Thursday, June 22, 2017

Canada is number one!

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

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

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

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

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

Buddy passed his exam!

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

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

Boo ya!

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

And I truly believe we have achieved that critical mass.

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

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

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

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

Why the Toronto Star deserves to fail

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

Dream of starter homes fades in TO.

HBC's activist investor has been here before.

Wynne welcomes Amazon in Canada.

Airports ban ads from passenger aid company.

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

Well, I guess that's nice.

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

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

Too bad the Star never asks this question.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alrighty then!

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

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

What a surprise!

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

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

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

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

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

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

I say, let 'em sink.

We already have a CBC.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

This story stinks

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




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

Get the fuck outta here!

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

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

The judicial system?

The education system?

Their neighbourhood Tim Hortons?

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

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

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

Frogs and lawnmowers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spawn of Stumpy, perhaps?

Technology and Totalitarianism

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

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

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

How is it possible that a tiny handful of tech companies, all of them tied in one way or another to America's "deep state," have a stranglehold on 99% of the world's internet traffic?

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

Ponder that for a moment or two.

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

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day

Hey Dad,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your childhood was shattered by World War Two.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But we're not complete opposites, Dad.

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

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

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

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

Thanks for everything, Dad.

Happy fathers day!