Friday, January 13, 2017

A Viewers Guide to Mass Shootings

There's an old adage that says that it's an ill wind that blows no good. In other words, events have to be pretty terrible if nobody is advantaged.  And so it is with terrorist or mass shooting attacks, where executives at all the major news channels wait impatiently (yet silently) for the next suicide bombing, mass shooting, bomb or runaway truck in order to take advantage of the public's gruesome interest, which can goose ratings by a factor of up to eight.

As in real estate, location, location, location is what counts. The closer to home the attack, the higher the interest and that fact even trumps the number of casualties.
Of course attacks in the United States are number one in ratings, but surprisingly Canada rates highly, even for American networks.
CNN went live with wall to wall coverage of the shooting run of the lone nut case in Ottawa, who led police on a merry chase across Parliament Hill after killing one soldier before being shot to death himself.
As attacks go, it was relatively tiny affair with just one victim, but the coverage was huge!
(By the way, I say the above with respect to the family of the victim, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, whose family certainly view the event differently)

And so North American incidents get huge coverage, Europe second, after which things fade rather quickly. Here is my impromptu list of importance in terms of media attention.

5 Stars; North America
4 Stars;. Western Europe/Australia/New Zealand
3 Stars; Israel/Russia/Turkey/China
2 Stars; India / Africa / Asia
0 Stars; Last and certainly of the least interest to the media is a terrorist act in any Muslim country where there are so many attacks that the media doesn't even consider it news.
In the few days following the Fort Lauderdale attack, over 100 people were killed in terrorist attacks in Muslim countries and not once did North American news channels deem it useful to cut to live reporting.

At any rate, here are things you might consider when tuning into coverage of the next terrorist or mass shooting incident on TV.
News anchors who seem eminently competent, clever and up to date when reading from teleprompters, melt into the blithering idiots that most of them are in real life, when faced with ad-libbing real time events.
I offer for example the dimmest of the dim, Wolf Blitzer of CNN who could probably not compete with high schoolers on Jeopardy.
On his two appearances on that quiz show he made quite the fool of himself unable to answer the simplest of questions. Watch this short video, cringe and remember that he is responsible for analyzing and telling what is going on in a mass shooting situation.

When it comes to providing us we fair and responsible reporting Wolf, along with Anderson Cooper (another Jeopardy failure)  and other talking heads fail miserably, their off the cuff commentary punctuated by wild speculation, false reports and information that turns out to be dead wrong, breaking just about every journalistic and broadcast standard.
For example, the last major mass shooting incident in Fort Lauderdale had every single network telling us that shooter arrived aboard a Canadian flight with a checked hand gun in his luggage.
I almost fell out of my sofa  laughing at the stupidity of the idea. Did anyone at any of the news organizations have a clue about Canadian gun laws?
This false reporting went on for hours, long after Canadian airlines vehemently denied that the shooter arrived on a Canadian flight or had any connection to Canada at all.
This type of nonsense reporting goes on all the time during live coverage of unfolding events, so as an informed viewer, it is prudent to ignore or at least view skeptically what is being said in the heat of the moment.

Inevitably shortly after the shooting incident occurs and after the perpetrator is killed or captured, panicked bystanders will invariably report another sighting of a second or even third fictitious shooter, sending police into a frenzy and news channels into overdrive.
This happens every time, I mean it, every time, despite the fact that in the eight years of the Obama administration where there were about 200 mass shootings where more than four people died, only 13 were terrorist acts with only two of those involving two perpetrators (San Bernadino and the Boston marathon bombing.)
In the Ottawa attack, at least two other shooters were declared, long after the actual killer was taken down. At Dawson college up to five gunmen were reported. Of course there was only one as was the case in Fort Lauderdale and in just about every mass shooting in North America.

For this mistake you might blame panic and frayed nerves and sometimes even the actions of the police themselves. In Montreal's Dawson College attack plain clothed policemen with drawn guns running down the street were quite understandably confused and reported as bad guys.

Israel, much more familiar with terrorism and mass shooting have figured out a solution to the problem.
Plain-clothed police and security officers keep a fold-up hat in their pocket, which in times of need are popped on the head, clearly defining the wearer as good guys.
How's that for a two-dollar solution!

Another thing news coverage won't ever comment upon is the police reaction to the incident or lack thereof.
Now police react in a timely and efficient manner most of the time, but certainly not always. But when police do screw up, the media usually reacts with stony silence, for whatever reason which I cannot fathom.
Take for example the dismal performance of the Orlando police in the mass shooting incident that killed 50 and injured 53 at the Pulse nightclub last June.
In the best take down I've read, it is a humble blogger who best described the Orlando police incompetence or cowardice.
Read the aptly headlined: When seconds counted, the police were only three hours away.

It was the mass shooting at École Polytechnique  in Montreal in 1989 that has become the textbook example of what police should not do in a mass shooting.  Back then, when police arrived on the scene they set up a perimeter, waiting for SWAT to arrive while the killer was calmly shooting his victims inside the school.
It seemed that Orlando police followed that same protocol with disastrous effect.
At least the Montreal police learned their lesson and redeemed themselves at the Dawson college incident, seventeen years later where two passing patrol officers bravely rushed into the school pursued and confronted the shooter, effectively ending the rampage, when the shooter committed suicide rather than face the police. Sadly one student was killed but it was the superb reaction by police which averted a larger disaster.  BRAVO!

For those of you thinking that we amateurs can't judge police actions, I am reminded of the comedian who told a heckler that he didn't need a pilot's license to know that the pilot who crashed his helicopter into a tree, screwed up bigt ime.
A long tradition in mass shootings is the vast over-reaction by police. Long after the scene has been secured, the shooter captured or killed, police continue to lock down the scene for hours with hundreds of heavily armed police sequestering bystanders, an action akin to closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.

Terrorist versus Nutcase
With every mass shooting, news channels immediately raise the spectre of terrorism simply because it makes for much bigger ratings.
Of the 372 mass shootings (yes, more than one a day) in the United States in 2016, only four can be attributed to terrorism and of those terrorist acts , none included a second perpetrator.
In fact during Obama's entire eight year term only two of the fourteen terrorist acts included a second assailant.
It is important to understand that when an American Christian conducts a mass shooting, terrorism is never suggested, but when a Muslim is the shooter, terrorism and jihad is always evoked, even though motives are sometimes more complicated.
So when you flip the TV on in response to a mass shooting in America, it is safe to assume it is the act of a deranged person and not a terrorist, despite what the news channels are hinting at.

To sum up it might be convenient to remember a few things about mass shootings/ terror attacks.
  1. If the shooting happens in North America, there's a 98% chance it is the act of a deranged individual.
  2. If the shooting happens in North America, reports of mystery second shooters are almost always false. There is about  only about 1 chance in 90 that there is a second shooter.
  3. Terrorists don't generally use guns. Real terrorists go for mass casualties.
  4. Not all Muslim shooters are terrorists, some are just nut cases even when they invoke jihadi language.
  5. The police will always over-react.
  6. Early reports on CNN and other news channels will invariably contain a wealth of false information.
And with that, perhaps you can watch coverage of the next mass shooting with a practised and critical eye.
I would hope that you wouldn't have to put in practice what you might have learned here, but statistics predict that the next mass shooting is due tomorrow...

Friday, January 6, 2017

Trump May Become Greatest American President Ever

Let's get something straight.
Donald Trump is an asshole, a vindictive, mean-spirited S.O.B, a misogynist and a liar with an abnormal ego and nasty temperament.
He is the direct opposite of the charming and diplomatic Barak Obama and for the majority of Americans as frightening figure as ever to grace the White House.

But likeable as he is, Obama will probably go down in history as one of the least effective and most damaging Presidents ever, so a pleasing personality does not necessarily make for a great leader and conversely, a nasty demeanour doesn't necessarily make for a bad leader.

Perhaps our fears about Donald Trump based on his not so likeable personality are misguided and that he may well become an entirely effective leader and even perhaps, a great leader, doing exactly what he promised, that is restoring American world preeminence.

What would lead me to make a prediction that Trump will be more than a fine President?

Well, if these last two months of the run-up to the Presidency are a forecast of what's to come, I daresay America will be well-served.

Trump has already done more good for the country than Obama in all his eight years.

He has started by frightening companies into re-considering sending jobs and building factories out of the country. Of course the pundits and media have reminded us that Trump wasn't really responsible for those jobs saved, but the issue of companies exporting jobs is now a hot topic and those guilty companies understand that they will be shamed mercilessly and will perhaps face a consumer boycott and even perhaps loss of government contracts.
At least Trump is trying and at least he cares and I'm betting he'll succeed in his attempt to preserve jobs in America through bullying and perhaps legislation.
Did Obama ever lift a finger to protect American jobs? 

Trump has lived his business life by his own simple credo of "What's in it for me," and will transfer this ideology to "What's in it for America"  when he becomes President, a refreshing reset in foreign and domestic policy where friend and foe will have to understand and deal with an American president who will ruthlessly pursue America's selfish interest.

Trump's much-maligned  mantra of "Make America great again," struck a chord with voters, who unlike the media understood that America has flown off the rails these last thirty years, where both Republican and Democratic White Houses have overseen the gradual decline in American power and wealth. Hillary would represent the same old, same old, a continuation of disastrous polices both foreign and domestic.

Most importantly, Trump will pursue his single-minded reform attempts with pigheadedness and the confidence required to stand-up to the entrenched powers that be. He isn't a team player and comes to his own conclusions, much to the dismay of those who deem to run the country by divine right.
The CIA is now lecturing Trump over his skepticism over Russian hacking and it's good to see the President-elect show a level of distrust, even if the Russian hacking is true.
The media is moaning that Trump is ignoring good advice, but fail to acknowledge that the CIA more often than not gets things wrong, sometimes horribly so, as with the disastrous consequences as we saw in the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" debacle that lead to the meltdown of the Middle East and the displacement of three million people.
So it's good to see a President-elect tell the CIA, "Umm...not so fast, I'm not convinced.." because if George Bush had done the same, instead of blindly accepting CIA intelligence and advice, perhaps the Middle East would be a different and better place today.
This attitude, no doubt irks a lot of entrenched government and military leaders, but it is refreshing to see and all the media squawking about Trump not taking good advice should be measured by the historic record of that advice.

Trump would never have started a war over fake intelligence or backed rebel Arab forces against dictatorships in Syria and Egypt because it would run counter to his policy of doing what is best for America.
While one American president after another has sought foreign military adventures to disastrous effect, Trump has signalled that he's interested in solving America's problems at home, much to the consternation of those powerful forces that profit.

In fact Trump has opined that it's time for allies to pay their own defence and countries like South  Korea, Japan and indeed all of Europe will be forced to pay for any American defence umbrella provided, be it conventional or nuclear, again a policy that scares the bejesus out of beneficiaries, especially NATO which has been feeding off American largess since its creation.

Trump is also rightly identifying real threats to the United States, not those invented by the utterly hopeless policy wags at the State department.
Against this conventional advice, he believes that Russia is not the great enemy that the current establishment portray and on this he is dead right.
Putin has been wrongfully described by the Obama government as the reincarnation of Joseph Stalin, a cold-war devil to be feared and opposed, a portrayal that the media has lapped up and echoed.
This is because Putin has humiliated Obama in one file after another, having outplayed the American leader on just about every front.
The sad reality is that Putin has been on the right side of the issue in Ukraine and Syria and that Obama and the United States on the wrong side. The fact that Putin won the day makes him a reprehensible enemy in Obama's humiliated eyes, but not Trump's, who has signalled that he does not see Putin as an enemy at all. 

In regards to the State department, I pray Trump throws out the entire lot of idiots whom have led America down the wrong path on just about every single foreign policy, including Israel, Ukraine, Syria, Egypt, Iran and other files where America's position was either dead wrong, misguided or foolishly naive.
As for foreign policy, Trump's endorsement of Israel will have a positive effect on the middle east peace process because those wishing and planning for Israel's destruction will have their expectations crushed, perhaps leading to more realistic positions vis-a-vis peace..
Here again, Trump inherently understands that Obama's tilting to the Palestinian side brings no benefits or dividends to America and as such violates Trumps policy of doing what's good for America first and foremost.

I promise you that Iran won't test or humiliate Trump as it is doing presently to Obama in the ongoing harassment by small patrol vessels of US Navy ships in the Gulf.
You can bet that Trump's rules of engagement will dictate that any Iranian ship that threatens American vessels, even as a test, will be fired upon.
And the Iranians know it implicitly, so they won't even try.

Trump has promised a much-needed course correction, the old route touted by Hillary and the Washington establishment, an unmitigated disaster that many voters understood, something mainstream media did not.

But his real achievements will probably be on the domestic front where I have confidence in Trump's ability to effect real positive change, I offer the example of two little tweets that stopped Congress dead in its tracks over the self-serving bill proposed to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics.

 "Public outcry, opposition from ethics watchdog groups, a divided GOP, and two tweets from Trump critical of the rules change prompted a swift reversal of the proposal...." Link
Whomever says that his tweets are embarrassing or counter-productive are dead wrong, they are every bit as effective in transmitting the President's ideas and opinions as were FDR's fireside radio chats.
While the media makes fun of the tweets, friend and foe alike take notice and apparently so does Congress.

Trump has promised to bulldoze ahead on trade. He's made it clear that any agreement that does not benefit America will be torn up or re-negotiated, something every President since Carter failed to take issue with or action upon.
So countries like Canada and China are already trembling over the issue, because they know the trade advantage they enjoy is going out to be challenged by Trump and are reacting now to limit the damage.

While the trade imbalance between Canada and the United States is only $15 billion in Canada's favour (over $575 billion bilateral trade,) instead of pointing out the pittance, our panicked Prime Minister has already offered to re-negotiate NAFTA, the cross border free-trade agreement. Incredibly, this concession was offered by our frightened, deer-in-the-headlights Prime Minister, even before Trumps assumes office! That is the power of Trump.
With Justin as our leader, how do you think he'll measure up against Trump in those negotiations?

As for China, Trump has rightfully set a bulls-eye on the $375 billion trade imbalance in China's favour, a ruinous financial drain that has robbed America of its economic strength and built up a world class rival. If Trump takes any action to substantially reduce or eliminate the trade imbalance, America's economy can begin to return to its former greatness. Again, no recent American President ever faced down the issue of the Chinese trade imbalance and unfair trade practices. If Trump succeeds on this one issue, his presidency will be a resounding success.
And so China is absolutely apoplectic at Trump's ascension to the White House and with good reason. It is desperately pandering the line to anyone in the media that will listen that if Trump starts a trade war, both China and America will both be losers, an untruth that is a pathetic and vain attempt to frighten American exporters into convincing Trump to lay off.
Think it will work?

Trump's great advantage is his ego, his confidence, his disdain for others and his single-mindedness, traits that have made him successful in the past and many times, against all odds.

To finish I'd like to offer this off the cuff imaginary conversation that Trump might have had if he were the President back in 1982, on the eve of the first Gulf war where the United States came to the rescue of the Kuwait ruling family and restored the them to power after expelling and defeating the invading Iraqi troops of Saddam Hussein.

Let's listen in on the fictional phone conversation between President Donald Trump and the now exiled leader of Kuwait Emir Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who had fled to Saudi Arabia to operate a government in exile.
 Mr President, I beseech you to help us get rid the invading forces of Iraq and restore our family as the rightful rulers of our kingdom.
Hmm, not so fast.. Why should we help you, after all your country is a dictatorship, not so much different from Iraq?

 Mr President, again I beseech to help us. It is only fair and just and the United States has always been on the side of justice and freedom.

Tell you what. We'll get rid of Saddam's forces and restore your family to power, but under conditions.
First.... You're paying for the war. We'll send you a bill when it is over.
Second.... Any American killed in defence of Kuwait will results in a $3 million dollar insurance payment to the family. Same for permanently injured soldiers. All American service personal involved will receive a $50,000 danger pay bonus paid by your government
Third.... A permanent naval base on the Kuwaiti coast which will be under American jurisdiction à la Guantanamo Bay. 
Fourth... A 30% royalty on all oil sales for 50 years. 

 But...but Mr. President that is outlandish!  It is tantamount to blackmail. I cannot accept such a proposal!

It's called what's in it for me, the United States of America, you snivelling little dictator.
It's a take  it or leave it offer and it won't stay on the table long. 
If we don't come in to take out Saddam, nobody else will, so make up your mind.
And by the way, just so you know, we are in fact going to invade and remove Saddam one way or another, with or without you.  We can make a better deal with other members of your family who would love to take over from you.. Think about it.

 Okay, Mr. President I accept your terms. I have only one question... How soon can you come?
There's little doubt that Trump will take America out of its present comfort zone and that in and of itself is frightening to many who hate the idea of Trump as president.

To those of you who are perturbed, I ask that you put his personality aside and judge him by his deeds and accomplishments, which already are paying dividends.
You might be pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Proportional Voting...No Thank You!

Years ago I sat as a guest with a very politically savvy Jean Charest  in the opposition members gallery overlooking proceedings in the House of Commons. We had just had lunch in the Parliamentary Dining room where I was a bit surprised at how chummy members of opposite parties were.
At any rate Jean displayed  a razor-sharp mind and a flawless memory.
He was giving me a civics lesson in Parliamentary procedure and as each MP got up and spoke, offered a incisive and  pretty amazing critique using his prodigious memory and encyclopedic  knowledge of the issues.
I was duly impressed at the brain power, but came away asking myself "So what?"

Politicians ensconced in Ottawa for any period of time become lost in a world of politics for politics sake, and issues that mean absolutely nothing to average Canadians are debated, promoted, rejected and fought over as if it really mattered.

Such is the debate over proportional representation, an issue which the vast majority of Canadians have no interest in.
It occurred to me that the expensive undertaking by the government in asking Canadians for input on the issue is as useful as asking a vegetarian for a steakhouse recommendation.
I'd hazard a guess that 95% of Canadians could not tell you how many seats there are in the House of Commons and the Senate, plus the name of three Premiers of any of the provinces outside their own, or three cabinet Ministers.
Can you?
The reality is that the issue of proportional representation and what it entails is one for the politicians not the people, because most of us don't know what it is and don't care at all.

The idea of proportional representation is that seats in Parliament are accorded to some degree in direct relation with the total amount of votes received by each party.
Today we elect MPs and governments based on the 'first past the post' system, where whomever gets the most votes in a riding is elected to Parliament with the party with the most MPs forming the government.

Proportional representation seems much fairer, but as Trudeau and the Liberals found out, the devil is in the details.
Let's look at the 2011 election which Stephen Harper and the Conservatives won.
Here is a table of the actual seats won, the popular vote and the potential results if all the seats were allocated in proportion to the popular vote and in the last column, a hybrid system which combines both systems in a 50/50 split.

As you can see, when Justin Trudeau proposed a new electoral system in the last election campaign based on proportional voting, it seemed like a good idea for the Liberals, which would have seen their seat numbers go up.
But looking at the results of the last election, the Liberal would actually be impacted quite negatively by application of any proportional voting system.

Now you can understand why Trudeau is walking back on his pledge to implement a new voting system.

At any rate you easily see who are the winners in this new system, the fringe parties namely the Greens, NDP and the Bloc Quebecois, so you can understand where support for the idea comes from.

On top of that, we know that many voters who support the Greens, the NDP or the Bloc don't vote for them because their votes are largely wasted in ridings where they clearly cannot win. Under the new system fringe parties could see their support increase substantially as voters see their vote counting.

More importantly we could see the rise of new parties emboldened by the thought of winning seats in Parliament with fractional support, leading to minority government and the dreaded coalition governments of Israel and Italy, even though we are promised it cannot happen.

Now one other point to be considered is the rise of one issue parties. Here in Quebec, federalists have voted for the Quebec Liberal party for decades based on one issue and one issue alone, sovereignty.  Neither corruption, incompetence or scandal can shake voters off the Liberals and as the joke goes... better the Mafia running Quebec than the separatists.

Supporters of proportional voting tell us that fringe parties won't be rewarded because they will need to pass a certain threshold (perhaps 5%) to win Parliamentary representation, an unlikely situation in their opinion.
But single issue parties can easily pass the required threshold, we already have the proof. 
Quebec separatists have been voting for the Bloc Quebecois for years, based on that single issue of sovereignty.

So which issue can actually have such an effect on Canadian voters, an issue so dear to certain people that it would dictate them moving over to a fringe party?
Can you guess?.........


While two-thirds of Canadians support a women's right to choose, fully one-third of Canadians consider themselves Right-to-Lifers.
For most of them, a new party staunchly opposing abortion would be a natural fit and trust me, pro-life people are motivated.
Do a Google search with the words "Right to Life Canada" and you'll be shocked at the number of organizations in place across Canada, in every province and every major city. Organizations full of willing and motivated campaigners who could become a formidable force in any federal election.

I wonder how ultra-Liberals in favour of proportional voting would react to having 50 pro-lifers sitting in Parliament and while pro-lifers may not  be able to overturn abortion, they can and will militate against late-term abortions and will seek to protect the so-called rights of the unborn.
Are they ready for that?

Now as voters go, Canadians have always been pretty lazy and not overly interested in the political process. We like to vote, have a majority government and get on with our lives. The idea of political intrigue on an ongoing basis makes most of us shudder.
Remember the nonsense of our last minority government where the Liberals and NDP were willing to make common cause with the separatists of the Bloc?
We hated it.

Proportional voting is likely the fairest way to do things but in my view not the best for us.
Voting systems have to work for the voting public and Canada's system works fine as it is.

Attention politicians......If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas!.....So Just Feel Good News!

A lump of Coal for my Letter-Carrier

I know this doesn't rate as a feel good story but it does make me feel good, so here goes.
I received a polite 'Holiday' card from my letter carrier reminding me that it is time for her annual tip.
Here is the card I left her.

So You Want to Boycott Israel? Here’s A List of Products and Services You Need to Start With....
Now that that is out of the way, Let's go on to good news only.....

Quebec's balanced budget gets no love....but it should.

How about a little love for Quebec's beleaguered Liberals for finally balancing the budget.
"Quebec is emerging as one of Canada’s fiscal stars after delivering on a promise to avoid a deficit for the second year running while reducing debt as a proportion of output for the first time since 2008-09.
Canada’s second most populous province will balance the books in the year that ends March 31, and in fiscal 2016-17, Finance Minister Carlos Leitao said Thursday in Quebec City. It joins British Columbia as the only major provinces not to forecast a deficit in 2016-17.
Quebec bonds were the best-performing of Canada’s 10 provinces....."

Yes, Quebec is getting about $10 billion in equalization from Ottawa, but them's the rules. LINK

Quebec unemployment rate falls below Alberta rate

Djemila Benhabib wins slander suit against Muslim school

I'm not generally a fan of the PQ stalwart who gets no love at the ballot box, but was pleased to see her prevail in defending herself in a lawsuit where she was accused of slandering a Muslim school over disparaging remarks she made in a radio interview.
The cherry on the sundae was the fact that her celebrity lawyer and human-rights activist lawyer Julius Grey took it on the chin in representing the school. One would think that Grey, given his record, would be defending free speech, instead of opposing it.
And yes, that is exactly what the court found, that Miss Benhabib was exercising her right to free speech.
"In a 2012 interview with a Montreal radio station, Benhabib lamented that Qur’anic verses published on the school's website referred to the need for young girls to stay pure. She also stated they criticized non-Muslims.
She was also critical of the fact the school uniform included the hijab for young girls.

"(The school) resembles the kind of indoctrination similar to what goes on in a military camp in Afghanistan or Pakistan," she told the radio host.

Benhabib added during the interview the school "models itself on a society different than ours. It's a model where women have to lower their heads and walk behind men. Where kids are forced to learn Qur’anic verses and where, probably, men will commit honour crimes against their sisters."

Montreal Metro looking good.

I haven't used the Montreal subway in twenty years although I use the New York subway all the time on my many trips to the Big Apple.

There's no doubt that the New York subway is better with more routes and express trains to boot.
I habitually travel to Bloomingdales on 3rd Avenue from my hotel in Brooklyn taking just one express train, a 7 mile trip under the East River and a good chunk of Manhattan in an amazing twenty-five minutes!

While the New York subway may be more efficient, it looks like crap, unlike Montreal's subway which may be the prettiest system in the world.
Here is a photo essay of a girl doing yoga in some of Montreal's most beautiful stations.
See the 16 picture photo essay on MTL Blog 


New York Times wine critic salutes Montreal's inexpensive 'expensive' wine.
 New York times wine critic Eric Asimov (yes, the nephew of that Asimov) had a surprising piece about a wine experience in Montreal
"On a weekend trip to Montreal for a dear friend’s bachelor party in October, I stopped for lunch at L’Express, a venerable bistro on the Rue St.-Denis. What struck us immediately were the wine list’s prices, which seemed much cheaper than in New York. One in particular was a 2013 Meursault Vireuils, a village wine from Domaine Roulot, one of Burgundy’s best white wine producers.
Though it often sells in New York restaurants for $250 to $300 a bottle, L’Express had it for the Canadian equivalent of $98. We leapt on it, and it was a welcome reminder of the beauty of white Burgundy and of Meursault."  New York Times
 By the way the Montreal Gazette's food critic issued her top ten list of Montreal's best restaurants and L'EXPRESS was on it and no, THE KEG was not.

Quebec judge rules that tickets  based on photo radar inadmissible

"Good news for anyone who has received a photo radar ticket in Quebec, as a recent court ruling has found the tickets to be invalid.
In a ruling obtained by Montreal newspaper La Presse, Judge Serge Cimon found that tickets for speeding that were based on photo radar evidence were inadmissible. In the ruling, Judge Cimon found that the problem is that the officer who writes the ticket wasn’t there for the violation. That means that they were not able to verify the speed limit at the location of the infraction and that they were not able to verify the calibration of the radar equipment. The Judge found that this means that any testimony from police based on the evidence is hearsay, due to being based on second-hand information." Read more at Autotrader

Rambo to run for office

Believe it or not, union thug Bernard 'Rambo' Gauthier is running for political office.
The union organizer testified before the Crime Commission where it was revealed he used intimidation and violence to control job sites. He  was later convicted of workplace intimidation.
In an interview you can see here in French, Rambo showed why he's no regular politician....
"I don't wear a tie and I make spelling mistakes.
I don't have university, I'm not a lawyer or a doctor, but I am a father and taxpayer, and yes, I know what I'm doing is like getting f*cked  in the behind"
Yup, he said that on TV....

Montreal's very own 'NURSE JACKIE'
You might remember the television series of a nurse who stole drugs and carried out her job often under the influence.
A lot of those in the nursing profession scoffed at the notion that a nurse could act this way over an extended period of time. 
 Well, a Montreal nurse went before the board of the professional order of nursing for stealing drugs from dialysis patients and injecting herself while on the job and this over five years.
She would typically steal half the dosage and replace the missing drug with water. The drug she stole was Dilaudid, ten times more stronger than morphine.
I won't link to the story or name the unfortunate nurse because addiction is no laughing matter, but it's an interesting 'life imitating art' story.

Journal de Mourreal

The Journal de Mourreal is a satirical website that pokes fun of the real Journal de Montreal which actually went to court to get the site shut down.
At any rate, here are my favourite headlines of the year. No need to read the stories, the headlines say it all.
"Woman becomes Pregnant by Hydro-Quebec's New Electronic Meter"
"Hell's Angels to Protest against Legalization of Marijuana"
"Ruins of 17th century snow castle found in Sept-Iles"
"Pit Bull Owner to be Euthanized after Attack"

'Escalaphobia' is a thing

There are some of you out there with an irrational fear of escalators, silly because escalators never fail.....right?
There are lots of stories of people being injured and in fact a Montreal woman died last year when her hijab caught in the rungs.

But I've never heard of a runaway escalator until I read this story of a Brooklyn escalator that started up abruptly and sent riders flying.
Why do I mention this story that relates not a whit to this blog?

Because I myself have taken this escalator many times on my way to Chuck E. Cheese with my grandchildren.
We'll be taking the stairs next time...

Worst and Best  CH branding

How soon we forget!

Some further reading

Quebec is a magical land at Christmas, and all through the year- Fort-Worth Star Telegram

A basketball standout from Montreal is taking Maryland by storm

Montreal and Quebec tied for  2nd place for Best Under-rated Winter Travel Destination 

There's a butcher in Montreal that ages beef for 700 days

Montreal's Xmas market complete with ugly tree chosen in top ten by New York Times.
Here's some pictures of it

New York Times loves French-Canadian tourtiere   

 If you click on just one link this weekend, start with this great read from Vanity Fair magazine;
Inside Quebec’s Great, Multi-Million-Dollar Maple-Syrup Heist

Let's end with a REAL feel good story;

"Thirty-seven dogs that were destined for a Chinese dog meat festival are on their way to Montreal to start a new life after being found crammed in rusty iron cages so tightly they were gasping for air, unable to move.
The dogs were expected to arrive at the Montreal SPCA this evening.
The Humane Society International/Canada found the dogs seven months ago at the Yulin dog meat festival in China." Read the rest of the story

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Confessions of a Climate-Change Denier

I don't worry very much about an extinction level asteroid strike wiping out life on Earth, not because it can't happen, but rather because there's nothing that I can do to prevent it.
I also don't practice curbside recycling or curbside composting because at the end of day, these practices are actually bad for the environment, despite what we are brainwashed into believing.
And so it is that I don't give a fig for climate-change, even if it is real, because there's essentially nothing we can do about it either, despite the entreaties by experts and politicians.

There is no doubt that these views are unpopular, even considered dangerous in our genteel society, and is in fact no different than declaring oneself an atheist in Iran or Saudi Arabia, where such dangerous and unpopular beliefs are punishable by imprisonment or death.
It is easy for us to pass a negative judgment on these radical Islamic societies as misguided and dangerous, confirming that we do indeed believe that sometime whole societies can get it wrong, just not ours.
But are we really so different? Here we believe that climate change must be real because that is what the majority of experts and politicians tell us and so it has become heretical to deny or challenge the collective wisdom.

Those like myself who don't accept the conventional wisdom of climate change are deemed crackpots, demented folks unwilling to accept incontrovertible evidence, idiots who may as well join the flat-Earth society.
But I'll remind readers that the idea of a flat Earth WAS the conventional wisdom of the era and those who proposed the notion that the Earth was a globe were the ones deemed crazy and dangerously disillusioned.

As for the 'expert'  consensus on climate change, it is another crock, another conventional truth that isn't true.
There are many good scientists who debunk the notion and unfortunately there are many others too afraid to speak out. Could you imagine the consequences of a Canadian government scientist in Environment Canada  proclaiming climate change a hoax.
The chances of him or her surviving with their job are about as likely as a government minister in Iran declaring himself an atheist.
Yes it is comparable, because that is how hysterical we've become against dissent vis-a-vis climate change.

When I was but a tween, I watched a documentary on the CBC that described the coming  disappearance of the Great Lakes because of drought. It greatly distressed me and taught me my first lesson about experts when after a few years, these dire predictions faltered and the Great Lakes water level remained stable.
As recent as three or four years ago climate fanatics were claiming that dropping water levels in the Great Lakes were a direct result of climate change, but over the last two years the levels have rebounded and are actually very high.
...Fool me once...

Yes, a hundred years ago 'experts' built the Titanic and a hundred years later experts told us that the world would suffer cataclysmic disaster because of a computer bug called Y2K.
Experts told us that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which turned out to be absolutely false. That particular iota of conventional wisdom sent the USA into a long and protracted war which resulted in a massive upheaval and disintegration of the middle east, the rise of terrorism, ISIS, half a millions deaths and the creation of over 3 million refugees.

Nothing has really changed, experts today continue to make confident predictions that turn out all wrong. Ask Hillary what she thinks of the experts who called her a shoe-in for president.
How many of you were shocked at the election results, feeling a little betrayed by the media and experts who told us confidently exactly what wasn't true.
So it isn't hard to accept that conventional wisdom is often wrong and sometimes even dangerously wrong. However, what is hard to accept is that today's conventional wisdom may be dead wrong as well. Who wants to believe that we as a society may be functioning based on false assumptions.

And so without further ado, I'm telling you now that our current belief that climate change is real and that we can actually control it, is an utter delusion and fallacy.

Oh yes...the experts....

In the 1970's experts told us that a new 'Ice Age' was upon us and that we should prepare for the coming glaciers. Really...
Among the top global-cooling theorists were Obama’s current “science czar” John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich, the author of Population Bomb, which predicted mass starvation worldwide. In the 1971 textbook Global Ecology, the duo warned that overpopulation and pollution would produce a new ice age, claiming that human activities are “said to be responsible for the present world cooling trend.” The pair fingered “jet exhausts” and “man-made changes in the reflectivity of the earth’s surface through urbanization, deforestation, and the enlargement of deserts” as potential triggers for his new ice age. They worried that the man-made cooling might produce an “outward slumping in the Antarctic ice cap” and “generate a tidal wave of proportions unprecedented in recorded history.”
I'm not going to argue the present day climate change science, except to say that just about every climate disaster prediction made in the last twenty years has not panned out, in fact, it is quite the opposite.
If we were to believe Al Gore, David Suzuki and other climate hysterics, we'd already be up to our knees in sea water.
"...the UN featured 73 computer models and their predictions. All of them “predicted” varying degrees of increased warming as atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) increased.
The problem is that every single model was wrong — by a lot. Not only did temperatures not rise by as much as the models predicted, they have failed to rise at all since around 1996, according to data collected by five official temperature data­sets. Based just on the laws of probability, a monkey rolling the dice would have done far better at predicting future temperatures than the UN’s models.....almost laughably, in its latest report, the UN IPCC increased its alleged “confidence” in its theory, an action experts such as Christy could not rationalize. “I am baffled that the confidence increases when the performance of your models is conclusively failing,” he said. “I cannot understand that methodology....  It’s a very embarrassing result for the climate models used in the IPCC report.”

David Suzuki- Canada's premier climate blowhard
As for Canada's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030,  the plan, even if successful, would reduce our contribution to worldwide greenhouse gas from 1.7% to 1.2% a net loss to the world by a meagre 1/2 of one percent, this at a cost of tens of billions of dollars.
Should the world remain at the present rate of emissions (an impossible task) it might mean that Canada has delayed the effects of global warming by a few months at best, all at an enormous cost.
 And so I remain bitterly skeptical over the assertions by our very own Canadian climate alarmists who tell us that if we don't make this sacrifice now, the world as we know it will end.

Of all the Canadian Chicken Littles, nobody is as sickening as David Suzuki, a man whose personal lifestyle is the epitome of a carbon footprint abuser. Complete with his many expensive homes and land holdings, personal wealth, lavish lifestyle, five children and a formidable air travel schedule, it's hard to accept advice from someone who doesn't practice what he preaches.

Suzuki reminds me of those televangelists who make a living demanding followers follow the pure and chaste life while snorting cocaine and philandering in private.My favourite take-down of this charlatan;
"Oh. My. God. David Suzuki on the very first question is revealed as a complete know-nothing. His questioner tells him that the main climate data sets show no real warming for some 15 years. Suzuki asks for the references, which he should have known if he knew anything of the science. His questioner then lists them: UAH, RSS, HadCrut and GISS - four of the most basic measurement systems of global temperature. Suzuki asks what they are. Anyone interested in global warming should know right there that Suzuki has absolutely no understanding of what he is talking about. In my opinion he is a phoney" Read the rest of the story

And so Suzuki and our Prime Minister continue to push an expensive agenda that in reality can have little or no effect as long as our neighbours to the south are committed (under Trump) to merrily pollute away along with the rest of the world, paying lip service or otherwise making a mockery of emission reduction goals.
The only real consequence of lowering Canada's carbon footprint is to make our companies less competitive, forcing them to operate with one hand tied behind their back.

Let us consider that China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico and Iran account for 38 percent of the world's emissions and even the most strident climate-change fanatic will admit that it is well nigh impossible to get their cooperation to stabilize their CO2 output, never mind reducing it.
Before asking Brazil to reduce its greenhouse emissions perhaps we can convince them to stop chopping down the rain-forest! 
And asking China to reduce emissions is also a pipe dream, the country has 1,300 coal fired electricity plants and is building more each week.  If Canada closes a plant or two, what on Earth is the effect?
And what about Iran, do you think the mullahs give a flying hoot about pollution? After all, God will protect them from climate change and at any rate, pumping oil is what pays their bills.
Mexican society has enough problems dealing with poverty and the murder and mayhem of the drug business. Think climate change is a priority?
Indonesia has the highest rate of deforestation in the world (an emission disaster) and it continues unabated.

Is your head hurting yet? Do you really want to hear more?

In fact developing countries are responsible for 63% of worldwide emissions and these are countries where emissions are going up, not down, as they race towards modernization. 
Do you think that citizens of these countries will sacrifice one ounce of their meagre lifestyle for the benefit of the greater good?
These facts cannot be pooh-poohed and lead me to conclude  that we cannot and will not control global warming (if it exists) through a worldwide cooperative and concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It is a pipe dream as unrealistic as a plan to end global war by spending trillions to root out the causes.

As for the ridiculousness of some predictions my favourite is the one that shows Florida underwater because of rising sea waters with much of the state being reclaimed by the sea.

It is predictions like this that make me laugh at the stupidity and desperateness of the climate-change industry who want the USA to spend trillions and trillions of dollars to combat climate change, yet cannot fathom the country having the wherewithal to build a sand berm or dyke (like Holland) around affected beaches, even if it comprises the complete state.
It is these types of doomsday predictions that prevent me from drinking Kool-aid.

To conclude I offer this observation:
"Finally, think about this question, posed by Ronald Bailey in 2000: What will Earth look like when Earth Day 60 rolls around in 2030? Bailey predicts a much cleaner, and much richer future world, with less hunger and malnutrition, less poverty, and longer life expectancy, and with lower mineral and metal prices. But he makes one final prediction about Earth Day 2030: “There will be a disproportionately influential group of doomsters predicting that the future–and the present–never looked so bleak.” In other words, the hype, hysteria and spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions will continue, promoted by the “environmental grievance hustlers.”"

Now I understand that if you are a climate-change militant, the above facts are a trifle, an inconvenient truth, the ramblings of a disconnected outlier and easily dismissed over the weight of countervailing opinion.
 I understand that changing the minds of climate change adherents is as likely as me convincing believers that there aren't 39 virgins awaiting them in Heaven after martyrdom.

And come to think of it now, who's to say there  isn't?