2010-07-31

Odd Sense Of Beauty

Some of these actors look plain scary these days. Their definition of beauty is certainly incongruent with mine.

C'est Dangerous Sur Le Highway

My last post about my recent trip.

Geez, one would think I visited some exotic place like Connecticut or Saskatchewan or something.

Deep into the nether regions of Ontario, it was interesting to note high way safety information posted in both English and French. We're not talking Ottawa here. We're talking towns like Cornwall, Prescott and Brockville. Nor are we talking simple one line messages. I mean big bad ass ones.

I even took pictures. I should upload them but it's late right now. Maybe later.

On the way back we made it a point to see if Quebec returns the favor.

I'm sorry to inform we don't. Politics above safety I suppose.

Just something I noticed.

Where's Aquaman When Yoooo Need Him?

I can do it!
I kept waiting and waiting but they never came. I guess the Justice League or Superfriends never got the trouble alert regarding the oil spill. For sure they were busy with more important things.

Then I wondered. Who would they have dispatched? Obviously, Aquaman since, like, he's good in the water. And most likely Superman. I don't see how anyone else from the high profile heroes universe could have been much help; Batman & Robin I guess maybe. Spider-Man not likely and Captain America is fricken dead. Other than that, Green Lantern and a few others could potentially be useful but it comes down to Aquaman and Superman.

Dialog I overheard one day:

Superman: "Great Scott! That planet is about to explode with cock eating ants!"
Batman: "If we don't act fa..."
Aquaman: "You and I should check it out, Superman."
Wonder Woman: "Where are you going, Aquaman?"
Batman: "Seriously, hang back and wait for a flood or something."

*Laughter*

Aquaman: "Need I remind you guys water makes up 75% of earth's landmass?
Robin: "Yeah, but we all live on land."
Aquaman: Back off junior.
Wonder Woman: "You still owe me for gas for taking you along to the last mission to the other galaxy where you promptly were captured putting us all in danger, fucktool."
Aquaman: "Superman?"
Superman: Aqua, you the man for water....but a dry planet? Don't think so."

Fantasy aside, who would be the man for the BP oil spill? Aquaman or Superman! Speak out!

Note: A friend of mine, while helping to put my BBQ together, sides with Superman. His rationale is that Aquaman is basically a fish and a fish in oil ain't worth jack.

I'm Back From Planet Claire

I just got back from Rehoboth beach and now I'm back where I belong (aside from the institution on the other side of town) in front of my computer proper writing for a blog filled with pathetic pomposity.

Let's see.

Oh. Got through the border without a hassle. The border guard asked a few trick questions but I got him good. Like, "where do you come from" I knew this time not to say Planet Claire where the air is pink, the trees are red and no one dies because nobody has a...head!



Actually, the guy asked us what we did for a living. Which was a first. I pointed, "the girl back there speaking in strange tongue is a teacher...teacher of the occult" and I - pointing to myself with a thumb painted yellow - I am an engineer. I built that bridge up ahead. I'm the one who said Thousand Islands should charge $2.50 at par for both Americans and Canadians because it's the right thing to do."

What else did he ask? He wanted to know the most expensive thing I bought. I told him the kid sitting and stewing with a slightly skewed head perpetually pointing North East didn't come cheap. Picked her up at Carter's.

Finally, he had enough of me and sent me and my tax savings on my free way. At which point I yelled out the window, "fack you, fack you! Suckers me buy lots tings and now you can't stop me! Fack you!"

2010-07-29

A Tale Of Two Countries

Maybe someone can explain me something.

How can a place with a population of roughly 1500 like Rehoboth Beach have a vastly superiour selection of wines and beer to a city like Montreal with a met. pop. of about 3 million?

And I mean it's not even close. Oh wait. I know why. The state runs the alcohol racket here. There is absolutely no excuse or reason one can employ to defend this bull. None.

I just bought three bottles of Lambrusco at $5.99. No. It's not a misprint. I didn't mean to write $15. You read it right the first time: $6 bucks. Rounded out.

Did I mention it cost $5.99? NO TAX to boot. When was the last time you found a great quality wine for $6 at the SAQ? They even have bins of decent wines at $3.99. The wines I tend to buy at the SAQ are usually in the $12-14 price range. For the same wine of similar quality, I pay about $4-8 less here.

Even if we average cost the difference, the U.S. still likely comes out on top.

Explain me the economic birds and the bees on this one.

On the other hand, American pharmacies don't have nearly the same quality as Canadian ones have. I find our pharmacists, on average, to be more informed and helpful. I have no idea how this happened given pretty much 90% (my arbitrary figure but I doubt I'm that far off) of pharma products are produced and patented in the U.S.. Go figure.

Quick word on beer. Here in Canada we obsess over claiming to have better beer than the U.S. Of course, we conveniently always measure it against Miller, Budweiser and Coors. We ignore the endless micro-breweries available in the U.S. like Sam Adams and Brooklyn.

I think both sides have their strengths but, again, simply more to choose from in the States. And some of them do pack a heavy punch.

***

Speaking of no tax. I don't know, where means are available, how anyone would shop in Canada once they get a taste of shopping at discount outlets in places where there are no taxes like New Hampshire and Delaware. Based on the total we've spent and factoring a 15% tax rate back home, we've saved hundreds.

It's a powerful psychological incentive and people can argue against not having taxes all they want but they may as well talk to a tornado. I ain't listening.

We humans are usually sharp rational economic entities and we know a good deal when we see it and in Canada, there are no deals like we see here. And when you do find good deals you get zinged into another nationality with the tax.

I won't even get into how many books at bargain prices I've bought.

Timeless Comedic Genius

Easily, hands down Rodney Dangerfield ranks among the best of all comedians. Easy.

2010-07-28

Shameless Self-Promotion

Alert! FYI! By the way...

e-Talian is back on track. I recently interviewed industrial designer Stefano Marchetto discussing a couple of his green-oriented concepts. It was quite illuminating.

2010-07-27

Derivatives Can Wreak Havoc

I'm a little tired to spew further vacous babblings from abroad with any verve this evening. But, I do leave ye with with this article titled Too bad not to fail discussing derivatives in The American Scholar.

I liked this passage and will offer no thoughts in addition to it since, like I said, I'm weary.

"Greece, in 2001, sought to enter the euro zone but learned that it had too little revenue and too much debt to meet the European central bank’s standards. The Greek government turned to Goldman Sachs, paying the firm $300 million to fix the books. Goldman provided cash up front in return for mortgaging Greece’s airport fees and lottery proceeds until 2019; the loans were called sales, a classification that camouflaged the debt. Based on Goldman’s cooked books, Greece was admitted to the euro zone, and then Goldman began betting against its own client and the euro. “By enabling politicians to mask additional borrowing,” Michael Fallon, a member of the British Parliament, admonished the managing director of Goldman Sachs during hearings this year: “Banks like yours have, in fact, accentuated the sovereign risk of these countries which the markets are now focusing on.” Edward Gerald Corrigan of Goldman replied, “With the benefit of hindsight . . . the standards of transparency could have been and probably should have been higher.”


Based on Greece’s status as a euro-zone member presumed to be adhering to euro-zone standards, European banks bought lots of Greek debt. Now Europe can’t easily let Greece go, given the present global sovereign (meaning government-backed) debt crisis. “The fear that began in Athens, raced through Europe, and finally shook the stock market in the United States is now affecting the broader global economy,” the Times reported.


In May, the European Finance Ministers announced a $1 trillion rescue plan to set up a special-purpose facility, funded with taxpayer money from the International Monetary Fund and the European governments, to buy euro bonds from the banks. The result, much like America’s TARP, is to shift the loss from the banks to the taxpayers. German voters, unwilling to bail out Greece, took away Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s legislative majority. Once again, Goldman had designed something to fail and positioned itself to profit from the failure.


Like the irresponsible millionaires Tom and Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, Goldman left a mess in its wake. As Fitzgerald wrote, “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”


Greece was not American banks’ first foray into foreign-policy territory. The bankers also sold complex derivatives to Italian cities like Milan as well as to smaller municipalities such as the Umbrian hilltop town of Baschi, population 2,713. As detailed in the Financial Times, the Italian central bank reports that between 2001 and 2008, 525 local Italian authorities entered into 1,000 interest-rate swaps with an aggregate value of $50 billion—one-third of all local Italian debt. Baschi thought it could get a lower interest rate if it entered into a swap, and the bankers offered $40,000 in cash to entice the town into the deal. Baschi exchanged its fixed-rate lending on $4 million for a variable rate with the bankers. The small print of the contract was so unfavorable to the town that it lost both ways. Interest rates rose and the village lost; interest rates fell and the village still lost. The town’s treasurer, Antonietta Dominici, says derivatives should be banned. Meanwhile, Americans would do well to question whether American banks should be destabilizing Italian cities and hilltop villages.


Credit default swaps “grow like mushrooms in the dark,” Grigori Marchenko, governor of Kazakhstan’s central bank, told the Financial Times. He is concerned about CDSs because they are dragging down the country’s two major banks. Between 2004 and 2007, Western banks rushed to provide financing to Kazakh banks to fund Kazakhstan’s building boom. Some, including Morgan Stanley, purchased CDSs to protect themselves against potential losses on the outstanding Kazakh loans. And some, again including Morgan Stanley, may have bought more swaps than they had loans outstanding—meaning they would benefit if the Kazakh banks defaulted. Kazakh­stan is now trying desperately to restructure its banking system but suspects that the Western banks may be betting against them. “I don’t think anyone was prepared for what has happened here,” says Marchenko. “There is a new class of financial institutions now who are speculating that BTA [the largest Kazakh bank] will go into a default . . . rather than in keeping the bank as a going concern.” Goldman Sachs was an adviser to the Kazakhstan government but resigned for reasons the Financial Times calls unclear.


Americans, meanwhile, would do well to wonder if U.S.-chartered banks should be undermining the banks of a strategic U.S. ally. Dollar Diplomacy, as designed 100 years ago by Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, used American business to achieve national policy objectives, primarily to stabilize Latin America and discourage European meddling in our back yard—such as Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Hugo Ch├ívez’s Venezuela. The new Goldman Sachs version of Dollar Diplomacy is, of course, not intended to advance the national interest but to profit the company. Profit opportunities are advanced by volatility not stability."

2010-07-26

About Leaked Emails

In case you haven't noticed, people have lost their minds.

The latest rage in an effort to one-up each other in a game of partisanship, is to leak emails.

The only thing I learn from emails is how people who are supposed to reside on a different intellectual plane from the rest of us, actually reveal themselves to be plain in their thoughts.

22 Or 24 Peanut Crazy Ladies

The thing about long drives is you get to think up a lot of...erm, blog posts. Only problem is I can't write them down fast enough while driving so I either have to jot down words in hopes of remembering the context or asking the back up mannequin posing as a mother in the back seat to write down words.

My scribblings, though perfectly in logical sequence at the time, becomes an incoherent haze.

It goes something like this:

22
Peanuts
Crazy ladies/real estate
Green spending/taxes/Kermit
Finance 101
Hibuscus/elections Canada 1890s

Where I ask for help, thoughts of a lobotomy for me increasingly looks good to her. It's for the better.

The stories in my head begin to take a disjointed form.

***

Speaking of finance 101. Here's a simple lesson everyone can grasp. If you have debts and you're prioritizing and organizing your life and budget, paying them down should be the FIRST thing on your agenda. If you own a line of credit or owe a friend cash for helping you buy that car you so wanted but probably didn't need, your responsibility is to them FIRST. You don't come first since you have OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY.

Alas, people don't see things that way and it's too bad.

Speaking of other people's money. The U.S. has decided that since FDR did it, it's a good idea to apply the concept of spending to dig an economy out of an economic mess. Aside from the fact that a debate continues about whether the New Deal actually did what it famously is said to have done, actually measuring what pulls an economy out of a recession is a murky art at best. And even if it did work, it doesn't mean it can still work today.

The Obama administration has been creative in its economic narrative positioning themselves as the ones who "saved the economy from the brink.

Hog wash of course since we don't know if the Americans actually reached a "brinking" point.

For all his suaveness, all Obama has done is introduce more regulations, more taxes, bail outs and stimulus.

Nothing creative. Been there, done that. I actually appreciate Obama's basic foreign policy tenets better despite failing to follow through on them in any meaningful manner. Maybe I'll yap about this in another post another day.

The cold hard reality is people who have never run a business are telling us they can "save" the American economy. If you went for a job interview and you had no practical experience in the field you're seeking employment in, what would the interviewer tell you?

Why should it be any different with politicians?

The main advantage these guys have is that they have access to your money and the chance to print more of it.

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.



One thing is for sure, a politician can never say "we never give them our money."

I, Mother Nature

You know, the more I think of it, the more I'm convinced we're approaching climate change all wrong. It seems to me nature has its own path to follow regardless what we do. It always struck me as a little misguided to connect energy efficiency with "doing our bit" for something we have little - if any - control over.

Earth has been going through violent changes even before we "over populated" it. And it continues to do so. It always finds a way to progress. I know this may rub a few people the wrong way but maybe nature has other plans for us. If it wants glaciers to melt, there's nothing we can do about it except adjust.

That's why I consider Al Gore and his ilk to be modern day shysters and alchemists. They know they can't do squat (really, humans against nature is a no-contest) but they do know how to profit off your fear and naivete. Buying a hybrid car, or taking showers every second day, while probably good for its own sake for the environment, won't avert a natural catastrophe.

Thinking this way only points to our own insular, though well-meaning, arrogance.

Truth is, we barely understand the nature of earth's whims. We've only recorded human activity for about 5000 years. Nature stretches way further back. Hundreds of millions and even billions in some cases (like Canadian rocks in the arctic for instance) of years old.

Sure, the scientific community is using technology to cull all sorts of important data. Along the way, we're learning more and more.

Something tells me we have a lot more to learn. Lots.

States That Never Made The Books

Neat blog about "Lost States" (it's also a book I actually picked up in a book store and read with great interest before putting it down. I plan to buy it though) that never made the final cut. States like Texlahoma, Montezuma (present day Arizona and New Mexico) and closer to home and of interest to Canadians, Acadia.

Sketches Of Delaware: People Are Not My Thing

I discovered something about myself today. Or at least, confirmed a long-standing suspicion. Namely that I don't live well amongst a pack of people. It's not much of a surprise given how much I hate crowds of any kind - except a good orgy. Then something "happens" to me.

I'm staying in a lovely, spacious condo (spacious enough to house four families/14 people) with my family here in Delaware. Our neighbour is a Congressman familiar with our Quebec politicians. In fact, his great grandparents hail from La Beauce. He didn't tell me. He told my sister. Who cares, he's not the point of this post - though he does maintain a lovely (that's two lovely's in one sitting) basil and hot peppers plant.

The point of this blog is, as usual, about me. Here's the bloody thing. I'm usually ready to leave for the beach at 9am. However, just as I'm ready to leave there's always someone that comes in at the last second and asks for me to wait for them. Next thing I know it's 10:bloody:30am and I'm pissed. Of course, then I'm told to "relax" since we're on "vacation." I didn't realize vacation including wasting time waiting for someone to make their bloody sandwiches.

It's the same thing when I want to leave the beach. I pack my two appendages (wife and daughter) along with the chairs and other crap you bring to the beach because we want to get on with our lives and next thing I know, the others who were just seconds before in the water, want to leave as well and for some odd reason I have to wait because that's the way my wife was brought up.

So I sit chin in jaw mumbling sweet precious useless swear words to myself that help no one. I watched a stupid dumb ass girl get right in the way of someone trying to take a timely picture of his son playing in the sand. I wanted to ask him if he wanted her "be taken care of" her thoughtlessness pissed me off so much.

2pm turns into 2:30pm.

30 minutes less to drive around aimlessly from outlet to outlet.

2010-07-25

Sketches Of Delaware: Jeep Liberty

I'm perusing the streets of Fenwick County. Be forwarned people of the first state who pay no taxes.

Damn. It's so beautiful not to pay taxes. I was in a liquor store and I gotta say, we ain't got nothing like it here in terms of overall selection and pricing. How can we when liquor here is insanely governed by the state? It doesn't take a tree planter genius to figure out that our prices our higher to subsidize the unionized worker.

Anyway.

Great stuff. Stacked up on Lambrusco.

And off I went. I've taken the habit of not wearing my seat belt here. I feel emasculated. I feel like a man. Something I rarely get to enjoy. It's so irrational I've attached my seat belt behind me so as to not hear the constant "beeping" tone to remind me to put the sucker on.

Exchange between wife and husband:

"Commentator, put your seat belt on."
"Why?"
"Erm, because you can die?"
"You make it sound so...definite."
"Don't get smart."
"I'm just saying."
"Say nothing and do it."
"No."
"Unfold your arms and keep your hands on the steering wheel."
"Hmpf."
"Commenator. Please!"
"It's the live free or die state."
"That's New Hampshire."
"You don't say? What do you know about states?"
"Not much but enough to know that you're an idiot."
"Fine. I'm an idiot. But at least I'm free."
"And your freedom will land you in a morgue."
"Hon, we're only going to CVS."
"Over 50% of accidents happen close to where you live."
"Source please."
"You know stats more than me."
"Whatever. I think Delaware has no seat belt laws."
"I'm pretty sure they do."
"It's not a pssy nanny state like Massachusetts. It's not manly like Montana or Wyoming but it's definitely not a nag."
"You're rambling."
"It's a Jeep Liberty. What part of liberty don't you get?
"Ok. Just take me to the pharmacy. I have to add vomit bag to the list."
"I'm free...la-la-la..."
"Watch out............!!"
"Ooo, that was close, eh? And look still no seat belt!"

Question

Is it less about the environment and more about man being (gentically perhaps?) predisposed to doomsday scenarios?

They say fear is the one primal aspect of humankind politicians tap into.

So does everyone else.

C'man. We all love a "blow up the world" smash up movie.

I'd Like To Teach The World To Harmonize

It all looks so impressive. On a dime I can go to a Brazilian, Afghan, Peruvian, Vietnamese, or Ethiopian restaurant; in addition to Thai, Portuguese and the usual Italian, Greek, Chinese, French suspects. To name but a few.

One can conclude we truly are harmonizing our cultures. Yet, when one considers the strength of nationalism at the cultural level, and economic protectionism and tight border controls at the political level, the argument becomes less persuasive. We have more than we did in the past and people are traveling and learning more but are we reall "harmonizing?"

Geez, sometimes here in Quebec I wonder if it's 1946 it becomes so insular at times.

I need more proof.

***

Coke sure knew how to tap into that pulse. I wonder if they were the first to play this game:



I wonder how many of those people were stoned that day.

Time's Technological Fluidity

"Will you be alone this evening, sir?"
"No. Deux."

*Waves tech gadget*

"But, that's a handheld device."

"Yeah, and my date lives in Calgary!"

***

We hate change but all we do as a species is change.

Crossing Borders

The Commentator: Shouldai do it? Whattahyouthink? Come, on. We're getting to the border guard.
Commentator's reluctant wife: I swear, you're like my first graders, do what?
TC: Act like a smart-ass.
CW: Oh, please.
TC: What, is that a challenge? These guys are pussies.

*Wife ignores Commentator *

TC: Shouldai do it?
CW: Do what you want but I'm driving off with Lauren and leaving you behind if they rightfully stop you.

*Commentator hums and plays drums on steering wheel to a song playing on the radio*

TC: The agent is gonna ask me where to? And I'm gonna say, "guess." How about that? He's gonna be like "anything to declare?" and I'll be all "yeah, taxes are too damn high and Homeland Security is cramping my style." And then he'll be like, "sir, are you all Canadian citizens? and I'll say yeah but not by choice only by chance. He'll then look at you and ask, "is he on any type of medication ma'am" and you'll say he's Hercules times Green Lantern in bed. And did you ever notice superheroes wear tights and spandex and...

*Car advances*

TC: Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I have to think! I'm gonna be so funny...
Border Agent: Where ya'all heading today?
TC loks down towards steering wheel: Delaware....

Rhetorical Question

How did we get this way?

Good effen question.

2010-07-24

This Time It's Real

I passed by a McDonald's today and saw an for their "real fruit" smoothies.

Real fruit? You mean, all along they were fake?

How sad we've become that ads have to convince you you're not eating anything synthetic.

Welcome to Ruth Criss! We sell real steak!

2010-07-23

Nutella Ban; Gelato Safe...For Now

You know. It's not just about the packaging. It's about eating habits. Balanced diets. The EU mulls over demanding Nutella labelling be changed.

But hey. Whatever makes them feel like they're doing something to help us poor suckers.

Personally, I love Nutella. I'm not a nut about it (excuse the pun - Nutella is made with hazelnuts) and know how to integrate it into an overall diet. It's all about the right attitude.

Alas, the state cares not a whit for responsible lads like me.

***
Since I'm on the subject of fun food, here's a nice article on Italian gelato.

"Overrun is a measure of air which is injected into the ice cream during production. A high overrun means a lot of air is added to the ice cream during the making, low overrun means there is not much air added.



Typical North American-style ice cream can have an overrun of 100% or more. This literally means that half of the ice cream by volume is composed of air. In contrast, artisan gelato has a much smaller overrun, around 30-40%. But some less scrupulous Italian gelato makers have figured out that a higher overrun can cut ingredient and raw material costs. So steer clear of frothy, excessively sculpted and over abundant gelato: it's mostly all air.


At an authentic gelateria, the gelato is made from scratch daily. Unlike many overseas ice cream parlors, the gelato here is made on the premises. True Italian gelato is not produced in large quantities and then stored. There are no preservatives added to create an artificially long shelf life, so typically, gelato is made fresh for consumption within a day or two.


The combination of extreme freshness, low butterfat and low overrun results in a product that is denser, creamier and more intense than traditional ice cream. It is served at a warmer temperature than ice cream and has a cleaner, more smooth perception on the palate."

Bingo.

When I was in Florence in the mid 1990s, I damn near blew my budget on fricken gelato it was that amazing.

Winners, Losers And Playhouse Disney Ribbons

To get my daughter off my back today I plumped her in front of the computer to play Playhouse Disney. Nothing like watching their eyes phantasmorgorically (hey, if refudiate can be popular so can this) glaze over after two hours on it.

I kid social services.

Sorta.

In one of the games, she couldn't figure out how to move one of the characters; some rip off artist contractor named Handy Manny. As the game went on with the time ticking towards zero the pressure was on me to come through for her. I didn't.

Then came the square with "Congratulations: Your scored ZERO." I took it as "You Zero."

Natural paranoia aside, I did find it odd they would "congratulate" a person for what used to be termed as "failing." Not only that, out came Manny with a ribbon.

What kind of fricken message is that? You fail but you get a ribbon because you're a "winner" for participating?

We have serious issues.

Serious.

I fret and shutter to think how some of these kids who accept the ribbon will be in the real world somewhere down the future. "I know I didn't meet my sale targets but where's my ribbon! I need my ribbon!"

I took her off the game and proceeded to talk about winners and losers. I took a picture of Genghis Khan and said "winner." Ribbon for him. I drew a rudimentary a picture of Joan of Arc burning at the stake and said "loser." No ribbon. After, I led her outside on the porch and pointed to the neighbour meticulously cutting the grass and said "winner." Ribbon, yes. Then I pointed to myself and the brown grass below and said, "loser." Ribbon, no.

And so on. I stopped when I noticed a sense of fright began to set in on her.

She looked at me like a clueless cat only interested in food but that's ok. I think I got through to her.

2010-07-22

Keeping Up With Trends Tricky

I detest trends. I don't get them. Ironic given I like fine threads - being the son of a tailor and all. I like to dress sharp and I've been known to drop a pretty penny on clothes. $350 shoes? Yup. $250 tie? You betcha. $100 cuff links? All the way baby. $2000 suits - well, it was free but you get the picture.

However, I tend to gravitate towards classic wear. I never did get the "this is in style" angle and I certainly don't give a shit what George Clooney or Brad Pitt are wearing. For all I know, they may have thought jogging pants were cool prior to their fame.

Styles tend to come in cycles. I mean, there's only a finite amount of cuts to a suit, right? Sure, some fall out of fashion permanently but most are reinvented by fashion designers and suddenly presto! It's "in."

I also love when "they" say "navy blue is in this year." What, like a basic colour like that falls out of favor? No, wait. I love when "white" is in style. White! What this means is we (companies) are ready to cash in on making you believe white was out of style and that we're giving you a chance to be hip once again!

I tend to ignore all that. Although, you try and find a variety of red shirts when companies don't produce them. That's when I go to a tailor and choose my own fabric and color. Screw Calvin.

I go with with what I like and what I consider to be timeless. Just because some company tells me something is all the rage doesn't mean I need to wear it. Too often I see people wear "trendy" things that totally don't suit them. For instance, those long, pointy shoes. It takes a special kind of people with a sense of style to pull that off. More often than not people completely miss the point and misuse the item.

Another example are those silly Victoria Posh Spice glasses. Sometimes you just have to look at something and say, "meh, it may be in but it's not my style." Have some personal taste and confidence for crying out loud! Some people look like billboards for Hilfiger, D & G, and Versace. They piece all the "right" brands together but look like they've missed the point by not wearing it well.

Do not misunderstand me. I'm not against fashion houses. They serve as a creative and inventive force in innovating the way humans interpret clothes and fashion. All I'm saying is you don't have to conform. Be a rugged individualist.

Voluntary Census Is Right By Me

I heard a funny story on the radio. Apparently, over 55 000 Canadians wrote down, on the long version of Canada's census survey, as their religion "Jedi."

I don't think I've ever been this proud to be Canadian. The sense and pulse (and humour) of "screw you" remains strong.

I'm all for the census. However, what I'm dead set against is the coercive manner to which it is demanded. Not complying with the census can lead to a fine or imprisonment. No kidding. Just on that fact alone, personally, I'd be very reluctant to answer the detailed questionnaire.

Spare me the "society would cease to function" crap. Enough of the notion believing a just society passes through the state. If they really want the information they can find creative means to get it and without the threat of jail time.

I don't know why people are freaking out that the government is abolishing mandatory long-form census. They're not getting rid of it; all they're getting rid of is the coercion characteristic. And you know what? I appreciate that and would be willing to fill out the form - provided it doesn't ask what colour is my pee and other personal things they have no business collecting. Just because they're the government doesn't mean I trust them since the government is run by people; and that person could be my neighbour or an ex-girlfriend.

And who knows what soft ware they're using!

The head of Stats Canada is over reacting with his threat of resignation. See "hyperbole."Talk about an inflated sense of self-worth. I love Statisitcs Canada and appreciate the work they do but quite frankly they have no damn  business forcing me to give them any damn information I feel important and private.

Moreover, I didn't elect these guys. I'm not big on the power by proxy game.

The bottom line is it should be voluntary.

Basta. As in, that's good enough.

Hyperbole: Whence Came This Exaggerated Word?

Ever wonder where the word hyperbole comes from?

Of course not. That's why you conform and addictively read this puerile blog.

The closest thing to an explanation can be found at Podictionary.

We know it's Greek. As is usually the case. Like Latin.

Though I have a sneaking suspicion it has something to do with the Athenian politician Hyperbolus.

Other than that I can't say more excpet that Thomas Hobbes referred to Hyperbolus as a "scurrilous jester."

He cracks me up that Hobbes.

2010-07-21

Daycare Update

Still waiting for my permit.

I can't do anything until then.

Faith in the will of the people my ass.

Here's the kicker. If I could see the merit in the hold up then it would be less annoying but as it stands, two levels of bureaucracy are still finding fault (and arguing between clueless middleman like me) with the architectural plans designed by an expert in day cares.

In a nutshell the story goes like this: The architect goes with the provincial codes. His logic is that it all stems and flows from there. Na-ah. We're dealing with civil servants here each with their own agendas, quirks and ideas. When I got a call from the municipal urban department the other day, they asked me to make (more) adjustments. I went back to the architect and asked him to comply. He turns around and tells me they're wrong and that they should read the code. In suave Berber French, "Look Commentator, it's all there" as he flips through pages. I glance over and reply, "So? It does me no good. You have to convince them. That's the game."

I tell him to call them and tell them or else he should just do it. He calls them. They don't believe him. How funny is that? They don't even know the provincial codes nor do they care to check into it. Instead, they want "proof" that his previous plans were accepted by the province.

This is what I have to put up with standing in the middle with 14 copies of architectural plans in my soft hands. Now, what's likely going to happen is I'll get approved by the province (which in theory should trump everything) but the municipality will probably with hold by certificate of occupation nonetheless unless my plans are exactly as they state. More time wasted.

This is not functional nor is it efficient nor is it intelligent nor is it beneficial nor is it for the "greater good" nor does it have a real purpose. All it adds up to is bureaucratic ballbusting. It's like an editor complaining you used a comma instead of a semi-colon or that you didn't cross your 'T' properly it's that insignificant.

But that insignificance is costing me money as I sink further into debt.

They don't care, or at least this is how it's coming off, about my debt or the families who are banking on my day care opening in the early fall. If this keeps up there's a real danger the list of kids I have will dwindle as parents make other arrangement if this persists.

Sigh. The bright side? It discourages people from entering this field. More opportunities, however superficial, for me.It leads to shortages but that can only mean more chances for me to open up other centers...I hope. I consider it a barrier to entry.

A PhD Ain't What It Used To Be

There's so much that is wrong with this letter to the editor in the Montreal Gazette:

Re: "Why all this sympathy for a child rapist?" (Opinion, July 16).

I was very surprised to read Janet Bagnall's article about the genius Roman Polanski's recent problems. Her critical position about him is hard to understand.

What's so hard to understand? He raped,drugged and sodomized a 13 year old. Where I come from it ends there - even with the assertion her mother put her in that position.

Repeat after me, he raped..

She blames him for events that took place many years ago. Even the "victim" asked that he be left in peace.

Ah yes. Because the number of years since a crime has passed is facing justice. Sure. Dring, dring, dring. Notice the victim in quotations. Somehow, to this guy, she isn't a victim. As to her peace, um., maybe she says that because she doesn't want to rehash the crime?

I admire the many intellectuals and politicians who expressed their outrage at Polanski's house arrest in Switzerland.

He publicly said this?

Polanski is one of the greatest movie directors of our time. What has Bagnall ever achieved that gives her the right to criticize him?

Well, if this statement were to have any merit (and it doesn't) it would have to suppose we consider movies and the directors who make them to be of high value to a society. They aren't. Who bleeping cares he's the "greatest directors of our time?" And because he's one he's above criticism? This guy is getting on my noives.

And her description of the great philosopher-writer Bernard-Henri Levy as "unspeakably pretentious" was so out of line that I wondered about her real reasons for writing this article. I will never, ever read Bagnall's articles in the future.

Who is this guy?

Nicolas Andreescu, PhD
Montreal

Oh.


A Fiffed. I shouldaknown. A PhD in banal stupidity.

Ok doc. Let's role play: "Your daughter was raped. But can you find it in your heart to, you know, forgive the perp because, you know, like, he suffered enough and made sooooo many great movies?"


See how idiotic this is?

I Hope You Die For Being You

Unhinged thinking:

"If you were in the presence of a man having a heart attack, how would you respond? As he clutched his chest in desperation and pain, would you call 911? Would you try to save him from dying? Of course you would.

But if that man was Rush Limbaugh, and you were Sarah Spitz, a producer for National Public Radio, that isn’t what you’d do at all.

In a post to the list-serv Journolist, an online meeting place for liberal journalists, Spitz wrote that she would “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as Limbaugh writhed in torment.


In boasting that she would gleefully watch a man die in front of her eyes, Spitz seemed to shock even herself. “I never knew I had this much hate in me,” she wrote. “But he deserves it.”

Spitz’s hatred for Limbaugh seems intemperate, even imbalanced. On Journolist, where conservatives are regarded not as opponents but as enemies, it barely raised an eyebrow."

Two wrongs make a right then?

Public broadcasting is "supposed" to be for the public and "greater" good (whatever that entails and as dictated of course by people like Ms. Spitz) but how can it be when taxpayer dollars are used to pay (likely a very good) salary to a person capable of utterly dispicable thoughts?

Not only is it unconscionable (I've never heard Limbaugh sink to this level), but it's devoid of any intellectual or moral worth. It's useless. It comes by the mouth of a small person who can't even control her childish emotions.

At least Limbaugh doesn't express his views on taxpayer dime.


And these people are trying to tell me Fox is bad? Man, I gotta say, if this is who's representing journalism then we're screwed because clearly we're producing inferiour minds.

What bewilders me further is the left claims to hold the "rational" higher road; that they are the gatekeepers and protectors of criticial thinking.

It's a narrative they cling to and one that is a myth.

2010-07-20

Geotagging Cities

Not sure what geotagging is but it looks interesting.

Look for Canadian cities at: Toronto (#10), Vancouver (#12) and Montreal (#30) 

Patience Is The Name Of Our Game

Interesting discussion on equity "traders" and "investors." We certainly have seen high stock valuations. Personally, I've always told the yung'uns with limited resources to find a mature stock with reasonable valuations and high dividend yields. Sure, it's boring but over time it ages like fine wine and a good piece of music.

Excerpt from Seeking Alpha's The Pragmatic Capitalist:

Many graybeards have proclaimed that the equity markets likely won’t bottom until we see excessively low valuations. The kinds of valuations that coincide with window jumping and vomiting (usually on ones self). This would likely coincide with a truly breath taking equity decline – a true death of the “equity cult”. In a recent letter, John Hussman proclaimed that bear markets generally crush Wall Street to powder:

Quite honestly, it’s difficult to envision a return to long-term saving, productive investment, and thoughtful allocation of capital until – as happens every two or three decades – the speculative elements of Wall Street are crushed to powder.

So You Wanna Make Money On Al Gore's Internet, Eh?

Good for you.

Why are you reading this blog then?

All I know is blogger is not the best template to monetize a site. Which means I may move to a private domain very soon. Why should I build up Google's rankings and business? Remember, when you're on blogger Google owns your site. I'm with blogger because of the famialiarity factor. I was on wordpress and still am with Sportsperspectives but for some reason blogger is easier for me.

In order for me to jump to wordpress I have to really learn more about e-commerce.

About monetizing. It all comes down to content and traffic. Easier said than done. I reckon sites that focus on specifics and have a target audience are likely to succeed most. For example, if you're a doctor specializing in autism and have a website you have a special advantage and expertise as opposed to, say, a dink like me who comes up here and spews about everything and anything.

One is be-bop (doctor) and the other is free jazz (me. As in free form)  if you will. Problem is, I'm more of the former at heart. Although I've managed to specialize (albeit poorly at this point since I don't spend enough time on them) in my other blogs. One is fiction, one is satire, one is sports and the other focuses on industrial Italy. My next plan of attack is to talk day care. That's a start. I let this one be my free wheeling desire.

Another style of blog that may work is "personal" stories. I'm slowly integrating my personal experiences on this site. Like I like to pretend I'm a princess at night.

Creating unique, timeless, big picture posts is key. Again. Easier said than done. I may think I have something "smart" to say but it is in the end just an opinion and selling opinions is harder than selling "personal development" and "how-to" stuff.

I hate that shit by the way.

My special interests lie in areas so well covered already it's hard to find a niche - although I believe I have done pretty darn well compared to some of the "successful" sites I've seen. At least I squirt a dash of lemon and love after each post. You may not see it but I do. It's a little messy but hey...for you...anything.

Shit. I hate when that happens. Sorry. I just bit my finger biting into a 90% dark choclate with cinnamon.

Back to focus. Focus.

Anyway, I won't dwell on the fact that I love history, sports and politics. If I can drive traffic to this site on these topics so be it. If not, so be it again.

I feel there's not enough of that stuff around if you ask me. Talking about society, poltics and history is boundless and always in need of discussion.

Blogging and making dough is hard. Very hard. Very, vebby, hard.

I'm still not sure why I do it.

Questions And Thoughts: What Could A Libertarian President Do? No-Cash Economies Coming? Walking Off A Clift

With the Obama administration about to set its sights on internet control control, it looks like more and more the libertarian/new conservative/classical liberal view on liberty will be harder and harder to recover for citizens. Which leads me to ask, what could a libertarian president do once in power? What could he or she possibly do to curb or cure Leviathan? Will we be past the point of no return?

***

Another question: With government reluctant to cut expensive programs  they're going to reach a saturated point where they won't be able to tax people further. At which point, money will be needed to continue funding their spending sprees. Right now, some industries (like restaurants and construction) function with a cash component. It allows people wiggle room. Is it out of the realm of possibility the state will introduce a "no cash" economy where only "debit cards" will be used to track money to tax and access to funds in a bank accounts will be restricted?

Crazy? Remember the state already taxes tips from waiters.

***

Speaking of nuts in a harmless manner, saw Eleanor Clift on the McLaughlin Group today. She was in top liberal form. I'm not gonna rationalize or argue her absurd assertions but I will highlight them for you all to read - and laugh:

1) On financial reform: "It's a big country so we need a lot of regulations."

Er, right.

2) On Obama's falling approval rating: I paraphrase: "The economy comes before debt."

M'kay.
You keep believing that, hon.
3) On why the U.S is not Greece: "We can print money."

Holy inflation Bat-Man!
I thought liberals were big on the "history is deemed to repeat" axiom.


More financial reading here.

2010-07-19

Is Blogging Over Rated?

Radicalized Canadians

“We are seeing more and more Canadians being radicalized and deciding to support the (Islamist) cause through violence,”

And here I thought the only radicalized Canadians were hockey nuts.

Too Big To Fail

Washington Post investigation:

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.



These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.



The investigation's other findings include:


* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.


* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.


* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space.

Still, it should be asked: Has it been effective?

It "Could" Have Been Worse

We've all heard people, in selling an idea or two, resort to all sorts of dubious explanations. My favorite was "if we don't do this it will be trouble" or some variation. How to refute something that can't be refuted?

The above excuse has no meaning. It's not rooted in anything concrete or substantial. In order for an assertion to be solid it has to have a way out to examine it.

Not surprisingly, politicians are masters at this and Obama has made it a feature of his political raison d'etre.

The other day I heard V-P Biden "sell" the administration with a "if we didn't do this and that we'd be down the shitter because of that cockroach Bush."

I paraphrase and read between the lines of course.

No matter how you cut it, it's bull shit.

First off, enough of this inherit crap. Enough! Be gone!

You own the bitch now so to speak. You and you alone chose to run for office so quit complaining about what the last guy did. 1 1/2 years in and still harping about that?

In a way, when you think it to its logical end, of course you inherit the work of a previous administration. That goes for all sorts of things in life. However, to focus on the negative aspects of the past is a cynical ploy to skirt accountability as well as pulling a fast one over the heads of the electorate by framing the narrative as though you "had no choice." We all have choices the saying from that book written that day way back when.

Anyway. Did Jefferson not "inherit" Washington's "problems" to a certain extent? Madison of Jefferson and so on until we hit the current babies in power?

Now do you see why it's a losers mentality to say this?

Next, I don't by the argument if you didn't do what you did and claim to do will prevent further destruction. There is no PROOF if you introduce bail outs, financial regulation or health reform things would have been worse off down the road. What's the criteria to measuring the failures and successes of such things anyway?

Seems to me politicians need to refine how the sell their goods.

2010-07-18

Please To Meet You

 I would like to meet the person or persons who invented mythological gods. It was genius. The greatest strawman in history if you ask me. Not that you asked.

Who would you like to meet?

International Internet Censorship Laws And Policies

There's talk the U.S. will revisit some form of content regulation of the internet next year. With that in mind, here's a neat summary of internet censorship laws around the world.

Let tyranny reign!

The opening line for the U.S.:

"The USA Government has enacted two Federal laws intended to censor offensive online content."

So does calling Obama "Obamao" count? Nice slope.

Canada's approach seems to be enlightened:

"The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced today that it will not regulate new media services on the Internet. After conducting an in- depth review under the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act beginning last July, the CRTC has concluded that the new media on the Internet are achieving the goals of the Broadcasting Act and are vibrant, highly competitive and successful without regulation. The CRTC is concerned that any attempt to regulate Canadian new media might put the industry at a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace."

Not that the CRTC has any damn business deciding what I can and can't listen to.

Polanski Beat The System

Every once in a while a criminal slips through the cracks and so is the case with one Roman Polanski - he who admittedly and factually drugged, rapped and sodomized a 13 year-old child.

Everything else is a strawman used to obfuscate this fact.

I'm afraid the Americans will have to let it go. The Swiss and French aren't about to do them any favors.

Perhaps he'll face a higher judge for justice. For now, he deserves a spot in Dante's Inferno.

2010-07-17

Look At Me

As you can tell, I changed the look of this site. I was bored with the previous one.

Tax, Whither And Rebirth

Where I live, I'm only allowed to water my lawn every second day. Water levels are low so I had no real qualms with it given I don't generally water my grass too much. I'm not a nut about grass like some people are.

Last night my friend was telling me that the city has added further restrictions saying we can't do it all; including washing our cars outside. But I can do it inside my garage since they "can't see it." Not yet anyway.

As we were discussing, it won't be long before the municipality begins to monitor our water usage inside our homes. A water tax meter will likelybe imposed somewhere down the line. Montreal is already doing it so it's only a matter of time we follow suit.

I don't know what it'll look like but if you shower for ten minutes and the government wants you to use seven minutes worth, they may tax you for the over usage. I'm just guessing.

If we tax most things for consumption, because remember boys and girls we have to tax to discourage an activity or habit that the state doesn't like, why not water? I mean, we've been nailed with increases in bus fares (all the while politicians beat us silly telling us to take public transit), gas (because gas is mean to the environment) and food as well (hey, watch your sugar intake - I have a story to tell later about this).

These are all activities we HAVE to engage in, and if you're taxes go up while wages freeze in a difficult economic environment, then you have less in your pocket. Don't worry, as one Montreal city councillor said, we won't go to the "poor house." What a fooltool.

Another area where the city of Montreal has absolutely knocked people off is with property taxes. They ARE INSANE. We own property in Montreal and the taxes the city takes from owners is essentially thievery. What the heck are they doing with all that money? Oh yeah, the oversized public sector.

We've had to let a tenant out of his lease because he felt he couldn't make a go of his business (in a high profile area) and couldn't possibly pay for the taxes he was responsible for. So we've had to drastically readjust our rent downwards (apparently the higher you charge rent the higher the taxes; because we're, you know, communists) in an effort to attract someone else into the locale just so that the taxes are bearable. Less rental income or less taxes? Pick your poison.

Oh, by the way, the Tremblay administration increased property taxes during hard economic times. I can't tell you how many times small business people looking for rent space have said they're getting reamed by taxes. Communism by other means. God forbid he actually goes straight to the source: A massive civil service and unions sector that's crippling us.

Then they wonder why people evade taxes. People will evade the portion they feel is not entitled to go to the state. Simple as that.

It's no better down south. The Americans elected a leader who's proving to be a rank amateur with dated economic notions. His shtick has already wore thin as it should.

To me, the West is already dead. The rise is on the East. The insane insistence on taxing ourselves to death is only hastening that process. Eventually, we will whither and hit a dark age. Only when the people who taxed us into oblivion to preserve impossible services and those activists who lobby for higher taxes die off will a future generation down the road turn around and say, "Ok, this is fucken retarded let's spur true economic growth and innovation free of excessive Leviathanian measures. Let's start by reducing the size of the bacterial civil service. Who were those bozos from 2010 anyway?"

Of course, I'm just guessing. To some people all this makes perfect sense and increases are only proportional to our standard of living. After all, the saying goes, do you want to forego our social welfare state?

I fear that we'll end up in a situation like in Europe where not only is the cost of maintaining a welfare state no longer feasible, owning property (to serve as a pension among other things) won't even be worth it because the income earned won't even cover the original cash outlay on investment. In a sense, the state has the people exactly where it wants them: In a corner.

Then again, I'm not sure that's the main goal of government.  Is it really in their best interest to create a culture of dependency?

Death and taxes will one day be one and the same.

***

I mentioned sugar earlier. The other day I stood outside Wal-Mart (there was a sale on a particular Barbie my chirpily verbose daughter wanted) with my mother in law (I love my mother-in-law, I love my mother-in-law) and observed the amount of over weight people coming out. Perceptions and generalizations are a crazy thing and I could have sworn I had never seen so many of them around these parts. What I kept to myself, my mother-in-law remarked out loud. So often I hear Quebecers sneer about Americans in Plattsburgh being over weight. The truth is, Quebec is one of the most unhealthiest regions in Canada if not North America.We have the highest drop out rates, lowest percentage of people who exercise and highest who smoke. And we teach French poorly apparently.

We just happen to have good genes, I presume, on the weight thing.

It was taking long so we went in to look for the girls. As we stood by the cash we noticed a hideously dressed and equally frightfully looking couple pack their carriage with Doritos and Pepsi while talking to, what sounded (through a really thick Quebecois accent) to me as their kids. If I didn't know better they were buying a bag per kid and it didn't feel as though they were throwing a party.

If that was an American couple, I could imagine the comments. But they weren't. They were homegrown retards.

Point? What I just did, that is generalize, is all we do when we look on America. Conclusion? Those who live in glass houses shouldn't hurl stones.

2010-07-16

Limbaugh's World

As is the case with the Tea Party, at least Reason tries to explore political pop culture personalities with a little depth unlike some shrill sites, say, Huffpufffluffington Post. Most people who judge him, and I've mentioned this in the past, don't even listen to him (especially here in Canada because, you know, we "think" we know his "type) and rely on second hand information. The Rush Limbaugh effect.

All I know is Obama can only dream of having that kind of love.

The bottom line is, with all the contradictions and questionable comments, he is king.

One aspect of his show people tend to ignore or plump miss is his humor. I'm not sure under what category it falls under (he really is hard to nail down) but I guess it go under the "dead-pan" umbrella. I wonder what people think about this?

Miscarriage of Justice

As many of you know, I have concerns about Canada's justice system. It really does seem it's stacked in favour of the criminal. The mindset of factoring compassion and considering the environment for crimes - though should be considered - has seemingly reached its unacceptable apex. When you have a legal system that permits one of the most notorious murderers in  "the history of North America walk free on a plea bargain in exchange for information, you know we're on the wrong track. No?

Enter Aset Magomadova. Magomadova strangled her14 year old daughter with a scarf for over two minutes and was not given any jail time. Oh, she has "strict restrictions and conditions" she must follow but no prison term for her crime.

She's murdered her daughter. Sure, she may not have "intended" for it to happen but she finished the job in the end and for that she must face jail time. I understand sometimes details to a case deem we go easy on some people but no jail time?

Meanwhile, guys like Richard Latimer who present far more plausible cases of compassion languishes in a half-way house after having spent time in jail.

Judge Sal LoVecchio has a bizarre view on things.

Of the Commonwealth countries and the U.S., only the U.S. and possibly Australia, remain tough on crime. The UK and Canada have become weak. Specious perhaps but it's a perception. Either we truly are progressive or we've lost all sense of justice and confuse compassion and crime.

***

Which makes me ask: When a judge makes a controversial decision should they explain themselves to the public outside the realm of the court?

2010-07-15

One Crazy, Sick Dude

To those who read history, we've come acros the the frightening name of Vlad the Impaler. When I was a kid I remember reading about how he relished in drinking the blood of his victims and using instruments of terror like impaling to strike fear in people.

 Vlad naturall had to make an appearance on Deadliest Warrior.

While I tend to take the show with a grain of sea salt, it nonetheless is interesting to watch.

People have pointed out a lot of problems and inaccuracies with the show but that's what it is, entertainmnent. The main problem I have with the show is the seeming lack of interest in factoring the "x-factor" in battles. Yeah, Vlad was a madman who very well have killed Sun Tzu one on one but in a field of battle one could reasonably assume he'd be polished off a military terrain. Same with the Romans. In two episodes, the Romans didn't fair well, but the strength of the Romans was the the organization and ruthlessness of the entire army. In other words, the whole was the greater of the sum of its parts. I doubt the Romans would have lost to many of the warriors featured on the show.

It tends to mix up great military generals, leaders and strategists with fighting entire non-descript armies like, say, vikings (not suggesting there weren't great viking leaders). My point is it can't seem to make up its mind. Either you pit Napoleon against say, Macarthur or you pit La Grane Armee with the American army of WWII.

Rather, the show extracts a character from the entity it derives from. For example, Alexander the Great. Yet, for the Romans it didn't introduce Julius Caesar or Augustus. So on this front they need to work out the details. 

The results are also based on a one on one simulation of a 1000 fights. I want to see armies go at it. I don't want to see what one or five guys did with the five weapons. It really tells you nothing.

All that being said, it's a decent enough show and watching Vlad as depicted on the show left me in awe. I don't think, so far anyway, anyone comes close to this psycho. Even the Vlad experts played their parts well. It helps that East-central Europe (Romania/Wallachia and all that) is historically one creepy area.



If This Is True

Then BP and whoever else was involved are evil.

Shouldn't surprise us though.

"BP has admitted that it lobbied the British government over a prisoner transfer deal with Libya in late 2007, but denied playing any role in the actual decision to release al-Megrahi nearly two years later."

I know. They did it to ensure our way of life. Thanks. I guess.

Chilling

"The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws." -- Tacitus, Roman senator and historian (A.D. c.56-c.115)

When I first starting blogging, I didn't have a particular, well-thought out philosophical or political outlook. Sure, I had some idea of where I stood on things but I wasn't a nut about it. As time went on, and I began reading more and more about the state of our affairs in North America, I became concerned about individual liberties. It seemed to me we were no longer free and that free will was only free to the extent the state or corporations would permit it; that we must comply with their will.

In the nation-state computation, humans give up part of their freedoms to the state in return for something; usually this meant a give and take scenario. I give you the right to say, handle national security, and in return my life is protected from marauding invaders. That sort of thing. It was contractual and was never meant to allow the state to expand on it without the explicit agreement from its subjects.

In the 20th century, the idea of socialist-welfarism has meant we have given up all our rights to the state. It alone determines what is bad and what is good for the myth known as the "greater good." Man is an individual. He can only protect and govern himself for he can't think for another person. He can't determine, if say he wants to help another, if that person is truly in need or is lazy. He can make a determination but he alone should make that decision to give or not. It shouldn't be coerced through, as it stands, taxes.

Money coming out of my pockets to some well-intentioned program or service is very much throwing money away if it's not carefully traced. If we accept the individual-state contract concept, then it should truly be on an individual basis where the state offers options where I can give my money. If I know, say, one service is poorly managed then I won't give MY money to it. If I want to give to a political entity then it ALONE will get it. Subsidies should be kept to a tight confine.

That's true fairness for we know where everyone stands on issues. Forcing one to give against their will for the "greater good" is increasingly being questioned as it should.

Liberals and progressives will naturally read with horror and misunderstand my point. It's not a call for unrestrained freedom. No one believes this is possible. Man needs arbitrators to help govern against our vices and virtues.

I'm not advocating a callous world either. I care for my fellow man. I just don't believe I have the right make people believe in my causes and beliefs. That's why I write for a magazine that seeks to help human beings in Exceptional Family.

Rather, my argument stems from the fact that the natural state of man flows from the individual. Not the other way around. Yes, we can work in communities and communes but that's not our natural state for if there is free will these concepts work to the extent a person is getting something in return. If they're not, they may as well be in a cult where they perform labotomies. That's why the liberal/socialist/progressive message resonates little, if at all, with me.
I thought about this as I read this piece by John Stossel. I no longer believe these are isolated instances. 12-year-old kids should not be arrested and handcuffed for eating french fries. Five year olds should not be sent home for playing cops and robbers at school. Here in Quebec, a black student was arrested for placing her bag on a park bench next her breaking an unknown city by-law. In another case, a person was arrested for not holding the railing in the Metro.

Then, we're asked to grin and bear the absurd? I'm all for respecting authority. It's essential. But in some cases, we can and must voice our displeasure.

Think of the long-term consequences of such stupidities and the unnecessary trauma it may cause kids.

It's frightening the over reach by the state. Corporations piss on the government and both piss on the people.

2010-07-14

Tax Moi Pour Le Welfare Because C'est Bon For Me And Toi

My wife is teaching summer school this year. They pay well. They also tax her to the tilt. In real dollars, it's obscene what the state takes from us. Of course, we can't complain because the high taxes point to a superior socially progressive society. I've never seen proof of exactly how this is so but it's to be accepted no questions asked.

Sheep. Blind. Off the cliff.

If we think there won't be a moment of truth somewhere down the line for our luxurious welfare addictions then we're in serious psychological doo-doo.

A libertarian take on Quebec's health care:

"In his recent budget speech, Bachand acknowledged that Quebec’s health care system is in serious financial trouble. While this recognition of the problem is encouraging, the proposed new health tax will do nothing to solve the problem. Since the new tax is not linked to the cost of care or a person’s past or potential use of medical services, it is not connected to health care demand and consequently, will have no effect on current or future costs. Therefore, it will do nothing to tame the unsustainable growth in government health care spending.



Instead the government should follow through with its plan to introduce a health deductible, which would require Quebecers to pay a small user fee when using medical services. This would encourage patients to use the health care system more responsibly, a much-needed reform currently in use in many European countries. Unfortunately, the government is now backpedaling on the idea of the health deductible.


The problem with the current system is that patients pay for health care through taxes, meaning there is no price at the point of service. Without price signals, individuals do not have an incentive to control the amount (and type) of health care services they consume, which inevitably leads to excessive demand for health care services."

Takes One To Know One?

Keep in mind, this guy is running foreign policy.

So. Obama thinks Al-Queda is racist?  He's been careful to not call them terrorists but racists is acceptable in his mind I suppose.

Does he think the American narrative on race will work on this issue? Why doesn't he send Jesse Jackson over there to conduct race relations? I mean, he's the supreme opportunist right? It's a remarkably absurd statement to make.

One that makes this Canadian moron think the American administration is run by a bunch of dopes.

Obama, the bi-racial man who was said to cross the racial divide, sees life through the prism of race so it's not surprising he would conclude Al-Queda is "racist" for attacking Africans. That Al-Queda was "racist" shouldn't come as any surprise to anyone let alone the Commander-in-fricken-chief.

America is in good hands.

2010-07-13

'Ndragheta Clipped In Italy

Here in Montreal it is feared a mafia gang war is about to take place as the major players in the Sicilian Rizzuto clan (also referred to as the Sixth Family that grew more powerful than New York's Five Families) are slowly being whacked. It's uncertain who is declaring war but I've heard two possible players: New York families eager for retribution for the murders (allegedly by Vito Rizzuto now serving time in the U.S.) of the three captains or capos. The other is the secretive and little known Calabrian mafia also seeking to recapture the power they held in Montreal before the murder of Calabrian crime boss Paolo Violi.

The police hope it is in fact a mafia war and not one that involves non-Italians a little birdie told me. For if it did, it can escalate and be far bloodier than a war between Italians.

I bring this up because while we're witnessing a possible war for power, in Italy a massive crack down on the the most powerful and ruthless criminal organization in the world (numbering anywhere between 5 000 and 10 000 according to the Italians version of  'Unsolved Mysteries' show I watched a few years ago while in France) the 'Ndragheta.

For you non-Italians read the above link to wiki.

Now let me explain you something. Calabrians are mercurial, mysterious, suspicious people who speak in constant riddles and rhymes. I'm serious. My father never gave me a straight answer growing up. Never. Only now he's become a little more open about things. Partly because he's not well. They're also a very, very tough people. I mean, tough. You can round these people up and form a mercenary military attachment in seconds flat. Their character mirrors and mimick their rustic but beautiful landscape. There's a certain calm serenity in Calabria that's not really normal. That's the code of silence whisking through the air. Calabrians hold extreme notions of honor and virtue. It's a place where the Ancient Greeks once lived among Italians essentially forming their own identity that could be called Calabrian.

I'm no expert on Calabrese history but I have imparted what little I know here. As for the Calabrese dialect, I don't know how and it did take a while but I do kinda understand it now. It's nowhere remotely close to Italian; especially when spoken quickly and slurred after some wine. My father never spoke to us in dialect but in Italian.

As for his role in the history of the mafia. If you happened to see pictures of Sicilian mobsters between the mid 1970s and early 2000s, chances are they were wearing a suit made by him. He was king. Interestingly, despite being Calabrese, he did not service them. Typical I guess.

Gosh Diggity-Spiggity Doo

I was reading somewhere that French enrollment in English Quebec CEGEP's is on the rise. Oh, mon dieu, Mr. Charest! You must do something about this travesty! I mean, ok, you keep French Quebecers in a "lobster pot" so to speak with your restrictive laws but once they are freed from the shackles of state tyranny they opt for exactly the opposite you zealots want!

The head spins when freedom runs amock! Whatever shall you do, oh grand political masters! Which so-called intellectual will devise a scheme to plug this unacceptable hole!

Guess when this quote was made and by whom:

"It is not acceptable to send this message, that it is possible to have free choice."

No, Timmy. Don't be so ignorant. Didn't you go to Bovine University? It wasn't 1910 but 2010! June 7 to be exact. And the slickchick who claims it is Pauline Marois.

What more do people want as proof tyrants (and I mean classic) live among us and rule above us.

Fool Ignatieff

Such is the state of our political discourse. Here in Canada, we tend to look at our neighbours down south with a "I'm glad we're not them" attitude. Seriously though, how far off are we in our political discourse? So it comes with a "thank you" and "merci" in two-languages. Big hitzpiffle.

Here's a gem from Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff:

"We are the progressive, reforming centre of Canada. I can't emphasize how much we are in the centre," he told supporters.



"You know you smell the whiff of sulfur coming off the guy (Harper) - we know how right wing these guys really are."

Let's see. Make a dubious self-proclaimed statement followed by an ad hominen.
 
Nothing in there of substantial worth. Just pure garbage.
 
And he's an intellectual!
 
Prediction: Liberals go nowhere in the next election. It's gonna take a helluva lot more to wrestle me away from the Tories than tripe like this. Note to Liberals: Sell me on your ideas and the issues. Yeah, the Tories aren't governing the way I would like but they're far from evil incarnate so spare me th effen hyperbole.
 
Babies.

We're First!

I never really did get "we must get news first" crap. I don't care who breaks a story first. I just want it done right and with proper perspective and in context. Watching some good looking chick "report" on a news story passing off as "breaking" means absolutely squat to me.

All it shows is you have good sources and know how to network. You can still be a total dinkfink and not be able to understand the importance of the information just received.

Reporter: Tv545 News has just obtained exclusive copies of the the document so important to our lives. Were the first!"
Anchorman: Great, job Jill! Back in a minute with YOUR weather!"
*Winks. Camera pans to weatherman laughing shooting air pistols*
Intern: But what about the document? Did you read it?"
Reportet: Read it?
*Everyone breaks out in laughter*
Anchorman: Son, you're so naive.
Intern: B-but...
Anchorman: And you're fired.

Being first is superficial.

2010-07-12

More Bills In The U.S.

The Americans are about to push through financial regulations reform. I don't know if it'll work but I do find it odd that the two guys often cited as being key players in the financial meltdown -Dodd and Frank along with the big banks- were behind this bill.

Something tells me the small players will get hosed by the additional regulations. It's a plot I tell ya to further solidfy the oligarchy.

As an aside, I do consider Obama to be anti-business but not for the reasons conservatives think. He's anti-business to the extent he doesn't like those who resist his plans to fashion them in his own image. It's hard to imagine the majority of small-to-mid sized businesses think he's on their side.

World Cup Closes With A Dud

Spain won the World Cup. Good on them. It only took 80 years.

Just don't tell me it was "beautiful" and that this team deserved the "Fair Play" award. It's mightily laughable to hard core fans of the game.

2010-07-11

Saving Cleveland

Now that Lebron is gone, Cleveland can tackle the real issues.

Irritating Censoring

I'm currently watching 'Rambo' (2008) on SpikeTV. It's a delightfully violent and silly movie but great when you're battling vertigo. It's11pm at night and they're censorsing all the swear words.

I don't get it. Spike is supposed to be a "man's" channel and one would think that films after 10pm should be free of this nanny-state garbage.

Swearing is part of the charm in such movie. That and the fact I have a filthy mouth. So filthy I use Hertel to clean out my mouth and not regular soap. Irish Spring maybe but definitely the soft Ivory.

More On Those Darn East Anglia Emails

Back to square one it looks like.

How do you spell 'whitewash?' Oh. I just did.

2010-07-10

Lebron James' Drapeau Blanc

Thoughts on the farcical spectacle over at Sportsperspectives.

Leadership From The Top Over Rated

The oil spill is a corporate and governmental bureaucratic nightmare. I wouldn't be surprised that when all the dust settles and inquiries and investigations are complete the clean up will have taken longer than it couls/should have due to the "It doesn't say in the trainer's manual" amateurism.

Everybody is going by "the book." A book that should have been burned.

It's absolutely insane that local officials ready to take the lead are held up by the Feds. Worse, threatened with jail time for cleaning up a mess the Feds are too slow to react to. Obama is out there yapping (and appointing stupid commissions) while the people are ready TO ACT. Equally bizarre is the fact companies ready to step in and clean up the mess are being held up by the EPA.

Obscene.

Why get in the way of that? The assumption of course, is that leadership is top-heavy. Which is totally nonsensical to me. We've put up so many rules, regulations and laws we trip over them when faced with a problem.

Case in point:

"Others told him the government would handle it. He scoffed. He remembered the Exxon Valdez, hurricane Katrina, hurricane Ivan. If anyone was going to save Magnolia Springs, it wouldn’t be the feds, BP, or environmental activists. It would be the thousand-odd people who live here. After all, the locals knew the water – knew every twist and turn of Magnolia River, Fish River, and Weeks Bay. They would handle things the way they always did – together."

"Last Wednesday, that moment came. Hinton called the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and told them the time had come to deploy the barges.

“They acted as if they’d never heard about it,” he says. “We started jumping through hoops to get the plan approved again.”

Hinton and Mayor Charles Houser conferred. If the small-town fire chief blocked the bay without permission, he could be jailed or fined, but he was willing to take that chance.

In a way, the decision was an easy one. There is a timelessness to the marshes of Magnolia Springs, where ospreys glide across the water and cottonmouths slither through pitcher plant bogs. It is “the most beautiful place on earth,” Hinton says, and he wants his grandchildren to see it – just as it is now."

Think of it. Someone can go to prison for helping his community do the right thing during a crisis.

Where Priorities Really Lie

Don't know if this is a pure photo but it's funny. It's been sent to me a few times in the last little while and decided to post it. I may have already but I can't remember.

Harper is classic. So Canadian.

Guess who the Latins are?

G-20 is code for "Great piece of ass - 20 ove 10." G-20.

Take That!

A while ago I talked about stores who put the stupid "Ici on commerce en Francais" sticker on their doors. So, so 70s. Naturally, I turned around and left.

Marche du Store (which I believe is an American corporation) was one of the offenders in a Montreal suburb. Last night we went to buy blinds for my daughter's room at Verti-Store.

The lady heard us speak in this strange, evil language called Englishian. With courteous professionalism, we conducted BUSINESS in the language of the CUSTOMER. The fact she did that only made us feel more comfortable and by the end we were all speaking in French, English and Franglais.

I don't care about that. I speak both (and a third) languages anyway - poorly of course. What I don't appreciate is the arrogance and inherent ignorance of those bloody stickers.

So Marche du Store, Verti Blind-Vertical store got $500 smackeroos which likely would have gone to you because you were closest to my house! But, with the stubborness of Grandpa Simpson, I dragged my family and my annoyed mother-in-law (I love my mother-in-law, I love my mother-in-law), 16 km west.

I absorbed the grief from the peanut gallery and didn't regret it. Then we went for gelato. I had amaretto and Sicilian pistacchio.

The end.

2010-07-09

Happy Meals Rock

McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner is my kind of guy. He hit bck at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (no joke. There's an organization called this. It's, like, well, 1984!)

These folks had the idea of slapping Macdo (as we call it here) with a lawsuit for daring to give toys as a way to "lure" kids into their restaurants.

Not even if I tried could I think about this stuff. Actually, it's quite easy come to think of it. When I heard it I thought two things: A) how bloody presumptuous and insulting of them. B) What an idiotic position to take.

No sooner than I think this did Skinner lash back:

I am writing to set the record straight regarding the misinformation that CSPI communicated about McDonald's.... You say you want a dialogue with McDonald's, but your tactics and inflammatory rhetoric suggest otherwise. CSPI's twisted characterization of McDonald's as 'the stranger in the playground handing out candy to children' is an insult to every one of our franchisees and employees around the world. When CSPI refers to America's children as 'an unpaid drone army,' you similarly denigrate parents and families, because they are fully capable of making their own decisions. You should apologize."


That's EXACTLY right. I guard and govern MY child as I see fit. I don't know these people and quite frankly I don't give a shit about them.

He added, "The public does not support your lawsuit. Internet sites, blogs and network surveys suggest that public opinion is running overwhelmingly against your premise. Our customer websites and phone lines at McDonald's are also busy, with more than nine out of 10 customers disagreeing with your agenda. Parents, in particular, strongly believe they have the right and responsibility to decide what's best for their children, not CSPI. It really is that simple... You purposefully skewed your evaluation of our Happy Meals by putting them in the context of a highly conservative 1,300 calorie per day requirement. I'm sure you know this category generally applies to the youngest and most sedentary children... Furthermore, your over-the-top rhetoric flies in the face of our 55-year track record of caring for kids, a core McDonald's value."

Count me in as one of those blogs who sides with McDonald's. Evil corporate bastard I am.

Just for that I'm taking my kid to McDonald's real soon.