Thursday, 27 December 2018

"We The People" The Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776

"We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." So sayeth page 13 of this mightiest of declarations. 

A Declaration that has stood the test of time, created opportunities for millions of disparate peoples from around the world, grew to represent perhaps the finest Democracy known to man, defended the sovereignty of nations under attack during war and peace, and perhaps more than these, gave mankind a direction to seek and follow its dictates, all written and spoken long before the Age of Reason, Enlightenment, Prohibition, World Wars, Television, The Internet and Social Media by the likes of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman; the writing was delegated to Jefferson.

(This booklet was printed in 1776 using master journeyman skills and I photographed it on an Apple MacBook Air keyboard with an iPhone 8 telephone.)

This smallish pamphlet was given to me by my brother-in-law Buster McAfee who is an American reaching the ripe age of 79 and feisty as ever. We have had a few political discussions, not the least of these are current and about Donald J. Trump the 45th President Of The United States. 
We are not alone; the world is engaged in wonderment at the antics performed by #45 every single day. The Media is all over him day and night. Night and Day he is the one focus that grips the nation, the people, and yes the rest of the world just waiting for his pronouncements from left field, and wanting these wads of excrement to stick on the walls of his confused and bewildered Administration, as well as the Congress that was created by learned, capable and gifted gentlemen of the 18th Century who must be turning over in their graves at the site of this mayhem.

Allow me to close this blog with another man's words that sum up the why, the where, the who, the what of the people who wish to make a more perfect union: 

"The first thing that you need to understand about Trump is that he is not and never has been a successful business man, he is, at his core, a con man with no empathy. Therefore, he assumes that all other people are also con men with no empathy, and every exchange of goods and services that exists in the world is, on some level, a con.
Trump assumes every transaction in the world — between people, businesses, nation-states, even between two different agencies of the same government — has a winner and a loser, a scammer and a sucker. He believes if you're not ripping someone off, you're getting ripped off.
From an economist's perspective, this is complete nonsense. Unless there are major information asymmetries or distortions of market power, and often even then, most transactions are generally to the mutual benefit of both parties. Otherwise no deals would ever get made.
But Trump — the man who created a fake university, made promises and then stiffed contractors, some of whom went bankrupt, hired the mob, and filed for bankruptcy six times — cannot believe this. So he goes out of his way to cherrypick how he sees the world, He doesn’t actually work and produce a building or an enterprise but when his minions get it done he assumes credit and puts his name on it. So everything he does looks like either a ripoff or a steal. This is why when his enterprises get into management difficulties he shuts them down or goes bankrupt. He is not a businessman but an actor playing a part, unreactive to reality.
He is a fabulist “ 1. a person who composes or relates fables. 2. a liar, especially a person who invents elaborate, dishonest stories.” In his “reality acting” and his business persona he lied, to one side and then the other and when called on the lies invented a third lie or blamed the difficulties on subordinates. Now that what he does affects the world, his unthinking reactive deeds can affect both our own country and those of our allies, and done badly, help our enemies, he is at a loss why other people aren’t smart enough to bow to his “gut”.
The next thing to realize is that Trump has lived almost all of his life in a bubble which shields him from the negative, allowing only adulation to come through. All of his decisions were the right ones, his responses are absolutely charming, everyone who meets him is overwhelmed by his charm and grace, his diplomatic skills and his understanding of the world. Even on both sides of an issue he expects to be respected and loved. The bubble tells him so.
It's not simply that Trump *doesn't* think the Paris Climate Agreement, Iran nuclear deal, TPP, NAFTA, or luxury cars from Germany are a good deal for America. It's that he can’t think that. It's an alien concept to him that a deal other people want with us could also help us. This is why he will continually have problems with world trade.
To Trump's mind, the mere fact other countries sought out these deals with us, and that their own economies benefit, is unassailable proof we got ripped off. He can't see the evidence they helped us too. His mind will only cherry-pick potential ways it could be bad for us.
This is why Trump will never, ever, be able to negotiate with the rest of the world. He doesn't believe in mutual benefit. The second anyone tells him "this is your end of the deal" he'll rip it up. He believes only one party can have a good result at the end of the deal, and it has to be him.
So folks, I hate to tell you this, but he's only getting started. He will forego billions, maybe trillions, of dollars in world trade. He will alienate our friends and embolden our enemies, he will manipulate the economy to look like he’s successful and when things fall apart he will blame everyone but himself, just as he’s always done.
Bottom line, he’s an actor playing a president. He has never really done a job and now it really shows. He proposes things like infrastructure but doesn’t have the tools to follow through, hence a series of aides (directors) who tell him what to do. People like Li and Kim, Putin etc, who do know what they’re doing, play him like a fiddle."

Enough said. The writer I have copied word for word was James Lacy Ph.D. Economics and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Mr. Bill Gates (Microsoft Guru) has commented on Yuval Noah Harari's books.

Bill Gates' reading list is one of significance and a source of knowledge and betterment for those who follow persons of measurable impact on our world. One of his favourite authors is Yuval Noah Harari - a professor of history in Israel - who has written three books: Sapiens; Homo Deus; and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. Harari is recognized and honoured around the world. These books are printed in twenty or more different languages and have caused a stir amongst all manner of citizens, no matter how learned they may be, who enjoy reading views of an intellectual nature on global affairs, past, present and future.
Mr. Bill Gates is one of us. (Even though his net dollar worth is certainly greater than yours or mine, he's still one of us.) He has spoken and written about Harari on numerous occasions and I thought it prudent to add his comments here:
"[...]What does Harari think we should do about all this? He offers some practical advice, including a three-prong strategy for fighting terrorism and a few tips for dealing with fake news. But his big idea boils down to this: Meditate. Of course he isn’t suggesting that the world’s problems will vanish if enough of us start sitting in the lotus position and chanting om. But he does insist that life in the 21st century demands mindfulness—getting to know ourselves better and seeing how we contribute to suffering in our own lives. This is easy to mock, but as someone who’s taking a course on mindfulness and meditation, I found it compelling."{Harari meditates for two months every year.}
"As much as I admire Harari and enjoyed 21 Lessons, I didn’t agree with everything in the book. I was glad to see the chapter on inequality, but I’m skeptical about his prediction that in the 21st century “data will eclipse both land and machinery as the most important asset” separating rich people from everyone else. Land will always be hugely important, especially as the global population nears 10 billion. Meanwhile, data on key human endeavors—how to grow food or produce energy, for example—will become even more widely available. Simply having information won’t offer a competitive edge; knowing what to do with it will." {This might be his next book.}
"Similarly, I wanted to see more nuance in Harari’s discussion of data and privacy. He rightly notes that more information is being gathered on individuals than ever before. But he doesn’t distinguish among the types of data being collected—the kind of shoes you like to buy versus which diseases you’re genetically predisposed to—or who is gathering it, or how they’re using it. Your shopping history and your medical history aren’t collected by the same people, protected by the same safeguards, or used for the same purposes. Recognizing this distinction would have made his discussion more enlightening."
"I was also dissatisfied with the chapter on community. Harari argues that social media including Facebook have contributed to political polarization by allowing users to cocoon themselves, interacting only with those who share their views. It’s a fair point, but he undersells the benefits of connecting family and friends around the world. He also creates a straw man by asking whether Facebook alone can solve the problem of polarization. On its own, of course it can’t—but that’s not surprising, considering how deep the problem cuts. Governments, civil society, and the private sector all have a role to play, and I wish Harari had said more about them."
"But Harari is such a stimulating writer that even when I disagreed, I wanted to keep reading and thinking. All three of his books wrestle with some version of the same question: What will give our lives meaning in the decades and centuries ahead? So far, human history has been driven by a desire to live longer, healthier, happier lives. If science is eventually able to give that dream to most people, and large numbers of people no longer need to work in order to feed and clothe everyone, what reason will we have to get up in the morning?"
"It’s no criticism to say that Harari hasn’t produced a satisfying answer yet. Neither has anyone else. So I hope he turns more fully to this question in the future. In the meantime, he has teed up a crucial global conversation about how to take on the problems of the 21st century."
[Do you agree with Gates? Do you feel that Harari's next book could flow from these criticisms or, will it come from his two months' meditative hiatus from the hectic ebb and flow of everyday living? Wherever and whenever, I'll be reading it.]

Additionally, I have visited Gates Notes and found his interests, life long learning, philanthropic activity and additional investments he and Melinda have made in companies they believe are contributing to world wide betterment for us and future generations to be of great interest. In particular, programs in renewable energy like two small hydro panels on your roof requiring only Sunshine and Air to produce perfect drinking water by the glass. Perhaps you will too.

Friday, 14 December 2018

"How I Started to Write" by Carlos Fuentes

How I Started to Print
By Gary McDonald
I WAS BORN on September 1, 1941 under the sign that amateur horoscopians would later predict quite applicable to me: a Virgo. So too were Edgar Rice Burroughs (born in 1875) who wrote: “I write to escape poverty.” and Rocky Marciano (1923) who said: “What would be better than walking down any street in any city and knowing you're a champion?" and Lily Tomlin (1939) who made us all laugh with lines like: “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” Perhaps the only entity Burroughs, Marciano, Tomlin and I have in common is our birth date. No, I lie; we all have, or once had a vocation. Almost all people have a pursuit, a calling or line of work, but few write about it. This is my story warts and all.

[Many years ago I read "How I Started to Write" by Carlos Fuentes, a Mexican writer born in 1928 and published in several books as well as movies such as Old Gringo, Las Dos Elenas, Do You Hear The Dogs Barking? and several more. He's quoted as saying: 'What the United States does best is to understand itself.' and 'Writing is a struggle against silence.' and 'I don't think any good book is based on factual experience. Bad books are about things the writer already knows before he wrote them.' His style and content impressed me, to the point of actively writing my life's story. I wrote this in 2006 and titled it How I Started to Print, that being the vocation I pursued in 1957 (at 16 years of age) to my retirement from the Printing Industry in 1998. During those 41 years I was a packer of printed cheque books, to press helper, feeder, sales, manager, co-owner and president, and finally to vice-chairman of a publicly traded company originally named Arthurs-Jones Lithographing.] 

The first paragraph of that story is printed above under How I Started to Print. The rest takes many many pages and would be inappropriate to publish in this blog. If the 'rest of the story' interests you please write to me requesting the balance at

Thank you

Thursday, 13 December 2018

"Backward Glances" by Conrad Black Springtime 2019

I'm honoured to glean the following words written and spoken by one of Canada's gifted writers and financiers after a lengthy ordeal. Perhaps, you will recognize of whom I speak:

"...there are a few things that need to be said. The prosecutors have never ceased to accuse me of being defiant of the law, of disrespecting the courts, and of being an antagonistic critic of the American justice system. Nothing could be further from the truth. [...]

Mark Twain famously said that 'a lie gets half way around the world before the truth gets its trousers on.' [...]"
"I never ask for mercy and seek no one's sympathy. I would never, as was once needlessly feared in this court, be a fugitive from justice in this country, only a seeker of it. It is now too late to ask for justice. But with undimmed respect for this country, this court, and if I may say so, for you personally, I do ask you to avoid injustice, which it is now in your gift to do. I apologize for the length of my remarks, and thank you for hearing me out your honour."
"I recall with particular pleasure when the metal rod from which my father was launching May 24 rockets slipped and the already lighted rocket took off almost horizontally and went through a neighbour's window, buzzed about the walls emitting small flames and erupted spectacularly over about ten blazing seconds. After another ten seconds, as my father expressed the hope there had been no one in the room, an ancient grey head festooned with curlers and still sizzling sparks appeared, shaky but purposeful, and emitting an unholy rage. She shook her fists, screamed a few epithets, and receded, like a geriatric cuckoo-clock bird, slamming the window and pulling closed the curtains, as we were all splitting our sides with unhoped-for holiday mirth." [This is from CB's essay Why We Honour Queen Victoria may 23, 2015.] (For me there is something special about his sentence structure and colourful language that lights up a page like no other.)

The above three paragraphs are a sampling of 727 pages of Conrad Blackian prose delivered to his readers: "As this is a collection of columns and essays already written..."
He selected these writings and republished them in 2016 in "Backward Glances" which I found online in The Port Credit Library system.
I've read: "Render unto Caesar: The Life and Legacy of Maurice Duplessis"
                "Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom"
                "A Matter of Principle"
written by Conrad Black and I have his latest; "Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other" on the to-do list which will be his take on POTUS #45. I'm marginally aware that Black feels Trump can do much to improve his country despite the lack of finesse and skills that he brings to his affairs.
By the way: "Judge St. Eve sharply reduced the sentence, warmly commended me on my success as a prisoner, and concluded, 'The court wishes you well, Mr. Black.'"

July 27, 2019 and edits are required. I have finished Black's Trump book mentioned above and I am saddened to say that Black has chosen to overlook, which so many others have not, that Trump's benefit to his country overshadows his intolerance, racism, misogyny, improper language, abuse and superior attitude toward every opponent or legitimate critique, he has ever met.
Furthermore, this President phoned Conrad Black advising him of a Presidential Pardon for the crime he was found guilty of and had served three years in the Slammer. Mr. Black must be grinning and glowing from ear to ear.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Travels With Terryl [January 2006]

WHEN TERRYL was very young and the urge to be someplace else was upon her, she acted boldly and signed on with Air Canada, and, as it turned out for her, the itch continues. I never knew that itch would affect me when we met in October of 1998. But it did—eventually, but still not to the degree that commands her daily thoughts. Why just the other day when touching down at Pearson Airport in Toronto Terryl took my arm and said: “Where are we going next?” I laughed and chuckled about that and only ten days later I was asking myself that same question. This chapter will recall someplace other than where I live or work, not only as Terryl’s accomplice on layovers around the world and not only on vacations of which there have been many: I will recall business trips to the United States and Europe and record these experiences as having a major influence on me; but mostly on what and how I think about the world and its people. Why? Because it has. We have been to London, Los Angeles, Lima, Las Vegas, Munich, Madrid, Melbourne, Paris, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Dublin, Rome, Tokyo, Trois Riviere, Sydney, Salzsburg, San Francisco, Shawinigan, Santorini, Shanghai, Santiago, Saint John, Saint Johns, Auckland, Christchurch, Cairo, Calgary, Athens, Alexandria, Amsterdam, Bogotá, Buenos Aries, Valparaiso, Hobart, New York, Honolulu, Istanbul, Limasol, Venice, Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax, Bala, Beijing, and yadayadayada…and back again; so where to next should not be a problem: Stockholm Sweden and St. Petersburg Russia are on the radar. If I take these names separately there is a story to be told about every place, and more importantly, a story about the people I have met and the lives they live, all wonderfully different and unique for sure. I hope to recall these feelings right here and now.Traveling has never been a source of great excitement accompanied by careful, fastidious plans orchestrated to meet grand expectations. No, it’s a matter of getting somewhere else, perhaps it’s a place I need to be, or a place someone else wants or needs to be. There is a difference. And in that difference planning and expectations differ. Mine for example starts with packing. My ex-wife used to pack my stuff when I was going on a business or golf trip. But one day I suggested that I did not need this, but did need that. On receipt of those words she stopped packing my kit forever. The instantaneous neglect never bothered me except for the coldness that ensued, at that time, and for a short time, when I began to pack my suitcase for myself. I rather like it now, so I demand to pack alone, a selfish act that allows me time to concentrate. That singular, if selfish, concentration has never betrayed me; that is not yet; I know this because I seldom forget an item I need, and I never take something I won’t use.The best way to get from place to place, especially if it takes more than seven hours to drive, is to fly, and flying with Terryl is a total joy for me. Her time at Air Canada has its perquisites, and not the least of these is the lifetime standby transportation that AC provides to its long term employees and retirees. I’m not at liberty to provide additional detail—it’s a trade secret, a secret that is known at my club during winter months I hear these words too often, “Is Air Canada bankrupt? What are you doing hanging around here?” I sometimes reply that I need to come home to count the money I am saving.This narrative is not about cost; it's about experience, the experience of travel and seeing the difference that exists among places and people. It's about attaining a comfort level with unfamiliar habits practiced by unfamiliar people in unfamiliar places. If there is anything that scares some people off traveling it's the strange places, foods, transportation and even uncertainty that takes over. The way I have overcome these human traits is to say to myself, "Just do it." (Just like Nike does.) And in so doing I have had food poisoning, bug bites, been lost all over the place, but I have never been uncertain about the outcome: that we'd arrive in time to continue the journey some how. Running out of gas in New Zealand wherein we foolishly left a very nice little town looking for a thermal gusher that was off the beaten track without checking the gas tank's readiness to proceed was  one of those moments. We had a map but it was one of the maps that showed us only the main roads; and we were a long way in a strange place looking for this magic steam coming from the centre of the earth. We had no compass, no GPS and and no gas to speak of. My friend Jim was in charge of the car, and of course we stopped at every house to ask directions. But every house but the last one was empty of people--and the sheep were not talking our language. We were running on fumes when we were provided with a direction that pointed us toward the highway and a nearby gas station, a pump that we drove right on by several hours earlier. Who knew? These people are the Maori people (pronounced moldy) who are native to New Zealand. In this country the Maori appear to be getting their land back from the government of the day. But it was one night earlier where we visited a tribal ritual whereby the natives greeted us with a feast and a greeting that I'll never forget.The natives appeared in costume of course...ranting and yelling and of course looking ferocious as Mauri do. [More will be added much later.]              

I’m sitting in my favourite chair, in my new permanent address, living with Terryl, using my iPhone 8 on this day November 20, 2018 (my sister Marilyn’s birthday), and writing these additional thoughts. Many years have transpired whereby I had canceled, became dreadfully ill with a host of issues that shed 60 pounds from my 205lb. body, demoralized my mind and put me in the hospital for many weeks. I recovered over the next twenty-four months largely due to Terryl, Greg, Rob, Dr. Sayeed and several additional doctors who provided the necessary surgeries to put me on the path to recovery in March of 2017. I sold 36 Fernbrook Crescent in Brampton at the top of the market April 30, 2017 and moved into a retirement facility consisting of retired folks mostly in wheelchairs and walkers. Revera Greenway’s nurses and staff took care of the rest for almost two years before I acted on the following suggestion from a lovely 94 year old resident who, on learning my age, proclaimed “You’re much too young to be living here.” It took me several months for that thought to take hold and one day I spoke to Terryl and asked if she was still eager to do this, and she was. I made the arrangements with Greenway and a mover named Courtney who dispatched a truck and two guys to do the move on November 18, 2018. It was a breeze in no more than 5 hours and $550.00 cash money paid to Raheem and Randy with a two beer tip and they were gone and appreciated. By the way on January 2, 2019 we leave for Buenos Aires to catch an 18 day cruise on Azamara's Pursuit sailing to Antarctica and back. The itch continues.



Thursday, 6 December 2018

"FactFulness" by Dr. Hans Rosling

The above link will take you to a site that illustrates numerous peoples' incomes, homes and compares families of the world. He does this showing income and pictorial living conditions all designed and created by Dr. Hans Rosling who wrote "FactFulness" a book that gives us 'Ten Reasons why we're wrong about the world--and why things are better than you think.'
I have finished this amazing read and will give it to Greg; after that please ask me for it. In this astounding book Rosling asks us to take a survey of 13 questions about our world and all of its people:

  1. How many girls finish primary school?
  2. Where does the majority of the world population live?
  3. What is the life expectancy of the world today?
  4. We have 2,000,000,00 children 0-15 in our world in 2018. How many will we have in 2100?              These 4 and 9 others make up the survey taken by people from all walks of life: 'medical students, teachers, scientists, bankers, journalists, activists and even senior political decision makers.'

I took the test and scored 1 correct and 12 incorrect. Dr. Rosling is quick to point out that this result was consistent with the other results. Therein rests the reason his book had to be written.
I'm not secretly selling Amazon: just making it easier for you. It's yours for a small sum of money on Amazon, something many billions of people have never had but Dr. Rosling's proven factful book gives reasons for rejoicing.

Dr. Rosling died in 2017. His daughter and son finished his book in 2018.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Buenos Airies to Antarctica and back on Azamara January 6, 2019

This trip will be a once in a lifetime to the bottom of the world and Antarctica. I'll have my tuxedo and hang out with the penguins. We fly to BA on January 4 but the ship doesn't embark until January 6.  There are several days at sea with stops at Montevideo, Uruguay,  Ushuaia, Argentina, Antarctica, Elephant Island, Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, Puerto Madryn, Argentina and back to Buenos Airies for disembarkation. We'll probably have to have boots when we get off the ship in Antarctica and expect that we will need them on the land/snow/ice way down under. Right now it's December 4, 2018 and 8:30 in the morning and I'm dictating this item on my MacAir, and with Apple magic she's doing the typing. 

Terryl had a party yesterday for her Air Canada buddies and told them all about the trip; when I showed up at 2:30 they were very excited and said it was the trip of a lifetime. We’ve sailed on Azamara four times now, each adventure on board and off has been an increasing level of excellence; so much so that we openly declared this company of three ships to be our favourite. The Pursuit is brand spanking new just launched in the summer of 2018; the others are Quest and Journey. These ships entertain only seven hundred patrons assisted by two hundred crew. We (have been) invited to the captain’s table—wearing tuxedo and evening gown—to meet and dine with agreeable gentlemen whose stories and conversation made for an extraordinary evening. Maybe we'll get lucky again.

We are all booked and paid for as far as our hotel room in BA and on board Azamara Pursuit; So we wait for the loads on Air Canada's January 4/19 flight which (as of December 8/18) has 90 seats available for AC Employees, plus plenty more on January 2/19 and December 31, 2018. So as they say down under 'no worries mate.' 

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Moved In and Settled December 1. 2018

I've been living, really living at Terryl's apartment since November 18, 2018 and for the last two weeks we spent very little time getting my clothes settled in the closet. For the most part we cooked, watched some TV, joined a gym, bought some clothes, changed my address on several cards, bought this magnificent MacBook Air that I'm typing on right now and generally had a very good time. I've shown her how to send and receive email money transfers which thrilled her no end.
I really should have accepted her invitation some time ago, but I guess I wanted to be close to the Y and the Brampton Golf Club as well as the places and people I've known since 1984 (34 years). I now realize that part of my life, while completely satisfying and productive, is something I will cherish but need to build another. That is one that Terryl and I can build together; and it makes plenty of sense to do it in one abode.

This large living room without the great chair I always sit in next to the windows facing north and the magnificent skyline of downtown Mississauga, is wonderful for sitting and talking without a TV in sight. Perfect for reading and working with the electronic device of choice: MacBook Air or iPhone 8. And when Terryl is around she offers me drinks and snacks of my choice. I love it.

Daily account of Azamara Cruise UAE-India-West Africa-South Africa December 9, 2019 to January 28, 2020

 July 4, 2020 Our Azamara Cruise December 9, 2019 to January 28, 2020 Toronto to Dubai to Mumbai to Cape Town to Toronto December 9, 2019 to...