Stanhope's Take On Breast Cancer

Yes, Doug Stanhope makes me giggle like a hysterical hyena in heat. He's dirty, filfithy and bluntly funny as Mr. Hanky and I likes its dats ways.

Middle finger thanks to Nickck (I never know how to spell his name anymore), over at Skeptical Eye for this look out.

Warning: Bad word on the horizon if you click on Stanhope's link. You may want to call your local bureaucrat to make sure it's alright to proceed.

Generally Speaking Of Welfare

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”― James Madison

I love the Founding Fathers. Those framers were filled with freaky quotes.


On and off I read and hear debates about the "general welfare" in the United States constitution.

Here's what I remember from my days in post-secondary education - which amounted to Grade 14.

Let's start with Tommy Jefferson:

“The laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They [Congress] are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union. In like manner, they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose.”

Of course, the argument goes, what did they mean specifically by "general welfare" and the application of law regarding it?

It always, it seems anyway, comes down to Madison vs. Hamilton. If one recalls the Federalist Papers, Hamilton favored (clearly), a wide role of the federal government in American life whereas Madison's was more restrictive. Once you're aware of this, you realize the debate that goes on in contemporary times actually has a long history.

It never was and never will be settled. Which is why I laugh whenever I hear anyone say, "we're taking our country back."

However, despite Hamilton's Hobbesian outlook, I think even Alex would be astonished by how his views have been generalized to the point of rendering the concept of individual freedom moot. Which is why, I reckon, Madisonian thinking is making a comeback. Moreover, it might explain a resurgence in thinkers like Hayak, Bastiat, Galiani, von Mises, Rothbard, Friedman and even Rand.

The Framers weren't welfarists. They were liberal and enlightened but in a conservative way - if you can follow this. They would consider taking one dollar from one person and giving it to another by force as an affront to civil existence and liberties. Furthermore, they would not consider it to be progressive but would probably view it as one enabling and enfeebling their fellow man.

The state and people who support constant state interference in our personal lives are pyromaniacs. They cling to the notion that if the state whithers, so too will society. And that's a sad outlook on things.


Majestic Europe Rivers

Quick which river is the longest in Europe: The Rhine, Danube, Volga, or Tittywitty? Hint: It's not pictured here.

While we're at it, it never is a bad thing to polish up and recall the longest rivers in the world.  Hint: The longest river is the only one that flows north. Which flows both north and south of the equator? It ryhmes with bongo. Or dongo. Or flongo.

And then there's Caesar's famous crossing of the Rubicon.

How Much Do I Weigh On Jupiter?

Your weight on other planets.


I find it hilarious listening to liberals justify an attack on Iran.

It's laced with ironies and contradictions. N'est pas?

Why Not A Bat-Man Tax?

Why not?
Look, aside from the assholes who levied taxes inappropriately, Robin Hood, let's be frank, was a thief.

Is there honor among thieves? Is there such a thing as an "honorable" robbery?

To me, the Robin Hood tax is just another one of those "it sounds great on paper but becomes laced with unintended consequences" progressive ideas. Under no circumstances is it "right" to keeping expropriating other people's money under the guise of "fairness." The only "fairness" that's legitimate is the contract set up between private indivduals; everything else is superficial tinkering.

Taxes, once again from the top, are inefficient.

Besides, Paul Krooooooooogman supports it. That's enough for me to ignore it outright.

Ville Marie Latest Road Embarrassment

I hadn't noticed.

What Do I Mean?

Be the Magwitch to my Pip.

Abnormal Pediatric Situation

It makes no sense at all. For all our boasting for what amounts to a mediocre public health system, it is next to impossible to get a pediatrician in Quebec - never mind general practioner. As one doctor, a family member said, "good luck or go to Toronto."

I find this quite repugnant. Alas, I seem to be the only one because we continue to believe our system is a-okay.

So what happens to people who can't find a doctor? They have to wait 10-11 hours in a clinic and get what they can get. Or, if you prefer, bribe a doc. Of course, that's not "right" according to the government who made a mess of things in the first place.


At least we have "equal access to all."

People still believe this?


What Does It All Mean?

I "unofficially" joined an IQ society for the trivia. While my score was nowhere near the top players (my science knowledge could use some work) it was higher than some companies and institutions including schools. Of course, I wondered how bad the colleges I beat were. I further saw that military academies (including the army) did very well.


As I answered more and more questions (over 100), I asked myself, "how much of this is really useful?" Does it matter I know the Ob river is in Russia or that you have to add neutrons and protons to get the atomic mass of a chemical? How does this distinguish me from the yokel jack off who spends absolutely no time bettering themselves intellectually?

It seems the more I fill my head with information, the less I fricken know.

Monday Evening Music

Quebec band Chapeaumelon. Pretty good stuff.

Cut Personal Income Taxes And Exemptions

Yes. Cutting personal income taxes is good.

But that's me.

I seem to be a minority member of "more in my pocket is swell" philosophy.

Corn Contains Rat DNA?

Someone told me how corn, I'm guessing GM corn, contains rat DNA.

I have no clue.


Als Legend Patterson Dies

Former Montreal Alouettes stand out Hal Patterson died last week.

Didn't know he opted to play in Canada despite being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1954. Of course, back then, the NFL wasn't what it was today. In fact, the differences between the CFL and NFL weren't as wide as today. In this light, "Prince" Hal Patterson's decision to stay wasn't irrational.

Old Timer CFL Alumni Brawl

Yeah, yeah, yeah the B.C. Lions beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 34-23 to win the 99th Grey Cup. Whatever.

This is where it's at. Old enemies never forget:

It's Settled

The Webster-Ashburton treaty settled a few border issues between Britain (for Canada) and the United States.

Tebow Leading Broncos

Will Tim Tebow get the Doug Flutie treatment?

Yes, he's unorthodox and it sounds like John Elway isn't convinced Tebow is the QB of the future but he's some player. Entertaining in every sense of the word. He (I'm sure he'd say God) makes things, well, happen.

MoveOn "Toxic"

Occupy Wall St., whoever they are at this point, want nothing to do with MoveOn.org or being "co-opted."

A petiton asking for MO to back off reads:

"MoveOn, we love you (well, some of us do), but seriously, your name is toxic to a substantial portion of the public, and your rigid views are toxic to a broad-spectrum movement like #OWS. Please stop trying to hijack it."

Biblical Cereal

A friend to my wife bought her a box of cereal. Unfortunately, it contains wheat; somet hing she's allergic to.


I'm stuck eating Ezekiel 4:9. The ad caption on the box quotes this Biblical text, "As described in the Holy Scriptures "Take also unto thee wheat and barley and and beans and lentils and millet and spelt and put them in one vessel and make bread of it..."

I don't know if I'll scream like Tony, "Theyyyyy're Great!"

Frosted Flakes.

Now that's cereal!


And Another Thing

Sorry, Nikk.

Happy Thanksgiving America.

Thanks for nothing.

I just felt like saying that.

I don't think I posted for Canadian thanksgiving last month. Thanksgiving, as strong as it is up here, is pretty much a harcore American holiday.

Do Something!

I said...do something.

Anything. Justify yourself, man!

Uncovering Coolidge

One of these days, I thought to myself, someone is going to revisit Calvin Coolidge's Presidency.

"Reagan also liked Coolidge's position on taxes. Coolidge contended that reducing high marginal tax rates would produce more revenue for the government, not less. He argued that the money saved by taxpayers would be plowed into new investments. As you know, he engineered substantial tax-rate cuts. He was right about the increased revenue."

I think there's not much doubt - in fact, I'm ready to say there's no doubt - that's exactly what would happen. The tendency for business is not to "hoard" money. It's to reinvest in order to grow. There is a small problem with the statement mentioned above though. What if households save too much and do nothing?


That's such a simple thought process it should be an axiom - if it isn't already.

I know if I didn't have all these taxes to pay (and there's a s-load of them hidden or otherwise; much I feel are completely wasted), I'd have double my staff already and likely in a stronger financial position.

Taxes are an inefficient measure when it comes to organic economic growth.


It's all for the "common good" I'm told.


Daycare Update

'Really? More jaded?" Seinfeld
"Sure, why not?" George Costanza

I think this is the best way to describe my mood these days. Running a business and maintaining a sunny disposition - especially you're not naturally inclined to be so - is hard. Hard like a puck.

My wife talks to me as if I'm George Jefferson reminding me to be nice.


Quote Of The Day: Metric System

"The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it."
Abe Simpson


I think in pounds. Never quite got metricky.

Though thinking in kilometres isn't so bad, I still prefer miles. Simply, when I see "15 miles to next exit" I know it translates into about 15 minutes.


They Can't Take This Blog From Me

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing and singing to George and Ira Gershwin's 'They can't take that away from me.'

A song Astaire made, I believe, famous.

I don't know if there's "less" talent today in the arts. I reckon the list of achievements aren't what they used to be but maybe it's a question of misapplication. It's impossible a Ginger Rogers doesn't exist today. Rather, it's likely the avenues for people like her are smaller now.

Either way, we don't see such elegance and subtle beauty anymore. In fact, is there a word bigger than 'beautiful' when looking at this? It's the quintessential American art form. Things do seem more vulgar these days. Maybe it's plain a simple of changing taste?


Green Bay Packers: Sports Anomaly

I can't think of any "small market" place in North American sports that remains as relevant and successful as the Green Bay Packers. Not only that, they have more titles than anyone else.

Pro soccer in Europe, for its part, is pretty much dominated by the big clubs located in large cities.

And He Shall Be A Good Man

Elton John's Levon is a great song from the outstanding Madman Across the Water album.

After years of listening to the song, one of the lines suddenly interested me:

He was born a pauper to a pawn on a Christmas dayWhen the New York Times said God is dead And the war's begun
Alvin Tostig has a son today.

The song was written, what, in 1971? The reputation of the New York Times as the most important paper in the land remained in tact. 40 years later, with all that has happened since (innnnnnterrrrrrnet!) if the Times would proclain 'God is dead' would it matter? Would people care?

Who was Alvin Tostig by the way?

Butt End Jokes About Canada's Military Continue

It's easy to poke fun of Canada's military. American conservatives do it all the time.

Ha, ha, ha.

You know what? While it's true it's a source of embarrassment for the way this country handled the military, our soldiers do continue to serve and shed blood around the world with pride.

No Soccer Ball For You!

A Toronto school bans balls....'cuz it ain't got none!

Hey, you all know I think we've become a very weak minded society.


When we were in grade school we used to play soccer with a tennis ball. Soccer-hockey as it was called - with a chosen fence serving as goal. We'd set up four against four with the teams kicking at the one goalie. It so happens the best goalie died in grade six after being hit by a truck on the main boulevard not too far from our school. We all still remember Danny.

One day, my friend Nick kicked the ball and it sliced foul. And I mean waaaayyyyy foul. It was struck with such force it smacked a teacher on the side of her mouth square on the jaw sending her straight towards hell. We still joke about the "schlock" sound that resonated across the school yard. Watching the teacher get up in a daze remains pretty much a solid memory for us. She never knew what hit her.

Guess what?

We all went fucking on with our lives. No bull shit over reaction, bans and sensitivity garbage. Get your ass up, apologize, and go back to class.


Bunch of whiny, little wusses.


That school should import some tunbleweed and ban running while they're at it.


Friday Night Music


Proof we exist.

Saluting Palchak

Equipment manager Eddie Palchak was a fixture behind the Montreal Canadiens bench.

He was 71 when he passed away this week.

The Great Soccer Debate

"My mother says I was the greatest."

Diego Armando Maradona

I'm not terribly into "who is the greatest" type of debate. Pele or Maradona? Who knows? It goes without saying what the Argentinians and Brazilians think.

 Some argue Alfredo di Stefano was the greatest. Others Garrincha. Now Lionel Messi is in the argument. See for yourself.


I suppose if there's a list to go by, World Soccer is the one to give you the best account. I think there are, the ones I've seen anyway, maybe five comprehensive lists ever compiled. Most books don't bother to rank choosing instead to select the most notable players. Every single I've seen tend to have Brazilians and Italians dominating the overall totals.

And some of the notable, for the record, South Americans (and Frenchmen) are and were of Italian (partly in some cases) ancestry.

They include (about 20% of the list):

Di Stefano, Maradona (Spanish-Italian), Platini, Passarella, Sciaffino, Francescoli, Ginola, Nasazzi, Messi, Rivellino, Sivori, Caniggia, and some distant like Cantona who hails from Sardinia on his paternal side.

It doesn't end with the players. The same thing can be said of some (making up about 15% of the overall selections) of the finest managers in history.

Though I don't quite get how Vittorio Pozzo gets overlooked here. A bit silly given he's the only fricken manager to win back to back World Cup titles.


Occupy This!

Is it me or what's left of the Occupiers of Wall St. become plain nutty and stale?

Drawing A Line

Sorry. Having none of this. Not judging it. People make their choices in their lives but those decisions sometimes serious perpetual weight and consequences. I'm pretty liberal, but I don't accept the "it's ok to read to kids and work in a school if you did porn" bull shit. It would take a lot for me to consider hiring someone, no matter how smart or great a person, with such a background. It's a line I can't and won't cross.

If I was running a different kind of business, maybe, but not anything related to children and education.

Whoever said:

DEUTSCH: They don't know what porn is in first grade, I mean, come on.

You come on and get real. Imagine, I, a daycare operator hired a former porn actress and a parent found out? Sure, some couldn't care less, but all it takes is a few to lodge a serious complaint and it wouldn't reflect well on my business and ultimately me.

And no, I don't entertain the, "what's the difference if one of your workers is a slut?" line. Completely, different. Huge difference in taking your private life into the public sphere where anyone can google anybody at any given moment.

Get bent.


I thought maybe you can settle a bet between a friend and me.

I say St. Fiasco is real. He says I'm crazy.

Well? Who's right, man?

Law & Order And Penn St.

Man, as this Penn St. scandal continues to unfold, all I know I can totally see a Law & Order episode in this. Maybe even a two-parter. Starring Rex Banner.

I Report, You Decide

Fox news says, "we report, you decide."

If I were a program director, and I'm not - not that I'd want the job; though I would enjoy the challenge - I'd reword it thusly: "You report, we decide." Or, "I report, you assholes decide."

But that's if I were making the big tortilla decisions. Did I not mention they can take their job and shove it in Mel's Diner? No. Wait. I want it. I was kidding.



Are we getting smarter or dumber?

Measuring ourselves against past generations may be useless I'm afraid. The metrics and standards have changed. Probably for the worse. Consult Juvenal. We've been complaining of decadence for centuries. So either we've been on a slow decent to nothingness all this time or it's the opposite.

"After all, when those of us in The Middle Years (or even older) were in our teens and twenties, we knew utterly everything, whereas the Youth of Today know almost nothing. This holds true despite the fact that they can look up anything almost instantly, whereas those of us who came along before wireless Internet access had to acquire knowledge by any number of arduous means, including walking to the library or even, if all else failed, asking an Old Person for help."

It's a question of curiosity. Those of us from the "pre-internet" days generally got our knowledge past down from our elders or sought it out. If you lacked curiosity, you weren't gonna search for much. Just like the kids of today despite greater resources at their disposal.

The rate of curiosity, I suppose, remains constant no matter what era.


Burning Cash Like Coal

State "investment" (driven my tax dollars) in energy projects has a poor track record in the U.S..

Pondering Cereal

The problem with Corn Pops is they get too soggy too fast.

Expos Pitcher Lea Dies

I was only nine but I remember listening on the radio to Montreal Expos pitcher Charlie Lea pitch a no-hitter in 1981. Lea was part of a solid pitching staff that characterized the Expos of the 1980s.

Lea died suddenly of a suspected heart-attack at the age of, get this, 54.


Beautiful picture of Lea and Gary Carter. The golden era of Montreal Expos baseball.

Bet India

I've bet the USA in the long-run will outrun all opponents.

The one country I think that will likely become a true, stable power in geo-politics (maybe even internationally) is India. China reminds me too much of an athlete on steroids. India is quietly going about its affairs; growing, innovating, etc. More remarkably, and I've written about this in the past, is given the amount of people, languages and differences among them, it still manages to remain relatively peaceful and democratic.

I wonder if they have language laws amongst themselves like we do in Quebec, eh?

I agree with the characterization as the 21st century being an Asia-America power base. Europe will either firmly and permanently fall under the American umbrella or become a third wheel in international affairs perhapes even disintegrating.

If disintigretation takes place, can this lead to a third world war? Or at least, a continental war. If I'm the Americans and Asians, there's too much at stake to let Europe hog the attention for a third time. All the demographic data puts America and Asia at a distinct advantage.

I, of course, offer mere freeform pontification here.


Who is stronger APEC or the EU?

APEC doesn't carry massive entitlement baggage. Plus one.

Bixi Gets A Flat

Bixi was doomed from the start. Again, a classic case of fitting a foreign (European) mentality on North America.

This one was seen from a mile away and when the city extended loans the skeptical reaction to it was justified.

Montreal has reworked its already tight streets to include bike baths and stations that suck up parking spaces and probably local business sales. It's a nice idea, but their vision wasn't viable. The target market is narrow and restricted to small portions of the city.

 It's a trendy novelty here. if you live and work in the downtown core, sure, it makes all sense. But if you're coming in from the suburbs there's but basic option: Train and/or car and walk. No one in their business suit is going to fork over cash to ride a bike.

The other thing is, why not just buy a cheap bike? In the long-run it makes more economic sense.


Speaking of green, the irony is that it was supposed to drive the American economy into the 21st century. It'sl looking like new technologies and innovation in, of all things, oil and gas is going to make America more energy sustainable.


Should we pay for internet services?

Why isn't hydroelectricity a free service? Why do we pay a company owned by the province like Hydro-Quebec bi-monthly?


Music Saturday

What a neat music website aptly titled, "Songbook."

In fact, it's outstanding.

Love this link to "Car tunes." I'm gonna blast 'In my merry Oldsmobile" in my Jeep.

Makes you realize, just how deep the musical heritage can go.

I have to listen to it more in depth one of these days. Below is a picture from the site. Of course, the faces should be familiar to readers. In case you're wondering, that's Peggy Lee; a (forgotten?) musical gem and artist in her own right.


Seven Natural Wonders Of The World

Why "seven wonders of the world?" Why not, say, 15? Or six? Or 112.2?

I hate lists that assign a numerical number as if things are finite.


I didn't know there was a "new" seven.

I suppose the list could have used an update.


What about the McDonald's golden arch? Come on, that arch is a vision of hungry happiness on a road trip. Fuck Zeus that piece of fabricated marble. He never fed me none.

Slow And Furiously Bad

Fast and Furious scandal.

Sting gone awry.

OSW Evictions

I'm noticing the state is cracking down and evicting Occupy Wall St. protestors in various cities including Ottawa, Utah, Oakland, Vancouver and Montreal. Probably elsewhere too.

It's a growing public menace, according to public officials and complaints from citizens, as deaths have been reported, while protestors are looking to basically expropriate land by setting up with tents - or as is the case here - build log cabins to keep warm during the winter.

We have something for that. It's called public housing


I spotted Bill Maher talking about how Republicans quit calling OSW protestors "hippies."

Shall we settle on, say, neo-hippies?

Honor Thy Sons

By John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Remembrance Day

With each passing year, I see less and less people wear a poppy for Remembrance Day.

It's a shame because in Europe (except Germany of course) they remember. Boy do they ever.

My daughter will wear one for the entire month.


Education Ministry Imposes Its Will On Personal Choice

Politics aside, it really is a shame (and I've discussed this enough on this blog) what Quebec does to families.

All I will say is, and I will always stand by, the state has no business extending its power the way it does. The second it effects a family, they're in violation of the concept of individual freedom and choice.

Let the people decide.

Simple as that.

Each time I hear the word "Ministty" I think Orwell.


Does the cleanliness of your microwave reflect your overall hygiene score?

Consumerism: You're In Charge

Repeatedly I keep hearing people complain about the cost of going to a hockey game. Be it the ticket price, the cost beer and food, parking etc. Here's a thought.

It's just a thought.

But how about you excercise your're right as a consumer and not pay $12 for beer? I sure don't when I go. Or $200 for a ticket?

Until then, you're part of the problem so quit whining.


Speaking of consumer demand and price theory. John Mellencamp gave a concert last month here in Montreal. I couldn't attend simply because at this point in time, I just couldn't justify it economically. It was only the second time I missed him since 1986. The other time, in early 2002, I was just too plain lazy and cheap. The cost back then was $60. It was closer to $200 this time. We all know, if you're a music fan, where Mellencamp stands politically on various social issues so is it not interesting to note he would charge an amount the "working man" generally can't afford?

Ruling America

Who Rules America?

Lots to digest and mirrors much of what we've been hearing.


More On Paterno

I was listening to a conservative radio show out of Boston and two callers brought up a couple of interesting points about Joe Paterno.

The first is that Paterno, despite looking like he knew about Sandusky's monstrous actions, stuck around simply to win his 409th game making him the winningest coach in college football history. It's a worthless statistic now.

The second point, one that was more philosophical, brought up was Paterno's Italian ancestry and Catholic background. Specifically, the question about whether or not what happened and his inaction to report it - as one person said, Paterno was 'God on campus' -  would impact his conscience.

I think without question the day he made that decision it did. Ambition simply got the better of him?

Paterno's Fall And Frazier's Death

Another remarkable sports week.

It blows my mind how a person can spend a lifetime becoming an iconic college football coach - creating one of the most successful brands in the sport with Penn St. in the process - can lose it all in an instant because of one disgusting, dispicable, evil man. And so it is with legendary coach Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky.

Should he have known? Is he ultimately responsible?

Anyway you dice it, it fits the old adage "it take a lifetime to build credibility but a moment to lose it."


Joe Frazier died. I agree he helped deepen the Ali legacy with their three iconic battles. The Ali-Foreman-Frazier pugilist triangle represents one of the great eras in heavyweight boxing history. Frazier and Ali each won unanimous decisions (Frazier pummelled Ali like no other boxer did up to that point) against one another culminating into the final epicl "Thrilla in Manilla" in which the bout was stopped due to the sheer ferocity of the combatants. Ali got the nod.

Leading up to the fight, Ali crossed, what many thought to believed, a line when he called Frazier 'Uncle Tom.' A perjorative Frazier never forgave until 2009.

Frazier was only 67 succumbing to liver cancer.


There'a a course in university dedicated to David Beckham. Out of all the soccer players to choose from!

Does that mean we should expect a Pele, Diego Maradona, Wayne Gretzky, Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan equivalent?


Berlusconi Resigns

Silvio Berlusconi has resigned.

Italian politics is extremely convoluted and confusing. It's an art form onto itself. But the fact he was aligned with the Lombard League and Umberto Bossi is enough for me to not miss him. Maybe he can now focus on making AC Milan (the Serie A professional soccer team he owns) a legitimate super power team again. 


In Italy, like Greece, France and the UK, it's the welfare state and massive taxes that is sinking them. More taxes leads to stagnant growth. It's, I think, plain for all to see. And we're heading in that direction. We, North Americans, should stop looking to Europe for solutions to our problems. We don't have the same mentality and culture.

It's a shame because North America is without doubt, despite our incessant bitching and moaning, the best place to be on this earth. Not even Northern Europe is all what it's cracked up to be.


Minding The Gap

The Gapminder from the OECD.

Biden's Outrageous Claim

When I heard Joe Biden link the jobs bills not passing to higher crime, I damn well fell off my stool. Hurt my elbow and all. Even armed without statistics, it was a strawman gone haywire.

And it's not like the stats support him anyway. If anything, it just made him sound like a fear-mongering clown.

And what is it with Flint everyone keeps shitting on?

The Bad Side Of Regulatory Banking

In short: Less competition.

Let me explain. Across Canada, there are basically five big chartered banks - referred to as Schedule 1. There are also another bunch of (six or seven) albeit smaller - second tier or in some cases Schedule II - banks. All governed by the Bank Act. The choice, as a result, to do business with is limited to about a dozen banks.

Yes, Canada has the "safest and most efficient" banking system in the world, but it comes at the cost of less competition.

For example, when I shopped around for a loan/line of credit for my business, every single bank rolled with the same script. If you don't fit the script, you're screwed.

It would be nice to know there are institutions willing to not be restricted by arbitrary ratios and narrowly defined criteria. Access to capital is, in other words, is a challenge.

What about credit unions? I can't speak for other provinces, but Quebec's largest credit union is actually more restrictive than the Schedule 1 banks.

The other thing I learned is small-business have little chance. Even in a growth business like daycare I was treated like I was opening a high-risk restaurant. I got lucky with a bank but not before I signed personal and got a co-signer. Your best bet is to save money (I poured in $80 000-$100 000 of my own), borrow from friends and family (which I did), and/or find private (or angel) investors. There's plenty of capital out there if you go this route. You just have to find it.

Worse, in addition, the banks lend only to subsidized daycare - which is patently absurd and unfair.

And what about asking for an extension? Again, all sorts of criteria before they consider it. You literally can be growing and expanding and on the cusp of success and the banks will let you down. Of course, they would come after your house once they permit you to fail. Instead of just saying, "well, all he needs is x-amount and we get paid in a win-win" they say, "you don't meet our ratios and will take your house in return for defaulting."

The personalized approach to banking is dead. This ain't "It's a Wonderful Life" anymore where you could just ask the owner for money; where character and reputation meant something. Today, you have an army of "reps" who can't really do that much for you since they have to answer to headquarters. If they do something, they have to fight tooth and nail with credit departments.

It's just the way it is.

Just offering a different view on things.

Daycare Update

The building I rent from for the daycare was reevaluated. Naturally, higher property taxes follow. Circle of life. But imagine my surprise when I was sent the bill expected to be made by the end of the month. For a business just starting out, any unforeseen large expense can prove difficult.

No sweat. It's the government. They're there for us small businesses, right?



My thinking was I'll pay this in two or three installments until the business stabilizes which is expected by January. "No can do, sir. We don't do that" I was told. "Pay up, if not, interest will be charged." "Fine" I said to myself and asked how much the interest was. "18%" was the reply. Not 3,4,5 or even 9%. 18%!

Holy crap! Credit card company territory!

So. Will a rep from Occupy Wall St. come and help me out and rail against the state for its excessive interest charges? Will someone "forgive" my debt? I mean, I do employ four people and take care of kids, no?

Thought not.

I have no idea how I'll come up with the full amount. I'm through borrowing as the carrying costs are already stretched. I have some negotiating to do.


Italy Is Not Greece

There's fear if Greece falls, the Euro and the union could dissolve.

Who would have thought a tiny nation without siginificant economic influence could wreak such potential havoc?

Ah, the power of currency integration.

The fear extends to Spain and possibly Italy.

Again, I feel compelled to point out a couple of things about Italy.

As I've argued on my blog, there's one major difference between Italy, Spain and Greece: Italy has a larger (more dynamic and developed) manufacturing and industrial base. It has good sources of cash flow. While its true the perceived risk in Italy is higher than its neighbours (it has a single A/negative outlook by Moody's and S&P but A+/Stable by Fitch. Japan and the USA also have negative outlooks. Of the three, Japan is the most worrisome), it's not Greece's and to a lesser extent Spain's scenario.

If Italy finds itself in default (mostly to itself since the majority of its debt is owed to its citizens), then yes, it's a major blow and possibly the true signal of a potential break up. Italy is the world's seventh largest economy, an original member of the ECC and major economic player in the G8.

Another major factor at play is that Italy is a co-founder and player in the EU (formerly ECC). I don't see a scenario where the Germans come and "bail out" Italy in the Greece fold.

I stand by the argument, despite major problems and inefficiencies, it's not debt the problem in Italy: It's GROWTH.

Obsession with debt (in a politico-economic context) is an Anglo-Saxon thing. Italians largely don't spend as a group being a traditionally a net saving society  (though that's come off since 1990) and so - this is just my guess - don't possess the same built-in fear and stress about debt as the UK, USA, Canada etc.

I think this article in the WSJ is a lot closer to the reality:

"Italy also already is running a primary budget surplus, which excludes interest payments, so it doesn’t face the epic fiscal journey to stabilize debt confronting other troubled economies. In the near term, Italy can live with current high interest rates. In reality, it has no choice as its refinancing needs would overwhelm existing bailout facilities."

Corporatist Power Aided By The State

It pretty much how I see things.
Right or wrong.

Attacking Iran

It's been a couple of years we've been hearing America and some allies were preparing to attack Iran.
It's still being talked about by the main players the U.S., Israel and the UK.

Rebalancing Oil

American oil supplies to reverse itself?

Spotlight On Cardano

Girolamo Cardano was a great Renaissance mathematician who basically invented art of probabilities.

Cardano sits among other masters of mathematics like Euclid, Descartes, Bernoulli, Cantor, Gauss, Fermat, Blaise, Hilbert, and Riemann for example.

It may as well been him to cover probabilities since he was a gambler. I wonder how he'd do against the NFL spread and in Vegas.

Still. Despite the rationalism (though to be a mathematician you have to be somewhat mad...in a good way), Cardano was heavy into something called metoposcopy which he invented. It is the art (pseudo-science) of reading lines on the forehead. Over time, he came up with over 800 facial features.

Speaking of Renaissance Italy, this period of course is known for the rediscovery of Ancient knowledge and the explosion in art, architecture, science and technology that launched the modern era. It even financed behind the scenes the age of exploration by consolidated powers like Spain and Portugal.

But one aspect of Renaissance life not often discussed, despite the arrival of humanism and reason, is its fierce interest in the occult and other superstitions. Remants of the curious obscurity of the Dark Age no doubt. Cardano, mentioned earlier, is one example. Tarot cards are another example. In fact, it is during this period when astrology took flight.


Cardano: Come my son, lemme see that head of yours.
Galileo: Ma, sure. I got nothin' better to do.
Cardano: When I was your age we spent a lot of time outside.
Galileo: It hasn't changed much. My sources tell me you got a tip on the Sienese race?
Cardano: Silent my young lad. Hm.
Galileo: What? What is it?
Cardano: Hm. Madonna.
Galileo: Lucky stars, what are you writing down? Are you drawing? What the cazzo?
Cardano: Show me your petsel.
Galileo: My what?
Cardano: Never mind. I have the answer to your destiny before me.
Galileo: Well?
Cardano: Well, Leo...
Galileo: Leo? Who the fuck calls me Leo? I'm not a court lackey. It sounds so, "hey, Leo! Fetch me some bread you wretch!"
Cardano: It'll cost you.
Galileo: Cost me? For what? I'm 10.
Cardano: Ok. A wager?
Galileo: Ok. I bet you're an idiot.
Cardano: Now, now. Is that a way to treat a great math mind?
Galileo: Whatever. So?
Cardano: I see much, misery but potential in this head of yours.
Galileo: Misery? Potential? I need details.
Cardano: Well, if you see this line and compare the grooves and waves on this one, it may or may not suggest misery or happiness. Not sure. Dammit. I had it all figured out.
Galileo: I'm outta here. I need some cinnamon smokes.
Cardano: No wait!

Long pause. Stares at forehead.

Cardano: I got nothing.

Galileo turns and leaves.

Cardano to himself: That boy is going to change everything.

You Speak Dutch?

Aside from soccer and having a Dutch contact in Holland, I've neglected to cover their role and subsequent influence in American history. I mean, a people who discovered New York (formerly ne New Amsterdam) for European settlement they sure don't get too much consideration. Largely due, I reckon, to the reality the Dutch were assimilated into Anglo-American culture.

Even in film the Dutch are largely spared from any negative or positive portrayal or stereotyping. It's all timing. The invention of film and its growth happen to coincide with the arrival of newer immigrants like Jews from Europe, blacks, the Irish and Italians.

In any event, despite their cautious attitude and coming from a tiny landmass, Holland did manage to fling at history ane empire that stretched as far out as Asia. Amsterdam comortably took over as a hub for capitalism and banking once Florence fell.
Here's a nice summary of the Dutch experience.

Another here.

Old Dutch chips are on special I hear.


Useless Studies

Here's a top ten list of useless degrees. While I agree, with eight or nine of the ten, not sure that Art History is "useless." I know and know of quite a few executives with liberal arts degrees. Sometimes the brightest and most ambitious of people go into the arts; maybe their minds are more open. I don't know.

Another list.

Talking About My Generation

I keep reading about how St. Elmo's Fire "changed a generation. Namely, mine. The 1980s that is.
Yet, I never watched. I don't even recall it being much of a thing either.

The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and even Back to the Future, yes, but not the Fire.

St. Commentator's Fire is in the works.

Who Gets The Shaft?

Bill's mini-diatribe on communism and the 'Big Bonus" is classic.

As I've said, Newsradio: The WKRP of the 1990s. Severely underrated sitcom.


I Started This Blog On My Own

I can't accept or reject Elizabeth Warren's assertion "no one ever got rich on their own" because, while ostensibly sounding profound, it makes little or no sense.

I suppose there a several ways to demolish this claim but the ones that stand out for me are A) she declines to define what "on their own" means choosing instead to narrowly funnel the idea of one making it on their own is dependent on what the rest of us do. Which is patently absurd of course. Nor does she bother to consider some some successful businesses don't transport anything. and B) she deviates from that fact that everyone paid taxes (well, except the poor and including the rich)contribute to the infrastructure she highlights-  in the video here -  thus rendering the point of her argument moot. Not only that, even if a business benefits from tax credits or grants the persons receiving it are part of the same tax pool that provided the funds (expropriated by the state) in the first place!

Everyone gets help. Move on. She uses this to push a queer statist (sorry, progressive) perspective I reckon.

Question: If someone collects unemployment for one year after working for 10 years are they not entitled to it since the government grabbed a percentage of their income to provide it?

Moreover, I suppose, one can take her statement to its logical end. If the extending society "helped" someone succeed, then who is to stop them from claiming a piece of the profits?

Dead Musical Species

Crooners were a special musical species that left an undeniable mark on popular music. While it's possible to imitate a crooner and carve a career from it, the cold hard truth is the classical crooner is gone.

Habits have changed is all. Part of the charm with cool crooners they dressed sharp, drank and smoked on stage, and told stories as they sang - on pitch. Note for note.

Try that in these politically correct, uptight world.

While I was born past the golden age of crooning, I did get a chance to see Tony Bennett. True, he was more "clean" than his long-dead contemporaries (I don't think Bennett ever showed up on stage with a cigarette or with a martini in hand. I could be wrong), but his singing and charm alone made the concert memorable.

No, I don't know why a decent amount of legendary crooners happen to be of Italian (and Jewish) ancestry.

Russ Columbo is one of those "lost" legends:


1980s Canadian New Wave

Platinum Blonde:

Death Of Liberal Possibilities?

Wind Rose Hotel posted this comment by novelist Alessandro Baricco. It applies to the West in general.

"One [mistake] is that we have always seen ourselves as working in defense of the weak and marginalized, as advocating for people who have no voice and are victims of social injustice. That’s a wonderful starting point, but I want to say this: that we, on behalf (and with the excuse) of that, have mainly set up a protection system, a system of privileges, for a part of this country—and a rather dark one—which seems to be held together by mediocrity and a certain inclination to servility. I don’t know how this happened, but it happened.

We thought, with regard to the defense of the weak, that we might achieve it only by somehow blocking the system on a stable net of rights and defenses. I, along with others, now know that the best thing you can do for the weak is to let him have a dynamic system, not a blocked one. It’s not true that risk hits the weak; risk is a chance for the weak. A blocked system blocks a country, blocks the economic growth, the enthusiasm, the hope, and the options of revenge. It blocks social mobility and capabilities. It is an asphyxial system, and the rich suffers from asphyxia, but not very much, while the poor dies from it. [IL FOGLIO, November 1, 2001,"

What took him so long to figure it out? It pretty much seemed self-evident to me since, like, the 1980s. I guess I got turned off to left-wing ideology for two reasons: Its acceptance for violence and the mistake for conflating welfare with entitlement.

Black Box Arrives

The black box is set to make its entrance into the restaurant market in Quebec.
Couple of thoughts.

One, why are restaurants being singled out by the government? Two, the tax cash crab on tips has basically eliminated the professional waiter. Three, at $6800, one would think small restaurants would catch some sort of break on the cost. No chance. Apparently, large restaurants will get government support.

Just the latest installment in "the more we want to make things fair the less it is" diaries.

As usual, small businesses are hit.

Black is the perfect colour I suppose.

Top Selling Cars Ever

Chevy is 100 years old.
Just thought to bring it up. It's pretty significant considering the brand still exists. A testament to its selling power.

Which brings me to the top selling cars in history. Not surprising Peugeot, Renault and Fiat sold many units but that top 10 is pretty astounding.


Korea Overtaking Japan

We scream about China.

I reckon the Japanese rail against Korea on their airwaves.

Remember when Japan could do no wrong? I love bringing up how we were told to learn Japanese in university every chance I get. Dumbasses.

It's not just with television Korea has impacted Japan; cars too.

Things change.

The problem with Japan's economy is it predominantly and export economy. It imports all of its raw materials.

They All Want To Come Here

Half of China's wealthiest want to emigrate to North America.

No news on whether the reverse is true.

Insert dead pan smirk.

As I've argued, place bet on the United States in the long run.

Phrases I Hate

"Leaving on a high" is one of those sports phrases I hate.

It's been predictably hurled about after Tony LaRussa's decision to retire after 33 years in baseball. He does so after not just winning a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals, but a highly improbable one. One of the great runs in pro sports I've seen yet.

It bothers me none when someone retires. If they're comfortable with it that's all that matters. "Going out a winner" is one of those superficial "Costanza I'm outta here" moments. As if you suddenly become a loser because you happen to lose at a bad time.

Wow. Just had a deja vu. Been happening a lot lately.

In any event, in staying with LaRussa for our purposes here, even if LaRussa retired had the Cards lost, it would not impact his legacy. Instead of being 3-3 in the W-S he'd be 2-4. Big deal. His body of work speaks for itself.

That goes for any athlete or coach/manager.


Biting Into Apple's No Dividend Position

Since the passing of Jobs, I've come across a couple of (negative) commentaries regarding Apple's decision to not payout a divident.

The way I see it is you buy Apple for capital appreciation, not for a dividend. If you want a dividend go buy another stock.

Freedom of the market, no? No one is forcing you to buy Apple.

Their decision (and practices for that matter) to do so is inconsequential. Apple is under no obligation - unless pressured by stockholders; and even then... - to pay out a dividend. The investor has to decide for themselves if it's worth it.

For now, and the foreseable future, Apple will likely continue to grow.


Do you believe in the notion/concept of "pay it forward?"