Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pot-addled investor makes 4,000% return!

Regular readers, all three or four of them, will know that the think tank here at Falling Downs has long had a keen eye for a sharp stock play.

Unfortunately, due to a long series of sharp stock plays that turned out not to be nearly as sharp as they seemed at the time, the Falling Downs Capital Fund has not actually been able to take advantage of these great opportunities since... well, at least since my last divorce, and that's going back a bit.

Nevertheless, you have to admit that the nose for exceptional stock-picking still consistently sniffs out winners, not for our benefit, but for yours. That's why we tried so hard to save David Einhorn 25 millions. Not that the ungrateful prick appreciated it in any way. No, not so much as a Burger King gift card came my way after that effort.

And now that Apple has had a bit of a bump, he probably thinks he was right all along.

What a jerk...

Anyway, none of that has held me back, you'll be happy to know. Back in late May or June I was shopping around for some seed potatoes. As anyone who knows anything is already aware, seed potatoes are just table potatoes gone rotten. What really fried my bacon was finding out that by merely going rotten, those table potatoes had already appreciated 100% in value!

Luckily, chagrined though I was, I forked over ten bucks for ten pounds of "seed" potatoes and got busy.

Here's a little trick I learned from the Shtettl refugees on all sides of the family tree; one seed potato can be halved and even quartered to root two, three, or four potato plants! I just finished digging up the last of my 50+ potato plants the other day, and I've now got a good 400 pounds of potatoes in the back room!

And that's after I had to pitch probably one in three potatoes over the garden fence into the cow pasture because the rainy weather we've been enjoying for the last two months has caused them to go rotten. That 4000% return could have been even higher had I timed the harvest right!

Now of course I have to figure out what to do with four hundred pounds of potatoes. We're not that big on potatoes around here. You can do the latkes once in awhile, but seriously, even with that, and the mandatory baked potatoes with a BBQ'd steak, and the odd bowl of mashed potatoes (with half a pound of butter) to go with the liver 'n onions, I doubt that we're going to see our way through 24 pounds in the next twelve months.

That leaves a lot of potatoes.

I'm thinking vodka.


Toronto goes to hell!

Rob Ford is having his Marion Barry moment.

His TO base is apoplectic.

"We elected a fat cracker, not a goddam fat crackhead!"

I don't know how they missed the warning signs. All that time "helping" under-privileged black youth - hell, that shoulda been the tip-off right there! After all, when was all that "help" gonna turn into something more sinister?

Like smoking crack with under-privileged black youth?

There's certain things we expect from the middle-aged white dudes we elect to run our world. Alcoholism. Philandering. Maybe a line of coke once in awhile, as long as they don't inhale...

But smoking crack with black gangstas?

That is so far beyond the pale it ain't even funny.

Toronto is in turmoil tonight...

Food fads

A few days ago I received an invitation to my dear auntie Hilde's 90th birthday shindig.

Tante Hilde spent years in the culinary desert, ostracized by the more with-it members of the clan, because back in the day when everybody, but EVERYBODY just knew that butter was bad and margarine was good, Hilda stuck with butter.

You'd attend to some family get-together, and these always include lots and lots of food, and you'd come away from the buffet table raving about how everything was good, but Hilde's mashed potatoes were just beyond divine; the mashed potatoes of the angels, no less.

Upon hearing that, one of the wiser women of the extended family (and this food-fixation was always woman-driven as far as I can recall) would take you aside and ruin your fun with the following observation; do you have any idea how much butter she put in there?

Yup, at least a half pound of toxic cow-sourced butter in a bowl of mashed potatoes.

I spent years avoiding her mashed potatoes. My own dear mother took the butter out of damned near everything she'd ever put it in. Her once-delectable potato salad, formerly to-die-for, was never the same.

All these health nuts would gather round at the family get-togethers and one-up each other with their tales of deprivation.

"I only use extra-virgin fish oil in my cooking..."

"Oh honey, that's not good - you must use the extra-extra-virgin or you needn't even bother!"

For years I lived on a diet of kippers-on-rye and cassava root cereal. No butter. No mayo, no fluffy bread. No salami. No liverwurst, or "pate" as we call it now. No cheese except for that 4% butterfat stuff that tasted like margarine. No eggs.

And definitely no bacon!

Found a doctor down K-W way who was quick to capitalize on all this quackery. Even had his own line of health food supplements endorsed by a string of world-class athletes. His team hooked me up to a bunch of wires and made me walk on a treadmill. Found out that if I didn't switch to his supplements and walk at least an hour a day I was a goner.

Well, I kept walking. Took a pass on the supplements and the quackery though. The more I walked the more I thought to myself, what the hell, I walk so much I can probably risk a taste of butter... maybe have a poached egg once in awhile...

Before long I was back to yummy cheeses with 45% butterfat!

Bacon and eggs!

LIVERFRIGGINWURST!

Never felt better!

Hope my dear Tante Hilde whips up a batch of her famous mashed potatoes for her 90th, with the half-pound of butter.

I've been missing it, and I'll be hungry.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The guns of October

Spent a little time on the porch this afternoon with a little conversation and a few pints. Every couple minutes there'd be a volley of shotgun blasts coming from the marsh across the way. Hunting season.

Hunting is still part of the social fabric in these parts. Families hunt together. Moms take their sons (and their daughters) hunting while the menfolk go off on their own hunting trips. When a young lad gets to go on the hunt with Dad instead of Mom he knows he's a man. Or damned close to it.

My first teaching gig was in the southerly reaches of the next county. Hillbilly country. The folks over there would probably take that as a compliment.

It was a rough kind of crowd. Wasn't unusual to find twenty year olds in my grade ten metal shop. Not that they were stupid; they just had other priorities besides school.

Then again, some of them were kinda dicey. Not stupid, but dicey. You know; the kind of teenager who has a social work team and a legal team and a probation officer. And four high school credits after five years of high school.

One day in October I get to class, and there's nobody there. Well, not quite nobody. Coupla geeky dorkshits who typically show up even on so-called "professional development" days. And snow days.

The brightest kids in the class.

The only kids without criminal records.

Where the fuck is everybody?

Hunting season sir!

Yup, early in my career I still heard the "sir" word!

Not sure if the demise of that custom is a good thing or a bad thing. Bit of both perhaps.

What was instructive about that moment for me, my own personal "teachable moment" as it were, was that obviously the entire regimen of gun registration and hunter licensing was geared to making sure that even the most marginally literate and consummately stupid teens were capable of passing whatever test was legally required to be able to go hunting.

Whatever the do-gooders had in mind when they legislated all that "gun control", none of it precluded the dumbest of the dumb in the next county from exercising their right to go hunting in October.

Not sure if that's a good thing or not.

Bought a used car in the southerly reaches of that county this week. A mostly rust free Accord that we picked up for the equivalent of three payments on a brand new one. Has a few miles on it, but the Farm Manager did some research on the net and found lots of testimonials from folks who ran their Accords to four or five hundred thousand miles.

I've personally owned two vehicles that made it well past the 400 thousand mark. One was a Volkswagen diesel and the other was a Subaru. I've had others that passed 300; another Subaru and a Toyota.

I've owned about three dozen vehicles in my time and oddly enough all the high-milers were Japanese or German. Not that American vehicles can't do that, but it is just so highly unlikely.

For example, the GM van that this Accord is replacing has the 3.8 v-6 that by all accounts is good for half a million miles. That was a motor that was always highly rated by the folks who rate that kind of thing. The GM 3.8 v-6 was right up there among the most reliable engines in the world, going right back to the 80's. I recall that my dear daddy had a couple different Buicks with the 3.8, and sure enough, that v-6 was starting up every day long after the air quit, the sunroof started leaking, the power windows didn't work anymore and the body had more holes than a round of Swiss cheese.

So the engine is good for half a million. What good is a motor that can go half a million miles if the rest of the vehicle has rotted to hell in half that?

That's the thing with American technology. It's not that America can't build good stuff, it's that they choose not to. After the great bail-out fraud of 09, where GM was allowed to shed it's contract obligations to its workers, the only thing that has changed is that workers in Honda and Toyota plants in North America suddenly find themselves making more than the workers in the UAW plants of the Big Three.

But they're still building better cars.

Big Steve throws himself under the bus

Stephen Harper doesn't seem to realize it yet, but by shitting on Nigel Wright he has put paid to his political career.

Nigel is a Big Capital insider with bona fides out the ying yang. Onex is in the big leagues of the hedgie world and has myriad connections to the big players in the US and around the world. For Harper to pin his current, mostly self-inflicted difficulties on Nigel is tantamount to biting the hand that feeds him.

That's not something the big boys are going to forget anytime soon.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Canada tosses refugees down well

If they float, they're not legit and get sent home.

If they drown, they're considered legitimate refugee claimants.

That's a 21st century version of Christian justice circa 1500, when the good Christians would toss the suspect Christians down a well. If they floated, they were witches and deserved to be put to death.

If they drowned, they were obviously good Christians and had nothing to worry about.

The ordeal of the Benhmudas is the case in point.

Nope, not real refugees, the government experts decreed. Send 'em back to Libya.

Say what? They got imprisoned and tortured after we sent them back? Oops! Faces red! Guess they were real refugees after all!

Surely Canada can do better!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fly Boko Haram

Nigerian terror outfit Boko Haram and representatives of President Hardluck Jonathan have announced that Boko Haram will henceforth manage the nation's Aviation Ministry.

The parties have been in negotiations for months since it came out that even after the marked increase in terror attacks, Nigerians are more likely to die in a plane crash than a terror attack.

In return, Boko Haram will allow disgraced Aviation Minister Stella Oduah to be seconded to the extremists, where she will take up her duties as... Aviation Minister!

Oduah has been much in the spotlight since it was revealed that she authorized the purchase of two BMW 750 sedans for her personal use with $1.6 million (US) of government funds. These are not mere German luxury sedans; they feature the latest advancements in armour-plating, as befits a minister who presides over one of the most accident-prone aviation sectors in the world.

"Of course this is an appropriate expenditure of state revenue," the embattled Oduah told reporters. "It is a part of my official responsibilities to visit many far-flung facilities across this land, and all things considered, I'm sure as hell not going to fly there... do I look crazy?"

Critics pounced on the purchase, pointing out that in addition to not being an astute steward of her Ministry, Oduah is not an astute shopper to boot. Those armoured BMW's that she paid $800 thousands each for are readily available for a quarter of that sum in Europe and America.

Replied Oduah, "this line of reasoning is nonsense. I don't live in Miami, I live in Nigeria - of course it costs more to bring in an armoured BMW! Are people stupid?"

More than 60% of Nigerians live on less than $1 per day. Judging by the outrage that Oduah has provoked, no, those people aren't stupid.

Celebrating America's unsung heroes; here's to Wally Serpit

Raise a glass to Walter Serpit down Georgia way.

A lot of times when a man's house catches fire, guys will panic and save the booze first. They'll find themselves in sock feet across the street, a half jug of Wild Turkey in one hand and a six-pak of Bud Light in the other when they realize their family is still trapped in their flaming double-wide!

That's what's known as "having your priorities askew."

Wally done it the right way round. Gets the family unit out the house before saving the beer!

Attaboy Wally!


Friday, October 25, 2013

Guardian claims Tony Blair man of peace

Ya, that Tony Blair, him who done connived with The Shrub to set the Middle East alight, at least the Arab bits.

But it's in the Guardian, so it must be true. You can see it on their site the 24th, written by... oh shit, written by Blair himself!

Well no wonder!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Canadian way

Canada is a champion of human rights. We like to take credit for the "R2P" initiative, which critics claim is nothing more than a fig leaf intended to cloak old-school imperialistic adventures.

The internal contradictions in a society that is at once a leader among the self-righteous and a leading proponent of far-right tough-on-crime conservatism leak out from time to time, and here's a timely bit of leakage;

These Benhmuda folks were from Libya, trying to get into Canada as refugees. Nosiree, we weren't falling for that guff. We sent them back to Libya, where Pere Benhmuda was subsequently imprisoned and tortured.

This unfortunate consequence of the weasly Canadian decision to deport the family caused the bleeding hearts at Immigration to reconsider their decision, and they came to the conclusion that perhaps, since Pere Benhmudi was imprisoned and tortured on his return to his native land, their original decision to deny refugee status was mistaken.

So they did the honourable thing and reversed their decision.

The Benhmudas are now welcome to return to Canada.

But first they have to repay the government the $6,000 it cost to deport them.

That's the Canadian way.

Food porn goes bad

I was watching one of those food porn channels the other night. That's what you're left with these days, considering the terrible state of pro sports and reality TV.

Not to mention news.

TV news is kind of over, wouldn't you think? If you're any kind of a news junkie you can find the opportunity a few times during your day to click on a news site or two or three and catch up on the big stories. There's generally nothing new at six or eleven.

So instead of watching news I'm watching that Anthony Bourdain fellow, and he's got a whole godamn special on about cooking with rotten food!

Who can even imagine such a thing?

It sort of sets you back initially, but then you get to thinking about it.

I'd kinda given up all hope for ever making my money back on those twelve jars of currant jam we still have left over from that batch we cooked up three years ago.  But if I could just land a product placement on the next episode of Food Porn Follies, that stuff will be like gold once the cooking-with-rotten-stuff craze takes off.

But the more you think about it, the more you realize that cooking is all about death and decay already. With the exception of clams and lobsters, we don't generally cook live animals, do we?

So the stuff we bake, broil, roast and toast is dead and has been in decay.

Cheese is just rotten milk, isn't it?

Fermentation is just another word for decay, isn't it?

Beer is just rotting barley with water added, isn't it?

See where I'm going here?

We already have a culture that feeds on rotting biomass and dead animals.

Nothing to see here, folks... move along!

al Qaeda declares autonomous state in east Libya

Eastern Libya, where anti-Tripoli sentiment has always been a strong undercurrent, was a focal point of anti-Gaddafi resistance. It's also where al Qaeda found many eager recruits willing to wage jihad in Iraq, and more recently in Syria.

An independent state in the oil-rich east of Libya makes a lot of sense. Oil traditionally bestows international legitimacy on murderous despots around the world. You can bet that Kissinger Associates and Tony Blair are putting out feelers even as I write these words.

Once we've got this Abd-Rabbo chap in our pocket, the rest is easy. Re-branding al Qaeda as America-loving freedom fighters is the next logical step. After all, by getting rid of their most ruthless enemies, Saddam and Gaddafi, we made it possible for them to survive and thrive.

A country of their own is the least we can provide for these folks. Sure, there's bound to be some grumbling from people who can't let go of 911 and all that, but reasonable people are always prepared to let bygones be bygones.

France liberates Mali again

Hollande's liberation merry-go-round in Mali is still spinning.

You will recall that France drove the terrorists out of Mali last January.

Then they drove the terrorists out again in February.

Several times since they have liberated the country from the same terrorists, and today they announced a "major" operation to, what else, drive out the terrorists!

At the time of the original French assault on the terrorists, Hollande's spiritual guide and main military adviser BHL proclaimed that Hollande was "earning his spurs".

Those spurs are as elusive as the terrorists.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Well-dressed racists

Well-spoken too, and highly regarded...

What else to make of the story about Irish authorities snatching a child from her Romany family because she was... well, just a little too blonde to be anything other than a kidnap victim.

Well dressed.

Well spoken.

Racists.

Is Bandar Bush the Antichrist?

The fragments of news that have come out of The Kingdom recently have been nothing short of mind-bending.

Bandar, once a reliable ally, seems to be possessed.

Although in his most recent diatribe he managed to make a passing reference to the Palestinians, it is widely acknowledged that BB has forged closer ties with the state of Israel than anyone else in the history of Saudi Arabia.

And he has abruptly announced a reboot of the US-Saudi relationship while at the same time TURNING DOWN a seat on the UN Security Council.

This comes at precisely the same moment that Israel and the US are parting ways over Iran.

Coincidence?

NATO sends military "advisers" to Libya

Because apparently the wogs have no clue how to manage their oil... er, their country.

Two years after the dispatch of the Monster of the Maghreb and it's patently obvious that Libya is a failed state. That of course is neither here nor there to the Nations of Virtue who orchestrated the Libyan "regime change." What gets their attention is the fact that the much ballyhooed "reconstruction" that British, French, and American conglomerates were salivating over even as we were bombing the place to ratshit has yet to begin.

Not only that, but that gusher of oil money coming out of the ground has slowed to a trickle as the Libyans steer their ship of state head-on into the rocky shoals of anarchy.

So, it's NATO to the rescue, again!

Hmm... security advisers... I still remember when the US was sending security advisers to Viet Nam in the early sixties...


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Economists debunk myth of "labour shortage"

A team of economists at TD Bank went searching for that crippling labour shortage that the Harperites have been flogging for eight years.

They couldn't find it.

What they did find was "skills mismatches" that could readily be remedied by delivery of appropriate skills training.

The number one indicator that there is no actual labour shortage lies in the fact that there has been little or no upward pressure on wages. Even an imbecile knows that, per Economics 101, the price of a commodity will go up if it is in scarce supply.

So why the constant harping about labour shortages from the Harperites?

Because it allows them to import labour into the country on a vast scale. This has the salutory effect of keeping downward pressure on wages; keeping labour "flexible" in neolib speak. Training Canadians for those "skills mismatches" is a concept that gets plenty of lip service but no actual programs. Witness the many government adverts for various "Job Action Plans" that consist of nothing beyond their advertising slogans.

This is the reality for Canadian workers under the Harper regime; fighting unpaid interns and Temporary Foreign Workers for jobs while drowning in PR propaganda about what the Harper gang is doing for you.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Puffy Duffy destined for last laugh on senate scandal

The Puffster had a court appearance today and it's looking like he is not prepared to go quietly into that good night.

The official story thus far; the Duffster gets dream job of his lifetime, goes crazy over-billing his expenses, gets caught with fat fingers in cookie jar and goes crying to PMO to bail him out.

The real story thus far; the Duffster gets dream job of his lifetime, becomes one of the top fund-raisers for Harper gang, rakes millions into party coffers, and over-bills expenses just like most senate denizens have always done. Targeted in media "gotcha" sting and tells party bigs to make it right or he's gonna spill the beans. Nigel Wright coughs up 90k on behalf of party, but Duffy still in media cross-hairs.

I think this story is now at the place where Duff gonna spill the beans, and nobody in the Harper gang can say they weren't forewarned.

Go Duffy!

AlJazeera suggests Kenya troops looted Westgate

A pertinent question might be why Al Jazeera is three weeks late to a story that was widely circulating at the time.

Possibly because Al Jazeera trys so far as possible to paint US allies in Africa in a sympathetic light, and in these dark days Kenya is one of America's besties on the dark continent. That would explain the fantastical scenarious sketched for us in the early hours of the "seige", when we were led to believe that a large number of Shabaab armed with heavy weapons had taken up positions inside the mall.

If you recall, a battalion of Kenyan commandos, backed up by an elite IDF unit that just happened to be shopping at the mall that day, were waiting to fight to the last man to restore the rule of law.

Reality has since set in. The fog, if not of war, at least of a good mall siege, continues to obscure what really happened at Westgate, but it now appears that the four or possibly five evil-doers, armed with nothing more than AK-47s, were probably dispatched in the early hours of the counter-attack, or slipped out among the "hostages".

The next four days were about "mopping up".... watches, jewellery, cellphones...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Canadian billionaires seek to take over European countries

Is it in the DNA of octogenarian Canadian billionaires to want their own European country?

Perhaps they are spurred on by friendly rivalry among billionaires.  Maybe they've heard the rumours that Dan Gertler already owns several countries in Africa and are jealous of the young Israeli upstart, or they see how Berlusconi has worked his ownership of Italy to his advantage. Whatever the motivation, two iconic Canadians have been pouring their resources into the Old World in recent years.

Team Stronach might seem like an odd name for a political party unless your name is Stronach, in which case it would be the most glaringly obvious name in history. Frank Stronach spent many years dabbling in Canadian politics, but it is in his home country of Austria that he finds his money can buy the most influence. Team Stronach rode Frank's pocketbook to a respectable showing in the recent general elections, which has inspired the Team, or at least Frank, to set sights beyond Austria.

"Team Stronach; today Austria, tomorrow the World" is the new motto.

Meanwhile, five hundred miles to the south, another Canadian is desperately working to leave a positive legacy in this world before he moves on to the next. One might argue that Peter Munk has legacies aplenty, but there seems to be some ambiguity in how they are perceived by the general public.

Enter Porto Montenegro. Mr. Munk clearly does not want to be remembered for displaced peasants and leaking tailings ponds. After an exhaustive world-wide search for a legacy project he decided that what the world really needs is an exclusive marina development for mega-yachts. Noticing on his own mega-yacht travels that the traditional Mediterranean ports like Cannes and Monaco were getting more and more crowded and going more and more down-market, he swung into action.

He found that the recently democratized country of Montenegro had some pretty waterfront available, so he bought the country. While the state has no legitimate economy to speak of, and a population less than that of Nashville, its rebirth as a destination for the super-rich promises to change the fortunes of the ancient kingdom. A Formula One race is under negotiation at this very moment and while it seems very much conditional on Bernie Ecclestone staying out of jail in the short term, the long-term prospects look great.

Montenegro authorities are making good progress in introducing Western values to what was until recently a communist backwater. Today's Pride Parade in Podgorica was a resounding success, as an estimated 2,000 riot police were able to protect several dozen revelers from rock-throwing mobs.

You might think that's not an environment that would attract the super-rich and their mega-yachts, but you'd be rushing to unwarranted conclusions. The biggest cohort of Euro super-rich today hails not from Europe proper, but from Russia.

They'll feel right at home.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Big Steve stares down cheese lobby, inks trade deal with EU

The notoriously influential Canadian Cheese Producers Association suffered the worst setback in its history when PM Harper announced that he had signed a free trade deal with the EU.

That means Canada will soon be awash with cheap European cheeses, and the domestic producers, who employ dozens of people, mostly in Quebec, face an uncertain future.

The announcement came on the same day the Harper government revealed a pivot towards the consumer in the latest Throne Speech. Big Steve is betting his political fortunes on winning Canadians to his neoliberal agenda by saving them a few dollars a month on mobile roaming charges, unbundling their cable TV contracts, and of course allowing them to purchase European cheeses tariff free.

Well, that's at least three more benefits for Canadians than we got with NAFTA.

And while we look forward to saving a few pennies on our next purchase of Camembert, the marketing department here at Falling Downs has decided to shelve for the time being the pending IPO for our Stinkfoot Cheese brand.

Rexton riot triggered by police informant

Ran across this tasty morsel at the 12160 website.

Nothing surprising here. It was the same deal at the G8 riot in Toronto. Wherever four black blockers gather in the name of anarchy you can bet three of them are undercover cops -sometimes all four of them.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Is this city worker sleeping on the job?

Of course not! It is plainly obvious that this employee is texting. He has his iPhone under the desk to keep the glare off the screen. Sleeping in such an over-lit office would be darn near impossible!

Who is he texting? Hard to say from the picture, but I'm guessing he's probably checking in with his boss to see what task he should undertake next. And I have no doubt that he is asking his supervisor this question even while he is on his break!

Believe it or not, this photo is a big deal in Toronto. It was brought to the attention of the public by none other than George Mammoliti, or "Giorgio" as he now styles himself, a career politician who has, over his career, drifted quite unanchored towards the right wing fringe of the political spectrum.

George, I mean Giorgio, flat out claims that this obviously diligent city worker was SLEEPING ON THE JOB!!!

Thank God that sharp-eyed pols like Giorgio are watching out for the taxpayer's hard-earned dollars. Giorgio suspects this youthful scofflaw may have caught a few winks on the taxpayer's dime.

Oddly enough, just a couple of weeks ago Giorgio was in the news because he has been availing himself of a massively below-market-rent apartment, courtesy of one of Toronto's major real estate players.

That's right, sharp-eyed Giorgio can spot a shirker anywhere, and he also can spot a $800 gift from a real estate developer. That's $800 every month.

You're not still on the housing committee at city hall, are you Giorgio?

Man, would that ever be a conflict of interest!

But at least you busted that napping rink-rat who may or may not have been snoozing at the local arena.


Hypocrisy knows no bounds...

How to start a riot in five easy steps

  1. Spend 250 years violating every treaty agreement you make with natives.
  2. Approve high-risk fracking process that will endanger native water resources.
  3. Ignore all protests against fracking, relying instead on "rule of law."
  4. Descend on peaceful protestors with 100 cops, arrest chief, pepper spray dozens.
  5. Blame ensuing violence on natives.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Israel poverty rate double that of Europe

The latest data from Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics reveal that Israelis of all ages are twice as likely to be impoverished than Europeans.

Furthermore, fully 40% of children are considered at risk for falling below the poverty threshold.

The reasons for that are not very difficult to ascertain. For several generations now the ruling clique, and especially the Likudniks, have found it profitable to peddle "existential threat" hysteria in lieu of sensibly addressing the needs of the people.

Who cares about jobs and housing when those Persians are plotting to wipe Israel from the map with their imaginary nuclear weapons?

In addition to distracting the populace, the fear mongering does have the added bonus of enriching the usual profiteers in Israel's military-industrial high-tech sector, who never heard an Ahmadinejad taunt that didn't warm their cold hearts.

And of course it's always easy to fall into the trap of comparing the fortunes of the average Israeli to the neighbours in Gaza and the West Bank.

Perhaps the blossoming detente between the US and Iran will force this attitude to change. Once Netanyahu can no longer invoke the Iranian threat with every sound-bite he will be forced to address his nation's very serious domestic issues.

There was a time when idealistic youth the world over, Jewish and not, flocked to Israel to be part of a project that promised to be a nation state like no other. You may have noticed that hasn't happened for a good thirty years. Today the world's idealistic youth are far more likely to be participating in a boycott or a blockade-busting boating adventure.

There is a window of opportunity emerging to change all that.

Talk to the enemies. Make peace with the neighbours. Tax the profiteers out of existence and cut the subsidies to the war machine. Make Israel a country where no child has to grow up in poverty.

Perhaps Israel can finally live up to her potential.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

UN fact-finder slams Canadian native policies

If you have a close read of James Anaya's UN-sponsored fact-finding mission to Canada, which the Harperites went out of their way to scuttle, you'll see that the headlines pulled their punches.

The Harper gang has a tag-team of cabinet flunkies working overtime to downplay everything Anaya said. Obviously, when an interloper like Anaya talks about a "crisis," he's just talking about business as usual.

What crisis?

Izzy Sharp is even sharper than we knew!

We all know Izzy. Humble home-town lad who made Four Seasons into a world-class luxury hotel brand.

Our hearts swell with pride!

Alas, Izzy has a secret.

Izzy is building the brand on the back of slave labour.

Here's Four Seasons listed among the high-end chains that have connived with Humber College to get young people to work for free.

This is worse than slavery. At least back in the plantation days the masters were responsible for providing a roof and a meal.

Today the slaves are on their own.

From the slippery slope into the abyss; where Stephen Harper's government has put workers

There's a confluence of threads all leading to the same place; the massive screw-over Canadian labour has taken at the hands of the Harperites these last eight years.

Here's a story about Humber College farming out their hospitality students to up-scale hotel chains as free labour.

What's wrong with that picture?

Free labour? How does this throw-back to the middle 19th century rear its ugly head 150 years later? With the connivance of the educational establishment no less!

Sign on for hospitality studies at Humber and you can scrub toilets for free!

Ain't that great!

Hard to say if the BC government has outflanked Humber in the douchebag sweepstakes. In BC the PR apparatus has been behind the massive media penetration that stories like this have achieved.

Yup, those hard-done-by contractors are so hard done by, because they can't find any skilled workers anywhere in BC, they are reluctantly forced to go all the way to Ireland to hire carpenters and electricians.

Every union official in the province claims there's lots of carpenters and electricians in the province just waiting for a phone call.

But they can keep waiting. Carpenters and electricians tend to want union scale.

There's plenty of carpenters and electricians in Ireland, where the economy has been in the shitter for five years, who would jump real high for a chance to make a third of what the Canadians think they're worth.

The entire "skills shortage" trope may have a grain of truth behind it somewhere, but it is first and foremost about busting unions and driving down wages.

The fact that these stories are popping up six months after the temporary foreign worker scandal at RBC tells you that the Harperites and their sponsors in the ownership class have not veered one degree from their course.




Monday, October 14, 2013

166,000 unemployed but BC recruits construction workers in Ireland

This isn't right!

Here's the latest numbers from Statistics Canada.

166,200 British Columbians officially unemployed but the contractors lobby has finagled the approvals to import workers from Ireland.

It's up to the unions, the employers, and the education system to ensure that Canadians are trained up to do those jobs.

And it's up to governments both in Victoria and Ottawa to show some leadership in making that happen.

Shame on all of them!

Why the NSA needs your e-mail contact list (and everyone else's too)

NSA boss General Keith Alexander spells it out; "you need the haystack to find the needle."

Well carry on then General. I've been in a bit of a unwarranted flap about the illegality and immorality of the entire spectrum of spy-on-everybody-all-the-time initiatives, to say nothing of their sheer Orwellian overkill, but the impeccable logic of your rationale has won me over.

God bless America!

Santa comes early for Louisiana welfare recipients

Folks shopping in at least two Louisiana Walmart stores got a early present from Santa; cash cards with no spending limit!

Shoppers in other states were less lucky. In many cases their cards simply didn't work.

I was originally puzzled by why Walmart is the only retailer mentioned in the story. Then I recalled reading about how many Walmart employees rely on food stamps to feed their families, due to the poverty wages paid by the conglomerate.

It all makes sense now; employee loyalty. Even in the face of Walmart's long anti-worker history, those employees still shop there, even when gifted an unlimited cash card.

That's a workforce that deserves a raise!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, The Rolling Stones are totally fake!

My band, CrackerBilly, never really took off. Not to be confused with that crew I sat in with a few times, the "Gay Baptists on Heroin" as they styled themselves. That didn't take off either.

Personally, I don't believe the Rolling Stones are fake. Ya, I know that at some bizarre un-lettered level of ignorance everybody has bought the #1 Koolaid Question; is that "rock and roll?"

Yes and no.

I guess I've got a bias because I'm pretty much on the old-dude pasture myself.

Back in the day there was a lot of chatter around Stones concerts about just how many guys would be behind the curtain playing Kieth's riffs, because he was too fucked up to play them himself.

I don't know one way or the other, but you can't help but notice that there is no other band on earth that has as much high-end help behind the curtain as the Rolling Stones.

It's just a kiss away.

Hell, if I just had a few of those behind-the-curtain guys sitting in with CrackerBilly or the Gay Baptists... everything could be so different!

But as far as I can tell, those guys are still rocking and still having fun, but somehow the culture has to get out of the hands of the moneymen.

For way too long the business end of the music business has reigned supreme.

Let's give the music a chance.

Palestinians are hardest working people in the Middle East

How else do you explain a 2 km tunnel from Gaza into Israel?

Obviously Mitt had it wrong when he accused Palestinians of being lazy last year.

How do you think Israelis would feel if the government corralled a bunch of conscripts and told them they were going to build a tunnel through two kilometers of sand?

The Orthodox guys would say "fuck off, we're busy studying the Tora."

The other guys would say "fuck off, we're busy smoking that Bekaa Valley Blonde."

Build a two kilometer tunnel through sand?

No thanks, Mr. Gantz!... here's you're shovel... go for it!

IDF unearth Hamas "terror tunnel"

Note the breathless prose used to inform the reader that the "terror tunnel" has not been linked to any actual terror attacks.

If it had, there might have been a war!

Well, it wasn't, it didn't, and life goes on.

Frankly, I'd be more concerned about the 101 Gaza "terror tunnels" that the IDF have NOT discovered.

After all, what else do they have to do with their time over there?

Lev Leviev shrugs off biggest jewel heist in world history, builds new mall in Romania

It was mere months ago that Lev Leviev was in the news on account of the biggest diamond heist in history.

Yup, $100 millions plus of the stones stolen right there in Cannes. No witnesses no nuthin'... just gone like a fart in a windstorm.

Wonder how Lev and his top-notch team of litigation attorneys are faring out on the insurance claims? I'm guessing he'll come out OK.

But here's what separates the LLs of the world from regular folks. If you or I lost a hundred million in a diamond heist, we'd be pouty for months. Broke too!

But not Lev. He just goes out and builds a mall!

Go Lev!

Weekend propaganda barrage

Even though keeping up with the news is a matter of clicking a couple of keys on a laptop any time, anywhere, there's nothing like settling into a favourite chair with the weekend papers and a pot of coffee at hand.

There is an embarrassing bounty of bullshit to shovel through this weekend.

Try this scoop by "international children's rights activist" turned journalist Craig Kielburger, who honoured Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the We Day his NGO put on a couple of weeks ago and managed to get an interview out of the occasion, an interview featured in the Globe and Mail this weekend.

Here's Kielburger's backgrounder to the story;

A decade ago, Liberia emerged from 14 years of civil war to become a relatively stable democracy.

Wow! Just like that!

Despite starting five years late, it has already achieved three of the eight Millenium Development Goals set by the United Nations in 2000; gender equality, combating HIV and AIDS, and building partnerships.

Well that's certainly good news, but one might ask what is meant by "already achieved"? Is Craig telling us Liberia has achieved gender equality? The softballs lobbed at Sirleaf touch briefly on corruption while tactfully steering clear of the corruption scandals that have involved her allies and immediate family, and assure us that President Sirleaf must be a great leader because Hillary Clinton gave her a nutcracker.

Get it?

First female African pres gets a nutcracker from Hillary?... oh, we've got the patriarchy on the run now!

The Globe also has a multi-page feature on the latest iteration of the White Man's Burden, Bangladeshi garment workers, titled "The true cost of a T-shirt." Ironically, the article never gets around to clarifying what that cost might be, but we do get to meet Canadian entrepreneur extraordinaire Bruce Rockowitz, who has made himself a billionaire by climbing to the pinnacle of the mountain of middlemen who stand between the $38/month garment worker in Dhaka and the shops in your local mall.

Not one to let the Globe and Mail out-guilt them, the Sunday Star piles on with a front page story on the plight of Bangladeshi garment workers that ends with this plea from one of the $38/month folks; I just wish people in the north paid a bit more for your clothing... maybe if you paid just a bit more, we could have a good life here.

Well maybe, but maybe not. There's a reason why "globalization" and "free trade" have evolved a virtual army of brokers and sub-brokers and middlemen between the producer and the consumer, and that is to blur the lines of responsibility when ugly stories inevitably leak out. Without wholesale reform of the supply chain, any increase in the price of Bangladeshi garments will end up in the already bulging pockets of the Bruce Rockowitz types, not in the pockets of the $38 a month people.

If Dov Charney can bypass this entire architecture of exploitation and make clothes in America while paying workers more in a day than what they get in two months in Bangladesh, others can too.

And of course Malala is in the news. By now everyone knows Malala's story, how she parlayed a bullet in the head into A-list status across the developed world. It's a story we love because it throws into such stark relief the profound darkness of the primitive Taliban when contrasted to the freedoms and democracy we revel in here in the Nations of Virtue.

While she is a compelling story, I think comparisons to Malcolm X and Mandela are wildly premature. Sort of like Obama's Nobel Prize.

Then again, look at the company Alice Munro finds herself in after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. Here's Pam Belluck writing in my New York Times International Weekly, the sixteen page supplement that the Sunday Star tosses our way to give us backwoods bumpkins a taste of World Class journalism; ...Chekhov or Alice Munro will help you navigate new social territory...

At 82 Alice Munro has become an overnight sensation, claiming her place in the canon right there alongside Anton Chekhov, and it's all thanks to that Nobel selection committee.

Those writers at the NYT have some other good stuff for us. Friedman's got some timely ruminations on Iran, speculating that "it can't keep it's people isolated forever."

That's odd. Junior is working at a restaurant owned by an Iranian family. They travel back and forth regularly. Just this week there's half a dozen of the extended family over on a visit. They send money out of Iran and money back. They are no more isolated than the tens of thousands of Iranian students who are studying at universities across the western world.

The view of Iranians as oppressed and isolated is of course far more comforting for the narrative Friedman and the NYT want to maintain. Facts can be so darned inconvenient.

I'm also treated to a curious story by Rod Nordland titled "Exhibit on Atrocities Awakens Afghans."
I was momentarily taken aback that the NYT would open a discussion about our atrocities in the country, but not to worry; the story is about Soviet atrocities back in the 1970s. That's what's awakening the Afghans!

That's a lot of reading, a lot of thinking, a lot of propaganda for a weekend.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Kerry still talking stupid on Afghanistan

While the buffoonery in Washington continues unabated, the business of running the world must go on, and John Kerry has been having a busy time of it.

Kerry is in Afghanistan this week working out the details of America's retreat with our bumboy Karzai. At issue is the question of how many American troops will remain in the country after all American troops are withdrawn next year.

Pentagon bigs want to make sure there's enough firepower left back to prop up Karzai for a decent interval. The optics of a Taliban takeover the day after America abandons ship would shake the faith of those several dozen Americans who still believe the twelve year Afghan mission served some useful purpose.

According to Kerry, he and Karzai are on the verge of a deal that will "put the Taliban on their heels."

The US and the NATO gang couldn't defeat the Taliban in twelve years of combat, but our leaving is going to put them on their heels.

That's what I mean by talking stupid.

How to get noticed

Take some photos of your dear momma getting in touch with her inner skank.

Really, The Guardian will make you famous in no time.

I've always suspected this sort of thing goes on in the double-wides on the back roads of the next county, but I never expected to see it in a gallery.

Or in The Guardian.

Now I don't mean to come across as a prude, although I suppose I have marked myself as such with the mantra "pants-off time is private time" which I've passed along more than once.

But seriously, if you're an aging hot momma who still finds herself able to lure young retarded boys into her bed, could you at least encourage your own kid to take his Kodak Brownie somewhere else?

Thank you!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Gonna smash out all your plate glass windows...

Here's Mick almost 45 years ago.

For a long time now Mick has owned a lot more plate glass windows than he has smashed.

Does that make him a hypocrite?

Meet the other farmers of the future

These are the ones who will actually be feeding cities.

The organic farm-fresh 100 mile crowd will be feeding families and maybe even a few neighbourhoods, but it'll be the Monsanto ADM crowd that feeds the masses.

I was just talking this over with the Farm Manager, and she agrees that most of the farm managers of the future will be Mexicans.

Here's how it's gonna shake out.

We know most of the quality crop-land all over Canada and the US is being bought up by hedge funds. At the moment, a lot of this land is leased back to the farmers who once owned it.

That makes them, when you get right down to it, employees.

As employees, they've got that spoiled North American attitude that their work should provide them with a decent standard of living.

The hedgies will only put up with this cheek for so long. Then we'll see a major move towards both Mexican farm labour and Mexican farm managers.

Mexicans understand that they're lucky to make minimum wage.

When you understand that you're lucky to have a wage of any kind, you're not gonna be giving the boss a lot of trouble.

So here's the farm of the big-ag future.

Some white male sharpie who runs a million acre farm in Saskatchewan or Arkansas or both out of his home office in Connecticut is going to realize that bringing in farm managers at minimum wage from Mexico is gonna solve a lot of problems.

We've had Mexican farm labour here for years; Mexican management is just the next logical step.

Those big-ag guys are busy as busy can be filling out those H-2A and TFW applications at this very moment.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Falling Downs almost gets Nobel Prize for Literature!

OK, like one degree of separation!

That's as "almost" as almost gets.

I'm pretty sure I bought a high-chair at a yard sale she had back in the 80s.

And everybody in rural Ontario is tonight thanking Alice Munro for putting rural Ontario on the map.

The Nobel Prize map, no less.

But we're over it already.

And apparently before landing in Clinton our Nobel Prize winner took time out to be born in Wingham.

When I lived in Mildmay, I often made the 20 minute run to Wingham because their beer store was open an hour later.

Not that it ever happened to me, but the mere fact that people care when the beer store closes tells you that they're probably half in the bag already.

And then they have to rush to get there before it closes.

As a matter of public safety, liquor and beer stores should be open 24/7 all the time, just to avoid this menace.

But I don't want to let that quibble spoil the well-deserved honor that Alice Munro is enjoying tonight.

Congratulations!

It must be true; teens prefer texting to driving cars!

The Toronto Star ran this hoary bit of nonsense up the pole again in today's paper; young drivers aren't driving anymore, because they simply prefer their smart-phones to the hassle of getting a drivers licence.

This has been a popular bit of common wisdom for a couple of years now, since a group of social scientists come market researchers doing a study funded by the smartphone industry had the bright idea of presenting the impoverishment of young people as a happy story.

Yes, teens are turning away from driving because they love public transit. They are concerned about the environment,  they're proactive and want to personally do their share to stop global warming. They are internet savvy the way previous generations weren't, and therefore would rather spend their fifteen minute drive to school sitting on a bus for 90 minutes, texting their research team about the latest developments in their collaborative science project, which shows great promise in finding a cure for cancer.

Next time you're driving around a decent sized city anywhere in North America, try this little exercise. Find the high school in the plush part of town where the rich white and oriental kids attend. Check out the student parking lot. By golly, if it ain't just as plumb-full of Beemers and Audis and Escalades as it would have been forty years ago!

And guess what? The rich kids have smart-phones too!

There have always been affluent high-density neighborhoods where it didn't make sense to own a car. Manhattan, for example. But these bullshit stories about young people "choosing" smartphones over cars, texting over driving, are just that; bullshit!

Young people don't drive because they can't afford to. This has nothing to do with the ascendancy of the internet or the rise of their environmental awareness.

It has everything to do with the fact that regular working folks can't afford the things they could afford a generation ago.

We're not getting smarter.

We're just getting poorer.


The conspiracy to take BlackBerry private

A week ago versions of this story were featured prominently across the business media. The gist of the tale is that BlackBerry is by now such a lame duck that Canada's largest cellphone provider will no longer trouble itself with selling a product that is in a death spiral, etc.

Who is benefitting from the tsunami of negative stories about BlackBerry? Why, the folks who have already announced their intention to take the company private. That would be Prem Watsa and company.

Today we are informed, in tiny stories buried deep in the business section or entirely left out of the very news platforms that splashed last weeks bad news all over their home pages, that oopsie, Rogers will be selling the latest BlackBerry after all! All those negative headlines were just a misunderstanding, don't you know!

Perhaps, but it would certainly be a misunderstanding that would serve Mr. Watsa's interests in keeping the share price down, wouldn't it?

Hard to know where such misunderrstandings might originate. After all, the Chair of Rogers and CEO of Rogers Telecommunications, Al Horn, sits on the board of directors of Watsa's Fairfax Financial.

It's a small world, ain't it?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Banksy of the Frankel Steel shithouse

Pepe Escobar has a great "Free Trade" story on view at Counterpunch.

Escobar is one of the few tell-it-like-it-is guys to find face-time on something approaching the mainstream.

But I'd like to add a few personal observations to Pepe's take-down of free trade agreements.

I remember the debate that went on when Mulroney was campaigning for free trade. It was gonna be a bonanza! Jobs jobs jobs!...

American capital, Mexican labour, Canadian resources... what could go wrong?

Job Jobs Jobs!!!...

I was working at Frankel Steel in Milton at the time, where we fabbed up the structural steel for 7 World Trade Center. I tried to stir up a bit of shit about the free trade agreement. I had a great cartoon that graced the walls of virtually every shithouse cubicle on the premises; Brian Mulroney with his drawers around his ankles, and a fully erect appendage on view, with the caption, "I said jobs jobs jobs... you can start with a blow-job!"

Banksy of the Frankel Steel Shithouse.

Those Frankel days were around the middle of my welding career, which went from the early seventies into the nineties. In the course of that career I plied my trade at over two dozen shops from coast to coast, from huge factories like Budd Automotive to 12 man shops like Harjim in Victoria BC or B&M Engineering in Waterloo Ontario.

With one or two possible exceptions, every place I ever worked has gone out of business after NAFTA came in.

The jobs went to Mexico or even farther afield.

None of these "free trade" deals benefit workers. They're not intended to.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A truth about modern farming

I came up among farmers.

Right up till the '60's a hundred acre farm in these parts would provide a living for a farm family.

No more.

Now most of the farms are owned by city folks like me, who lease out the land to real farmers at rates that in no way reflect the actual cost of capital etc.

In other words, middle-class pretenders to the land are subsidizing the real farmers in this neck of the woods.

Which is not to suggest for a moment that these farm folks trying to make a go of it aren't working their asses off. The farmers I know, like the Lundy's who rent my land, eat, sleep, and work 90 hours a week for their farming operation.

They consider it a good year if they make enough to do it again next year.

That's a good news bad news story.

Across the American mid-west and into some of the Canadian provinces you've got hedge funds buying up hundreds of thousands of acres and leasing them back to real farmers.

That's what I do, but the difference is that I know the farmer who leases my land, I know what a stillborn calf or a coyote kill does to his bottom line, and we negotiate our annual deal accordingly.

I don't mind sitting in the back pasture with a rifle for an afternoon to help out with the coyote problem.

Once a New York hedge fund has your land, that ain't gonna happen.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Top Montreal cop linked to Hells Angels

Here's a juicy story!

Top Montreal anti-biker-gang cop busted for supposed links to the Hells Angels.

I'm a little leery about how this story is being spun. Biker gangs are just next to terrorists in the popular mythology that underpins the War on Terror.

It's a continuation of that war-on-drugs segues into the war-on-terror propaganda that's been pushed for a few years now. The great HMSC Toronto, which I personally built, made a major drug bust a few days ago.

By the way, when I say "I" built the HMCS Toronto, I'd also like to thank the thousand or so guys who helped.

That was a good gig, eh?

But anyway, we now see the complete harmonization of the two great wars of our era.

Drugs.

Terror.

This story seeks to glamorize and magnify the power of these "outlaw" biker gangs

We are led to believe that the Hells Angels are such a bad bunch of almost-terrorists that Benoit Roberge was obviously guilty of something really bad just because he talked to Rene Charlebois.

We really need to have more information before we rush to judgement.

Who the fuck is Vampi Restat?

My joy at arriving at a view count of six numbers was somewhat toxified by the fact that an awful lot of those views seem to come from one "Vampi Restat."

When I try to correlate views with audience I inevitably conclude that Vamp is domiciled in Indonesia, Russia, and the US simultaneously.

So who the hell is Vamp?

Must be one of those Russian guys who knew where the keys and the ownership papers were stashed when the commie regime crumbled.

He parlayed that into a upper East Side apartment and a villa in Indonesia.

And he loves my blog!

Will the real Paul Kagame please stand down

President Paul Kagame's PR team scored a home run a week ago with Kagame's appearance at NYU with Elie Wiesel.

That's proof that Kagame has truly found his place among the angels even while he remains on this earth. The angels were introduced by none other than US billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the man who lost a hundred million betting on Newt Gringrich to take the White House, and the Kagame-Wiesel love-in was moderated by Schmuley Boteach.

Look how Rabbi Boteach lards on the superlatives; Kagame is "the only man alive who can claim to have stopped a genocide," he is, with Wiesel, "one of the world's two leading voices on genocide."

Then there is the other Kagame, the blood-soaked despot guilty of a host of war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to The Daily Mail.

What's Wiesel doing sharing a stage with a guy like that?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bultaco

When I was eleven or twelve, I convinced two of my younger brothers that the English five pence coin in my hand was a rare Royal Canadian Mint misfire, worth thousands of dollars.

I told them it was a Canadian nickel that had gone terribly wrong, was very rare, and therefore fabulously valuable.

I'd got the five p from a English classmate who'd been home over the summer.

But I was willing to sell them for a mere $5. Each.

The siblings were clearly intrigued by the investment potential, and were reaching for their piggy-banks, when I called my own bluff and told them the truth.

They learned something from the experience; they haven't believed a word I've said since.

Thinking about them got me thinking about bikes.

That got me thinking about motorcycles I've owned.

I've had half a dozen or so two-wheelers.

Yet never in my life have I owned a helmet.

Isn't it funny how close stupidity and good luck will run together?

I'm thinking maybe I should get a road bike, make it all legal with a motorcycle license, and of course put on a helmet.

I'm seriously thinking Moto Guzzi.

But back to the Bultaco in the title.

In my teen years my pal Bruce Dickinson was into bikes. I can't say I ever caught the fever the way he did. He and his pals who suffered the same affliction would spend a weekend riding to Tobermory and back.

I wouldn't have put a lot of money on Bruce becoming a biker. He was just a regular farm boy, destined to take over the family farm just outside Guelph, back in an era when that meant something.

Actually, it probably means even more today- eventually somebody's gonna be growing subdivisions on that land.

He got into bikes the way I did. You get your hands on a little 50 or 80 when you're about 12 or 13 years old. Twenty or fifty bucks might change hands. Your time with that 50cc Honda or 80cc Suzuki was split between beating the hell out of it in the gravel pits on the west side of Guelph and painstakingly dismantling and rebuilding that engine.

Bruce got his motorcycle endorsement on his driver's license right away, and before long he was hanging with a crowd that had graduated out of the gravel pits and onto the highways.

They'd gather up a half dozen like-minded lads and do a weekend run to Tobermory on their first gen Jap twins.

I admired their lust for life, but the thought of spending three hours on a primitive 70's era bike, spitting out the fillings falling from my teeth, compelled me to abstain from the adventure; a decision that in sentimental moments forty years later I regret.

I remember Bruce selling a 250 Bultaco he owned. Spanish brand. Maybe it was a 175. Sorry, I'm just a very unreliable narrator. It was originally a road bike but Bruce had beefed up the suspension with off-road forks and fitted the bike with knobbies.

When I took it for a test run I got a little confused with where the gears and the brakes were. Totally opposite the Suzukis I'd been racing around the gravel pits. Ended up taking out a prime expanse of Mrs. Dickinson's raspberry patch.

I ended up buying that bike on some perversion of Pottery Barn rules. Ya, I wrecked the garden, but how does that mean I have to buy the bike?

But buy the bike I did, and while she was a lot of fun, the maintenance just killed me. Parts were vastly expensive. Delivery came from Spain, in months rather than days.

I kinda fell out of bikes after that, but those brothers didn't.

One of those brothers rides a 1200 Honda sport bike.

The other one rides a bicycle. Came second in class at his last off-road race.

I'm eyeing a Moto Guzzi


What to expect from James Anaya's visit to First Nations in Canada

James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur for indigenous rights, begins his long-anticipated investigation into the living conditions and human rights situation for First Nations tomorrow.

Anaya, an American Indian, is no stranger to Canada. He has served several stints as a visiting scholar at the University of Toronto. If his past record is any indication, what we can expect from Mr. Araya is that at the conclusion of his mission he will tell it like it is.

On a similar tour of his own country, Anaya raised more than a few eyebrows in Washington by stating that the government should give back land stolen from the native people.

That's the good news.

The bad news is what we can expect from the Harper government in response.

In his generally dismissive view of the UN Stephen Harper follows in the footsteps of the two countries with which he has allied himself most closely, Israel and the US. The lesson he has learned from his mentors there is that the UN can be ignored, slandered, and pilloried with impunity.

The American government hasn't given back any stolen land. In Israel the (Jewish) UN Special Rapporteur for Palestinians was subjected to a vitriolic campaign of hate speech accusing him of antisemitism.

So don't get your hopes up.

At the same time, every scrap of attention focused on Canada's shameful treatment of its native population is a step in the right direction.

US raids on Libya and Somalia give al-Qaeda much needed recruitment boost

It's a sad state of affairs when you can't trust your puppets. That's exactly the conclusion to be drawn from the fact that neither our "friendly" Libyan government or our "friendly" Somalian government were made privy to US plans to violate the sovereignty of their respective countries in pursuit of al-Qaeda leadership.

Frank Gardner at the BBC sums it up nicely. The "successful" Libya raid will motivate untold numbers of disgruntled young Libyan men to sign up for the inevitable al-Qaeda retaliatory strikes. Whether that retaliation is against American interests in Libya or on US soil or somewhere else, we'll have to wait and see, but be assured it's coming.

When it does, the same suspects gloating about this mission today will be reminding us that "they hate us for our freedoms."

That's the "success". The failed raid in Somalia puts the US in an even less favorable light. Here's Gardner;

 Yet when the most highly trained commandos from the most powerful military in the world attack a sandal-wearing militia and are forced to retreat, this will be seized on as a propaganda victory for al-Shabab.

No shit!

It should be obvious by now even to the dumbshits who dream this stuff up that picking off al-Qaeda "leadership" makes nary a difference to the workings of al-Qaeda. Eliminate one leader and you've got a younger, more aggressive leader in his place immediately.

So what's in this failed policy for the US? Chuck Hagel gets to spout some salutary rubbish about justice on the evening news, and the War on Terror gains itself a few more bad guys, desperately needed to keep the entire charade afloat.

Concours d'pumpkinfest

Every October the folks down the road in Port Elgin put on their "pumpkinfest" fall fair extravaganza. What gets the headlines is the giant pumpkin weigh-in. This year's winner came in at a whopping 1545 pounds!

If ogling giant gourds is not your cup of tea, there's an even better reason to hit pumpkinfest. The car show.

Unlike the Concours d'elegance put on at Cobble Beach a few weeks back, this one is free, and while there was no Bugatti on display, there was more than enough to make your eyes glaze over. In fact, the car show has become so well known that even big league car guys like Jay Leno have been known to drop in.

The citizens of Port block off a good chunk of their downtown for the weekend, and you've got literally a couple of dozen blocks lined on both sides of the street with everything from rat-rods to retro-cruisers to the cream of Detroit's high-water era, the '60s. There's even a block's worth of choppers if you're a two-wheel fanatic.

Virtually everything at the Port Elgin car show gets driven to the meet, and the focus is on cruisers and muscle cars. There must have been at least half a dozen big-block Novas on view, each more pristine than the last.

One car that did arrive on a trailer was also at the Cobble Beach event. That was one of the ultra-rare 64 Fairlane Thunderbolts that Ford built a very limited number of. These were strictly intended for drag racing only, and came with the 427 motor stuffed into the smallish Fairlane chassis. A documented Thunderbolt commands in the range of a quarter million dollars today.

My favorite of the show had to be that cherry red '62 Pontiac Grand Prix... or maybe that '62 Dart with the 413... or that 409 Impala SS with the twin four-barrels...

Leafs on fire with three game win streak!

The hockey scribes in the little city that can't are giddy with the prospects for the new season now that their Leafs are undefeated after three games.

Hmm... when has that ever happened before?

Oh, not since two years ago, when they opened with three straight wins and finished October at the top of their division.

Remember how that season ended?

I know, I've blocked it out too, but I looked it up; out of the playoffs, lost 10 of their last 11 games, and poor Ron Wilson got tossed over the side mere months after signing a contract extension.

So lets not get too enthusiastic with the superlatives, Toronto sports-writers. October isn't nearly as important in hockey as it is in baseball.

Top al-Qaeda mastermind nabbed again

There's been a bit of a lull since the last time the good guys got the top towelhead. What's it been, a good three or four weeks since we saw that headline?

This time we are assured that we got a really truly big guy, although how he could be living openly in Libya all these years remains a mystery.

Apparently an elite SEAL team along with FBI and CIA operatives looked up al-Libi in the Tripoli phone book and then drove to his house on a pretend pizza delivery.

We can only hope that with the capture of this al-Qaeda numero-uno the final nail has been driven into the coffin of the dastardly terror network.

Except of course for the al-Qaeda terrorists who are operating in Syria, who have all been temporarily deputized as honorary good guys at least till they get rid of the evil Assad for us.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Toronto Maple Leafs sign Justin Bieber as Global Ambassador

Stealing a page out of the Raptor's playbook, the Leafs have announced that Justin Bieber will henceforth be the franchise's face to the world.

Team representatives hope the move will attract a younger demographic to Leaf Nation. The Leaf's front office has long pondered how they might attact a younger crowd. The average season ticket holder at the present time is a 75 year old multi-national corporation and the brass would like to change that.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

NATO General behind F-35 propaganda offensive

Let. General Charles Bouchard isn't wasting any time earning his paycheque at his new job.

Only a week after the recently retired General announced that he had joined Lockheed Martin as head of Canadian operations, Canadian media are inundated with variations on this theme: if Canada doesn't go through with the purchase of 65 F-35 strike fighters, then Canadian businesses stand to lose 10 billion or more in F-35 contracts! Not only that, but the cost per plane has just been dropping like crazy, to the point where the entire Canadian purchase will now be done for less than half of what those benefits to Canadian industry are!

Wow!

The incredible Lockheed Martin F-35 money & jobs generator gives back two dollars for every dollar you put in!

Unfortunately, that latest price of 75 million being quoted is about half of what critics like Winslow Wheeler are projecting in their latest estimates.

Back when he was leading NATO's air war on Libya I often got the impression Bouchard was uncomfortable with some of the more egregious bullshit that he had to speak into the microphones at his daily briefings to the press.

Maybe he's become more comfortable with shovelling propaganda.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How to look nonchalant while schlepping 95 pounds of cocaine through the airport in your suitcase

What's wrong with this story?

First of all, 1.3 metric tonnes of cocaine in 30 suitcases works out to 30 100lb suitcases. How many folks do you know who can inconspicuously toss around a hundred pound suitcase?

Secondly, right there on the Air France website we are informed that the limit for one piece of checked baggage is 70 pounds, otherwise you need to call the air cargo department. That's a non-starter; a pallet of 30 packed suitcases is going to raise more than eyebrows...

Thirdly, in none of the pictures I've found about the biggest coke seizure in French history has there been anything shown that could plausibly be construed as 1.3 metric tonnes of cocaine.

So I'm thinking that Maduro fellow might be onto something.

This isn't a story.

It's a fabrication about an imaginary drug shipment, intended to smear Venezuela.


The tomato-pickin 'coon-hound

The Farm Manager has been mighty pleased with the fecundity of her tomato patch this year.

A mere ten by ten feet, its strategic location ten feet from the kitchen door would under normal circumstances provide a steady stream of tomato salad and tomato sandwiches at this time of year, not to mention tomato sauce till same time next year, provided the canning plans come off as planned.

Alas, the best of the tomatoes keep disappearing.

That's been a bit of a mystery, and we were starting to suspect the retired school teacher down the road, until my expert sleuthing over the past couple of weeks allowed us to tie the loose ends of this mystery together.

I'd noticed the last couple times I cut the grass that I'd be running over ripe tomatoes hundreds of feet from the tomato patch. Hmm...

Then, just this morning, I happened to look out the window just as Lucy, the Tennessee Brindle Treeing Coon Hound, was trotting off with a plump ripe tomato clamped in her jaws.

I watched her. She carried her prize onto the lawn over towards the barn. Then she started playing with it. Tossed it in the air and chased it. Sometimes she'd catch it in the air, sometimes she'd miss and have to scoop in off the ground. Then that tomato would be airborne again, and so on. Great fun! She obviously can do this for hours...

So we were faced with a choice. Should we beat Lucy away from the tomato patch, or should we enjoy watching her enjoying herself?

We've decided giving up a few tomato sandwiches and some sauce is a small price to pay...


Still think you want your kid in university?

Latest stats reveal that over 75% of all undergrad courses in the US are taught by "adjunct professors."

That in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. There's plenty of other stats out there proving the superior efficacy of adjuncts over the tenured folks.

That rings true. Who do you think puts more of an effort into their teaching gig; the tenured six-number guy who never again needs to give a shit, or the hapless wannabe-tenured lecturer who is carrying a six-number student debt load, but is toiling away in Adjunct City for Walmart wages.

At least the Walmart guys get some benefits.

And it's not as if the tenured folks are smarter or better educated. Both they and the adjuncts come out of the same institutions with the same qualifications.

So I suppose that the answer to the question posed in the title will depend on WHY you want your kid in university.

If they're focused on a professional program with decent prospects, it's still worth the candle. One of the most expensive programs in America is the Wharton MBA. It'll take at least $120,000 a year to get your kid through there, but the median starting salary of a Wharton grad is $120,000. You can see the pay off coming not too far down the road.

If, on the other hand, they plan to study sociology until they become a sociology professor, prepare them, and yourself, for the never-ending purgatory of Adjunct City.

In fact, you and Junior are going to be far better off if you can talk them out of university altogether and into a career in plumbing.

And they'll be contributing something useful to society.

New Leafs management finally gives former coach a vote of confidence - nine months after they fired him!

Brian Burke took a fair bit of abuse during his tenure as Leafs GM, and rightfully so. His ham-handed "rebuilding" was going nowhere year after year, and nothing focused the Burkie-bashers more than the infamous Kessel deal.

So imagine my chagrin when the management team vindicated the former GM by signing Kessel to a 64 million dollar contract extension!

To be honest, when I first heard Kessel had signed for eight years at eight million, I thought, well, they finally realize what he's worth, but it's odd to sign a million a year guy to an eight year contract.

Boy, was I ever wrong! Little did I realize they were talking eight millions per year!

Unfortunately, this is a good-news bad-news story. It's all good for Kessel.

It's all bad for Leafs Nation. Now we know for sure that the new crew in the front office knows even less about building a winner than Burkie does.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Gorilla jumps fence in Israel zoo to fix peanut-butter sandwich

The Calgary Zoo made headlines in 2009 when this gorilla was photographed holding a knife in its enclosure.
Here's Bibi, the 63 year old African gorilla who'd just fixed himself a peanut-butter-on-Wonderbread sandwich at the Tel Aviv Zoo. You know it was him because he still has the knife.  Wait till he finds out the peanut-butter came from Iran! He should NEVER be allowed to hold a knife! And he desperately wants to move the zoo to Jerusalem.                      

The sad spectacle that is the world's greatest democracy

The smug millionaire morons on both sides of the aisle have collectively succeeded in shutting down the US government.

This is about a game of chicken over the profoundly flawed "universal health care" plan dubbed Obamacare.

Did you notice that the smug millionaire morons will continue to get paid while 800,000 of the little people won't?

Obamacare is a bottomless pit of government-guaranteed profits for the health care insurance cartel and the big hospital chains.

Real universal health care needs to eliminate the profiteers entirely. America can't even begin to imagine such a thing.

The fundamental truth about for-profit health care is that your health care providers have a fatal conflict of interest between your health care needs and their profits. You're going to be the fatality in that fatal conflict.

In any event, it was interesting to see what happened after weeks of apocalyptic reportage on the catastrophe that would ensue if the smug morons went through with this.

World capital markets would go into a free-fall.

The sky would shatter and the shards would rain down on us...

In fact, the Dow Jones actually went up today!

Maybe those smug millionaire morons aren't as important as they think they are.

Here's why you should keep a gun in your car

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ukdkgLYYbw