Life is Belief & Struggle - Ahmed Shawqi

Thursday, July 21, 2016

These Days

I don’t blog much because I am too busy reading, writing for hire, and generally just trying to live my life.  I never realize until I starting going to synagogue and actually attempting to live a Jewish life, just how much time it actually takes to live Jewishly. Even the simplest of tasks, like washing the dishes, become a herculean time eater.

I have literally hundreds of unfinished blog pieces, but time, ah there is the rub. And just where is my time best spent? Often, finishing those pieces is just too far, as in way, way, down the list of things I need to finish.

One of the reasons blogging lost part of its appeal was that I started to repeat myself. Saying the same thing over and over again is not compelling or particularly appealing to me.  So I am going to make some changes.  Instead of opining on whatever, I thought I would share what I am reading, whether it is a book or an article.

So what am I reading? Lonely Ideas by Loren Graham which asks the compelling question; Can Russia Compete? I am half-way through the book and am utterly fascinated by history of Russian innovation in science and technology while utterly failing to translate and apply that knowledge to improving ordinary life.  

I just finished Sebastian Junger’s ‘Tribe’. It’s a quick 2 hour read, tops.  Junger’s style is what makes it so easy to read.  I have a lot of thoughts about it but those thoughts are just churning around in my mind.  I do wish he had fleshed it out more and taken a tad more of a scholarly approach to it.

I just had a 54th birthday, and whether I have another 10, 20, 30 years of life left to live, I remain in the last third of my life. How I live the last third of life is one of the questions I grapple with. Tribe raises this same issue in the context of American soldiers returning home from war but offers few solutions and a stern warning that we need to figure this out - and soon.

Though, I have learned some interesting little tidbits. Bless, my ‘white privilege’, I never realized ‘going native’ was an actual issue in colonial America, much like the drug use and trade is today. This goes a long way in explaining the need to destroy, contain, and isolate Aboriginal life in North America.

Then there is Sapiens; A Brief History of Humankind  by Yuval Noah Harari. My Israeli friends have been raving about this man’s book and lectures for the last three years or so. Sapiens came out last year in English and was relatively successful, for a history book. I literally just started.

I have a biography on Rabbi Kook that I am half-way through which is curiously unsatisfying, and Caroline Glick’s The Israel Solution which is on my shelf just begging to be read.

Friday, July 8, 2016

in the details...

I am pretty much in agreement with this War on the Rocks argument for “Recognizing that Israel is Not an Occupying Power in Gaza is Good for Everyone.” And I do recommend the article….But, I have to quibble about a detail from the get go – only because I see this particular so-called historical fact used over and over. The Israeli- Palestinian conflict is long and complex, but we need to keep our eyes on the details or risk getting lost in subterfuge.

 Six years after Israel and Turkey had a severe falling out following the Gaza flotilla raid, the two countries have finally reconciled. The deal will allow Israel to maintain its blockade, which Israel established after its withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.

 The sentence implies that Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip and then imposed a naval blockade on the strip. This is simply not the case.  It is true, during the August 2005 disengagement operation, a brief naval blockade was imposed to prevent attacks from sea occurring during the disengagement, but it was not maintained after the disengagement was complete.

The actual navy blockade commenced after Corporal Galid Shalit was kidnapped from Israel and taken hostage into the Gaza Strip by the PRC (Public Resistance Committees – and ad hoc organization made up from members from local militant groups – Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad). 

 The Navy ordered a shutdown on Gaza for Tuesday night, and has increased patrols of navy ships along the Gaza coast. Palestinian fast boats have been banned, and only small fishing boats with limited speed are allowed on the sea.  

The Navy is preparing for the possibility of an attempt to smuggle the kidnapped soldier out of Gaza via the sea, and instructions have been sent to ship commanders.  The naval closure is similar to that carried out by the Navy during the disengagement plan, when the IDF worked to prevent terror attacks from the ocean.
 All of which means, I have probably been blogging far too long.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Bullied Pride

What Wente said.  But I would add one more thing. 

No member of the Black community was denied a drink at the water fountain, refused aid or community based solely on their race or colour at 519 Church Street.

Meanwhile, it’s 2016 and Homophobia is still rampant, and often violently expressed within the Black Community.  

The self-appointed activists of the Black Lives Matter Toronto movement need to take the mote out of their own community eye before they attempt to extort and shake down the Pride community for their racial shortcomings.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit carries the day, G-d Save the Queen

"Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
Winston S. Churchill

Gloom and doom will abound today, but the simple fact is, sovereignty trumps all. 

British Prime Minister David Cameron could never make an effective case to remain in the European Union based on British sovereignty. To paraphrase Milton, the British people answered the question; is it better to be a servant in heaven or a ruler of hell.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Brexit; The message that comes out is fear, fear, fear"

Every thing old is new again. British Tory leader David Cameron has suggested a British vote to leave the European Union could trigger another European war. Although, if that really was the case, why would Cameron call for a referendum under those circumstances? The Man is completely daft and rather unhinged. 

Anyway, here's how British Labour MP Peter Shore, back when Labour leaders had a spine dealt with a fear based campaign, unlike that current Labour wanker, Jeremy Corbyn.

I want to quote a comment made by Keith Sutton on facebook.

"Cadbury moved factory to Poland 2011 with EU grant.

Ford Transit moved to Turkey 2013 with EU grant.

Jaguar Land Rover has recently agreed to build a new plant in Slovakia with EU grant,
owned by Tata, the same company who have trashed our steel works and emptied the workers pension funds.

Peugeot closed its Ryton (was Rootes Group) plant and moved production to Slovakia with EU grant.

British Army's new Ajax fighting vehicles to be built in SPAIN using SWEDISH steel at the request of the EU to support jobs in Spain with EU grant, rather than Wales.

Dyson gone to Malaysia, with an EU loan.

Crown Closures, Bournemouth (Was METAL BOX), gone to Poland with EU grant, once employed 1,200.

M&S manufacturing gone to far east with EU loan.

Hornby models gone. In fact all toys and models now gone from UK along with the patents all with with EU grants.

Gillette gone to eastern Europe with EU grant.

Texas Instruments Greenock gone to Germany with EU grant.

Indesit at Bodelwyddan Wales gone with EU grant.

Sekisui Alveo said production at its Merthyr Tydfil Industrial Park foam plant will relocate production to Roermond in the Netherlands, with EU funding.

Hoover Merthyr factory moved out of UK to Czech Republic and the Far East by Italian company Candy with EU backing.

ICI integration into Holland’s AkzoNobel with EU bank loan and within days of the merger, several factories in the UK, were closed, eliminating 3,500 jobs.

Boots sold to Italians Stefano Pessina who have based their HQ in Switzerland to avoid tax to the tune of £80 million a year, using an EU loan for the purchase.

JDS Uniphase run by two Dutch men, bought up companies in the UK with £20 million in EU 'regeneration' grants, created a pollution nightmare and just closed it all down leaving 1,200 out of work and an environmental clean-up paid for by the UK tax-payer. They also raided the pension fund and drained it dry."

Sunday, May 22, 2016

For the good of the country, let us all hope the Rolling Stones are now too old to tour.

In conversation, I have called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ‘the Dauphin’ given that his only qualification before being elected as an MP was that he was his father’s oldest son, and whether  you agreed with Pierre Elliot Trudeau or not, he was brilliant intellectual and a Canadian parliamentarian of the first order. Certainly, nothing in Justin Trudeau’s career trajectory would lead one to assume parliamentarian was an objective let alone a career goal given the lack of heft to his political resume.

This is why Justin Trudeau always struck me as more Maggie’s Boy than Pierre’s.  And just like the Pierre, the country tired of Maggie’s antics very quickly.  Be that as it may be, never did I imagine the possibility that Justin Trudeau believed the people kicked out a dictator and elected him King.  My bad. 

Last week, we were treated to Trudeau’s wife pleading for funding a team to help her serve the people. A Chef, two nannies, a team of housekeepers as well as 1 personal assistant wasn’t enough for the un-elected spouse of a Prime Minister with no official role or responsibilities other than to her family and hobby ‘career’ and I due use the term ‘career’ in the loosest sense of the word.  In fact, being Prime Minister does not even require a spouse.  Many of our Prime Minister’s were spouseless. In fact, the elder Trudeau was first elected Prime Minister as a bachelor. 

Last week, when Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau whined for alleged entitlements, and given her rather bizarre behaviour of breaking out in song during a speech; it felt like it was shades of Margaret Trudeau all over again, and I thought, good G-d, did Justin Trudeau marry his mother? 

Nowhere is Trudeau’s lack of political and common sense more on display than the behaviour he exhibited this week in the House of Commons. His majority government nearly lost a vote when Team Trudeau couldn’t be bothered to show up enmass in the middle of a workday for a vote on a bill they proposed. The government’s defeat was only narrowly averted when the Speaker of the House voted to break the tie and sided with Team Liberal.

And then came Wednesday. Thirty seconds after the bell rings, and while the bell is still ringing, the Prime Minister rises from his seat, charges across the floor to barge into Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, and lays his hands forcefully on the opposition whip to drag him into his seat so the vote on a Liberal motion limiting Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition time to debate a forth coming right-to-die bill. In the process, he inadvertently strikes another MP in the chest.  All the while Liberal MPs pound on their desks cheering on the downright shameful behaviour of their leader. 

According to Parliamentary rules, if Liberal Government Whip Andrew Leslie had just sat down in his seat, the vote could have commenced immediately.  Parliamentary rules require only 1 whip needs to be seated before a vote can be cast.  And thirty 29 seconds after the bell rings does not seem to be an unreasonable delay.... as long as your birth certificate does not read entitlement  Justin Trudeau.

One could reasonably assume a Prime Minister, and as Liberal party leader had enough control over his own whip to ensure he was seated at the call to vote, and consequently, there was no need to cross over to the opposition side of the house to seek out a member of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to bully.  One could reasonably expect a Prime Minister would be familiar enough with the rules governing conduct in parliament but apparently knowing the rules of the house Justin Trudeau aspires to lead is not part of his resume. Hence, both reasonableness and irony are lost in the SunnyWays of the Justin Trudeau government.

In Canada, the head of our government is her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth ll.  We are a constitutional parliamentary monarchy and not a republic. The opposition parties are always referred her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. It seems an archaic way of speaking and harbours back to a time so long ago its rationale is lost and forgotten by most, but the reason we maintain this tradition, is remind ourselves, that good subjects can disagree on points of law and hold differing opinion which are as valid as the majority opinions, although not necessarily binding under the laws which govern our country.  Opposition MP’s collectively represent citizens who are not in agreement with the majority, but who still have the right to be consulted and heard.  It is the duty of her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to oppose and utilize any parliamentary tools at their disposal in fulfilling their duties in parliament. 

A Prime Minister should never exercise his privilege to abrogate the rights or responsibilities of opposition parties.  In the past, when the Liberals and NDP did they stint as Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition those rules worked for them. The fact that the Liberals now find those rules inconvenient only prove  the conclusion those rules are needed more than ever.

Due to the Prime Minister’s own antics, he has proven the aptness of the Conservative party’s ad advising Canadians that Justin Trudeau is  ‘Just Not Ready’ to be Prime Minister. And they ought to know, given they were tasked to work with him in a previous parliament.

I will give the Prime Minister credit for one thing. He’s good at apologizing and since we are Canadians, perhaps it is time for a Ministry of Official Apologies to be established - given the Prime Minister’s  baleful ignorance of house rules and we still have 4 and half more years of his governance.  In the end, it will save us all time.