Category Archives: Our World

Sears, the store that should have and could have, but didn’t

A cartoon in iPolitics, its headline being the single word, “Sad.” shows a huddled mass of Canadian Sears employees crying over the loss of 12,000 jobs.

The second frame? A huddled mass of tearful Canada Revenue Agency employees crying over the loss of 12,000 Sears workers who will no longer be audited over accepting staff discounts.

It was cruel, but accurate.

I love this pic, my first “cool” bike was a Sears Spyder, which I believe is the one pictured. High handlebars and a Banana seat, thought I was the greatest thing since Jaw Breakers.


Missing Monuments

As Jews observe the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we enter a period not of celebration—notwithstanding the former being known as the “Jewish New Year”—but of profound reflection. Best known as a period of prayer and repentance, it is also, and explicitly, a period of remembrance: Yom Kippur is one of only four times each year when Jews recite the Yizkor prayer, primarily for deceased parents. It concludes, more broadly, with “Av Harachamim,” the eleventh-century prayer first written after crusaders destroyed German-Jewish communities.

We will recite it this year at a time when remembrance has become complicated—especially as it involves public memorials. It is in that context that a personal story of remembrance comes to mind, for suggesting what may currently seem counterintuitive: that there is much that we miss when a historic site has no monument.


The Generation that Wasn’t Ready

I was nine years old on August 19, 1991, but the day’s events remain unforgettable. It was the time I first feared for my way of life and my family’s safety.

As the summer drew to a close, existential dread was the furthest thing from my third grader’s mind. But the drawn, sober faces of my parents delivered me from my dreaminess. Their expressions, as they watched the breaking news of a hardliner coup in the Soviet Union, communicated the precariousness of our circumstances. I knew a little about the Soviet Union—its oppressive despotism, the Cold War that had been dying a slow death over the last 20 months, and the distant, theoretical prospect of nuclear annihilation. But before August 19, these were academic concepts. My ashen-faced parents took from me the illusion of security that morning, and I’ve been grateful for that ever since.


What’s Good for Tech Is Not Good for America

Big Tech’s arrogance is creating a new appetite for trust-busting.

In 1953, Charles Erwin Wilson, former CEO of General Motors and President Dwight Eisenhower’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, told the U.S. Senate that he had sold his GM stock with a memorable phrase. “For years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa.” As of his nomination, Wilson had clearly wised up.

Today, it is far from impossible to imagine a tech CEO being forced to eventually make the same admission about their industry, and sooner rather than later. Why? Well, as a headline in Axios this week announces, “Tech is at war with the world” because, as Axios editor, Mike Allen writes, “America’s largely romantic view of its tech giants — Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, etc. — is turning abruptly into harsh scrutiny. Silicon Valley suddenly faces a much more intrusive hand from Washington.”


The Blessing of a Soviet Education

When I was living in the Soviet Union I did not believe the state’s newspapers when they told me Americans were thirsting to conquer the USSR. I did not believe Khrushchev when he said it was the Americans who triggered the Cuban missile crisis. No, I thought, if they are telling me the Americans are to blame then it must have been the Kremlin’s doing because lies were our leaders’ stock in trade. I did not believe Pravda when it said the murder of Israeli athletes in Munich was a legitimate blow against the oppressors of Palestine, which I knew didn’t exist. I did not believe them when I was told Israeli commandos who rescued the Entebbe hostages were instruments of a Zionist plot to take over the world. Most of all I did not believe that the Western proletariat was groaning in poverty beneath the chains of capitalist bloodsuckers, whereas the Soviet workers lived and worked in freedom and prosperity. That one was a no-brainer. I could look out the window and see it wasn’t true.


Today’s Global Elites Are The Reason Imperialism Is Back

In the new world disorder, empire is the ultimate safe space.

In the wake of the presidential election, we have all come face to face with two difficult truths. The West’s globalized liberal order is weak and fragmented—but so are the countries making up the Western world. Too few are convinced that the politics of nationalism offers safe harbor from the crisis of liberal globalism.

Yet the ranks of critics arrayed against the global order keep rising. With postmodern and anarcho-capitalist options generally considered to be farfetched or remote, it’s sensible in a certain way that the imperial ideal would return to tempt troubled minds.


Hi Ho… Pirate Mom Update

Howdy y’all,

I have been working some insane hours of late, burning the midnight oil since last Friday. Just got in from work only to find Mom is having a “cardiac event”.

I am off to the ER, she is OK as it goes, lucid but complaining of palpitations, shortness of breath, weakness and a choking sensation.

The paramedics were great as usual, she does have an elevated BP and some beat irregularity.

Gonna be a long day and an even longer night.

PS> Pirate Mom’s eye is progressing well, vision has improved significantly.


G20: our greatest moral challenge is preserving the West

The main news headline to come out of the G20 seems to be, in essence, that “The United States’ influence in the world is diminishing because Donald Trump doesn’t come to agreement on climate change”.

What it really should say is “Donald Trump gives remarkable speech declaring preservation of the West the greatest moral challenge of our generation”.

But of course, this isn’t allowed. Don’t forget, the media can’t acknowledge anything remotely successful he does because Hillary lost. You don’t have to like him, but credit where credit is due.


Once the Cathedral of Kensington, now a heroin shooting gallery

The gas company supervisor showed up at Mother of Mercy, a storefront church on Allegheny Avenue, in late June. He’d just been inside the long-shuttered Ascension of Our Lord, a hulking cathedral of a building at F and Westmoreland. After what he’d seen, he needed to speak with a priest.

He’d been working in the neighborhood, the PGW man said, and slipped through a broken stained-glass window to take some photos for his wife, who had grown up in the parish. That’s when he saw the mess of needles carpeting the floor and pews — and the figures moving in the darkness.

h/t MW


Leadership: Secrets Are Not What They Used To Be

When the Cold War ended in 1991 and Russian archives were opened for a while a lot of mysteries were revealed. Some revelations still cause problems, not because so many myths were disproved but because about the same time the Internet came along and made it much more difficult keep secrets or create false realities and maintain them in the future. Thus Russia and China, as well as traditionally the more open societies in the West, could not revive the useful (for all governments) secrecy and control of information that reached a peak in the 20th century. It was the reach and control of pre-Internet mass media that made so many corrupt and murderous dictatorships possible. A few are still trying to hang on, but that proves difficult in an age of instant worldwide communications that cannot to a few.



High Line to Shake Shack

Sunday we walked the High Line. To paraphrase Mark Twain – a good walk ruined by the litter of left wing crap-art.

The High Line was an elevated railway that once served Manhattan’s industries. After falling into disuse it was reborn as an elevated public walkway that wends its way through the city’s re-purposed factories and warehouses. It really is a pleasant walk and Sunday morning was just a beautiful time to take it in.

Yup people do complain of having their privacy invaded.

This is some of the crap-art that litters the way, all of it colonialism this and colonialism that and look at me I’m a victim of the fascist patriarchy even though that same patriarchy bought my crappy art!

Here’s the explanation for the above bad art.

And it just wouldn’t be New York without an anti-Trump billboard, visible from the High Line.

After the High Line we stopped in at the Chelsea Market where I paid a buck each for 6 Tiny Tom sized donuts, don’t get me wrong they were good, but like the market itself way oversold. K has written more about it on her FB page.

From there we meandered over to the Hummus Place and enjoyed an excellent meal featuring Shakshuka, I highly recommend it. Boy that K is a Trencherman!

Dessert? Big Gay Ice Cream! (Yea it was good)

This morning we walked some of Central Park and stopped in at the famous Lexington Candy Store Luncheonette for a sammy. Was great! That’s a collection of special event coke bottles etc in the window. The diner was last renovated in 1948 and they’re quite proud of that.

We just window shopped the rest of the day away as we strolled down Lexington. Eventually ending up at Madison Park for dinner. The Shake Shack does make a great shake. Good thing we’ve walked a lot on this trip.

That’s K’s enuff with the camera I’m eating look (above). I enjoy Madison Park, it’s a pleasant oasis in the city, that is the Empire State Building in the background, clouds were rolling in.


Times Square

Unhappiest person in Times Square… ever

Every time we have visited NYC I have insisted we take in Times Square.

Every time K has suggested we avoid it.

Every time I expect different results.

Every time we go it seems worse than the last time.

I try very hard to discern some redeeming quality to the Times Square experience.

I fail every time.

We get there and immediately look for a route out. I blame myself as perhaps my eyes are unable to divine the glamour and excitement found there by so many or maybe it’s a victim of its own hype.

This was the highlight of today’s walk through. That’s some patriotic fire hydrant there.

But New York has so much to see it never gets dull. In future I’ll avoid the square.

Our next hike will be the High Line followed by a visit to the Chelsea Market and then Big Gay Ice Cream, which comes highly recommended.

Today was K’s shopping day. We hoofed it down 5th Avenue and then down Madison window shopping until we arrived at K’s Nirvana – Lily Pulitzer. A couple of tops were purchased and then the long march home, about a 10k slog when you tack on our meanderings. Then we checked out the Tommy Bahama store down the street and discovered they have a pretty nice restaurant. I’m not kidding.

Pro-Tip – Avoid the Baskin-Robbins on 43rd near Times Square. I swear it’s staffed by ISIS. To their credit they did serve more than adequate portions.


We made it…

We are in New York City!

I almost thought we would not make it. Our vacation got off to a less than auspicious start when I got the full frisking by airport security having declined the x-ray machine But it wasn’t the end of the world.

Being good scouts K and I opted for the early flight 6:30 AM out of Pearson.

We were boarded as normal and then…and then… Sat on the tarmac for the next 3 hours.

Seems fog at JFK diverted incoming flights to La Guardia which created a huge backlog.

Twice we were told on the tarmac that we would soon be on our way and twice we were disappointed.

We de-planed with assurances that we would be on the 10:30 am flight, but it wasn’t very reassuring as no one at Air Canada seemed to know where we should be. Scenes of minor chaos ensued as an entire plane load of frustrated passengers ran back and forth between gates and customer service on the flimsiest of rumours.

We finally received a boarding pass for the 10:30 flight which itself was delayed as they were missing a crew member.  Finally at 11:25 we were airborne, only to sit on the tarmac at La Guardia while a gate was made ready.

Oh well at least our luggage showed up, we were warned it might be late but thankfully Air Canada was wrong again.

At any rate we finally checked into our Hotel shortly before 3 PM, dead tired but happy to be here.

Here’s the Roosevelt Hotel Lobby where we’re staying on a renovation discount, more pics to come once we get our wind back.