Saturday, November 18, 2017

We used to call this "firewood"



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

It's also a $349.00 end table.

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

Globe and Mail unmasks notorious Putin puppet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because he's a Putin stooge.

That's right.

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

That's a conspiracy theory?

Not to anyone familiar with the Nuland - Pyatt tapes.

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

That's something to think about.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Now would be a good time to bid adieu to NATO


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

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

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

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

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

Do we really want to be a part of that club?

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

Let's bomb Belgrade.

Let's liberate the women of Afghanistan.

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

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

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

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

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

And just who is leading NATO?

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

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

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


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Copping a feel

Remember that?

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

The girls knew it too.

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

Yup, people talked like that.

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

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

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

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

They're just trying to recapture their youth.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Top cops launch medical marijuana biz

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

You'd be wrong!

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

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

I for one am glad that "science and the real world" have caused these gentlemen to reconsider the error of their Reefer Madness-inspired vendetta against pot smokers over the past fifty years. The folks still behind bars for their pot-related indiscretions will surely appreciate the irony of this story too!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sunny Daze progress report

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

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

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

Veterans.

Natives.

Potheads.

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

And the distribution model is just retarded.

What was wrong with the Canada Post model?

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

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

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

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

No thanks.

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Wash cycle, rinse cycle, news cycle, spin cycle

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

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

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

Did he ever!

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

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

Clearly things were building to a crescendo...

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

Giustra?

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





Friday, November 10, 2017

Alabama: still putting the fun into fundamentalism

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

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

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

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

Good on them!

But wait! It gets way better!

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


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

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


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


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Change

I've always been a reader.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The two are intimately related.

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

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

Who ever imagined such a thing?

What's next?

A New Yorker critique of US foreign policy?

A NYT disavowal of capitalism?

A WaPo editorial slamming the occupation of the West Bank?


We are on the cusp of great changes.

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



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Browder script

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of course not!

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

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

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




Climate Barbie goes off-script

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Were we yet again secretly in cahoots with Assad?

These are secrets known only to the script-writers.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

What up in the Kingdom?

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

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

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

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

Epic fail.

The collapse of global oil prices.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Suitable for first-time buyers or investors

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

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

May the highest bidder win!

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

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

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

Robert Mugabe reads this blog!

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

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

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

That is so Uncle Sam, is it not?

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

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

It might get a little messy.

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

But change is coming to Zimbabwe!

Flint and Baltimore will have to wait.


The convenient myopia of elite opinion-makers

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

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

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

Connect those dots for us!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Immigrant parents

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

Hmm... 92%?

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

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

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

That's what my parents said to me.

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


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

It's fine. Everything is OK!

That's called "assimilation."

And there's nothing wrong with that.


Friday, November 3, 2017

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

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

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

Thank-you, Kim Jong-un.

School bus shenanigans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guffaws all around.

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

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

Thwack thwack thwack...

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

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

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

The driver was sound asleep.

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

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

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

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

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








Thursday, November 2, 2017

Another good guy gone too soon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Your marijuana is in the mail...

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

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

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

No!

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

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


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

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

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

Ya gotta love country people!

Mericans even dumber than we thought

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 28, 2017

What I learned from my Globe and Mail today

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

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

Is this a great country or what!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There you go. Was it worth $6.30?

Uncle Sam's adventures in Africa

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

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

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

Of course!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They're just getting started...


Friday, October 27, 2017

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

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

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

Who's streets are they fighting for now?

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

You're from somewhere else.

But you're cheering the Rolling Stones?

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

Twilight of the rock and roll Gods

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

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

Sex and drugs and rock and roll.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 26, 2017

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

Lifestyle.

I've always found the term somewhat offensive.

Lifestyle?

How is your life a style?

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

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

The house is never locked.

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

You can take a whiz off the porch.

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

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

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

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

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

Walking the dogs.

Re-arranging the parts vehicles behind the barn.

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

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

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


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

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

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

They are, however, "open to consultations."

Great!

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

Don't hold your breath.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Retirement planning

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

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

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

And do what?

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

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

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

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

I just take a piss off the front porch!

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

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


No thanks.




Sunday, October 22, 2017

Some thoughts about the "opioid crisis"

Have I got this right?

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

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

Not everyone is up to the cold turkey thing.

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

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

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

How is this right?

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

Do what it takes to keep them safe.




Asians gone bad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Learning to live with global warming

Ya gotta love this global warming, eh! Here were are a month into autumn and we're getting the finest summer weather we've had all year!

That's brought an unusual late-season infestation of asian beetles to Falling Downs. I'm sitting on the stoop writing this and they're walking around on my laptop, and on everything else in sight for that matter. They seem to be particularly fond of my Rocky hunting boots. I have to remember to give them a good shake before I pull them on again.

Back in the spring we had part of the apple tree come down in a wind storm. It just narrowly missed the tent camper that was parked underneath it, or so I thought. This is the second or third summer in a row that we've not used it, so I figured what the heck, might as well move it out to the road and stick a for sale sign on it.

I've always enjoyed camping. Me and the Farm Manager used to take a few trips every summer. Made it as far as the Rocky Mountains one year. That was a fun trip and made memories for a lifetime for the kids. Mostly bad memories for them, but that's another story. Suffice it to say that none of them grew up to be particularly avid campers.

We got all the way out to BC and back with a couple of tents. Three dogs and three kids and all our camping gear in a Pontiac van. Yoho remains one of my favourite camping destinations of all time.

Once the kids were out of the house the FM decided she was getting too old and brittle for tent camping, which is how we ended up with that used Rockwood tent trailer. I had no problem with the tents, but I must admit the trailer was the lap of luxury. It was almost as lux as the Winnebago I had a couple of lifetimes ago.

The first summer we had it, we took a tour of Manitoulin Island and spent some time around Massey, where the FM was thrilled to discover the Jewish section of the local cemetery. The next year we took it over to Macgregor Point a couple of times. The third year, I opened it up, and the Farm Manager found it smelled "musty." It's been parked under the apple tree ever since.

On closer inspection, it's obvious that the apple tree clipped the back corner of the trailer on the way down. Hmm... that could have a deleterious impact on my asking price. Worst case scenario; if it doesn't sell I can always strip it down to the frame and make it into a utility trailer. The one I got from Uncle Bruno is sitting behind the woodshed with two flat tires and the floor rotted out.

Anyway, it's out by the road now, and we'll see what happens... In the meantime, the FM is marvelling at how I can do a half hour of work and then spend two hours writing about it.

I must admit that's pretty impressive. But I've moved the trailer, and now I can get at the apple tree with the Stihl. We'll be having a few campfires right here at home.

The ladybugs are all over everything. They're getting down my shirt and up my trousers. This would be phenomenal camping weather, but we don't have a camper. Might as well fire up the chainsaw.


I'm looking around for a good used Winnebago.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Welcome to the empire of imbeciles

And that's where we're at, ain't it?

Imbeciles rule the world.

Who can look at American foreign policy over the last fifty years and not conclude that imbeciles rule the world?


We're done.

Not sure whether we're baked or cooked, but we're done.

The front-burner issues for the best and the brightest in the firmament of US foreign policy at this moment are a) can we stop the N. Korea nuke program and b) can we stop BDS.

The North Korea nuke program is 99% aspirational and 1% factual.

BDS is a cesspool of anti-semites...


Fashioning a peaceable world going forward is not even on the agenda.


Welcome to the empire of imbeciles.

Billionaires have too much money

Money is power, they say.

Well, money isn't power when somebody with a gun takes the money away from you.

This may explain why the USA leads the world in both the number of billionaires and the number of guns.

America's guns do not threaten those billionaires, though.

America's guns, at every level, defend those billionaires.

I'm not sure why it's considered desirable to have such a thing as billionaires in society, but for whatever reason, that's where we're at. Look at the Trump cabinet.

If you're an American working at the minimum wage, you can work from age fourteen until you die and all your piddly paychecks added together won't amount to a million dollars.

A billion means a thousand times a million. Your top hedge fund guys are embarrassed if they don't up their net worth by at least a billion a year.

Being a billionaire means never having to say you're sorry. And why would you? You're obviously worth at least a thousand times more than whatever your most well-heeled critics are worth.

Being a billionaire means you can do whatever the fuck you want with no consequences. Read up on Jeff Epstein if you don't believe me.

But...

But the times may be a-changing.

Sir Richard Branson's name is seeping into the scandal unleashed by the Weinstein affair.

What?

Rich men take advantage of vulnerable women?

Who knew?

Wasn't that Obama cavorting on Branson's yacht after his exit from the White House?

He obviously had no idea either...

Sandhill cranes staging at Falling Downs

The first sighting of a Sandhill crane here was by my step-daughter Hanna back when we first bought the place. She was taking a ramble through the meadows and thought she'd seen a terradactyl. I can't blame her. They do look marvellously pre-historic.

This week, we've had several fly-overs of flocks of Sandhills. They're warming up for their trip to Mexico. When I say flocks, I mean dozens upon dozens.

Tonight we witnessed a fly-over of several hundred of them. They're still practising up for the big trip. There's a lot of talk back and forth. Their flying "Vs" don't have quite the definition as those of the Canada geese, but they're working on it.

There are benefits to living in the hinterlands. Ya, a Saturday Globe and Mail may run you $6.30, but where else do you get treated to a flyover of hundreds of Sandhill cranes, so close you can feel the whooshing of their wings?

Too big too fast, too much too soon

Big news in Toronto these days.

Google has got a lot of laudatory column inches re: their "Sidewalk Labs" development on the waterfront. Yup, the natives (and I mean native Torontonians, not native Natives) have been fumbling that file for as long as I can remember, so thank God some foreigners are finally coming in to put things right.

Because we need the Alphabet crowd to show us how real estate development can be done...

But that's nothing compared to the fuss being made over the Amazon HQ2 lottery. The Bezos empire is looking to put down roots somewhere for a second HQ, because one is not enough. From what I've been reading, at least 150 cities in North America are vying to be chosen as the home base for their second headquarters.

This is allegedly going to provide 50,000 high-end (60k/yr and up) tech jobs for a lot of really smart and hyper-educated millennials.

What does it mean, "vying to be chosen?"

A cynic might say it's gonna come down to who can a) bend over best, and b) provide the most lubricant. Because whoever manages that will end up with the prize.

That said, Toronto has some advantages. First of all, it's in another country, a country that conveniently has a substantially lower corporate tax rate than the US.

Secondly, it's a lot easier to get your hyper-educated India and China millennials into Canada than into the US. The reactionary regime in DC today can turn off the gushing tap of H1-Bs on a whim. In Canada, we "celebrate diversity." And even though a sixty thousand a year income won't get you on the lowest rung of Toronto's over-priced real estate market, that still looks like decent money to folks from India and China.

So I figure we're gonna bend over for the "disrupters," because tomorrow belongs to them.

And that's the problem.

Google and Amazon between them have hundreds of billions stashed in off-shore tax-havens. Why? Because they're run by new-age entrepreneurs who have been lauded for their "disruptions" all their lives and don't understand why they should pay taxes like corporations used to in the bad old days.

And "disruption" is good, isn't it?

Of course it is!

Look at Uber!

Instead of calling a cab, which is inevitably piloted by a first generation immigrant trying to make a go of it by playing by the rules, you can just call Uber and a college kid in a new Toyota Corolla will be there in a jiffy and will save you money to boot!

What's not to like about that?

Well, first of all, what's not to like is that Uber has pretty much bulldozed its way over taxi regulations in every city it operates in. With very few exceptions, cities around the world have rolled over for them, knowing that their meagre financial resources are no match to the billions available to Uber for protracted legal conflicts. In most places Uber operates, the rule of law gave up without even putting up a fight.

That's why we'd be wise to be skeptical of the Google/Amazon invasion of Toronto. Between them they've got hundreds of billions sloshing around in off-shore tax havens. Official Plans and zoning regulations mean bugger-all when your pockets are that deep, and the initial reaction of the political classes seems to be, "well, they're gonna have their way anyway, so we might as well save millions in legal fees and bend over now."

Welcome Google!

Welcome Amazon!



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The new face of real estate development in Toronto

Move over Bratty and Muzzo and Del Zotto.

There's a new sheriff in town.

Google.

Yup, Google's "Sidewalk Labs" is touted as the saviour of the portlands. They're gonna put fifty millions into their new development on the Toronto waterfront.

Ironically, this announcement comes hard on the heels of another announcement that three levels of government are combining to sink 1.25 billions into an infrastructure upgrade for the portlands.

Hmm... the taxpayer is putting in one and a quarter billion.

Google is investing fifty million.

Who do you think will walk away with the profits?

We're setting the stage for Google to "disrupt" the development industry the way Uber "disrupted" the taxi industry.

That is, they'll break all the rules and then put the onus on their victims to prove wrongdoing. And, like Uber, they'll get away it with because, after all, they've got a bottomless pool of off-shore capital that's locked and loaded to blow the traditional legal bulwarks off the zoning maps.

Some of the locals may have deep pockets, but they've got nothing compared to the Googlites.

Surrender now!

Resistance is futile.


Dan's Republic of Congo, Marc Faber's (career) suicide note, and the Alzheimer highway

I've been trying to make sense of Faber's harikari.

I simply can't.

None of it makes any sense. Unless...

Unless Faber is motoring carefree down that Alzheimer highway with not a worry in the world.

Thank God America was colonized by white people?

Well, he's got one thing right; America certainly was colonized by white people. No doubt about that.

But he seems oblivious to the fact that it's also white people who have totally fucked America up.

Was it brown people who decided to teach those gooks a lesson in Viet Nam?

Was it brown people who decided America should intervene in Grenada and Panama and El Salvador and Nicaragua and Honduras?

Was it brown people who made the decision to invade Iraq? Afghanistan? Syria?

Are brown people pushing America into war with Iran? Russia? China?

I think not.

And who is pushing the never-ending wars in the DRC,  also known in some circles as "Dan's Republic?" Sure, there's Museveni and Kagami, but who do you think the enablers are?

It's the interminable wars against brown people the world over that are destroying America. The more America bombs, the more people hate America.

It's not rocket science.

Or perhaps we can call it Political Rocket Science. Polyrocketsci for short.



The Marc Faber who made a stellar rep for himself by being a savvy analyst of what's going on in the world would know all this. He's been around for a long time. He's basked in oodles of mainstream adulation. He's always known where to draw the line in terms of crossing the line, if you know what I mean.

The fact that he's lost it tells me one thing; he's lost it.

He's careening down the Alzheimer Highway with the pedal to the metal and no place to go...




Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Marc Faber implodes his career

In a Quixotic tilt against political correctitude, investment guru Marc Faber told it like he truly believes it is. Thank God us white folks are over there in Africa getting the gold out of the ground for the darkies, who are just not up to the task on their own...

Those were not his exact words, but I have a hunch that would be the gist of the mindset in the boardrooms wherein he was well paid to share his insights.

That's why it's so funny to see all those other board members being shocked and appalled and peeing their pants over Faber's way-out-there racist commentary.

They had no idea?

Get outta here!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Who's afraid of George Soros?

That's the title of a less than insightful three-pager in the Insight section of the Sunday Star today. (not to be confused with a story by the same title in the Times of Israel from a few months ago, which pretty much plowed the same ground.)

According to Emily Tamkin, a lot of your up-and-coming populist despots in Eastern Europe are deathly scared of George Soros. They're anti-Semitic of course, as populists tend to be. It's just a thing with those populists.

The take in Israel is a little more nuanced. The Likudniks and everyone to the right of them (and shocking though it may be to fathom, Likud are now "moderates" in the Israeli political spectrum) consider Soros one of the greatest anti-Semites of our time!

So who is George Soros? Anti-Semite extraordinaire or victim of antisemitism?

That's why I think the Star might have done us more of a service if they introduced us to the guy first. Nevermind who's afraid of George Soros... who IS George Soros?

When I google that out here at Falling Downs I get about 14 million responses in .85 seconds. You probably get more in less time if your working from an urban area. And what do you find there?

Well, it looks to me like about thirteen and a half million of those sites (not that I actually looked at that many) belong to hard-core conspiracy types who are hot on the trail of the New World Order; ya, the Illuminati and all that shit.

OH MY GOD THE JEWS ARE TAKING OVER!!!

Of course they are...

Here's why I have grave reservations about George Soros, and it's got nothing to do with his ethnicity. The Open Society shtick sounds good on the face of it. Who's not for open societies? Open societies are a beautiful thing!

But what does it mean? Open to who and to what? What I find profoundly disconcerting is that time and time again Soros "philanthropy" aligns itself seamlessly with the National Endowment for Democracy and similar US government sponsored and funded "Non Government Organizations."

That's always been a bit of a mind-fuck for me; how the hell are you an NGO when you get all your funding from the US government?

But anyway, the fact that Soros and the US State Department have had many joint ventures across decades should be a giant red flag, at least to my way of thinking.

Then there's the question of how Soros makes his money. He's widely touted as one of the world's most successful investors. There are investors and there are investors. Some invest in socially positive initiatives that do more than enrich the investor. Other investors are out to loot and pillage and the public good be damned. (Which reminds me; when is somebody going to write a book about Gerry Schwartz's investment adventure in Husky Injection Molding?)

What kind of investor is George Soros? The kind who makes billions in the most sophisticated currency speculation schemes imaginable. And he's really really good at it!

Alas, that does not quite bring the same suite of benefits to humanity as, say, being a really really good brain surgeon or scientist or school-teacher. But it does keep George rolling in billions, which he can then dole out to "democracy activists" in various states where he could conceivably, some day, find himself betting against the currency of that sovereign state in order to make even more billions!

But that's just my theory.

If you've got a better one, let me know.

The looting of Sears Canada

In yesterday's Globe and Mail business section, "retailing reporter" Marina Strauss offers yet another it's-all-over-but-the-crying insight into the slow and painful death of Sears Canada. This paragraph caught my eye;

 Sears's insolvency came after years of declines and red ink at the retailer amid shifting strategies and leaders. At the same time, its major U.S. shareholder – hedge fund manager Edward Lampert – profited from Sears Canada's asset sales over the years in the form of generous dividends while leaving relatively little money to invest in the chain.

That's the only mention of Edward Lampert. So he arranged for some generous dividends for himself, did he? Just how generous were they? Don't the folks at the Globe and Mail think that might be a relevant bit of info? I'd sure like to know!

This seems like an unfortunate oversight from an outfit that never tires of reminding us how great their professionally trained journalists are, how they speak truth to power, and blah blah blah... Anyway, since Marina won't tell me, I decided to look it up for myself.

According to dividendchannel.com, in the ten years before Sears Canada fell into the clutches of Ed Lampert, the company paid a modest dividend of .24 per share per year. That's $2.40 over ten years. Then our brilliant American hedgie gets his hands on the wheel, and the good times get a-rollin'!

First thing over the side is the Sears Canada credit card unit. That was considered the most valuable part of the company according to news stories of the day. It fetched almost three billions at auction! At that point, the company could have chosen to reinvest in the business, but who are we kidding!? That's not generally the business model that hedge funds pursue, so instead, within months of Lampert's arrival, there's a special dividend of $18.64 per share to spread the loot to the shareholders, especially himself! 

That's about 750% more paid out in the first year of King Eddie's reign than was paid out in the previous ten years combined!

Is this guy a genius or what!

And the special dividend gravy train had barely left the station. There followed special dividends totaling $7.00/share in 2010, another 100 million out the door in 2012, and yet another ten bucks/share in 2013!

The company that paid out a dividend of twenty-four cents/share per year before Eddie, paid out an average of $4.50/share/year over the first eight years after Eddie. 

Or putting it another way, over ten years before Eddie, the then profitable company paid out about a quarter of a billion dollars in dividends. In the ten years after Eddie, the now money-losing company paid out close to four billion dollars in dividends. And as the biggest shareholder, Eddie Lampert was the biggest beneficiary of these "special" dividends!

Ain't that special!

So now the game is over. Sixteen thousand employees have an opportunity to find more meaningful work, and who needs a pension anyway?... 

But that's a small price to pay for this great system that brings so much prosperity to all of us.

More to some than to others.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fallish weather at Falling Downs

I remember walking into the wee cottage inhabited by my old pal Robert and his wife Lisa some thirty years ago and remarking on the "fallish" weather.

Robert was a serious dude toying with a master's degree in English Lit at the time, and he wasted no time in correcting my grammar.

"It's not fallish, Neumann. It's autumnal."

I am functionally illiterate in several languages, but I took that lesson to heart. I can't help but think of Robert every time the weather turns autumnal. My old pal Robert never completed that degree, but he did turn out to be a guy who has managed to eke out a living as a writer and artist, and even got an invite to the Junos on account of one of his creations.

Not sure what he would have done with that "master's" degree. Marcus Gee has a goodly take-down of the corruption of language in his column at the Globe today. Gee is sufficiently genteel to avoid any references to "snowflakes," but he's more or less on board with my assessment of the Massey College brouhaha I wrote about two weeks ago.

That "chief" thing at the Toronto School Board is quite the exercise in political correctitude, is it not? I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before the title of CEO is erased from our vocabulary. It's derogatory to indigenous Canadians, so we are told. Stop using the word "chief" and everything will be cool.

If we don't use the word "chief," potable water will miraculously appear on reservations nationwide, and the horrendous suicide epidemic will be curtailed overnight...

Ya right.

Just like the way black folks started going to college instead of prison when we stopped calling them the n-word.

That's the problem with political correctitude. It allows well-intentioned (mostly) white folks to imagine that they're doing something while they're doing nothing.

But it is definitely turning fallish here at Falling Downs. Every day we see the geese tighten up their flying vees. In mid-summer those vees more often than not looked like W's or Y's or god knows what. There was interminable honking as the boss goose reprimanded the newbies.

Honk honk honk... fall back, Brucie, move up, Betty... and what the hell are you doing over there?... we're supposed to be a fucking "V"...

Lately they've got their shit together. Their overflights look a lot less like misshapen letters of the alphabet and a lot more like the proud Canadians who will imminently head off to beshit the beaches of the Carolinas for the next six months.

My old pal Robert is now my pal Iris. Lisa is long out of the picture. Ya, shit happens, I guess. At least I think she's still my pal, although I've not heard from her for a spell.

Him?

Her?

Who cares?

A friend is a friend is a friend...

And the weather has turned fallish here at Falling Downs.

Doug Saunders' nostalgia for a pre-Trump era

If you're a regular Globe and Mail reader you're no doubt well acquainted with Saunders' opinions re: POTUS 45. In Doug's world, 240 years of peace and freedom and progress vanished on the morning of January 20 into a massive flush heard 'round the world.

Doug's become a little obsessive about warning us of the dangers of Trump, to the point where he's reluctant to allow facts to get in the way of his obsession. Obviously, everything was better with Obama, whether it actually was or not. Or with Bush, or Clinton... and it goes without saying that America would be better off today if we had Hillary reading the teleprompter instead of Trump having unsupervised access to Twitter.

While we may never know what might have been, we should be able to agree on the historical record. Therefore I decided to do a little research after my bullshit detector spun a bearing as I was reading about the "Obama-era manufacturing renaissance in the United States..." in my Globe and Mail this morning.

What? There was an Obama era renaissance of manufacturing in the US? How did I miss that?

In actual fact, there was a net loss of some 300,000 US manufacturing jobs during Obama's tenure. Don't take my word for it; here's the Washington Post weighing in on the matter.

Enough with the fake news already, Doug!

Friday, October 13, 2017

The elephant absent from the room

Big news and big news headlines...

CANADA AGHAST NAFTA GOLDEN GOOSE THREATENED BY TRUMP.

Go to any Canadian news platform right now and I assure you they are all in stitches about what it might or might not mean for our prosperity if NAFTA is renegotiated.

NAFTA.

The "free trade" agreement that made it legit for the Detroit big boys to trade $30/hr jobs in Detroit and Windsor for $2/hr jobs in Mexico.

The brainiacs are still trying to figure out how that impacted us...

Go to Detroit and look around...

And it's not looking a hell of a lot better in Windsor these days, is it?

Even Jerry Dias has admitted that Trump makes a good point when he lambastes NAFTA.

There's 2500 Canadian auto workers on strike right now trying to keep GM from moving their $30/hr jobs to Mexico.

But all that our main street media can tell us is that Trudeau is desperate to save NAFTA.

They'll never tell us that Trump has a better read on NAFTA than does our own PM.

Ai Wei Wei and the concept of shamelessness

Ai Wei Wei is shameless.

He can mock that wee kid dead on a beach and come up smelling of roses!

Turns out I wasn't the first to peg the great Ai WeiWei as a shameless opportunist.

Alastair Smart has done that.

Francesco Bonami has done that.

Jed Perl, David Maine, and Nitasha Dhillon have all done that... and these are all really serious people who have little or nothing in common with the pot-addled hillbilly who writes this blog.

But nevermind all that... Canada (or at least a very small slice of the Canadian elite) just honoured Ai WeiWei with the Adrienne Clarkson Citizenship Medal!

If nothing else, maybe we can establish once and for all that our "elites" don't speak for the rest of us.

Shame

There was a time when we could feel shame.

Those days are long gone.

Take a gander at this excerpt from a time before we were shameless. George Romney, Papa to Mittens, DECLINED a hundred thousand dollar bonus in 1960 because he already made more than enough money...

WTF???

Shame?

George was in thrall to an outdated concept called the "social contract." At some level, the social contract assumed we were all in this thing called the "economy" together.

Fast forward 65 years or so, and you've got pharma-bro. Martin Shkreli had a simple strategy for success. Buy up companies that market life-saving medicines and jack up the prices!

Brilliant!

Shame doesn't even come into the discussion. He's just a brilliant entrepreneur...

It's the same kind of brilliance that allows greed-bags like Bill Ackman and his henchman Harrison "Hitman" Hunter to "save" railways by making the trains longer and running them faster, all the while pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars for their noble efforts.

Shame? No way!

Ackman and Hunter have oodles of laudatory press clippings documenting their genius.

According to the Globe and Mail and the rest of the business press, you're a genius if you can kill 6,000 great working class jobs in Canada as long as you enrich yourself and your investors.

There is no shame in making 6,000 good jobs go away.

Instead, there are accolades.

How did we get from a place where A-list capitalists would refuse a bonus, to a place where destroying working class jobs and working class communities and screwing the sick and infirm is considered legitimate business activity?


I don't have the answer yet, but I'm working on it...

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Remembering Generous Electric

In the middle fifties General Electric built a transformer plant on Woodlawn Road in Guelph. Around the same time, Bucyrus-Erie built a power-shovel plant directly across the street, and a few years later Imperial Tobacco built a factory just across the railroad tracks immediately east of General Electric.

For decades that stretch of Woodlawn Road was the core of Guelph's industrial zone, which provided thousands of working class jobs that paid well enough that the workers could buy decent homes, take vacations, send their kids to college, buy cottages and GTOs and Corvettes; the whole nine yards of the middle-class dream.

In the early years the locals nicked-named GE "Generous Electric." That's where my mom's brother Horst signed on when he got off the boat in '55. A millwright by trade, he had an impeccable pedigree, having completed his apprenticeship in Germany and Switzerland. He was the thin edge of the square-head wedge. First his younger brother and eventually a dozen or so of the next generation, including myself and two of my brothers, followed him through those doors.

Fast forward sixty-five years or so. General Electric is long gone. The doors are still there, but the plant is now occupied by a variety of smaller non-union enterprises, and they're generally not the sort of operations where the employees expect to ever own their own homes.

General Electric owns part of a joint venture that builds transformers in Mexico today. As far as I know, they never picked up the nick-name "Generous Electric" down there.

The Imperial Tobacco plant closed in 2005, citing the decline in cigarette consumption. They make their cigarettes in Mexico now and ship them back to Canada for the benefit of those Canadians who have failed thus far in kicking the habit.

Across the road, the Bucyrus-Erie plant went through a number of transmutations. It became Euclid, then Terex, and most recently, Hitachi. They still build heavy off-road trucks used globally in mining and other industries. And guess what? They're still a unionized well-paying heavy-manufacturing plant where the workers can afford to buy their own homes!

I ran into Horst's son Thomas the other day. Haven't seen him in years. He got his start at GE but through dint of good timing or good luck ended up at Hitachi. He's in his sixties now and will actually be able to afford his retirement. He speaks a language that's all but extinct. How many Canadian workers today have ever heard of "SUB" units? Supplementary Unemployment Benefits. Thomas took a six month lay-off recently and lost not one penny of pay.

The current contract between Hitachi and Unifor runs to 142 pages. Read it and weep.

So how can Hitachi afford to continue paying a living wage while the rest of the street has decamped to Mexico? I believe it's the Japanese ownership. They're not beholden to greed-bags who count on the next quarter's financials for the bonus that'll allow them to upgrade to a more expensive Porsche.

One of Hitachi's main competitors, Caterpillar, has a sorry track record of buying up profitable Canadian businesses and then shutting them down and moving manufacturing either off-shore or to "right-to-work-for-less" states. That's what passes for Yankee ingenuity these days. While Cat was closing the GM Diesel plant forty-five minutes down the 401 a few years ago, Hitachi was spending millions expanding its Guelph facilities.

We obviously need more Japanese investment!

Or better unions.




Saturday, October 7, 2017

Maximum Canada: Why 35 million Canadians are not enough to keep making the rich richer

Doug Saunders has been pounding the maximum immigration drum for a few years now, and he's got a new book out that promises to up the decibel level a few notches. What better way for his publisher to ensure a friendly reception for the book than to farm out the review to Irvin Studin, who has himself been banging on the same drum for the better part of a decade?

For better or worse, Studin gives the game away with a shout-out to The Century Initiative, "an ambitious new think tank... created explicitly to prepare Canada for our evolution to 100 million."

Created by whom, you ask?

Good question! A cynic might say The Century Project is a side project for big biz/big gov mega-consultants McKinsey & Co, and they'd be more or less correct. As such, they bring a particular world view to bear on their vision for the future. Specifically, they are aghast that current demographic trends will irrevocably impair future growth of Canada's GDP.

The solution? Open the immigration floodgates! Recruit the best and the brightest from around the world in their tens of millions! It's the only way to ensure our continued prosperity, don't ya know!

I'm not so sure. I get that when these folks look out the windows of their multi-million dollar homes they see the lovely diverse and prosperous Canada of their cliches, but that's not the Canada most Canadians live in. Most Canadians struggle with housing affordability, job and income insecurity, child-care availability, and a litany of similar pedestrian concerns that don't trouble the tenured and the connected.

That aside, hasn't the notion of perpetual growth in a finite world lost some of its lustre over the past few decades? We should be focused on ensuring sustainable prosperity for the 35 million who call Canada home today, shouldn't we? And we have a very long way to go in creating that inclusive prosperity for all before we even get around to worrying about its sustainability.

We need to get our house in order before we put out the welcome mat for tens of millions of "new Canadians."

Otherwise, they'll just be propping up an economic model that has long outlived its usefulness.


Look around you.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The pleasures of ageing

Sounds like an oxymoron on the face of it, doesn't it?

"The pleasures of ageing?"

Get the fuck outta here!

What pleasure?

Well, first of all, unless you're popping those pills by the handful, you'll notice that your dick doesn't cause you nearly as much trouble as it might have when you were younger. When you're young, and you've got all that testosterone sloshing around, it's really easy to get side-tracked. I mean, a short skirt or a tight pair of jeans will lure you into risking everything you have and then some.

By the time you're in your seventh or eighth decade on this earth... not so much.

The stress of trying to figure out what you're gonna do when you grow up tends to lighten too. I don't know about you, but for me, when I was young, I had ridiculously high bars set for personal achievement.

My life would not be complete without a Pulitzer, or what the hell, a Nobel!

Ya, you get over that...

You get to a place where not having had a ride in a police car for twenty years is way better than a stupid Pulitzer anyway.

At least till you see that some twat just got a Pulitzer for documenting their ride in a police car.

I find there's a lot of pressure off once you make peace with the fact that you've peaked.

No more striving.

No more stabbing your workmates in the back to get a leg up.

You may have always aspired to be a great sinner, but you've made peace with the fact that you'll never get past occasional drunkenness.

One thing that's really cool about getting old is that your bullshit detector is getting sharper while all your other senses are dulling down.

You realize that anything any politician anywhere says is something you've heard before. Make America great again? Ya right... that's been done and done again.

Ditto for all the other bromides that attend our vaunted Western democracies.

We're gonna bring peace and freedom and democracy to Vietnam? To Central America? To Afghanistan?...

Turned out to be bullshit the last ten times I heard it, and therefore I'll hazard a guess that it's bullshit this time too. You have to have been the victim of bullshit a few times before you recognize the smell.

That only happens with age.

The pleasures of aging...


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Canada's mission to Mali dead in the water

About a year and a half ago, the newly elected Grand Chief Sunny Daze, and his Minister of Defense, Turban Guy, made waves by hinting that our great nation was about to reappear on the world stage and re-commence "punching above our weight."

It's safe to say that like most Trudeau promises, this one has fallen by the wayside, and that's probably a good thing. After all, who can forget the early days of Hollande the Conqueror's foray into Mali?

Goaded along by the unctuous twat BHL, Hollande was to "earn his spurs" by re-liberating Mali for the umpteenth time from whatever it needed to be liberated from. The legacy of colonialism, mainly, but only an imbecile of the rank of BHL would find that an appropriate task for the former colonial power.

The think tank here at Falling Downs had a lot of fun with that mission. Alas, the French didn't. Nor do the Americans, who lost three special forces soldiers  just this week. No spurs for Hollande. No spurs for Uncle Sam. Just more death and destruction. 

So you can't blame our erstwhile neo-colonialists in Ottawa for getting cold feet. No, we'll settle for punching above our weight somewhere safer. Haiti maybe.

Meanwhile, having successfully liberated Iraq and Libya and Syria and Mali, the blood-thirsty cretin BHL is currently getting oodles of free column inches in major Western media lobbying for a sovereign Kurdish state.

What could go wrong?

Trump and Puerto Rico

Back when I was still an up-and-coming entrepreneurial genius, (just before I was down and out), I recall a conversation with a neighbour during which we discussed my impending bankruptcy.

That neighbour was an elderly Italian gentleman who, as the cliche goes, had "no visible means of support," yet managed to alternate between new Cadillac and Mercedes cars every other year, live on a relatively posh street in town, and winter in Arizona.

"Sometimes," he said, "you just gotta tip it and move on."

Donald Trump knows that. How many times has Donny J tipped it and moved on? Left the creditors holding the (empty) bag, in other words... I'm sure that if someone did an exhaustive inventory of Trump companies and Trump fronts and Trump affiliates and Trump subsidiaries they'd find that Donny J is one of the all-time masters of "tip it and move on."

Here's my point; maybe what's good for Mr. Trump and my elderly neighbour would be good for Puerto Rico too. (and Greece, and Zimbabwe and Portugal and...)

Puerto Rico remains a colony of the USA. Like all colonies, it is ruled from afar by the colonial masters, but is ruled locally by the comprador elites - the locals who have feathered their nests by snuggling up to the colonial masters. It's that local elite who incurred the tens of billions of debt now strangling Puerto Rico.

It is manifestly unjust to punish the people of Puerto Rico for their inability to pay those debts.

What's good for the President of the United States would be good for the people of that island colony.

Tip that odious debt burden and move on.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Las Vegas 10/1... let a thousand conspiracy theories bloom!

Within hours of the Mandalay Bay mass shooting the internet was ramping up with booga booga about what really happened. That's only intensified as we get more information about the alleged shooter.

On the face of it, Stephen Paddock certainly doesn't fit the standard profile of the alienated schmuck who hates his life and wants to get revenge on the world. And why would a well-to-do white senior citizen target a country music show? I thought those guys liked country?

Was the music keeping him up?

That's at least as plausible as a couple of the theories I've seen out there. Like the one where he's an Antifa operative trying to start a race war, for example.  Or alternatively, he's somehow in cahoots with the gun control lobby trying to rile up the public in favour of gun control.

Who comes up with this stuff?

Then there's the innocent dupe theory. Paddock was in the wrong place at the wrong time. A (take your pick) Russian/Mossad/Iranian/North Korean/CIA hit squad needed that room to wreak havoc on America's City of Broken Dreams, and by extension, America itself.

Sure...

One thing that I'm confident of is that we've only seen the very beginning of theory and countertheory. This will be a rich vein for the conspiratorially inclined to mine for years to come.

Another thing I'm pretty sure of is that the odds of actually getting to the truth diminishes in inverse proportion as the number of competing theories blossoms.

They'll be making hay out of this one for the next twenty years.






Saturday, September 30, 2017

Wire brushes were my life

You know it's been a slow week news-wise when the most compelling story in your weekend Globe and Mail ($6.30 from the Korean extortionists up here in the boonies) is found in the "Style" section.

Ya, it's a shame they couldn't find more space for a little news from Puerto Rico, but nobody gives a shit about that anyway. At this very moment my sister-in-law Norma is trying to get her mother out of the place. If we're lucky this disaster will re-kindle the PR sovereignty movement, but I'm not holding my breath.

So there on page three of the Globe Style section we meet Alia and Jamil Juma, a brother-sister Canadian (by way of India and Kenya) combo who are setting China on fire with their "Juma" brand of fashion accessories.

Good on them!

I was looking for a wire brush this afternoon. Wanted to brush a bit of the rust and flaking paint off the winter rims on the Subaru that recently joined the fleet here at Falling Downs, before giving them a coat of flat black Tremclad. Do you think I could find a wire brush?

No!

Which is really fucked up. I was a welder for decades. I had wire brushes and chipping hammers out the ying yang, but when I need a wire brush there's not a wire brush to be found.

That Juma story got me thinking. If Alia and Jamil can find a niche in China, maybe I can too! I think it may be time to get serious about the Big Ass Chair Company. Not enough morbidly obese people in China, you say? I figure it's just a matter of time. From what I hear those folks are falling for the North American processed food diet big-time. They equate it with modernity and progress, if such a thing can be imagined. In another few years China's gonna have tons of fatties.

That's why I should get in ahead of the curve, so to speak.

Eventually it would only make sense to move production to China, but in the meantime I could be whipping up a few proto-types right here in the garage. I did have a 220 welding plug put in there when they re-wired the place, and I'd have an ample supply of wire brushes again.

In the event, I finally gave those winter rims a scrub with the BBQ brush.

The Subaru looks great!