood on a keener edge than ever before. This is a story that has numerous backstories. There's an ongoing power-struggle going on in Saudi Arabia that is both internecine and inter-generational, and all bets are off on who might prevail.

Then you've got your outside interests, primarily the US, Israel, and Russia. The American's have been making nice with Iran, at least at the official level. However, there is a huge cadre of neocons in the beltway who have seen these efforts to normalize US-Iran relations as a stab in the back to our Israeli allies. And of course that's how it's perceived among some elements of the Saudi elite as well.

Meanwhile, there's also been a steady back and forth between Moscow and Riyadh in diplomatic traffic. At least some elements in the Saudi ruling clique recognize that the current "make up for price by selling more volume" strategy is, in the long run, economic suicide for Saudi Arabia. If it goes on long enough, it will cripple the Russian economy as well.

That's a lot of very unpredictable balls in the air.

The prudent investor might want to consider bulking up on crude futures. WTI has gained a couple of percentage points today, but that's nothing compared to what will happen when the Strait of Hormuz is shut down.

And that is a very real and very imminent possibility.

Friday, January 1, 2016

How is this a "news" story?

The brain trust at CBC News dug deep to come up with this gem.

Yup, Peter Munk done gifted a big dose of inappropriate cash to the Harper gang. It's a promising headline, but when you get into the nitty-gritty of the story, you cannot help but conclude that it's mostly bullshit.

There's plenty of ugly shit in Peter Munk's wake that anyone wanting to write scintillating take-downs could readily dig into. We've done it often enough right here at Falling Downs. But this CBC expose is about what? Exceeding campaign contribution limits by a few hundred dollars?

That's a few hundred dollars, not a few hundred thousand or a few hundred million. CBC's crack team of investigative reporters made at least ten times more in wages whilst researching this story than what that supposed malfeasance amounted to.

This is a story?

Get outta here!

Will 2016 be the year Hitler finally gets some respect?

Maybe. Things look promising on this first day of the new year. Our erstwhile NATO ally the wily Erdogan has gone on the record as being an Adolf admirer.

And the late and much lamented Lemmy seems to have been a fan as well, although in his case the attraction seems to have been more sartorial than ideological. It's hard to argue with that; I mean those SS dudes did sport some snazzy uniforms.

Hitler's legacy has for too long been besmirched by that unfortunate Holocaust business, which seems manifestly unfair. It's a bit like remembering Michael Vick only for his hobby instead of his prowess as an athlete. But no less an authority than Israel's PM Mr. Netanyahu has done yeoman's work in erasing that particular stigma by revealing the fact that the Holocaust wasn't even Hitler's idea.

So maybe 2016 will be more than the Year of the Monkey; it may also be the year of Hitler's rehabilitation.