Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dubai hotel collapse blocked from mainstream news

That 63 storey hotel in Dubai must surely have fallen down by now. After all, it was engulfed in flames for hours!

After all, we all know those big buildings just collapse when they've been ablaze...

Why are the mainstream media blocking the news of the Address Hotel falling into its footprint after a four hour fire?

Oh... maybe because it's not fallen down?

Really?

Then what about....

All dressed up and too many places to go

So some folks I know from the way-back machine are gonna celebrate their daughter's big day down in Aruba!

Yup, Johnny K's daughter be gettin' hitched down in Aruba!

If you're a regular customer here at the Falling Downs blog, it won't take long to figure out who I'm talking about. Since this blog has virtually no regular readers, I figure we're good to go!

Now no wedding I've ever had an invite to ever involved an invite to some miscellaneous Caribbean state.

That should be your first red flag right there.

Nevertheless, that's got a coolness factor among a certain percentile of the beautiful people.

"Ya, I got married in Aruba..."

So Johnny K's dear daughter had the big day in front of her, and had 150 folks coming down from Canada to partake of the festivities, and...


Can't say I know anything about the particulars, but it seems like she made an executive decision at the last moment... as in; "I'm not fucking doing this!"

So she left 150 wannabe revellers sitting in Aruba pulling their wires.


Hope my old pal Johnny gives his dear daughter a big hug and tells her it's gonna be OK.


New study validates Doctor Kipling's theory about heart disease link to erectile dysfuntion

A few years ago I attended, for a few months, a private clinic specializing in heart health.

It was my old pal Kipling who convinced me I was wasting my money. I was so impressed with his impeccable logic I never went back.

To the clinic, that is. Instead, I went back to red wine, reefer, and bacon. Not to mention real cheese, not that 4% BF shit the clinic recommended. Touch wood, I been holding up pretty good so far.

The gist of Doctor Kipling's theory is thus; if you don't suffer from ED, it means all those wee blood vessels in your dick are working OK, ergo, it's reasonable to assume that all those little blood vessels in your other organs are probably hunky-dory too!

Now, as much as I love Doctor Kipling, he's not actually a "real" doctor, so I treat his pronouncements with a dose of skepticism. I mean, this is a guy who takes a smoke break in the middle of his ten mile morning jog.

But now his theory appears to have been vindicated. Some legitimate medical researchers in Poland have pretty much told the world exactly what Doctor Kipling told me over three years ago!

Dubai skyscraper burns for hours, collapse imminent!

That's what happens when tall steel-glass-concrete buildings burn, isn't it?

Oddly enough, aside from those mysterious collapses in NYC a few years ago, it tends to never happen... but I'm sure this time will be different!

Any second now...

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Why pro sports in the USA are doomed

I'm watching the Cavs-Denver game, and although Tristan and the boys are up by 11 at the half, I feel nothing but dread for the future of professional sport in America.

Here's why; pro sports requires a viable base of middle class fans.

That middle class is fast going gone. That's why you're watching NASCAR races with acres of empty bleachers. The fans are gone because the middle class is gone.

The Pepsi Center in Denver has a capacity of 19,000 plus. Denver has a population of roughly three quarters of a million. That's what's known as a "small market" in MBA terminology. A Nuggets game with the family, including a dinner out and a snack after, is at least a $500 touch for a family of four.

Who the fuck can afford that? The one percenters!

Are there enough one percenters in Denver to keep this balloon afloat?

And look at Cleveland, foreclosure capital of the USA. The Quicken Loans Arena (and what a droll choice of sponsor here in the foreclosure capital of America!) has a capacity of 20,500. Just like anywhere else, making a Cavs game a night out for the family is going to be a $500 ding in the wallet. Cleveland has a population base of less than 400,000.

When you've got a pop base of 400,000, you've got a working adult base of maybe 20% of that, so the one percenters, the folks who can afford season tickets, are what, around 800?

And not all of those are keen to pay big bucks to watch a black kid throw a basketball, so what's the real fan base?

Pro sports are gonna go down the toilet, and soon.

Junior's musical journey

My son Jake decided at age 12 he was gonna be a rock star. I found him a big old electric bass and an amp in the classifieds and figured he was off to the races.

Not so. False alarm. That musical career waned faster than it blew in. He'd come up to my place for weekends, maybe spend twenty minutes fooling with that instrument, but leave it there when he went home. That's what originally led me to pick it up, which is another story (see Gay Baptists on Heroin World Tour 2002).

Six months later something had changed. He was into it. Not only was he playing that bass, he soon branched off into drums, guitar, and saxophone. By the time he was 15 he was all about two things; smoking weed and making music... three actually; he was determined to read everything that Eric Arthur Blair ever wrote in his life.

All of which probably explains the absence of any credits on his high-school transcript.

But he did have his moments during his high school career.

Jacob Neumann

Here he is with my Charvel. He's always had a nasty habit of "borrowing" my shit and forgetting to bring it back. Like my first edition Nevermind the Bullocks pressing...

As his talents developed he had a very Waitesian thing going on, which I quite enjoyed. He was also messing around with putting found video to music he created. I think his Nicotine Run is fucking brilliant!

Alas, and I don't know where I went wrong as a parent, but somehow he fell in with the wrong crowd and started making something called "electronic music." There's a couple of thousand different sub-genres of this so-called electronic music, and Jake could explain every one of them to you. Not only that, but he's probably made several examples of every genre that are out there on the Eternal Web of Shame that will haunt him for the rest of his life.

But he seems to be coming out of this dark period. All he wanted for Christmas this year was a Glenn Gould disc... WTF?

But I got him one, and a couple of days later I get Jake's latest music.

HALLELUJAH!!!

The "electronic music" phase is over!

Monday, December 28, 2015

RIP Lemmy

See where Lemmy finally bought the farm.

An original and a giant.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBIa0o36pPo

Would Justin have prevented the great CPR boondoggle?

In case you don't remember, that's where the Harper gang allowed hedge fund sharpie Bill Ackman to destroy the iconic CP Rail with a mere 14% share-holding.

It's called "activism."

Bill Ackman is an "activist investor."

Well, that can only be good.

Nothing like an "activist investor" to shake things up a bit...

By eliminating 5000 jobs.

By making the trains longer and making them go faster.

Hey, sounds like a winning formula to me!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The great pizza pie mystery

Here's something I don't get.

Back in the day, and I'm talking 40-45 years ago, when you got the munchies on Friday night, you'd order a pizza. In Guelph, you'd order that pizza from Marco's Pizza.

This was of course long before the big chains took over the world of pizza.

So 45 years ago you'd canvas your drunken buddies for cash contributions, and you'd eventually coral that twenty bucks required to get that large with pepperoni, bacon, mushrooms, and hot peppers.

Here's what mystifies me; order a large from one of the big chains today, with pepperoni, bacon, mushrooms, and hot peppers, and it's still twenty bucks!

But plug that twenty bucks in 1970 into the Department of Labor Inflation Calculator and today's pizza pie should be well over a hundred dollars!

What the fuck is going on?

Obviously, they're cutting corners somewhere...

Bad Vlad, Julio Jones, and the trouble with getting the NYT in the colonies

The Panther's undefeated streak came to an end today. I'm not much of a NFL fan, but I had to sit down and catch this game. Wasn't that Julio Jones snag a beauty? Two guys all over him and he just pulls that ball out of the air and skedaddles into the end zone!

It's moments like that that make the NFL worth every penny!

Because there were no other winning streaks on the line, that was the end of my sports fandom for the day, and I found myself watching that PBS offering, Great Houses. Host Julian Fellowes took us through a bit of the history of Goodwood today; the ancient history, not the history of the race course.

What I find fascinating is the extreme wealth that these grand estates must have consumed in upkeep. Most of the aristocratic dynasties have long since sold off all or part of their holdings in order to finance what's left. Goodwood has been fortunate in that events like the Festival of Speed have allowed the owners to bring in the cash to keep up the place in the modern era.

And who can afford that kind of opulence today? It's a small club no doubt. The million a month folks. CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. The elite of the entertainment world. Hedge fund managers - at least the upper echelon. Sports stars. The guy who snagged that pass in Atlanta this afternoon is in the club, at least till his knees give out and he succumbs to an early demise after one too many concussions.

But Sunday isn't just about the NFL and idling your life away in front of the TV. No, Sunday is also the day that the munificent brain trust that runs the Toronto Star treat the peons to their weekly dose of high-falutin' news and opinion from the centre of the universe. Actually, it's probably more of a marketing committee than a brain trust, but whatever...

Yes, on Sunday us hicks in the sticks get our New York Times supplement!

Today my eye was drawn to a story titled No More Questions About NATO by Steven Erlanger, which is actually this story which I read online two weeks ago. There is in fact a corner store in town that has yesterday's New York Times for sale today, which isn't bad, but it's like $6.50, so I'm happy enough to just read today's NYT today on their website for free.

Erlanger is one of the regular Putin experts that the Times employs to provide the mandatory Putin-bashing materiel for each and every issue. As we all know, Putin's quest for world domination is more than a well-trod trope; it's a true fact. How do we know? The NYT tells us every day. There's always some expert with an axe to grind who is willing to offer up the straight skinny on what Bad Vlad is up to. If it's not Mikhail Khodorkovsky, it's Masha Gessen. If it's not Gessen, it's those bold brazen bitches of Pussy Riot.

On this occasion it's NATO. As the title tells us, NATO, after fumbling in Libya and bumbling in Afghanistan, has finally found the mojo that seemed to go missing with the collapse of the USSR. And what is NATO's newfound reason d'ete? 

Why, stopping Bad Vlad in his tracks, that's what!

And it's working! According to Erlanger, it's working so well there is "anger in Moscow." Not only that, but "annoyance" too! Yup, they pretty much have Putin on the run!

What's gonna finish him off is this business of inviting Montenegro into NATO! Wheehaaa!!! What a master stroke of provocation! There's some mid-level think-tankers in the Beltway gonna rise to the upper ranks on the strength of that one!

What Erlanger forgets to mention is that Montenegro is a politically unstable tinderbox. The populace, such as it is, has been protesting in the streets to get their corrupt president-for-life out of office. News of the NATO gambit just doubled the numbers in the streets! No serious person imagines that the NATO invite is taken seriously either in Brussels or in Podgorica, but it makes for great propaganda! 

Erlanger does not flinch from mentioning the other ogre of our era, Islamic State. That's got to be the most over-hyped threat I've ever seen. Western victims of IS are barely in the hundreds. Not hundreds of thousands, but hundreds. And this is the greatest threat to our civilization?

Get outta here!

Get some perspective. In 1815 the Battle of Waterloo took 50,000 lives. In one day. At a time when the population of this planet was perhaps a billion, and the population of Europe less than one quarter of that. And it was a family affair; European on European. 

That was a threat to Western civilization. What I read in my "International New York Times Weekly" today is just bullshit.




Saturday, December 26, 2015

How to waste time in the digital era

Here at Falling Downs we've had a steady stream of our Juniors coming and going over the Christmas holiday. They're mostly clustered in the Toronto area, and they don't get up here that often. And while it's always great to see them, we look forward to some time alone.

Today was the first day me and the Farm Manager had to ourselves. So what do you suppose happened?

We break out the bong and take off our pants?

Nope.

We turn on the TV and fire up the... computers!

We're out in the sticks but we get satellite TV. As the regular reader will well know, I have major philosophical issues with professional sports.

But I'm not such a closed-minded didactic nutter that I won't watch a good game when it's in front of me, and tonight I had an embarrassment of riches.

Caps-Canadiens on one channel.

Hawks-Knicks on another.

And Redskins-Eagles on yet another!

That's a lot of pro sports to hate all at once, and I have to admit, sometimes I just stop hating and enjoy the show! And of course there are the inevitable topical side-bars to these sports shows. For example, there has been a move afoot for some time now to change the name of the Redskins. That name is apparently offensive to some native Americans.

I can see where it could be. After all, do we have any teams called the Whiteskins? Yellowskins? Blackskins?

On the other hand, it strikes me as an exercise in political correctitude. What, we're suddenly gonna pretend we were never racist? Get outta here!

I don't agree with that either. I don't know what the answer is, but I'm 100% sure that denying our racist history isn't going to lead us out of the woods.

Be that as it may, while I'm tracking the Caps and Redskins and Knicks, I'm also watching a Rolling Stones concert from 1965 on Youtube!

You have to admit that wasting time has become more efficient than ever before in history!

Unfortunately, the new digital era does not take care of basic bodily functions, and eventually I have to head off for a piss. I pass through the kitchen, where the Farm Manager is watching something on her computer. Since I been on a sports binge I figure it's probably a good strategy to show some interest in what's on her screen.

Oh, she's watching a doc about stomach stapling! Yup, there's a doctor somewhere who won't do a stomach stapling surgery unless Fatso drops 50 pounds in the month before surgery.

Because he's not gonna waste his time and the insurance company's money doing a staple job on the tummy of some shmuck who is just gonna keep eating like a pig.

Tough love for Fatso, I guess.

Now, I didn't come up with the Big Ass Chair concept out of thin air. (google it)

I know a couple of kids under 20 who are in the 350-400 pound range.

The doctor in that doc has a prejudice; he's not going to fulfill his Hippocratic Oath for folks he deems too fat.

But William "The Refrigerator" Perry was drafted first round by the Chicago Bears when he was in that range.

Gotta say I'm with the big folks on this one. Dr. Fussypants needs to get over himself and just do the best he can for every patient, without judging them.


Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Wishes

By all accounts it's been a bleak year, at least if you pay attention to the news.

Between the great European refugee migration, Putin's quest for world domination, and ISIS forcing the Nations of Virtue into a death match for the future of civilization, we're led to believe that things only went from bad to worse in 2015.

The think tank here at Falling Downs figures most of this is scaremongering or all-out bullshit.

Take those huddled masses hiking to Europe for example. Sooner or later some of the brighter lights in the Western intellectual firmament are going to connect the dots and realize that most of these folks are coming from countries that we've been bombing to ratshit for the last ten or twenty years.

Hey! Maybe that's why they're refugees! Maybe we should stop bombing them?

Maybe if we stop creating refugees we wouldn't have a refugee crisis on our hands.

This would of course entail some soul-searching in the centres of power in the West, and the most central of centres of power would be Washington. There is hope on the horizon, and though this may be hard to believe, that hope comes in the person of one Donald Trump.

Not that Mr. Trump has any fresh ideas or policy options that would lead to a more peaceful world; I would agree with the critics who claim he is a bigot and a racist who is totally bereft of ideas or policy options, but those critics are missing the point.

Donald Trump is important because he threatens the very foundations of America's toxic, sclerotic, and America-destroying two-party political system. With any luck, Trump could yet create a legacy other than over-priced condos and bankrupt casinos; he could be the catalyst for a long overdue reinvention of politics in the USA.

The business of politics has to be taken away from business interests. Citizens United was the last nail in the coffin of American democracy. Until that is undone, America's downward spiral will continue. Not Donald Trump nor anyone else is going to make America great again until the system itself is wrestled out of the hands of the corporate lobbyists and the super-PACs and the armies of Beltway think-tankers.




Wednesday, December 23, 2015

About those "World Juniors"

Had to watch my man Tristan Thompson tonight in the Cavs-Knicks game, and I thought he acquitted himself rather well. Game done, I'm casting about for something else that might hold my interest, and I happen upon the World Junior Hockey Championship, coming to me from Albania or some friggin' place where the fans can't afford tickets to the World Junior Hockey Championship.

It's Canada vs Sweden, and by God if that game was in Canada, I swear, that arena would be sold out! As it is, they're playing in what appears to be a 99.9% empty arena!

I checked it out a couple of times while the Cavs were still on, and last I saw, it was 5-1 Canada. Then I come back fifteen minutes later, and it's tied up at 6???

What the hell goes on here?

Apparently the game is coming from some place called Hellstinky, which I think may be the capital of Khazikastan if I'm not mistaken, so I take back that diss on Albania. The Albanians would probably at least be able to fill the arena.

Speaking of which, back in my hockey days when I played tier VI industrial league in Guelph, we had more folks in the stands, 12 to 15 most games, than they have in Hellstinky for the friggin' World Juniors! That's just not right!

They should get Al Eagleson out of jail or out of his retirement home to organize the next World Juniors. At least the stands would be filled.

Due to global warming, Santa's sleigh to be towed by dolphins this year

I know it's true, because I just read it at the BBC. Santa's North Pole workshop is underwater, due to the polar ice caps melting. But Santa isn't a quitter, nosirree!

Santa, with a little backup from the elves, was able to corral a few dolphins as they were swimming about in the recently submerged workshop.

No word yet on whether the lead dolphin will still be sporting a red nose.

But even though calamitous climate change has struck a vicious blow, Santa's get 'er done moxy in the face of adversity has saved the day.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Does any serious person imagine Trump actually wants to live the day to day reality of POTUS?

Donald Trump seems to more or less say what he wants to say, do what he wants to do, whenever it crosses his mind to say or do it.

And that pretty much sums up his life, not just his election campaign.

So what if this campaign is just a charade? A smart media insider so used to playing the outlier that he's gonna have a crack at the big table. Just because he appreciates the art of flim-flam.

Why not?

The POTUS role is very tightly scripted. Donald Trump, entertainment industry veteran, wouldn't last three months.

If he's not assassinated first, he'd have to resign to save his sanity. Three months in he'd say goodbye, losers.

Then he'd head back to his charmed life where he gets to do whatever he wants, because after all, he's rich.

A million migrants explained in three words

They've had it.

They've had it with the meddling of the Nations of Virtue, the EU-US crusader-clique who find it virtuous to drone and bomb and shock and awe them to death year after year.

They've had it.

They've had enough.

They are reversing the flow of the hippie trail of a couple of generations ago. Hey, if those rich white seekers could walk to Hyderabad from Amsterdam and Hamburg 45 years ago, maybe we can walk there now?

And they are.

Reversing the hippie trail

I'll declare my bona fides right off the top; I was never a hippie.

Nope, the free love era passed me by without so much as a backward glance.

But I did meet folks who did the mythical "hippie trail."

That's where your hippy-dippy types landed in Amsterdam and, due more than anything else to indulgent parental financing, found their way south and east in search of inner peace and cheap hashish.

They'd traverse Turkey and Syria and Iran and Pakistan and find themselves in India. Usually a couple of weeks of India would clear them right up and they'd head back to the safety of Europe.

The hippie trail.

Now the denizens of many of those lands along the hippie trail are making tracks to mother Europe.

Fast times with Johnny K

Johnny K was a welder I worked with back when Kearney National was a going concern out on Elizabeth Street in Guelph. That was back in the mid seventies. You could work in a place like Kearny National and have a life, which in those days meant you owned a house and a car or two; definitely two if the old lady was working too.

It was a transitional era you could say. In our working class milieu the old ladies were more or less expected to do something, but we weren't quite yet at that place where wives working outside the home were an absolute economic necessity like they are today.

No, if you were so inclined, you could own a home and drive a car and support a partner who was at home with the kids on the strength of one factory paycheque.

That's way over, baby!

Now you can have both partners working full time jobs and not afford any house or any car.

That's progress!

It's good for the environment though. I mean, what the fuck was up with all those working class goof-balls thinking they should own their own house and their own car?

Now they're renting shit-hole apartments and taking the bus; way better for the environment!

But back in the glory days, we kinda took it all for granted.

Oddly enough, Johnny K was one of those working class dudes who landed on his feet after the great de-industrialization of Guelph, and that was entirely due to the fact that his wife found herself doing PR for a Toronto real estate developer, and every time Johnny's career took another kick in the teeth, she'd get a promotion!

But back when he still wore the pants at his house, we'd go out for tours in his Trans Am from time to time. His was of a later vintage than my '73 Super Duty, but it too had a 455 and hauled ass.

So late one night we're cruising along the QE in the general direction of Toronto, with no particular destination in mind. I'm driving, cause Johnny is a bit into his cups, as they say. A silver Benz 6.9 glides by in the passing lane. Hmm... lets have some fun!

I give a little touch on the go pedal, and that black and gold Trans Am squirts by the Benz at 90 mph.

Ha, take that!

Our triumph lasted about 30 seconds before that Benz sailed by at a good 110 or so.

Oh really? Watch this...

I put the pedal to the metal. You could get about 125 out of those big block Pontiacs. They ran out of breath at around 5Gs. We got the TA wound out and that Benz is disappearing in the rear view.

Me and Johnny share a smug moment of appreciation for American iron. I'm holding it at 125 because I want that poser to learn his lesson...  suddenly there's lights bearing down fast in the rear-view and a toot-toot as a streak of silver flashes by us at a goodly 20 or 30 mph faster than what we had going on.

We never saw that silver Benz again.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Some thoughts on the warmest winter in memory

So this is global warming?

I was kind of OK with this narrative about how fossil fuels are destroying the climate, till I heard that some sharpies at Goldman Sachs had figured out that something called a "carbon tax" would help set things right.

That's where the over-polluters buy carbon credits from lesser polluters, and it's all good because GS will be having their sticky fingers all over this little global carbon credit exchange thingy.

Sounds like the fat kid paying the anorexic kid hush money so he can keep gorging.

This has in fact been the softest winter in memory, at least so far. That could change yet.

By contrast, the last two winters were among the harshest ever.

Which proves nothing.

Which is why you need to scratch your head when you hear that the Rumpelstiltskins at Goldman Sachs have figured out a way to stop climate change.

After a thorough review of the peer-vetted sources, I've come to the conclusion that climate has been changing as long as this little marble of misery we inhabit has had a climate.

For instance, I'm told that here in southern Ontario, ten thousand years ago, the snow was piled up miles deep.

There must have been a whack of climate change to make all that snow melt. And it melted way before the fossil fuel era and the industrial age.

So there's nothing new about climate change.

Chuck Todd and the demise of journalism in America

The Committee to Protect Journalists released their annual report today, and it's nothing but good news! Well, maybe not for journalists, but at least for Americans!

Seems the countries most likely to jail journalists are the evil communist regime of China, followed by American allies Egypt and Turkey.

As you well know, and as the Committee to Protect Journalists will confirm, America does not toss journos in the slammer!

That is because America is a bastion of free speech!

And nobody embodies that commitment to free speech more than Meet the Press host, veteran journalist Chuck Todd.

Did you know that Chuck was once considered one of the most influential journalists in America?

I would not have guessed it either, but I ran across that factoid while researching for this blog post.

There's absolutely no danger that Chuck Todd will ever be imprisoned for espousing unpleasant points of view from his bully pulpit at Meet the Press. I watched his phone interview with Trump yesterday, and in terms of the imaginary ethics that journalists are imbued with at J-school, it was utterly pathetic.

On the other hand, in terms of what we expect from shills for the two-headed ruling class in America,(two heads, one owner)  it was utterly predictable.

Chuck stuck to the mainstream talking points quite fastidiously. How could Trump possibly engage in a civil back-and-forth with Putin? How could he allow himself to become a poster-boy for Islamic State recruiters? How could he possibly alienate twelve million illegal immigrants? How could he diss every Muslim on the planet with his blatantly racist plan to deny entry to America to the world's 1.2 billion Muslims?

And so on.

Chuck was absolutely bereft of authentic lines of inquiry but chock full of establishment talking points.

I bear no brief for Donald Trump.

But he is the only candidate broadcasting the fact that America's political system is broken.

The Chuck Todds and all the rest of them are desperately fighting a rear-guard action in defense of an establishment that has long lost any claim to democratic legitimacy.


What you're eating when you eat sardines

Fish shit.

Yup, that's what you're eating when you eat sardines.

Well, you're eating the sardines too, but...

I love sardines! It's one of my favorite snacks. Nothing like a slice of dark rye bread piled high with sardines!

Good source of Omega 3 and so forth, and dare I add, also a good source of fish shit.

You didn't really think anybody guts and filets the little fuckers before they stuff them in that tin, did you?

Of course not!

So not only are you getting your daily dose of Omega 3; you're getting your daily dose of fish shit too!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Erdogan hosts Hamas boss in attempt to mend ties with Israel

Those who follow these matters will be well aware that media have recently been awash with stories about the pending rapprochement between Turkey and the Holy Land.

Yes, time was that Pasha Tayyip and Bibi were, if not besties, at least something right next to it. Then came that unfortunate misunderstanding re: the Mavi Marmara, and the whole best buds thing went down the toilet in a hurry.

Fast forward a few short years, and the Sultan finds himself caught between innumerable rocks and hard places. His NATO betters are on the threshold of giving him the heave-ho, as is a substantial segment of his electorate. The man's skin gets thinner by the day; anyone writing these ruminations in Turkey would be enjoying the hospitality of the state in short order.

But Erdogan is not a man to dwell on the past; he is determined to be remembered as a maker of history, not a victim of history. Now that every Erdogan ally has been stabbed in the back at least once, he is looking to build bridges with those few who have not been stabbed in the back twice. Yet.

Hence all those good news stories about rebuilding the ties with Israel...

And then this.



That's The Sultan mending fences with Hamas boss Khaled Meshaal today. Apparently this is how one mends fences with Israel...

My name is Norm Jary, just in case you need me for anything...

Norm Jary was the mayor of Guelph for a spell.

Might have been two or three spells for all I know. What the fuck is a "spell" anyways?

And is "anyways" even a word?

...or did I just make it up?


Norm Jary was a radio guy in Guelph back in the sixties.

The 1960's.

He was always in your face if you grew up in Guelph, because he was the main news guy at local radio station CJOY.

Eventually parlayed that into sitting in the Mayor's chair at City Hall.

But he was the number one news purveyor back in the day, and he ended every newscast with that shout-out you see in the title; My name is Norm Jary, just in case you need me for anything.

That was Guelph in the sixties...


Friday, December 18, 2015

The manifold blessings of a shitty education

Does anybody else wonder why the world's only super-power has a Third-World-calibre education system?

This is not by accident; this is what America's ruling class aims for in educational outcomes. After all, if American schools were serious about graduating informed citizens with real critical thinking skills, the status quo would be toppled into the dustbin of history within a generation.

Good-bye to billion dollar per year hedge fund bosses.

Farewell to trillion dollar wars that do nothing but create more enemies and enrich the plutocrats.

Adios to politicians who represent the patricians and piss all over the working folks.

The Citizens United ruling would have been met with rioting in the streets if America had an informed working class.

Mitt Romney would have been tarred, feathered, and laughed out of town when he made that utterly obnoxious comment about corporations being people too.

Hello to a livable minimum wage.

Hello to universal health care.

Hello to the end of homelessness...

Clearly, these aren't outcomes that America's ruling class would want to encourage.

Hence the never-ending downward spiral in America's educational attainments.

After all, it's the promotion of ignorance on a systemic scale that makes stories like this possible.

Some well-meaning high-school teacher in Augusta County down in Virginia had her World Geography class copy out some Arabic calligraphy. Some well-meaning parent operating on the "see something say something" principle saw Muslim indoctrination and said so on her Facebook page...

Well, the outpouring of outrage was such that the school district shut down because of the deluge of incoming hate mail.

Seriously folks, is this what America has become?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How to make America safe

Truth is, America is already safe. At least when compared to those countries where America is pursuing the War on Terror or the War on Drugs, or, God help them, both at once.

Keeping America safe is a slightly different problem, but that too has an easy answer. Contrary to what you heard ad nauseum this evening from the shit-show in Las Vegas, bombing more Muslims more often is NOT going to result in a safer America.

Far more Americans die at the hands of alienated fellow Americans than at the hands of Muslim terrorists. For that to end would require the reintegration of those alienated Americans back into the fabric of the American mainstream.

That means jobs, housing, healthcare, and hope. For that to happen will require some of those resources currently dedicated to the Ministry of Perpetual War to be redirected to jobs, housing, and healthcare. Did you hear anyone making such a suggestion this evening?

No. Instead, pretty much all you heard were calls for more violence against the very countries America has been meddling in for generations.

That won't keep America safe.

But it will keep the usual war-mongers rolling in profits.

A day at the farm II

Reprise; pot-addled hill-billy buys 2,000 piece socket kit so he'll never lose a socket again, only to lose entire kit.

So there I am, undoing those 5/16 nuts with an adjustable wrench, which I can only move a quarter turn at a crank, and there's about two inches of threaded rod to traverse, so this takes the better part of the afternoon.

With each quarter turn I curse the Farm Manager, because deep down I know that the reason I can't find those sockets is because she moved them. She may even be telling the truth when she says she hasn't seen or touched them... a woman can totally move shop tools out of her kitchen without being consciously aware of what she's doing. Some primal urge kicks in, and voila, tools gone and she doesn't even realize she did it.

Ya, I don't get it either. It's like the time I wanted to keep the snowmobile in the living room over the summer. Like, we don't even use the living room over the summer! We're outdoor folks in the summer months. And if we did, what would be the problem? It's got a nice padded seat and even has cup-holders!

I must admit a gnawing suspicion that perhaps the socket kit is in the tent trailer. I just put that away the week before. I'd got it out and set it up back in July, because the FM claimed it smelled "musty" or "moldy" or something. I don't know... smelled like a camper to me.

So I let it air out from July to December, and we never actually did spend a night in it, because no matter how much it aired out, the FM still detected must or mold. You know as well as I do what's going on here; she's on the war-path to get a new camper.

As for me, I'm strictly old-school. I didn't even see the need for the old camper, let alone a new one. We've camped across this great country from the Bay of Fundy to the Rocky Mountains in a 12x12 tent we got on sale at Walmart. With children! And now that it's just the two of us and a couple of hounds we need a trailer? Get outta here!

But I digress. My afternoon of battery swapping ended badly. The battery out of the F-150 is for some inexplicable reason and inch taller than the one in the Escape. Why? They're both Fords. Why not just have one size of battery? I finally had to resort to doing what I should have done in the first place; boost the tractor with the fully charged truck battery.

Get the tractor fired up (again; a Ford, but yet another size of battery) and hook up the trailer I got second hand from Uncle Bruno, (and until I saw it on the trailer ownership I didn't even realize his name was Bruno... we always called him Uncle Bob) load up the gas can and the oil can and the axe and the Stihl, and head across the road to the south woodlot.

I'm focusing on the south woodlot for a reason. At this time of year, with the foliage off the trees, at a certain time of day when the sun is just right, you can see Bass Lake right from the house! If I cut down all the trees at the east end of the south woodlot, we'd have a water view year round!

That's what the real estate folks call "adding value."

I scout around for easy prey on the east corner, and by golly I find it! Nice forty footer, crown gone, most of the bark gone, just standing at a nice tilt that'll let me drop it with a single cut! Forty feet of stand-dried firewood available for the taking!

Let the fun begin!

Tree drops with no drama whatsoever.

I cut that tree into firewood-size sticks. The new chain I just installed is cutting through that trunk like the proverbial hot knife. I shut down the saw to load my wood on the trailer... pick up a furnace log sixteen inches long and a foot in diameter...

My heart sinks. It weighs about a pound... I just cut down a poplar tree. Yes, poplar will burn, but it leaves more in creosote than it leaves in heat. It's absolutely a waste of time to spend gas money, chainsaw money, and time on cutting poplar for firewood.

Luckily, I've gained the maturity to realize when circumstances are conspiring against me. There's nothing else to do at this point in the day other than cut my losses. Yes, in spite of all the piss offs, I will not be defeated!

It's time to fire up a fattie.





Duffy and the born-again Christians

You have to feel for the Duffster. There he was, most loyal lap-dog in Big Steve's kennel, being totally hung out to dry when the optics of his expense claims suddenly made him a liability.

That has to cut deep.

What did he expect? To hear him tell it in court today, he expected a little loyalty back, according to the CBC. And not just loyalty, but empathy, honesty, and perhaps even a bit of mercy. After all, he was dealing with a crew of "born-again Christians," and why would he expect less from that lot than he would expect from Jesus himself, and after all, wasn't Jesus all about truth and love and forgiveness?

Well yes; if you read the Sermon on the Mount you might think so, but Big Steve's Alliance Church Mafia were cut from stiffer cloth than that. Take a gander at their "Vision Prayer" and you'll get a sense of what sort of religious nutters were running the country for the last ten years. These are hard-core Christian Zionists; they're to Christianity what the Taliban are to Islam.

Here's hoping Duff does better with Justice Vaillancourt than Christ did with Pontius Pilate.




Monday, December 14, 2015

A minor footnote in the history of Guelph

You know how it goes...

You have a couple beers, maybe you burn one...

Or two.

And before you know it you're meandering down Memory Lane.

That's what happened to me tonight.

Memory Lane.

One of the lessons I learned early from the Guelph Old Boys was if you didn't stand up for yourself you were finished.

Finito.

Fucked.

I remember the day Mr. Brown from B&R Motors came down to John's Supertest where I worked to fill up his Lincoln Mk III.

Came to $14. I remember it like it happened yesterday.

B&R was the Lincoln-Mercury and Ford Truck franchise in Guelph at the time, and Mr. Brown was the big dog in that establishment.

Comes down to John's Supertest, where I'm the pimply-faced teen afternoon shift boss. Fills up his Lincoln and hands me an envelope. Hops in his Lincoln and heads back to B&R.

In the envelope is a note; please deduct gas from Crawford's bill at B&R.

Crawford was the day shift boss. Used to work for Mr. Brown down at B&R Motors. Guess they had some unresolved issues.

Unfortunately, I was responsible for the till on my shift. That 14 bucks was coming out of my pocket.

Crawford Vollet was kind of a hard luck guy. His wife Jean used to show me the pictures of the life they once had; big house, new Cadillac, thriving aggregates business.

Then it all went for a shit, which is a great story for another time, and Crawford was reduced to becoming a truck salesman for Mr. Brown, and when that went off the rails, a shift manager at John's Supertest.

The same place where I was the zit-faced teenage know-it-all afternoon shift manager.

So I have a problem.

Mr. Brown, who is sort of a big deal in town, just stiffed me for 14 bucks. He thought he was getting it out of Crawford's hide, but no. It was coming out of mine.

So a couple of days later when the tank was near empty, I drive my '67 Chev Bel Air wagon down to B&R Motors. Pull up to the pumps.

Filler up!

$16.50. I give the pimply teen who pumped the gas a two dollar bill, two quarters, and an envelope.

Next day Mr. Brown shows up at John's Supertest.

There ensued a heated debate between him and Crawford, a debate that involved a lot of shouting and arm-waving on both sides.

But neither of them ever brought the matter up with me.


A day at the farm

Couple of years ago I bought one of those Craftsman socket sets when Sears had them on sale at a good knock-down on the regular price. Every socket you could ever want, in metric and imperial, plus three socket wrenches (1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 inch drives), plus extensions, plus deep sockets...

I was set for life!

Not that I haven't been set for life before. There was not a socket or a ratchet in that kit that I hadn't bought at least once before. But they get lost. They get borrowed and not brought back. They get misplaced.

My rationale for buying this kit was that I'd never have to look for a misplaced, lost, or borrowed socket again. Everything I could ever want was right there in one convenient package!

Plus, at 60% off, it was one of those deals you pretty much had to buy anyway.

So the other day I'm planning a trip into the woodlot with the Stihl and the wood-wagon to fetch a couple of weeks worth of wood. Gotta take care of a couple details first. The wood-wagon has been sitting forlornly behind the woodshed since July. The tractor has been parked in front of the garage since August. Gotta do some battery shuffling to fire up the tractor and get on with the day.

The Escape has been my main wood-fetcher for the past couple of months, but the battery doesn't want to hold a charge anymore. Gonna swap out the battery for the one in the F-150. It's got four flat tires but a strong battery. My original plan when I bought the Escape was to swap the tires onto the 150, and I think the reason that never happened was because it was just way too much fun to blast that Escape around the property... up and down the hills, over the fence-rows, donuts galore in the pastures; hell, I bought the thing for $400 thinking it was a great deal 'cause it had $600 worth of rubber on it, and then I got a bonus couple of thousand dollars worth of entertainment out of it!

But that was then and this was now. I'm gonna swap in the battery out of the big truck, which was new just this past spring (the battery, not the truck). That's when I realized I need a 5/16 deep socket. That's because there's a battery tie-down secured by a couple of threaded rods that you have to undo before you can lift out the battery.

No problem! I've got that complete compendium of socket sizes just a sittin' in the pantry cupboard! I'm ready for any eventuality! THIS MOMENT is exactly why I bought that kit!

So I go to grab it out of that pantry cupboard...

Hmm... not there.

WTF?

Well, maybe I took it out, and although it's highly unlikely, maybe, just maybe, I forgot to put it back?..

So I check every cupboard in the pantry.

I check the wood-shed.

Been doing a bit of furnace maintenance, so I check downstairs.

I check upstairs too... not that I recall having the tools up there, but I'm running out of places to check.

Nothing.

Nothing.

Nothing.

Nothing.

WTF? I buy this magnificent socket set so I'll never lose another socket again, and I've lost the entire kit???

How the fuck is such a thing even possible?









Sunday, December 13, 2015

Forget global warming; Mother Nature gonna win this war!

Lotsa hoopla over the Paris "agreement."

Yup, almost 200 nation-states agreed... human-caused warming is bad. What we'll do about it remains uncertain. Shuffle sacks of cash to less developed countries to indemnify them for their losses. Sorry brown people; you can't just pollute willy-nilly like us smart white folks did. Here, have some cash...

Global warming.

It's a fact.

They tell me that here in this World Biosphere Heritage Site where I live, that twenty thousand years ago the snow was two miles deep. Yup, glaciers covered the northern reaches of the Americas.

Twenty thousand years later, it looks like we won't be having snow for Christmas this year. And that's due to global warming.

And this is all due to the invention of the internal combustion engine and the discovery of oil as a fuel for that engine?

Those two-mile-thick glaciers were long gone before either of those innovations appeared on the scene. Long gone by at least five or ten thousand years.

So it is abundantly obvious that the climate was warming long before we helped warm it even more.

And you know what? Mother Nature could not possibly care less. That last 150 years is not even a blink to Mother Nature. No, she's on a completely different time-table than Al Gore and rest of the climate alarmists.

Worst case scenario, here's how it'll shake out. In spite of our best efforts, as exemplified by that toothless Paris agreement being praised to high heaven today, we'll continue to burn fossil fuels and choke ourselves to death.

For real!

But humanity will survive in the valleys and peaks out of the path of the jet-stream. As the great cities and the great nations succumb to their climate-killing money lust, pockets of outliers will survive and thrive.

As will Mother Nature.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Toronto's top cop cops out on Uber crack-down

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders claims his cops are handcuffed by the legal ambiguity of Toronto's taxi licensing laws.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders is full of shit.

There's no ambiguity whatsoever in the laws cited at the end of the linked story. If you're transporting people for a fee, you fall under the auspices of the taxi regulations.

Period.

He is weaseling out of his responsibilities.

The fact that lots of folks like the convenience of Uber should have no bearing on whether or not he instructs his police force to enforce the law.

Sure, lots of folks might like saving a few bucks on a cab fare... how is that a reason to ignore the law?

And who can resist the promise of "making great money for completely flexible hours?" That's the bullshit Uber puts out to lure wannabe unlicensed cabbies into the streets of big cities all over the world.

I'd be thrilled to make great money and have completely flexible hours myself!

That's the fantasy that Uber dangles in front of prospective Uber drivers. They don't spend a lot of time explaining that prospects have to do something illegal in order to make that great money, which generally turns out to be not that great.

So a few sharpies in San Francisco profit big-time from having this stock market play run up its putative value into the multiple billions, some college students get to make the payments on their new Honda Civics, and tens of thousands of mostly immigrant full-time cabbies get to see their livelihoods disappear. 

This is happening because people like Toronto's Police Chief Saunders and Mayor John Tory are intimidated by the lawyers that those San Francisco billionaires can unleash on them.

It's got nothing to do with "legal ambiguity."


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Washington elite scandalized by Trump scandal

Yup, that interloper Trump has done brought massive disrepute to the GOP brand.

He's wrecking the Republican Party!

I mean, how does it look when Trump is the only GOP candidate not geneflecting before Sheldon Adelson?

What the fuck is wrong with that guy?

And then he talks that shitty shit about Muslims... like keep them out of America till the folks in charge can figure out what's going on?

Hmmm... why is that a bad idea?

And suddenly, there's a petition to keep him out of England?

And even better; there's a move afoot to keep him out of Israel, 'cause the Likudniks are distressed that Donald Trump has dissed Muslims???

Ya! Like, get the fuck outta here!

Bibi and company are championing Muslims by dissing Donald Trump?

How retarded would you have to be to fall for that gambit?

Here's what's really going on; you've got a rich guy taking a run at the White House. He's seriously rich enough not to have to kiss ass like everybody else. He's telling everybody that the system is broken...

Poor people have known that for years!

When a rich guy is crushing the establishment in the polls, it's no wonder the Jebs and Teds are shitting bricks... and it's no wonder the poor folks are applauding.

Angela in the footsteps of Hitler



                                         1938


                                2015

Hard to see what makes Frau Merkel "Person of the Year." Maybe it's her unstinting willingness to put the interests of Washington's power elite before the interests of Germany. Yes, it's very nice that she has a big heart and takes in the refugees, but it would have been more important, more humane, and more courageous to stand up from her first day as Chancellor against the reckless US foreign policy that creates these refugees in the first place.

In 1938 Hitler had plenty of friends in Washington too.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

About that so-called "backlash" against Donald Trump

Yes, there's a backlash alright, but it's not coming from the grass-roots. It's coming from the corporate media, the Big Politics machine, and the Beltway boffins who have been collectively denouncing Trump ever since he broke open their rigged game.

What has been Trump's latest outrage? You gotta admit, it's right up there with border fences and shipping out 12 million illegals... he's gonna block entry to Muslims! Yup, Trump just came down on the Islamophobia button with both feet.

And who created that Islamophobia button?

Not Donald Trump. No, it's the same corporate media, Beltway bag-lickers, and professional political class, the very people now "outraged" about Trump's outrageousness. Those are the people who have worked gleefully to sow suspicion and fear of everything Muslim for many years.

Those are the folks who turned American politics into a reality show, and they should not be shocked that an authentic reality TV star has hijacked their carefully choreographed political theatre.

You gotta admit, we've come to quite the pass in American culture when the expression "authentic reality TV star" can be used without a hint of irony.

Big demand for "hunting" guns in Libya

Must say we were a tad sceptical a week ago when the story came out about the 800 Winchester Defenders found in the back of a truck en route from Turkey to Belgium. We were especially sceptical about the authorities' downplaying the possibility that these guns were destined to find themselves in the hands of terrorists; no, not these guns... these are hunting guns! Suuuure!

Well, lo and behold, that wasn't the first time a shipment of shotguns left Turkey with dodgy paperwork and a dubious destination. Seems just a couple of months prior, Greek authorities uncrated a whopping 5,000 Winchester shotguns stashed aboard a tramp freighter on its way to Misrata, Libya.

Not to mention a half-million rounds of ammo!

Seems those Islamist radicals are getting into skeet shooting and pheasant hunting in a big way!


Saturday, December 5, 2015

These may be dark days for humanity, but it's nothing but blue skies for Lockheed Martin and Raytheon!

Check out this story at CNN; The US is running out of bombs to drop on ISIS.

Whee-haaa!!! That can only be good news if you're fortunate enough to hold Raytheon and/or Lockheed Martin in your portfolio!

Back in 2000, in the pre-9/11 era, shares in either of these companies could be had for less than twenty bucks. Post 9/11, as America lurched from one foreign policy debacle to the next in Afghanistan and Iraq and Libya and Syria, those share prices have soared into the great blue yonder!

Raytheon closed at $124 yesterday - and that's before CNN reported the bomb shortage!

Lockheed Martin is well over two hundred dollars per share.

As the horizon darkens for humanity, the prospects for the bomb-builders just keep getting brighter!

So next time some pinko whiner pesters you about the bleak outlook for the US economy, just refer them to this story!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Meanwhile, the rape of Africa continues apace...

I see where Botswana has sold "fracking rights" inside its Kgalgadi Park wildlife preserve to an Anglo-African combine most recently known as Karoo Energy PLC.

Kgalgadi is one of the largest nature preserves in all of Africa, but Botswana is one of the poorest countries on the planet, so the seductive entreaties of the First World experts at Karoo must have been persuasive indeed.

Karoo is the brainchild of an Irish accountant and a South African geologist who have sniffed out a potential windfall in the under-developed nature preserves of Botswana.

What a crazy thing; all those untapped resources nestled within those nature preserves...

Well, there's nothing better than a few really smart white dudes to help those Africans exploit that untapped potential!

We already know how this story ends... the really smart white dudes will be way richer than they are already, and Botswana will be poorer...

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Texting ticket at Tim's drive-thru

Canada was rocked by the news this week that one AJ Doust scored a $287 fine for texting in the Timmies drive-thru in Beaumont Alberta.

Yup, texting in the drive-thru.

That's why we pay those Mounties $100,000 per year; so they can bust the scallywags texting in the Timmies drive-thru. Because there is absolutely nothing better for the RCMP to do in Beaumont Alberta.

Timmie Nation was properly perplexed, but thank God Larry Fedoruk came along to do the 'splainin for the RCMP. Larry wants us to know that the perp was "steering with his knees while texting with both hands" in that drive-thru...

Frankly, anybody working that hard to ingratiate themselves with the RCMP probably has something to hide.

And how hard is it to inch your car ahead a few feet every thirty seconds? Do you even need your knees?

Anyway, according to our man Fedoruk, other folks in that "drive-thru" were aghast that someone might be texting, and waved their arms in the air to alert our intrepid Mountie to the audacious law-breaker in their midst...

Sounds like bullshit to me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Whitehall war-mongers carry the day

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to war we go!

That's the song on the lips of the 397 British MPs who today voted for war on Syria. And who can even imagine what glories await? To be sure, none of the 397 toffs who voted for war today will ever find themselves in the line of fire. Perhaps when they see the inevitable video of some hard-luck RAF pilot being burned alive in a cage they will curb their enthusiasm.

Perhaps not.

Such an inevitability would perhaps do nothing other than further inflame the war-lust.

Completely lost on this collection of 397 imbeciles is the fact that acts of war foment acts of retaliation. What acts of Islamic terrorism were recorded in the UK before Tony Blair's cheerful plunge into the Iraq invasion of 2003?

None.

There was of course horrendous retaliation for that act of war, just as the UK can now brace for retaliation for this one.

Why do these war-mongers fail to see the connection between cause and effect?

NATO's astonishingly puerile Montenegro gambit

Even those who believe that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has by far outlived its usefulness would like to think that it is nonetheless guided by sound principles and serious people. Alas, today's announcement that NATO was offering membership to the inconsequential Balkan basket case of Montenegro would seem to indicate otherwise.

Montenegro has been lobbying for entry into the NATO gang since its independence in 2006, so why would their application suddenly be approved now? Here's why; at this particular moment in time, the NATO bosses see this invitation as a great way to give Bad Vlad a poke in the eye, nothing more, nothing less.

How principled and serious is that?

There are good reasons for the sluggish progress of Montenegro's NATO application. The undeniable wiff of corruption has been rising from PM Milo Djukanovic pretty much since his rise to power back in the early '90's. Do a google search of "Milo Djukanovic corruption" and you get 26,900 results. The man spent almost a decade on Italy's most wanted list while he was either president or prime minister of Montenegro!

Montenegro is a country not quite the size of Connecticut with the population of a Denver or a Memphis. The economy is in such bad shape that regular folks are known to pick up sticks and join in with the Syrian refugees trekking by on their way to Western Europe.

Milo and company are, however, doing extremely well. Their long-awaited welcome into the NATO tent should set the stage for even more lucrative days ahead.

And what a great slap at Putin for all the trouble he's made for America's Syria strategy these last couple of months.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Trump; a new Hitler in the making

The professional pundits universally predicted that Donald Trump's White House campaign would crash and burn long before now.

He was, after all, nothing more than a buffoon, clown, self-aggrandizing entertainer, etc... not to mention a racist, bigot, misogynist know-nothing who accidentally became a billionaire because his dear daddy left him a whack of Manhattan real estate.

I imagine it would be hard to miss the Billionaires Club when fate favours you with that sort of break...

Nevertheless, the Trump campaign has unexpectedly grown legs, and the professional political and punditry class is getting worried.

That's why they're getting more and more comfortable tossing the "F" word into their speculations.

Fascist.

Yup, Trump is a fascist. Or at least he talks like one. Or he sounds like he might be morphing into one. Or something...

Look around. It's everywhere these last few days.

The Sydney Morning Herald.

ABC News.

The Globe and Mail.

Salon.

And that doesn't even scratch the surface.

Yes, Salon is correct; whether leftist or rightist in tone, America's mainstream news and opinion portals have united as one in labelling Trump a "fascist."

But what does that mean?

Not much.

Lots of really smart political theorists have spent a lot of ink defining "fascism." (anybody up for a re-reading of the works of Antonio Gramsci?)

You know fascism has arrived when the capitalist uber-class and the military-industrial complex and the government policy-makers have melded into one seamless ruling clique. The two nation states most approximating such a condition today would be the USA and Israel.

I think "fascism" is what Ike warned us about in his famous speech about the "military-industrial complex."

Look around... America has more or less arrived at where Ike was hoping it wouldn't.

And it has arrived thanks to the Democratic and Republican establishments.

Those are your fascists; the political careerists who segue from elected rep to lobbyist to think-tanker and back again, and champion the military industrial complex every step of the way.

The beltway is chock-full of these shit-bags.

They're Republicans, they're Democrats, they're the establishment on both sides of the aisle.

As for the inveterate casino promoter and reality TV star Donald Trump, while he may be an abrasive windbag, he is definitely NOT a part of that fascist establishment.

It's official; US troops back in Iraq

That's the word from Defence Secretary Ash Carter today. You'll be gobsmacked to read that this is part of a "virtuous cycle!"

Of course it is. What's really scary is how little time it's taken for the Pentagon bigs to forget how America's previous foray into Iraq ended...

Nope, everything old is new again!

Note too that this latest contingent of an unknown number of American boots to hit the ground in Iraq will also reserve the right to operate "unilaterally" in Syria. Think about how Americans would respond if some other country abrogated unto itself the right to operate their military unilaterally in the US.

Not a lot of Americans would see that as having anything to do with a "virtuous cycle." In fact, I'm pretty sure most folks would see it as a declaration of war.

And here's the best part of today's story; the Iraqis did not ask for and do not want these US troops. Guess they see a vicious circle where Carter sees a virtuous cycle... and they should know.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The perfect gun for hunting Christmas shoppers in the malls of Europe

I'm a little surprised about the low profile that Italian story about the 800 Winchester shotguns has managed to maintain.

Even habitual fear-mongering sites like Britain's Daily Mail are soft pedalling the terror angle, stressing instead the fact that the Winchester Defender, (three shotgun blasts in under half a second) is not a potential terror tool, but a "hunting gun."

Indeed!

And the fact that this shipment originated in Turkey, with a proven history of supporting terrorism, and was heading to Belgium, hotbed of ISIS sympathizers and acolytes, raises scarcely a note of concern?...

Hmm...


Italian police intercept 800 of these on way to Belgium

SXP Extreme Defender
That sure is one amazing story about those 800+ Winchester Defenders found in the back of a truck on their way from Turkey to Belgium.

The story doesn't seem to be getting much traction. Maybe that's because these are "hunting" guns and would therefore be of no interest to the ISIS terrorist types we've been hearing so much about in Belgium? Or maybe it's because Turkey is in the throes of a much bigger ISIS gun-running scandal? Official government spokes-people claim the sale was entirely legit, but those folks say a lot of stuff...

Does anybody wonder why a legitimate dealer would buy these guns in Turkey when Winchester's corporate owners, the Herstal Group, also has factories in Belgium?

I'd like to see some enterprising investigative reporter in Turkey connect the dots on this tale, but that would ensure a very premature retirement in the current climate.

You don't imagine the wily Erdogan's minions shipped these off with a shrug and a wink knowing full well they were headed to Belgium's renowned black market in illegal firearms, do you?




Saturday, November 28, 2015

Trump; the big picture

America should not be surprised that Donald Trump, real estate billionaire and reality TV veteran big-shot, continues to hog the spot-light in the on-going reality show known as the 2016 US election.

After all, the think tank here at Falling Downs has been giving America the heads up for years.

Once "democracy" becomes a reality show, it's only right and proper that an experienced reality show survivor hogs the headlines...

And how about those prescient producers of that famously prescient film "Idiocracy," who so deftly caricatured Trump in the character of Dwayne Camacho?

Trump. Leader of the Free World.

Where nobody has a chance but everybody has a gun.

What could go wrong?

Most important news of the week

I see where Vanity Fair has devoted a few column inches to the question of who Selena Gomez might be dating next.

This is big stuff. After all, she's been known to two-time none other than the great Biebs, and pop-tart news is a more than filling fill-in for real news in Vanity Fair these days.

While idle minds speculate over who Selena might be dating next, there are actually really important things going on in the real world...

Like "Putin's aggression" for example.

Not content with annexing Crimea, he seems intent on annexing Syria next.

Maybe he has his annexation eye on Turkey as well.

You never know with Putin.

Just like you never know with Selena Gomez.

When we allow international relations to become a side-bar to relationships among "teen idols," we get what we deserve.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

If you have seen these men, please call the RCMP... NOW!

RCMP are seeking help identifying these two men, who were observed near the Rogers Centre 'exhibiting suspicious behaviour.'

Yup, coupla brownish dudes were spotted by a vigilant citizen in the vicinity of Roger's Centre last summer. Said citizen, operating on the "see something, say something" plan, duly reported that they had seen something.

The Mounties have had a crack anti-terror squad on the case ever since.

Alas, they've not made any headway, which is why they're appealing to the public months after the fact.

I've had occasion to visit that part of town from time to time, and frankly, if you're gonna call the terror hot-line every time you see a couple of brownish dudes... well, that's gotta be one busy hot-line.

For my money, I'm thinking that's a couple of Jays making their way to the game they played that afternoon. Looks like Stroman and Encarnation if you ask me. Hard to tell when they're outta uniform.

Probably subbed down from their Bridle Path mansions and are just walking in from Union Station.

Kathleen Wynne fires up bong, decides medicinal marijuana users can light up anytime, anywhere

Well hallelujah! Ontario pot-heads yesterday won the right to fire up them (medicinal) fatties anywhere... it's friggin' medicine after all! Y'all are free to smoke your (medicinal) weed anywhere you'd take an aspirin!

And that's pretty much anywhere, near as I can tell!

In the waiting room at your dentist's office. At your next parent-teacher meeting. In the grocery store. In church. In court. While driving down the 401 at 140 clicks...

Alas, what sounds too good to be true usually is.

Wynne and her advisers came down from their buzz in the early hours this morning, took a look at the headlines in the morning papers, and shrieked a collective "WHAT THE FUCK DID WE JUST DO!?!?"

They've been in climb-down mode all day.

And that's probably a good thing.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Charbonneau Commission piddles away 45 millions to discover Hells Angels and Mafia control construction industry

Hmm...

It's certainly good to see that the think tank here at Falling Downs isn't the only site sceptical about the Charbonneau Commission.

Frankly, we lost all faith in the Commission when they pulled that Donnie Brasco stunt. Yup, here's this government inquiry into corruption in the Quebec construction industry, and they pay to fly in this guy who wrote a memoir about his time in the New York City Mafia?

Thirty years ago???

That's when we knew the Charbonneau Commission was guilty of what they were accusing everybody else of; sucking too hard on the government teat.

But yes, they did manage to stretch things out for four long and lucrative years, and they did manage to shine the spotlight on those mostly irrelevant corners of "corruption" wherein some bikers and some Italian guys might have made a bit of pocket change.

Those are the folks who made it into the headlines now that the final report has been released.

The SNC Lavalin guys and Arthur Porter, both vetted at the highest levels in the PMO, who scammed the system beyond the wildest and greediest dreams of those Italian guys and the bikers, are totally lost in the fine print.

Nice cover-up, Madame Charbonneau!

And nice job stretching a redundant "inquiry" out to four long years and $45 millions!

I say we need another inquiry to get to the bottom of the Charbonneau inquiry...


Hope in the ashes

The Guardian website has been featuring a series about the poorest towns in America. Here's an excerpt from their story about the poorest town in the poorest state in the USA, Tchula Mississippi;

The only outside investor the town has attracted in recent years bought the abandoned supermarket in the centre of town. Hassan Nasser arrived in the US from Yemen seven years ago determined to become a businessman. He was 26 and barely had a dollar to his name. He trained as a lorry driver in Detroit, got a job with a long-distance haulage firm and slept in his vehicle to save his earnings.
“I came from a small town in Yemen. It was pretty much like being here. Mississippi is based on farms all around owned by white folks and black people do the work. That’s the same as Yemen. There are a few who own everything and the rest work for them,” he said. “Compared to other parts of the US, I’d say this place is 20-50 years behind in everything. Like Yemen. But we don’t have an obesity problem in Yemen.”
Low-income, isolated communities without supermarkets are often forced to rely on high-priced convenience stores for basics such as milk and bread. “They had nothing here at all when we came,” said Nasser. “They had only two gas stations with convenience stores. They were taking advantage of people. They had very high prices.”
Nasser said he was often mistaken for a Mexican and called amigo. Then he mentioned that when he first arrived in Tchula he told people his name was José because he was worried that his origins and religion might be held against him. They weren’t.
“There is really no racism here against us,” he said. “People here are good except some of the young ones. They broke into my store the second week of opening. They took tobacco and stuff so I installed bars and bought insurance.”
Patterson is grateful that Nasser reopened the supermarket. “It was a disappointment that nobody from here tried to open it but, to be honest with you, we were thankful. I’m thankful that he came because nobody else seemed like they wanted to. It was closed for a long time,” she said.
Hassan Nasser, owner of the local supermarket.
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 Hassan Nasser, owner of the local supermarket. Photograph: Sean Smith for the Guardian
But the supermarket only provides a handful of jobs. Patterson’s vision is something grander: Tchula as a manufacturing hub attracting factories providing stable if not particularly well-paid work, likethe clothing firm and sawmill used to do.
I found the story of Hassan Nasser to be particularly uplifting in these days when all sorts of politicians and their sycophantic media backers are raising the alarm about Muslim refugees. Here's a guy from Yemen who finds his way to America, lives in his truck to save money for the down-payment on this bankrupt grocery in a town in Mississippi, and the next thing you know he's a success story featured on a major European news platform!
The American Dream lives! 

How the megalomaniac known as "the wily Erdogan" just sealed his fate



Putin and Erdogan in happier times

How interesting it would have been to be a fly on the wall at today's emergency NATO meeting. One cannot imagine that the big dogs in NATO's European branch were happy with the crisis unleashed by Turkey's rash decision to shoot down a Russian fighter-bomber which had supposedly strayed into Turkey's airspace for seventeen seconds.

The international blogosphere is awash with speculation that Russia will hit back hard. I'm not so sure; at least about the hitting back hard happening in the spotlight. There are many ways for Russia to hit back well out of the spotlight.

First off, I suspect we've seen the last of Turkey's air attacks on targets in Syria. Turkey only very recently "joined" the war on Islamic State, and by most accounts its infiltrations of Syrian airspace have targeted the Kurds, not IS. After today's unfortunate miscalculation, any Russian air defence unit on the ground or fighter jet in the sky over Syria will consider a Turkish target fair game.

Secondly, as the entire world is well aware, the Erdogan regime has many enemies, within and outside of Turkey. More than a few of them, within and outside of Turkey, have picked up arms to confront the Turkish state. They'll be picking up many more and more potent arms in the weeks and months ahead. That's a simple enough task for the Russians to facilitate through the usual back channels. 

Erdogan presides over a pressure cooker of divergent interests, with a rabid core of ultra-nationalists making up the back-bone of his base. Until now, he's managed to keep a lid on the pressure cooker, at least for the most part. 

That's about to change.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Triumph of the weasels

There's an interesting story at the Irish Times today about how the corporate weasels behind the Pfizer-Allergan deal can make this deal pay by robbing the US treasury of millions more in tax revenue.

Hundreds of millions. Maybe even billions!

But that's just the tip of the ice-berg when it comes to tax evasion by US corporations. There's hundreds of billions in US corporate profits sloshing around in off-shore tax havens.

As a card-carrying pinko, I suppose I should be distraught about that.

If I thought that tax money denied the state was destined for meaningful stuff like education and health care and housing, I'd be pissed... but it's not. Instead, it's earmarked for more war and more money-hemoraging shit-shows like the F-35 program.

Gotta say that for the time being at least, I'm with the weasels on this one.

Savour the ironies...

Seems only a few weeks ago our corporate media were singing as one from the anti-Putin hymnal; PUTIN'S AGGRESSION MUST BE STOPPED and similar foolishness dominated the news platforms of the West. Take a tour of those platforms today, and you'll notice a not-so-subtle shift. Sure, we must remain wary of Putin, but...

What's changed? Within a matter of weeks, myriad news sites in the West have discovered hope for a resolution of the Syrian nightmare. After America and her largely imaginary coalition had been bombing Islamic State (quite illegally) for over a year, Russia, at the invitation of the legitimate government of Syria, moved in to lend a helping hand.

The Russians are flying more sorties on any given day than the US coalition managed in any given month. They are systematically destroying the ISIS oil export business which was their primary source of revenue, and which was, in spite of all the rhetoric, untouched by a year of US bombing.

That business was off-limits for the Americans because they wanted to spare the sensitivities of the Turks. The Erdogan regime has been up to its neck in training, supplying, and supporting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh/Islamic State from before day one. It is widely suspected that the IS oil export trade has been facilitated by members of Recip Erdogan's own family.

That's a family dynasty steeped in multiple levels of irony, is it not? One could hardly imagine anything else for the only Islamic member of the NATO gang. Ponder that awhile...

Meanwhile, Russian diplomatic activity has ramped up to an unprecedented level. Putin has gone out of his way to have face-to-face discussions with every major player in the Middle East, from Netanyahu to Obama, from Erdogan to Hollande, from the House of Saud to the king of Jordan. The beltway Masters of the Universe should pay more attention. Putin is putting on a master class in how diplomacy is done. Washington will wake up one day soon to discover that their allies in the Middle East all, and I mean every single one of them, trust Russia more than they trust America.

America is of course completely under the spell of the election cycle. As the most exceptional among nations this may be inevitable; after all, what shapes America will shape the planet, or at least that's what we've become accustomed to believing since history ended. It may therefore be good news that Trump has said he believes he can talk to Putin.

I believe he can too. In fact, I believe that after their talk Mr. Trump will announce a Trump Tower in Moscow and a Trump Golf Links in Sochi!

Today Putin is in Iran. That's a country that's been a pariah in the eyes of the West ever since they kicked out the Shah we gifted them. That gift too is not without its residual ironies. We've long been programmed to see Iran as a backward theocracy, motivated by nothing more than irrational Jew-hate to wipe the Holy Land off the map and so on.

Sure... but in the meantime, they just opened the most mind-boggling show of degenerate modern art at the Tehran Museum of Modern Art, just in time for Putin's visit.

They got Rothko.

They got Pollock.

They got Warhol and Bacon and so much more! Turns out they've got one of the most valuable state-owned modern art collections on the planet!

The ayatollahs!...

Don't take my word for it; that's the assessment of former Guggenheim curator Germano Celant.

Savour the ironies!


Thursday, November 19, 2015

The tragedy that is Israel

When venerated Israeli film-maker Marcel Ophuls produces a doc sympathetic to the Palestinians, you should know that there are deep cracks in the very foundation of the state.

How timely, how ironic, that this story appears on the very day that Netanyahu is once again bemoaning the lack of international condemnation of terrorism in Israel with the same enthusiasm the international community showed in condemning the terror attacks in France.

For sure, France is far from blameless in bringing this tragedy upon itself. There will always be Algeria, and the manifold excesses of France's colonial empire, and the all too enthusiastic rush into Washington's "War on Terror."

Those facts of French history should be enough to shame BHL and other warmongers of the Republic into silence, at least for the next thousand years or so.

But the sins of colonial-era France have nothing on today's apartheid regime in Israel.

Apartheid walls, apartheid highways, new apartheid settlements on stolen land announced practically every week. Prison time for children throwing stones. Live ammunition against children throwing stones...

What has Israel become?