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Short track speed skating is the on ice equivalent of NASCAR auto racing. Oval racing, round and round. See how much speed you can safely carry into the corners so you sling shot out onto the straight away. Pass the guy in front. A little bumping and jockeying for position. Spectacular wipe-outs. The similarities really are profound. Imagine the cross over marketing and merchandising opportunities if the two disciplines were to do a joint effort. NASCAR may think they do not need short track skating, but considering the popularity of short track in non NASCAR countries like S. Korea, France, even China, the potential for additional auto racing fans is enormous. And it would be a funky kind of collaboration.

The sportsmanship shown by the German 2 man bobsleigh team after Canada tied their cumulative time for a gold medal tie was joyous to view. The Germans jumped on the track and celebrated their co-win without any selfish motive. These guys were truly happy to share a gold medal with Canada. I like to think that the bobsleigh athletes are like rugby athletes. Pound each other on the field during competition, no holds barred, but when the game is over we’ll meet in the local for a pint and have a blast reviewing the game!  And our pilot’s shout out to his first driving coach Pierre Lueders, who 20 years ago won Canada’s only other gold medal in 2 man, also in a dead heat to the hundredths of a second!!  Now that’s a show of Canadian values and honor.

Enjoy the rest of the Olympic games. Go Canada!

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As much as I applaud the recent wave of allegations and stories of sexual misconduct perpetrated by members of my gender, some dating back decades, it is very disturbing how the ‘metoo’ movement is looking more and more like McCarthyism from the 1950’s. It is worth reading the following quote from Wikipedia. The parallels are eerie and should be cause for backing off a little and reassessing where this entire accusatory hysteria is going. The most recent victim of this j’accuse assault is the leader, since resigned, of Ontario’s PC party. His downfall brought about by nameless, faceless teenage accusers from a long time ago. Read and reflect.

“McCarthyism has taken on a broader meaning, describing the excesses of similar efforts. The term is also now used more generally to describe reckless, unsubstantiated accusations, as well as demagogic attacks on the character or patriotism of political adversaries. During the McCarthy era, hundreds of Americans were accused of being communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private industry panels, committees and agencies. The primary targets of such suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and labor union activists. Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person’s real or supposed leftist associations or beliefs was sometimes exaggerated. Many people suffered loss of employment or destruction of their careers; some even suffered imprisonment. Most of these punishments came about through trial verdicts later overturned, laws that were later declared unconstitutional, dismissals for reasons later declared illegal or actionable or extra-legal procedures that would come into general disrepute.”

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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Syrian immigration


This intense focus on Syrian refugees is quite extraordinary. Our media is saturated with coverage, our social welfare agencies are all preparing for the influx of immigrants. Hundreds of millions of dollars is being allocated to establish support systems. Canada will also be providing psychological support to assist potential PTSD sufferers from Syria. How times have changed! When my parents fled their Baltic homelands during WW II and spent a few years in displaced persons camps (yesterday’s version of refugee camps?) prior to immigrating to Canada, they found no such help from government. They fled from horrors of war and atrocities committed by both Nazis and Communists that were surely comparable to anything suffered by today’s Syrians. The Baltic peoples established their own ethnic community networks and assisted each other. And as far as I can recall, every one of my parents’ generation found employment, bought houses with their own savings, became naturalized citizens and lived full and fruitful lives in Canada. Yes, I understand the necessity for intensive screening to ensure that not one terrorist enters our country, but is all this frenzy of activity really needed to ensure that Syrians adapt to their newly adopted homeland? How about allocating some of those hundreds of millions of dollars to our First Nations communities? They have been here for generations yet continue to be ignored by our government while struggling thru poverty and outrageous boil water advisories. Is it noble to offer such abundant assistance to strangers when your own people continue to suffer?

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