Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When It's Summer in the Rockies

The national guardians are at it again. After pulling off a brilliant eclat at the Winter Olympics and an interesting riposte at the recent Ontario summits, the RCMP have begun to look inward. and what they see, they don't like. Well, not so much see - for the red serge and cavalry stripes always look sharp, it's more what they hear that they dislike. It seems their head honcho is a 'yeller' fer petes' sakes!

The wunderkind civilian overseer of the mounties, one 'wild bill' Elliot, who was appointed to 'make changes' in the RCMP three years ago, has turned out to be every bit the 'martinet' the last honcho was, and he's a screamer forbye! At present he has an upper echelon revolt of sorts on his hands, or rather on the hands of his boss Vic 'moustache pete'  Toews. It appears some higher-ranking Mounties, after complaining to him, decided to do their complaining in the press. They no doubt will be among the most substantive changes in the Mounties for, after embarrassing Vic, who's usually asleep at the switch anyway, they've got 'the screamer' in trouble, too and a civil service inquiry into the 'poisoned environment'.

The scoop, as the papers are reporting, is that Elliot's management style leaves something to be desired. Whatever his background, his training led him to believe that the 'fuhrerprinzip' was best, complete with public 'bawlings-out' of those who displease him. One would think that such management behavior isn't a recently acquired strategy and might have been noticed in his other appointments. But then again, he's more than likely viewed as an unqualified therapist sticking his big nose in where it can't do much good and the notion of a laugh at his expense couldn't be much amiss. On his part he claims that some of his critics are resistant to the kind of change he's taking so long to introduce. Cleaning house shouldn't take so long, and generally the more noise involved, the less 'cleaning' actually gets done.

It sounds like the 'imperium' kicked-in, as it so often does when mere mortals get promoted to greatness.  Elliot probably got to like the snappy salutes from his 'boys', his service did qualify him for the Award of Police Merit.Which is right up there with Elvis' collection of police badges - he was probably an honorary Mountie, though Elliot has, yet, become that. What he does have, along with the golden buttons and crest on his 'official' blazer, is the 'stick of greatness' - the Commissioner's baton. For other Commissioners this was a commonplace sort of thing, but for our 'shrieker' the baton has become, literally a caber, a two-hander if anything, or else he lacks the stature, as well as the 'quals', of others.

Those deputy commissioners are largely those raised in the school of Ghirardelli  the former honcho at RCMP. A fat ex-civil servant cutting the orders probably rankles like heck.  Or maybe all this is being orchestrated for the best cop in Canada - 'Julius Caesar' Fantino. Fantino let it out fairly recently that he was not considering a run in politics after he put aside the swat outfit at the OPP. And what a wonderful improvement in look, the red coat of a Canadian icon!  But Julian's 'grandeur' would put Ghirardelli's to shame, for Julian is a true Roi Soleil and any house-keeping he would do there would probably be of the empire-building kind.

Don't expect much different from the Mounties for the foreseeable future.

Friday, July 23, 2010

AIDS Redux - the Sequel

The annual world-wide AIDS competition, er, conference is wrapping up this week. The annual gathering of all those with a stake, or an interest in the plague of the 21st century were gathered in Vienna to hear the hopeful news (not much), to get the latest in alerts (women and young people seem to be in particular danger this year) and to hear the latest in excuses.

 In the past we've had ignorance, then poverty, and lack of medications to add to the other excuses for the spread of AIDS - risky sexual behaviors and intravenous drug use. This year the 'boogieman' thwarting the stoppage of AIDS is a lack of human rights.

It seems that in countries where the powers that be can do anything they want to individuals, those suffering with AIDS are very reticent to step forward. The fear of physical punishment and or imprisonment, or even death leaves them to develop full-blown illness and then die when retrovirals could slow that progression so they could have longer lives trying to eke out a living. When I hear that, I think of tyrannies like they have in Cuba where there may be no civil rights, but the treatment for AIDS patients is world-class. The big difference is that those diagnosed with AIDS are no longer at large to mix with those who don't have the disease. If freedom to infect others is a bench mark of human rights for AIDS sufferers, sign me up for the school that uses firing squads. I don't think anybody has the 'right' to give anybody else an incurable disease - especially one requiring intimate contact or exchange of body fluids  for transmission. It's not quite the same as sneezing on a bus. In actuality, however, I think the human rights thing is a red herring.

The real problem, and the one as yet un-addressed is that, once infected with AIDS, you have, on average, three years before the disease progresses far enough to make you feel like you need a doctor's attention. In that period, the viral load in your blood may be growing steadily, but you're not sick enough to think that you might be spreading anything worse than spit and semen. It is these folk with AIDS, who don't yet know they have it, who are causing the undiminished 'new infection' rate of about 12 percent. With the exception of the few odd cases where someone deliberately infects others, most people with AIDS are very careful about not transmitting it to friends and others intimate with them. But as yet there is nothing the AIDS body is willing to do that would address this issue, other than to encourage wide-spread AIDS 'education'. Lesson one of that course is that 'we' have nothing to fear from people with AIDS - the ones who know they have it at least. And the rest? Well, if you're doing 'risky business', you should get yourself tested and vulcanize yourself.

So the well-paid activists, spokespersons and workers in AIDs-directed charities and NGOs can pat themselves on the back for another years' work done. They can waggle fingers at governments who aren't kicking-in as much as they might. And 'tsk-tsk' about the tragedies. When it comes to serving useless purposes they are well up there, for the only thing they 'do' is an annual 'awareness' of our insufficiencies. As if the world could forget.

Even Better than C-17's

It was announced this week that the Canadian government was all set to buy a couple of wings worth of the almost new F35 Lightning 2. This marvel of aeronautical engineering and fighter for the vandouzieme century, has been a-borning since the 70's and, at last, it's almost ready for production. Being as since there are only a couple of other such "5th generation" hi-tech stealth aircraft on the market these days and having joined the developmental consortium a number of years, and millions of dollars ago, the F35 is really Canada's only choice. The US has a 'better' model - the F22 - but they're keeping that one for themselves and gallant l'il Israel - even though Obama thinks he's scrapped it. The Russkis have a similar (cheaper) machine in the works, but we don't do deals with terror, or commies,  the same way we missed buying all those Ruslans we still rent.

No, we're bound and bent to buy the Lightning 2 just like a US general said we were going to do some 12 years back. We don't get any choice - not if we don't want a whole shitload of trade problems. Never mind the fact that, given its comparatively short range, we'll have to be messing-up its vaunted stealth characteristics with a load of external fuel tanks. The single engine should provide better fuel economy than the double units in the CF18 and the F22, but zipping over the barren north won't be as worry-free, if that single mill goes out, there's only one other way down. But what the hell,  they make really good jet engines these days.

It was picturesque to see our 'civilian warrior', the devilishly handsome Minister of Defence, trying on the cockpit of one of the babies. I bet he never had the willies like that since his days in the video arcade. Sitting on all that raw power would be better than humping a Secretary of State or 'doing a circuit' on the star of the Stronach stable. We, in Canada, are fortunate to have a 'first soldier' who's cut to the rig of a Reinhard Heydrich, rather than someone who looks like Elmer Fudd and sounds like a relative of Porky Pig.

But don't let the photo-op fool anybody there's money to be spent here - 9 billion dollars (16 billion according to other sources) , the deal is pegged at. If you'll do some simple mathematics - by comparison to the 4 billion dollars we 'paid' for three C-17's, you'll realize what a real bargain the 65  Lightning 2's are, even without the maintenance part of the deal. Or what a real screwing somebody took for those 3 heavy lifters.

If you knew the anything about the untried and overrated Lightning 2, you might realize, as well, that somebody was 'assuming the position', again.

Gord Save the Queen

It must have been some kind of serendipity to have our dear old Queen show up in Hogtown at the same time the other queens over on Jarvis were slapping the Dr. Scholl's moleskins on their parade blisters. I wonder if anybody thought to invite her to take part in the Dyke's Day festivities - she is such a role model for dominant personality types.

If she knew the other genders were having a alternation fest only blocks away, the dear old Queen wasn't saying anything about that for public consumption. It might not matter much, given the predilection of the royals to recognize, and use, the obvious organizational talents of the fey, even if they can't, officially, abide their amorous activities. Her majesty was reserved to royal business: a day at the races,  opening hockey displays, visiting blackberry factories and lunching with the 'natural nobility' of the province. They didn't have the security fences up for the delightful little monarch, she gets more respect than our 'worldly' leaders - except from 'excited' pony-owners. But she was there for them, to back them up, they are the pointy end of the family business don't you know? Extolling their virtues she would call it all, to the tune of only 12 million bucks. Worth every penny I say!.

She did get a little training for her up-coming visit to the land o' the free home o' the braves, etc. On her last days in Tronna she was the recipient of an early summer heat wave, combined with an exercise in applied private ownership when the power went out in the downtown core. Luckily, where she 'was to', there was a back-up electrical system and the the gala went on as planned. When she goes south next week, she's going to get a real baking, they've got that heat wave in spades compared to us esquimeaux, and an even wonkier private enterprise electrical grid.

The Americans are 'pumped' for her visit - but I think they're expecting Queen Latifah or a Freddy Mercury impersonator. An octogenarian as ruler better be wearing white and riding a popemobile as far as they're concerned. When it comes to 'royalty' they prefer those to be going 'commanda' and being undignified getting out of lo-rider limos. In the world of bad rugs, dental veneers and plastic surgery Queen Elizabeth looks just a bit too natural to be 'real'.

Editing a week or two post-visit, all I can note is that her Royal highness was upstaged by the tribulations of one Lindsey Lohan and the world Cup. I don't think anybody knew she was there.