Archive for May, 2020

Trump will not go gentle into that good night.

Sunday, May 31st, 2020

Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was talking about older people and death in that often-quoted poem. It is much to far ahead of the election to make a confident prediction but I can cheerfully suggest what might happen when Joe Biden beats Trump in November. When all avenues for dispute are closed, the man child best be carried down the White House driveway and thrown bodily into the street.

There was an excerpt from David Frum’s new book about Trump in the Toronto Star yesterday. I must admit, from the first words I read, I disagreed with the premise of the book. Frum claims that Trump is challenging the very tenets of democracy in America, “perhaps irrevocably.” I would suggest to you that Trump has never bothered with what passes for democracy in the United States. He ignores it.

It is like Mr. Trump’s understanding of truth. It does not seem to exist in his vocabulary. It is for others.

Frum seems to see the on-going corruption of American politics as a class war. It is unlikely that David Frum is a member of the one per cent, but he appears to identify with them. He does not accuse Trump of creating the conditions he exploited to gain power. Trump is a user. He is no politician. He is not even a nice person.

But I was watching the TV news from the United States on that November evening four years ago. You saw the Trump family and it was hard to tell who was the most surprised. Trump has never been a good enough actor to feign that surprise.

In the Frum excerpt, he explains the legal means at Trump’s disposal with which he could have carried out some of his objectives. The fact that nobody seemed to be telling Trump, or if they were, he was not listening, must have thwarted many of Trump’s plans.

A friend called while I was writing this and when I told him what I was writing, he offered to buy me a copy of the book. I was pleased with the offer but explained to him that I always waited for the remaindering of political books. I have never read one that cost me more than $7. That is a good average of what they are worth.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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In the war of the sexes, we are all losers.

Saturday, May 30th, 2020

How do we hate this pandemic? Let us count the ways.

Looking at the pictures of what was going on at Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto last weekend gave you a smile and a frown. It was a young crowd, doing what young people do. It was natural and understandable and counter to all the restrictions of the pandemic.

But I thought the complaints on television by Toronto mayor John Tory were asinine. What properly run city would unlock the public park and keep the washrooms barred?

And Ontario premier Doug Ford looked just as ridiculous complaining about the lack of social distancing. What else was he expecting after two months of lock-down. Say what you like about all those crappy social media programs, they will never replace the pleasure of a warm and interested body next to yours.

Despite the blue-stocking attitude of our politicians and the continuing efforts to repress our society by ignorant clerics, this pandemic is going to explode at some point. Humans have sexual urges for a reason and we need to have outlets.

It was shocking to see recently that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had declared that the pathetic involuntary celibate “incel” movement is a form of ideological terrorism. It makes you wonder just what countries CSIS believes might be targeting us with other forms of mental illness?

When it comes to the war of the sexes, we are our own worst enemy. Maybe after the pandemic is past we can wrest prostitution from the hands of the bikers and drug dealers and properly protect women who want to offer their services to men who might otherwise be without this outlet.

We used to have debutante balls to introduce young people who were arriving at the marriage market age. We also have neighbourhood parties to introduce bored housewives to equally bored husbands. Maybe we need to have parties properly labelled just to introduce people who are interested in some hot sweaty sex.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Mr. Trump’s Stupid Wars.

Friday, May 29th, 2020

It is hard to say what the Americans have done wrong to deserve this. They have the best equipped standing army in the world and they elect a guy like Donald Trump as commander-in-chief. It’s enough to make you cry. That jerk could not understand the strategy for a snowball fight against seven-year old girls. What he is doing loose in the free world is the wonder.

The scary problem is who told him to launch a trade war against the Chinese? It is a dumb idea. It is bad foreign relations. It is a war that neither side can win and neither side can afford to lose. The only thing worse would be to threaten the use of nuclear weapons.

You get the impression from this that if the Chinese leadership had a better sense of humour, all could easily be resolved. The problem is that through the 19th century and into the 20th, the Chinese knowledge of Europeans was taken mainly from the British. They saw the Brits as stuffy, humourless and dull. And the Brits accused them of being inscrutable, so they worked on it.

And just try to convince them of the benefits of democracy when the Americans elect an incompetent like Trump. Well, nobody says that democracy is perfect but Trump is certainly pushing the envelope.

The hardest part of this is that the Chinese cannot understand an aberration such as Trump.

But neither do we. Our major problem is that Trump is not a politician. If he was a politician, we would have some idea as to what he might do next. Nobody knows what a spoiled child will do next.

I think we should take the advice of the child psychologists. Distract him. Let him go to war against Twitter. Who cares? Maybe Facebook can get in a few good licks. Let him build a moat around the white house to try to keep out the democratic party interlopers. And you only wish that Trump would go stick beans up his nose.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Toronto Star: A legacy forsaken.

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

Friday evening dinner in my household as a child was often fish and chips, wrapped in pages of newsprint torn from the Toronto Star, to keep your dinner warm. In that sense, I grew up with the Toronto Star. I was probably still too young when conservative premier Leslie Frost blocked the terms of the will of publisher Joseph Atkinson that tried to turn the newspaper over to his charitable foundation. It ended up costing the five families involved $25.5 million to buy their own newspaper. It was the highest price ever paid at the time for a broadsheet newspaper.

I liked the new boss at the Star, Beland Honderich. He was not only a smart newspaper man but he was an astute businessman. He was very much a liberal but he was smart enough to create his own version of a Chinese wall in what he wanted for the party and what he wanted for his readers. He brought in a new era of expansion and growth in the venerable paper. It is my impression that his son John, who inherited the position in 1994, really did not understand where his father might have been heading.

While constantly buying out competition from around the province and as well as other publishing properties, there was a push into digital properties to gain more knowledge into developing better news websites. And this seems to be where the Star is still stuck today.

I have tested different ways of reading the news over breakfast and I must admit that I still prefer the foldable broadsheet. It is not that I am some sort of dinosaur that cannot make the change. I just get tired of wiping marmalade off my computer tablet.

It was also an awkward situation when I launched a lawsuit against one of the Star’s digital acquisitions to attempt to protect my right to a share of that acquisition. I thought it was rather dismissive of the Star to bankrupt their own acquisition rather than negotiate a settlement. They also lost out when lower level editors were enthusiastic about articles I offered the paper—then, there was nothing. Holding grudges is bad for business.

I am glad to see that there will be new owners. These are times for making changes.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The future is ours.

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

As the song asks, “How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paree?” That was a song that many believed after the First World War. It is also a lament for those politicians who think they can give the public greater freedoms and then expect to be able to take them back. There is too much blowback.

Take the simplest of changes. Ontario premier Doug Ford slipped one in recently that I did not notice. It is called off-sale of alcohol by bars and restaurants. It means that a customer, ordering a pick-up or delivery order can include a bottle or so of appropriate wines or beers to go with the order. It is what we used to call bootlegging.

I was quite pleased to see this convenience on the web site of one of my favourite restaurants. That is smart marketing. Not that the restaurant had the advantage for long. When one leads, the others will follow. The only mistake I see being made is that the restaurants are trying to get away with their normal doubling of the price of the wine. They can probably get away with a $3 or $4 convenience charge but doubling the price of a decent wine is a bit stiff. You can justify a higher mark-up when it is served at dinner in the restaurant but not when it is an off-sale.

As it is, I am getting used to ordering my weekly box of goodies from the liquor control board. They have the order ready for me when I get to the store—no line-up, no waiting. I would be happier though if the LCBO would fix that damn ordering program. It is clunky, over-sensitive and badly designed.

Over the years in the computer industry, I never wrote a line of code but, at different times I had programmers reporting to me on projects. They would bring me their completed code for this or that part of the project. The objective was to see if I could find fault in how it carried the function. I did, too often!


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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What is the new normal?

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

People are talking about a new normal—whenever this damn pandemic has run its course. No, we are not talking about the normal when we still shy from contact with people in fear of covid-19. We are talking about a time when we will look back on a history we do not wish to repeat.

I think the new normal will be an era of awaking. Same as after the Spanish flu was history; enter the flapper. It was a time of not just awakening, but new freedoms for both men and women, as well as new terrors. The Bolsheviks wrested power in Russia. Countries were making new alliances. New political parties were created. Politics changed and diplomacy discovered new challenges.

It is quite possible that religion will also go through an era of change this time as people reject the old restrictions and conventions. It will likely be an era when small concessions escalate to demands for more.

You have to let your mind loose on this subject. I think one of the most dramatic changes will be in the concept of marriage. Does it have to be two people? We have already conceded that the sex of participants does not matter. Would it not be more stable if the numbers were also flexible? As an economic unit, the union would be better funded and make more efficient use of living quarters. And I would suggest to you that the children of these unions would be healthier and happier and more stable in their attitudes as adults.

And do not forget that work places are also changing. The traditional office might just merge with a more collegial arrangement as we grow more accustomed to working from home.

It is likely we will demand less intrusive utilities on our computers as our personal lives mix with our working lives. Employers will have to contract with the employee for the output that is needed.

There are other changes that we might not be recognizing at this time. We should keep an open mind. Just always remember that as humans take a step forward, they keep one foot firmly planted in the past. It sometimes takes a while before they will raise that next foot.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The killing ground at the LTCs.

Monday, May 25th, 2020

The cull continues. Just what is the purpose of our long-term care (LTC) facilities? The figures are shocking. We sent in the army. All the army got was covid-19.

Britain’s Economist asked around, checking covid-19 deaths in LTC facilities in European countries. The people at the Economist were shocked to find that Belgium had more than 50 per cent of covid-19 deaths at their LTCs. I am not. I remember once being taken for a tour through a facility in Belgium. It was dingy and depressing but surprisingly well staffed. The only thing that really bothered me was the floors were divided by language. Even in life’s most difficult of times, the Flemish do not speak to the Walloons.

But Canada has those Belgians beaten. Over 80 per cent of our covid-19 deaths have been at LTC facilities. We even beat the Americans. Despite the lack of coordination in fighting the pandemic and the high percentage of deaths, the Americans have just 35 per cent of covid-19 deaths in nursing homes. Maybe they put more money into them.

As much as some might gloat over Jason Kenney getting called out on his assumption that Alberta had already beaten off the pandemic, the situation in Alberta is a concern we all share. Just the combination of the outbreaks at LTCs and meat packing plants is gruesome.

While Quebec also shares the problem of LTCs, its higher level of incidents of covid-19 are probably caused by its one-week earlier Spring break. That break from school down in Florida cost a lot more than expected.

There is no denying that a large part of the problem in LTCs is the desperate need for more full-time staff. And if they are people who can take pride in their work, they are worth any amount.

But it is up to all of us to make sure there are sufficient, properly run LTC facilities in our provinces to meet the need. We are all potentially in need of them.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Harry Who?

Sunday, May 24th, 2020

It is a different world for poor Harry Windsor. He cut himself off from the trappings of royalty with surgical precision. Now he is staring up from a prone position in the self-centred world of Hollywood. No honours, no special branch protection and no money. In California, there is a name for men who live off their wife or an allowance from their granny or their late mother’s estate.

Maybe Harry should not have left Vancouver Island so precipitously. Come to think of it, he could have timed it better when ditching the titles and allowances, over in ol’ blighty. I expect that Canadians might have found something for him eventually. Hollywood is only an answer for his wife. In tinsel town every third person on the street will gladly respond to being called ‘your highness.’

It seems an appropriate topic today, as we celebrate the birthday of Harry’s Great, Great, Great, Great Grandmother Victoria. That woman who suppressed the Brits for so many years is blamed for many failings today. I am sure we can now include Brexit. She did few favours for Canada—having been the one to choose Ottawa for the nation’s capital. And the city has changed very little over the ensuing 150 years.

If Harry had been in Canada today, he would probably have been surprised that it is one of those bank holidays—a Brit tradition. Though with the pandemic, there are no Victoria Day fireworks. Such festivities might have attracted crowds.

Harry, himself, probably attracts crowds of his own. It reminds me of women in Ottawa who are quite open in their quest to add another cabinet minister to the collection of notches on their bedpost. While maybe a little too deep into the fortified wines in a Vienna heuriger (wine bar) one time with an old friend who was a titled Brit and he explained it to me. “My dear chap,” he said to me, as he waved to the various ladies there, “They all want to fuck a British Lord.” I guess the competition would be much stiffer for a prince—defrocked, or not.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Can Chuckles make a comeback?

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020

The conservative party and the news media have written off acting conservative party leader Andrew Scheer much too soon. When he resigned late last year, the unwritten proviso was that the party thought they could get someone better. There might be four or five people vying for the honour of replacing Chuckles but you would have a hard time convincing any sizeable number of conservatives that any one of them is any better.

In fact, it is hard to say which of the four or five prospects could be half as effective as poor old Chuckles. You might expect that Peter MacKay has some of that same experience in the conservative party and in the Harper conservative government. When you ask knowledgeable conservatives about MacKay’s experience, you get a thoughtful answer that agrees, “Yes, he was there.” And then nothing but a sad look.

The facts are that Peter MacKay is a lightweight. He had three important portfolios in the Harper cabinet. He was an embarrassment in all three. He seemed to be working on a reputation for being the playboy of Ottawa and the eastern seaboard. Each portfolio he was in was just another set of photo ops. Mind you, he embarrassed the entire country in coming on to American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.

The reason I mentioned the four or five candidates is because last week an Ontario superior court judge said that Jim Karahalios should not have been ejected from the race when he maligned Toronto lawyer Walied Soliman, campaign manager for candidate Erin O’Toole.

I have a hunch that we might not know if there are four or five candidates until we have a ruling from the supreme court. It took a couple days for the right committee of the conservative party to kick out Mr. Karahalios again.

In the meantime, Erin O’Toole is going around being nice to any or all conservatives, hoping for their second vote approval. All O’Toole needs is for Peter MacKay to keep shooting himself in the foot. And that can be as good as money in the bank. There are a couple other candidates—we call them losers.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Panic in the pandemic.

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

The problem is that these so-called experts keep changing their minds. They tell us to wear a mask and then they say, ‘Don’t bother.’ Now they want us to wear a mask again. Maybe they should draw us pictures. It is not that we are slow or just plain dumb.

The damn masks are becoming a fashion statement. Just not surgical masks—those are for the medical professionals.

Why should we have to sew our own? What good can it possibly do? How many masks do we need to take us through the day? Do you just throw them in the washing machine? Or do you have to take them to a dry-cleaning establishment? Which is better, the 100-thread count weave or the 300-thread? What about those ones that seem to be made of a porous paper?

And what do you do when a friend calls and wants to go for a walk—six-feet apart, of course? Do you say, you are washing your mask and it is too wet to wear? And do you have to wear masks when having sex with your neighbour’s wife?

What you need to realize here is that masks are really quite useless—especially on people who do not understand their purpose. When a medical professional wears a face mask, it is to protect the people with whom they are in close contact. It does not protect the wearer. When a professional has to be protected, they wear something closer to full hazmat suits with a shield protecting the face, plus a surgical mask.

Bear in mind that the N95 mask is called that because it can filter out up to 95 per cent of pathogens for a brief period. Nothing is perfect. And all professional medical people can give you is their best guess. We are all going to listen carefully, nod knowingly and do whatever the hell we want to do. I, for one, do not like wearing masks.

But I sincerely appreciate the, probably useless, efforts of those wearing masks to protect me from their germs and viruses. Those silly masks just might become the badge of honor of this pandemic.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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