Tuesday, December 22, 2015

"Following" Blogs That Use Google Blogger

According to Google if you currently use a non-Google account to follow this blog, to continue to read it you now need to sign up for a Google Account, and re-'follow' our blog. With a Google Account, you'll get this blog added to your Reading List, which they claim makes it easier to see the latest posts and activity of the blogs you follow.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Way of the Warrior

The French public is lining up to join army, army reserves, police or whatever other state organ with a militaristic orientation that will take them on. A rabbi previously an American Jewish Press award winner is now publishing a book called 'The Israel Warrior's Handbook'. It seems everyone's keen to be a soldier. Jihadists must be chuckling over their tea (they don't do champagne) watching us gear up for the war of religion they've been trying hard to convince us exists.

Daesh and its ilk are reminiscent of the landsknechts and other wandering Mediaeval European hedge knights who descended on unprotected villages to slaughter and pillage and hole up. Our Sunni bandit 'knights' of today have the same outlook but better weapons. They take over territory that they have no capacity for managing effectively over time. Rapine, slavery and butchery is the order of the day.

The authorities in a region affected by mounted troupes of medieval villains would eventually get round to slaughtering or expelling the cancer that they represented, but the dislocation caused by never-ending local conflicts, especially during the Hundred Years War and the later Thirty Years War, ensured that new groups of bandit horsemen emerged on a regular basis. This we see today in the Arab and other dysfunctional Muslim lands where new Al-Qaedas and Boko Harems are popping up year after year.

One doesn't 'declare war' on such criminal trash so dignifying them as the 'enemy'; one eliminates them in a massive police action using all the technology at one's command. One doesn't tolerate terms like 'Islamic State' since the likes of Daesh lack the attributes of a civil state. Just as no-one in the Middle Ages expected a robber baron and his followers to develop a social conscience, we can have no expectation that murdering Sunni jihadist units will ever join the community of nations.

I have real doubts that the answer is larger armies, bigger domestic police forces, or new 'warrior' groups packed with vengeful citizens who believe like Hollande that we are 'at war' with fundamentalist Islam. Better is a coordinated international 'police' action using already highly-trained special forces working under a UN mandate to capture or exterminate these psychopaths who are a danger to all nations. A cancer is cut out or killed so that it cannot spread to other parts of the 'body of nations'.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Welcome to the Age of Surveillance

This is face of the devil today
"They hate us because we are free, we are told. The fact that we've responded by giving up ever more freedom doesn't seem to matter" from 'After Paris, there will be no stopping the surveillance state now' by Neil Macdonald, Senior Correspondent CBC News. Macdonald makes the point that Europe, especially Britain and soon France, are essentially surveillance societies where, if you are in an urban area, your mug shot is captured dozens of times a day by your 'protectors'. 

Having spent my career working in complex and highly regulated advanced scientific businesses where I interacted with a plethora of well-educated bureaucrats and regulators, I can say without a blink that I don't trust governments with anything but the simplest and most obvious data on me and mine. 

To my younger brother, who once worked as chief scientist for the UK military and therefore was part of the hydra which we can think of for convenience as the 'Man', I am an innocent at best, and more probably a deludedly dangerous libertarian. He has told me more than once that I just have no concept about how many bad people there are out there who want to do us all harm. 

Before he got the job as Q's boss, I, as his closest living relative, was 'checked out' by our RCMP. Thus they have a file on me somewhere that I'll never see. Frankly I'd rather they hadn't, especially since compiling it would have involved checks with people with whom I have interacted. It isn't that unreasonable to assume that people in the surveillance business are not that different from the police in that, from experience, they generally assume the worst about the rest of us.

Jihadist psychopaths like the newly-killed Paris mass-murderer Abdelhamid Abaaoud (picture above), a man whose satanic world view is encapsulated in this comment he made about his practice of dragging murdered victims behind a vehicle - "Before we towed jet skis, motorcycles, quad bikes, big trailers filled with gifts for vacation in Morocco. Now, thank God, following God's path, we're towing apostates", want us to lose our freedoms. They want enemies like a Mongol warrior needed them under the great khans. Just like the khans, the more fear they can induce, the more pleasure and profit for them in manufacturing further terrors. Turning free societies into police states through terror is an old, old trick.

Why are we falling for it?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Retreat of Science from the Place It Began

'Beginning with Scotland’s prohibition on domestic genetically modified crop cultivation on Aug. 9, Europe’s scientists and farmers watched with mounting dismay as other countries followed suit. Following the Scottish decision, signatories from numerous scientific organizations and academic institutions wrote to the Scottish government to express grave concern “about the potential negative effect on science in Scotland.”

The appeal went unheeded.

Without a trace of embarrassment, a spokeswoman for Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party, admitted that the first minister’s science adviser had not been consulted because the decision “wasn’t based on scientific evidence.” Instead, the priority was to protect the “clean green image” of the country’s produce, according to the secretary for rural affairs, food and environment.'
NYT Sunday Review Oct 25th p.6 - 'Europe Turns Against Science'

As both a Scot and a former biotechnology entrepreneur it is hard for me to watch the Nationalists who form the current Scottish Government descend to the idiot level. No GMOs, no Trident atomic submarines, nothing tech if the English or Americans find it useful.... These rustics remind me of the "nuclear-free zones" that socialist municipal  councils created in Britain, or the "niqab-free" municipalities Canada now has in rural Quebec.

'The historical irony is that Europe once led in biotech: in 1983, Marc Van Montagu and Jeff Schell at the University of Ghent in Belgium introduced the world to modern plant genetic engineering. Today, however, no rational young scientist interested in molecular techniques of crop breeding would choose a base in Continental Europe.'

The 'must be organic and GMO-free' craze long plaguing European food production has now resulted in nations as stable and scientifically sophisticated as Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Scotland using new European Union rules to announce bans on the cultivation of genetically modified crops. They either see no reason to take senior science advice in agriculture or, like the Scots Nats, choose to forgo it for populist reasons.

It is eerie for one such as I, born in Europe but now a resident of the Developed New World, to see the populations of advanced New World countries like America, Canada and Australia retain a respect for the evidence-based view of technological development we inherited from the European Enlightenment, while much of Old World Europe's present-day leadership slips away from relying on modern science for deciding what to believe when it comes to food production and nutrition.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Five Years Before the Social Masthead


I started in with social media well before I heard the term in use. It was five years ago when, newly retired and both wondering what to do through yet another long dark winter, my movie and coffee shop pal, Wayne, suggested we get into blogging about what we’d each come to believe on our long life journeys. Maybe that big bulge of Boomers coming up right below us seniors would find our thoughts resonated with them? In those not-that-far-off days, Booming was still a big new thing, and its zippier manifestation, Zooming, was just coming into the the world, courtesy of Moses Znaimer’s media empire.

Wayne came up with an appropriately serious-sounding moniker for this blog, ‘Musings of an Aging Boomer’, and I our obscure tag line, ‘A Senior Perspective on the Evolution of Western Values since IBM Selectrics and Rock-and-Roll were young’. Though my partner dropped out of posting when that winter ended, I have soldiered on, shifting the blog onto my own domain to highlight the solo nature of its authorship. 

We are up to 136 posts now and my followership goes up and down, but is never a lot. I began this blog with a view to honing a writing style and to explore content ideas for longer opinion pieces. That is where I presently remain. Ninety-eight percent of blogs attract a tiny readership and, while this is one of the more durable Boomer blogs, commentary on everyday life and times is not easy to monetize with cautious late middle age folk who often have only a dim idea or none at all of how to find good writing of interest on the Web.  Without readership there will be no sponsorship to pay for spending time on developing well-written and satisfying posts.

These days I manage a couple of additional blogs. These are not personal but subject related, and content is at least partly provided by third parties. Their subjects of authorship and heritage attract a wider crowd than my personal musings.

About a year ago, I realised that I had better find out what some of the more recently developed social media options than now-mature blogging were all about. This was so that I could decide where, if at all, they could help my authorial efforts. What to choose?  I had already joined LinkedIn years ago so I just needed to revamp my profile to fit my state in life, and start posting again. I added Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, the last at that point in time still much reviled by many pundits as mindless.

As an older person in an age category where Facebook (FB) use is still low, my very modest number of thirty-two ‘friends’ who are actual people (rather than an organization) are a heterogeneous lot, and largely not representative of my personal friendships. In contrast, my thirty-something-year-old kids have pretty well all their real-life acquaintances in their age group using FB regularly as the primary way they all stay in touch.

In addition to maintaining my own personal Timeline, I monitor ten Facebook groups that reflect my recreational interests. Sad to say that the very substantial memberships of most of these communities (some are well beyond a 1,000 members) are mostly middle-aged. Having hobbies is becoming a dated concept that may never catch on with our youngest adult age cohort, the so-called Millennials.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Selfie Made Universal

'I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.' 
King James Bible, Ecclesiastes 1:14 

Back in 1812 the Wicked Queen in the Brothers Grimm story 'Snow White' had to go find her magic mirror each time she felt the need for reassurance as the 'Fairest One Of All'.
Franz Jüttner       
These days most tablets and smartphones come with an extra camera lens facing back at us just above the screen. Plus to avoid the distorted goofie look of many a close-up shot, we can invest in a selfie stick to better capture our fine features from above or in profile. Any time, any place we are in need of an ego boost, instead of the doubtful chore of trying for a magic mirror on E Bay, we can check back through 'saved media'. Captioning using phrases like 'The Fairest One' helps add to the warmth of our self-regard.

Better still, why not us invest in a selfie drone? If we have US $700+ to spare it's coming time to pre-order a drone that takes pictures but needs no hand-held controller like today's - it just follows you along everywhere you go about your day.

But wait! There may be a price to our vanity. While "there is no denying that the latest drone technology is impressive. And the footage is striking. Adventure travellers who wish to watch themselves scale Kilimanjaro or surf in Hawaii along the North Shore of Oahu will no doubt want one. But if selfie-drones become staples of every traveller who can afford them, we stand to lose more than we stand to gain when it comes to privacy, safety and quality-of-life factors like peace and beauty".

Drone persecution
The selfie is here to stay, but what price our vanity in privacy loss? Perhaps when we get before much longer to being able to order the Invisible Flying Nanobot Selfie Camera it will be classed as 'For Military Use Only'? But, then, we'll just wait for army surplus; it won't be far behind.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

What Defines a Nation State?

The Jerusalem Post is the premier English language Israeli newspaper. I follow it to get a sense of the mood in the only democracy in the Middle East, one on the front line of Muslim anarchy and violent push-back against Western liberal ideas.

Occasionally their reporting from this frontier of our civilization gets absurdly paranoid. This 'front-page' article is actually about a single individual who took advantage of a poorly executed and policed business gimmick in a minor European nation to advertise his infantile prejudices. An unappealing feature of the paper is a tendency to 'look back over its shoulder' to see if its friends remain firmly lined up firmly in its camp. Any display  of anti-Semitism, however atypical or unrepresentative, is cause for panic - "Are we still truly alone (like we were in WWII Europe)?"

Present and former imperial nations (America, UK, France...) and their nationals are demeaned and insulted all across the rest of the world.  A mature democracy learns to live with the fact that others less fortunate will insult and belittle its citizens and its contributions to human welfare.  As a nation state Israel's unique and self-appointed burden is taking on all the causes and battles of the world's Jewry, including the many who have not chosen to become its citizens. It will not truly be credible as a legitimate national entity until it sees caring for the fortunes of all of its own citizens, Jewish, Arab and Druze, as its primary duty and one well ahead of defending all those of Jewish descent but another citizenship living outside its borders.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Flatworm on the Move

DNA Barcoding: A flatworm on the move: yet another 'present' from the Third World on its way here.


Photograph by Makiri Sei 

Platydemus manokwari, the New Guinea flatworm, is a highly invasive species - "this should be considered a significant threat to North America".

Monday, June 22, 2015

'Cultural Genocide' - The Phrase As A Whipping Post


The latest Canadian manifestation of the international rise in pressure on Caucasians to atone for the wrongs of colonization is the report of a federal Truth and Reconciliation commission for the study of the past treatment of native children at church-run schools and orphanages. One conundrum that arises from its appeal that we as our institutions apologize for the behaviour of mostly now-deceased individuals, is in finding a way to do that which also recognizes that the minorities persecuted by government in the past are not only our ‘first peoples’. The Acadian expulsion from the Maritimes has not benefited from government atonement, and probably should not. Displacement of the weaker by the stronger civilization is one of the forces that have shaped who we are throughout human history.

 Image result for acadian expulsion

If every national government was required to atone for the many sins of previous generations, most older societies in the world would be thrown into chaos. American blacks descended from slaves, Ulster Gaels displaced by Protestant Lowland Scots and West Country English, Metis whose territory in Manitoba was removed from their management – the list of grievance is endless. How far back to we go? The Welsh were expelled from most of England and parts of Scotland when the Anglo-Saxons arrived.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Where Will All The Old Folks Go?

Commentary by @michael.frind on 'Waterloo housing: the dream … and the surprising realityDespite a growing population, planners say home ownership patterns are shifting and the region doesn’t need much more suburban single-family housing' which appeared recently in the Toronto Star:

'The greenfield development industry likes to perpetuate the notion that Canada has a wealth of land, because of course they want to justify building more subdivisions. But in reality, Canada is not land-rich in terms of land that we can grow food on -- and this land happens to be the same land that is in close proximity to cities (and this is what makes that land attractive to urban-sprawl developers, so they buy it on speculation). And, Waterloo's farmland, like that of the Toronto area, is indeed excellent farmland - land which we cannot afford to lose.

So, urban economist Peter Norman is dead-wrong when he says "Canada is land-rich and it's part of our culture", because even though our gross land area is huge, the vast majority of our gross land is effectively undevelopable (in particular our vast northern areas). And, that's why our population is so heavily crowded along our southern fridge -- and most of that is concentrated in the Windsor-to-Québec-City corridor (so, including Waterloo Region, Toronto-Hamilton-Niagara, and so on). And, this corridor happens to be where most of Canada's prime farmland is located. So, we cannot afford to let the developers use this prime farmland as a speculative investment and make big bucks off suburban-izing the farmland that current and future generations will need to grow food on.

We should also remember that our need for farmland can be expected to be greater in the future than it is now, and this increase in needed farmland will be due to several factors: -

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Is Interracial Humour Dead?

One of the lamentable consequences of today's avalanche of politically correctness in the Western World is a pernicious mantra that all cultures that share our planet must treat each other with absolute respect. That is to preclude any attempt at humour at each other's expense.

Until recently the only people in the public arena left who could even hint at anything politically incorrect were comedians !  Now however it seems there's to be nothing more taboo in today's increasingly multi-ethnic and multicultural but formerly Caucasian societies than to make fun of non-white behaviours. The most perilous idea of any for a joke is now one that involves aboriginals. While the foibles of the European populations that created the cultural  norms of the North American societies above the Rio Grande remain in open season, the activities of any indigenous inhabitants whose origins are non-white are to be totally off-limits to comical interpretation.

If every Newfoundlander threw a fit on the Mainland of Canada or every Scotsman in England because of the fact that a joke was made at their tribe's eccentricities, we'd never understand how enjoyable it can be when they are being themselves! What's the point in a diverse society of being denied any chance at using humour in a public place to point out the amusing ways we differ from one another? Better than resentment with no outlets, surely? Comedians provide a safety valve for each tribe's puzzlement about the rituals of its fellow inhabitants.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My Cup Runneth Over

The Road Gypsy Chronicles: Coffee Run ... Amuck: "I've been thinking for days about an issue that goes against every cell in my body. It is a topic that most people have read about or discussed but it is also a topic that most people choose to ignore. It is so engrained in the daily life of mainstream North American that you can't turn a corner without spotting someone doing it. To me, it is the epitome of living an unconscious life. This atrocious habit is none less than the disposal coffee cup with the plastic lid and paper sleeve"....................

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Why Do Old Places Matter?

Why Do Old Places Matter? Economics - Preservation Leadership Forum Blog

"Old places are deeply beneficial to people because of the way they give us a sense of continuity, identity and belonging, because they inspire us with awe, beauty and sacredness, because they tell us about history,ancestry and learning, and because they foster healthy, sustainable communities."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Restoring the Language of Our Roots

'Insular, parochial and narrowly nationalist: Scotland's anti-Gaelic bigots' -  this Herald Scotland article is a wee bit ‘over the top’ (the trademark of too much British journalism these days), but I am well aware of the loss of cultural identity that came from the forced Anglicization of the Empire – my grandmother was a Gaelic and a Doric speaker, but she hadn’t spoken Gaelic for 40 years when I discovered her abilities. She did however keep some of the Doric Scots phraseology through her long adult years in Edinburgh. North of her origin on the Black Isle, Norn (a dialect of Norse origin in Caithness) was spoken till the mid to late C19th, but that has truly gone from this earth. I recall that Lowland Scots (Lallans) is an official minority language of the EU but just what support that entitles it I’ve no idea. There is now one school on Mann teaching in the Manx Gaelic of this piece of the old Lordship of the Isles, but that version of the language of the Gaels remains so far without EU recognition.


On my shelf I have Kenneth MacKinnon’s 1991 book ‘Gaelic, A Past & Future Prospect’ in which he strongly argues for the value of bilingualism and avers that we monolinguals are culturally impoverished. Certainly many parents in non-francophone areas of Canada seem to agree with that idea when they send their kids to French immersion schools. I recall when staying on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia in 1971 hearing Gaelic spoken on the street, where now that would be a whole lot less likely. However those coal-mining Cape Bretoners are significantly better off today than they were then, at least partly because their mentality and aspirations are now more closely aligned with the national norm.

My sense is that the restoration of interest in minority languages and dialects, including our Canadian aboriginal languages, is of value in that it helps each of us better understand our own special cultural heritage, and rounds out our sense of who we really are. Arguments for the restoration of bilingualism where the second language is not the language of commerce, science and government, troubles those of us for whom foreign language acquisition is hard work (perhaps most people). My goal is to have my Gaelic again be about as good as my French and Latin – i.e. enough to get a sense of how the language is lived and used, and appreciate its songs and even literature, but I am not willing to pursue a spoken fluency of which I could make little use. Years ago when my Gaelic was better than it is today, I had acquired enough to navigate the signage of the villages and byways of the Connemara Gaeltacht for a week, and that still seems about right.