Yankee go home

It seems that I’m trendy.  At least, I’m part of a trend.  The trend is foreigners coming to Canada, with their families, to study at university.  To read the comments following the article about this disturbing trend, it appears that I am destroying the soul of the country.  To be honest, I had no idea.  I thought it would be a good idea to leave my country, a land that is currently trying to keep foreigners out (despite considerable protest and legal wrangling), and take up residence in a place with a bit more tolerance for pluralism and multi-culturalism.  It’s an interesting experience to be an American in a foreign land and feel the contempt of those who believe that I’m taking advantage of their hospitality.

What interests me more, though, is the thought of what drives such contempt.  I believe the answer always ties to shortages of resources.  People are angry because they think foreigners are taking their jobs, their healthcare, their retirement, their land.  But, this is a land of abundance.  What will happen if (or when) things really start to run out?  I think we’re seeing this in America now.  Things (like jobs) are running out.  When that happens, people want someone to blame and that someone has to be as unlike them as possible.

People have circles around them.  At the center they have themselves.  The next layer is usually family.  Then friends.  Then a layer of people they think share their beliefs.  Next is a layer of people who look like them and then kind of a generic layer of people-in-general.  After this comes a layer of disagreeable folks–those with some perceived defect–and, finally, the undesirables.  When people are happy, they don’t think about their layers.  When they are unhappy, they blame the others around them, starting with the outermost layers.  The problem is, as long as you’re unhappy, you attack the outermost layers until, at last, it’s just you.  And then you self-destruct.  Unfortunately, by then, a lot of damage has been done.

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No more crying babies

My son turned six years old today.  When he was a baby, I took him and his older sister to the park.  Things were fine for a while until something went south for him and he started crying in the determined, inconsolable manner that he had developed.  As I left the park pushing the noisy two-seater stroller I began singing, “Lalala, lalala, no more crying babies–Lalala, lalala, no more crying babies.”  While he had had sufficient time to develop a sense of criticism about many topics, music was not yet one of them, so the stroller quieted down.  I remember thinking that one day I would not have any more crying babies.

That day has come.  I have no more crying babies.  I have no more toddlers.  I don’t even have small children anymore–I just have children now.  I’ve heard people say that kids grow up quickly.  I haven’t found this to be the case.  I have found, however, that the babies, the toddlers, the small children all go away, and, when they do, they don’t return.  They don’t go quickly, but, when they do go, they’re really gone.  They don’t come back.  They become something else.

Today on the radio there was a discussion about childcare.  The details aren’t important.  What struck me is that no one seemed to want to address the core issues, namely Should the poor breed?  If not, who should prevent us (and how?)?  If yes, how can we afford to raise our young?  My wife and I postponed having children for over a decade because we never felt we had enough money.  Then, finally, we felt we did.  We both had decent jobs and decided to start a family and get a new car.  So we did, and then the recession started and I lost my job and my career.  Eventually, at $2500/month for childcare for two kids, I couldn’t justify working the kind of jobs that I could get.  But, neither could we get by very well on just my wife’s income.  I don’t think we were the only ones in that position.  It seems that for many people, the days of raising a family on one income are gone.  So, the question is, Is it responsible for the working poor to have children?  Is procreation now only justifiable for the wealthy?

I hope not.  I have a wonderful wife that I’ve been married to for over twenty years and two great kids who are having a happy childhood.  Life hasn’t really worked out the way I wanted it to.  But, when things are bad, I try to focus on what I do have–a great family.  And I’m grateful for that.

2-1/2 minutes to midnight

Amidst all the bluster, it’s hard for me to remember that stuff actually happens when the new president speaks.  What he says is so ridiculous and incoherent, I  comfort myself by thinking that people must know this is all a bluff.  Then I get reminded by the sober (and somewhat humorless) folks at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist that really bad things can happen when erratic people are in charge of nuclear weapons.  They have now set their lovely doomsday clock forward 30 seconds in response to recent moves by the current administration.  It’s now set closer to world destruction than it has been in 64 years.  And, this is just the administration’s first week.  No wonder our friends are cancelling their visits.

The situation is made more worrisome by the news that Donald Trump sends his tweets from an unsecured phone that he carries with him.  A hacker could tap into it to listen to whatever the microphone on the phone can pick up or to track the POTUS’s location.  Here’s what concerns me most–what could anyone hack into this guy’s phone and tweet that would be so absurd that it wouldn’t sound like it came directly from the erratic synapses of the leader of the free world?  I mean, really, what could it possibly say that is more bizarre than anything he’s already said (and then defended)?  “Sorry”?  “My opponent made a good point, but has not considered…”?  “I’m actually bald”?  “Let’s bomb Canada”?  Ok, he might actually say the last one.  I just threw it in to get the attention of the secret service.  (Harmless passivist here guys–non-violent.)  The point is, maybe we’re all so inured to neo-Orwelian Trumpspeak, that no one will know when the Trumpphone does get hacked.

Wait–hold the phone–this just in (well, last week).  The president actually does have a new phone.  His security detail has given him one that is secure–and a little harder to use for texting.  Somebody set the clock back.

If you build it, will they come?

It seems that Mr. Trump is ready to build his wall and it seems that it will keep out even the very president of Mexico.  Maybe it will keep out everyone else as well.  We’ll see.  He is also going to crack down on the massive voter fraud that nobody seems to believe happened except for him and he wants to reopen the CIA’s overseas black sites.  Hopefully, he won’t open any in the US.  If I worked for the Environmental Protection Agency right now, I’d be concerned.

Turning on the tap

Well, it looks like the pipelines are back.  Soon, Canada will be able to pump some of the world’s dirtiest oil from America’s Northern border to its Southern coast so that China can fuel its factories.  And, don’t count on the EPA to make sure the pipes don’t burst.  They’re a little tight on cash right now and they’re not allowed to talk about it.

The emperor’s new briefs

We now seem to have confirmation that something we never really would have imagined could have happened definitely didn’t almost happen.  In particular, did the UK almost blow up America by accident last June?  No! No! No! No! And, no!  Furthermore, the Obama Administration covered it up and it would have been our own fault anyway because everything worked but the part that was American technology.  And the US and Russia are definitely NOT doing joint airstrike missions over Syria.

So, let’s move on from the denials to the juicy stuff–the first (actual, not like Saturday’s) press briefing.  Unfortunately, the only transcript I can find of it is annotated by the Washington Post.  Maybe a clean copy will show up here someday.  Anyway, according to the press briefing, the new CEO of the USofA had a power breakfast with “Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell; Jeff Fettig, the CEO of Whirlpool; Mark Fields, the CEO of Ford; Alex Gorsky, the CEO of and Johnson and Johnson; Marillyn Hewson, the CEO of Lockheed Martin; Klaus Kleinfeld, the CEO of Arconic; Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow; Maro Longi, the CEO of U.S. Steel; Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla; Kevin Plank of Under Armour; Mark Sutton of International Paper; and Wendell Weeks, the CEO of Corning” to, I imagine, explain to them the benefits of bailing out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and ask these working stiffs which health and safety regulations they would like him to remove first.  I’m not sure if they were the ones who asked him to stop hiring federal workers, but maybe they were accepting applications from the erstwhile employees.  A hiring freeze sounds like a great way to get America back to work.

So, how big was it?

He’s back!  He’s back!  The Donald is back!  After Friday’s human language-like speech, we got a taste of post-inauguration Trumpism with this beauty given to the kindly folks at the CIA–his first off-leasher after entering the White House.  I noticed that he humbly downgraded from 29 to 28 at the suggestion of a common member of the audience.  After that, though, he kind of lost me.

But it was huge!  The inauguration, I mean.  The largest ever in the history of humanity (with the documented exception of the one before it).  In fact, it was almost as large as the protest that followed.  At least we’re finally getting rid of our health insurance.  It really sucked having that hung around our necks.  Meanwhile, Cakegate is about to bring this administration to its knees.

So, let’s end with a new beginning–the world of alternative facts.  You can spin it to the right or spin it to the left, but, either way, the hope of even attempting to determine truth about the new administration through the established media seems to be stillborn.  Whose fault is that?  Believe what you’d like to believe.  What does it matter anymore?  Instead, let’s find something objective that we can all agree to.  Isn’t this puppy cute?

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