Sunday, 9 June 2019

Another bloody D Day could happen, or worst.


Another bloody D Day could happen, or worst.

I grew up with those who fought and survived the last “Great” war. The only people I knew as a child who weren't veterans were those with numbers tattooed on their arms, survivors of concentration camps. All of them told stories about their time with the partisans in every country of Europe. I remember sitting on the farm with my mom, dad was in the army, and hearing canons and explosions. I remember the next war when a new teacher came and told us that the old teacher was a hero and will not come back and a few girls cried. We the guys were too tough to cry, we talked about revenge. I remember all of us kids looking up to see planes in the sky, while waiting to go into bomb shelters and someone says, those are ours, don’t worry.

I sit with my wife in our comfortable Canadian living room watching the evening news. Its D Day 75 years later. The memories are far behind and it doesn’t look like we may have to endure what the people on D Day had to suffer, but one never knows. I am very sorry for those soldiers who reportedly “gave their lives for freedom and democracy.” A lot of them wrote their last letter back home to Canada and died a painful death on the beaches of Normandy the next day. Many young chaps were still wondering what it would have felt like to get their first kiss, which never came.

I feel the same sorrow for the other soldiers who equally gallantly faced them, in German or other uniforms and suffered the same fate. We don’t celebrate them since they lost the war. The German soldiers didn’t have a better idea of why they died then our soldiers did. They just bled and died often thinking about mommy and daddy and life on the farm. The soldiers on both sides of a conflict rarely have any idea why they “gallantly give their lives.” I took many years to find out and I am still searching.

On the TV screen, we are watching The President of the great empire of this generation, a man claiming proudly that he is German, with his first lady who is Russian, seated beside the aging Monarch of last generation’s Empire. Behind them clustered are our Prime Minister and other heads of states, including the Chancellor of today’s Germany.

That war which killed so many young people whose graves are marked by white crosses was not a fight between Germans, Brits, Canadians, and Americans as well as others, it was a war between ideologies. It could have easily been prevented and all those boys and girls could have lived good lives and contribute to human advancement.

one must remember that history is written by the victors and none of them wish to be burdened by the truth. They win so good writers produce the history we learn to love. Those who lost may have a chance next time.

If any of you wish to learn some untold histories read the book The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuźnik. Here you see strange facts, verified, which would assault your sense of right and wrong. Who would have known that American companies like GM IBM and Ford helped Germany re-arm enabling Hitler to wage the war? Does anyone know that it was against the law at the time for Germany to re-arm? Can people deny that there is a photograph of the German Führer in his office with a portrait of the famous Henry Ford above his desk? No, we can’t. In reality, American manufacturers sued their own government for bombing their factories in Germany during the war. Prescott Bush was a good friend with the German elite and later his relatives became presidents. American manufacturers largely financed and created the German war machine that the US fought against on D Day. The financiers didn’t storm the beach in Normandy, but there were some benefits.

The big industries were interested in profits, but even more, enthused over the possibility of destroying the then young Soviet Union. They didn’t care much that the Soviets were exploiting their own population horribly but were afraid that Communism would spread. After all, the Socialists of Russia were against big business and did so violently.

Germany at the time followed a popular leader (Austrian) of a Fascist persuasion and it was preferable to Communism. The war raged and the great powers of the world were all weakened and in need of American support. The timing was important and America was on the way to becoming the most powerful nation on Earth, but there was dissension within. America had to change its way with its own people or risk a revolution itself and only one leader predicted it and had a plan. That was Theodore Roosevelt. This is another interesting chapter in History.

Back to 2019, and we see the last of the very old veterans from the D Day invasion being honored by their countries and they publicly state. They miss their comrades and lament that they missed their chance to live. They observe the world and say we may be heading again towards a similar disaster.

A German American who is displaying Fascist tendencies is thanking the old veterans for their service visibly uninterested, and the pipes wail with the thin golden trumpet finishing the show. Silence follows. Our young people must wonder. Are we finished making mistakes that cost the lives of our youth? Or are we heading towards the last showdown from which no-one will come alive? Is there a new F. D. Roosevelt in the crowd?

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Is life important?


Is life important?

You can’t listen to people talk today, on the Media or amongst friends, without hearing the phrase “Saving Lives” mentioned. It is the generation’s obsession. Safety is first. A few years ago when someone was going somewhere people used to say, “have fun” and now they state, “drive safe.” I always think, what is wrong with you, do I look like someone who endangers himself or others? Instead, I say the stock phrase, “Thank you.” There aren’t too many people like me who value the quality of life more than quantity. Most have invested money in life and wish to see a payback. Time is money, isn’t it?

A short item on CBC news (May 28th) caught my eye. “Lessons Canada can learn from Sweden's long-term care facilities.” The program compared senior’s care in Calgary and Sweden, interviewing real people. 

I have been a Canadian now for over fifty years, working and contributing; at times more than average. I love Canada and all its people. I love the fact that this country is a mosaic and that we are almost a democracy. We are unique amongst nations and admired around the world. I love the way we do things and I am very proud that I can truly make my voice heard and try to improve upon what we have.

I went to investigate some other nations who also have very happy people. Surprisingly, the other people who are happy and say so are also in cold areas like ours. Finland is number one and Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Netherland and Norway are all high up on the list. Funny that people in a harsh climate score high on happiness. Now, let's compare from my point of view.

I have been with my wife for close to fifty years now and if we are separated I don’t want life. Some years before I said “I do,” I became a part of a couple and I will not go back to being a singularity. I envy the Swedes who make it possible for aging couples to stay together and I wish that the leaders in my country/Province would attend to it. 

My leader is not working on the one item that is most important to me. After my wife, the most important people for me now are my grandchildren. The oldest is working part-time to ease the burden on his family. My Premier is actively working to reduce my grandchild’s income by $2 an hour so a restaurant chain will pocket the money. He also is removing overtime regulations which will ensure that a good young person will not get over 25 hours a week. I guess that will make people believe that the government’s actions created more jobs. 

Sweden (another Hockey nation) is most similar to Canada but without most of the rich resources. They are providing old people like me with accommodations to stay together and they are not bankrupted. As a matter of fact, their people are on average doing better than us. They have better working conditions, a very good education and health care, longer holidays plus more that I can’t mention in this short article. I will mention that they build one of the best jet fighters (The Gripen) in the world and that they have absorbed more refugees per capita than all other industrial countries.

Sweden came out of the last President Bush created recession worse than Canada did. Yet when I checked the statistics, I discovered that in 2014 to 2017 their GDP grew and their economy surged twice as fast as the US economy. Bloomberg reported: “High taxes, strong unions and equal distribution of wealth. that's the recipe for success in a globalized world, according to Magdalena Andersson, the Social Democratic economist who’s also Sweden’s Finance Minister.” 

The difference is in their politics. We elect politicians who can’t be trusted by the majority in our countries. Our leaders increase taxes and do not ensure that the benefit from the tax will help most people and improve the economy. In Sweden, and a few other north nations, the people pay taxes to improve their way of life or someone else is elected fast. There is no way for some joker to get in and say, oops, I promised to improve the economy without reducing services but sorry; I am cutting billions of dollars from your medical care, your education or seniors’ benefits, to name a few. 

Our problem here in Canada is that we are following the Americans instead of learning from the Swedes who enjoy a better system. You can check every aspect of life and see that the Social Democratic system is working better. Examine upwards mobility, business Startup or even the number of incarcerations or crime rates. The other northern people are enjoying a better life than those who fight to deregulate giant international corporations waiting for the crumbs to fall upon us. 

I say to my leaders, forget about wishing me safety and saving my life, and let me keep the gift from God who is my wife. You Christian people told me to keep my wife in sickness and in health until death do us apart, then don’t separate us to save money when one of us is down. You who lead wars for “freedom and democracy” refrain from impoverishing working youths to benefit shareholders of corporations. 

Above all, dear leaders, quit destroying our world pretending it's not happening. This world was created, as wonderful as it is, for all its creatures not just for those who hoarded the most wealth. Don’t do it for me but look at history and learn. Look at your own holy books where it says, the last shall be first, the meek will inherit the earth and more. Do it for your own safety, if you believe any of it. 

 

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Fire!!!

Fire!!!
Humans inhabited planet Earth for a very long time before the taming of fire. It was a cold dark existence, similar to that of other animals, and fear of fire was strong. Someone dared to take fire and use it and our civilization was born. Fire proved to be our best friend and worst enemy, depending upon how we handled it. Like most of the material things on Earth, it is a gift which requires proper handling by human intellect. Now fire is beneficial in huge nuclear reactors and in tiny one stroke engines. It provides us with easy safe lives such as never even imagined not that long ago. The benefits are tremendous but the dangers persist.
 We live on the surface of a fireball spinning through space and we are fully dependent on radiation from a burning star. We use stored sun energy with fires of all kinds and we can use the radiation as it comes without burning. Solar, wind, gravity and nuclear power that doesn’t produce weapons-grade fuel are all available with more being discovered every day. Our most knowledgeable people have determined that we achieved a breaking point now, where using stored energy by means of fire harms our planet’s atmosphere and will make life impossible. The process has begun and there is only one solution available and only for a short time.
It is time again for humans to fear fire or, sadly for us, perish. The old people I knew in my childhood are all gone but I can tell you what they had in common. It was a fear of fire. For thousands of generations, our best friend fire was also our ultimate destroyer.
Just a few years ago, when I moved to a forested spot in a mountain town, my main joy was the wilderness feeling and the ability to have a fire outside. Now it has all turned around. We had a devastating fire in the Crowsnest Pass, the moisture in the ground disappeared and I am afraid of summers.
The big indicators of a climate catastrophe are, not the weather we experience, but moisture content in the soil and sea level all over the world. We now have documents showing that as far back as 1977 the biggest oil company Exon Mobile did extensive research on the greenhouse effect. They determined that a danger exists and buried the knowledge. Instead, they began to contribute to the elections of climate-denying politicians and continue to operate without ecological conscience. Their investors are suing them for hiding the real value of the company.
I was watching a video titled: America Burning: The Yarnell Hill Tragedy and the Nation's Wildfire Crisis, about the 19 firefighters who perished in Arizona in 2013. A young mother was describing her husband kissing her and the 3- and 5-year-old kids goodbye before going to fight fires. He, and another 18 like him, never came back. I stopped watching to pay attention to our new Premier talking about the ongoing early fires here in Northern Alberta, on Global News Calgary.
Our Premier stated that most fires are caused by human carelessness in throwing cigarettes from vehicles. Wrong Sir! It is human carelessness of creating climate change by burning oil. What starts the majority of fires are lightening striking overly dry forests. He announced a reduction of taxes and elimination of regulations which will increase the fires and floods plaguing our planet.
Premier Kenney talked about hundreds of families safely evacuated. Does he know how it is to leave your home and be evacuated? We the people of Crowsnest Pass, Pincher Creek, and Waterton know all about it. He mentioned “resources” being brought in to fight fires. Does he know the pain and sacrifice made by the “people” he calls resources?  I wonder. I also question why we taxpayers have to foot the bill for fighting the well-predicted fires and the rebuilding after. I can see my insurance going sky high while oil companies profits are taxed less. I am no longer a Conservative but I know how to calculate costs.
In defense of the premier, we must recognize that there is another side to the argument. There are folks who believe that if we cut all the trees around human settlements, build many highways into forested areas, and somehow get rid of “lefties” and environmentalists, there will be no fires. The leader is obligated to listen and judge. I am afraid that my leader is not paying attention to the educated but to the greedy.
I love sitting by a campfire on a starry summer night with family and friends. Lately, my firewood is unused black with mold and the stars are invisible behind the smoke. It is a new reality I don’t enjoy. It bothers me that we were told that it will happen when I was still a young student and I and so many more, didn’t take action in time. Our small portion of our oil revenues intoxicated us and we chose to believe that all will be good.
In prehistory, we left the stone tools in favor of bronze and iron. We changed from sailing ships to steam and ditched horses for automobiles. Why is my generation so ignorant and use selective blindness when the situation is so critical? Fire served us well but its time to use energy in new ways.

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Monday, 20 May 2019

Is Canada at war?


Is Canada at war?


In 1955 I was a little kid on an isolated farm in Israel. From the farm, we could see a mountain called Har Megiddo or as we know it here Armageddon. It was a different world comparing to  “reality” these days. Aside from perhaps my mom’s nylons, there was no plastic. All of what we use today without even realizing, bags, straws, cups, computers or vehicle interiors were made from materials other than plastic. In grade three I received a plastic ballpoint pen as a gift and cherished it as the most valuable possession.

Plastic is amazing since it changed our world. Every year there are new ways to use it and it replaced just about all the other materials which we had in our homes. It is so cheap that there is no need to worry about using it for a brief moment and discarding it in the trash. Above all, it can be recycled and used again in a different form, but recycling may be more expensive than manufacturing new plastic. The problem is that left alone it fills up spaces and doesn’t decompose as natural materials do.

As the world was getting crowded with plastic garbage, wise nations such as Canada began to allocate money towards getting rid of plastic junk and poor countries agreed to do the dirty work of recycling, for a price.

The Philippines which is an example of a poor nation exploited by colonial powers agreed to take Canadian plastic but ended up cheated by one of our businesses (Chronic Plastics) who shipped a hundred containers full of garbage, probably financed by our tax dollars, and left them with the rotting mess.

The Philippines are home to some very intelligent often attractive very hard working people. We know it in Canada since we “import” many of their people often to do low paying jobs that we can’t find anyone else to do. I know many very good Filipino people. Some second-generation Filipino people are now well educated and amalgamated into the fabric of Canadian society seamlessly.

The Philippines are geographically close to Japan. In the second World War, the Phillippines fought on the American side against the Japanese Empire. Many thousands perished. After Japan’s defeat, the US invested in Japan making the country into an economic powerhouse while American territories like Puerto Rico and the Philippines were exploited by business interests. Gaining independence didn’t help them much either.  

Canadians see on the news that the Philippines have one bad government after another and that the islands are plagued with natural disasters. We also know that there are many dissenting groups and guerrilla fighters who kidnap business people and execute them. Now we are faced with a war against them over garbage.

When I was a kid on the farm I saw a movie called The Mouse that Roared. A poor tiny nation declared war on the US and sent 20 soldiers with bows and arrows against America. They expected the US to win the war and give them aid as they did with Germany and Japan. Unfortunately, the little country wins the war and the US surrenders to them. I am wondering if the Philippines don’t want a war with us expecting help. Recalling the ambassador is a serious diplomatic step and they just did it.

Our government presently is swamped with trying to fix messes they inherited from the previous government. There is the Phoenix Payroll System that Harper purchased without paying for training. There is the scandal over Vice Admiral Norman who was disgraced by actions that the past Minister of Defence Jason Kenney took bypassing government purchasing regulations. Now there is a looming war against a poor nation half a world away. All of those issues could harm innocent people or already do.

The Philippines could send our garbage back to us escorted by a warship and create a global awareness of the fact that our unregulated businesses and unrestricted production of polluting waste are a huge problem. Provinces like Alberta that is trying to remove more environmental regulations will be caught in the middle. Even some of our major industries that produce plastics may be hurt. We have a good image around the world, but you and I know that we are not saints.

Canada is a major polluter while it is a small nation. We hear that China or India pollute more but we stay away from calculating how much pollution per capita we create. The official line is that we live in a cold climate and must create a mess to survive, but it is not true. We have buildings that sustain us without carbon emissions. All we really need is leadership and the will to convert our energy intake to clean energy. It will not be popular with those who invest in oil and gas, but it will work and supply us with many jobs.

Over a long time, Canadians built oil dependency and made a living in unsustainable ways. Now the faraway nation that sends us workers is calling our bluff. A comical leader is telling us on the world stage to take our garbage and eat it. As much as we like to avoid a confrontation, we will have to listen. We can’t just blame one of our political parties or another, we are forced to suffer humiliation and repair damages that we have caused.

Armageddon is a mountain in Israel that symbolizes the end of the world. It existed long before oil and plastics and it will after. The question is, will we survive the outcome of our own actions.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Religion and earthly politics.


Religion and earthly politics.

People all around me debate about the benefits and drawbacks of reading the Bible. Some read the holy book every day and learn lessons they apply to life, while others object. It is a book written by nomad desert people and it talks about an imaginary God, they say. Both sides can prove or disprove their arguments with some good evidence. What’s left is faith. I am asked to believe or choose not to believe.

I was reading in 1 Kings 17:7-16 the story of Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath. The Prophet told a widow to give him water and bread. She said that all she had was a little flour and some olive oil. She was going to make bread for herself and her son, eat it and die after. Prophet Elijah said that if she feeds him first, the jar of flour and the jug of oil will remain full and it happened. The widow and her baby took care of the man of God and all lived until the next crop. A biblical story and you can, believe it or not, your choice.

Last week our new Premier announced the formation of a Blue Ribbon advisory board, and began the process of making our province “more efficient.” He told us earlier that he will reduce taxes on Corporations and expect them to revive our economy. This is much like the story about Elijah and the widow. Only Premier Kenney is not a biblical prophet and Corporations may legally be persons but they are not God. I am just a little bit afraid that they will take the money and we will be forced to make the sacrifice and live without the tax revenue.

If the price of heavy crude will not increase, there is very little chance of Alberta making the money we used to make. Right now the USA is the number one oil exporter and the world is not using all the available oil. Why should we get more money for our oil? The main markets are China and India and they are working hard to reduce their dependency on oil. I wish we did the same.

So far I see us making a feeble attempt to reduce oil consumption with Carbon Pricing and some vague regulations but it's not much and there is great opposition. The solution to our problems is not going to come from trying to sell more oil but from designing and building ways to live with energy which doesn’t kill us.

Over here in southwest Alberta, we have abundant energy even if we only use solar and wind. The problem is storing that energy and there are a number of ways to do that. We have an expert in town who builds energy storage systems. He uses clean power, when available, to pump water to reservoirs up the mountain and releases the water when there is no sun and wind to produce clean power. All that’s needed is some initiative and work by our leaders and we can have, jobs, income, and pride in doing the right thing.

Another biblical story that I love is the story of Moses freeing the Hebrew slaves from Pharaoh. Pharaoh led a modern efficient country at his time, built cities and controlled people with a great modern chariot army. The Hebrew economic migrants provided labor in exchange for sustenance and presumed safety. Today we call their kind working or lower class while in the past they were called slaves. Moses the son of slaves excelled in learning, as happens nowadays also, and led his people out of Egypt. In the process he discovers spirituality and a mighty God called “I am.”

My mind runs up in history from Moses to our time and I stop for a look. I see a modern industrial highly technological world in which billions of people are busy conquering nature and converting the natural order into man-made systems. There is little or no concern about the fact that men are incapable of successfully replacing what we call God’s natural laws. Gone are the laws of Moses and even the teachings of the one we call Son of God. Again there is a ruling class protected by modern armies using the labor of the numerous disadvantaged people. They control the people with money, credit, and laws enforced by uniformed fighters and a threat of jail.

Zooming in I go to May 8th, 2019 and see thousands of Uber drivers in major cities around the world going on strike.  They are the equals of the Hebrew slaves in our generation. Some are telling how they work all of their waking hours and aren’t able to feed their families. The great American dream exploded in their faces but there is nothing else for them to do. Uber is just one example. Many millions of people in the “free world” remember how their parents had a good life, with regular jobs, but they have not the slightest hope for the same.

Have we reached the point in which God will have to intervene and free the slaves from oppression, or are we doing alright?

In the Bible, there are many stories which are meant to teach wisdom. Some people take it to be ordained by God while others believe that the wisdom of humanity has been condensed into the biblical stories. To me, it doesn’t matter. Wisdom should be considered in every decision regardless of where it comes from.

It perhaps is wise to help a guy who does miracles. Not so with corporations who make money on our resources but will go unless we let them take more. Is it wise to work for a miserable existence and not demand more? Again no, if a company makes billions from our labor we should force them to share some with us.

Call it wisdom, call it justice, I am a believer in the main principle of the Bible. Do on to others as you would like done to you.

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

The Party is Over!


The Party is Over!

I am considered old now and the people of my generation don’t envy me. We live a long life but being old is not popular. My generation, which we shaped ourselves, idolizes youth. We wanted to change what was wrong with the world, and the change had to be done by young people. The others called us the Baby Boomers and we overwhelmed them by numbers. A whole lot of us became teenagers around the same time, and we did what teens normally do, namely rebel against everything. Our generation had lofty ideas, like ending wars, eliminating racial segregation, equalizing the genders and escaping the hold of the old churches over our souls. Out in the streets, we went singing “we shall overcome” and look at what we have done.

In the process, we worshiped youth and threw away the traditional belief that old people have experience and sometimes wisdom. Our old people were the people of the great wars. Folks who survived, often by obeying horrible dictators like Stalin, Hitler, and others. They wore formal clothes, cut their hair short, religiously shaved and believed in maintaining discipline by force. They hung on to the little they had and didn’t believe in creativity and risk-taking. Life was regimented and people knew their place.

A period of affluence followed the war and a large middle-class grew, with baby boomers riding the wave. We arrived upon the earth when the Great Depression effects were still fresh on people’s minds and horrible wars were a reality not a chapter in history books. Our parents had been through it. There were so many of us and most were heading towards becoming the envied middle class that lived in relative prosperity and peace, such as never existed before. We rode on the coat tales of FD Roosevelts “New Deal” which made not just America but most of the world great.

It was my generation that broke through the stratosphere and sent people to space. We were the people who first used the birth control pill and made music in the park all night long, marched on Washington demanding voting rights, eliminated the draft, death penalties (in most places) and successfully implemented Health Care everywhere but in the United States. Our girls invented and used modern makeup, cosmetic surgeries, proper dental care, exercise for the masses and feminism as a human right.

Now the party is over and the cleanup crew has not arrived yet. I and the rest of the BabyBoomers, Hippies that turned Yappies are still alive. Some have pacemakers and others need hip replacements or dialysis but we are still alive. Eyes fixed by laser surgeries shed a tear when we think about missed opportunities and building up a culture where youth and wealth determine success. We may still have the home in the suburbs and drive a fancy SUV, but our kids unsuccessfully pursue our old goals of getting ahead and left us hanging out to dry or placed us in a lodge to be attended by newcomers also striving for Yappy ideals.

When we removed our Hippy hair and hand embroidered or tie-died shirts in favor of business suits and traded singing We Shall Overcome for airplane vacations, credit cards, and framed certificates, the world changed. Our generations cheated and bullied its way to fake prosperity leaving mountains of garbage and scorched earth in its wake. Our attitude of “fly now and pay later” was good for a short while but now is later, and we are still around wrinkled, bald and gray hiding behind manufactured rock facades and wrinkle reducing creams on our faces. The children we raised to believe they own the world with no need to pay with the hardships that our parents faced are trying not to miss their chance and destroying what's left of the world even faster.

I was watching a popular political commentary this morning telling about oil companies that are moving out since we have regulations demanding a clean up after drilling. The new government apparently is going to change it. They believe that economics is more important than ecology. Great, I murmured, since my people, the baby boomers will get the benefits while the millennials will figure out who will pay for the cleanup.

Our forefathers came to this land wild and harsh as it was. They cleared the natives, animals, forests, and insects and raised us to do the same. We were on a mission to conquer nature and make it efficiently produce wealth for us. We got rid of the people who built and served and replaced them with automation fueled by oil and gas. Our mega-corporations and banks that are too big to fail were able to control governments and take advantage of the planet's resources and most of its population, but now the party is over.

We taxed everything to pay for our pleasure. Freshwater is disappearing and the air is no longer cleaning the pollution or acting as it should, or regulating the weather. Floods, fires, droughts, and hurricanes became common and millions of people are adversely affected but the majority of Albertans I normally meet say it's not so. Seeking the comforts and pleasures we used to have, they declare “false news” and walk away in order not to argue. If the news bothers them, they choose not to watch the news.

Now it is too late for me to demonstrate or march against governments which may ruin my grandkids lives. I am old and being old is not fashionable. I fought for justice, I worked for my home and pension, and all I can hope for is that they don’t take my health care away, or I will fight. I sit and patiently wait for my kids to visit and write about what I have learned. Perhaps some young people will revive the old tradition. The tradition of appreciating old people for their experience and wisdom.

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

 

 

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Sunday, 28 April 2019

Politics. You can’t live with it and can’t live without it.


Politics. You can’t live with it and can’t live without it.

We are existing in an age when the universe will not let us get away from politics or the question of how we should govern ourselves. People are trying to avoid the subject but can’t. There are so many people on the planet now and what we do or not do will make or break us. There is a little time yet, but it takes a special kind of selective blindness to ignore all that is happening. It is like hearing your brakes squealing that new brakes must be installed and choosing to save money and not going to the garage.  We know that driving over a cliff after a decline in the road will make us sorry.

Lately, the news media likes to talk about a blue wave taking over province after province. They miss the point that in Canada it was always like that. Historians have been writing about it for over a hundred years. Provincial parties are opposite from Ottawa to balance off the power of the Federal government. Canadians like it that way.

The blue wave is financed by Corporate donations (investments) which are becoming more costly each election as the people demand to enjoy more of the fruits of their labor. It is rumored that here in Alberta Jason Kenney spent more than three million dollars just on beating Brian Jean for the leadership of the United Conservative party. So far the Corporations are viewing the expense as a cost of doing business but some are ready to drop the fight. They invest in politics and receive reduced taxes. However, if the product doesn’t produce much revenue, the reduced tax doesn’t help.

Prince Edward Island had their provincial elections a week ago and for all the donations the Corporate power only won a minority government. It may be a blue wave but not big enough to surf on. The centralist Liberals are in third place after the Green (left) party but if they unite they will have the power. Already the talk is that the Carbon Tax alone doesn’t have enough power to reduce carbon emissions to needed levels. That is a “left” move in today’s jargon.

Most Canadians are joining the worldwide movement striving for a carbon-free environment. It is a bigger movement, stronger than the movement to eliminate the smog in Europe was at the beginning of the last century. When human existence is threatened humans are capable of amazing feats. In the past, it was a fight to reduce coal, and gas won. Now gas is being replaced by renewables.

PEI people are very savvy people and watch the news. They can see that the heartland, including our Capital, Ottawa floods each year. They are well aware of the fact that the forest fire season is on the way, and they know that it wasn’t always like that. They watched us losing the insects and know what it will do. Floods and fires always existed but mostly happened once in a few lifetimes, not year after year.

Here in Alberta, it is a different story. We are the people who produce oil, coal, and gas and our economy was designed to ensure that we will remain fully dependent on the fuels. We had plans to diversify but pushed them aside. Now we have again a government shored up by the fossil fuel industry.

There is no sense complaining about the results of our last elections, it’s a done deal. I, a proud Albertan, will support my democratically elected government and help them succeed with executing the plan they were elected to implement. Mr. Jason Kenney, if you are reading newspapers from Southern Alberta, which you should, here is my pledge. I will fully support you if you do what you promised.

My mother told me a story a long time ago about a farmer who had a horse and cart for extra income. He was a smart fellow and came up with an idea. He decided to feed the horse only half the oats and see if the horse will keep working, and it did. A week later again half the oats and the horse still worked. A week later on  1/8 of feed, the horse still pulled the wagon. On the next week, the horse died. I hope that “The Blue Wave” people who like austerity will remember the story. If they kill us seniors with healthcare cuts, it's OK. I see that in Nova Scotia it is working. If they disable all the kids with education cuts, we can get educated people somewhere else. But if they give corporations tax cuts to remove money from our economy, they will kill us all.

I want to see you build pipelines to market by being tough with the Federal government. I am breathlessly waiting to see how you will force BC to allow a pipeline by not selling them oil (which will force them to buy from the US instead). I want you to build a pipeline east and supply eastern Canada with oil. Forget Quebec, use your connections with the Ford government in Ontario. Mr. Ford publicly said that he is your friend. You Blue Wave guys should do more than waste money in courts on fighting the Carbon tax/Price.

My friend, and now Premier, I encourage you to cut taxes for corporations and bring business and prosperity to Alberta. Mind you don’t forget that you promised to do it without cutting jobs and reducing our services, but by creating jobs and improving my standard of living. Don’t save money like your friend Doug Ford by taking away anesthetics from colonoscopy patients. I may not like you anymore if you do that.

I wish we didn’t have to do politics and that we would be guaranteed a bright healthy future. Maybe someday.

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Resurrections and elections.


Resurrections and elections.

One week finished and another started, as it does, but life has changed. For Christians, it was Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Around the world, people celebrated the fact that Yeshua (Jesus) the Christ was resurrected from death. Of course, one can’t be resurrected without dying first and nothing is as evil as an unjust execution. A Jewish rabbi who preached the values of being humble, loving and speaking truth to power was killed by power but resurrected. A good lesson, if you care for my opinion.

Jews believe that he was just another Rabbi who preached the teachings of the prophets from the Bible, Muslims see him as a great prophet and Christians call him the son of God or even God, depending on their denomination. Other people look on and say, you who believe in him control most of the world’s wealth, let's see what you do with it. We celebrate Easter, eat our chocolate eggs and build walls to protect ourselves from those who threaten our wealth. Even the most miserable amongst us are protecting the wealth, just in case we will get our hands on some of it. One never knows.

In the beginning, Christianity was a grassroots movement challenging the established official powers by peaceful resistance. The Roman Empire ruling the world with its local loyal regimes could not squelch the movement which advocated taking care of the poor, helping the orphans and even suggested what we now call the feminist movement. There was also the Easter promise showing that you can kill the resisters just to find their ideas resurrected shortly after. The message got lost.

Smart Roman leaders made a political decision to convert the Empire to Christianity and shaped it to their liking. Negotiations took place, a compromise was achieved and we entered a new period in history believing in Christ while retaining serfs and lords monarchial system. Care of the poor, sharing and loving was left for the poor themselves to deal with. Hoarding wealth and fighting for power was a separate domain in the hands of a few. For a thousand years, the rulers controlled the armies and wealth while the peasants groaned and starved. There were many rebellions and revolutions but the majority of the world's population remained economically far below those in power. 

Over time Our society defined the main streams of politics as Left, and Right. The Right believes that if society is left to its own resources a natural law will force us to make things good. The wisest and strongest will prosper but will have to use those below them to achieve their goals so the wealth will spread around. The left is in favor of imposing laws and taxes and spreading the wealth. To them, this is necessary in order to avoid a rebellion by the disadvantaged.

 

Last week was also elections week in our Canadian Province of Alberta. The two central ideologies of our political system butted heads. Alberta is a landlocked province rich in oil but surrounded by people who object to the oil being delivered in pipelines over their territory. The oil that Alberta does sell is subjected to taxes called Transfer payments benefitting the rest of Canada. If Alberta will sell more oil Canada will have more money, but Canadians on both sides elect governments who oppose oil pipelines. The opposition disregards the economic benefits and is mostly concerned with the environmental impact of the use of oil. In their opinion, it is better to be poorer than risk damage to the home planet. Strangely the provinces who have no oil are economically as successful as Alberta. They manage to have some social programs that leave those in Alberta behind.

Alberta voted for a right-wing government which promised to force the other Canadians to allow the building of additional pipelines by restricting how much oil we will sell BC and by withholding transfer payments to Quebec and the other eastern provinces. Also, Alberta will collect less tax from the devalued oil we do manage to sell supposedly to encourage, more development of…oil. This will take money away from what is available for social programs for the average Albertans while oil companies will keep a bigger share of the pie, but remain unable to take more oil to markets.

The Godly person who initiated Christianity never wanted people to worship him, only preached that sharing and loving others is the way to salvation of humans. He was obedient to the rulers and wanted his followers to take care of the least amongst them. In his teachings, there is a strong sentiment against hoarding wealth and abusing the weak and the meek, saying that they will inherit the earth.

I look at last week and wonder how is that possible. The Christian society is the one most comfortable on earth and we are seriously divided amongst ourselves. There are a huge number of people who believe that we took their share of the earth’s wealth and are waiting for us to fail. Some are trying to move in with us and serve us but most are gaining strength somewhere else. In our own domain, only a few are doing very well while so many are scraping by, often glad to be out of extreme poverty.  Most of us know that our way of living, dependent on oil cannot last. Where are we going?

If you are a reader of this newspaper, you have been exposed to opposing opinions about possible solutions to our problems. I encourage you to take some time to talk about the most important issues that we face in the near future or even start debating through letters to the editor. Consider the old teachings and the latest conflicts. Make the last week useful instead of ignoring reality in favor of little pleasures that will not last if we don’t deal with big problems.

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.


resurrection15[1] bing images.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Culture, body types, and personal identity.


Culture, body types, and personal identity.

I was watching news from Sudan. A very slim, small pretty young woman was being interviewed explaining the reasons for the massive uprising and demonstrations which are taking place right now. She could have been a very big woman from a different Sudanese tribe and probably would have not received as much attention here in the west, even if both spoke about the same topic. A few years ago we didn’t see women from that part of the world making political comments at all. Thank God for small victories.

Most of us never take time to think about physical appearances as a determining factor affecting our opinions and dismiss cultural differences or gender issues as unimportant. We pride ourselves on being impartial, especially in Canada. The world uses us as an example of where multiculturalism works, but the world is wrong. We have a great divide which we simply refuse to admit.

 I remember school days when I was a little kid. I was very tall and skinny. Teachers at the beginning of the year used to send me to sit in the back of the class for that reason. I was not allowed to play physical games since I had health issues requiring surgeries and my mom believed that I would die if I chased a ball or did any strenuous physical activity. Teenage came and the lack of physical activity and muscles became a critical issue. Unknown to me, life was setting me up for the mating period of my life. Physical appearance also was an important aspect of how life would be, what kind of jobs I would be able to do and more. The way I talked and dressed unjustly classified me as a candidate for future success or failure.

Now I am considered old and I look back at what happened. One blessing I thank the Lord for is my somewhat unusual ability to remember things that happened at a very early age. I am surprised to learn that I was building myself up every step of the way. I remember choosing to arch my back and slouch since the teacher placed me at the back of the class. I remember considering how I should walk and an adult telling me not to “eyeball him”. For the rest of my life, I have been avoiding staring into someone's eyes which in our culture is considered avoiding eye contact. So much of who we are is based on the way we accumulate information and assimilate it into who we are.

Being born human determines our overall shape and characteristics. Our race gives us other major features and genetics do more refinement. However, a very strong force is exerted by the environment. Evolution is at work to make us adapt to factors like the weather, working conditions, available food supply, or even likes and dislikes and what we may consider attractive. It all leaves a mark on us. Our overall economic situation determines our reaction time, feelings about what is just or unjust, the strength of family commitment and a lot of aspects which may be interpreted as racial or cultural characteristics.

A human being accumulates information from the moment of birth till the last moment of life. The information is translated into both physical appearance and mental capacity. You may say, who would want to be deformed in some way or possibly suffer a mental disorder, but we some times do. You figure out what you think people want from you and do it. Rare are the conditions that happen without your choice. I like to say that God is always watching and listening, more than we think. Some people call it the subconscious brain.

Some of us have or had jobs where we had to go into meeting rooms, often to talk to a crowd of people. If you are like me you will remember stopping just before the door and deciding who you will be today. We do it since we are aware that we project an image which will have consequences on getting what we want. Just observe the behavior of teens meeting other teens they are attracted to and take notes.  

When we reach the age of about six or seven, most of our life long decisions are made and the basic person that we will project to the world is formed. By the time I went to school the major decisions had been made and later I was reacting and making adjustments. My basic form and most of my ideas were modeled on my parents and a few other influential people in my life.

I often think, who am I? It's not easy but I dismiss the notion that I am the form I see in the mirror. It is a construct which was formed by nature and shaped by what I collected and assimilated. Did you ever notice that many big families have an individual who is less strong and everyone takes care of him/her? Remember Tim in the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens?

 

Slowly but surely humankind is beginning to change from jungle animals to something else. Body types and racial features matter less and even gender is less of an issue. Physical strength is diminishing in importance and the species is transforming to a higher state. We see it when a Sudanese little woman is on the news commenting about politics.

 I once watched a movie that was a true piece of art. The story was about a young man who struggled to discover who he was and express it in a poem. In the end, he manages to come up with one true sentence. “We are the stories we tell ourselves.”

 

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

https://cdn-prod.opendemocracy.net/media/images/Sudan_1.max-760x504.png

Woman at a street protest in Khartoum, Sudan 2019.

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Photo courtesy of Noor Ali.

 

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Elections, never ending.


Elections, never ending.

 

Alberta, my home for more than fifty years, is nearing elections. Signs show up, and advertising is wasting more money than I lived on for the last fifty years, but the people are not very concerned. Life will not change regardless of the outcome. Most of those I ask have stock answers. Most people have a party that they proclaim loyalty to just as they do for a favorite professional sports team which they will support even if all the players and coaching staff were changed. They will do so even while admitting that it's illogical. Many more say that they do not vote since all the politicians lie and a change in government will make no difference to their lives.

There are 22 countries, including Australia, where voting in elections is mandated by law and I am not sure that they are wrong.

There are some people who vote because they “like” or “dislike” a politician and every now and then will vote for a change, regardless of what is happening. The reasons often are trivial.

Quebec recently voted out a government that brought them the most prosperity ever and replaced it with a party that promised to force a few Muslim women not to wear a religious headdress in government-controlled areas. One or two women teachers will lose their jobs. Ontario is a different story.

Ontario picked Doug Ford who ran without a real platform and promised anything that people wanted to hear without any idea if it could be achieved. His most potent attack on the government was criticizing the sale of half of the power company to private interest which hiked prices.

In less than a year he managed to achieve the lowest ratings of any premier ever and the province is witnessing protests and job losses such as no one remembers.  According to the Globe and Mail, hundreds of renewable Energy projects were scrapped, programs for school maintenance discarded, Green Ontario program for insulating older homes discontinued, the 19 year Drive Clean program gone, finance to help disabled and autistic kids slashed, help for low-income students gone, the building of a new Francophone University scrapped, and more. Class sizes increased, fewer jobs for new teachers, Health Care became less accountable to the people but “The buck a Beer” came through only benefitting out of Province breweries.

Ford’s attempt to hire his friend ex-policeman Ron Taverner as the Top Cop failed and the tax cuts for Corporations failed to produce the expected jobs. As a matter of fact, last December Moody’s Investor Services downgraded its rating for Ontario to its lowest level in 16 years.

The fight to scrap the Federal Carbon Price “Carbon Tax” proved to be costly. The Ontario Government budgeted 30 million to fight in court, which they will probably lose and 40 million dollars was granted to major polluting industries to find ways to reduce pollution. So far Ontario is on the news a lot, but not the way that Ontarians want to be.

I watched the Alberta leaders debate and came out empty handed. I already knew that Premier Rachel Notley is a fighter and knew that Jason Kenney, who avoided the subject of Pipelines while he was in Ottawa, will promise one without any ability to build it. His promise to hold transfer payments is completely impossible and there was nothing in the debate to change my views. If I was in power I would do my best to work with Ottawa to get our oil out which is already being done. We must keep in mind that the mood in the rest of Canada (or the world) is not in favor of building more oil infrastructure. With oil prices sustained so low, it is hard to convince people to invest for such low returns.

Personally, I think that if there is a change in the Alberta government we can kiss the new pipeline goodbye.  

I don’t believe for a moment that the fight against Carbon Tax is going to get us anywhere. We shut down oil production because of low crude prices and we are paying over a $1.20 at the pump. The oil companies are going to charge the maximum they can and, yes, prices of everything are going to rise. If we subsidize them, and we do, cut their taxes and even name our children after them, they will pocket the money. Our only hope, at this time, is to build enough alternative energy to compete with their monopoly on energy which we are addicted to.

I don’t think that I can change anyone’s mind about who to vote for. Most people are set in their ways. I think that is important that all the people in the province will attempt to find out what the political parties stand for, and vote. I think that people should give strong consideration to what will or not work for their communities, towns, cities and take into account which government will be best for their locals. I am over the old feeling that I used to have that if big business does well the average people also do. Now I am old and I demand cash on the barrel.

You want my vote, politicians, I want to see what you are doing for my community. Build something, help the less fortunate, improve living conditions, or convince me with more than promises that you may not keep. Even more, I want you, my elected representative, to do your job efficiently, honestly and without any backroom deals with rich corporate friends. I don’t consider corporations as people and I don’t feel sorry for them.

Above all, I will not support ANYONE who cheats their way to the top. I am loyal, to the people I live with and no one else. I want to see more money circulating in my community and that’s the end of the story.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Where would we have been if…




Where would we have been if…

Often in life, we look at our situation and complain. We remember a better time or see others enjoying things we don’t have, and we lament. I wish I was healthier, younger, richer or whatever else could have given me more joy, but I am not. Human nature is unique that way. People don’t often go through an exercise of counting their blessings and being grateful for what they have

Our political system is built to force us to reflect every four years or so on the way we are doing things. There is a gambler in our nature whispering, “bet another time and maybe you will win.” We can bet or make informed choices. We have been so often lied to, that most of us choose to boycott elections, leaving the choice to others.

I’d like to advocate fully informed participation, based on knowledge of what is important to us and those we care about. Let's look at the most important aspects. Regardless of party names, which are misleading, there are only a few options for governing a country or a province which is like a country within a country.

If we wish to have a government, we must give it the power to set up rules or laws, control economic conditions, provide services and keep it all going by taxing us. Since we are participating, we must have ways to dictate how our taxes will be used, in legislating, setting programs, and we need to enforce the laws. It costs money.  Now we have a problem deciding what is the role that we wish our government to play, and how much. I can tell you what I like, but you must decide on your own what you believe is important and vote to make it happen.

I am not a big spender and I always pay my bills. Nevertheless, my first concern is not to have a government which champions austerity. I have seen it many times. In times of need, a government comes in and reduces services, social programs, and public projects. All the people who depend on such are thrown out to compete for unavailable jobs, they reduce their expenditures causing others also to have no income, and the economy grinds to a halt. People try to escape by migrating to other places, and long-lasting damage occurs. The government tries to bring in business by reducing business taxes but the businesses pocket the money and find other locations where the economy is more lucrative.

I look at the little towns and imagine how would we fare if hospitals and schools reduced staff, if government offices cut costs, senior centers were not built and road construction would be delayed. I look at the nearest city and consider how we would be affected if new public projects were not built and people who receive help from government programs would be impoverished. I consider where the extra money from higher minimum wages is spent. I try to figure out how my community would be if seniors benefits were reduced and people with disabilities would depend on philanthropy to exist.

There is a possibility that a new government would be better equipped to build a new oil pipeline to export to oversupplied markets, but jobs for building it would not last long. I could benefit from the removal of “the hated Carbon Tax,” and save two or three hundred dollars a year, but it is designed to reduce pollution which is causing other big problems.

I am not a farmer but I am concerned about the level of moisture in the ground, more than about quick profit from oil. I want us to sell oil while people are still using it, but I don’t want to build pipelines to markets (China) that will not pay our price. China is getting oil from Venezuela, Iran, and Russia. I am very concerned about local money staying in the community to circulate and do its work. I see our kids leaving the rural communities so I hope that they will be replaced by new pioneers who are willing to work hard and keep our communities going into the future.

I try to guess which political party is better equipped to guide us into the future with the least damage to the Province and my community. We’ve known since the sixties that this day would come. Automation and overproduction were going to produce a situation where jobs would be scarce and people would still have to be fed. Service industries would become number one and manufacturing would decline. We began to plan for more recreational opportunities, shorter work weeks and longer periods of education and training which were supposed to be free or reasonable. The idea of earlier retirement took hold. Now the future we were predicting is here, and we must deal with it.

I am not an economic expert, just a regular guy. All I know is that if I don’t vote I have no right to complain. Right at this moment, I am not very happy with our Prime minister, but I can’t vote him out in a Provincial election.

My available choices are to cut taxes, mostly for international corporations, or to keep investing in all aspects of our daily lives and build a more diversified economy that will depend on our work, not only on exports of natural resources. We should have done it a long time ago.

Wishing that big business will save us is like wishing that I will be young again. They don’t have a reason to care, and they will not. I vote to help ourselves, pay our bills and be ready for a future without steam power, horsepower or oil. It's on the way.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Is there joy in life?



Nine Scientists Share Their Favorite Happiness Practices


Is there joy in life?

I spent a lifetime in the pursuit of safety and health. Saving lives have been a popular subject every since I can remember. We trained in saving people from accidents, in making safe places, healing, keeping people from any form of danger, including disease and dangerous habits. We educated people to lead a healthy lifestyle.  A big part of my job was to incorporate fun into doing healthy activities. The aim always was to prolong life at any cost.

Right along with my efforts others were making efforts to provide more food, improved transportation, offer recreational activities and better living conditions for the people we live with.  This was available often at the exclusion of others. In summary, we work all of our lives to prolong life and make it pleasant, but we always lose. In the end, everyone dies, and the others say, well, he or she lived a good life, or not. What does life consist of?

One can observe the big political debates of our time. I look at the last little while. There is a division in our society about the beginning of life. Should we or should we not allow abortions and how easy should it be to obtain them. Half of the people believe that it is a question of women being able to control their bodies while the other half sees abortions as the killing of unborn innocent babies. We have big debates about suicides also. Should we save people from ending their lives or should we let them do what they wish?

Many of us try to deal with life through a hazy lens of participating in intoxicating addictions. Life is going on in the same manner that it always did, but the individual gains false confidence from the use of a chemical which numbs the senses. I view it as cheating the brain.

What is life for most people? I see most people going to work each day grumbling about having to do it. People watch the clock to see when the day’s work is done and waiting eagerly for Friday when the work week is done. Kids go to school with the same attitude. They grumble about time spent in structured pre-determined activity and look forward to doing their thing.

People of past generations had to perform many tasks that we no longer do. Some of our parents and grandparents chopped wood, hauled water, made soap, sowed or knitted clothes and I can go on forever. When people began renting their lifetime for a paycheque, intellectuals wrote to the papers complaining about the loss of freedom.

Life is not a journey from the cradle to the grave. What people want from life is a very important question, central to our being. What happened in the past is mostly irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what we are doing now and how it will affect us from now onwards.

Some never realized that we live in a country where more people die from overeating than from lack of food, and eat their way to death. Others try to hide from life by playing games or inventing “make busy” projects. I know so many people who are afraid to exchange ideas or be politically incorrect so they meet others and immediately start playing games. Even worst, they discuss other people playing games and submerge themselves into “teams” which have nothing to do with them.

Often you may see a team, let's say hockey, which is “owned” by an individual from another place, playing in some city. Most or all of the players are from other places. Yet people from that city and surrounding areas talk as if they are playing the game. Someone in a town in southern Alberta is cheering when the Calgary Flames score a goal and shouting, “we scored” and crying when an opposing team scored blaming them for cheating.

We have a life but what is the point? Is it to consume? Do I have more pleasure from a “Big Gulp” than I used to get from a “regular size drink?” Am I less fulfilled if I don’t tell all my friends that I have spent a month in a tropical tourist trap last winter? I truly don’t think so.

Life is still what it always been. It is a day in which I am aware that I exist, regardless of how much services and goods I was able to consume. If I live begrudging the past, blaming it for my misfortunes, I live in misery. If I live a day trying to protect myself from all the unpleasant possible happenings that I observed others suffer, I have a sad existence. I can spend the day of life unhappily and go to sleep expecting another miserable day tomorrow, and it will happen. Most of life takes place in our heads and is a reflection of our thoughts.

Another option is available to me freely. I get pleasure from caring for others. Making others feel good, have safe lives, be healthy and enjoy whatever possible, gives me more pleasure than taking care of myself and watching others suffer. I know that there are people who enjoy winning more than helping. Those are my natural enemies and I make an effort to ignore or stop them.

I honestly believe that there are more of us who get pleasure from loving than from winning. We have been fighting about this for 2019 years or more, and I think that the balance has shifted. I watch news from around the world and I see the people who worship selfishness lie, cheat and lose. Those who care outnumber them.

Anyone who wonders what is the meaning of life can work on having a good life, but will only be fulfilled when all have a good life. If we wish to have real happiness, we must achieve it for all people and the world we live in.

Another bloody D Day could happen, or worst.

Another bloody D Day could happen, or worst. I grew up with those who fought and survived the last “Great” war. The only people I kne...