2008-09-30

Having Fun With Ideology. Sorta.

Sigh...You know the story.

It takes a conservative to clean up and a liberal to have fun. It takes a conservative to lay down stable tracks so that a liberal can experiment with their ideas. When they mess up, as they usually do, a conservative is there to pick them up and be voted in. People do have instinctive ability after all. When they feel liberals have gone too far they toss their sorry asses - and vice versa of course.

And so history evolves. Together they progress.

Presidential Debate I

From Factcheck.org.

Who said what wrongly.

Link Of Interest: Grass Roots Action

For American readers, here's a site that may be of interest:

Citizens Against Government Waste.

2008-09-29

Article of Interest: Conservative Spending

For your reading pleasure, the Cato Institute published an article titled, "How Bush Bankrupted America."

Engage the classical conservative and libertarian in you.

Prime Minister Harper should read this too.

The NDP with their planned $52 billion budget on spending too. Ok, so I dream.

The Games History Plays

A while back, Allianz found out how history can be a little difficult to forget. Here's how the NY Daily News put it:

"The developer of the new Jets and Giants stadium broke off naming rights talks with the Nazi-linked insurance company after a groundswell of outrage."

Ok. Being connected to the Nazi's is kinda something you want to keep quiet but how long should the past follow someone - or in this case a company?

We often hear, "Oh honey, that's in the past!" or "can't we leave all this in the past?" as a way of socially progressing. Should it not be the same in business?

The past didn't seem to catch up with French collaborators like Coco Chanel, Peugeot and Michelin. Chanel slept with Nazi's. Not even her own perfume was enough to cover the stench of...well, anyway sales were huge for her products. Rudolphe Peugeot for his part made tanks for the Nazi's. My first 10-speed bike which was a Peugeot. No one ever came up to me and said, "Hey, are you a Nazi sympathizer or something?" I never bought Michelin tires but their rubber helped the German defense forces throughout the war.

Nor does it seem to impede Vokswagen sales. The people's car founded by Adolf Hitler.

Bail Out Defeated

I can't say that I disagree.

Government interventionism has to slow down.

2008-09-28

Racey Bugs Bunny 'Toons

Speaking of Bugs, as you all know, many Loonie Tunes, Merrie Melodies 'toons have been edited for content. Some have been outright censored never to be seen again. I got to see a few when Montreal used to host a few Bugs festivals while I was in university. Cinema de Paris and the old Rialto on Park ave. were the usual venues. One year Chuck Jones was a guest. It was there, at the Rialto, where we got to see a never seen before scene of Bugs coming out of the shower - naked. Literally.

On this exposed note, here are couple of Bugs cartoons you won't see anytime soon:

Bugs and Nazi Germany.

Hillbilly Bugs wasn't censored for some reason.

Ok. This is racey but funny.

Apparently this is no longer on television here on the good ole, liberal guilty continent. Bugs plays a mean banjo.

Classic Bugs Bunny

Open Saskatchewan? Priceless.

Daffy Duck. I wonder if he'd be right in the middle of the current financial crisis in the USA.

Pismo Beach? Leave it to Bugs to be a trend setting traveler. He knew of it well before the population boom. He was probably attracted to the "Clam Festival."

2008-09-27

Chill Out Jack

Jack Layton is either out to brunch (minus the cantaloupe) or is plain misleading.

We're all aware of the economic meltdown in the U.S. and the attempts by meddling politicians to prepare a care package to save and stabilize the markets.

The debate up here is whether we will see a similar crisis.

The answer is probably no. Never say never, so that's why I smartly used the word "probably."

Layton is leading the "Harper doesn't care and the Canadian market will crash" charge. Except he's not on a white horse but a donkey on this one. The Canadian economy will inevitably feel the pinch. I say inevitably because, well, close to 90% of our economy is tied to the American economy.

So some negative spill over should take place. It may even get painful.

More importantly, what Layton is deliberately overlooking (and I know he knows this) is that Canada's financial system is extremely regulated and stable. It's a completely different system than from the U.S.

Unlike one NDP rep (business simply isn't their strong suit) I heard say on the radio, the industry doesn't need more regulation. That's crazy, pointless socialist talk for its own sake. In fact, Canada's system is highly efficient and a model for the world.

Sit back. Let it ride. Don't sell. Drink some cider and ignore the prophets of gloom and doom.

The Passing Of A Legendary Actor

Paul Newman has died at the age of 83 following a battle with cancer.

One of the first "serious" movies I ever watched was 'The Sting' starring Newman and Robert Redford. I enjoyed it enough to go out and rent 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' and 'The Young Philadelphians.'

Newman's films also had an impact on Canadians. Hockey fans in particular with the immortal 'Slap Shot.' Name me one hockey fan on the continent who didn't love that movie.

Newman also produced decent food with his 'Newman's Own' line.

Hollywood has indeed lost a true giant of cinema.

2008-09-26

American Presidential Debate

I wasn't sure what I was looking for in the debate but I did come away with some impressions.

First off, I think Senator Obama did well. He stood Presidential. He looked into the camera, more importantly, at Senator McCain. For his part, McCain kept his eyes fixed on Jim Lehrer.

On the line for Obama were the "swing" votes from Independents. It remains to be seen if he managed to earn some credibility with them.

Another thing I noticed was how Obama seemed to be always searching for common ground. While in a strict political sense this may be viewed as a faux pas, I found myself appreciating the strategy and it made McCain's attacks seem somewhat condescending.

McCain clearly was playing the experience card and found his "voice" when it came to issues on foreign policy - which is pretty much in line with the neo-con doctrine. He certainly looked assured. McCain didn't have to find the TK punch. He just had to cast doubt in the minds of undecided votes about Obama. In parts, he looked like he was on the way to doing that.

While Obama seemed a tad more uncomfortable in more parts, I think both held their lines.

Is There Room For Another Party?

Like Jell-O, there's always room to party. But what about politically?

I've been hearing whispers of "unite the left" by some. Naturally, the NDP and Liberals would be the merging parties. Why not? They pretty much have made the individual irrelevant thanks to their constant meddling in private affairs.

Don't do this, we need to do that, do this, if you don't you'll go to jail, get a ticket - get off my back will ya!

While this would move us towards a two-party type of system, I wonder if this is a good thing.

On the other hand, more parties may seem more democratic but is it efficient and functional?

Yet, I can't help but think, maybe there is room for another party -or two. Is it me, or is the timing for something new and fresh just about right?

I'm surprised there's no libertarian-ish party.

We have environ-mental, we have left-wing and left-wing-ish as well as right-wing-ish. But no hard right, hard left or libertarian. What about a classical liberal or conservative party? Am I dreaming?

How about the Individualist Party?

Enough Already About Cuts To The Arts

Talk about gross exaggeration and misrepresentation of what the Conservatives are doing.

Let me first start by stating that I come from a family of damn artists. Graphic designers, writers, musicians, singers, whatever. A bunch of flakes have both drearily and delightfully decorated our family tree over the years.

So I know what it's like to be around artists.

I also happen to love business and grew up and worked in a professional environment.

It's a good mix that helps to rationalize what's going on. Heaven knows you won't get it from the drama queen Justin Trudeau or some "journalists" who should really know better. Well, maybe I'm being too kind. Some journalists are just plain ridiculous. The "beat Harper at all cost" movement is a little over the top even for an aloof independent like me. Yes, we exist here in Canada.

What Stephen Harper is doing is simple. It doesn't take a genius. But lessons in household budgets may help. Essentially, he's reallocating resources so that those who don't deserve it don't get it. The truth is that too many dead beats and half-assed talents were getting too much money. Prudent, no?

Staying in line with the insidiousness of free spending and offering subsidies to companies, Harper's Conservatives have actually increased funding for the arts. When it comes to spending, Harper exhibits about as much restraint as a 44 year-old virgin in a Montreal strip joint.

Moreover, the Conservatives are spending more than the Liberals did. In fact, it was the Liberals who cut funding to the arts. I don't seem to recall an outcry when this was announced.

It's just that the Conservatives are being, well, conservative. They won't be giving it to any boob who thinks they're an artist. I think we've seen enough of artists making art out of shit (literally) and blowing air out of their asses (literally). Some of the people who get the money are simply crap - excuse the rogue impoliteness. They contribute absolutely nothing to the cultural development of Canada. Nonewhatsoeveraroni.

Here's a thought: Hows 'bout artists go out and earn the money? Instead of organizing lame rallies and concerts, hows 'bout we allow Canadians to privately fund artists? Hows 'bout we think more like PBS and solicit the public directly? Or is that too "grown up" to do? Hows 'bout we take successful artists with money coming out of their wazoos and ask them to help contribute cash to a fund for artists? Hows 'bout artists find themselves some patrons like they did in the olden times? Hows 'bout that, Paul Gross, huh?

Bunch of whining, overrated babies. Culture, in whatever form or manifestation, will do just fine, I suspect.

Funding doesn't improve the the quality of our arts. In turn, it doesn't make our culture any more substantial. It just makes us more, erm, colorful.

Creating real art that Canadians (and the world) connect to has more impact. And no amount of money can help on this front.

Write better books. Sing better songs. Paint better pictures. Make better movies. Let the free market determine if you suck or not.

Drop the picket sign.

Chop, chop.












2008-09-25

Vote for...McPalinobamabiden

They're funny.

Observations, that is.

Perception is even more drole.

For that last little while, all I've heard on the radio is a lot of talk about Sarah Palin. Depending from what perspective it comes from, some of it has been positive, some negative.

Mostly negative. Unless you're this guy. Then it's all good. Down boy.

I'm all for making fun of public figures, but the discourse descended upon us about Palin has been downright weird - and hopelessly hypocritical. But I choose not to expand on this.

Sure she asks to pray for pipelines, hunts caribou (or something), has the usual questionable political track record that is standard with politicians and has chick sex appeal.

She even believes in creationism, from what I read.

All this is fair game.

And if it's fair game for her it should be for the other side as well.

True story.

My kitchen table.

It was bash a Republican and Conservative Party night. A few people who carry the same blood as me, though not the same brain (thank God), spent quite a bit of time babbling about how "dumb" Republicans are.

Yeah, they don't strike me as worldly (although McCain has been to Vietnam) but my way to offer a rebuttal was to simply point out that none of the Fantastic Four impressed me all that much.

"What? You don't like Obama? You'd better hope he wins..."

"Or what?" I said.

"Or...Americans are crazy if they don't vote for him."

"Isn't that a tad judgmental? Besides, shouldn't we be focusing on our own elections?"

Of course, Canadian politics isn't as dynamic as American politics. Or at least, as wild.

So it shifted a little. Big mistake. More blah, blahs. Like:

"The Conservatives are cutting the arts!"

So what? Have you seen some of the scrap out there thanks to government grants? Besides, from what I can tell, spending on the arts is actually up with Harper. The Liberal party cut the arts. And you guessed it, now they're all over the Conservatives saying how "out of touch" with the average Canadian Harper and his Hidden Agendists really are. Man, are the Liberals a funny bunch.

Heeeeeeeeere's Stevie Harper and the Hidden Agendists!

Should we be surprised the spending on the arts is up considering the Conservatives are spenders? Besides, maybe some of these "artists" really shouldn't be artists and should get a haircut and get a real job. I'm just guessing.

Another family member keep sending me videos exposing McCain lies and gaffes. Word of advice: avoid videos, where necessary, with the words "truth" and "real" in them. As in "the truth about..." and "the real..."

When I mentioned that one can make and edit a video on just about anyone in this manner, it was ignored. I added that Obama hasn't been above making errors - remember he's apparently been to 57 States. My sibling scoffed at this and rolled her eyes, "You can't possibly believe Obama thinks there are 57 states?"

She was right.

I don't.

It was an error.

But when McCain made the "Shiite and Shia" faux pas, it was taken at face value: that he was just another dumb hick.

What gives?

When I brought this up, asking if she thought her line of defense about Obama applied to McCain, she remained silent and then pulled the good ol', "It's different."

Ah, yes, yes.

"Different."

Joe Biden recently explained how FDR went on TV in 1929 to talk to the American people about the "the princes of greed." If you don't know where the historical mistakes are in this statement, get off my blog.

To me, all these gaffes are just that: gaffes. I'm sure - in fact, I'm willing to bet -that many smart people get caught with their pants down all the time.

We spend a whole lot of damn time arguing the small stuff.

These are just my observations of how perceptions work. Funny, huh?

Now.

Will anyone stand up and truly, critically assess the candidates? Will anyone really look hard, for example, at Obama, and look beyond the speeches of rhetoric?

Remove The Crucifix! Allow The Kirpan!

That is all.

2008-09-24

Hello? Who Are You? Please Stop. Please?

Apparently, a house alarm system without a live two-way messaging center, is useless. How so?

Burglar breaks in. Alarm center calls in.

Burglar answers.

Burglar: "Hello?"

Alarm guy or girl: "Um, who is this?

Burglar: "Erm, it's, um, Mister....mister...Apu...na...ma...lanapaha...ha...ha...ha...Aw, dammit."

Alarm: "Are you a thief?"

Burglar: "No, I'm delivering pizza. Of course I'm a thief. An inept one at that. Out of all the houses in the neighborhood I get the one with the name I can't pronounce."

Alarm: "I would appreciate if you kindly and patiently wait for the police."

Burglar: "What if I say no?"

Alarm: "You don't want to do that."

Burglar: "Why not?"

Alarm: "Because I say so that's why."

Burglar: "O-okay."

Alarm: "If you're armed please lay your weapon on the table please."

Burglar: "Sounds reasonable enough."

Moment of awkward silence.

Burglar: "So. How are things on your end?"

Alarm: "Swell. How about you? Wait. You don't have to answer that."

Both laugh.

Alarm: "Are you biting your nails?"

Burglar: "Yeah. It's a bad habit."

Alarm: "My brother does that too. It drives me crazy. He has no nails left."

Burglar leaning against the wall: "What am I doing? What is this?"

Alarm: "It doesn't have to be this way."

Burglar: "I swore if I never graduated to corporate thievery I would quit. But this problem is bigger than me..."

Alarm: "I'll give you the name of a social worker. She's great."

Burglar: "A hooker?"

A moment passes.

Burglar: "Gee, the cops sure are slow in this town."

Alarm: "That's why we're here."

Police arrive busting up the joint.

Officer: "Freeze!"

Alarm: "It's under control, Charlie."

Officer: Who said that?"

Alarm: "Protect Your Castle Alarm representative."

Officer: "Phew. I thought it was a ghost. Come on you, let's go. Read him his rights boys."

Burglar turns softly to intercome: "You never gave me your name."

Alarm: "Just call me...Gabriel, your guardian angel."

Burglar touches system. "Thank you. I'll never forget you."

Alarm: "Get well."

Should We Be Afraid Of Creationism?

Yes.

Yes we should.

Here's one way to look at it courtesy of The Pen and the Spindle and a blog post titled, Theocracy and Knowledge.

This is not, as PS alludes, to accept in perpetuity accepted tenets of science and history. We should always evolve; revisit and rethink.

Creationism is another way to look at the universe. However, if it ever becomes part of the educational discourse, there will indeed be a Dark Age that will descend upon us. North America (and America in particular) is about questioning our world and society, innovation and progress.

Call me whatever you want but to me, the United States is the last great beacon of world civilization. It mustn't close itself down. It must remain open.

Runaway Censorship And Idiotic Canadian Judges

It's really sad to watch censored Bugs Bunny cartoons.

I don't know who's responsible but...for shame.

Any person who advocates it is an asshole.

You heard me.

I wonder if our children are any safer. Bah. Not with stupid activist judges putting responsible parents in jail for raising their own kids. Fucking courts have no business judging families in the ways I've been seeing. It frightens me.

All part of the excessive regulation of our lives.

Such pathetically paternalistic and putrid minds.

Yes. I'm fed up these days.

2008-09-23

For Every Terrorist A New Friend?

Since the American invasion of Iraq, we often hear how many more terrorists it helped to create.

Perhaps.

But there's another side to that statement.

How many Iraqi's have been befriended?

2008-09-21

A Personal, Shocking Tragedy

If you live in Italy - as some of my readers do - you probably came across a tragedy in Reggio, Calabria. It's been reported by all major news services in Italy.

A man, Francesco Manti, shot a woman to death in cold blood in the town of Fossato Jonico (where my father is from) high in the mountains of Calabria. Her name was Orsola Nicolo and she was my cousin.

Orsola married Francesco years ago going against the wishes of her family and the parents of the suspect. She later divorced him but soon returned as all abused women are apt to do. She had three children by him. One child is 13 years old and handicapped and was taken by his mother to his therapy sessions two hours away from home.

Orsola was a pretty and devoted mother.

The violent attack was made all the more evil considering prior to shooting her nine times with a 7.65 pistol, he beat her (as he often did) and broke her arm. This happened in front of her nine year-old daughter who called the carabinieri (police). She was 42.

Calabria is an unforgiving, rustic and suspicious place. Vigilante justice and the infamous 'Ndraghetta mafia continue to hold sway on this beautiful region founded by Greeks. I don't know what sort of justice awaits this murderer Manti. I will stop here.

I met Orsala on a couple of occasions. The first time was when she came to stay with my family 15 years ago with her stunningly beautiful son, then four years-old. She told us of her troubles with Francesco. I even had my own experience with him.

He would often call the house rudely demanding to speak with Orsola. It was blatant harassment. On one occasion, I answered the phone at around 3am. The first thing he said was "Give me Orsola." I told him that if he called one more time I would personally fly there with my posse, find him and administer a beating he would never forget. My blood was boiling. He instantly spoke like a puppy, apologized and hung up. We never heard from him again.

My parents were with her last year in Calabria. My father had become kind of a father figure to Orsola and her sister and four brothers. He often sent money to the family when they were kids after my uncle (my father's brother) lost his eye sight and hearing in an industrial explosion. Unable to work, he could not provide for his family. My father was wealthy enough to help out.

We remain in shock.

I hope something good will come of her death. Southern Italy is a place where women need support. My cousin could not find the courage to escape the wretchedness of her life despite repeated offerings and appeals from her family in France and Northern Italy. She paid the price for this.

She mustn't die in vain.

RIP, Orsola.

Iraq: When Liberation Became Something More

From Macrohistory titled Liberation Versus Iraqi Sovereignty. Bush and Rumsfeld didn't know the term "quite while you're ahead."

The Evil Of Paul Schaefer


No, not the Paul Schaefer of Letterman fame.

A story about Colonia Dignidad in Chile - a torture colony - from The American Scholar.

Am I A Closet Gay Atheist?

I read somewhere that people are closet atheists but are afraid to admit it.

Whatever.

That we are all closet atheists reminds me of a liberal (and I mean liberal) girl I dated in university. One fine afternoon strolling along without a care in the world, she asserted all men have a secret desire to be with another man at least once. When I protested, she dismissed me as being in denial.

The more I pleaded, the more she saw it as a denial on my part. I let it go.

Insane as the statement was, she sure was beautiful.

Good times.

Article Of Interest: Erasure

From the American Thinker titled "The Drumbeat."

I don't share the pessimism and there have been advances made by liberals but I agree with the overall position.

I have commented in snippets and various posts that on their aggregate add up to this article.

I have to be careful with this blog lest it becomes fixated on this subject. One in which I have observed these past few years.

We are, deliberately or otherwise, destroying the individual. We are eradicating Western culture because we don't like certain aspects of its past. Our determination to make amends is wiping out our soul but will it erase our DNA?

I would submit that Conservatism, one strand of it anyway, is on the rise as a reaction to what is described in this article. There would be no Sarah Palin or neo-conservatives if the Liberal left hadn't infiltrated as it has. People, independents and the silent majority, are simply pushing back. Once it balances out, Liberal thinking will be healthy again.

One man's idea of progress is another man's regression.

1984 is upon us.

"There are some opinions so stupid, only liberals could hold them."
George Orwell

2008-09-20

Rebranding Culture

I passed by my old high school today.

Once upon a time it went by the name of Laval Catholic High School.

Now, given the times, the word Catholic (or anything religious) is evil. It was best, I presume, to be safe and rename the school after a political leader. And that's what they did.

The Mysterious Death Of Tom Carvel

Picked this off Portfolio magazine's website.

The story revolves around ice-cream king Tom Carvel and the sad ordeal that followed his death.

Was he the victim of scumbags and sluts literally taking him for all that he was worth?

Ethics And Religion Course Will Not Have Desired Effect

I take offense to something I often hear whenever a secularist mind decides to deride religion.

The government of Quebec is heading down a bad path in my opinion as it prepares in haste to ram down the throats and chalk boards of private and public schools an Ethics and religious-culture course.

The thinking, flawed of course, is that parochial schools need to be "opened" up. That "religious indoctrinization" is dangerous and prevents students from "thinking for themselves."

What a bunch of baloney.

On the flip side of the coin, will the government (which is slowly but surely imposing itself on our lives) hire true scholars intellectually equipped to deal with this sort of class? It seems to me you'll need to find people who are at ease with ethics, morals and religions of the world. Will a Catholic be forced to teach Buddhism? Where's the logic to this? Surely, credibility matters, no? Something tells me things will get confused and complicated.

I went to Catholic school. So did my friends and family. My mother had a Protestant upbringing. So did her family.

None of us possess the "evil" traits secularists claim will happen. We were taught Catholicism but we did think for ourselves. We weren't "sheep." We asked hard questions (which teachers could not answer in the public school. But a friend of mine went to private school and the conversations with Jesuit priests were illuminating according to him. They weren't close minded*)

The position postured by some claiming schools who focus on one religion are dangerous is, well, downright insulting, paternalistic and arrogant.

The government has decided to mix political correctness, rampant secularism, trampling of education rights, morals and ethics all into one misguided pot.

Like $5 a day daycare (or whatever it's at now because it's a massive problem), this idea will not end well.

Guess who will pay?

Ironically, the students.

*My own personal experiences can attest to this. I went to public elementary school and private college. The students who attended private, parochial schools like Loyola were extremely bright and worldly. They did not strike me as close minded stooges for the Vatican.

2008-09-19

Government Bail Outs

Keep bailing out financial companies.

Keep doing it. It's the best way to ensure we repeat our mistakes. The only way to learn is to lose.

Government intervention to "stabilize" and "regulate" is not a solution. It's a misguided notion.

Sharia Law Officially Recognized In The UK

The British have lost their minds.

The sad thing is that I think it's only a matter of time before our own moronic leaders give into it too.

The Neville Chamberlain legacy lives on.

Progress in our times!

The last time England was invaded was in 1066 when William the Conquerer took the island in the Battle of Hastings.

This fact has been a source of great pride for the country.

That streak is now broken.

2008-09-18

Collections Of Bon Mots

Well, this and this isn't going to help improve the perception that conservatives are not funny - with all do respect to PJ O'Rourke.

Who are conservative comedians anyway? Dennis Miller, Drew Carey...in case you haven't noticed these are American comedians. I can't think of a Canadian conservative comedian.

Someone should compile a list of questionable things uttered by politicians.

- Came across this quote: "There are some opinions so stupid, only liberals could hold them."
George Orwell

-Came across this question: "Why does Canada have so many disgustingly obese people? Every mall, every grocery store, every road corner, all you see are people with pot bellies hanging out, triple chins, fat sagging arms and so on. What has happened to the people in Canada? Does everyone live off of donairs, pepsi, and chips now days? Whatever happened to carrots and water?Whatever happened to the image of the healthy outdoors conservative Canadian?"

I posted this because we had a discussion about this topic recently. We forget that Canada is not as healthy as we think and it's interesting to note someone post this.

2008-09-17

History Website Resources

I haven't had a chance to read in detail Macrohistory but what little I did manage left an impression. I will be visiting indeed. Another site of interest is World History Archives. Thanks to Pen and the Spindle for adding more on plate - link to her site can be found on my Blinks roll off to the side.

Benevolent Communism Under The Guise Of Democracy?

I attended a funeral this evening. Three brothers who I shared my "growings" up with lost their mother to pancreatic cancer.

The brothers are one-year apart in age: 36, 37, 38. They look ten years younger. As we all do. It seems to be a phenomenon restricted to this part of the world; this municipality of ours. No one looks their age.

Three generations of friends showed up. Needless to say, many faces were seen for the first time in years.

For some reason, not only have my buddies and I remained close, we're still connected to the group of guys who were older than us. It's like we've never missed a beat from our junior and high school days. We're talking nearly 30 years of history here.

Anyway.

Among the topics of conversation was, of course, politics. Many of the guys are apolitical. Most are entrepreneurs. We're in the "streets" so to speak.

It's funny. While the local radio sports show consistently sings the praises of how great a city Montreal is or how wonderful Canada is despite all its aggregated problems, it paints a different picture from our world.

We're a little more, shall we say, realistic.

One guys said about all these legislated laws, "at this point, the government is not that far away from asking us to dump our wallets on their desks in return for running our lives outright. It's ridiculous."

Another friend of mine, an ideological atheist and typically apolitical, replied, "Pretty soon, all our names will be forced to end in "Ovs." Dario will be Dariov, Claude will be Claudov and so on."

Wow. This coming from our most soft spoken homey - is there one in every gang?

I wonder how many other people are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the nanny state. The question is are Canadians aware of it and do they care? If they do, will they be willing to take back their individualism?

2008-09-16

Irresponsible Greed Is A Recipe For Disaster In Investing

My time as an investment advisor took place between 2000-2005. It coincided with the technology bubble and its subsequent collapse.

Upon hearing the news of two financial icons Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch filing for bankruptcy and being bought out respectively (and AIG. Wouldn't want to discriminate), it brought me back to those days.

In high times, greed generally gets the best of humans; especially those prone to deception. Back then the markets were driven by technology stocks and now it was mortgages.

When the bubble burst like an ugly balloon nearly ten years ago, needless to say many people were left crying and wondering how they could be so stupid. And when investors are upset they move to another stock broker, firm or bank.

It was no different for us. Although we were the beneficiaries since we literally had a conservative book. My senior partner at the time refused to jump on the tech craze citing wisely the commanding PE multiples, among other things, made no sense.

It seemed as though many of the incoming assets (or what was left of them) came from Merrill Lynch.

When we explored potential clients further, it was not uncommon to find out that Merrill advisors were encouraging investors (even the ones that lacked financial sophistication) to leverage their portfolios and borrow on margin to invest in tech stocks.

One of the first things you learn in investments is the dangers of leveraging. Everyone likes to see the potential returns from leveraging but often overlook the fact that it works in reverse.

Greed mixed in with deception in a rising market is like putting crushed garlic on oil in high heat on the stove. Not only does it splash it burns the garlic within seconds.

A sound investor will do two things: hold or buy low. Let the short sellers have their fun and then move in. Furthermore, it's best to let the markets purge themselves and avoid government bail outs which on the surface seem appropriate but in reality are damaging.

Now whether what happened with Merrill and Lehman is a symptom of a wider problems is for another debate.

School Shootings In Canada A Problem

On the heels of a recent shooting in a Toronto school, Canadians remain in denial when it comes to gun violence here. Little debate ever takes place here about this because, well, apparently we're a perfect and peaceful society.

If someone cares to check the record since 1987, they would find the picture is not pretty.

In the States, they make movies, sing songs and vociferously debate.

Here?

The silence is deafening.

2008-09-15

The Green Party Can Be Any Color It Chooses

There's an election coming up in Canada too folks. Did you know that? Take a Coffee Crisp break from Obama and Palin and delve into the world of Canadian politicking.

We all know about the Conservatives and Liberals. They're the big players. Although the Liberals seem like a spent force to me. Loaded with wealthy people the party has taken a left-wing rhetorical angle and it just doesn't jive. Nor is it rubbing people the right way. The Liberals are about as left-wing as the Conservatives are right-wing. The Conservatives spend like a bored rich gal running free in Ogilvy's and aren't much for cutting income taxes. Harper's income trust blindside hit certainly upset many. Real "conservative."

So who the heck wants to cut income taxes?

Try the Green Party.

I visited their website to get a better understanding of the policies they advance. In large parts, it left me wondering "how will they achieve" so many lofty goals and objectives? More importantly and to the point who will pay for it?

One interesting thing I read is the GP is for cutting income taxes. This translates into more disposable income. More disposable income means more personal control of finances. With more in your pocket, so the theory goes, the Greens figure (and I'm just deducing this) building a sustainable economy will be less painless. For example, a carbon tax may hurt less.

Are the Greens advocating the role of the individual to change the environment? The government?Both? The word cooperation crept up a few times on their site so I would say, yes, both.

Well, at least they're thinking a little. Not like the Liberals who want to let taxes mount until we suffocate under it. Worse, the Liberals and their environmental plan seems a little, erm, complex. Will they subsidize classes for people who want to make sense of it?

Just a question. Relax.

I also took a moment to, gulp, go into the green/orange world of the NDP. Once in, I was disoriented but I was able to regain focus and began to read. What exactly I'm not sure. The NDP website is thin on issues, policies and ideas.

But they do have a big picture of Jack Layton. As far as I can tell, he's ready to speak for my family and not corporate boardrooms.

The Green Party's website contained more content. See a pdf of their policies and philosophies here. Once you get past the snickering and giggling, it becomes clear the Greens don't view themselves as one-hit wonders. This time they're banking that the environment will have permanent political legs.

Wisely, they went a little beyond environmental issues (isn't climate stabilizing without human intervention?) to avoid the "let's hug a tree" image. But they do have a leader who is, from what I've heard (and there's been little), a little bit of a loose cannon. For a party who's trying to make inroads with the mainstream, I presume, Elizabeth May is making this goal hard to reach.

She's someone to keep an eye on.

Where the NDP and Greens seem to converge (and agree) is on creating jobs through the new energy economy. They claim they will make big polluters pay and offer environmental solutions.

The conception is that both parties will tax us into oblivion. While this is true about the NDP, the Greens are harder to get a grip on - though it's difficult not to believe they wouldn't increase some taxes to fulfill some of their stated goals. What am I thinking? Of course taxes have to rise!

Along with the usual standard "eradicate poverty and illiteracy" lines that come with party proclamations, here are couple of GP policies that caught my eye. What do you get when you mix green, purple and blue? That's the color the Greens seem to be striving for. Is it a pretty color?:

- Support the abolition of World Bank and IMF unless reformed.

- Endorse the development of civic entrepreneurship to promote a community based economy as a way of combating social exclusion caused by economic globalization. (A little "broad" but this surprised me a little...pleasantly that is.)

- We declare that there is no social justice without environmental justice, and no environmental justice without social justice. (I'm not sure about this one.)

-Support the creation of a World Environment Organization by combining the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) into a single institution with funding and power to impose sanctions to promote global sustainable development. The World Trade Organization (WTO) should be subject to the decisions of this body. (What? Reduce the bureaucracy? If they keep this up we may have to call them the Blue Party.)

-Will campaign for greater power for countries of the South in the UN, by working to abolish the veto power in the Security Council, to remove the category of permanent membership of it, and to increase the number of states with membership.

-Seek to curtail the power of the military-industrial-financial complex in order to radically reduce the trade in armaments, ensure transparency of manufacturing and remove hidden subsidies that benefit the military industries. (This one I don't get. On the international stage? I would think it is since it would be news to me if Canada has a "military complex."

What? No let's "get to know" our terrorists suggestions a-la NDP?

Both the NDP and Greens were short on foreign policy philosophies. It may as well. Canada's skill in this has diminished substantially over the years. It has regained some measure of credibility under Harper but it still remains a weak spot.

Not enough talk about how the individual should regain some sovereignty and how we should rely less on government.

Then again, that shouldn't surprise most observers.

2008-09-14

The People Of Okotoks: Saving You From Yourself

Dumbest town in Canada?

Try Okotoks, Alberta.

You're not allowed to smoke in your own car in that part of the country.

It's so nice to know there are people who have the best interest of others at heart.

More over at the Surreality Times.

Is Italian Style Politics Coming To Canada?

When I was in University I had the audacity to suggest that Canada was on its way to having a political landscape similar to Italy. Back then, it struck me that the fragmentation of the country and the devolution of power only conspired to make things more difficult to govern. While all this was seen as progress and compromise to me it meant our political culture was becoming more uncooperative and more rigid.

Of course, the comment was dismissed and did not elicit the debate I though it would (or should) spark. Everyone just scoffed at the notion Canada becoming like Italy.

Now with the prospect of a possible third minority government, and the constant threats of unholy political alliances, this is exactly where we're heading. Slate magazine eludes to it too. Ok, so it comes 16 years after my comment (I wonder if any student present at that time now mutters as they lazily lie around eating Cheetos, "You know, that clown probably had a point) but I won't hold it against them.

As for the article. Liberals are left-leaning? Nah. They're all corp. Millionaire socialists don't cut it for me.

Two for one: I also mentioned in an international politics class the nation-state was far from dead. This was a period when it was popular to argue that it was. There was even some distinguished (it's all relative to be so) elder guy in a suit with long hair and spectacles in the class I thought would at least see my point. He didn't. In fact, no one did.

Sigh.

Of Pigs, Obama, Lipstick And Palin

So many comments and opinions yet no one has ever asked one simple question:

What type of person puts lipstick on a pig anyway?

An Appalachian lover story: Can't You Just Understand?

2008-09-12

The Government This, The Government That

Lately I've been hearing the word "government" on radio telecasts quite a bit.

"...the government will look to..."

"Canadians are asking the government to..."

"it's time for the government and its..."

And so on. It's disturbing.

I didn't realize this was a communist state. Where's O'Neill and what's he done with my wife?

Whither the individual?

Taxes As A Tool To Solve Social Problems Not A Good Idea

"Taxing" the rich, or introducing tax legislation in trying to "equalize" wealth or cleaning the environment, is a misleading notion. Ironically, when we talk of taxing the rich what we're really (unwittingly?) doing is taxing (and penalizing) the lower classes. Using taxes as a means to fix a social problem is a misguided if not absurd method. A tax is not a philosophy. As such it's not a means to an end. It's a tax. Nothing more, nothing less.

It's a form of interventionism and it doesn't work.

Canadians Riveted By American Politics

Both Canadians and Americans will be going to the polls in October and November respectively.

For Canadian politics the timing couldn't be worst. Why? To put it bluntly, many Canadians follow American politics closer.

I don't know why this is so.

All sorts of explanations have been put forth. I think, on a rudimentary level, that Canadians just don't feel our elections matter as much as America's. Of course, on a global scale this is correct. But sad and sobering at the same time.

To others, our elections are plain boring - although I think this is somewhat overdone. And what does "boring"mean anyway? I don't think Canadian politics is that bad. It lacks a certain amount of panache, yes, but it's hardly enough to put you to sleep.

One columnist claims because our elections are more tame it makes us focus on the issues that matter to us more. I'm not sure this is the case in practice. Canadians and politicians don't necessarily debate the important issues and are just as easily swayed by dubious and secondary and issues political trends as Americans are. Furthermore, there's a sense of apathy that sets in on both sides of the border. The famous "democratic deficit" has, according to pundits, alienated voters. How many people actually know all the issues? Although, Canadians do take voting seriously as voting turnout here are much higher than it is in the U.S..

The hard reality is that Canadians, when given a choice, have always opted for American things; be it magazines, films, stores, cars etc. I often muse what the outcome would be on a referendum on CFL and NFL football. Which would Canadians choose? Sure we bitch and moan as we haul our asses to Wal-Mart (as opposed to Canadian Tire) but we sure love the roll back prices.

Politics are no different. Americans remain an intoxicating image to not only us Canadians but to others around the world as well.

All this to say Sarah Palin is not just a phenomenon down South but up here as well. Canadians will go out to vote on October 14 but will be rushing back to follow the latest news in American politics.

2008-09-11

9/11

I will always remember where I was on that infamous and fateful day.

I still hope the towers will be rebuilt. Maybe not in the exact form but some variation of it.

Article of Interest: 9/11 And Terrorism

Ok. I'm back. Hope you like the new layout. Special thanks to Theresa Komor for this.

Let's get back on track.

Here's an article from Farzana Hassan titled, Seven years after Sept. 11 dangers endures.'

Hassan is president of the Muslim Canadian Congress. Her stance is refreshing and lies in clear contrast from the ravings of Mohamed Elmasry from the Canadian Islamic Congress - he who seems to live in a state of absurd denial.

-This past week much has been made about the fact regarding the decision by the NDP and Conservatives to prevent Green Party leader Elizabeth May from participating in a national debate. Like many other bloggers, I'm against this. While I don't agree with much of what they party extols, she should be allowed to debate. I will defend this until I'm, erm, green in the face.

It was rather unsporting (and anti-democratic) of our chaps to deny her this right.

Now I can watch her on live TV, while I eat some popcorn, make insane carbon tax proposals.

2008-09-06

Revisiting Cleopatra's Suicide


I recently watched "Mysterious Death of Cleopatra" on Discovery.

The basis of the show was to prove that Cleopatra's death wasn't a suicide as commonly accepted but in fact a murder had been committed. Once this theory was removed the goal was to find the suspect and murderer. Criminal profiler Pat Brown pointed the finger at Octavian - better known as Augustus. Read more about here at History News Network.

The part of the show that raised my ears (figuratively speaking) was the end. The show concluded that Cleopatra may have lost the battle to Octavian but had won the war because she remained (thanks in part because people believed she came back as the Egyptian goddess Isis) etched in the minds of people for posterity.

I remember my professor in a Roman Classics course opening the segment on Augustus (who happened to be the great nephew of Caesar) by proclaiming that Augustus was among the most remarkable figures in human history. Taken in a global context of history he was right. Augustus was a master propagandist, military director who set up a standing army and created the famous Praetorian Guards. He further commissioned impressive engineering feats through Rome's famous roads and instilled several reforms to Rome's administrative culture - to name a few.

Above all, Augustus brought Rome's empire to its most powerful and glorious heights. It was under his autocratic reign Rome existed under Pax Romana (27B.C. to 235 A.D.) - although, the period wasn't always necessarily pristine. Nonetheless, Augy basically laid the foundation to a period in Roman history in which Gibbon's termed the "happiest in mankind" during the 2nd century.

I think
his place in history is secure and above Cleopatra's.

TV producers just can't resist romanticizing things, eh? Cleopatra was murdered (as was her teenage son she conceived with Julius Caesar) and thanks to Ms Brown justice seems to have been brought to history.

However, she was also power hungry and a seducer. So...what comes around...

Image: Theda Bara as Cleopatra.

2008-09-04

Two Blog Links: American Politics

They can't be any different on their political views but they sure can present their cases with intellectual passion. I'm a water boy for one and a bat boy for the other.

Here's a blog link to "The Vigil" titled The Fourth Estate is Obama's 5th Column.

I'm a sucker for historical analogies - when done right. Vig, had me at Edmund Burke...

And a link to "Contratimes" and a post titled The Key To Republican Success: One of History's "Great" Presidents.

2008-09-03

Beating Cancer

I keep hearing how people "beat" and "lose" their battle with cancer. Cancer doesn't seem like a fair fight to me.

I'm not sure this is an appropriate way to describe it.

Beating cancer implies we have a say in the battle and we don't. There are so many uncontrollable variables (doctors, diagnosis, body type, cancer type etc.) that it makes the statement irrelevant and meaningless.

Blog Link: Sarah Palin

I enjoyed this post about Sarah Palin from The Natural State Hawg.

It raises interesting points.

Personally, this whole politics IS taken way too seriously. That's why I enjoy going to Neil McKenty Weblog (Neil is kind and classy enough to tolerate some of my provocations) and taking part in political discussions. I don't agree with people and they don't agree with me but it's all civil and rarely goes overboard. It's so Canadian I guess. Besides, I get the feeling they're laughing at me.

It's a baby boomer political world anyway and none of these people speak my language. There's a suspicion that boomers are fighting an ideological between each other to see who gets all the cash and a generational war with Gen X and Baby Bust to have these young pups finance their pensions.

Come to think of it. I wonder if Palin and Obama - given their ages - are transitional political agents. We're getting closer and closer to having the boomers out of power.

I think the problem is less serious here in Canada but I suspect this applies?

2008-09-02

Happiness Is A Warm Tranquilizer For Putin

Beware Georgia. This dude has a mean shot.

I'm sure there's a comedy sketch in this somewhere. It's sooo Simpsons-like.

Putin saves TV crew from Siberian Tiger.

Right.

This script sells itself.

Seriously, Russia sucks at propaganda.

2008-09-01

Remembering Warren Zevon

"I might have made a tactical error not going to a physician for 20 years. It was one of those phobias that didn't pay off." Warren Zevon's way of describing being diagnosed with lung cancer on David Letterman. He also made the "enjoy every sandwich" comment with Letterman.

How...Zevonic.

Hard to believe but the five year anniversary of his death is already around the corner - on September 7 to be exact. "Lawyers, Guns and Money" is one of those songs I've never tired listening to. Watch an acoustic version here and a superb tribute and cover of the song by The Wallflowers featuring Jordan Zevon here. Other favorites for me include "Poor, poor pitiful me," "Mutineer," and "Things to do in Denver when you're dead" and the beautiful "Keep me in your heart."

It's horribly unfortunate I'll never get to see this hilarious human werewolf live.

My first Zevon album I ever bought was Excitable Boy. A live version (in New Jersey I think) of the title song for your viewing experience...on the house:





Latin Doctores Ecclesiae


For those of you who sit and ask thyself, "I wonder who the Doctors of the Latin Church are" look no further.

"(Latin Doctores Ecclesiae) -- Certain ecclesiastical writers have received this title on account of the great advantage the whole Church has derived from their doctrine. In the Western church four eminent Fathers of the Church attained this honour in the early Middle Ages: St. Gregory the Great, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome. The "four Doctors" became a commonplace among the Scholastics, and a decree of Boniface VIII (1298) ordering their feasts to be kept as doubles in the whole Church is contained in his sixth book of Decretals (cap. "Gloriosus", de relique. et vener. sanctorum, in Sexto, III, 22)."

Catholic Encyclopedia.

Image: St. Jerome - Caravaggio

Just Wanted To...

be the first to use this term:

Neo-blogger.

Not sure what it means but I call "President."

Kicking Off September With Thoughts

-For all their abstract thoughts and talents, musicians and artists are quite capable of presenting their beliefs as a zero-sum game. Sometimes I wonder what history books they read.

-I'm pretty sure birds have ADHD.

-I wonder if dirty bathrooms in a restaurant are any indication of what goes on in the kitchen.

Demographics Paint A Rough Financial Picture

I keep hearing that the European Union will challenge American power. Not with the pending demographic problem Europe faces they will. Worse, they don't seem prepared for it. Neither does Japan - who was supposed to overtake America in the 1980s.

America will continue to face problems and issues and it'll probably get worse before it gets better. We're already seeing a stagnant Congressional culture and one that can be defined as "generational" as the Baby Boomers continue to define and dictate the political landscape.

Demographically and financially, if we're to use this as a measure, the baby boomers may, according to researchers, provoke and unleash a great economic downturn (recall that the stock market woes in the 1970s were worse than the 1930s in real terms) as they liquidate their assets. It's impossible to know what they'll do with their investments but let's assume they cash out. If they do, watch out. Encourage them to save or else we'll be in some trouble.

As bad as this will be for financial markets around the world, real opportunities will come. America's demographic trends are still far better than most (if not all) Western countries and the next generation (X's and Baby Busts like me) will pick up the slack and (hopefully anyway) reinvigorate the North American continent.

I know, I'm simplifying things but methinks there's an opportunity somewhere in all this.