Monday, August 23, 2010

That Does It - I'm monetizing

To-day's Toronto Star tells the tale of a reformed pervert who made $100 000 last year making videos of like-minded individuals reconnecting with their inner Peter Pan by driving home-made 'stunt vehicles' around his farm. It appears he was sole owner, producer, etc of a UTube 'hit', or rather something that got  thousands of them. So many that UTube paid him a great deal of money for his uploads.

The Star seems to have dropped the story. here's a different reference:

But it seems that somebody who saw his stuff remembered him from the bad old days of early videography. Seems that Farmer Brown was in on the ground floor of digital imaging and directed the all-revealing lens to a couple of fey blades he conjured into a bout of Onanism. He claims that his as-yet-undiagnosed manic-depression was the cause of his reaching out to fondle some flopping 'genitools' - again on camera. That got him a conviction for child molestation, for he was 26 at the time and the pud-pullers were still too young to be doing that for a living. Some of those who knew him then, are expressing concern that young men might be attracted to his 'rides' and leave themselves open to other 'experiences', if Farmer Brown is still bent in that former direction.

For his part,  Brown is 'coming clean' at this juncture so that  he can improve his chances of being reunited with his 'estranged children' . That's a laudable sentiment, if not a little bit late, but probably due to that lithium deficiency. He didn't say what estranged them. It strikes me that you have to be doing something a little off-side of the centre spot to be having your children 'estranged' from you. Courts these days are quite understanding, even if there is mental illness at play, unless it's the kind that results in some physical violence or abuse.

I'd be concerned that Farmer Brown seems to see a value in running a place with the motto 'Where boys become men, and men become boys'".

All this has given me pause to consider that one can actually pull down a six-figure income slapping some videos on the internet - which explains some of the stuff that bubbles up from time to time, and that 'asshole craze' that made some young idiots wealthy endangering themselves. Maybe there's a place for scruffy curmudgeon barging about the vicissitudes of life. Nope, I understand somebody from Yonkers - with a wife beater over his beer gut -  has that spot nailed shut.

Maybe I'll monetize this stuff, with the audience I've got  I'll be wealthy in another lifetime.

Dudley Strikes/Struck Again

Canada's best loved icons, barring Bucky the Beaver or some of those 'commando' fiddlers from down-east, have dropped themselves in the doo-doo of hubris once again.

This time Canada's singular police force, cum intelligence service, cum embassy guards battalion, cum only cavalry unit, are being pasted in the press for their interference with, and kiboshing of,  the investigation of wee Willie Picton, the pork farmer of Port Coquitlam. It seems that the 'people in red', either ignored the information presented by other police, or dragged their feet on their own investigation enough to allow Willie to ply his trade in up to 30 additional cases of  'rendering'.

willie gets porked

As one policeman testified at the investigation "You can't tell the RCMP anything, they know it all." Well he's sort of half right, being as since they know it all already, it's far better to drop them a few hints and allow them to use the skills acquired from King of the Mounties and Sgt. Preston of the Yukon, to come up with the facts for themselves. For anything anybody else might 'know' isn't worth a bridle full of horse saliva to 'those with real horse sense'. It's a good idea to steer clear while they pursue their 'investigations', too.

Bummer is that the Picton investigation went the same way as some other Mounted investigations - i.e. south. This leads one to believe that 'investigating' isn't their strong suit and might be fodder for an different government enterprise - like a Federal Bureau of Investigation, say? On the upside, these 'fodder' spin-offs, like CSIS, are fields for applied Mountyism - places where retiring red coats  can go to be with others who share the esprit, if not the big hat. It doesn't dawn on anybody that making incompetent ex-Mounties the head honchos in some equally important services isn't just letting them breed more of those like unto themselves? That Mountie 'culture' is going with them and this inquiry  points out, again,  that the 'culture' is at the root of the force's problems. It's stopping them from doing their jobs.

So what is to be done? Well changing the 'hetman' didn't work. The 'cossacks rouges' took three years to discover he was a 'pouf' and to work up the gumption to say something about it. They probably weren't in favour of any substantive changes either, especially if it involved not considering themselves commanding the bestest and smartest - if not the most best-looking police in the world. Even then,  they went puling to the Minister, himself a wanker of the first water, before ultimately leaking their tale of woe, anonymously, to the press. Nobody wanted to fall on their cavalry lance and risk a pension for the good of  the force. That there are ponces running the government who are trying to run 'the mounted', is only coincidental.

I think the only way out of the mess, aside from letting them carry on in the 'fine tradition', etc,  is to turn them into a latter day Corps of Commissionaires. Keep the uniforms, they're sharp. But put them where they won't be doing any harm, like at holding doors at public events and citizenship courts, decorating foreign affairs soirees and ambassadorial banquets, checking the bona fides of visitors at Parliament Hill and in the opposition parties' caucus rooms. As far as training foreign police services, well, unless they would like a mounted performance unit - and a lot of places would like one of those,  like the red indians, cossacks or the bashi-bazouks, the Khyber Rifles and the Spahis - lots of opportunities. The Mounties, however, shouldn't be teaching anybody about investigating.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Up to the Neck in It

The monsoons weren't kind to Pakistan this year. The 'rainy' season caused notable damage in a lot of places. It might give pause to consider more of that 'extremes of weather' stuff Al Gore was pontificating about, if 'right thinking' individuals weren't convinced that extreme weather happens all the time. But I digress. It's not so much that the monsoon, this year, created a mess, it's the effect of that.

Pakistan is a unique country running from the Himalayas in the north, generally downhill to the south-west to the Indian ocean. And that is how the monsoon took it. Beginning with heavy rains in the mountainous north-east provinces, the mountain streams and rivers rapidly swelled their banks. The deluge swept away villages and left survivors stranded on high ground without food or shelter. It was almost a week before we, in the west, started hearing stories of the devastation. Among the first were that the 'taliban' were "taking advantage" of the situation by aiding those affected and that the Pakistani government had no resources nearby to help. Subsequent stories told of floods spreading to the central parts of the country, of dams washing away and again thousands stranded with no help. By that time NATO (the US ) had diverted six helicopters from Afghanistan - these were promptly grounded by bad weather - and the Pakistanis were diverting military helicopters to rescue work. Aside from that, it was noted that western aid was not arriving in any great quantity.

In the west, the story of the Pakistani floods received the same attention as the Chinese floods, or the Mexican floods, very little at all. The President of Pakistan, on a sort-of royal progress around the family estates in France actually got more press for nay-saying the war in Afghanistan. That 'normal' outburst of generous  appealing,  pledging and sending off airlifts of aid seen in other recent disasters just didn't happen this time. Just the opposite in fact - the 'where are all the muslims'  chorus went up.

Along with it was the tooth-sucking about the effect on the war - that the 'taliban' had somehow not been affected by the flood and were 'on the road' to taking back all the areas the government had destroyed fighting them for the past two years. The weather was even taking a toll on the drone strikes which only managed to kill a half company of insurgents. And there was expressed the fear that those nasty 'Talies' would be taking any resources given to the flood victims, so best not to give them anything at all. Let the taliban feed them from their ration dumps. Actually, this is a close to the truth as you're going to get, for those people ARE the 'Taliban', all of them. Now they're wet, cold, out in the open and they have nothing to eat but their kalashikovs, so it's a golden opportunity to put the kibosh on the insurgency with some benign neglect or 'grub for actionable intel' program.

Now the flooding is reaching into the more 'advanced' areas of the Pakistani south and, at last, the clarion call to assist is being blatted quietly. America, as usual, is leading the pack with a promised 100 million in humanitarian aid. Even Canada has 'promised' 33 million - but that's probably money we had already promised and I wouldn't count on a dime until the cheque gets cashed. Our Conservative government is big on letting the little guy pay first and then forgetting to cut the cheque themselves. We haven't heard yet from Franklin Graham's international 'ministry', but maybe they've got their hands full and warehouses emptying, getting Haiti ready for more of the same old, same old but with the real American Jesus and less of that MauMau juju papist stuff. Muslim organizations are mobilizing to send help, at least the ones that haven't been placed on the international blackball of terror list. This is where those 'sanctions' really start paying-off! Too bad it wasn't as wet in Iran. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Canada's Shreiking Meemie

I just read a piece in the Toronto sun about Khadr, the Canadian child-mujaheddin who has been growing into adulthood in Gitmo for the last 8 years. The writer of the piece, one Ezra Levant, wonders why anybody could be feeling the least bit bad about Khadr since, according to Levant, he's been the recipient of all things good while he's been staying in that Caribbean workers' paradise. Levant would have us believe he's been molly-coddled, not only by overly kindly guards who attend zealously to his religious strictures in regard to prayer and feeding, but by the Canadian government's department of foreign affairs who send him regular "care packages" at taxpayer expense along with goodies provided by an admiring family. This little terrorist has had too many treats.

Levant describes the idyllic life  of  Khadr and his ilk, with opportunities for exercise, if they wish, and expensive high-fashion athletic footware, but also nintendo and electronic time-wasters laid on by caring Marines. No doubt he's an accomplished 'killer' at "COD5 Modern War".

How all this is known unto Ezra is probably due to his exposure to 'Fox-think' in the bastion of freedom. To round-off his little piece, Ezra spits out one last sunflower shell in the form of the arcane knowledge that the IEP that killed the first Canadian to die in Afghanistan was assembled by another 'child-terrorist'. How does he know that? The man is truly amazing.

How did Ezra get to be so smart, you might ask. Well, that was due to his upbringing. Ezra is the grandchild of Russian Jewish emigrants who homesteaded out to the Canadian west to find a new life. Whatever their new life was about, Ezra managed to attend Jewish school  and later took his degree in law from  the U. of Alberta. At a young age he developed a negative sensitivity for those who might get an easier (free?) ride due to their 'special' circumstances. This offended Ezra so much that he led the charge to overturn some civil rights and equal-opportunity nonsense the university had started. Ezra became a poster-boy for the reactive right. Lashing out to restore a sense of real social value and the natural aristocracy of the smart.

This led Ezra to configure himself as a 'conservative thinker' - he dislikes anything 'special' - like unions, Quebec, or anything east of Winnipeg. He wants government to get rid of those hindrances to progress - like the minimum wage, universal health care, public pensions and subsidized education. Ezra might very well hallucinate that Canada could add 10 new stars to the 'spangled banner' not to mention a few territories and a whole whack of cheap resources that the 'talented' could better manage in lieu of the socialists. One might almost think he aspires to join the constellation of holy hebrews who wag the dog in Washington. Along with all this arcane baggage, Ezra holds a little bit of a hate for such as Khadr.

It could be because of all the free medical and dental care he has received at Gitmo. It could be because Khadr's family have piled on the Canadian haywagon much as did gran-bubbi, only with far more public assistance (an unnecessary social innovation in them days) . Or it could be that Khadr's gotten all this notice and press about being the youngest terrorist to be 'tagged' by America. Or, finally, it could be that Khadr seems, to this point, to be a far more sympathetic character than some pudgy prick of a western lawyer. At least Khadr had the moxie to bounce back from a USAF bomb strike, a SF assault and three of their best in his back. Not only that, cheeky bugger, he had the fearful temerity to, reputedly, toss a hand grenade that, supposedly, killed a "medic" and all-round nice-guy and dad who happened to be in the assault squad that day.

To Levant, this is all chapter and verse - even though there are members of the assault squad who deny the 'conventional wisdom' of the 'action report' - twice written and filed months late. Khadr is guilty because he was caught on a video tape miraculously found on the battlefield afterward, and because he 'fessed-up' to 'friendly' American guards, one of whom was discharged for beating an innocent Afghan taxi-driver to death. Levant is right only in saying, in his blog, "Canada's little terrorist is as good as done."

Khadr can't not be found guilty - there's an empire at stake.

If there's anything that we shouldn't be 'crying' for Khadr about,  it is that he has such antagonists as Ezra Levant. I'd like to think that when Khadr thinks of his God taking revenge on his persecutors that he's thinking of assholes like Levant. We should be crying for ourselves, for, all too often, that 'revenge' falls on the innocent, not the bigmouths who might truly deserve it.

Friday, August 06, 2010

No Honour Among Thieves: Buyers and Sellers Either

One of  Toronto's more picaresque attractions are the TV advertisements by those who offer "cash for gold". There are two in particular Russell Oliver - who's been a provider of chintzy TV ads for a number of years, and a recently independent protege, one Harold the Jewelry Buyer. There are others,  a mail-in-your-old-jewelry-and-we'll-cut-you-the-cheque outfit and, apparently, the subject of this story.

It strikes me that societal circumstances must have reverted to a previous time when 'jewelry buyers' and pawn shops are becoming more noticeable (and reputable?) again. There is now a series on the A&E channel about a pawn family in Las Vegas - some of whose members bear a striking resemblance to other more notable 'bounty-hunting' and chopper-building' dynasties, or to the Munsters of comedic fame.

What's  humorous in all these is their stereotypicality. 'Dog, the Bounty Hunter' his blowsy missus, his tatted and pigtailed trailer-trash progeny are one-ers. As are the mustachioed and muscle-bound biker building family - except for the one overweight 'nerd' among them. These are modern-day replacements for the 'rasslers' of past times. The 'pawners' are larger than life too, with a coterie of experts and advisors who look like the came straight from a Bob Crumb comic. And no less are Russell the "Loan arranger" Peters (Oliver) and Harold the Schmuck.

Oliver has been around longer than the other, but longevity hasn't improved him, or apparently, his service. Here's one of his ads:

Russ Oliver has some bad press for his attempted rip-offs and apparently lousy 'bedside manner'. He did however raise Harold to manhood, or at least the position to want to go it alone. Harold doesn't have the flash, but he does an outstanding rendition of Shylock. Here's one of his efforts:

One could imagine somebodies  like Harold, or Russell being in the Temple courtyard the day Jesus 'lost it'.

To-day's story  puts a another  slant on things. There aren't enough people peddling granny's old adornments, or there are too many buyers jacking up the price, for these guys. And so we have equally colorful 'extreme fighters' claiming to be hired to knock-off the opposition - by Granny of all people! You can't buy advertising like that.

It really isn't surprising when one considers that Bathurst Street in Toronto, once the quaint heart of a little shtetl, has grown like a beanstalk that extends Toronto's Judenrat for some 40 miles through the city and out into the hinterland.  Not much in the 'news' about it, but Toronto's Jewish community has grown, obviously as quickly,  if not far more prosperously, than some of the others. Russell and Harold are part of a 'vibrant' religious and socio-economic scene, even if they do from time to time want to kill each other. The 'schwarzers'  do that with striking regularity.

The High cost of Plantation

An article in the Toronto Star yesterday caught my attention, it was titled "Funeral Homes Subsidizing Services for the Poor". Being the altruist that I am and having gone through the funeral process fairly recently, this act of corporate largesse just grabbed me. But I'm working on the principle that nothing makes a funeral home sadder than to sit empty, and any funeral is better for business than no funeral.

It seems that local funeral homes in Toronto are 'up against the wall', cost-wise, in providing a ]decent] funeral for the 'poor', for less than $5 500. They want the City to up the basic rate for a 'paupers' funeral from $2 208 to cover that amount. Last year they claim to have 'lost' millions on the 1 600  'freebies' they 'had to' give those who died while on social assistance, or disability pensions.

Needless to say, most of those funerals were of the 'full service' type because there were 'family' involved. I'm making an assumption here, but I'd guess none of the 'family involved' were in a position to actually pay anything toward the costs themselves?

So what's included? Because the family must be  'respected'  here. "Most get pickup, embalming, a particleboard casket covered by grey cloth with white rayon interior, a service, clergy honorarium, a hearse, “lead car” and limo for family, and burial or cremation." If the cost for that is $5 500 + tax, then the $13 000 paid for a recently deceased relative must have been increased by more than double - the extra costs of 'viewing', 'deluxe' coffin and a grave liner.

Under legislation,  municipalities are "allowed"  to cover these costs with 80% being supplied by the province. This for families who are "unable to bury a loved one as they would like".

Strikes me that one of the effects of  'poverty' is not being able to do a lot of things you would like. But having a funeral 'show' for an indigent family member, on the public tick, I don't think should be one of them. I guess the same problem of not having the foresight to realize that you can't not work and expect the grocery man to drop a load at the door, carries over into the realization that we are all finite and the day will come when our carcass, or dear old dad's,  must be disposed.  That a whole 'family' (for I'm making an assumption that this wouldn't get done for the sake of a surviving parent, brother, sister or cousin) couldn't work together to bury their dead, is a sad commentary on to-day's world. But then, if they did that, they'd probably get charged the going rate. The costs of those 'basic' funeral services, which aren't available to the paying public, would be heftily inflated. If somebody else is going to pay for it, why volunteer? And I don't think the funeral industry is being too altruistic either.

One thing most funeral directors in business aren't, is stupid. That variety don't stay in business long. So I'm imagining that, like many businessmen who 'give to charity', funeral homes put some of those 'operating expenses' over to those who can pay, or as a 'business expense' against taxes, or maybe a bit of both. I would also imagine that, depending on location, some funeral homes would get more of the 'pauper' trade than others. And the subsidy, then, would constitute a business hardship, in terms of a lack of higher 'regular' rates than those funeral homes get, who only bury the well-heeled. So the problem wouldn't be industry-wide, or equitably distributed.

Why, then, the necessity for government involvement? The funeral business has a number of internal organizations to which individuals can belong, and for a number of purposes. Why don't they fund an insurance plan to cover those increased basic costs for the few (?) affected? Just because the government undertakes to provide the necessities of life to those unable to do so for themselves doesn't make it a logical follow-up that government should provide the industry standard in funerary practices too. 'Bury the dead' is a corporal work of mercy enjoined on all, but in our neo-pagan society this religious tenet has been parlayed into a social event, with concommitent opportunities for the ultimate 'show', which, in the industry, is the icing on the monetary cake. Poverty defines a limit on the amount of that

The government shouldn't be in the business of providing more than the 'paupers' funeral'. If  'the family'  want more, they should plan for it, and save for it or, as so many others do, go into debt for it.