Kicking Butts, Taking Names

Gerald Butts resigned today and, make no mistake, it was staged.  Trudeau did not throw Gerald under the bus.  Gerald leaped.  But you need not worry about GB.  He will do fine operating the puppet show from the darker shadows of a back room somewhere – but still within blue-tooth range – because Justin can’t think straight (if he can think at all).  This resignation was a ‘show’.

And he did it to take the heat for the AG Jody debacle.  Somebody had to and it couldn’t be another women – i.e. Katie Telford.  Bad optics.

Jody Wilson-Raybould TRULY resigned and she did it for reasons mostly political but I may have to concede some principle may have also been involved.  Her unchecked ambition and ego plays a large part but so does her otherwise strong moral character.  We’ll know soon enough.  She wants to be the leader of the party.  I do not think she can wrest that away from the pretty boy.  A lot of big Libs put him there.  So, we’ll see how that plays out.

I mention all this because I do not think Gerald (aka Severus Snape) is truly evil.  His resignation letter, I think, says it – he worked for the good of all Canadians.  The problem is that Gerald’s sense of what is good for all Canadians is entirely derived from his own egocentric constructs.  He thinks he KNOWS what is best for all Canadians and the PMOs office has operated from that ‘mindset’ since Trudeau has been in.  They are simply smarter and holier than us and went about ruling that way.

Gerry may be smart.  He may be good.  He may even be doing God’s work but he sure as hell didn’t listen to Canadians.  Gerry and Justin are both silver-spooned Easteners who are steeped in privilege and elitism.  And one of them is extra stupid.  And that showed from the get-go.  They did NOT listen and they came from EGO.  One of them is smart, the other an airhead. The marriage was doomed.  It was a natural conflict of substance and vacuum.  They were bound to trip up.

Where does it all go from here?  I imagine the puppet strings will still be pulled and the captain will stay at the ‘stage-lit’ wheelhouse (shirtless, of course) guessing at where he is…..and I suppose that JW-R will continue to be a burr under the PMOs office.  Sheer will go nuts, set his hair on fire and make another stupid racist, sexist, corporate-based statement.  And Singh will continue to dissolve into a puddle.  It will be steady as she goes but, but, but…

No Butts to kick around anymore.


Concept/Proposal…please critique

Before opining on this, please first imagine that you ‘want’ a cabin or a place to relocate off the grid….you can be old or young but probably not likely mid thirties to late forties (those folks are typically on the treadmill and running as fast as they can).

If you are old, you are thinking (maybe), “I would love to have a little retirement cabin somewhere…maybe move there… something small….”

But, because you are getting on (55+) you are also maybe thinking, “Oh, man, I don’t even know where to go, what to do, it likely costs a fortune, I might hate it, and who needs wood-chopping, anyway!”

If you are young, you might be thinking, “I’ll never get a foothold in this urban market.  I hate the city, anyway, it’s too expensive.  I’d love to be a hippy-back-to-the-lander but that’s just plain silly and, anyway, I have to work and can’t afford that lifestyle either.”

So, that is the dilemma facing our two groups…..and so….here’s the concept:

Offered up is a lot on the ocean.  NOT huge…..maybe 50 x 100′.  The lot will have water, sewer and a deck (that will already be built by the local community so that it is ready to be used).  Attached to the deck will be a shipping container.  The prospective buyer will pay say, $20,000 down for the ‘package’ and they also enter into a LEASE for the lot for twenty years.  Cheap payments.  Maybe $1200 a year (just enough to keep the water and sewer going).

The idea is that the container will hold your tools and your tent and camp stove and be able to provide the young/old couple a ‘foothold’ in the area.  Young people will use that ‘foothold’ as a stepping stone to buying their own property somewhere nearby but having a home-base as they slowly build that ‘permanent or retirement home’ they envision.  Alternatively, some young people might choose to build a more permanent (but small) structure and simply ‘live small’ in the waterfront village.

If someone wanted the lot and NOT the deck and container, that would adjust the price downward but there has to be some up-front commitment to ‘making something happen’ so the deck and container idea is really just a way to give people a ‘leg up’.

Yeah……there will be maybe ten or 15 such lots in the area which is say, 6 or 7 acres….the rest will be common area….

Older people might adopt a winter/summer schedule and live half-time OTG using the original ‘basic package’ as their summer home.  Maybe upgrade to a nice Yurt?  Or they may have a small, better structure built (or they build it) and they simply live OTG in the village not requiring longer tenure because they are already old.

And, of course, any variation on that basic concept will be considered.  Leases can be broken if the lessee eventually builds elsewhere.  OR extended if a couple of 55 year-olds figure on staying for more than twenty years.  All flexible.  All adjustable.  All for the purpose of building a small village as inexpensively as possible.

And there are builders on the island should you wish to ‘farm it all out’.

“Dave, why imagine this sort of thing…?”

Because we NOW have six or so acres on the waterfront and we (the community) are ‘imagining’ it’s potential use/development.  I like the idea of a small village.  Some might prefer a park or something else.  It won’t be my decision.  It will be a community one but we are all going to propose something.  I will propose this.  No idea where this is going but I thought I’d ‘float my idea’ to the outside world as well to see if it has appeal to anyone else but me.

If the idea is considered a bad one, please tell me why.  And, one last thing: don’t fret about the details….this is JUST a conceptual idea….

Climb on the Resistance Train! It’s safe. It’s NOT moving…..

In our second book, Choosing Off the Grid, we spent a bit of time on ethical dissent.  Ethical dissent is, essentially, choosing to opt out of things that the ‘opter’ sees as bad.  It’s a form of personal moral imperative but definitely at the petty, personal, passive and subtle level.  And usually cheaper so as to enjoy some additional incentive.  But NOT a big deal.

For instance: one might choose to use cash instead of credit cards because the card system has usurious interest rates, burdens the seller and the buyer with a ‘convenience’ charge and constantly feeds data to the scurrilous banks and parasites (governments, marketers, etc.) of the financial world.  Cash is cleaner, simpler and doesn’t tattle on your whereabouts.  Thus the ‘opter’ deems using cash as better than plastic and a mild form of ethical dissent. We pay cash most of the time. (But Sal and I both still have Visa cards – just in case.)

Recycling is also ethical dissent.  Buying second hand is, too.  Salvaging. Composting.  Sharing.  Lending. Giving.  All these somewhat less-engaged-in-the-money-based-system activities represent a quiet, gentle resistance to the materialistic, unconscious, polluting and corrupt ‘CONSUMER’ world while, of course, still being part of it.

I mean: consumerism is not bad.  OVER consuming might be, tho, if only because of the garbage that generates.

My 2004 Pathfinder is a small example.  It is definitely a consumer item.  And it does the job.  I am happy with it.  But it has been around more than just the block.  No payments are being made.  No interest is being paid.  I fix what breaks when I can.  It is serving it’s third owner rather well I think.  And it is NOT adding to the landfill.  Of course, this is NOT pure dissent – closer to pure cheapness – but it is maximizing it’s utility.  I am not, in the least, fashionable.  I do not play in 0% financing games.  That has to be good.

To be pure, I would have to eschew boats, cars and gasoline and only walk or swim.  To be pure would be difficult and inconvenient.  I’d have to be a martyr.  So, ethical dissent is hardly all that noble, rebellious or world-changing.  Instead it is just a salve, a compromise, a harm reduction technique.  It becomes a bit of a lifestyle, tho.  But no halo is ever earned from this level of resistance.

Still, I look for new ways all the time.  We unpackage all goods from our Costco/Home Depot, etc. purchases.  Hand the plastic-wrap back.  Don’t eat processed food.  Donate directly to a cause or individual, ignore massive appeals.  Write letters to the editor and government and politicians.  Silly, token gestures like that.  It’s not so much a goody-two-shoes kind of thing as it is simply a ‘bit better’ way of doing.  We think.  And, it sometimes vents my spleen.

But on a much bigger scale, nations and some investment firms/banks are beginning to grapple with the concept as well.  There are plenty of examples of ethical dissent (or ethical investment funds) at the national level but the clearest and latest example might be regarding the proposed 5G network…..maybe…..

Five and (eventually) 6G technology is the foundation for the ‘internet of things’ and likely the precursor for autonomous robots, artificial intelligence and such things as self driving cars and (as I just recently read) smart rectal thermometers (RT) used to send health care information to non-attending professionals (gotta get me a bunch of those for presents).

And some countries are saying no.

Actually, they are not saying no to employing all that ‘BIG BROTHER’ technology at all – they are just saying NO to employing China’s systems (Huawei).  Why?  Because they do not trust China to not exploit the technology for more than just sales profits.  They KNOW what Big Brother tech can do and they want that power for themselves but they don’t want to accidentally give that same power to a foreign government.  National ethical dissent?  Maybe not so much.  Fearful, suspicious dissent, perhaps.  Still, it’s dissent.

Note: They KNOW it’s going to be used for bad purposes.  They are just looking for a way to do it themselves and in a way that is ‘not as bad’. 

It’s the basic dilemma we all share….I know that carbon is bad for the planet but I still make carbon footprints.  I try to make my footprints smaller but I still make ’em.  I know that urban living is dehumanizing and so I live OTG…but I still use the city quite a lot..and so it goes.

No question – there is such a thing as ethical dissent.  But is there a point to it?  Is 5G and 6G BIG BRO technology inevitable?  Will artificial intelligence eventually take over? Will we kill off every conceivable non-human life form (including insects) and fill the oceans with plastic?  Or will we – at some point – kick up our ethical dissent levels into full blown revolution and put an end to the general madness?

Revolution in my lifetime? NO!  Not going to happen.  Revolution will not happen in the next ten or so years, anyway.  But still I protest a bit here and there.  My son already protests a bit more than I do (at the not-too-inconvenient-for-him level) but he is definitely resisting more and more in his own way.  My grandson?  He’ll resist even more, I hope.

Is there time?  I don’t know…but why not join us….?



Capitalism vs Socialism…the biggest lie

Socialism, whatever…Capitalism…(yawn…)…..who cares?  It is what it is!

I agree with your surrender of despair.  So, I am NOT writing about Cap vs Soc in the usual way.  The usual way has a huge degree of philosophy attached and discusses topics dryly at the macro/academic level – a level at which the Fed, banks, governments and large corporations operate. The big lie.

Most of us operate at the gas-pump, loose-change and credit card debt level.  BIG difference.

But first….do you think Canada is Socialist and the USA is Capitalist?  If you do, you would be wrong.  At the macro level, the USA is very elite-socialist.  More so than Canada.  Canada doesn’t have much macro level and what they have is corporately controlled and so – at that level – we are (eltist) Capitalist-controlled but in a psuedo-socialist environment.

Of course, most people don’t define Socialism and Capitalism as it really is or, rather, as it has morphed to become.  They simplistically think that socialism is free health care and a generous ‘safety net’ when you get old.  Capitalism is ‘going it alone, taking your chances and maybe getting rich’.  Neither is accurate.

The real essence of pure Capitalism is that the business, service, entrepreneur or company sinks or swims based on merit, market acceptance and competition.  ‘Let the market decide’.  Pure Socialism, on the other hand, proposes that the means of production and distribution be controlled by the state.  ‘There is no free market’.

So, in that ‘no-free-market’ system (Socialism), you might see farmers subsidized, petroleum companies and BIG corporations given grants, incentives and tax breaks.  Maybe some of the REAL corporate biggies will even be classed as too big to fail (so no risk to them anymore).  For them getting BIG is like tenure is to a professor.  And the SOCIALIST government can do that because the government owns them.  So, if you think about all that, and the tariffs, duties and regulatory efforts of the USA, they are all socialistic in nature and spirit.  But only for the BIG guys.  And, in the ‘big things’, there is no competition, there is no market and the little guy is a slave to the system.

Bluntly put: the US is very, very socialistic at the BIG money level.  The crime: they claim NOT to be socialistic and so ‘tenure’ and the grants and subsidies are given to the companies but they only go as far as the shareholders and CEOs because ‘we are the risk-taking Capitalists’….the big lie.

Are we talking opposites here?  Is Canada, then, NOT Socialistic or do we do that, too?

Well, we have a healthcare system but it is not measuring up on the meritocracy scale.  We have pensions and welfare but no one is doing well based on that.  So, in effect, Canada is socialistic in some categories but not so much on any REAL scale.  In fact, much of that which was intended to be part of the socialistic fabric has been ‘re-drafted’ to now act in a theoretically more Capitalistic way.  The BC Ferry Corporation, for instance is NOT a subsidized-for-the-people ferry system*.  It was reorganized to act as a real corporation and make a profit.  Same for BC Hydro.  It is even worse when it comes to our railways.  They were just sold off will-nilly.  As was our forests.  So was oil and gas (what Canadian benefits from our oil reserves except as shareholder?) 

But therein lies the rub.  We go so-called Capitalist only when the industry gets big.  Rich people then buy those monopolies.  The people don’t own it (CNRail) anymore – Bill Gates does.  Jimmy Pattison owns a lot of the fishery.  China owns a lot of the oil fields.  If the market is controlled and subsidized by the government (socialism), the capitalists then buy it.  Why not?  Too big to fail.  Grants and subsidized when asked.  Returns guaranteed.  NO risk.  NO competition.  “Get on the so-called socialism train! We’ll make a fortune!”

(* the NDP have recently ‘given back’ some of what the BC Ferry system was supposed to provide and they have done that keeping fares low or even lowering them.  BCF is an exception to some extent.  Recently).

If this is too contrarian-thinking for you, think of the marijuana/gambling industries.  They were small potatoes and then they got to be medium potatoes and bigger-but-criminal organizations took it over.  But then it all got bigger so then the government takes it over, regulates it, controls it and continues to use ‘law enforcement officers’ to limit small-guy competition.  And, like every industry before it, it will now be ‘handed over’ to the BIG corporations and stock will be traded and revenue taxed.  The biggies don’t mind the entry cost.  All that just makes the industry ‘harder-to-enter’. No competition.  Cost to produce is irrelevant.  Just make it and add profit.  The government will control it for the industry’s benefit.

Oooops….unless maybe, by accident or corruption, real market forces interfere BUT then the government steps in to bail out the shareholders a la more fake-socialism.  As in TransMountain.  The American bank debacle.  Or Bombardier.  Or GM (before they cheated Canada and broke the agreement).  If you are rich enough and can get to be too big to fail, you are protected by government and, as a surprise bonus, you get a bonus even if you test that failure clause.

But what about the little guy?  Can he open a restaurant freely?  Where he wants to?  As he wants?  No.  Can he log trees and cut ’em into lumber and sell it?  No.  Can he freely fish and sell fish?  No.  Can he raise chickens and sell the eggs?  No.  Milk?  No.  All those activities are controlled with laws, legislation, permits, zoning, regulations and too-high costs-of-entry.  The little guy can rarely get off the ground.

So, to wrap up: socialism is at a ‘token’ fake-level for the people but is HUGE for the corporations.  Capitalism doesn’t truly exist anymore – instead it is just the morphed predatory gene in the new corporate socialism.  Free markets and meritocracy and competition are myths.

Any hope?  Read Regenerative Capitalism by John Fullerton. Read Natural Capitalism by Lovins and Hawken.

The way of the future….?

Unlike my Queen of Sunnybrook Farm wife, ol’ Sunshine Sally, herself, I tend to see the glass half empty with a leak at the bottom.  And, if you put me in a place not to my liking, I am a bit of pain.  I have GOMS.  Grouchy old man syndrome.  Plus, I am spoiled rotten.  I have Rotten GOMS.

Add a writer’s block and I am not an overly happy camper right now.  Worse, Sal makes me walk every day.  I hafta trudge about looking at desert and dry bushes from every angle.  This is just NOT my style.  Although, anything with Sal is pretty good. 

Today, she took me back to one of the highlights of an otherwise dismal series of treks and we found ourselves doing the Queen Creek Wash Walk.  Again.  But this time, we went left instead of right and headed up in a direction we didn’t have an inkling about.  Usually, it does not matter.  It’s always all the same.

Not this time!  This time the walk-up-the-wash took us to a small park quite exceptional in it’s own urban desert kind of way.  Right there, smack dab in the middle of a fifty acre park was a five acre man-made concrete pool dedicated to fishing!  What looked like a huge swimming pool, complete with shade and bathrooms and water toys was a stocked-with-five-kinds-of-fish facility that took the word nature completely out of fishing.  It was Walmart parking lot meets Pond.  It is thirteen feet deep.  No swimming allowed.

Don’t get me wrong…I liked it.  I mean….the city of Queen Creek spent a fortune to bring pond-fishing to the desert for the general public and, except for the required fishing license, it was free.  I was reminded of the ski hill in Dubai.  Or the Queen Mary in Pasadena.  It was – to put it mildly – unexpected.

There were people in the park but only one guy was fishing and so I went up to him and asked about the surprising public amenity (Mancel Carter Oasis Park).  He said it was new.  He said he caught a ten-incher but let it go.  He sat on a bench with his rod in front of him and a line trailing in the water.  Aerating pumps created bubble mounds in the water.  Bamboo grew in select spots near nicely laid out rock arrangements every so often so as to create a ‘natural look’.  Sal and I saw a few little fish.  It is a movie-set waiting to happen to describe a dystopian future where all of nature is artificial.  But it was still kinda neat in that weird paved-parking-lot way.

There seems to be no insects in Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek.  That’s because the gardeners spray ‘ROUNDUP’ all the live long day.  Everywhere.  A walk through a park is a traipse through a dead zone.  The wash is better – no Roundup.  A wash is a dry river bed that takes the surface runoff whenever there is rain and so it is the most ‘natural’ environment of the area (but it is surrounded by areas that are paved and/or flooded with Roundup).  And the fishing pool was right alongside the main wash.  Still, not a bug on the water.  Nor in the air.  There are five kinds of fish in the pond and not a single bit of natural food for any one of them.  Amazing.

I am still kinda stunned by seeing that.  See:

60% of the workforce is made up of women so it had to come to this eventually…jus’ sayin’

I am not a big fan of Arizona although the weather is fabulous – especially compared to back home.  Mind you, a cold sunny day back home is still the best.  I love a cold, windy, sunny day at the beach.  And, we have beach; rocky, beautiful beach.

I mention this for two reasons.  People here talk about the weather.  And virtually nothing else.  The weather never changes and yet the conversation about it never ends.  It is a small, local mental disorder. It would be mildly amusing if it was not so pernicious.  A newscast consists of a weather report, followed by a weather related incident and then another weather report.  If you change channels you get it all over again.  It’s kinda like Groundhog Day ‘cept there is no story – just the weather.  They suffer from weather minutiae syndrome.

Last night they caught me coming and going as I continually changed channels in desperation only to feel like I was not moving away from the weather…I started screaming….Sal had to calm me down.

Of course, it all eventually ended with a feature involving two Labrador retrievers being cute.

And people wonder why some ‘Mericans hole up in a building somewhere armed to the teeth and just start shooting…. I get that, now.  I really do.

The second reason for mentioning the weather is that our BC home is cold.  Zero.  Freezing.  Snow, even.  And we are not there.  But a neighbour points out, “Man, you are saving big on wood, I tell ya!  We are pounding through the woodshed.”  It is kinda sad that that gives me so much pleasure.  “Hey, Sal!  Seems we are really saving on wood!”  And Sal smiles from ear to ear, too.  Snatching small victories……

Here’s an interesting observation (mostly about me, I am afraid): I have always been a smidge sarcastic (if not misogynistic) when I see a stunningly beautiful woman in form-fitting fashion ‘anchoring’ the news desk.  She’s, like, in her thirties and can’t pronounce many of the words.  Or strutting around on stiletto heels doing the weather with a spokes model grin frozen on her face.  “Geez, Sal.  Why do you suppose they hired her?”   Sal says, “Oh, stop it!”

I think it is eye candy!  Sexploitation: plain and simple.  Sal says, “How do you know she doesn’t have a degree in Astrophysics and keeps a large family together and functioning?”  And I say, “Oh, stop it!”

But – get this: they do NOT do that in Arizona nor, increasingly, across the nation.  More and more of the ‘anchors’ and weather-women are more common-looking.  And ‘common’ in the USA is (dare I say it?) pretty chunky.  Yes, you heard me…the women at the broadcast desk are not candy anymore – more like bread loaves, actually –  and, as a bonus, very often kinda homely, too.  Our local TV station also dresses the homeliest woman on TV in the world’s worst outfits.  Last night Heifer Smith wore a tight, shiny black Naugahyde dress with huge folds and wraps.   I kept thinking of Toad of Toad Hall in patent leather.  I honestly tune in every night just to see how bad the next outfit will be.  Sal watches too and says, “Ooooh, that poor woman!”  

That is ‘fem-speak’ for “Oh my God!  She looks horrible!”

In truth, I actually kinda like that.  I do. Honest.  NOT the horrible outfits and certainly not the bizarre ‘Merican penchant for an overly painted clown face every woman seems intent on donning with heavy, heavy make-up but I do like the idea of ‘the norm’ showing up instead of vacuous spokes models whose only apparent talent is the ability to have conversations while extreme smiling through teeth that look manufactured.  The homely ones look more human, more common, more average.  It should be a good thing.

It’s not that great, it turns out.  I used to watch the sexy ones for reasons unrelated to weather.  And now I watch the homely ones so as to be kinda shocked – and then crack bad jokes.  It appeals to my inner Don Rickles.  In a bizarre way, I think the producers seem to know their audience.  “Ahh..the old guys are getting grouchy and no longer seek out the cutest spokes model.  I think we should save some money and hire their ex-wives!”



The worst

Trump.  The worst president ever.  AND one of the worst human beings.  Clearly, the most sniveling, slime-ball, manipulating con-man to ever stink up the oval office and somehow, even the TV screen.  What a disgusting exploiter of everyone for his own sake.  What a classic shyster!

I could go on (and on) but I won’t.  I will write this short blog only to point out what the pundits, commentators and opinion-writers have failed (so far) to say.  Trump is evilly manipulative and exploitative and shamelessly so.  He is blatantly and shallowly self serving in everything he does and says.  He disgusts me.

From riding the fake-love/sympathy for a little girl with cancer to aligning himself with first responders who acted heroically, from celebrating victory with old veterans over Hitler in WW2 to the release of unfairly incarcerated black people, from applauding ICE officials who deport traffic offenders to empathizing with a little boy picked on because his last name is Trump, the Donald found every which way to ‘reach’ the emotions of Americans and then do a quick ‘switch’ back to him that made him associated with the victim, the hero, the ill and the persecuted.  “I am just like them!”   Trump rode their story to give him attention.  Trump exploited their pain to make him look human.  Trump told their story to be the hero.  Trump told their story to tell HIS story and did so ruthlessly.

He couldn’t have cared less about them.

He stands for everything I despise.  There is nothing about Trump I respect.  There is nothing I recognize as decent, right, or even human.  He is a pig.  Orwell had it: the pigs are in power.  But this revolting pig is more evil than most.

“Dave!  Aren’t you just a bit over the top?”

No.  He is worse than I have stated.  I am so repulsed that just thinking about him makes me mad.  I have, as they say, Trump Derangement Syndrome.  Like Robert DeNiro, I would take the opportunity to punch him in the face.  And, if I had time to do it twice, I would.  All the time I was punching him, I would be praying for more time.

Con-men tell people lies but read and feel the room, read and feel the mood, read and feel the people as they do it.  They are like surfers who can catch even the smallest of waves and then move with that.  They are like comedians who, with a slight inflection, a tone, a facial expression can convey their point – but comics do it to make the audience laugh.  Trump does it to build rapport and trust, like a con-man.  It is why he so often goes off-script – if he sensed a moment, felt a communication, saw a connection, he will build on it to gain support.  He’ll say anything to get what he wants.  He’ll use anyone to get what he wants.  He’ll exploit anything to get what he wants.  And it was all exposed and revealed on high definition TV last night.  He posed.  He pandered.  He lied.  He danced and he pranced.  And he said the things that people wanted to hear. And he meant none of it.

He’d shoot a person on Fifth Avenue, jail children, ignore victims of catastrophe, destroy the planet, offend his allies and claim accomplishments not his.  He is the deplorable-in-chief, the head of a family that makes the Corleones look good.  He is the worst.