Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The new face of real estate development in Toronto

Move over Bratty and Muzzo and Del Zotto.

There's a new sheriff in town.

Google.

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

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

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

Google is investing fifty million.

Who do you think will walk away with the profits?

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

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

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

Surrender now!

Resistance is futile.


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

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

I simply can't.

None of it makes any sense. Unless...

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

Thank God America was colonized by white people?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think not.

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

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

It's not rocket science.

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



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

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

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




Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Marc Faber implodes his career

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

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

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

They had no idea?

Get outta here!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Who's afraid of George Soros?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OH MY GOD THE JEWS ARE TAKING OVER!!!

Of course they are...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But that's just my theory.

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

The looting of Sears Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is this guy a genius or what!

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

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

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

Ain't that special!

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

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

More to some than to others.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fallish weather at Falling Downs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ya right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Him?

Her?

Who cares?

A friend is a friend is a friend...

And the weather has turned fallish here at Falling Downs.

Doug Saunders' nostalgia for a pre-Trump era

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

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

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

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

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

Enough with the fake news already, Doug!

Friday, October 13, 2017

The elephant absent from the room

Big news and big news headlines...

CANADA AGHAST NAFTA GOLDEN GOOSE THREATENED BY TRUMP.

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

NAFTA.

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

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

Go to Detroit and look around...

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

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

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

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

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

Ai Wei Wei and the concept of shamelessness

Ai Wei Wei is shameless.

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

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

Alastair Smart has done that.

Francesco Bonami has done that.

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

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

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

Shame

There was a time when we could feel shame.

Those days are long gone.

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

WTF???

Shame?

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

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

Brilliant!

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

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

Shame? No way!

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

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

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

Instead, there are accolades.

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


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

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Remembering Generous Electric

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We obviously need more Japanese investment!

Or better unions.




Saturday, October 7, 2017

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

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

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

Created by whom, you ask?

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

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

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

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

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

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


Look around you.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The pleasures of ageing

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

"The pleasures of ageing?"

Get the fuck outta here!

What pleasure?

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

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

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

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

Ya, you get over that...

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

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

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

No more striving.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That only happens with age.

The pleasures of aging...


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Canada's mission to Mali dead in the water

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

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

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

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

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

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

What could go wrong?

Trump and Puerto Rico

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip that odious debt burden and move on.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

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

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

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

Was the music keeping him up?

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

Who comes up with this stuff?

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

Sure...

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

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

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






Saturday, September 30, 2017

Wire brushes were my life

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

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

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

Good on them!

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

No!

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

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

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

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

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

The Subaru looks great!

Meltdown in Snowflake City

So a Jew and a black dude walk into a bar at Massey College. Along comes another Jew, Massey College "Master" Hugh Segal, who joins them, whereupon the first Jew says to the black dude, "you know this is your master, eh? Do you feel the lash?"

Cue the umbrage! No, scratch that... we're way past umbrage...

Cue the OUTRAGE!!!

According to the story in my Globe this morning, some 200 faculty and students at Massey have signed a petition demanding that the speaker, 76 year old Professor Michael Marrus, one of the top holocaust scholars in the world, be tossed overboard for his racist remark.

Get outta here!

It's a joke, folks! He's riffing off the anachronistic title Massey bestows on its leader. It might be a lame joke, it might be in questionable taste, but let's get a grip!

For his part, Master Segal has already caved, offering a grovelling statement that "there is no place for overt, jocular, or subtle racism here."

And no place for jokes, apparently.

Frankly, had our "victim" offered a pithy Jewish joke in riposte, this entire calamity might have been nipped in the bud. Alas, that would have required a sense of humour, and that's something that has gone missing on college campuses in this era of political correctitude.

Time to fight fire with fire, Professor Marrus. Just call your critics a pack of antisemites and be done with it!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Hillary takes Toronto

I see where Hillary sold out a 5,000 seat venue in Toronto this week to promote her latest book, "What Happened."

The cheapest seats (what, you thought Hillsie does promo for free?) went for $64. It went up from there, up to $2,400 to actually see Hillary sign your copy of her book.

I had no idea there were so many retarded Canadians who could spare that kind of cash.

Obviously, a lot of your Annex types who bought their homes when they were still affordable on their CBC paycheques remain committed to the good fight.

The "resistance."

You know; Mikey and Hillsie and Morgan Freeman and the rest of that crowd.

The Hollywood crowd, you could say.


Here's my take.

With the election of Donny J, a lot of very nice people suddenly realized that the American political system is a stinking cesspool.

What they don't see yet is that it's been a stinking cesspool for a long time.

They should be thanking Mr. Trump for opening their eyes.

While Trudeau grandstands at the UN his minions are busy sandbagging dental care for a native kid in Calgary

This story just stinks of pettiness.

The kid needs braces. What's the big deal? Pay the f@cking bill already!

But no! Justin "Sunny Daze" Trudeau's minions would rather spend into the six numbers to deny payment to a native family for dental work that cost a tiny fraction of what the government is spending to fight the payment.

What gives?

Could it be they're afraid of setting a precedent?

Hey, if we pay for this kid's braces, a million and a half Indians are gonna run out and get braces...

Like, what exactly is the thought process here?

Frankly, this case underlines a major shortcoming of our vaunted universal health care system. How is dental care not part of health care? If your teeth are falling out and you're in chronic pain, how are you going to get a job, keep a job, and access all the other good stuff that follows?

Dental care needs to be covered by our universal health care program, not just for Josey Willier, but for every Canadian.

Uprising on the (NFL) plantation

Back in the bad old days, rich white guys buying and selling black men was called "slavery." Today rich white guys buying and selling black men is called professional sports.

There's a lot of commentary out there these days making the rather spurious analogy between slavery and pro sports. It's an analogy that has its limitations. The pro hoops slave Russell Westbrook just signed a $200,000,000 contract extension.

Slavery never looked so good!

Kinda makes you wonder where the loyalties of rich black athletes will fall at the end of the day. In the NFL, where 70% of the players are black but 70% of the fans are white, I'm guessing the majority of the players are savvy enough to know not to antagonise the majority of the fans.

The owners know that too. That's why they feel comfortable, at least for now, with their display of faux solidarity with their players. They know that when push comes to shove there'll be no shortage of wannabees of all races who will be more than willing to shuck their personal code of ethics for a big sack of loot.

At least this anthem controversy has helped take the focus off the gathering storm of that nasty brain-injury succubus that's been haunting them.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Ottawa outsources culture to Netflix

Great idea!

After all, better Netflix than the wankers at CBC.

And don't forget Netflix is private sector, so they can do everything better anyways.

The record shows Netflix knows how to turn a dollar.

Or at least, how to spend a dollar.

Good enough!

Don't despair, though.

"Culture" ain't all it's cracked up to be.


On the other hand, one must be alert to the threat of Netflix and CBC working as a combine. Maybe they are secretly in cahoots?

And what if the both of them are secretly in cahoots with the Trudeaunistas who have been running roughshod over Ottawa these last couple of years?

About those NFL owners

It was so great to see all those white billionaire NFL owners come together in support of free speech last weekend, was it not? Not a one of them could find Kap a spot on a roster somewhere for the past year, and then, Holy Thunderin' Jeezus, if they don't turn right around and come out for "freedom of speech?"

How did it become the norm to festoon every hockey game, football game, NASCAR race and so on with all this patriotic propaganda bullshit in the first place? What exactly is the point of singing the national anthem before every gathering of any kind?

Can't it just be a game?

Where did these patriotic rituals first infiltrate the world of sport?

I don't believe the impetus would have come from the players' side. They just wanna play ball.

No, the ownership class has politicised professional sport.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

As humanity lurches towards Armeggedon, this is what's trending at Fox News

Madonna uses $600 mask on her butt to keep the skin soft.

Well, good to know, I suppose...

I always thought of her as a bit of a hard-ass!

But no, she really cares about keeping her buttocks soft and supple.

Who knew?

Furthermore, who cares?

Apparently enough people to make this story "trend."

God bless America!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

American Revolution 2.0; Roger Goodell as Che Guevara

Roger Goodell is reputed to have trousered a cool 150 millions plus thus far into his tenure as NFL comish. He's in the late stages of negotiating a new contract. Maybe that explains why he's suddenly woke, and big time!

Yup, all those millionaire NFL guys are a force for good in their communities, as are their billionaire owners. They, and not Trump, speak for grass-roots America.

Grass-roots Americans, led by Hillary, Michael Moore, and now Goodell, are sick to death of that fake president Putin gifted America. They just can't take it anymore!

Americans.

What the hell is wrong with those people? They can't afford universal health care but they can afford a trillion dollar military budget?

They have a homeless population in the millions which they can't afford to make right, but they can afford to build tax-payer subsidized stadiums for the billionaire owners of their NFL teams?

They can pick and choose the next leader of Brazil or Honduras or Ukraine, but when some Russian teenagers post anti-American propaganda on Facebook, Putin is undermining their democracy?

America is the most hyper-militarized state in the history of history, but some fat Korean kid in charge of a nuclear weapons program that is approximately where America's nuke program was in 1943 is an existential threat?

Grow up, America!

When America's severely dysfunctional democracy threw up Donald Trump as its president, I figured that's exactly the cartoon caricature of a president that modern day America deserves.

Between Moore and Goodell and Hillary, they've got the "resistance" they deserve too.

Good luck, America!


Bwana and Sambo explain why Congo can't escape its scars

I can't figure out why this story appears in the "Insight" section of today's Toronto Star. It is a story long on sensationalism but utterly bereft of insight.

First the sensationalism. Heads roll again and again. They are lopped off with reckless abandon and carried about in gunny sacks. Child soldiers have their fingers chopped off and drink the blood of their enemies. Vaginas are violated, not just with machetes, but with machetes heated in a fire!...

Oh!

My!

God!

They don't call it the "dark continent" for nothing, do they!?

Lucky for us, Star editor-in-chief Michael Cooke steps in with some background. It's not all the fault of the Congolese. The Belgian colonizers were not good people. No, they murdered ten million Congolese and then, at independence, left the fledgling state with a mere three PhDs.

Well, no wonder the place went to hell! How was the nascent state to bootstrap itself into the modern era with only three PhDs in the entire land?

That's a condescending bit of "Bwana knows best," isn't it?

Then, after the CIA, with the connivance of the Belgians, Brits, and UN, killed Congo's first democratically elected president, "the Congolese immediately turned on themselves..." and that's been the story ever since.

And this is what passes for "journalism?"

Shame!

I'm not a journalist, but I'm not brain dead either, and I'd like to make a couple of suggestions that might have upped the insight quotient for this story.

First of all, it's a pity we only meet one Canadian, the saintly world president of Doctors without Borders. Cooke comes tantalizingly close to unmasking a few more when he refers to corrupt practices in the mining industry which has caused tens of millions (billions with a "b" would be more accurate) of dollars to be diverted into the accounts of government officials and various shady middlemen. Canadian mining companies have a massive presence in the Congo. Why not name names, Mr. Cooke?

Rwanda gets barely a passing mention in the story. Paul Kagame's name does not come up at all. Cooke makes it sound like a few observers think the Kagame regime may be up to nefarious hanky-panky in the neighbourhood. In fact, virtually all independent observers agree Rwanda under Kagame has been neck-deep in fomenting strife in the Congo. The reason we don't talk about it is because his interference is quietly encouraged and facilitated by the West, including Canada.

Dictator?

What dictator?

Justin "Sunny Daze" Trudeau's feel-good feminist government sent Kagame heart-felt congrats on winning  the last "election" with 99% of the vote! Who are we kidding?

After more than fifty years of "independence" there are sound reasons why Congo can't escape its scars, but Cooke and Badylon Kawanda have done their best to avoid addressing them.

Doing so might require a little soul searching around how we continue to contribute to the ongoing tragedy that is the Congo.





Saturday, September 23, 2017

The show must go on...

A couple of the juniors from the Jewish side came up for the weekend because their Bubby was in a play.

At 87 years of age Bubby retains her love for the stage. She's lived and breathed live theatre all her life. It's something she was born into. Her family was deep into live theatre in the old country, which happened to be Poland. Various relations landed in the bigs; Broadway, film, and TV.

She never made the bigs. Instead, it fell to her to start up a theatre company in a small town a couple of hours north of Toronto, and that company is going strong to this day.

Ironically, her family hails from the same small town in Poland as my mother's folks. What are the odds? Here I am with the Farm Manager living the good life at Falling Downs. Eighty years ago our respective forbears, her's Jewish, mine nominally German, were co-habiting the same shithole shtettl in Poland.

But back to the play. The theatre company she co-founded over fifty years ago was putting on a stage adaptation of "Gas-Head Willy," a novel by a local author. What we didn't know was that the theatre had an air conditioning failure last Thursday.

You'd like to think that would have been fixed by Friday at the latest, but such was not the case. I overheard some admin types talking amongst themselves and it seems they can't get a contractor on site till Monday or Tuesday.

What the hell? You've got a veritable emergency and you can't get a HVAC contractor in under four days?

Go into the trades, dear young people...  It's gonna be at least another hundred years before a robot comes out to fix your air conditioner.

Meanwhile, we've been having a heat-wave in these parts. Yup, we've been setting record high temperatures most of September.

Heat wave.

Record high temperatures.

No air in the theatre...

But the show must go on!

And it did. Not that I particularly noticed or cared. I was fading in and out of consciousness for most of the evening. Luckily, I was alert for Bubby's lines, so I didn't completely disgrace myself.

I've had the privilege of having the Bubbinator in my life for ten or fifteen years now. Every time we go to see her in a show, we figure it could be the last time.

And we'll keep going as long as she keeps going!

Air conditioning or not, the show must go on!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Government of Canada selling off surplus Porsches

Ya, I know what you're thinking; Neumann's making shit up again...

And I can't blame you. After all, the pot-addled hillbilly isn't always the most reliable narrator.

But check this out; Environment Canada has this beauty 2010 Panamera 4S on auction, minimum bid $38,000. Apparently they needed it for "emissions testing!"

Of course they did!

If you're a SUV kinda guy, maybe this 2014 Cayenne with a mere 15,000 clicks on the clock is more your speed. More "emissions testing," of course!

No matter how you feel about wasteful government spending, you gotta tip your cap to the smoothies who slipped these purchases past their superiors!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Me and Elvis

When I was over at the Cobble Beach Concours last weekend, I tried to take a picture with my phone, a picture with the Farm Manager posed alongside a very pretty 1934 Bentley.

Although I thought I took a couple of dozen pictures, only one turned out, and it featured the torso of the FM alongside that pretty car. Back in the day of real cameras and real film, you wouldn't have claimed that "turned out."

But with the new technology, everything is good all the time, right?

I bring this up only because I miss that old school 35 mm stuff.

The first time I was in rehab they pounded into me the importance of having something to do when they graduated me. You had to have a hobby or an interest or a passion or something, otherwise you'd just fall back into your old ways...

So I took up photography.

It almost became a passion.

There are people who have Neumann photographs on their walls to this day, and not all of them are relatives.

 My photography career peaked when the Bookshelf Cafe offered me their walls for a couple of months. That was the good news.

The bad news was I'd have to share those walls with another photographer.

I was mortified. Share those Bookshelf walls?

No way!

Long story short, it wasn't long before I was taking another crack at rehab.

That's when I found out I wasn't the first repeat customer. According to the old hands at the place, Elvis used to go there all the time!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Google's commitment to a free press; Big Brother tightens the noose

I see where Google Canada has found half a million in spare change to fund a media literacy program at the Canadian Journalism Foundation. This will equip Canadian youngsters age 9 - 19 to better ferret out "fake news" and develop a "deeper understanding of the role journalism plays in democracy."

Of course it will. After all, a free press is the very cornerstone of our democracy. Just ask the CJF if you don't believe me. Here's CJF chair David Walmsley; "fake news accelerates distrust in our institutions, including distrust of the trained media who spend so much time trying to hold the powerful to account."

Oh, so that's what they've been doing! If that's the case, they've been doing a slovenly job of it over my lifetime. As near as I can tell, trust in mainstream media was on a downward spiral for decades before Trump and Putin allegedly invented fake news a couple of years ago, and for good reason; the typical news consumer figured out long ago that if and when media hold the powerful to account, it is by accident rather than by intent.

No, there are many agendas that have priority over that particular mission, and they're generally the agendas of the rich and powerful.

Be that as it may, we're truly going down the bunny hole if we buy into the notion that Google or anybody else in Big Tech has the slightest interest in saving journalism or promoting truth-telling. These outfits are now the richest and most powerful entities on the planet, with the exception of a handful of nation states.

It's safe to say that holding themselves to account is not a plank in their program.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The temp agency - slave traders of the 21st century

I wrote a post a few years ago sarcastically applauding Canada's enthusiasm for "temporary foreign workers."

Some poor schmuck in Indonesia who has a limited grasp of English, or at least a limited grasp of sarcasm, tweeted my blog to all his buddies and before I knew it I was inundated with queries about how a welder from Indonesia or Malaysia or half a dozen other countries might make their way to Canada.

Had I fewer scruples and more ambition, I might have replied to those queries by offering some bullshit "immigration information package for qualified welders." Yup, for a mere five hundred bucks I could have sent them stuff they could readily find on the internet for free. And thousands of them would have bought it.

I could have become a labour broker! Those desperate migrant welders could have made me rich!

That's what temp agency's are; labour brokers. Calling them slave traders is a bit of an insult to slave owners. Slave owners made an investment and had a vested interest in maintaining or enhancing their value. That required them to feed and house their slaves. The modern corporate employer has no such obligations, and the temp agency that sources the vast majority of employees today has even fewer.

Here's a story from the New York Times that contrasts the career trajectory of a worker in the pre-temp era to what's going on today. Forty or fifty years ago employers generally had some sense of duty to their employees. I remember when I was hired on at Kearney-National in Guelph back in '77, the woman in the HR office telling me, "welcome to the Kearney family."

I'm pretty sure nobody hears those words when they're handing in their paperwork at the Acme Employment Agency today. In the event, I moved to a better-paying family after a couple of years, but the point remains that the hiring process was qualitatively different when the employer was directly responsible for the hiring.

But, as Neil Irwin points out in that NYT story, the temp agency has allowed the corporate greedbags to run a more efficient ship.

Fuck the worker, and may God bless the bottom line!

The golden age of gas fumes

Did you know that in 1927 Cadillac offered 50 different body styles from a variety of coach-builders, and a whopping 500 different colour combos?

I didn't either.

That's just one of many nuggets of automotive miscellany I happened upon while strolling the 18th fairway at Cobble Beach today. It's a little overwhelming to take in so much automobile history at one go. How do you fully appreciate a Cord Speedster when you're already overwhelmed by a Stutz Bearcat and a bevy of vintage Bentleys?

There were a number of cars on view that were over one hundred years old. I can't imagine that anyone is going to be restoring and showing a 2017 Cadillac a hundred years from now, but I suspect the Type 55 will still be going strong two hundred years after it left the factory.

That's because they don't build stuff like they used to. The idea that you took pride in what you built and made it to last has pretty much gone out the window. Guys like Henry Ford and Walter Chrysler and Enzo Ferrari put their actual names on the cars that came out of their factories. They staked their reputations on the quality of their products.

Times have changed, and not for the better.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The winter-beater

Lot's of good stuff in my Globe today. Liz Renzetti kicks things off with a beauty take-down of Facebook on A2.  Also in the first section we see a nice tribute to "The Rock" and how being cut from the Stamps practice squad twenty years ago helped make him the A-list commodity he is today, and a moved-me-to-tears profile of a young actor who inexplicably checked out when everyone around him believed he had it all going on.

Further in we've got Doug Saunders, aka "Mr. Renzetti," with a lengthy polemic on why we need another sixty-million immigrants to properly colonize this great land the Indians so generously gifted us, so lengthy in fact that I've had to put it aside for later while I mollify the Farm Manager with a display of "doing something" around the place. For once I do not begrudge The Korean his $6.30.

Now that summer's over we're finally getting some decent summer weather. Me and the FM spent some quality time on the patio at Dockside Willie's yesterday afternoon, watching the melancholy spectacle of a few die-hard pleasure boaters try to wring the last drops of pleasure from the summer that wasn't.

Picked up an older Subaru last week. I'd set out to find a set of snows for the current ride. For not a lot more money, I got a practically new set of snows with a Subaru attached. Overall I've had good luck with them. Of the three I've owned, two took me well past four hundred thousand clicks. The other one was a lemon. This one has about eighty thousand fewer kilometres on it than the GM product that's been my daily driver for the past few years, so with a little luck I've found a winter-beater that should last for pretty much however many winters I've got left.

Must do something with the summer vehicle situation. The Mustang 50 is a nice enough car, but I'd never have bought it had I known the FM was done her driving days. For a thirty year old car it's impeccable and has lots of jam, but if I'd known, I'd never have bought one with an automatic. For me, a sporty car is just a whole lot sportier with a manual. Also, I've only had one ragtop in my life, a '64 Bonneville with a 348 4bbl and four speed, and I figure it's high time I did that again. There's a very pretty '69 Dart GTS (big block, four speed) convertible at Cars-on-line that's been calling my name, but the Farm Manager swears it's really shouting "denouement."

It's Concours weekend at Cobble Beach, so there's been some inspirational traffic going by Falling Downs today. Maybe we'll check out the show tomorrow.

In the meanwhile, I better get on with "doing something," - re-arranging the parts vehicles behind the barn... and maybe see what I can do about the mirror on the Ninja. If the FM gets into her Netflix, maybe I'll have a shot at a 10k blast around the block.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Brazil; a very stinky kettle of fish

Brazil.

The new corrupt government is putting the boots to the old corrupt government, but the corrupt supreme court seems to be putting the boots to everybody all over the place... because corruption in Brazil is universal?

Do not take umbrage, dear people of Brazil. Until very recently, "corruption" was more commonly known as "good governance."

But in spite of all that, there's been a couple of headlines that caught my eye.

Here's a killer headline from the Washington Post.

That is some nasty shit!

Up here in the northern hemisphere we'd go to jail for a long time for randomly killing Indigenous folks.

Those days are long gone.

Long gone up here, at least. We have to be way more subtle in how we kill the aboriginals...

But they're still way brazen about it in Brazil.

That's got to be a blot on a nation's record, wouldn't you think? I mean, who in the hell in the modern world brags about killing the natives?

Get the fuck outta here!

But wait a minute... here's a story from the New York Times that will lift your spirits.

Yup, it might be "bumpy times," but the hedge funds are booming!

That's Brazil.

A very stinky kettle of fish...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Pot-addled hillbilly beats serious journalists at Macleans to story by almost a year

Compare these headlines.

The sinking of the Canadian Navy.  That's from Macleans in August 2015.

Royal Canadian Navy sinking fast. That's from the perpetually inebriated think-tank here at Falling Downs, in October of 2014.

You'd almost think Scott Gilmore reads this blog, wouldn't you?

Well, maybe not... anybody who gives a shit was probably aware that our navy was sinking long before either of those stories. Gilmore and I obviously both give a shit, perhaps not for the same reasons, but still...

I ran into the Macleans story because I was looking for stuff around Canadian military procurement. Those 18 Boeing Super Hornets that are supposed to "temporarily" tide over our pathetic excuse for an air force are in the news again.

Eighteen airplanes for 6.3 billions. That works out to 350 millions per by my math. To do what? Stop Putin's aggression?

Thanks for the laugh! Hey, just strike Putin off your Christmas card mailing list if you're pissed at Putin. It'll have about the same impact on Putin's imaginary aggression as those eighteen warplanes... but look at the savings!

But seriously; we've been replacing our CF-18s for ten or fifteen years. We've been replacing our aging (and let's face it, we're way beyond "aging" here) Sea King helicopters for twice as long. The Harper gang was getting boffo press on our new fleet of warships for ten solid years without ever building a ship.

It's the Canadian way, eh? Talk tough and show up for the photo-ops.

Then, do nothing.

Wait for next photo-op and repeat.

And it's been going on long enough that we can safely say it's a bipartisan thing.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Ignorance isn't bliss, but it can make bliss last longer

So, what up with that Fukashima thing? You know, the non-news item where that nuclear reactor has been spewing radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean for years now.

Ignorance is bliss.

And what up with all the contaminated sites that have been flooded by hurricanes Harvey and Irma? Those contaminated flood waters will have to go somewhere, won't they?

Ignorance is bliss.


Someday our bliss will end.

We will live to rue our ignorance.


Deconstructing the NAFTA boondoggle one belated news story at a time

Conventional wisdom holds that NAFTA has been good for Canada. That's pretty much the only story corporate media have room for - although the Globe and Mail used to give Unifor economist Jim Stanford a token column once in awhile to sow seeds of doubt - in the interest of journalistic fairness I suppose. But the over-riding theme, always, is that NAFTA has been a rip-roaring success.

Every now and then, though, the gate-keepers of the "news" get sloppy and a bit of truth slips out. Canadian Press had a story last week about Canadian auto-parts plants in Mexico. Writer Alexander Panetta informs us that "Canadian auto-parts companies have over 120 plants and 43,000 employees in Mexico..." That's up from a small handful of plants and a few hundred employees pre-NAFTA.

Panetta introduces us to Nataly Jacobo. She works eight hour shifts six days a week in one of those Canadian plants for a weekly pay of $61. Those hours would pay a minimum wage worker in Canada over $500 per week.

Geez!... you don't imagine that's why Canadian auto-parts manufacturers operate in Mexico, do you?

Of course it is! That was beyond obvious to the typical factory hand even when Lyin' Brian Mulroney was singing the praises of the original Free Trade Agreement back in the eighties.

"Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!.." the old swindler promised.

A recent trend that's been gathering steam in the last couple of years is to blame the gutting of Ontario's industrial economy on automation. That's becoming truer every day, but it certainly wasn't true twenty or thirty years ago when the real damage to our industrial working class was being done.

So a little rough math tells me that our Canadian auto-parts makers are saving about twenty thousand dollars a year for every job they put in Mexico as opposed to having that job in Canada. Times that by 43,000, and we're talking serious money. Obviously, some Canadians have done well under NAFTA... the ones who own those companies!

The rest of us got screwed.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Fort Indians to get own fort

I wrote a post a few years ago criticising First Nations leadership. That's a little awkward, because I'm a white settler, whether I want to admit it or not.

And I don't. Is it my fault that my parents dragged me ashore at Pier 21 at the age of not-quite-one?

Hell, what was I supposed to know about the back story?

Now that I know somewhat more about that back story, I'm obliged to speak out.

A little while back Justin got lots of good press when he ceded a prime piece of Ottawa real estate back to its rightful owners while simultaneously repudiating the name of said real estate, hitherto known as the Langevin Block.

Its new name will be "The Palace of Co-optation."

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Revisiting Porto Munkenegro three years on

I noticed with a modicum of alarm that there are now more than five thousand missives posted on this blog. What a humongous waste of time that's been!

But it's been therapeutic for me, at some level...

Take this post on the gangster state of Montenegro from three years ago.

Three years on, Montenegro is now a fully made member of the NATO gang. How is that even possible?

Well, dear reader, the most implausible possibilities have come to pass.

Donald Trump is the president of the United States of America. How the fuck did that happen?

It's hard to know what to say...

My favourite "leftish" web-site, Counterpunch, has of late been inundated with anti-fascist screeds extolling the virtues of beating up fascists in the streets.

Who is a fascist?

Apparently it's anyone who looks like they might have voted for Trump. It's OK to beat those folks up, whether they voted for Trump or not, because after all, if well-meaning folks had beat down more proto-fascists in the streets of Berlin in the 1920's, Hitler would never have happened.

This is a narrative wholly ignorant of the street violence of 1920's Germany. Violence inevitably begets more violence. The parties most amenable to maximum violence will prevail in the end. And then what?

And then fascism, that's what.

This man, Trump, was at one time the toast of the Professional Black Activist class in America. Your google key can find you all sorts of smarmy liberal feel-good celebrations featuring Trump and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

Today Trump is deemed the embodiment of White Supremacist ideology in America. He's brought fascism to the USA.

Bullshit.

America went fascist long before Trump. One could argue that America was already there by the time Ike made his famous speech warning of the dangers of the military-industrial complex.

Maybe Harvey and Irma will help Americans figure out who they really are...


Friday, September 8, 2017

The beauty of it all

Will God smite Mar-a-Lago?

Or will God spare Mar-a-Lago?

If God is indeed dead, as has been hypothesised by deep thinkers since the time of Nietzsche and beyond, will Mother Nature or Hurricane Irma spare or smite?

Allow me to speculate for a moment; what use is the death of God if Mother Nature and Hurricane Irma are rushing in to fill the void?

These were the questions I was pondering when there was a sudden knock on the door.

A knock on the door is a novelty in these parts. There's a reason folks like us live off the beaten path. We don't appreciate random knocks on the door. That's why our welcome mat has "naff off" embroidered into it.

I see where the Wynne regime has charted its own course on the legal weed journey. They'll grow a whole new bureaucracy called the "Cannabis Control Board." I'll bet growing that bureaucracy is gonna be a whole lot more lucrative than growing weed.

But that's how things play out when you let politicians run the show. Somewhere along the line those folks forgot that they were public servants, ie, servants to the public.

Hahaha... that's a good one, eh!?

A few days ago I breakfasted with my old pal Kipling at the Teviotdale Truck Stop. He's knee-deep in grandchildren these days, so it's hard to get together, but Kipling has an old-timer's perspective on this whole legal weed question. He figures the entire legal weed thing is a scam to put pot profits (triple alliteration!!!) into the hands of Bay Street wankers and their attendant bureaucracy sycophants, while cutting out guys like himself who have been growing quality organic shit for forty years.

I suspect he's right.

So there's a knock on the door.

The hounds go ballistic.

The Farm Manager wants to run for the gun cabinet.

Relax!

It's just a couple of local kids who hunted our property last year and repaid the favour with some mighty tasty goose summer sausage.

I gave them the thumbs up.

Conditional on another round of summer sausage of course.


The beauty of it all...





Tuesday, September 5, 2017

When the system breaks down

Around here I have a system. Diesel goes in the yellow jugs. 50:1 two-stroke mix goes in the one gallon red jugs. Any larger red cans have straight-up gasoline, high-octane in the smaller ones and run of the mill ethanol-gasoline mix in the larger.

That ethanol thing is quite the scam. Farmers grow corn. Mostly they grow it by the Industrial Agriculture standards approved by Monsanto and the rest of the Big Ag overlords.

Corn grown, you can choose to use it as food for your family or food for your car.

But the food you feed your car won't ever feed a family...

It's a fucked-up thing.

But I digress.

Systems.

They can go awry. They can be corrupted. They can get fucked-up.

You'd be surprised how often my simple system with the fuel supply goes in the ditch.

Sometimes it's just driver error, as in when I can't remember what runs on diesel and what doesn't. I'm always clear that the Ninja needs high-octane gasoline. But the cars can be confusing. I mean, last year I was piloting that diesel VW. It becomes habit to stop in front of the diesel pump at the Pioneer.

So you change cars but you still stop in front of the diesel pump... ya, you gotta keep your wits about you.

And the further you go down the Alzheimer Highway, the bigger that challenge becomes.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

NFL in death throes

Professional football is well past its best-before date. Its legitimacy is rapidly eroding on two fronts, each of which is bigger than the NFL.

Colin Kaepernick kicked off something that's starting to snowball and have repercussions. The politicisation of sports isn't a fad that's just going to go away. I'm of two minds on that. On the one hand, it's a shame. I'm not a serious fan, but I can appreciate the athleticism of a great pass or an exceptional touch-down run.

On the other hand, the NFL and pro sport in general have for too long prostituted themselves as cheerleaders for a militaristic faux patriotism, which effectively politicised sports long before Kaepernick took a knee.

The other front is the rapidly growing public awareness of the CTE scandal. When a guy like Ed Cunningham walks away from his dream job, he's making a statement every bit as courageous and important as Kaepernick's. The NFL money guys might have thought they put the brain injury thing to bed with that billion dollar payout last year, but that was just the beginning.

There is no end in sight... other than the end of the NFL itself.

The NFL is toast.



The future of food

My Sunday Star today has on view a wholly unappetising story by Lisa Kramer titled Consumer demand will lead to lab-made 'clean meat'.

Yummy!

Kramer bobs and weaves through a thicket of issues ranging from food safety to animal welfare, but ultimately seems to have only one over-riding concern; safe returns for investors. Of course that's how virtually all policy is decided these days. Nothing is a good idea until "luminaries" like Richard Branson and Bill Gates put money into it.

We have to call bullshit on that. The last hundred years of the corporatization of the human food supply chain has given us cheap food. It's also given us an obesity crisis and a diabetes epidemic. Big Ag is a nightmare for our ecosystem. Industrial agriculture, no matter how much it enriches investors, impoverishes everyone.

We don't need more corporate control of our food supply.

We need to break free of that corporate control!

Buy beef that was grass-fed in pastures instead of fattened in feedlots.

Source your eggs from small farmers who allow the chickens to run free.

Patronize your local farmers' market (but beware the "farmers" who source their produce at the Oshawa Food Terminal - they're everywhere).

There's a growing enthusiasm for "real food" alternatives today that didn't exist a generation ago. Community supported small-scale farming is on the rise everywhere. A lot of millennials are saying "goodbye Wonderbread, hello artisanal sourdough!"

Here's a great example of what's happening. Riverside Bakery is a community supported bakery in Stirling, Scotland. I use them as an example because I've met some of the folks involved, but similar ventures, be they bakeries or butcher shops or what have you, are popping up everywhere.

And while they may hold little appeal for Branson and Gates and other big investors, they, and not lab-grown food products, are the real future of sustainable agriculture.





Friday, September 1, 2017

It's not the corporate greed-bags; Mother Nature causes high gas prices

There's a hilarious item on view at CBC this moment claiming that it's Hurricane Harvey in Texas that's causing gasoline prices to spike 25% in Ontario.

It's because Harvey shut down all those refineries on the Gulf Coast, dontcha know...

How much Ontario gasoline comes from refineries on the Gulf Coast?

If I'm not mistaken, the percentage is right around zero.

But the folks who do supply your Ontario gasoline claim that their adventures in price-gouging are all about Hurricane Harvey.

Sounds like bullshit to me.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The pretentious twattery of John Ralston Saul

Walls, Bridges, Homes is a series of essays written in response to the emerging global appetite for a progressive narrative around inclusion and immigration. The series frames the thematic focus of 6 Degrees Citizen Space, a forum presented by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship.

So reads the intro to a full page opinion piece by John Ralston Saul in last Saturday's Globe and Mail. The forum in question is open to the public - for a price! Yes, dear citizen, you too can witness important thinkers of "progressive" thoughts reaffirm one another's greatness! The great Ai Wei Wei will be on hand, together with a goodly slice of the Canadian literary establishment. At a mere $65 to $175 per ticket, it's a bargain, at least for the kind of people who like to name drop; "I was at a conference last week, and asked _______________ (fill in the name of your choosing, although it's obvious that the big draw here is Ai Wei Wei) to clarify their theory of ____________."

Of course, once you've paid for your ticket you're no longer involved as a citizen, but as a consumer.

So JRS (Saul has a ways to go before his initials get the same instant recognition as the initials BHL, but I'm doing my best to help raise his profile) and his wife start an "Institute," they have fund-raising forums, and the Globe and Mail donates tens of thousands in free advertising by way of a "series of essays..."

Hmm... are the people writing this ad copy also being paid for it by the Globe? No wonder they don't make money on ads anymore. The old model, wherein advertisers pay the paper, has been completely turned upside down!

Anyway, lets have a look at JRS's essay, The bridges we must build, right here at home.

The first quarter or so is an incoherent ramble about how some white Europeans invented racism, "the Westphalian model," and spread it all over the world. It's part of "our imperial inheritance," and "we took it up with enthusiasm."

Sorry, John; "we," meaning white settlers in North America, didn't take it up, enthusiastically or otherwise. We brought it with us. The colonial project was always about the dispossession of the indigenous population. There was no golden age when settler and native lived in egalitarian harmony. True, there are many examples of various First Nations having alliances of convenience with various settler groups (British, French, Spanish, Dutch) in the many wars that wracked the continent from the late fifteenth century forward, but the over-arching theme was always one of destroying the natives and stealing their land.

Saul then segues into a discussion of the "migrant crisis" that struck Europe in 2015. Apparently this crisis is due primarily to the lack of a sufficient bureaucracy within the EU to handle this population in-flow in an orderly manner. Yup, all those refugees from Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan and Libya would have caused nary a ripple if the EU nations had proper policies and sufficient bureaucrats. There is no hint that there might be some connection between US/NATO foreign policy in those countries and the migrant crisis.

This is of course complete bullshit. The vast majority of actual refugees are fleeing the death and destruction visited on their countries by ourselves and our allies. Suggesting otherwise is beyond dishonest; it is propaganda for a blinkered and profoundly racist world-view that seeks to shift responsibility for our crimes against humanity to unfortunate policy failures and faceless bureaucrats.

Saul wraps things up with a patronising tribute to the great comeback Canada's Indians are making. Sure, we can celebrate, if we are so inclined, the inclusion of Indian writers in the canon of the Canlit establishment, but what's that worth to a teenager in Attawapiskat?

JRS concludes with this, addressed to First Nations; "...one of the first things you do is show respect by saying thank you. That is how bridges begin to be built."

In other words, we stole your land, we destroyed your culture, we're still killing your kids, but we are deeply grateful to you.

Please appreciate our heartfelt respect.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Is the mission of a free press to elucidate or obfuscate?

This story from the Washington Post (August 23) has found its way into my Sunday Star today, four days later. Only the title has been simplified for the benefit of the Canadian readership; Was the cost of defeating Daesh in Mosul too high?

Writers Kareem Fahim and Aaso Ameen Schwan never get around to answering their rhetorical question, because, by gosh, it's just too hard to figure out what the cost was. Nobody seems to know how many civilians have died in Mosul. We are provided with a reassuring quote from a US Army spokesman about "how we apply rigorous standards to our targeting process" and of course even one civilian casualty is too many.

The best estimate they can come up with is 1,429 civilian dead, sourced from the Iraqi military. Had they tried a little harder and spent five minutes with Google, they might have happened upon this story from PRI citing an Amnesty International report that came out a month and a half before their story, that claims 5,805 civilian casualties.

Or they might have stumbled over this story by Patrick Cockburn in The Independent. Citing Kurdish intelligence, Cockburn speaks of 40,000 deaths in Mosul.

PRI, Amnesty International, Patrick Cockburn, and The Independent are all legitimate (although Western) sources who are quoted without hesitation when their reportage suits the narrative we're trying to spin. When it doesn't, they can be safely ignored.

In a similar vein, a story by Ann Hui in the Globe and Mail last week included the audacious claim that China has more journalists in prison than any country in the world. Say what? Even a pot-addled hillbilly from the backwoods of Bruce County knows that's a crock of shit!

I fired off an appropriately miffed letter to the editor providing a link to more recent information than what their reporter apparently had access to. Within a few hours I got a reply from the Globe's "Public Editor," Sylvia Stead.

Well, by golly, the reporter had made an oopsie and mistakenly used statistics from December of 2015 for a story written in August 2017. That's an honest mistake of course; major news platforms use outdated stats all the time when it suits the narrative they're spinning. We must never be allowed to forget that China is a totalitarian state with no press freedom.

To their credit, they printed a correction of sorts the next day - China no longer had the most journalists locked up. They could have gone a little further and pointed out, given the latest available stats (and if I can find them, Ann Hui could too), there are currently about five times as many journalists in the prisons of our NATO ally Turkey (population 90 million) than in the Peoples Republic of China (population 1,400 million), but I guess that would be asking too much.

It would undermine the narrative. As we all know, NATO is a force for freedom and democracy while China is an evil dictatorship.

It's worth fudging the facts to preserve such an essential truth.




Friday, August 25, 2017

Mayweather vs. McGregor and why I couldn't give a shit

Mayweather vs. McGregor is the fakest fight of all time, being held in the fakest city in the fakest nation on the planet.

This is nothing more than a media production put on by the same folks who brought you Clinton vs. Trump last year. Remember that?

Yes, this is nothing more than a contrived media spectacle, fake from end to end and top to bottom. "The fight everybody is talking about" screams the mainstream press. They're talking about it because you've been ramming it down their gullets for months.

It's like the revelatory headlines revealing that after a year of non-stop doggerel about Trump's Russia connections, 60% of the population believed there was a Trump Russia connection. Of course they do! You've been telling them for a year!

And that's why people are talking about Mayweather vs. McGregor. You've been telling them for months how important it is...

Even my Globe and Mail has had Cathal Kelly on the file writing about nothing else for the past week, although to his credit he has struck a much appreciated tone of scepticism about the entire charade.

Here's my prediction; the most lucrative event in pay per view will be inconclusive and controversial.

They will then have a rematch that will be even more lucrative...

Oh, how I miss Muhammad Ali.

Sauveur Macron revealed as man of substance

France is f@cked.

You'll notice that the Macron-friendly Toronto Star is quick to point out that this is more or less in line with the amount that his two immediate predecessors spent on personal grooming. That's the point though, isn't it?

Wasn't Macron supposed to be a breath of fresh air?

Whether it's Sarko or Hollande the Conqueror or this icon of a supposedly new neither left nor right politics, Macron demonstrates his contempt for the average citizen by spending more on makeup in three months than the average citizen takes home in a year.

That's politics, and Macron is just another politician.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Lawn liberation

Think I'm gonna start a NGO.

The Lawn Liberation Front. Rise up against the tyranny of the lawn!

No, that sounds a little too revolutionary... especially for an NGO.

How about the Lawn Liberation Foundation? Oh ya!

I like the way that rolls off the tongue!


I was pondering this shit whilst pushing the 19" mower back and forth and back and forth across the two acres of lawn that surround my falling down hundred year old pile of bricks that I call home and you know as Falling Downs.

Lawn Liberation Foundation.

Ya, I like it!

Gonna set up a fund-kicker page tomorrow.

Because lawns really are retarded. I'm completely sacrificing at least three hours per week to cutting grass that any number of small animal types would be happy to forage. Back in the day my folks would make this rabbit pen out of wood from used shipping pallets, and every day the bunny cage would be moved over.

You never had to mow the lawn!

And by the end of the summer you had a bunch of plump rabbits.

You know how that ends.


My dear Mom had the best rabbit recipes.


Anyway, I don't think getting a riding mower solves the problem. It's just an enabling technology. The original problem is that a lawn is a waste of space and money. Keeping the lawn while cutting the lawn-cutting time down from three hours a week to three quarters of an hour per week isn't solving the problem.

But it would sure make my life easier.



Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Death of the "citizen"

Goodbye, dear citizen! We hardly got to know you...


But, thank god you're back!

No, you're not a "citizen" anymore...

You're a consumer.


But at least you're back.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Another thing that could never happen just happened

Do you ever follow those stories where some business-savvy keener wants to open up a new fish farm, and a bunch of pointy-headed long-beards will show up to claim that the farmed fish will escape and wreak havoc on wild fish habitat and blah blah blah?

So they'll have a hearing, wherein the keener presents lots of experts who claim such a thing can never happen, blah blah blah.  And because our culture valourizes business-savvy keeners and discounts everyone else, the project gets the green light.

And then this happens.

Oopsie!

Oh well, it's only 300,000 fish... and its not our fault.

It was the solar eclipse!

9/11 through the prism of POTUS 45

Donny J made it official yesterday; he's turning his back on the last campaign promise that he hasn't already broken; ending the longest war in US history. The particulars of his announcement are beyond laughable. He will ramp up boots on the ground by some 4,000 pairs and serve notice that we're now officially in it to win it.

Complete bullshit obviously. If the USA/NATO combine couldn't win Afghanistan with over 100,000 troops, bumping the numbers up to 12,000 from 8,000 is a joke.

I'm guessing that this is not so much a case of Mr. Trump changing his mind, but rather the acknowledgement that it's not actually the president of the country who is running the show.

Which raises a multi-trillion dollar question; if it's not the democratically elected leader running the country, who is?

That's not a question a lot of Americans seem to concern themselves with. No, Americans are far more concerned with where a trans person gets to take a shit, whether a NFL player stands for the national anthem, or if Civil War statuary should be removed from public spaces. These are issues that so divide Americans that they will gleefully beat one another to a pulp in defense of their respective opinions.

Questions of who is actually at the helm as the world's most dangerous state careens off the cliff isn't something most Americans can roust themselves off the couch over. After all, even raising the question will get you tarred with the "conspiracy theorist" brush.

It's not really going off the cliff of course. The only thing that really matters to those who call the shots is that the American war machine keeps pumping profits to those who own it. Making the Afghanistan campaign open-ended guarantees lots more of that. As do the dozens of other intrigues simultaneously greasing the war machine, from Ukraine to Yemen to Iraq to Syria to Israel and on and on and on.

From the point of view of those actually steering the ship, this is not "going off the cliff." This is everything going to plan.

Which is what Trump is in the process of figuring out. Who the hell was Trump, after all? Until he ran for the 2016 election he was anything but this racist, misogynist, nativist, etc, etc, beast who now fronts every newscast. He was a fairly typical Manhattan uber-rich liberal who was relentlessly fawned over by the same media that now denigrates him non-stop. Oprah had no qualms about conducting deferential interviews with him. Google Images has a vast trove of pictures showing the racist beast yucking it up with the likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

In fact, if you were an A-list American socialite, politician, sports or entertainment star in the decades before Trump's White House run, chances are there's a picture somewhere of you posing with Donald J Trump.

So what happened?

What happened was that he unexpectedly won the election, and America's deep state propaganda machine, often referred to as "the free press," swung into action. Trump was not supposed to win. What's this nonsense about improving relations with Russia and ending wars for regime change? No arms race with Russia or China? No perpetual wars in Afghanistan or Iraq or Syria? OMG, the gushing taps of the war profiteers will be down to a trickle in no time flat...

We gotta stop that man!

And I think they have. The beast has been tamed. Sure, he'll keep up with those silly tweets, but that doesn't hurt the war machine.

The last time America's propaganda infrastructure closed ranks so effectively in the interests of preserving the folks behind the curtain was circa 2001. I was a welding inspector at Frankel Steel where the structural steel for Seven World Trade Center was fabbed up. Nobody I've ever met who has hands-on experience with structural steel buys the official narrative, nor do the over two thousand professional architects and engineers who have put their professional reputations on the line to say so, yet sixteen years on it's that official narrative that holds sway.

If Americans were not so stupefied by their exceptionalism they might be asking themselves why.