Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Modern living v old school

Modern living is the greatest, is it not?

You can get a whole roast chicken at any of the mega chains for well under ten bucks. What with these damned socialists upping the minimum wage to a luxuriant fifteen plump and rosy-cheeked dollars for every hour of so-called "work," (texting while ignoring customer, which happens all the time these days) the minimum wage crowd can now buy a whole roast chicken for about 45 minutes in the yoke.

A whole roast chicken, paired with a bag of pannini buns from Bunsmaster, and a 4L box of Keller Estates Dry Red, will keep a family of four going for two or three days, easy.

Looks to me like the millennial crowd is pretty close to recapturing the standard of living we (the working class) had in the pre-industrial era. Bread and wine and a roast chicken or locally made sausage on the dinner table.

Remember, this was the pre-industrial era. "Jobs" had yet to be invented. You were a butcher or a baker or a shoemaker and that's what you did and that's who you were.

Thankfully, we've been liberated from all that old school hippy dippy shit. Everything is way more efficient.

Just take that roast chicken, for example. Back in the day, lot's of folks would keep a few chickens. You'd get the eggs for two or three years and then you'd have a roast chicken. That's a stupendously inefficient way of getting your roast chicken.

That roast chicken our newly flush underclass will be chowing down on going forward doesn't come from there, obviously.  It comes from the kind of "farms" you'll see if you take a drive up the Elora Road. Just past my alma mater, Ponsonby Public School, you pass about a mile's worth of nondescript agricultural buildings.

Those are chicken factories.

Those chickens will never see a ray of sunshine or eat a blade of grass. They are the epitome of factory to plate dining.

Ya, I can see where you can wring inefficiencies out of things, but how far down that road do you go before you're wringing the soul out of them too?

I think we need to look to the past for our future.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The view from the top of the hill

Interesting contrast in the two stories on the front page of the Globe's Opinion section today. Neocon David Frum gets the top half of the page and uses it to give us a nostalgia bath in America's golden age - the "before Trump" era; ie before Trump started "sabotaging the institutions and agencies that protect the United States and sustain the peace of the world."

Yup, that's what America's been up to; sustaining the peace of the world.

In North Korea from 1950 on.

In Vietnam.

In Laos.

In Cambodia.

In Grenada and Panama and Iraq and Afghanistan and so many other places...

Sustaining the peace in the world?

I marvel at how far one must have one's head up one's arse to make such a statement.

Yanis Varoufakis gets the bottom half of the page for what is essentially a eulogy for the same neoliberal order that brought us all that peace that Frum laments the passing of.

Perhaps they're both right.

Strapped on the snowshoes and made my way to the top of the hill this afternoon, just me and the hounds. Bought a pair of those newfangled metal and plastic jobs at Crappy Tire recently because they were on sale. I was an old-school wood and leather guy till last winter, when I blew a binding on a hike around Bass Lake. Took fifteen minutes to get in and an hour and a half to get out.

From the top of our hill I can see the Meaford Tank Range, aka the "4th Division Training Centre Meaford," a good twenty or thirty miles distant. As much as we revel in being out of harms way, I can't help but wonder if that might become a target in a worst case scenario. Another reason to say bye-bye to the NATO gang and forge a future as a neutral nation as far as I'm concerned.

Elsewhere in the Globe you'll find a huge thumbs-up from David Shribman for Frum's latest book. Shribman shows up a lot in the pages of the Globe & Mail these days. I know it's hard times in the newspaper biz, and maybe they don't actually pay a real salary in Pittsburgh any more and he pays his bills with this free-lance stuff we see in the Globe.

According to Shribman, Frum's book is "a masterful diatribe against Trump's presidency." Shribman is another guy who believes America's golden age ended last January. Nothing like fobbing off a book review to someone who is on the same page of the hymnal as the guy whose book you're reviewing.

I enjoyed how he pegs Frum as "Canadian royalty." Interesting to see ourselves through the eyes of an outsider. What is Canadian royalty? Why, you're Canadian royalty when mom was a marquis name at the CBC and your sister is in the senate. Shribman forgot to mention that Papa Frum's mega millions helped that other stuff happen.

But maybe I'm being too cynical. I always had the highest regard for Barbara Frum's journalism, and while Murray Frum may not have invented the strip mall, anybody who can build a fortune out of such a pedestrian concept has my undying respect.

Finally, I have to admit to being alarmed by something Jeremy Freed wrote in what used to be called the "Style" section of the paper before all those high-priced consultants prevailed in the G & M makeover battles. Apparently ugly fashion is in! Yup, serious people who know the latest trends are looking at folks who dress like me and asking "are they really cool or is that just an ugly outfit?"

So if you see an old geezer in baffed out SAS shuffleboard shoes and baggy jeans loitering about the U of T campus, it's just me visiting. Say hello if you want, but trust me; I'm NOT cool.

Once I got them on and properly adjusted, the new snowshoes worked out OK. The problem is it took a good twenty minutes for the "adjustment" part of the process. That's because the plastic bindings are wonderfully pliable in the store at room temperature, but virtually impossible to manipulate in the cold.

I would consider that a major shortcoming in snowshoes.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Trump says "shithole," internet explodes

I see where President Mountain Dew Coma.... oh sorry, I meant President Trump, has referred to the homelands of some of the huddled masses yearning to be free as "shithole" countries.

What's the problem? They are shithole countries.

A more productive discussion might focus on the reasons why those countries are shitholes.

Take Libya for example. Who can doubt that Libya today is a shithole by any metric? But a mere seven or eight years ago Libya was by far the most successful nation state in all of Africa. Who made it the shithole it is today?

Hint; it wasn't the Libyans.

Iraq's pretty much a shithole too, isn't it? Did the Iraqis make their country a shithole, or did they have help from outside?

And Haiti? We've been so busy gifting Haiti freedom and democracy that we've had to remove a democratically elected government not once, but twice over the past quarter century.

We could go down the list of shithole countries one by one and analyse why they are shitholes, and believe me, we'd spend a lot of time discussing American foreign policy.

The irony is that the Exceptional Nation is itself becoming quite a shithole. I've known America first-hand from the sixties right up until they said I had to get a passport to catch a Sabres game. Across those fifty years I met many fine Americans, but it was also plainly obvious that the Exceptional Nation was sliding inexorably towards shitholedom.

Are we there yet?

Oprah 2020

Oprah's speech at the Golden Globes the other night set a million hearts aflutter.

I wouldn't get my hopes up. Not that she couldn't win. If a condo hustler from Manhattan can find his way to the Oval Office, I'm sure Oprah could too.

No, the reason I wouldn't get my hopes up is because after she wins, it's gonna be plenty more same-old same-old. The same old Yankee Oligarchy pushing the same old plutocratic agenda, in other words.

That's pretty much the story with Trump, isn't it? The hyperventilating of the punditocracy aside, has anything really changed with Trump?

Hell no!

Same old rancid exceptionalism.

Same old rampant bullying of the less exceptional nations.

Same old contempt for the working class.

Same-old same-old all across the dial.

But, she's a black woman! Things would HAVE to change...

No they wouldn't. How did things change when America's "democracy" coughed up its first black president? Why would a black woman president be any different?

Don't let her skin tone fool you. Oprah may be a black woman, but she's also a billionaire. As such, she's got way more in common with her fellow billionaires than she does with the minimum wage gals changing the sheets at the Super 8.

As America's first female president, she'll do more for her billionaire friends than she will for those minimum wage workers.

That's democracy in the USA.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Irving's shipyard has moved to Nova Scotia

Pretty sure it was in New Brunswick when I worked there.

If the folks who make these decisions ever make the decision to push the throttles on the last twenty years of shipbuilding announcements, that Irving yard in Halifax is gonna be a jumpin' place.

And I think things may be stirring.

Been hearing through the grapevine that they're hiring on at the Halifax yard. Irving doesn't even think about hiring unless all the eye's are crossed and all the tees are dotted in the latest cost-plus taxpayer-funded bonanza for Irving and a couple of thousand of his shipyard workers.

You'll probably read something about it in your Globe and Mail in a month or two.

In the meanwhile, I think I'll send JD my resume. Ya, I haven't actually done much of anything since the Saint John gig, and I'm half blind and way too shaky to hold a welding whip, but they've made some great medical advances in the last twenty years, and I know for a fact they've got serious health care benefits at Irving Shipyards.

Count me in, Byes!

Derek Sanderson's white skates

For a brief shining moment Derek Sanderson was the highest paid professional hockey player in the world.

Not too long after, he was a has-been.

But in between this and that, he was my hockey idol.

I don't recall if he actually wore the white skates, but I definitely remember him talking about it. Lacing up a pair of white skates was gonna be a red flag for the opposing team. After all, white skates were girlie skates. Figure skates.

By pulling on a pair of figure skates he was not-so-subtly telling the opposing side that even girls could whup 'em. That would have the effect of discombobulating the other side even before the opening face-off.

Sheer genius!

I was so impressed that I looked for a pair of white size 12 hockey skates myself, the better to intimidate the opposition in the second or third tier of industrial league hockey I played at the time.

No luck.

Did find a pair of white hockey gloves though.

If they ever intimidated anyone, I never noticed.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Ontario economy in full collapse after minimum wage hike

It is doing no such thing, but you could be forgiven for believing otherwise based on the hysterical stories on view at CBC, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post and others. After a full week of the new minimum wage, the told-you-so crowd are ecstatic that they can find examples of minimum wage employers cutting back hours and benefits for their workers.

In reality, of course, one week and a few scary stories isn't enough to draw conclusions one way or the other. What this caterwauling obscures is that by not addressing the issue of a liveable minimum wage, we would be legitimizing the perpetual immiseration of the working poor. How is that even remotely justifiable in one of the wealthiest countries in the world?

Never mind justifying it; how can we even contemplate such a thing?

Obviously, if your business model is dependent on keeping your employees toiling in poverty, you've got a profoundly flawed business model.

Case closed.