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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.

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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

 


Demonstrating the incredibly powerful influence of his office, the Donald’s tweet threats about slapping tariffs on cars coming from Mexico into the USA has no doubt had a major impact on Ford Motor Co’s decision to quash development of a $1.6B manufacturing plant in northern Mexico. There go a few thousand Mexican jobs. There will be others. Many others, as US companies revisit their development plans in Mexico and shut down existing facilities to ward off the wrath of the White House and Congress and the Senate. So while the Donald tweets on about the primacy of US jobs and the need to “make America great again” you have to wonder how thoroughly he thinks these things thru. If he’s broadcasting now about the horrible impact of illegal aliens in the United States, and the loss of American jobs because of these nasty alien Mexicans, I wonder what impact closure of plants in Mexico will have, given the Donald’s fear mongering about illegals and the loss of American jobs. You think there might be a slight increase in migration from Mexico across the Rio Grande when thousands and thousands of Mexicans are thrown out of work? Oh, yeah, I forgot! The Donald is building a wall to keep them out! So he has thought this through. And he’s going to force all those unemployed Mexicans to build it, and get the Mexican government to pay for it. What a brilliant leader.


Malic acid.  Titanium dioxide.  Brilliant blue FCF.  Allura red.  Sunset yellow.  Carbon dioxide.  Carnauba wax.

Sound like ingredients in making car wax or paint.   Or perhaps some metal working industrial process to chrome plate steel.  Titanium dioxide!  Really?  I suspect  a full Hazmat suit would be recommended when handling that.   Our kids are gorging on titanium dioxide.  That can’t be good for you.  Carnauba wax?  Why not just grab a spoonful of Dad’s car wax to satisfy that sugar craving?  These are just some of the ingredients I read off candy wrappers.  Oh yeah.  The sugars.  Corn syrup.  Sugar.  Sorbitol.  Glucose.  Dextrose.  How many sugars or substitutes are out there?  The most perplexing and bizarre ingredient was carbon dioxide?  In candy!  Whoever heard of such nonsense?  CO2 in candy.  Is that not the stuff we are trying to eliminate from our atmosphere?  The ingredient that is responsible for accelerating climate change.  How on earth does CO2 have a place in candy?  Mind boggling!  Is it any wonder our kids are developing strange and never before seen health problems?   We are living in precarious times and the future does not at all seem very bright.  So before your kids get to the bottom of their pillowcase stuffed with Halloween haul, have a look at what they are ingesting.  It better blow your mind, because if it does not, it will surely blow theirs.