Monthly Archives: April 2017

Barbados II


More pictures and stories from the vacation…

Oistin’s Fish Fry is quite the show.  Friday night a few thousand folks gather at Oistin’s just outside of Bridgetown to eat, drink, party and play.  Yes there are tourists, but a lot more locals come out on Friday nights to while away the evening after a long week of work.  Oistin’s is also a fish market, selling the local catch right off the dock so you know your dinner was swimming in the sea not four hours earlier

Essentially Oistin’s is a number of outdoor booths, kitchens and many, many picnic tables associated with each kitchen.  Tents and canopies abound in the event of rain.

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Oistin’s Fish Fry, Barbados

Chose your place and menu and a great, inexpensive dinner comes your way.  Flying fish, mahi-mahi, barracuda, ribs, curry, plantains, breadfruit, rice and peas, you name it, it’s there.  And drinks.  Banks beer is the official beer of Barbados and is a touch reminiscent of Molson Golden if you can remember that brand.  Banks also sponsors the Banks Calendar Girls, a rather fulsome honour for a young Bajan woman and the contestants were there in their pneumatic, glamorous splendor handing out calendars and generating buzz for the brewery.

Music is playing everywhere, Caribbean house, dance-hall and reggae are common around the dance floors, as well as the displays of art, goombay shirts, crafts and other knickknacks on offer.  Yes, I did find the loudest possible goombay shirt I could to add to the collection:  A shirt that Ray Charles can see and Brother Ray is dead as well as blind.  I did attempt to take a picture of it, but the sensor in my camera very politely refused to take the photo.

There was even ballroom dancing in one part.  One ex-pat who has been in Barbados since shortly after Ted Heath was the Brit PM told me that in the old days, everyone who wanted to go ballroom dancing would be in full evening dress with a live band providing the classic ballroom music.  Times have changed a bit, but the formal dancers seemed to have a wonderful time gliding around their area, others watching and enjoying the spectacle.

Dominoes (and drinking) predominate some areas at Oistin’s some of the old guys smacking their tiles down aggressively.  We saw the same thing back in Speightstown outside Jordan’s Supermarket one night, the lads playing dominoes until late.

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Playing dominoes, Oistin’s, Barbados

In all, great fun at Oistin’s.  Considering the amount of drinking and hi jinks afoot, there were no brawls, gunfire or police intervention that we saw.  That wouldn’t be the Bajan way.  Just a lot of folks letting their hair down and having a good time after a long week of work.

Eating is important and we hit a few places that we truly enjoyed.

Island Plates (link to Facebook) is in a parking lot on Town Square, across from Jordan’s Supermarket in Speightstown and is only open for a few evenings a week.  Run by two sisters, Pat and Marie, it is about as good as it gets, the kitchen indoors, seating outdoors under a big tent in case of rain.  Incredible food from Auntie and Grandmother recipes that go back generations in the family.  Plus, Island Plates has a restaurant cat, Charlotte, a neighbourhood feline that has no shame about coming up to your table, exuding cuteness and a fondness for flying fish, or curry.

Going local, The Little Bristol Beach Bar (link to Facebook) is about a 90 second stagger from Island Plates.  Drinks and live entertainment, oh yes, but also remarkable bar food, like the Flying Fish Cutter above, spicy meat samosas and a priceless view from the tables.

Our last night we took in the Fish Pot (link to Facebook) up the road from Port St. Charles with a five star meal, the freshest fish and capped off with bread pudding.  Dining with the sound of waves, is something to be savoured.

One we enjoyed repeatedly was the PRC Bakery on the main street in Speightstown, especially their meat rolls, which are renown. Cops, taxi drivers and random strangers see you near the PRC and tell you to get the meat rolls.  We set aside a breakfast one morning at the condo, pineapple flaky pastry, toast, cheese and coffee listening to the waves and the birds.  You know what we did the rest of that day?  We did nothing and enjoyed every minute of it, especially during the mid-morning nap and the afternoon nap.

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Breakfast on the balcony, Port St, Charles, Barbados

To finish up.  Some photos here and there on our trip.

Was it worth it?  Certainly.  Was it inexpensive?  No.  Barbados is not inexpensive, but eminently worth it.  Would we go back?  In a heartbeat.

What Trump is Really Doing


Coming up on 100 Days of Donny, we’re excited to review what he has said would be a landmark for him in office.

The phrase “Sweet Fuck All” comes immediately to mind.  No legislation passed from either house, just some executive orders, some press conferences and of course, golf at Mar-A-Lago where the Secret Service detail has to pay full pin for accommodation and meals to keep Donny safe.  About 9 trips in 100 days @ $3 million per, not to mention the protection for the missus in NYC plus coverage for his other issue and their spouses while on Trump business.  Oh well.

Actually, what The Republican President has been doing is straight out of the Vladimir Putin Playbook.  You ever notice how every two days or so, some new outrage comes out of either his pie-hole, or the gullet of one of his fart-catchers like Shitstain Spicer, or Kellyanne “My Microwave is Spying on me because of Obama” Conway?  Almost like clockwork, they mouth off.  It isn’t a coincidence.

Every 48 hours the boss has to have some media coverage for an elegant reason:  It keeps the media, real or imagined (Hello, Breitbart!) covering that particular outrage, lie, hallucination or 140 character illiterate toilet-seat Tweet.  By keeping the media chasing and fact-checking all Republican Presidential Utterances, the media is playing Donny’s Game and not spending real reporter time investigating the real issues.  The follow on effect is that with the constant barrage of nonsense from the White House, people are becoming over-saturated and eventually immune to anything coming out of the White House.

In about six months if Donny was taped sodomizing a giraffe at noon on 4th tee at Mar-A-Lago with Mike Pence as lotion-boy, the population would either: A) Not believe it as it is from mainstream media who hate Trump or B) Say it’s just Donny being Donny and he’s going to lie about it anyways and we can’t do a damn thing about it.

What he’s doing is burning up what little credibility the media has left in the eyes of the citizens.  He’s changing who the citizens believe by making the citizens not believe anything any media says about him.  The fallback reaction is going to be it’s all lies, not just a little bit, but all of it, so screw it, who cares?

A compliant citizenry (who don’t believe anything anyone says) is a mass of citizens that you can exploit.  You can make them believe that War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery and Ignorance is Strength when they’re unable to react by exhausting their will to care.

In an very good article from Vanity Fair this month is on page 96,  (Titled In Trump’s Amerika) author Mike Mariani breaks down exactly how Vladimir Putin and his adviser Vladislav Surkov have, over two decades, destroyed any media credibility that existed in Russia.  At the same time they have exhausted the citizens’ sense of outrage over practically everything, from food, to the lack of jobs, to invading the Crimea to supporting Assad in Syria.  Russian citizens just want to be left alone.  Or, if not left alone, at least comforted by an alternative reality that doesn’t taste too much like utter bullshit.  “We’re at war with Eurasia wasn’t it?  No, it was Eastasia, no Eurasia is our enemy, no Eastasia is our ally”

(The better-read of you will recognize that from Orwell’s 1984)

In fact, Donny is trying that stuff now.  Mexico is the source of all bad hombres, Canada is responsible for our dairy industry going broke because they won’t let us in.  NAFTA is killing American Industry, North Korea is a rogue state and Syria is in league with Russia killing kids with gas, while terrorists walk the street, waiting to kill us all if we don’t convert to Islam and Medicare is a massive fraud, worse than Obamacare that is too hard to fix except for the tax reform and Clean Coal that nobody wants but they can dump their sludge in the river and Mexico will pay for the wall.  We’re Making America Great Again!

By exhausting our ability to discern truth, or at least a few highlights in the neighbourhood of truthiness, The Republican President is making the US Citizen compliant by forcing them to opt out of any media in a state of frustration.  You probably know people who don’t watch the news, or read newspapers, or listen to the radio.  These are also the same people who refuse to vote, the usual reason being “It doesn’t make any difference who I vote for, so screw it”  This what Trump’s Amerika wants.

To quote Mike Mariani from the VF article: “By hijacking headlines and warping the news cycle through sheer gravitational force, Trump is rupturing the journalism landscape one land-mine tweet at a time.  The effect, it would seem, is to undercut any attempt at vigilant analysis or coherent investigation into his administration”

How to fix it?  News directors can dedicate 15 seconds in the news, probably in the first segment to “Today’s Distraction and Lies from The Republican President”  Two or three quotes from Spicer should suffice, keying of a big red X over the most egregious lies and falsehoods, with the closing of “And we dare the White House to prove us wrong”  For the ink-stained wretches, a simple boxed story on the front page, below the fold, same hed, same big X.

Then get on with the real news, weather, sports and lifestyle happy-chat clutter.

Meanwhile, let your meanest investigative reporters loose.  Command them to find anything and everything and pull the story together.  Spend the money, spend the time and do another Washington Post.  Bring that crooked little pissant into the glare of evidence that nobody can ignore, especially the House and the Senate.

You probably have a year to make it happen and bring The Republican President down.

If you don’t, then we’ll be at war with North Korea, Russia, China, Canada, the UK or Eurasia, Eastasia or Oceania.  Fix it.

Barbados I


We’ve talked briefly about our vacation to Barbados earlier this year and now, having sorted through several hundred images, we’ve come up with a few representative samples and stories to go along with them.  As a reminder, we tend not to go to the tourist traps.  Sure, if we were in Rome, we’d check out the Vatican, but it wouldn’t be the main focus.  We tend to hang where the locals hang, as that tells you more about the place, the people and the real stories.

Barbados is fabulously gorgeous.  The condo complex contains a marina with slips right out your front door.

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View from the balcony, Port St. Charles, Barbados

No, we didn’t have a 60 foot ocean-going vessel at our disposal, but many of the residents do.  Some are Dock Queens, others are used often and well.

Beach time?  We’ve got you covered.

On a couple of days the waves were up and we gleefully got tossed around in the Caribbean Sea.  Some days you could see the cruise ships coming into or leaving from Bridgetown on the horizon.

Considering our vacation was about rest and relaxation, we didn’t want to pack it full of travel and tourism things.  There were some, but not a lot.  The north shore, or as the locals call it, Down North, is on the Atlantic and is as wild a coastline as you could want.

Being down north and having a kitchen in the condo, we did make sure we were well-provisioned.  Speightstown was the closest town and on our first day there we made sure to hit Jordan’s Supermarket for the essentials.  A reasonable number of international brands (Kraft, Nestle, Unilever products) and many local or imported brands as well as local produce and salt fish.

Barbados is not inexpensive, as the vast majority of grocery items are imported and that adds to the cost.  The odd one we found was New Zealand cheese and butter, being imported from a half a world away.  Yes they do have Cheerios, but they also have plantain chips from Costa Rica and sweet potato crisps from Trinidad.  (We were well-advised to bring our own coffee, so we packed a pound of St. Arbucks in the luggage.)

Speightstown is one of the older towns and has some architectural leftovers from colonial times.

The streets are narrow and yes, they drive on the British side of the road.  We didn’t hear much of the Egyptian Brake Pedal/Ha Noi Turn Signal, just the occasional honk of recognition from one driver to the other.  Bus transport is inexpensive and everywhere on the island.  Like bus travel in most countries, it is only for the strong of constitution.  Bus drivers are hired on the basis of their daily consumption of amphetamines, or their complete disregard for their own lives.

We did sneak in some history.

 

Food and drink are important to us when travelling.  Eating local means you learn about culture and the history.  Being surrounded by oceans, Barbados has plenty of sea food, especially flying fish,  all impeccably fresh and well prepared.  Fisherman’s Pub in Speightstown is where the locals go.

Buffet style, choose what you want as mains and your sides.  Lunch was about $12 BDO.  Speaking of Barbados currency, the official exchange rate is $2 BDO = $1 USD.  Canadian banks like CIBC and RBC are all over the place and invariably their ATMs give you the best exchange rate, even better than at the counter, as the computers in Toronto do the exchange at the best rate and spit our $BDO. Fortunately we bank with CIBC, so getting cash was simple.  Visa, MC, Amex are accepted almost everywhere.

Rum is one of the more important products of Barbados.  The rum selection is impressive, some we can get in Ontario, like Cockspur and some we can’t.  One of our trips was to St. Nicholas Abbey, a Canadian-owned sugar cane farm that also produces rum from their sugar cane.  St. Nicholas Abbey has been a sugar cane plantation since the mid-1600’s.  The history is long and some of it dark in corners as this was also in the days of the slave trade.  Barbadians don’t shy away from their history, but they don’t dwell on it either.

That handwritten list in the photos is the value of some of the slaves for tax purposes from the ledgers of the plantation back in the day.  After the cane is crushed and the juice extracted, the bagasse is put in the sun to dry, then burned to create steam to run the machinery.  Yes, it’s a good tour, worth your time and yes, they do give you a Rum Punch as part of the tour.

Speaking of Rum Punch, yes, there was drinking on this trip.

Wine is plentiful, almost all of it imported, but if you’re in a country renown for rum, why in the name of all that is holy would you drink wine?  We brought back a few bottles.  To answer the question, does Marylou drink?  I was the one with the camera, so she was naturally and gorgeously, the subject.

More stories and pictures to come.

Milking Canada


The Republican President took a shot at Canada’s Dairy industry last week as being unfair to US dairy producers and that he’s going to renegotiate treaties like NAFTA so US dairy producers can move into Canada.  Of course, shit for brains was speaking in Wisconsin and beating his chest with his tiny hands about America First.  Funny how facts never actually entered into his bloviating.

The particular issue is what is called Class 7 diafiltered milk.  Essentially take the leftovers from making butter (the non-fat solids), then concentrate it by membrane filtering to a 42%, or more, protein content.  This stuff is sold to Canadian producers at a certain price to make cheese.  Not necessarily good cheese, think commercial cheese, or those single slices wrapped in plastic that can also patch your fibreglass canoe.  You can also make yoghurt, ice cream or that green can “Parmesan” cheese out of Class 7.

Since it’s not considered “milk”, but a protein ingredient, it’s not subject to a tariff rate quota.  Diafiltered milk was invented in the US, post-NAFTA, so it’s not covered by NAFTA.  American producers have sprung up along the border states to sell it to Canadian cheese producers.  Diafiltered milk is not used by American dairies.  As an aside, 42% protein means there is very little waste from the cheese-making process, essentially skim milk, that is dumped, used as animal feed, or dried to make skim-milk powder.

Last year, Canada’s dairy producers lowered their prices for dairy ingredients to match what American producers were selling their diafiltered Class 7 products, to encourage Canadian dairies to buy Canadian.  This is called “the market at work” and the tariff loophole went away.   To quote this article

Al Mussell, a researcher with Agri-Food Economic Systems in Guelph, Ont., has argued against American farmers being portrayed as victims of North American trade. In fact, under NAFTA it’s been the opposite, he’s written.

“We’ve got competitive pricing here. Since when is the U.S. a victim of competition?” he said. “I think it’s a revisionist dialogue,” he said.

 

Grassland Dairy Products in Wisconsin announced that since the market for Class 7 protein concentrate in Canada has gone competitive, their market has dried up. Grassland notified 75 dairy farmers that supply them, that they no longer have a place to sell, as of May 1st.  Coincidentally, Grassland is building up a 5,000 head herd of their own cows to provide their own milk, at their own price.  Conveniently, they won’t need the milk production from other farmers.

For our American readers, Canada is a separate country from the US which means we have our own rules regarding many things and dairy products are one of them.  We have what is known as supply management.  The production of milk is controlled by the government to keep dairy farmers in business.

Our dairy industry is not set up for export, but for internal consumption, which means we produce what we need at a reasonable price for the farmers and producers.  New Zealand and Australia are net-exporters of dairy, as evidenced by the preponderance of NZ butter and cheese in Barbados during our vacation earlier this year.  Australia recently approved a $450 million dollar bailout for their dairy industry.  The EU offered their dairy producers a 500 million Euro support program last July.  American dairy producers in the US received $3.84 BILLION in direct payments to producers in 2012 and several dairy price support programs in the millions of dollars range.  A truly free market.  That is the problem.

There is a global oversupply of milk.  Everybody makes too much of it.  In the US, where the market rules, dairy farmers are gong broke; the cost of production is higher than what the market pays.  Supply management means Canada has enough milk being produced to meet our needs and let the farmer make a buck at it.  Our milk price is about the same as Australia and New Zealand, who are also on the market price, but a bit more than the US, who seem content to crush their own dairy industry and then blame someone else when we compete with them on price.  Quality?  We’re so far ahead on quality, US producers are but a speck in our rear-view mirror.

Being our own sovereign country means we also have rules regarding milk quality and purity.  Canadian milk is not allowed to have any traces of antibiotics, steroids or growth hormones.  None, as in zero.  If a cow needs to be treated for milk fever or bovine ketosis (two common dairy cow health problems) the milk from that cow cannot be sold or processed until there is no trace of antibiotics or steroids in the milk.  There are heavy fines for any farmer who tries to wangle it through and any dairy that tries to get away with it is also fined.  Heavily.  Not only does the farmer test for purity, but so does the dairy before the milk gets in the building.  The reason?  We insist on only the purest, cleanest, safest milk.  It’s the law and part of the responsibility of supply management is a ferociously high quality standard.

America?  If you can get it out of the cow, you can sell it, at whatever price you can get, preferably with a government subsidy tacked on the end, even if the product is from sick and medicated animals.  Yep, that’s what you call the free market with “yuge” subsidies.

At the end of it, Grassland Dairy used a loophole to create a market on a price they determined, while trying to cut back on the price they paid to Wisconsin dairy farmers, by building up their own herd and shafting 75 local dairy farmers.  They got caught when we matched them on price and encourage Canadian manufacturers to buy and use Canadian dairy products.  So, being caught red-handed, the usual step is to blame someone else.

As the added twist, someone handed The Republican President a Post-it note in Wisconsin that said NAFTA bad, American Jobs, Dairy, so that moron you elected mouthed off without a smattering of knowledge.  He’s an idiot-savant without the savant.

What it really means is we’re kicking your ass in a competitive market and you’re crying over spilled, subsidized, sub-standard, over-produced milk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legalizing Cannabis in Canada


On Thursday, the Government O’Canada started the wheels in motion to legalize the possession and consumption of recreational quantities of cannabis.  The anticipated date of the law being changed is July 1, 2018, a little over a year from now.  The ostensible reason is harm-reduction and adding controls to the cultivation, distribution and consumption of weed.

The real reason is taxes.  (For our American readers, taxes are how Canadians pay for Universal Health Care.  We pay more Federal and Provincial income tax that you do, so if I break my ankle tripping over my own two feet, I don’t have to sell my house and move into a cardboard box down by the river to pay my medical bills.  Canada took that decision first in 1954 in Saskatchewan and it spread country-wide by 1966.)

Will the legalization of cannabis generate tax income for the Feds and the Provinces?  Does the Pope shit in the woods? Does a bear wear a funny hat?  Did I get those analogies wrong?

What the Feds are doing is establishing a network of growers, licensed, certified, legal farmers and distributors of cannabis at a known strength, without additives (like fentanyl, horse tranquilizers or insecticides) in regulated quantities.  Just like tobacco, beer, wine, or spirits.  Then they’ll tax the crap out of it.

The Feds are being wise, leaving it up to the Provinces to decide who gets to retail the end product and what other rules will have to be applied.  As with beer, wine and spirits, you’ll have to show ID if you look too young and of course, there will be serious penalties and jail time for those who don’t choose to come under the taxation umbrella.

Where to sell?  Since the government doesn’t like street-corner retail, the likely outlets will be provincial liquor stores, as they have the security and expertise in place for retail alcohol sales, which would be more or less the same protocols for cannabis.  The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) could have a kiosk next to the Vintages section, in the same stores, right next to the wine coolers and growlers of local brew.

Being pragmatic, legalizing recreational-use quantities and taxing it, is sensible.  It generates legit income for producers and has the potential to generate a lot of tax revenue, perhaps even more than lotteries or other vice taxes.  Colorado has seen no real increase in the numbers of citizens who smoke weed, the number bumped for a month or two, then settled back down.  Colorado suspected it was actually pot tourists that accounted for the blip, not locals losing their minds, switching from Coors Banquet to Aspen Bud.

We’ve had medical cannabis up here for several years, with store-front dispensaries in most provinces, generally sitting right on the edge of legal, depending on the attitude of the police on any given day.  There has been no increase in the number of cannabis consumers walking around dazed and confused.  There have been no reports of crazed dopers running rampant looking for human sacrifices because we have medical cannabis up here.  No bus loads of American tourists crossing at Prescott, ON, to blaze up and eat all the Doritos.  Note to American stoners:  Get Cheezies if you get the munchies.  Much better than Doritos, or Cheetos and they’re made in Belleville, Ontario with actual cheese from Canadian milk.

We have no great issue with adults smoking cannabis.  The usual effects are not unlike that perfect two-drink moment when one is relaxed, happy and calm.  One more drink and you start to get a little sloppy, so one aims for that golden spot of contentedness and peace.  Much like alcohol, some folks go giddy, some get hyper, others get sleepy, or chatty, with the slight lowering of social inhibitions from weed.  Not everyone reacts well, some people feel ill, or wobbly, or not fully in control, which is upsetting.  Like alcohol, not everybody drinks, and not everybody will ingest cannabis.

Where the problem lies is in operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of a substance that affects your judgement.  For booze, the standard is .08 milligrams of alcohol will impair your operation of said motor vehicle.  The science on .08 is long and it has withstood legal challenges over the years.  How much cannabis causes impairment is not fully understood.  If the standard is One Joint, then I’ll contend that I only smoked one joint, except is was made Jamaican-style with a page from the Racing News as a paper and close to four ounces of high-potency BC bud that would drop a quarter-horse to her knees.

Our solution is simple:  Do away with the blood-alcohol level number or its equivalent for cannabis and change the various provincial laws to Impaired Operation of a Motor Vehicle, boat, snowmobile, aircraft or other type of conveyance.  Impaired means you’re not on your game, not coordinated enough, or lacking in judgement to safely do it.  How you got there isn’t the issue, the fact that you’re a danger to the rest of us is the issue.

A Field Sobriety Test is a well-understood test administered by police to determine if you’re not in complete control of your faculties to safely operate said conveyance.  That’s the real determination:  Are you safe to drive, boat, snowmobile or control that vehicle?

If I take a common over-the-counter cold medication, I don’t drive, at all.  Why?  Because Contac-C makes me hallucinate like the great old days of 1974 when I would see my grandma climbing up my leg with a knife in her teeth, cursing in Swedish.  Grandma wasn’t Swedish.  In aviation, using Benylin cough syrup with Codeine is an immediate medical disqualification for at least 12 hours:  You can’t fly as the standards for aviation are significantly higher than for driving or boating, but the end result is the same:  You are not in full command of your faculties.

Using a Field Sobriety Test to determine judgement for the safe operation of a vehicle would catch those who are not paying attention due to other reasons.  One alcoholic drink and one Ativan (lorazepan) should most emphatically disqualify you from driving, except you would blow a low number on a field breathalyzer and technically, be fine to drive.  Chemo-fog for cancer patients is another one, as well as side-effects from blood pressure medication.  You’re messed up, but not in a way that the police can legally intervene.  For that matter, one could argue that texting and driving is Impaired Operation of a Motor Vehicle.  There are enough studies out there that suggest that texting and driving is roughly the same as driving while drunk.

There are always outlier examples.  One person I know used to grow a couple of acres of high-count, winter-hardy weed for personal consumption and would blaze up several times a day, over 30 years.  Did he get ‘high’ in the conventional sense?  Not really, but when he dies it might take a few days for the flames to go out when they cremate him, as the resins in his lungs will keep burning.  Other outliers include a former co-worker who could drink a half-bottle of vodka for lunch and still be fully functional, or the other guy who’s motto was “24 hours in a day, 24 beer in a case.  Coincidence?”  Both worked in jobs that needed your full attention and due care and both were usually significantly over the legal limit but you wouldn’t know it.

To follow on, if you pass the Field Sobriety Test, you’re likely good to go, but we would give the officer administering a bit of leeway.  Let the officer decide to ground you for 12 hours if he or she is not fully certain that you’re on your game.  Or, arrest you, impound the car and take you to the crowbar hotel for a blood test to determine your level of impairment.  It’s a judgement call, yes, but an important one.  Make the penalty for a 12-hour suspension three points off your license, a $300 fine, plus the tow and impound fees and you will see a very rapid decrease in the number of people driving while impaired.

We have no issue with people getting relaxed, however they get there, but we have a significant problem with people operating boats, cars, snowmobiles, trucks or aircraft when they are not in full command of their faculties.

MOAB and North Korea


Let’s see where this is going.  The Republican President, distracted by golf, let the US Air Force drop the Massive Ordinance Air Burst GBU-43 (MOAB or colloquially the Mother Of All Bombs)  on a tunnel complex in Afghanistan, killing 36 ISIS fighters in their holes.

No big issue with that:  Killing ISIS members is a good thing, as they don’t respond to reason any more than a rabid fox would respond to reason.  Since reasoning is out, killing is Plan B and we don’t have much of a problem morally or ethically with it.  If you’re going to fight, fight hard, dirty and fast.  Try to keep the collateral damage to a bare minimum, but don’t flinch either.  Yes, it’s a fine line and one that takes some courage to do.  Then, be prepared to do it again.

We don’t care for armed conflict in the slightest, because at the end of the day, nobody really wins.  If you can settle something without violence, that’s the better way.  If you are going to get down, get all the way down as that scares the hell out of your opposition and they will run away, convinced you’re crazier than they are.  The Marquess of Queensberry was a twat: Bring several guns to a knife fight.  It works 99 percent of the time; your opponent will mysteriously have a more pressing appointment, far, far away.

That one percent of the time, when it doesn’t work, is when you are confronted with someone who is truly off their meds.  North Korea comes to mind.  Their leader is crazy and the whole country is crazy because the secret police ensures that you remain alive only by fanatical devotion to Kim Jong-un, their crazy leader.  Starving population?  No matter.  Hundreds of thousands of ‘political’ prisoners executed for nothing more than having the wrong haircut?  No matter.  Where one gets into problems is with North Korea’s penchant for testing their nuclear devices and missiles.  That matters.

Right now, the USS Carl Vinson battle group, who were next door in Singapore, are now bobbing around in the neighbourhood of Korea in the Sea of Japan.  Various countries have a military presence there, mostly submarines, in a smallish bit of ocean where the potential for bumping into each other is rather high.  This older posting  from 2006 gives you the scorecards for the various players, none of whom are particularly calm right now.

If North Korea decides to test out another missile or another nuke, what will be the response?  The Republican President has said nothing, keeping with the Theodore Roosevelt dictum, which might be the wisest course right now.  Yes, I just said Trump is being wise:  I gagged while writing it, but there it is; he is either listening to his advisers or someone has taken him off Adderall.

Does the US have the GPS coordinates of most, if not all the North Korean missile and nuke plants ready to hand?  Considering the number of National Reconnaissance Office overflights from space, the Air Force surely does and has interesting technology to reach out and touch them.  Would Russia and China add their targeting information to the US library?

Here’s where it gets fun.  It is in the best interests of both China and Russia to have a slightly crazed USA go off and kick North Korea’s ass into next week.  China has for several dozen years tried long-timeline diplomacy to contain the North Korean cowboy behavior and not really succeeded.  Russia is always interested in anything that pisses in China’s cornflakes and Russia really isn’t happy with another nuke-wielding nutcase in the area.  If they two of them do it right, they’ll push the Republican President into doing their dirty work for them.  The Republican President can take the heat for doing what China and Russia have always wanted to do, which is kick Kim Jong-un (earlier, his Daddy) to the curb.

Russia and China get to puff up their diplomatic shirts in a display of of “tut-tut” but secretly laugh up their sleeves knowing that North Korea is no longer a threat and President Cheeto will be gone in a few months, back to his golf vacations at Mar-A-Lago to write a book about how the fake news media fabricated evidence about most of his advisers and cabinet who were on the take from various organizations.

Done well, it will demote the United States to a taxi league player but with a big stick that can be manipulated nine times out of ten.

 

Recharging in Barbados


Humans are like batteries, we need the occasional recharge to come back up to four bars and to work efficiently.  How one recharges differs from human to human.  Having been a workaholic for many decades, we never really had the time, money or the inclination to engage in a real vacation.  There was always something more important, more pressing than taking the time for a vacation.  Even our honeymoon in 1988 was cut short by a Federal Election call.  A few extra-long long weekends here and there, sure, but no actual, we’re-down-for-ten-days-sit-on-your-ass break from everything.

Until a couple of weeks ago.

The spousal unit received a very special reward from her employer, ten days and airfare to the owner’s condo, free of charge.  All we had to pay was food, drink and whatever other monkeyshines we wanted to engage in.  So we did exactly that.

Barbados is a small island, 34 km long and 23 km at the widest with about 280,000 people.  The island itself is more or less the same general latitude as Nicaragua but on the Atlantic side, a bit off the north coast of Venezuela.  As a fellow Commonwealth member, we get the EZ Lane when it comes to admittance from Canada.  Is Barbados incredibly beautiful?  Oh yes.  Are the people friendly?  Wonderfully so.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll post some pics and stories from Barbados.

Why am I mentioning a vacation?  This bit of vacation, the relaxation and, yes, the rum, is the reason RoadDave is coming back.  We got to recharge the batteries.