Category: Politics

Land of the Left – Santa is Being Relocated

Here in the ‘Land of the Left’ (Canada) our Government is attempting to cut our 1.69% of the world’s Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Though our emissions are as you would expect for one of the coldest, largest countries in the world, our Federal Government is doing everything it can to let the world know they simply don’t want warmer winters (the season that has experienced the most warming in Canada).

Our government is even willing to sacrifice the ‘North Pole is Santa’s home fable’ in order to advance their cause. They published this document on its Policy Horizons website this past December:

Is it Satire? An attempt at humour? Virtue signalling?  Whatever it is, it misrepresents the basic facts about the North Pole (which isn’t on a land mass) but is a location in the Arctic Ocean where the water is usually covered with drifting ice 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3 m) thick and where the annual mean temperature in the winter is minus 40F (minus 40 C).

Does the Canadian Government really believe that Canadians, or the world for that matter, think that Santa can be dislodged from the North Pole by the ‘on again, off again’ vagaries of Arctic Ice and a couple of Ice Breaking ships that pass by now and then?

Consider this: Santa’s mode of transportation circles the globe in 24 hours and makes billions of stops. He has stealth capabilities and all weather traction. He has an intelligence network that Google would die for. He can enter and exit any building without tripping alarm systems, and he can eat millions of cookies and drink gallons of milk in a single night without feeling ghastly sick. Would Santa (who has maintained a residence there since about 1866 when an American illustrator, Thomas Nast, declared it was so) agree to being labelled a climate change refugee and consent to being shipped off to the South Pole? I think not.

What a wasted opportunity for a better message. The Canadian Government could have announced they were in support of a global initiative to establish the S. Claus Marine Life and Sea Ice Research Station

… or better yet, they could just leave Santa to the children.

 

Wrongology

Wrongology – the study of what is ‘not right’ – not in conformity with fact or truth, not required, not intended, not fitting, not suitable, not appropriate; deliberately misleading.

I made this definition up for a word that is not in the dictionary. There is, however, an interesting TED talk by “Wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz who explains why we should admit and embrace our fallibility. (She also wrote a book: Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error.)

Kathyrn points out that the state of being wrong often feels exactly the same as being right. We feel good, (though we are puzzled as to why others don’t agree with us). We don’t attempt to understand why others disagree because if we are wrong, we won’t feel so good.

It is incredibly easy to be wrong in the age of biased mass media. I read a report last week that criticized our Canadian Prime Minister’s fiscal priorities  when he responded  to a disabled veteran at a Town Hall Meeting:

“I was prepared to be killed in action,” said Brock Blaszczyk, a former corporal who lost his left leg to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. “What I wasn’t prepared for, Mr. Prime Minister, is Canada turning its back on me.”

Prime Minister Trudeau responded: “Why are we still fighting against certain veteran’s groups in court? Because they are asking for more than we are able to give right now.”

This report supported my previous opinions of the ‘virtue signalling’ fiscal choices of the Trudeau government. However, when I looked at less biased, more complete reports of this confrontation, Trudeau went on to say: “And what I know from veterans I’ve spoken to is nobody wants after having served their country with valour and honour and sacrifice to have their government say: Here’s your cheque. Now don’t bother us anymore.” The prime minister then defended the new system of providing compensation and support to veterans, which includes money for rehabilitation, job-training and caregiver support.

Two news reports, both right, but one that was kind of wrong (or misleading). I would have been wrong to believe the report that supported my bias, because there was more to the story.

Everyone and everything has flaws, and we’ll all make mistakes in life. If we learn to accept this, while also acknowledging the value of failure, we might finally become comfortable with uttering those three simplistic, yet complicated words: “I was wrong.”
– John Haltiwanger, Science Of Strength: Why Successful People Admit When They’re Wrong, Elite Daily, Feb 17 2015 –

The QuipperyI’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been totally wrong, partially wrong, or right but wrong. It is part of the journey of learning. What I learned about the Trudeau government’s approach to veterans doesn’t mean I would vote for him, but it makes me more cautious of the media I think is ‘right’.

When was the last time or most important time you said “I was wrong”?

Satire, Fake News and Bias

562-hedge-toonaday

A recent piece of satire from a The Out And Abouter is called Concerned, But Not Wanting To Offend, Canada Quietly Plants Privacy Hedge Along Entire U.S. Border.

“And we’re happy to pay for it,” say a united front of Canadian premiers, national leaders, mayors, citizens, and casual acquaintances, of the newly planted hedge that has sprung up seemingly overnight, running unbroken for 6,416 kilometers, along the world’s longest undefended border.
– The Out and Abouter, January 2017 –

Snopes, the fact checking site, has clarified that the story is False but points out that the Author of the site clearly states that he/she writes Satirical Commentary.

The Message from the Queen – Revoking American Independence was satire too, though the name of the original author remains elusive.

…the aim of satire shouldn’t be about fooling people; it should be about making them laugh. “We’re always looking at our headlines and thinking, ‘Could someone actually believe this?’” he says. “And if it does [seem believable], then we haven’t done our job properly.”
– Rhodri Marsden, Independent, July 2015 –

Worldnewsdailyreport.com is a bit different duck, in that it looks like a real news site. You have to read their entire disclaimer (on a separate page) to discover the fictional nature of the content. The headline “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is getting prepared to accommodate nearly 250,000 American refugees if Donald Trump is to be elected US president in November” is entirely fictional.

(The ‘immigration truth’ is – Canada accepted the most Americans during the Vietnam war (it is estimated that more than 400,000 Americans took up Canadian residency between 1968 and 1978).

CNBC,  in a round-up of Fake News Stories in 2016, pointed to these untrue headlines: “Pope Francis Endorses Donald Trump for President” and “Ireland is now officially accepting Trump refugees from America”. Politifact determined that this story was false: “Thousands of people at a Donald Trump rally in Manhattan chanted, “We hate Muslims, we hate blacks, we want our great country back.”

Of course, Donald Trump himself was the source of many falsehoods, most of which he repeatedly refused to be embarrassed about. He knew that his most ardent supporters would accept him, and understand him – in the same way they would support a friend who sometimes says things without having facts to back up what they are saying. (Politifact and other fact checking sites  have lists of falsehoods made by Barack Obama, Donald Trump and other politicians.)

Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has undoubtedly uttered a few falsehoods too, though it is hard to classify what his sweet-sounding praise of Fidel Castro was, or how his government tripled the projected deficit once in power…

But if we’ve come to expect and even joke about office-seekers who seem truth averse (“How do you know a politician is lying? His lips are moving”), many of us have given little thought to our own fibs and to how they compare with politicians’ deceits. What if PolitiFact looked at what we say to our spouses, friends and bosses?
– New York Post, April 2016 –

Here in Canada, Federal politicians are investigating ‘false news’ as part of a broader study by the Federal Heritage Committee into the impact of digital technology on journalism. While various sections of Canada’s CRTC regulations prohibit the broadcasting of “false or misleading news” by radio and television licensees, it obviously can’t control or regulate news that is broadcast from the USA or is delivered through the internet.

So if you spot someone sharing something that you know is outlandish, strike a blow for truth and let them know. But be nice about it. After all, we’ve all had our moments of gullibility, and we certainly haven’t had our last.
– Rhodri Marsden, Independent, July 2015 –

How do we, as citizens of our respective countries, respond to this web of falsehoods? Some people speak or write mean, spiteful, horrid things about President Trump, his family, and other politicians. Does that achieve anything? If you have ridiculed, shamed, hated, scorned, or belittled someone, does that make you a better person than they are?

But every time someone quips like Donald Trump does…they reveal a streak of that same character in themselves. You tumble closer to the bottom of the pit where Trump resides. And by signaling your comfort in saying it, you give tacit permission to others to do the same. Quickly, we all find ourselves lower than before.
– Nate Hopper, Time, October 2016 –

There are many ways to express your opinions without being abusive. First, though, you should make sure your opinions are NOT based on, or propped up by Fake News.

How do you fact check? Do you know which news outlets are satirical, which ones are make up fake stories, which ones have strong bias either left or right?

My list of Government/Political quotations is at The Quippery – Politics and Government.

The Political Temper Tantrum – Needless Violence in the Wake of the Trump Election

November marked my 7th Anniversary of blogging. This is post turned out to be one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written. I’m mesmerized by the American election, and can’t seem to move on until I’ve digested what happened!

I’m not an American, but I have strong ties to both my American friends and a community in Arizona (where I spend the winter.) Then there is the not insignificant influence that the United States has on my country, Canada.  Research associate Simon Palamar  explained this relationship by saying “We’re sleeping next to an elephant, so when they shift in bed, we feel it.”

If I had been an American voter, and a Republican, I don’t know if I could have voted for Donald Trump. Of course, the same thing can be said about the Democrats and Clinton. Neither candidate seemed particularly worthy if you believed everything the media reported.

The QuipperyWatching the election night coverage on three different stations felt a bit like an indoctrination into why I should have got a college education (so I would know how to vote for the right party.) After the election, there were violent protests; the accusations that all Trump supporters are racist, sexist, homophobic bigots; the demand for the immediate suspension of the Electoral College, petitions to secede from the Union, etc. It reminded me of a small child throwing a temper tantrum, not a free society where one side might be unpopular with the other side, but that’s okay.

Would the words have been softer or the backlash less if the Democrats had won? No one can say for sure, though I’m sure there are media pundits who can generate a few thousand words to convince their faithful.

I can finish this post now because of hope. I hope people will start to question the value and veracity of all media. I hope people will look at the world through a lens of optimism instead of the lens of fear. I hope people will remember that a democracy is a political system of free and fair elections, and it is impossible for everyone to achieve everything they want all of the time. I hope Americans will give their President-Elect a fair chance.

Last, but not least, I hope people will be more tolerant. There is more than one religion, more than one political party, more than one way to think about just about anything, more than one way to do just about anything.

Trump is what happens when you spent the last 7 Thanksgiving dinners lecturing your angry uncle from your Vox index cards.
– Clarice Feldman, American Thinker, November 13, 2016 –

What makes your way always right, and the other person’s way always wrong?

When All the Presidential Candidates Stink – Call Canada!

What could be worse for a creaky, cancerous political system than what the Democratic and Republican parties are brewing up? Nothing really. This is as bad as it gets…
First: Do I even bother to vote?
For those who do cast a ballot, there is the even sadder choice: Which candidate do I loathe the least?
– Ron Fournier, The Atlantic –

The QuipperyThe ‘Any One But’ vote – in a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll on American voter preferences, nearly half (47 percent) of those who said they’d support Trump said it was because they don’t want Hillary Clinton to win. Nearly half (46 percent) of those who said they’d vote for Clinton said it was because they don’t want Trump to win.

Maybe this will be the year that the American people decide neither of these candidates is fit to be President. There are several alternatives! Here is the link to the My Time to Vote Website. It lists Third Party, Unaffiliated, Write-In and Independent Candidates (in addition to Republican and Democratic Party Candidates other than Clinton and Trump.)

There are hundreds of names listed there, and there is no reason why the list couldn’t provide the American public with a viable  alternative to a simple anti-vote. Of course, SKYWALKER, ANAKIN; GOAT, ANUS THE or THE CLOWN, BIPPY are also on these lists, but really, could any of them be worse than the current front runners?

Another option – you can look to Canada for a new alternative for good government! We offer you – The Canada Party!

Why is The Canada Party such a great choice?

Consider this: “Canadians often point out that while the American constitution promises “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” the constitution of Canada–written in the 1860s in England–sets a more modest goal: “Peace, order, and good government.” – Robert Fulford –

304-canada-gooseIf you doubt our abilities to govern, consider the fact that we’ve already moved massive numbers of vocal, though unqualified, candidates into your country. You thought our Canada Goose contingents were just seasonal visitors, but you are now starting to realize they have no plans to leave and they are the masters of ‘friendly fire’ when they have a convention in one of your local parks. If we can be so effective with geese, think what we could do with people!

So, what’s it going to be, America? Are you going to stand up for your country and say “Enough is enough” – or will you just bitch your way through another four years with a President who is either the master of reality television or a woman who displays a determined adherence to political deception?

Canada’s 2015 Federal Election -First Past the Post is a Savage Place

2015-FederalElection

Red: Liberal Party; Blue: Conservative Party; Orange: New Democratic Party; Light Blue: Bloc Québécois; Green: Green Party

Canada’s 2015 Federal Election just wrapped up. The Liberal Party received the largest number of popular votes – 39.5%. This gave them 54% of the seats in Parliament and a majority government. The Conservative  Party were 7.6% behind that with 31.9% of the popular vote, but it only gave them 29% of the seats. The NDP Party had 19.7% of the popular vote – 13% of the seats. Several other parties took the remaining seats.

If the ratio between percent of popular vote to seats won seems odd, it is because Canada uses a first-past-the-post voting system (FPTP). Some people complain about this system because the winning Party rarely receives 50% of the popular vote. The Liberals agree and have promised to change this ‘unfair’ system. Sober second thought might change their mind, as it is this system that usually delivers majority governments in Canada – which winning politicians prefer.

The Leader (Prime Minister) of a majority government often pays a heavy price for this power, though. In this election, as in may previous elections, approximately 60.5% of the voting population of Canada didn’t vote for the party in power. The scapegoat for discontent this election will be Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau, as it was for Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper after the last election.

The ‘young, good looking, nice hair’ Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau, is already seeing the first ‘hint of what is to come’ in the form of opinion commentaries.
– “The Trudeau manipulation: Behind the most image-conscious campaign in Canadian history.” (National Post).
– “He’ll have an asset in that people will look at him and they’ll have an initially favourable impression of him because he looks like an attractive guy… Beyond that, all bets are off.” Ottawa Citizen
– “The Conservative Party’s loss is to the detriment of its neighbors to the south and the world at large, since the Tory leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, was defeated by the unprepared, gaffe-prone but well-coiffed son of a former prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Harper’s fate is all the more shocking when you consider how well Canada weathered the 2008-2009 financial crisis under his watch.” CNN
–  “Trudeau now bears the weight of impossible expectations that he himself largely created… In Trudeau’s case, it won’t be hard for him to keep his most prominent promise — to run a deficit for a few years. Spending more than you earn is always easy.” CBC News
– “Trudeau will be under a harsh spotlight as politicians and voters alike see if their gamble on a young, inexperienced media darling will play out in the policy arena.” TIME

The media attacks on Harper were sometimes so brutal that you could only wonder what kind of people say those kinds of things. It is one thing to disagree with the decisions of the politicians that are in power, but it is quite another thing to attack the personality of the leader with words that are full of hatred. When that kind of emotion is on a roll, facts and reason get trampled. This, to me, is the most disgusting aspect of our ‘always on and instant’ access to the written and spoken word.

Anyone with a keyboard and internet access can push out their opinion – an opinion that is rarely based on logic, research or balance. One self proclaimed ‘critic and journalist’ recently wrote, “I’m glad Justin Trudeau is Canada’s new leader, but only because Harper is gone. And Trudeau will certainly be a different kind of prime minister. He might even improve Canadians’ sense of who we can be: he is young and tattooed and bright-eyed, plus into pot and the very latest in hair cuts.”

Hopefully Trudeau will surpass the low expectations of his detractors, and be exceedingly brighter than some of the people who support him. If not, he is in for a rough ride.

Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened.
– Sir Winston Churchill –

Post 516

Politics – The Lighter Side

Canadians and Americans are gearing up for Federal Elections. Canadians will go to the polls on October 19th, 2015 to select the ruling party, and by extension the Prime Minister. Americans will not select their President until a year later – November 8, 2016.

…this (American) presidential campaign is about twice the average gestation period of an orangutan. The 2016 Canadian federal election will have a gestation period between that of a wolf (64 days) and a leopard (94 days). A mere nothing.
– David Shribman, Globe and Mail, August 4, 2015 –

The QuipperyMy take on politics and elections? Get out and vote, but don’t be a gullible voter. For every promise a politician makes, ask:
– How realistic is it that this person/party will actually be able to deliver this outcome?
– How is this person/party going to pay for this?
– What is the opposing person/party really saying about this issue? (Go to their website in addition to reading what the media thinks.)

I said there was a Lighter Side to Politics and Government. I’ve rounded up some famous, and not so famous quotations – some I’m sure will make you laugh!

Democracy is an interesting, even laudable, notion and there is no question but that when compared to communism, which is too dull, or Facism, which is too exciting, it emerges as the most palatable form of government. This is not to say that it is without its drawbacks – chief among them being its regrettable tendency to encourage people in the belief that all men are created equal. And although the vast majority need only take a quick look around the room to see that this is hardly the case, a great many remain utterly convinced.
– Fran Lebowitz –

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
– Winston Churchill –

The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.
– Ronald Reagan –

More Quotations about Politics and Government: The Quippery – Politics

Post 508

Rockyview Motorsports Sidelined

The Rockyview Motorsports Park project north east of Airdrie was unanimously defeated by the Rocky View County Council at a hearing in Calgary on January 27, 2015.  Council’s decision was based on the objectives of the Rocky View County Plan, which includes guidelines for the preservation of agricultural land.

There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.
― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac –

County Councillor Greg Boehlke, who made the motion to refuse the motorsports application, acknowledged the County engaged in haphazard development approvals until recent times. “I will say that before the County Plan, there was a map on the wall and a dart board,” he said. Today, however, the County Plan provides a framework for development, while protecting the County’s rural nature and agriculture landbase.

Motorsports enthusiasts were extremely disappointed by the decision. One of them wondered why “there is that much opposition to paving over gopher holed barren tundra… “ Others were more aware of the actual location of the proposal and the nature of the section of crop producing land.  That didn’t stop them, though, from lamenting that mototsports enthusiasts need a place to play. Another fan, believing farmers had no good reason to oppose this development, said, “Sadly there will always be those miserable people in life that aren’t happy unless they are making life miserable for others.” Another fan, acknowledging the possibility that noise might make area residents miserable, said, “I’d buy a house with this in my back yard! Just pay a little extra for sound-proof windows and central air.”

Rockyview Motorsports has not given up on the project entirely, and are looking at alternative properties that hopefully will not subject Rocky View County farmers to another round of opposition misery.

Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.
– Dwight David Eisenhower –

Post 486

Rockyview Motorsports – Decision Just Days Away

Rocky View County wraps itself around the east, north and west sides of the City of Calgary, Alberta. With almost a million acres of land, the County is a prime target for developers. One of these is Rockyview Motorsports (RMP), a consortium of private investors who hope to build a Motorsports Park in Rocky View County. The County Council will meet next Tuesday, January 27th, to consider the merits of the project and give it a yea or nay.

When RMP announced the intended location of the project, and submitted their request for approval to Rocky View County, many area residents voiced their disapproval. They weren’t critical of the project itself really – just the location. Some objected to having their agricultural community, and way of life, taken from them. Others objected to having a motorsports park just a half a mile away from the city limits of Airdrie.

In retrospect, it is easy to see how a group of city businessmen thought they had found the ideal location for their motorsports park.

The section of land they chose has an undulating topography that appealed to them, and the owner was willing to sell.

According to the developer, few people even ‘live nearby’! That observation was probably RMP’s first error. In the city, people measure distance between houses in feet. In the country, ‘nearby’ is measured in miles.  RMP should have counted, and then consulted with, the residents who were in a 3 to 4 mile radius around the project. But RMP didn’t and the people in this zone (which includes rural residential communities in the City of Airdrie) were blindsided by the proposal. They immediately started to speculate about how they might be impacted by  what RMP described as a “regional destination for tourism and commerce”.

RMP’s location choice also meant the developer had to scale back their original vision in order to reduce the possibility of noise concerns.  A drag strip, oval, grandstands and events that go with these facilities were axed from the plan they submitted, though these facilities appear in the documents that went to investors. Supporters of the project hoped that these items could be added at some future date. Those in opposition feared that could be true.

In preparation for the Hearing on Tuesday, Rocky View County Administration did an in depth review of the RMP Master Site Development Plan.  Administration’s summary was “The proposal does not meet the agricultural and business development policies of the County Plan. Administration recommends refusal…”

The City of Airdrie submitted comments and concerns about the project, and in general they felt “The document contains a number of potentially contradictory statements and contains little in the way of actual development commitments…The City’s concern is the extent to which the project could change over time and the resulting off – site impacts that may occur as a result.”

One of Rockyview Motorsports supporters lamented on RMP’s Facebook page that Unfortunately there will be opposition… has it shown it’s ugly head in any meaningful way?” In reply to that, the We Say NO Rockyview Motorsports group has spent the past 10 months gathering information and preparing for the Hearing on January 27th. They think their opposition is as meaningful as their chosen occupation is. They think the preservation of their lives and community is meaningful. What isn’t meaningful to them is a Motorsports Park.

Post 485

Who is Canada’s Prime Minister

Canada election map 2011 by party

We may live in an information age, but so much of what we read is one sided, poorly researched media crap that reinforces feelings of hatred, racism, and fear. Perilous mountains get built out of insignificant molehills. No where is this more true than stories about politicians.

One small example: a year and a half ago, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper showed up in Calgary for the Calgary Stampede. He made the remark that Calgary is “the greatest city in the greatest country in the world!” His offhand comment raised a bit of a stink with the media who tried to stir the pot of regional jealousy. Really folks. Stephen Harper went to the University of Calgary. His home is in Calgary. He has been a Member of Parliament in Calgary since 1993. Is there some reason why he can’t declare he likes Calgary best?

Yes, he is the Prime Minister, but he has not let fame control his life. Over the Christmas holiday, my son-in-law spotted Mr. Harper in the local Pizza and Steakhouse. Our Prime Minister was sitting at a table by himself, waiting for food or friends to arrive. Yes, his security people were at the door, but that was it. The patrons of Matador Pizza and Steakhouse came and went as usual.

Of course, there are a few perks to being the Prime Minister. In October 2010, Harper was taped for a cameo appearance in an episode of the television show Murdoch Mysteries.  (Murdoch Mysteries is a Canadian production set in Toronto in the late 1800’s.) Mr. Harper played the character of Desk Sergeant Armstrong, a seemingly imperceptive man who doesn’t recognize Canada’s seventh Prime Minister, Wilfrid Laurier when he walks into Station 4. The Desk Sergeant is then chastised by Constable Crabtree who says, “That’s called a newspaper, Armstong. Try reading one.”  Here is the video of the Prime Minister’s visit to the Murdoch set:

Stephen Harper’s visit to Matadors doesn’t seem to have made the news, though the owner of the establishment did post the sighting on Facebook. To me, this is a good news story – the Prime Minister of Canada can stop at the local Pizza joint and it just isn’t a big deal. Yet, it is a big deal, because it is a story about what is right about Canada and how Canadians treat one another.

In a world darkened by ethnic conflicts that tear nations apart, Canada stands as a model of how people of different cultures can live and work together in peace, prosperity, and mutual respect.
– Bill Clinton

What is a Canadian? A Canadian is a fellow wearing English tweeds, a Hong Kong shirt and Spanish shoes, who sips Brazilian coffee sweetened with Philippine sugar from a Bavarian cup while nibbling Swiss cheese, sitting at a Danish desk over a Persian rug, after coming home in a German car from an Italian movie… and then writes his Member of Parliament with a Japanese ballpoint pen on French paper, demanding that he do something about foreigners taking away our Canadian jobs.
– Anonymous

Post 457

Message from the Queen – Revoking American Independence

egg

My email inbox contains much garbage and a few gems from that prolific author – Unknown. I thought the following was egg-sellently written, but maybe you have to be a member of the Commonwealth to think so.

Simply Eggcellent“To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your immediate failure to financially manage yourselves and also in recent years your tendency to elect incompetent Presidents of the USA and therefore not able to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.  Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.

A questionnaire may be circulated sometime next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’ ‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’  Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters,  and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’

Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels.

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ”like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf.  The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter ‘u” and the elimination of  ‘-ize.’

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists.  The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not quite ready to be independent.  Guns should only be used for shooting grouse.  If you can’t sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you’re not ready to shoot grouse.

5. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler – although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect.  At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables.   Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon.  Get used to it.

8. You will learn to make real chips.  Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps.  Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all.  Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of  known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager.

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys.  Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters.  Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater.

11. You will cease playing American football.  There are only three kinds of proper football; one you call soccer, rugby (dominated by the Kiwis), and rugby league (dominated by the Aussies). Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby league (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

12. You will stop playing baseball.  It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America.  Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable.  You will learn cricket.

13. You must tell us who killed JFK.  It’s been driving us mad.

14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream)  when in season.

God Save the Queen!”

Post 407

The Siksika First Nation – Idle No More

Between March 23rd and 27th,  vandals caused extensive damage to 25 Summer Cabins in a quiet little Golf Resort called Hidden Valley.

Normal operating procedure for this community of 305 cabins, situated on a 324 acre parcel of land leased from the Siksika First Nation, would be to repair or rebuild what the vandals destroyed. After all, the cabin owners have rebuilt twice in the past when the community was extensively flooded by the Bow River.

But this isn’t a normal year. It is the last year of the Resort’s lease. A small but vocal group of Siksika Nation Members have decided not to Redesignate these lands for use by non-nation members. By extension, they do not wish to renew the lease proposal that the Siksika Nation Chief and Council negotiated with the Cabin Owner’s Association.

In a Referendum this past December where 4167 Siksika Members were given the opportunity to vote on redesignation, 641 voted NO, while 269 voted YES. The remaining 78% of the population chose not to vote.

The Cabin Owners (some of them members of the Siksika Nation) were surprised and devastated by the ‘No’ vote. They have been paying the maintenance and improvement costs for the amenities – a 9 hole semi-private Golf Course, pro shop, restaurant, and man made lake – for the past 38 years. With green fees of just $20 a round, the golf course has attracted a loyal following of the Nation’s members and provides employment in a corner of the reserve where there are few jobs. In addition, the Resort pays an annual rights fee to the Nation in order to use the land for six months of the year.

They were equally surprised, but optimistic when Chief and Council passed a resolution that said they intended on holding another Referendum that would extend the existing lease for another 2-3 years so that the will of the entire Nation could be determined – a participatory democracy in action!

This action didn’t sit well with a small number of those who had voted NO. They had been celebrating the fact that the ‘colonists and their 300 years of lies‘ would be forced off of their land. They couldn’t understand how the cabin owners were suddenly back in the running. They did not seem to realize or accept that their Chief and Council had initiated the offer of a second Resolution.

It was at this point that a group of vandals decided to take matters into their own hands. It is hard to say what they expected to accomplish, or where their loyalties lie, but the damage was another blow to the Cabin Owners. They were also disheartened when they found out that Chief and Council were in no hurry to hold the next referendum – the proposed date would not give the cabin owners time to remove their cabins if the vote was NO again.

The whole thing is of interest to me because this Resort is where our extended family have cabins. It is a place where we have been gathering for over twenty years. We care about this land, and we care about what happens to the people – the ones who own the land, the ones who look after it, and the ones who use it.

The distance between the Cabin Owners and the Vote NO! dissenters cannot be measured. It is more than a failure in communication between partners; more than the mistrust the dissenters have of their Chief and Council. It is more than a dispute over who pays how much for what – and when. It is, in so many ways, the re-enactment of the settling of Canada, only this time some part of the First Nation feels like they have won.

It is sad to think what the rest of this First Nation will lose in the process.

Post 392

Why I’m Tired Of so Many Things

I recently discovered a blog called A Bear’s Rant. Written by a Canadian, the site is “committed to being an island of common sense in a world with too little of it.”

I stumbled onto this blog when I was looking for information that substantiated and refuted the claims being made by the ‘Idle No More’ Protest. (I like to look at both sides of things before I jump off the fence. Who knows what kind of crap you might land in…) I was particularly curious as to why this grassroots movement did not support eight Canadian Federal Bills that provide a practical approach to making it easier for First Nations to develop an economy.

At ‘A Bear’s Rant’ I found a post called The Misconceptions In Bill C45 That Sparked ‘Idle No More’ – Part One: Reserve Lands. Part Two discusses Bill C45 further, and Part Three concerns Attawapiskat Band Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike.

The QuipperyI’ll leave my conclusions about ‘Idle No More’ to another day. I would, however like to join ‘A Bear’s Rant’ in the call for a new Protest Movement called I’m Tired Of It. I’d be hard pressed to add anything to this rant, it is that complete. But – from all the research I’ve been doing lately, I would add – I’m tired of the exact same unresearched news story being repeated over and over again. Really, does it get any truer with each telling?

You may not agree with everything The Bear is tired of, but if you agree that there is a lot of stuff you are fed up with, then join this protest. You can write a blog post and Link to Bear’s I’m Tired Of It post, or go to the post and add a comment. If you have a Twitter account –  tweet about what you are tired of and use the hashtag #Iamtiredof

Man was made at the end of the week’s work when God was tired.
– Mark Twain –

Post 377

Welcome to the Bright Lights of the Little City

All the good folks (and their houses and land) in our little corner of the world were recently annexed by the nearest city. It took some time for the annexation to work it’s way through all the powers that be, but we all knew that  it would happen, regardless of our desire not to be ‘city folk’. The Provincial Government made it official effective the first of this year, and were kind enough to inform us of the fact at the end of March. By the end of April we still had not heard a peep from our City officials, so I sent the Mayor an email. “We don’t seem to have received a “Welcome to the Neighbourhood” note from you,” I observed.

A week or so later, the Leader of Planning and Development responded, “I believe we met at an open house some time ago regarding the annexation. You should be receiving a welcome letter from the City soon.”

Yes, Team Leader, you likely remember me. I was the lady who was waving around the photos of what the houses a mile and a half away from me look like, now that the city has allowed the developers to build warehouses just beyond their back door.

Team Leader’s note continued: “In regards to the warehouse development you refer to … administration is working with the developer and their tenants to try to prevent or mitigate impacts as much as possible.”

Actually, that doesn’t really bring me much comfort. Construction garbage decorating my trees maybe, but no comfort.

A new warehouse where there was a field of canola a few years ago, but no comfort..

A Welcome Letter from the city arrived in early May. After a short paragraph of introduction, the letter got to the meat of the matter:  Property taxes would be due soon; we should not expect water, sewer or garbage service in the foreseeable future; business owners need to get a business license; and we need to fill in the city census form because it brings in an additional $261 per head in Government funding.

Yes, Little City, you sure know how to put out the Welcome Mat!

I have to keep reminding myself that I live in a great province, even if the neighbours sometimes suck: Alberta – Remember to Breathe

Post 343

Occupy Wall Street – How to Redistribute Wealth

poster down with evil corporations humorous

If it was easy to be wealthy, then more people would be.
– Author Unknown –

Occupy Wall Street – As protests go, this one is quite different from the ones of my youth. It does not have one simple, focused demand like ‘End the War’ or ‘Ban the Bomb’, although ‘Redistribute Wealth’ might come close. The protesters claim to represent the 99% of the population that is being denied a chance at upward mobility by the 1% of the population that is extremely wealthy.

So, just who are the Top 1% in America? According to the 2010 US Federal Tax Data, they are the taxpayers who earned over $380,354 a year. They include people  like the US President, cardiologists, lawyers, software engineers, college Presidents and football coaches, professional bloggers, journalists, TV personalities, company owners and executives, internet company founders, pro athletes, movie stars, etc. Apparently about 80% of these people weren’t born into rich families. They started out small, and worked their way up. (Here is an interesting story called How Do the Wealthy Get That Way, by Bert Whitehead)

How to Redistribute Wealth – The Car Guy and I are part of the 99%, but we aren’t protesting the wealth of the 1%. We know how hard it was to get where we are on the ladder, so can appreciate how much effort was required by that 80% of the 1% that are very wealthy .  Many of them got to where they are by convincing the 99% to spend money on their product, and in our case, it is a hard sell. We subscribe to the philosophy that the best way for us to increase our wealth is to ‘Not Spend Money on Things that Make Other People Wealthy.’  I call it our ‘Cunning Plan’ and after 40 plus years of using the strategy, we are retired and living comfortably.

Our Cunning Plan started with the purchase of our first house. It was the smallest (about 900 sq ft), cheapest house available that was still within commuting distance of the city where The Car Guy’s job was. The house was about 20 years old and was only insulated with a few layers of cardboard. The furnace was unpredictable. But this was 1972 – the average size of a home was a bit less than 1000 square feet and we paid about $7000 less than the average cost of a house at that time.  (Today, in both Canada and the US, the average size home is a bit over 2000 square feet. This might be part of the reason home costs have increased faster than income has!)

Of course, the housing market went through a few booms and busts, but we rode it out by buying cheaper homes, renovating and selling – 6 houses in all. Sweat equity  – The Car Guy runs the power tools, I am the drywall, paint and cleaning crew!

The Car Guy’s Dad always said that you should save a little bit out of every pay check, and that was also part of our Cunning Plan. We combined Savings with ‘Living withing our Means’. We had no ‘Lines of Credit’ and no loans other than our mortgage. We paid off the credit cards in time to avoid paying interest fees.  We also realized that the money we saved by not paying debt interest could be used for other things. (Did you know that in the US alone, Credit Card penalty fees and interest paid on unpaid balances amounts to $92 billion per year?  I guess that is one of the reasons bankers are wealthy…)

Delayed Gratification – it wasn’t  always easy, but it was how we made our plan work. That, and we didn’t spend much money on disposable items – the products that make millions for corporations, but don’t provide a return on personal investment. In the US, the annual expenditures for some of these products are:

1. Movies, Major League Sports, videos, music, TV, electronics: $228 billion a year
2. Fast Foods, coffee shops, weight loss products, alcohol, cigarettes, illegal drugs, addiction health care: $635 billion per year
3. Beauty Products: $98.1 billion per year
4. Lottery tickets: $58 billion
5. Soft drinks: $11.7 billion

Some inventive soul created the following poster, which points out that people don’t think about how they support the very thing they protest.

Evil Corporations – Author Unknown

Perhaps ‘Occupy Wall Street’ will help the 99% to understand they are both the problem and the solution.

Post 250

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