Thursday, June 23, 2022

Food security

In spite of the war in Ukraine, the people in that country have fewer concerns over food shortages than many folks elsewhere in the world.

Closed supermarkets and empty shelves in war torn regions do not force them to flee their homes because of their food preserving habits with ample supplies of all kinds of fruits and vegetables and protein foods stored in glass jars in their basements.

As well as root cellars for volume produce such as potatoes, carrots and beets.

During the last 30 years here in my 20 acre wood, I have been following the same practices with a large root cellar containing home grown potatoes, beets and carrots year round and lately preserving batches of same for convenient access when whipping up a meal.

In addition, I have always had backyard chickens that provide an ample supply of very healthy eggs during the warmer months of the year.

Just for fun, this summer I have been catching rain water from the roofs of my cabins and storing it in 50 gallon drums as backup for my water well supply. About 2000 litres in storage at this time.

Here in the ‘affluent’ (for some) West, we have fallen into the trap of relying on “somebody else” to provide for our basic needs. That habit may come home to bite us down the road with galloping inflation in prices and availability issues as well.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Telling stories

Our media, be it mainstream or sidestream, like to present their stories as “The News”, when covering events that take place.

That should immediately alert us to look for bias because the headline itself is a distortion of reality. This was brought home to me as I was growing up and being exposed to the allied side of WWII event coverage.

And then seeing the German version of the same events posted on the internet in later years. The coverage presented the ‘news’ from two entirely different wars, or so it seemed.

Today is no different as two empires clash in Ukraine, pouring weapons and bodies into the fray, both sides making out that it is a conflict between good and evil.

It is really about power and territory for the ‘elites’, using humanity as pawns on their chessboard. Nothing has changed. History is repeating itself.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Interesting incident


At about 1:30am last night I woke up by what sounded like gunshots to the west of my rural yard. (I live in an area with several acreages in that locale)

Didn't initially react but more apparent shots followed at various multi minute intervals, so I got up and went out to investigate, and heard several more shots, some louder than others. My dogs were getting excited as well.

So I set up shop in a dark spot with a good view of my yard and my dogs ready to alert me of a possible intruder, the idea being of having the advantage in case of an intrusion. Thankfully, nothing happened.

Some of the folks that come out to the acreages are fond of letting fireworks go at night, so that is a possibility, but there was no crackling usually associated with these.

These days, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Gun control

Or lack thereof, as is the case here in Canada. This place is bristling with guns, especially in rural areas where I live because police are far away when most needed.
We have a government under the ‘leadership’ of our anointed Prince Justin who prances around the world and at home making grand pronouncements about his latest move to ban handguns in all of Canada, so as to score political points with his base.
By doing so he created a run on hand gun sales with retailers being unable to keep up with demand. He has also banned the ownership of so-called military fire arms by citizens, ensuring a thriving underground market for those as well.
All the while pouring lethal military weapons into Ukraine to ensure the ongoing carnage in that failed state, to the point of Canada being totally reliant on the Americans in case some big dogs start to sniff at us.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Power of chemicals

Why do we like chocolate? I found out the hard way some months ago. For health reasons, having made the decision to forego the pleasures of alcohol and caffeine on a regular basis, I turned to a harmless substitute for my coffee habit in the form of a cocoa drink.

I decided on pure cocoa powder used in baking and readily available in grocery stores. The rationale used was to avoid the sugar laden chocolate drinks where the sugar can be quite addictive.

And it worked. I used a teaspoon of cocoa powder in my hot drinks on a regular basis during the day and had no craving for coffee.

Over a period of months, this seemed to be a good way of getting around caffeine, but something happened: I began to wake up in the early morning hours with vague feelings of undefined anxieties

It got worse over time and I finally began to ask myself why people, including me, are so fond of chocolate?.

Some quick online research provided the answer: “Theobromine” (food of the gods) is the primary alkaloid in the cocoa bean and present at ten times the concentration of that in a typical chocolate product.

So, I had simply substituted one alkaloid (Theobromine) for another (Caffeine) with a slow buildup in my tissues. And it literally created a threatening world around me.

The symptoms disappeared two days after I quit the cocoa drink routine and used hot water instead.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Democracy illusion

There are still those that get excited about which politician to support when a bunch of people throw their names in a hat, vying for votes.

It gives people a feeling of having some kind of influence on policies that affect their lives. That’s the theory behind democracy: Rule by the people by way of elected representatives.

In practice those elected are merely front stage actors for vested interests in the background. They soon find out that they have to “tow the line” in order to pursue a career in politics.

The practice of ‘democracy’ works extremely well for the establishment. Elected officials are roped in, used and retired or discarded, all the while serving the interests of the few, pretending to serve the many.

Politics, as practiced in ‘democracies’, is essentially a form of entertainment for the people and a form of sport with financial rewards for the participants.

Everybody is happy, or unhappy, as the case may be, living in the illusion of having an influence on what their government of the day does.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Cannon fodder

The glory of war? There is no such thing. As the Russians and Ukrainians on the front lines in the east of Ukraine are finding out right now. Instead, it is just a steady slaughter house where you are lucky to have your head blown off rather than arms or legs or worse.

This was brought home to me by a colleague of mine that I worked with in Sydney, Australia back in 1966. At the time he was receiving psychiatric treatment for PTSD symptoms after having served in the Australian Army in New Guinea during WWII fighting against the Japanese.

His problem was that some 20 years after the war finished, the Japanese were, once again, being portrayed as human beings, rather than animals to be exterminated at all costs, and his wartime experiences had come back to haunt him at night.

During front line combat, he told me, Japanese officers could be easily identified by special markings on their helmets and every man in the platoon had orders to “take ‘em out first”. After that, it was just a chicken shoot, he said, as Japanese foot soldiers seemed incapable of acting on their own without officer guidance and command.

My friend also told me about an experience of his combat group being locked down in a beach area in Papua – New Guinea, taking regular mortar fire from a Japanese unit dug in on a beach on the other side of a headland.

“Hell started every morning at 6am sharp”, he said, and before breakfast a certain number of us would be dead or maimed every day.
So, just before 6am my friend started to shake uncontrollably, in anticipation of what was to come shortly.

He survived, but it took 20 years for his healing to begin.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Canada, fur trade vs settler culture

Canada is a mixed bag, if there ever was one. As far as events are concerned, they have all happened here: The good, the bad and the ugly.

Let’s start with the good. For some two hundred years, from the sixteen hundreds and on, Europeans encountered the people of Turtle Island and engaged in a trading relationship, exchanging goods valued by both sides. In Canada that meant furs and pemmican (bush food) provided by the natives, in exchange for guns, powder, etc.

It was a relationship not unlike what individual clans and tribes used to have between themselves. A relationship between equals with mutual respect. As traders and native people intermingled, not surprisingly, a new type of person came in to being, the Metis, (a person of mixed Indigenous and European ancestry).

The men were very strong and resilient and the women were both attractive and smart. A whole culture of these people developed before disaster struck.

When Canada became a federation in 1867, railway lines started to snake their way across the continent from east to west, fuelled by European capital and bringing thousands upon thousands of settlers into the tribal lands of the west.

And so it came to be that the Indigenous person and the Metis person were marginalized and trivialized as control of lands was removed from them by force. That was bad. Here comes the ugly part:

Backed by the federal government, policies were put in place to rob the Indigenous people of their culture by stealing their children and breaking them into the European mindset by force in residential schools. To the point were they turned their backs on their own parents.

Sadly, to date the ‘settler attitude’ of mainstream Canadians has not changed in regards to Indigenous people. They are considered ‘persons of no interest’.

Plant logic

Plants are smart, make no mistake about it. As a gardener I have discovered that you have to ’lay down the rules to make ‘em behave’.

Just like people, they have their own priorities that may not always agree with yours, as a gardener. Propagation is the name of the game for them, in contrast to your priority, which is generally yield.

For example, strawberries and raspberries have two main means of propagation: Runners (on top of the ground for strawberries and under the ground for raspberries) or by way of seeds contained within the fruit.

The preferred way of propagation for both is using runners if there is vacant friendly grow-space next to the plant.

So the way to get a crop from these plants is to thwart any attempt at spread with your hoe, making the plant realize that it trying to move into enemy territory.

Gardeners cannot afford to have a ‘liberal’ mindset : )

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Nature's intelligence

Living in the bush here in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Central Alberta, Canada, Nature is my ever present partner, 24/7.

And the drought in the North American west is reaching all the way up to where I live at its northern reach. It is not that we are getting no rain at all. It is raining very lightly today, and there is a forecast of more to come.
It is the frequency and amount of rain that is the problem. Even here in the bush, dry grass patches were beginning to develop for lack of ground moisture, before this rain began. And so far we have had no seasonal thunderstorms at all. The air is just generally too dry for that to happen.

I have observed another interesting phenomenon. The amount of spruce pollen released in my yard is more than I can remember from living here for 31 years.

I’m wondering whether Nature is warning us about long term drought, which for spruce translates into the production of a lot of seeds that can sprout and create new seedlings way down the road?

It is pure speculation but, from experience, Nature is a lot smarter than us.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Imperium

“Imperium Romanum” is what the Romans called their empire. And theirs was one that lasted for a very long time, among dozens and dozens of others that have come and gone over time.

What is the glue that creates an empire anyway, and keeps it together? That is a very important question today, in light of what is happening in Ukraine right now.

Military might and financial clout are characteristic of a successful empire, as is productive capacity. Put the three together and challenges to the empire tend to be short lived unless another empire of similar stature is the contender.

But there is more to it than that. A set of common beliefs are essential to the internal well being of the empire as well. Pride in the empire and its mission being one component: “Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the waves!” and “The sun never sets on the British Empire!”.

Members of empire, be it British, American or Russian see themselves as somehow superior to their cousins elsewhere, and are taught to believe that from the cradle and on.

Unfortunately, that involves glorifying one's own beliefs and demonizing those of the other. That is where we are now at in the Ukraine conflict where two contradictory world views have clashed, where the Russian Empire under Putin and his backroom boys has chosen to take on the Western Empire whose stated aim it is to topple Putin.

The two empires are like continental plates grinding against each other in a physical location called “Ukraine”. For that reason expect an escalating conflict with no end in sight.

Monday, May 30, 2022

The Greenland saga

“In 982 the Norwegian Erik the Red, who had been banished from Iceland for manslaughter, settled on the island today known as Greenland. Returning to Iceland about 985, he described the merits of the newly discovered land, which he called Greenland, and in 986 he organized an expedition to the island that resulted in the development of two main settlements: the East Settlement, near present-day Qaqortoq (Julianehåb), and the West Settlement, near present-day Nuuk (Godthåb).

These settlements may have reached a population of 3,000–6,000 on about 280 farms, suggesting that temperatures at that time may have been as warm or warmer than they are today. 

But in the 14th century the Norse settlements declined, perhaps as a result of a cooling in Greenland’s climate. In the 15th century they ceased to be inhabited. “ (Britannica.com)

Meanwhile Inuit clans had lived in the arctic for thousands of years and interacted with the newcomers in less than a friendly manner, but could do little to disrupt the farm based settlements of the Norsemen.

The result was some 500 years of continuous settlements until the climate changed and farming was no longer possible. The Black Death also ravaged Europe and would have likely been imported into Greenland by travellers.

There is a lesson here: Nature is the Grand Master and all we can do is to adapt or die.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Tide of war in Ukraine

After all the hot air in the world media following the February 24 invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the war is settling into a steady grind where the Russians are gaining the upper hand after adjusting their strategy.

They are sticking to their narrative of a “special operation”, rather than all out war, and they are succeeding in the east and south of Ukraine with Crimea now being connected by a Russian controlled land bridge to Russia itself.

Much has been made of Western support for Ukraine’s military but this has not translated into actual gains on the front lines for the Ukrainian army, other than what early shipments of shoulder mounted anti tank missiles managed to do, mostly.

Meanwhile the Russians have adapted to this deadly threat by using long range weapons to reach their targets, instead of tanks and such.

And as far as the Ukrainians bringing long range guns supplied by the West to the front lines, the Russians have total air superiority in Ukraine and can interrupt the supply lines for these weapons at will, on land or at sea.

My best guess is that the Russians will proceed to consolidate their position in the east and south of Ukraine and have a ‘vote’ on whether the locals will remain with Russia. Along the same pattern used in Crimea which has a sizable Russian population, as does Eastern Ukraine.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Complex problem

On July 22, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik dresses in a police uniform, loads a van with home-made explosives, and drives to Regjeringskvartalet, the executive government quarter in Oslo, Norway. He leaves the van outside the office of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. Moments later, it explodes, causing several casualties.
On the island of Utøya in Tyrifjorden, Buskerud, teenagers have arrived for Workers' Youth League (AUF) summer camp, organized by the ruling Labour Party. When they learn of the bombing, one student, Viljar Hanssen, calls his parents to make sure they are unhurt.
Breivik arrives at the ferry landing and informs staff that he is a police officer, sent to secure the island following the attack in Oslo. The camp director transports him to the island by boat. Breivik instructs the staff to gather the children in one location. When the head of security asks for ID, Breivik shoots him and the director dead. The children flee as Breivik opens fire, murdering dozens.

On May 24, 2022 nineteen children and two adults were killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde County on Tuesday, making the massacre the deadliest school shooting in Texas’ history.
Apart from the guns used being similar in these two mass murder events, the perpetrators had a lot in common as well: Young men alienated from society over a long period before turning violent.

The gun regulations in the US and Norway are vastly different, but neither perpetrator had any difficulty in acquiring the hardware needed for their enterprises.

And the signs were there for a long time before the mass murders took place. So maybe we need to take more interest in our fellow human beings in order to minimize explosive events like these?

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Gun control

The recent shooting of school children in Uvalde, Texas, has once again raised the ire of gun control advocates. It happens every time a high profile mass murder takes place.

Why are Americans so reluctant to implement gun control legislation?
For the same reason that many Canadians are opposed to it as well:
Americans don’t trust their government of the day. Neither do we.

And there is recent evidence for our case. In the face of a peaceful demonstration in Ottawa last winter, Prince Justin and his buddies used the Emergencies Act, based on their own paranoia and need to massage their egos, to crack down on their political opponents.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland publicly gloated about her new found power to close selected citizens’ bank accounts, based on her own whims as to who might be an undesirable character.

The result? A bank run started when people, desperately wanting to protect themselves from this idiocy, wanted to withdraw their money from bank accounts.

Under Prince Justin and his Idiocracy, Canada is a banana kingdom where restrictive gun legislation is only serving the interests of the establishment.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Drought

Living close to the prairies in Central Alberta, Canada, for 30+ years,
I have been a keen observer of weather. Over the last three years I have served on the board of the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance.

This non-profit society serve as the designated Watershed Planning and Advisory Council for the Red Deer River watershed comprising some 50,000 square kilometres, under the Government of Alberta’s Water for Life Strategy.

And now things are coming to a head where we are entering into a second summer of severe drought, which is happening in the North Western United States as well.

At this time water flow rates in our rivers in Central/South Alberta are well below normal for this time of year, indicating depleted shallow ground water reserves.

Thankfully, the snowpack in the mountains is reported as being petty well normal which should ensure that our water reservoirs (Like Gleniffer Lake where I live) will be filled up over the summer.

Periods of drought are not new on the Canadian prairies, the last major one being in the 1930ies, during the Great Depression, also called the “dirty thirties” when dry topsoil was blown around by great winds and into peoples’ homes and literally moved from one farm to another some times by the wind.

Sad to say, but the only time we really appreciate the value of something is when we lose it. And that goes for water as well.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Violent weather

We are now heading into the Northern summer and early high temperature events have already been reported from southern Europe and Eastern Turtle Island (North America). Associated with them are severe thunderstorms as cold dry air masses collide with warm and humid ones.

At the same time we are building massive solar and wind farms in order to generate renewable energy in places all over the world, including offshore wind farms.

The question arises: How vulnerable are these structures to violent weather events that are now increasing on an annual basis? Picture those rows and rows of solar panels just being peeled off a field like pieces of paper by a passing tornado.

Or windmills being twisted and blades shredded by same?

In contrast, nuclear plants can be placed in “geosafe” (non seismic) locations with minimal exposure to wind and weather.

And if the sun doesn’t shine and the wind declines to blow, they are still merrily working away, keeping us warm or cool as the case may be.

That is exactly what we would do if we were to set up shop on an alien planet with violent unpredictable weather. Which is what our Earth is beginning to look like.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Weather waves

One way of looking at the temperature aspect global weather is that of wave action. In other words, temperature variations plotted on a global graph resembles waves travelling around, along with other indicators like air pressures, winds, etc.

From my experience it looks like the size and duration of these waves are on the increase with longer periods of hot and cold weather, both.

Here on the Canadian prairies that was definitely the case during last summer’s heat wave and long severe cold snap during the winter that was.

The same is true of precipitation with huge amounts of rain/snow fall in some places and drought (like we are now experiencing in Central Turtle Island (North America) at present.

So, climate change is not coming in the form of a smooth rise in temperatures world wide as one might expect. Instead we are witnessing increased wave action in many weather indicators.

And that will have major implications for world agricultural production, along with wars and pestilence. Welcome to our brave new world.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Dictators' dilemma

News today is that both Sweden and Finland have applied for NATO membership. This is exactly the opposite of what Putin wanted when he attacked Ukraine.

He also expected to see his tanks roll into Kyiv and take that city within a few days of the February 24. That did not happen. So what went wrong?

How could an astute dictator who has survived 20 years in office blunder in his decision making to the point of seeing his troops driven back by a “ragtag” Ukrainian army?

No doubt a mystery to Putin, but not to the rest of us, and History. Another guy in a similar position to Putin made the same mistake when he launched operation Barbarossa against the then Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.

Having surrounded himself with “Yes men” during the early days of WWII, Adolf Hitler launched an all out offensive against the communist super power in order to create “lebensraum (living room)” in the east for Germans who were supposed to become the landed gentry in those parts.

The people that gravitate towards a dictator are those that massage his ego with what he wants to hear, and gain power and influence for themselves in the process.

Based on Putin’s misguided decision making, there is every reason to believe that he also fell into this trap, beginning to believe himself to be infallible, like Adolf Hitler did. Somehow connected to a higher power acting as a guide to protect “Mother Russia”.

To me, the big question is this: Is Putin, the former security agent, another stooge of history, like Hitler, the former corporal was? A tool in the hands of other people up to no good?

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Rising stakes in Europe

News this morning is that Finland is set to join NATO asap and Sweden will likely follow suit. Exactly the opposite of what Putin wants. Meanwhile, Russian forces are reportedly being driven back in the north of Ukraine around Kharkiv.

This goes to show how badly the Russian dictator has miscalculated outcomes after his attack on Ukraine on February 24. Based on bad military advice he greatly overestimated the effectiveness of the Russian armed forces in the face of a well equipped and trained enemy.

History should have taught him that the winners of wars are usually those that have access to ongoing war supplies and so can wear down the enemy, as the Soviet Union did, with Western help during WWII. And that supply of war materials is now available to Ukraine.

Putin completely miscalculated the reaction of Ukrainians to the “special operation” because of his limited perspective on how the people in that former Soviet republic feel about their present lifestyle, as compared to one under Russian domination.

He is also faced with increasing unrest among young Russians, who have developed a taste for the Western lifestyle and don’t necessarily listen to their parents very much. And they are being sacrificed in this war to appease the dictator and the mindset of his cohort.

Now, Putin is feeling the steel ring of NATO closing around his neck and his reaction is becoming increasingly unpredictable. The outcome is that the will and mood of one individual determines the fate of millions of people, as Europe and the rest of the world found out the hard way in WWII.

The big winner in all this? As always, the financial/military/industrial complex on both sides of the conflict. Losers? The rest of us.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Ukraine - new Korea

Is history repeating itself?
“The fighting ended on 27 July 1953 when the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed. The agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to separate North and South Korea, and allowed the return of prisoners. However, no peace treaty was ever signed, and the two Koreas are technically still at war, engaged in a frozen conflict.” (Wiki)

Will the war in Ukraine end up in a stalemate between the West and Russia not unlike what happened in Korea, where a state of war still technically exists?

And Russians settling in behind a new iron curtain, conducting trade through China and India, principally?

The Russians will likely hang on to their gains in the south and east of Ukraine, including Crimea and let the Americans prop up the rest of that country, as they have been doing all along, with a $40 billion handout announced today.

The Russians may not be adverse to a new iron curtain, because it will insulate young Russians from the “corrupting influences” of the Western “neo-nazies”, a term used to remind Russians of what was done to them during WWII.

On April 30, 1971, I stopped over briefly in Moscow, on my way from Sydney, Australia to Oslo, Norway and along with fellow passengers was given a conducted tour through the city, including the Red Square.

It was like the clock had suddenly been put back 40 years to pre-WWII Europe with old buildings everywhere and hardly anybody in the streets. And a young tour guide that proudly espoused the virtues of Communism.

Russians have been continuously vilified in the Western main stream media, for quite some time now by our presstitutes, as cheats and liars, so you can’t blame them for telling the West what it can go and do to itself.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Inflation - deflation

Two sides of one coin: Instability. That’s what we have in economies across the world at this time.

Right now, prices are going up rapidly on all manner of goods and services, with energy/food being major ones, as well as the cost of borrowing money which feeds into prices as well.

Raising interest rates is a tool used by central bankers to try to slow down price increases in an economy, but it has to be used with a great deal of caution lest people stop buying goods and services to the point of causing a deflation in prices.

From a central banker’s point of view it is like driving a big truck with a sloppy steering:
You turn the wheel a bit one way and the truck start sliding out in that direction. You try to compensate by turning the wheel the other way, and by the time you notice a change in direction, you have had to apply quite a bit of pressure (change interest rates) on the wheel.

That’s when things (the truck) can go sideways and when the driver (central bank) can lose control.

And energy/food shortages and wars are like ice on the road.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Who is the world's bully?

From World Population Review:
"Top 10 Countries with the Highest Military Expenditures (2020):
The United States — $778 billion
China — $252 billion [estimated]
India — $72.9 billion
Russia — $61.7 billion
United Kingdom — $59.2 billion
Saudi Arabia — $57.5 billion [estimated]
Germany — $52.8 billion
France — $52.7 billion
Japan — $49.1 billion
South Korea — $45.7 billion"

Conspicuous conflicts since the end of WWII:
Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and others, with the US as a major player.

And now those budgets are set to go up right across the board as the war in Ukraine drags on and the financial/military/industrial complex profits from the death and destruction.