Contra NRA

Oliver North is about to become the head of the NRA. He will be trying for even more political clout and more members, and of course, less gun control.

You can find out about that here, among other places.

Oliver North avoided jail by testifying before Congress about the scheme involving Iran and the  Contras and Nicaragua. Partly to get hostages back, US weapons were sold (illegally) to Iran. North’s brilliant addition to the scheme was to use the money (illegally) to fund the Contras operating out of Honduras against the government of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. I might note that Ortega is still in power there. You can find out more about this at this page.

Allow me to pontificate / rant here for a sentence or two.

One is not offered immunity from prosecution, nor does one need to accept it, if one is innocent. I can be forgiven for considering North to be a self-demonstrated criminal.

It was North who advised the Contras, to be more successful in their incursions into Nicaragua, to hit ‘soft targets:’ hospitals, markets, and schools. These tactics continue to be used today, for example in Syria and Yemen.

The NRA has made an ‘interesting’ choice of leader. North is media-famous and clearly a weapons hawk. Just what we need, after the Florida school shooting: contra-publicity for the NRA.

Liberty: a rant

At one point, a previous POTUS was angry at France. I think they pulled out of the (probably illegal) enforcement of a no-fly zone in Iraq.

Probably this president was W.

He re-designated French Fries as Freedom Fries.

The Statue of Freedom is really called the Statue of Liberty.

It was a gift from France. Why didn’t W call them Liberty fries, and add vinaigre for irony?

I said this post was a rant, so I’ll end with what I think is a roughly accurate quote from Noam Chomsky.

We have a statue of Liberty on our east coast. We should add, on our west coast, a statue of Responsibility.

But no. Iraq was invaded, Libya reorganized, the Iran deal threatened, steel and aluminum trade sanction threats made (and, so far, repeatedly delayed), Chinese island building ignored, the TPP disdained, global warming treated as fake news.

If the Statue of Liberty could speak, she might have called them small-minded fries. The French are rarely small-minded, whatever one thinks of their policies. Their one mistake, imho, is going along with Germany in demanding austerity. After Germany dominates everyone else, they will imho turn on France, when it’s the second last economy still standing in the EU.

If a Statue of Responsibility could speak, it would probably weep first.

Who is this person?

Here is one link where you can find out. I’ll content myself with a few small quotes. Emphasis mine, as always.

The New Mexico native graduated university with degrees in biology and agribusiness before joining the US Navy.

Biology is a tough subject. I know. I got Grade 13 biology after going to work. I am an armchair biologist today. The more you learn, the more you learn you don’t know much.

She was among the first cohort of female fighter pilots to transition tactical aircraft, the US Navy has confirmed.

Mrs Shults served in the US Navy for 10 years and flew fighter jets.

Now you know who she is. She safely landed a passenger airplane with an exploded engine.

Tammie Jo Schults, the pilot came back to speak to each of us personally. This is a true American Hero.

US Navy? Fighter jets? I think that means aircraft carrier take-offs and landings.

Thank God those skills were in the WestJet cabin.

One passenger died, as a result of her window being smashed. She was a banking vice president with two children. I will not name her here, but extend my condolences to her remaining loved ones. An atrocious stroke of bad luck. I am so sorry.

China: US Policy Concerns

Here you will find expert testimony on China’s ambitions and the potential for loss of US influence.

Just two quotes, emphasis mine:

In 2017, before the 90 th anniversary of the creation of the PLA, the PLARF

conducted one of the largest known joint ballistic and cruise missile live-fire drills against a mock-up of a U.S.Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) site, resembling the site in South Korea, which led to a major decline in Sino-Korean relations in 2017.

Each of these objectives will implicitly and explicitly push back on U.S. attempts to maintain alliances and sustain and expand growing partnerships. Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative — a signature foreign policy undertaking by Xi, which was elevated into the Party’s constitution at the 19th Party Congress in October 2017 — is meant to assist

in this endeavor. By 2035, the CPC plans to “realize socialist modernization in the first stage” — to build the PRC into a prosperous, modern state. This will require the pursuit of continued economic integration between Asia’s “core” and “periphery,” in the Chinese conception — the core being China and the periphery being Asia’s many smaller and less developed states. In pursuit of ‘win-win’ cooperation with these countries, China expects to make economic and diplomatic gains that will pay dividends throughout the 21st century. By 2049 — the centennial of the founding of the PRC — China intends to have cemented its position as Asia’s primary hegemon. In pursuit of this latter objective, U.S. alliances in the Asia-Pacific must be contained, if not broken altogether.

I suggest you go back to the hotlink and read that page carefully. It is expert testimony about the USA’s interests versus those of the PRC – China.
I expect China to use the Okinawa US base as a leverage point. The base is unpopular whenever US military personnel abuse young Japanese females.
I expect China to use the artificial islands in the China Sea as a leverage point. The threat of disrupting marine trade or seafaring defence will be hard to ignore. I leave you to google China Sea Islands on your own, if you’re unfamiliar with this development.
The THAAD defense system in South Korea deserves a mention. China says it can be used to monitor Chinese missiles and air traffic. The USA position is, to watch North Korea, you need to have the defense system in a short-range fast-response mode. So it ‘can’t’ be used to monitor China. (straight face assumed here, eh?)
The report made available above is thanks to the Federation of American Scientists,, via Secrecy News.


When I was a kid, butterfingers meant, I might drop something.

Mumble fingers could mean, I might mis-state something.

Now we have a new dimension of mis-steps and mis-information:


POTUS anyone?

And No one goes to jail.

Here you will find a recent article on Barclay’s and their involvement in the 2008 financial crisis.

I will content myself with a quote or two. Emphasis mine.

The bank did not admit liability.

The US alleged that the bank had misled investors about the quality of loans backing the securities in the run-up to the financial crisis.

Two former Barclays executives also agreed to pay a total of $2m.

and no one goes to jail.

First Look Through the Window: Roxanne Collins

This is a cut&paste of a review posted on

First Look Through the Window      Roxanne Collins

Not just another self-help book. This is the real deal.

five stars

Star counts are hard, especially in rating a work outside this reader’s normal scope.  More on the stars, counting, and my rating decision later.

The book includes many short but relevant quotes. Clearly Collins is extremely well read and well-informed. There are several book references, for those needing more on any particular topic. Direct quotes from Collins herself are given within quotation marks below.

“The manner in which we are all raised and the messages sent by the society we live in affects the manner in which we develop and perceive the world. When we come into this world, we come as a whole; but this completeness doesn’t last long, because we depend on our parents, on relationships; we are social beings.”

One key lesson here reminds me of a Go proverb: don’t be going back to touch up your plays. As a friend (David Dinsmore) once said it, once you’ve made a decision, it is a good decision. Collins tells her reader to live with what cannot be changed, and not to fuss overmuch about decisions already made.

I remember advice from somewhere, when in a mental rut of frustration, anger, or feeling inadequate: ask oneself these questions: 1) what am I feeling 2) what am I reacting to 3) what am I doing to make/keep myself reacting this way. Collins’ book covers this in many ways, and much better. I am embarrassed that I got a great deal of personal benefit from her work while reading it for free.

“They became prisoners of their own defence mechanisms.” Been there, done that.

“Understanding the essence of a person is truly a conquest, a conquest that demands time and makes you slow down. This way, we can feel understood, connected, we will want to discover more, after building a safe environment, and to solve an endless mystery. We permanently change; we learn and develop together.”

Read the book in order. But when you get to Chapter V, slow down just a bit. If you want my own view of the meaning of life, read The Scroll of the Violin: life has no meaning; we evolved to enjoy it.

“The greatest gift of your existence is the fact that you have a pulse. If you were to remain without air and you could renounce all of your possessions in order to live, you would do it without blinking. And you could start all over again, being grateful that a new chance was offered to you, to be able to live.”

Collins does not quote an older concept, Transactional Analysis, but she certainly is aware of its major insights. Inner voices can represent the ‘parent’ part of the persona, which is always ‘should-ing’ on us.

The above should give you a decent ‘feel’ for this book. Now for my star count boilerplate. My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. I try hard to be consistent. I have read some of the references given by Collins. I have been sent to ‘charm school’ when I worked for IBM Canada and CIBC. I have other, older works in my personal library. This book is at least equal to the best of them. Thus five stars is an easy decision. If you wonder about yourself and your life, this is part of your answer. Extremely recommended.

Kindle Book Review Team member.

(Note: this reviewer received a free copy of this book for an independent review. He is not associated with the author or Amazon.)

Writing: an introductory thought

Richard Ketchum taught me creative writing. One thing I remember was his suggestions for starting any work: Include as many of the following as early as you can naturally do it:

  • time of day
  • weather and season
  • geographic location
  • distances

to which I added:

  • point of view.

Ketchum said we could learn to write in any form we chose. I mostly chose poetry.


I’d like to share with you the opening lines of a song by Harry Chapin:

it was raining hard in Frisco
I needed one more fare to make my night
a lady up ahead waved to flag me down
she got in at the light

Note that you don’t even need the title (Taxi) to know exactly what’s going on here.


Poverty Reduction: Ontario (Wynne) versus Toronto (Tory)

Here you will find an article describing the next set of ‘moves’ planned in Toronto.

I think this betrays the usual ‘progress’ we see under our current mayor. The plan is to spend a lot of time discussing what might be done over the next twenty years.

Here’s a quote from that web page, emphasis mine:

It is part of a series of panel discussions the city’s anti-poverty advocate, Councillor Joe Mihevc, hopes will generate bold ideas “to set the stagefor the next phase of Toronto’s 20-year poverty reduction strategy, approved by city council in 2015.

So, in more than two years, the city strategy has hatched a plan to spend time creating a strategy. Vintage Toronto Council, Vintage John Tory: photo ops and not much substance.

In contrast,

Here you will find an article describing what our Premier, Kathleen Wynne, is actually doing about poverty.

Here’s a quote from that web page:

Participants must be:

  • 18 to 64 years old for the duration of the pilot.
  • living in one of the selected test regions for the past at least 12 months or longer (and still live there):
    • Hamilton, Brantford, Brant County
    • Thunder Bay, along with the Municipality of Oliver Paipoonge, Township of Shuniah, Municipality of Neebing, Township of Conmee, Township of O’Connor, Township of Gillies
    • Lindsay
  • living on a low income (under $34,000 per year if you’re single or under $48,000 per year if you’re a couple)

This pilot is already running and may be expanded. I don’t remember Wynne holding a lot of consultation. The tricky bits were deciding on the dollar numbers to use as thresholds, caps, and clawbacks.

How come Toronto doesn’t offer to co-fund an expansion to here?

Now for the dumber questions.

Suppose Doug Ford became leader of the Provincial Progressive Conservatives. (He did.) Suppose he becomes premier of Ontario. (He could.)

Which thing to you think he will do first?

  • Drive all the progressives out of the party?
  • Cancel the provincial guaranteed income program?
  • Speed up the discussions on poverty in Toronto?

I’m betting on: close to success in the first bullet, gerrymandering to un-fund the second bullet, and pointing out that the Scarborough Subway needs money more than the poor, who often don’t vote.

Is that cynical enough? That’s the final dumb question.