Ink & Paper

Friday, September 23, 2005

The United States of America, 2015.

Having finally extracted themselves from the Iraq-Iran quagmire of 2003-2011, the United States is slowly attempting to rebuild its international reputation. With the close election of Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2008, and the subsequent election of John Edwards in 2012, the United States has swung back from the conservative precipice that it was standing upon throughout the latter years of George W. Bush's last years in office.

The chaos in the middle east, largely a result of a failed Israel-Palestian peace process, the upheaval in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the aforementioned Iraq-Iran debacle, is largely responsible for the $5.50 per gallon gasoline prices that are currently ensuring a long and painful recession. The brief but deadly nuclear strike on Tehran, Iran by Israel in 2010, further shook the world oil prices, which have never recovered and now show a barrel of light sweet crude sitting at a near-record 144 euros.

However, there are some bright spots. Having finally acknowledged in 2013 that global warming is indeed real and largely responsible for the massive series of cateogory 5 hurricanes that have made Florida, Louisiana, and large tracts of Texas uninhabitable, the US is now a leader in the push for more sensible fossil fuel consumption. The SUV craze of the late 1990s and early 21st century has waned, giving way to hybrid cars and their fuel-efficient, environmentally sensitive emissions. As well, the US energy conservation plan, largely based on the idea of the failed Kyoto plan of the late 1990s, has been applauded around the world.

As well, the US has begun to slowly pay down the massive deficit that was run up during the Bush years in office. The re-patriation of white collar jobs, shipped overseas in the early 21st century, is a source of pride throughout the nation, even in these times of recession. It is odd to us historians to note that the paydown of the deficit and debt is largely the result of belt tightening by the Democrat administrations, not the Republicans.

The US still is in need of significant lessons in conservation though. Much of the western US states have suffered through years of droughts and water shortages, a result of the overstraining that was put upon the western aquifiers. This shortage of water was directly responsible for the strained relations with Canada in 2010 and 2011. The population of California, the largest consumer of water in the western states, is now at a staggeringly unsustainable 100 million people.

While the previous two Democrat adminsitrations have made a conscious effort to implement FDR-like work projects, an effort to stimulate the lagging economy, the average American has suffered a decrease in overall income since 1997, creating a ever-widening gap between rich and poor. This persistant problem is ongoing and is never fully addressed in the political atmosphere, as it often is divided along racial lines, a political minefield after the Hispanic-Anglo riots in Los Angeles in 2012.

This increasing level of poverty-level populations has caused the US to fall dramatically in the annunal UN rankings of world coutries. Cynics have been known to state that this plummet in the rankings is due the UN expulsion from New York in 2007, but educated people are able to plainly see the increased poverty, a prime indicator of a country's status on the world stage.

Having given way to China as the most powerful economic force on the planet, and unwilling to support their previously giant military apparatus, the US has resigned itself (save for a few right wing hawks) to the fact that the 21st century indeed belongs to Asia. This has thus caused a massive shift in US foreign policy, a shift that many say became an open admission when the US failed in 2009 to honor its promise to defend Taiwan in the event of hostile Chinese actions.

As such, compunded with the overall lack of enthusiasm among the public for more middle east adventures, the US has ceded much of its influence in the oil rich parts of the world to China, and increasingly, India. The US continues to be a net-importer of goods, goods largely made in China and other Asian countries. The emergence of the Chinese automobile industry was a foregone conclusion in the early 21st century, but its impact on the "Big Three" (Ford, GM, and DhaimlerChrysler) was nothing short of devastating. Many economists point to this single issue as the reason the US economy finally tipped into a full blown recession.

Freedom of the press has been re-energized in the US, a result of the independent or "blog" revolution that took place between 2002 and 2007. The empires of CNN and Fox have given way to smaller and independent "on the scene" web sites, sites that are often dedicated to a very specific topic, making it easier for the population to follow what they find most important.

Television has continued to define the US leisure hours and the introduction of pay-per-view executions of deathrow inmates is a regrettable lingering holdover from the Republican era, due in no small part to the ultra-conservative Supreme Court, which was largely shaped in the waning years of Bush's seond term. Reality TV remains strong, however it is notable that documentaries have by and large replaced news broadcasts.

As the 2016 election approaches, the stakes are high, as always. The direction of the USA is hanging in the balance and the direction it takes is largely dependent on which political party gets into the White House. The populace is reluctant to listen to the old-time rhetoric of the Republican party, but is also tired after 8 years of Democrat government. Indeed, some analysts are predicting that this could be the year that the left-ish People's Recognition party finally makes an impact on the US political scene.

But we all know by now that no one can predict the future, we can only hedge our bets.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:10 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Effective Saturday, September 24, the blog will be on hiatus, as I have to wait until Shaw comes out to hook up our cable and internet. In the meantime, please visit Excursus, which is a communal blog that features individual posts on a variety of issues from the following esteemed bloggers.

1. Me
2. Jan (eventually)
3. Todd
4. Al
5. Jeff

Ink & Paper should be back up and running soon, hopefully before October 1. Until then....

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:29 PM ~~ 3 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Something lighter. Like Jeff in loafers.

I bought the new Matt Good collection, entitled In A Coma, today and wasn't too late to snag the deluxe edition.

"Oh yeah, I got the Deluxe Edition. Only poor people and single mothers get the regular edition."

I think the only difference between the deluxe edition and the poor people's version is that the deluxe has a DVD of videos etc. There are a limited number of deluxe editions out there too.

Audio disc one is basically a greatest hits album, with two new songs thrown in. Makes me happy.

Audio disc two, part one (Rooms) is the kingpin of this whole shebang. Acoustic reworks of big hits and minor successes.

Disc two is brilliant. Tripoli is madness.

The thing that people don't often get with Good's music, as his singles usually rock pretty good, is the lyrics. Good is one of those artists who can score big on MuchMusic but is an artist first, not a performer. There is an important distinction between the two.

His vocals and lyrics are poetic and political, with an amazing range. The stripped down acoustic stuff allows the lyrics to really get the front billing. Piano and soft drums give the lyrics an airy feel, an orchestral sound. It is also pretty cool to here how he sings his older stuff now, in an acoustic setting. Hello Time Bomb is unrecognizable. I didn't know what to expect when I heard it was going to be acoustic-y, but I'm blown away.

So there.

I still won't go see him play live though. I hate crowds. I'm unto myself, so slag off.

I also finished reading Margaret Atwood's Oryx & Crake, a post-apocalyptic novel that gave me some pretty messed up dreams last night. Basically it is a morality-challenging sci-fi book that takes a look at the excesses of science, society, and the gap between the poor and rich, in what appears to be the early to mid 21st century. Gene-splicing, new "super" animals, combo animals, and the ultimate destruction of humanity as a result of playing God. A better literary version of that movie 12-Monkeys, which starred Bruce Willis and that guy who was hanging out at West Ed yesterday. ("Ohmygawd. Ohmygawdohmygawdohmygawd, it's Brad Pitt! I just went to bed with him in my mind. I love Canadian Idol.")

I hate people. Losers. Big fucking deal, Brad Pitt. I digress.

I have really become a fan of Atwood, as I read a lot of her books in Kuwait. This book is similar yet more extreme that her other futuristic sci-fi-ish book The Handmaid's Tale, which I also recommend.

A lot of people aren't into sci-fi, and as a rule, I am one of them. But she is a gifted writer and in all of her novels, the focus is always squarely on the main character and their struggle to deal with whatever environment she has placed them in. I highly recommend Oryx & Crake. I got it for $9.99 (hardcover) at Chapters earlier this week, so it'll leave you enough money to argue about it over beers.

There. I've cultured the internet. Now leave me alone.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 9:55 PM ~~ 3 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Jay's Blood Pressure on a Thursday Morning

I was listening to the news this morning and there was a piece about how Republicans are struggling to find ways to pay for the Katrina cleanup/rebuild, especially with Rita about to hammer Houston.

Withdraw from Iraq? Nooooooo

Raise taxes? NOOOOOOOO

Hmm, what could be left? Oh yea, the old 'blame the UN' game.

I actually heard a Republican congressman say that the US should withdraw their funding of the UN "as it really never supports US interests anyway."

Trust me, much cussing ensued inside the truck.


A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 1:52 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

If anyone feels like breaking their spine and tearing some ligaments, Megan's junk and my awesome stuff is getting moved from my parents garage in Sherwood Park to the new place in Beaumont on Saturday, September 24 starting at around 9am in the morning.

Beer will be provided. Replacement spines will not. Although I know this really good chiropractor....

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 5:55 PM ~~ 5 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Us & Them, Part III





















A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 9:08 PM ~~ 2 bonsai trees

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Monday, September 19, 2005

Us Part II

Supermodel Tyra Banks used the occasion of the taping of her TV talk show to answer charges that she's had breast implants. Banks removed her bra from under her shirt and had a plastic surgeon examine her to confirm that her breasts are totally natural.

Them Part II

Sitting in a feeding centre in Mauritania, one-year-old Mohamed Nour's stomach is swollen but not with food. His bony wrists are thicker than his arms.

Yet his proud mother Selka is adamant that she has enough to feed her son. He eats as she does, once a day.

"We had porridge yesterday and the day before and three days ago we had couscous," she says.

But Mohamed is not from south-eastern Mauritania, the part of the country worst hit by the failure of last year's harvests which has killed hundreds in Niger. Mohamed lives in the dusty, rubbish-strewn slums of Mauritania's capital, Nouakchott.

"Chronic malnutrition is a big problem here," says Mohamed Barou of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which runs the feeding centre.

Chronic malnutrition is what happens when a child is fed, but starved of the vitamins, minerals and proteins he needs to grow.

Unlike severe malnutrition, the child does not necessarily become visibly sick or instantly at risk.

But chronic malnutrition can be just as deadly, leaving children vulnerable to disease. The medical community in Mauritania believes it is why there is an extremely high rates of infant deaths in the country.

"One hundred and nine deaths per 1,000 children," says Mr Barou, "compared to three per 1,000 in Spain".

For the slum children whose only toys are discarded wheels they steer around on sticks, a rainstorm in this sand-blasted town is irresistible.

They dance in the downpour, stretching their hands up to reach the raindrops and sticking out their tongues. They swim in the mud-rivers - now open sewers - carrying the cholera bacteria.
There were 100 new cases everyday in the epidemic recently ravaging Nouakchott.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:23 PM ~~ 3 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Sunday, September 18, 2005


It's not like we didn't know it was coming. Britney Spears and Kevin Federline are officially 'rents! And it's a little dudie. So hyped. Think of all those guy things Ms. B. is so good at pulling off (handling the pissy press like Sean Penn should, ruling every neighborhood Starbucks and Taco Bell she can get her southern cutie-paws on). Just the boy stuff--Kev might even lend a helping hand in between cigs, huh?

Personally, I look forward to the continuation of the pop career Ms. B. seems to have abandoned. Nobdody smacks the gum and struts the stage like our Brit. And if Missus F. really is going so domestic, maybe she'll be training her tot to take her place? Come on, girlfriend! Louisiana needs the hip-grindin' tradition continued now more than ever! And congrats!


A string of attacks against majority Shiites has left some 200 dead in Iraq this week, one of the bloodiest periods since the 2003 US-led invasion, while the US administration has ratcheted up accusations that Syria is supporting insurgents.

The latest attack saw a suicide car bomber targeting Shiite worshippers on Friday as they left a mosque in Tuz Khurmatu, 170 kilometers (100 miles) north of Baghdad. Eleven worshippers were killed and 24 others were wounded.

The bloodshed followed a call Wednesday by Al-Qaeda's frontman in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, for "total war" against the Shiites, a threat that religious leaders from both communities warned could spark a sectarian war.

Zarqawi's extremist Sunni group had claimed responsibility for a wave of bombings in Baghdad, including one Wednesday that killed some 112 Shiite day labourers as they waited for work.

Nationwide, the death toll hit nearly 150 Wednesday, at least 23 on Thursday and more than 20 on Friday.

In violence on Saturday, one Iraqi was killed and 17 others, including three soldiers, were wounded in Baquba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of the capital, when an Iraqi army patrol was hit by a car bomb, police said.

Eleven bodies were also found at various locations in Iraq. All were blindfolded and handcuffed and had been shot at close range, security sources said.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:52 AM ~~ 1 bonsai trees

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