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The Saudi Arabian state owned oil company Aramco is planning an initial stock offering for 5% of the company. They plan to raise $US 100 billion which, do the math, values the company at $2 trillion!! Now why would a country already awash in oil revenue even think about doing an IPO? Here’s what I think. Aramco does not need the cash infusion. The Saudis are looking 50 years down the road. They see a world moving more and more toward clean energy and away from oil. It’s happening all around us. Many countries have already declared their intention to ban combustion engines in automobiles and go electric. The shift is already happening.  Look at Tesla and its phenomenal growth.  And oil resources are finite. Sooner or later the billions and billions of barrels beneath Saudi sand will disappear. It is estimated that Saudi oil reserves will be exhausted in 70 years. So will the $120 billion per year in oil revenue. The Saudis are thinking let’s milk this cow for all its worth today, while we still have massive oil reserves. They reap a $100 billion windfall, give up a marginal slice of their state oil company and go laughing all the way to the bank. They build their cash reserves at the expense of us poor suckers in the west who think we are getting in on a good deal! And a couple years from now they will likely sell off another 5% for another $100 billion. And so on, effectively doubling their revenues while giving up very little. By the time everything is expensed on Aramco’s income statement, how much do you think will be left for those suckers who bought into the IPO? Your money will fund the future growth and prosperity of Saudi Arabia and its citizens. Don’t fall for this ruse. Keep your money in play in your own country!

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“The mass of citizens plays a passive, quiescent part, responding only to the signals given them. The most popular politicians are those who succeed in altering the script and reframing the debate – in other words, those who can bend the media to their will. With sortiton, you do not ask everyone to vote on an issue few people really understand, but you draft a random sample of the population and make sure they come to grips with the subject matter in order to make a sensible decision.”

That quote came from a Guardian News article my son sent to me.  So true.  Look how Trump is bending the media thru his inane tweets.  And how many citizens who do vote, really have a solid grasp of issues?  I suspect that very few do.  Our elections in the western world come down to popularity contests.  Who is the most photogenic?  Who has the best grasp of social media to “bend” it to “their will”?  Who’s gone door to door and shaken the most hands?  Who’s kissed the most babies?    In effect then, who has been in the public eye the most, in the few short weeks leading up to the election?  There is your eventual winner.  Not the guy or gal who has a grasp of the issues and a plan to deal with them.  No, it ends up being the loudest who wins.

Sortition is a concept that makes so much sense.  We should investigate this option and implement it.


I’ve been following the stories on Madison Project in Toronto and the parallel efforts to save Estonian House for some time now. It is unfortunately eerily deja vu. It’s like we have not learned anything from growing up in a community that used to work together for common objective. Instead of emulating the Jews who have an admirable knack for putting aside personal and political differences when it comes to strengthening and growing their community, it seems that Estonians (in the West) today have a propensity to do whatever it takes to stop progress and live in the past. As much as I have enjoyed the Broadview Avenue Estonian House and all it has done to preserve Eestlus, it is an edifice and mindset that represents a pagulas history that no longer exists. Except in the minds of a large sector of the Eesti community who seem to want to continue living in the past. And the language of this discussion is at times so silly and bizarre it makes me roll my eyes. It’s time to take a risk folks and project this community into the 21st century. Yes I agree, the Madison Project is rife with unanswered questions and potentially crippling roadblocks. But to comfortably sit on our past achievements is to deny the future. Look at Eesti today folks. Do you think our homeland got to be the envy of Europe by living in the past and obsequiously caving in to potential and real threat from the big bear on its border? No. They have even at times thumbed their nose at Putin and his cronies and barged ahead because they know that those who live in the past are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past. We should emulate homeland Estos and take example from their incredible risk taking achievements. Estos invented Skype! The present day fibre optic infrastructure project for the entire country, even rural areas. Obviously you can never forget the past and should forever celebrate and mourn its watershed moments. But it is time to think big folks. Time to take a risk. Time to move forward. Be an Estonian and make your children proud. Make yourself proud. The people at the helm of Madison Project are not stupid. They are approaching this with intelligence and a forward thinking energy that is sadly missing from the cadre of folk who insist on living in the past. Eesti Maja was a grand achievement for pagulas Eestlus. But that’s history. Let’s forge a new history. Together.


How appropriate, ironic and frankly a little scary, that President Trump appoints the wife of a fellow billionaire Kentucky coal miner, as our ambassador. Let’s start an American oligarchy, and there is no other word for it. Except maybe medieval feudal system of barons and serfs. We ridicule the Russians for their path, yet look at how America is changing. Coal barons. Oil barons. Hotel barons. The medieval feudal caste system of life, so long ago rejected by our compassionate forefathers, is now being returned by King Donald. He is surrounding himself with fellow cronies and members of the billionaires club. No more doubt about it. America is ruled by the King and his courtiers. Blind allegiance to the king is the order of the day. Question his judgment, offer anything other than parroting answers, and you will be banished. And the irony in this? It is those very same coal miners, and I mean the guys who go underground and dig up the rock, who voted Donald Trump into power. He rode a crest of blue collar angst and disenfranchisement all the way to the White House. And now he is insulating himself with a surrounding cast of fellow business types and money bags. God Bless America. Thank God I live in Canada.

Hannah Arendt and Trump


With apologies to the author who penned this assessment of Hannah Arendt, could not find your name again to give due credit.
Thanks to my son for bringing this marvelous philosopher back to mind. Her take on mind and matter so fits today’s political narrative. Yeah. You know who I’m talking about. Him. The Donald. The President. So divest yourself for the foreseeable future of any preconceived notion about how politics works, or how nations interact. Or for that matter, even how we fit into the dynamic. It really is a brave new world. We’re living it, creating the narrative without any familiar reference point.

It follows, for Arendt, that political philosophy has a fundamentally ambiguous role in its relation to political experience, insofar as its conceptual formulations do not simply articulate the structures of pre-reflective experience but can equally obscure them, becoming self-subsistent preconceptions which stand between philosophical inquiry and the experiences in question, distorting the phenomenal core of experience by imposing upon it the lens of its own prejudices.

Herein lies the basis of Arendt’s quarrel with Hegel and Marx, for to define politics or the unfolding of history in terms of any teleology or immanent or objective process is to deny what is central to authentic human action, namely, its capacity to initiate the wholly new, unanticipated, unexpected, unconditioned by the laws of cause and effect.

“One could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.” – Hannah Arendt, “The Origins of Totalitarianism”

Trump has pushed this approach to new extremes; even though there are more fact-checkers than ever dedicated to exposing his blatant lies, the president’s cunning tactic is to discredit these reports as coming from the established, “dishonest” media. Meanwhile, his movement’s beliefs are backed by widely available alternative sources.

Twitter and Trump


Were it not for the disturbing malice in President Trump’s tweets, I’d say his social media commentary is charmingly naive. I’m not sure if it is the 140 character maximum allowed by Twitter that is distorting my view, or if in fact the President’s command of English is indeed at a grade 10 schoolboy level. I lean toward the latter conclusion. When a president uses terminology like “dudes” and “bad people” it reveals a mind that simply cannot grasp a more articulate phrasing. He seems to write whatever pops into his head, without any thought as to the potential consequence or interpretation of his words. Unlike you or I, the leader of the world’s most powerful and influential country would surely understand that his thoughts and actions are subject to analysis and reprint the world over. Every city from Albacore to Zagreb will look at what he has to say, and decide how his words will impact on them. But so far, a mere 15 days into his presidency, I see a man whose actions are motivated only by some kind of petulant grievance against anybody and everybody who has wronged him. He set up to undertake certain actions a long time ago, and nothing will change his course. It’s my way or the highway is a credo that seems to govern his every move. That might be a successful strategy for Vladimir Putin, but what President Trump has not yet understood is this. He is President in a democracy! He is still answerable to the people. And even if it takes another 4 years, the people can decide at some point that his style and simplistic viewpoint is not at all representative of their wishes. Unlike his counterpart in Russia, President Trump cannot manipulate everybody around him, including his military, to either agree or be fired, or worse yet as Putin has demonstrated, be terminated, quite literally terminated. Or can he? And unless he starts to demonstrate something other than oligarchic autocratic governing, the damage he can wreak in those four years is enough to completely destabilize and ruin our world. (And yet another part of me holds out hope that he will actually effect positive change with his straight ahead, damn the torpedoes style, but that is a subject for another essay.) So Mr. President, stop the tweets. They make you look silly. The President of the United States of America does not have to resort to social media commentary to be heard. Your world is not in cyberspace, reacting to and exchanging insults with the twitter world. I understand that it is an effective way to circumvent media, but dude, it is not presidential. Be a president, not a blogger.


Sad when issues like doing the smart thing and saving your life have to be mandated by government.  Have we become so brain dead about preserving our health, that we can no longer be relied upon to make decisions about our own bodies?  Apparently so.  Perhaps it is time to push thru class action law suits against Redpath and other sugar purveyors for decades of misleading and false claims about the adverse health impacts of sugar.  We did it to tobacco.  Why not sugar?

No more refills: France makes it illegal for restaurants, schools to offer unlimited soft drinks