BOOMERBROADcast

Enjoy, laugh, disagree or simply empathize with those who lived life in THE sixties and are now rockin' life in THEIR sixties, and beyond.


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Got a problem? Get an enemy.


It’s a page right out of The Handbook for Dictators. When you’re in deep doo-doo, find someone else to blame. It’s an effective distraction tactic as old as time itself. When you sleep in and are late for work, blame traffic. Stalin blamed the intelligentsia and packed them off to Siberian labour camps when things didn’t go his way. Hitler wrongly blamed the Jews and other minorities for all Germany’s problems. We know how tragically that turned out. During the Cold War, the United States blamed communism for the world’s ills. That rationale gave them the green light to invade foreign countries and impose their own political agenda on local populations. Failing at school? Blame the teacher (that one never worked particularly well for me). Can’t lose weight? Blame menopause—well, bad example because that one is actually true. The point is, find a scapegoat and push your agenda until your perceived enemies are kneecapped.

Donald Trump has seized on this principle with amazing tenacity. In the bizarro world, he has the Midas touch. Everything he touches turns to disaster. So he blames fake news. He blames Mexico, China and Canada. He blames the NFL, FBI and immigrants. Autocrats need fake enemies. In a further manifestation of this philosophy, Donald Trump has now set his sights on Amazon and in particular their use of the United States Postal Service who handles a large portion of their deliveries.

Someone has to explain this business case to me. I do not have an MBA. In fact I can barely calculate the tip in a restaurant so I’m not exactly the brightest light on the tree. But it seems to me that when a business attracts more paying customers, especially ones with the power of Amazon, the result is usually:

Amazon also creates thousands of jobs.

  • more business, which equals
  • more revenue to grow the business, which equals
  • more jobs created to support the business, which equals
  • more sales revenue, which equals
  • more profits, which equals
  • more taxes paid, which equals
  • more happy people

Except for Donald Trump. Do you suppose his beef with Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon has anything to do with the fact Bezos is a known critic of Trump? And this from the guy who said not paying taxes is just “smart business”.

Full disclosure here. I’m a big fan of Amazon. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t have an Amazon box arrive at my door—a book, an item of clothing or a kitchen gadget. I even took Warren Buffet’s advice and bought stock in a business I understand and have some knowledge of or experience with, which means I also own shares in Amazon. They were purchased as a long-term investment and I’m holding on to them. In fact with their market price now low, I’m tempted to buy even more shares because I believe in the business. They’re certainly not perfect corporate citizens but we have to accept progress while remaining cautious in our choices.

Working through the blame theory to its natural conclusion

The basic strategy of blaming others for our shortcomings is perhaps something I should investigate on a personal level. It certainly has advantages. That means the dairy industry’s marketing is responsible for my passion for butter pecan and black jack cherry ice-cream. That’s why I weigh more than I should. Not my fault. Martha Stewart set impossibly high standards for entertaining. That’s why I am incapable of making decent hors d’oeuvres and generally do not like cooking. Not my fault. Five Guys’ french fries? Probably laced with cocaine. Not my fault I’m addicted. Same thing with Tim Horton’s steeped tea and peanut butter cookies. Fake news and not my fault?

Hey—that was easy. Donald Trump is on to something. I’m sure he’s well aware of it and we can expect to see and hear a lot more ‘passing the blame’ as time goes on . . . and on . . . for nearly three more years. That should be all the time I need to convince myself that this approach is not fake news and my failings are not my fault. Will it work? What do you think?

Footnote to Mr. Jeff Bezos: Want to put Mr. Trump in his place? Locate your planned new Amazon distribution centre in Canada! Canada Post would be happy to work with you and your employees would get health care, work in a country that doesn’t worship guns and respects the hard work and contribution of immigrants.


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Guns . . . from killing accessories to fashion accessories


Every day when I put on my earrings, my watch and wedding ring, I slip a hammered stainless steel bangle on my right wrist with the serial number 17805 engraved on the side. That’s the serial number of the gun the metal in the bracelet came from. That’s my one small step toward helping eliminate guns from the civilian population. Canadians, fortunately and wisely do not share the Americans’ preoccupation with guns. We operate under the assumption that if only the good guys (police, military and qualified hunters) are allowed to have guns we don’t need guns to ‘protect our family’. It’s not easy to get a gun in Canada and the system generally works.

When I started blogging in 2013, one of my first posts was about a gun amnesty program started under then-Mayor Cory Booker (now Senator) of The City of Newark, New Jersey. Here’s an excerpt:

My kinda’ gun control

The City of Newark, New Jersey joined forces in 2012 with a jewelry designer to recycle the metals from guns collected during a paid gun amnesty program and seized during crimes to create bracelets and other jewelry made from steel and brass parts. Each bracelet has the serial number of the original gun inscribed on the piece. A portion of the profits produced from this program is returned to Newark to continue the program. The bracelets are available in three sizes for a custom fit and the one I bought fits perfectly. I currently have a steel one and plan to order a brass one as well.

In addition to bracelets, the organization has other jewelry and clothing.

In addition to bracelets, the organization has other jewelry and clothing.

The Caliber Foundation aims to offer support to victims and families of illegal gun violence.

When a community is affected by gun violence there are many unforeseen and unplanned-for expenses, in the worst cases; funerals, and for those lucky enough to survive there are; medical bills, wheelchair ramps, and lost income. Churches and community organizations struggle to meet these needs, just as the Caliber Collection™ creates opportunities for those who may never have walked the streets of Newark to participate in making the city a safer place, the Caliber Foundation connects anyone who donates with the organizations and people on the front lines of re-building lives one small act at a time.

Six Years Later . . .

It’s now 2018 and crime involving guns has only increased. The recent school shootings in Florida and similar acts of violence prompted me to revisit the site and see if the program is still in operation—and it is. The Caliber Foundation takes parts from guns seized at crime scenes and guns turned in by citizens and recycles the metal parts into unique jewelry. The proceeds are returned to the community and police organizations to assist in furthering the removal of guns from the streets and provide assistance for victims of gun violence.

When I originally posted this piece, I sent a copy to the Metropolitan Toronto Police Department suggesting they adopt a similar program, but received no reply or acknowledgement. Maybe we could all send it to them again as a suggestion they create a similar program. It may be a small step, but it’s one thing we can do to demonstrate our opposition to guns in society. I’ll make it easy. Copy this blog posting and forward it the Chief of Police. Here’s the link:

officeofthechief@torontopolice.on.ca

I’ve worn my bangle every day for the past five and a half years. Every time I put it on I think about the ongoing struggles with gun control. At the very least, check out the website to learn more about the program. I encourage you to think about purchasing a piece of jewelry or item of clothing to show your support. Here’s the link:

http://www.calibercollection.com/


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It’s true. No news is good news.


I’m surely not the only Canadian who is sickened, angered and appalled by Donald Trump’s reaction to the Florida school shootings. His solution? Arm teachers, but only the ones “who have the aptitude for using a gun”. And they’ll receive a ‘bit of a bonus’ for the extra training to carry and deploy a weapon.” Turn schools into a free-for-all shooting range. Imagine armed swat teams patrolling the halls of your child’s school. That thinking is absolutely insane. They’re also proposing that schools should be equipped with airport style security metal detectors at entrances. These band-aid responses totally ignore the cause of the problem—too many guns. As the anti-gun advocates say, “Mental illness is global; mass shootings are unique to the United States.” The craziness is out of control and if it’s keeping me awake at night, I’m probably not the only one.

We all have friends, family members or acquaintances who are teachers. Teachers are people who went into the profession because they are kind, patient, caring women and men who enjoy promoting and sharing knowledge with children and youth, not hate and killing. School is a place for meeting and making friends, not enemies and killers. Imagine one of the teachers you know being asked to take weapons training and packing a hand gun? It’s so inconceivable it’s ridiculous. As I’ve said before, remove guns from the general population and then no one will need guns. The United States is the only country in the world that doesn’t understand this simple concept.

He just doesn’t get it.

Surviving students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida who visited the White House came away this week feeling their concerns were not heard and certainly not understood. Trump even had cue cards in his hands reminding him to say “I hear you, I understand” because he most certainly did neither and had to be prompted to parrot someone else’s words. If the politicians won’t listen to their children, what chance do they have? The anti-gun lobby in the United States has been impotent against the mighty NRA and they need to up their ante—out-muscle the bad guys. Politicians will address the protests and create a couple of lame-duck new laws that fail to address the root of the problem—guns have no place in society. The NRA contributed $30 million to Trump’s election campaign and he made them promises he intends to keep. Trump’s idiotic pro-gun stance is no doubt bolstered by the fact his sons are “big game hunters”, the horrific and immoral sport of shooting helpless, beautiful animals in the wild for trophies.

I no longer watch local news on television because the litany of shootings, robberies, preventable car accidents, scams and violence is just too depressing. It leaves me angry, frustrated and emotionally drained. In order to keep abreast of what’s happening politically and in business I sometimes watch the national news but it too has become too much to bear. From now on, I’ll just make supper in silence or listen to music and talk to the dog. No news is the only way I can save myself.


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The Hudson’s Bay Company welcomes new CEO and this shopper couldn’t be happier


Helena, girlfriend, I really need you to listen. I’m only trying to help.

Canada’s venerable 350-year-old Hudson’s Bay Company (for non-Canadian readers it’s comparable to Macy’s in the U.S.) is getting a new C.E.O. Her name is Helena Foulkes and she comes from CVS, a health-care company with about 9,700 pharmacies in the United States. Since January 2014, Foulkes was the company’s executive vice-president and president of subsidiary CVS Pharmacy. As a shopper, loyal Canadian and feminist I’m thrilled with the news and thought I’d take the initiative on behalf of all baby boomer women and make her feel welcome:

Dear Helena:

Welcome to Canada. When I heard you were taking over the reins at The Hudson’s Bay Company, I was so excited I could hardly pour my Geritol this morning. For more than twenty years I’ve been lobbying The Bay, making suggestions about how they could improve business and keep their retail stores prospering. And for as many years I’ve been ignored. Maybe we finally have someone who will listen. After all—I’m just the customer—what do I know? I hope you don’t mind me calling you Helena. I feel we’re BFFs since I wrote that complimentary post about you on my blog recently: (Click here to read Brushing away wrinkles and imperfections doesn’t fool anyone.”). I was soooo impressed that you took a stand against digitally altered beauty ads (Photoshopping) in CVS stores.

Anyway, Helena, as I said, my emails, snail mail, blog postings and letters to a series of Hudson’s Bay CEOs have all been ignored over the years and I really want The Hudson’s Bay Company to do well. To make your job easier, here are a few simple things you can do that I guarantee will improve sales and sustain your retail business. This is a simple a point-form summary but you’re free to read links to previous posts with further details about the issue which I’ve conveniently included at the bottom of this posting.

  1. Hire more sales associates. If it means eliminating a few pairs of designer jeans from inventory to come up with the money to pay these people, it’ll be a worthwhile investment. Unlike in European stores, it’s impossible to find knowledgeable staff to assist shoppers in Hudson’s Bay stores. This is particularly critical in suburban mall stores which are severely understaffed compared to your downtown Toronto flagship store.
  2. Make the cash register/sales desks easier to find. I once stood in the middle of the second floor of the Square One Bay store in Mississauga and literally yelled for help. The place was abandoned.
  3. Train your sales personnel to take pride in their work. And what about paying these people a more attractive salary to improve morale? Coming from a corporate marketing background myself, I’ve always felt that valued employees should be treated like clients. Happy employees are the secret to the success of the company, just like those ‘contented cows’ who produce good quality milk. Nordstrom sales associates are trained to walk around the counter and hand me my little silver shopping bag like it’s a special gift and they value my business. I like that.

    We really want you to succeed.

  4. Up the ante on the on-line experience for your customers. American retailers have nailed this and Canadian retailers are woefully late to the game. I’m a dedicated on-line shopper who prefers to do business with established retailers. As baby boomers age, we’ll come to depend on this service even more.
  5. Speaking of baby boomers—I just want to remind you that we’re a huge, overlooked target market. We have time; we have money; we love fashion. But no one acknowledges us anymore because we’re not the 18-45 demographic.
  6. On the subject of listening, have you ever considered appointing customer feedback mechanisms? Perhaps on-line surveys or better still, customer councils?

I appreciate you taking the time to read this, Helena. I really do want Hudson’s Bay Company to succeed and grow. If you’ll just take my advice, I think you’ll find the boss will want to give you a raise. Feel free to just call me anytime. Let’s have a cup of tea and sort things out. No charge.

Sincerely, Your friend, Lynda

P.S. To give credit where it’s due, I’m glad someone responded to my earlier plea to upgrade the ladies washrooms in suburban mall stores. They were pretty disgusting and I’m pleased The Bay is making an effort to correct this.

P.P.S. Here are the links I mentioned above:

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2017/06/09/top-10-suggestions-for-hudsons-bay-to-survive/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2018/02/01/its-my-fault-retail-stores-are-closing/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2013/10/31/retail-rant-hits-home/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2013/10/29/the-solution-for-canadian-retailers-is-as-easy-as-1-2-3/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2016/11/07/what-on-earth-was-the-hudsons-bay-company-thinking/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2014/08/31/support-is-growing-for-truth-in-advertising/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2014/01/29/hello-saks-goodbye-bay/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2013/09/14/how-to-improve-sales-at-hudsons-bay/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2018/01/19/brushing-away-wrinkles-and-imperfections-doesnt-fool-anyone/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/hbc-cvs-helena-foulkes-1.4520526

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Praying for the victims and their families does nothing


Doesn’t it just make you sick! The wave of finger-pointing following the latest school shooting with seventeen people dead in Florida is enough to whip up a hurricane. It’s not guns – it’s mental illness. What we need is better school security. If teachers had guns they could have taken him down . . . excuses and rationalization abounds. The Americans just don’t get it and it’s their everlasting tragedy that they never will thanks to their ongoing misinterpretation of the Second Amendment.

Other countries have problems with mental illness. Other countries have schools with far less security than those in the United States. Other countries even have guns. What other countries don’t have is the high concentration and incidence of abuse of guns that results in mass shootings. In Canada, the only people who have guns are the police, our military, hunters, a few collectors and some bad guys. Most of us live our lives without ever seeing a real gun—it’s just not part of our psyche. We’ve also had a mass shooting in a school so we’re not impervious but no other country in the world has a gun problem like the United States. Their psychology is warped and that’s never going to change which means these tragedies will continue. Remove guns from the general population and remove the problem. That’s all I’m going to say.


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‘Fire and Fury’: The emperor has no clothes


There’s only one word to describe the best-selling book Fire and Fury, Inside The Trump White House by Michael Wolff. Disturbing. Very, very disturbing. The title refers to Donald Trump’s threats of raining ‘fire and fury the likes of which no one has ever seen’ on North Korea if they continue to launch nuclear missiles. Bill Maher called the exposé about Donald Trump’s White House administration a ‘fun read’. Trump supporters will call it an unfair representation. Whatever your position, it’s not fun and it’s scarier than anything by Stephen King. And I’m not even an American. Wolff was able to get unfettered ‘fly-on-the-wall’ access to the inner workings of white house life by presenting himself as a sympathetic documentarian of the transition during the first one hundred days of the Trump administration. That approach assuaged the emperor’s ego and got Wolff the access he needed.

How did the American people let this train wreck happen? Reading Fire and Fury is like opening a large bag of Ruffles potato chips. You take a bite then you can’t stop gorging, even though it makes you feel gassy, ill and disgusted with yourself. In fact, after I was a few dozen pages into the book I wasn’t even sure I would be able to finish. I was horrified and appalled at what I was reading and wasn’t sure I would have the stamina to soldier on. But once you open the bag it’s hard to stop.

My overriding impression as I read the book is that Trump likes being the emperor but has neither the aptitude nor the inclination to do the work involved. His number one preoccupation is his media presence—not immigration, not health care or jobs, not foreign policy and certainly not the American people, despite his rhetoric. I would have liked to see more about Melania but according to her husband, she’s just a ‘trophy wife’, arm candy and they lead fairly separate lives. His ‘office wives’ are another matter. And they’re what Ivanka Trump misinterprets as his positive views on feminism. Even though Ivanka, Kellyanne Conway, Hope Hicks and others play a large role in his day-to-day life, they’re supporters, nurturers, hand-holders. As soon as I finished the book, I came across an excellent piece by Jill Filipovic in the New York Times that perfectly describes this dynamic. “As women who work know, egalitarianism is not always the norm, and many of us have found ourselves serving as the caretaking ‘work wife’ to the emotionally needier male co-worker or superior.” And this boss prefers his work wives in skirts and high heels.

I also learned that son-in-law Jared Kushner and his family are long-time Democrats and Kushner’s brother owns an insurance company that benefits from Obamacare. Like Maria Shriver, Kushner had to bite the bullet on that one. The game of musical chairs for senior positions in the Trump white house has created an atmosphere of instability and chaos. No one knows who does what or for how long so everyone is kept busy protecting their turf. It was Steve Bannon versus Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump versus a cast of has-beens and wannabe’s.  When Gary Cohn, former President of Goldman Sachs came on board to contribute his management skills as Chief Economic Advisor, he did not mince words: “It’s worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won’t read anything—not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored. . . I am in a constant state of shock and horror.”

There are just too many juicy bits to begin to relate here. I urge you to read Michael Wolff’s excellent book and draw your own conclusions. I binged and now I don’t feel well. In fact, I feel bloated, helpless and defeated. I worry about how the American people will pay for the inevitable health care they’re going to need when they try to digest and live with this smorgasbord of unsavory heart-stoppers. How is it all going to end?

Click here to read “Trump and his work wives” by Jill Filipovic.

Click here to order Fire & Fury by Michael Wolff from Amazon.com.

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You’re beautiful mes très chères.


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Will 2018 be the beginning of the end of oppression of women?


Stephen, please be one of the good guys.

I am a feminist and not being a feminist is a sign of ignorance. I love men and there are a lot of good ones out there. I’m married to one. My friends’ husbands are good ones—in fact, the majority of men are good ones. But the bad ones are now being exposed for the scum they are. Predators are dropping like flies. Stephen Colbert recently joked that he’ll soon be the only man left on television—keeping our fingers crossed that he’s earned that privilege, as I like Stephen Colbert.

Every day we read the growing list of men being toppled from their pedestals by accusations of sexual abuse. While it’s gratifying to see how the mighty have fallen, the current exposures do not begin to address the level of silent abuse that takes place every day in businesses, communities, homes and relationships.  I believe most of the good guys out there are not fully aware of the pervasiveness of the problem and we all have a greater responsibility to the silent victims to keep this dialogue open. It’s not just pretty women in high-profile jobs who are victimized, although we do appreciate their coming forward to raise awareness for all women.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if 2018 became the historical tipping point for a complete reversal in attitudes toward women? Since the beginning of time, insecure men have suppressed the accomplishments of women in the workplace, at home, in sciences, arts, religion, literature, politics, financial institutions, business and every other area of life. Imagine what the world might look like today if women’s inventions, music, art and other accomplishments had been allowed to rise and see the light of day. Imagine religion without rigid patriarchy and how our spiritual lives might have benefited from leadership with equal input and participation by women. Lindy West articulated the effects of this systemic suppression eloquently in a recent Sunday New York Times essay as “the invisible ripples of confidence lost, jobs quit, careers stalled, women’s influence diminished, men’s power enhanced”. Well stated.

The tiny country of Iceland is a microcosm of what can happen when women take over. After decades of male leadership the country was poorly governed and broke. In 2008 the corrupt bankers were indicted (unlike in the United States where they were paid enormous bonuses for their corrupt practices) and banished to a remote prison away from their families. Women took over parliament and rebuilt the country’s economy which is now prospering. What would have happened on Wall Street if the testosterone-loaded financial decisions made behind the closed doors of the old boys’ clubs had been balanced with equal input by women. We can only speculate. If only those misogynistic old white men in Washington had taken Anita Hill’s accusations against Clarence Thomas seriously all those years ago, we’d be further along our continuum today.

Women and seniors have specific needs in relation to safety and convenience for public transit.

I would also like to suggest that such everyday things as public transit would be infinitely more efficient and productive if managed by women. There are so many financially challenged single mothers who depend on public transit to get to their underpaid jobs, who have insights SUV-driving men will never understand. Ancillary services like moving sidewalks, access and egress, lighting, security, train or bus connections that were more accommodating of strollers, wheelchairs, bundle buggies, small children and even fares would be better designed and more efficient. Women would be loathe to start wars; we have no interest in seeing our husbands, sons and daughters sent off to die for a slice of foreign dirt. We’d put the kettle on, make a large pot of tea or coffee, crack open a box of cookies and get down to the business of resolving our differences. The only boots on the ground would be suede or comfortable patent leather together under the kitchen table.

It’s tragic to think of the thwarted artwork, literature, scientific discoveries, medical advances, technological advances, community support programs and social services that might have improved our way of life if women had been allowed an equal voice over the centuries. We only won the right to vote within the last hundred years and are still fighting for pay equity and equal recognition in the workplace. The macro-level abuses are obvious but the smaller, everyday struggles by all women who do not have the visibility of a business executive, a celebrity or a politician need immediate and serious attention.  I’m haunted by the story told to me by a professional friend about someone she knows who is subjected to sexual abuse every day by her employer in her workplace.  The victim is an immigrant with poor English language skills working at a minimum wage job in a factory. She needs the pay cheque to feed and clothe her children. If she complains, she will be fired, and in another example of blaming the victim, because of her cultural background her husband will divorce her. There are thousands/millions of women like her and they need everyone’s help to overcome these abuses. They need our voices to be heard.

Abuse is not always physical and we must be vigilant for signs from those in need of help.

Domestic or sexual abuse is not about sex. It’s about power. Abusers bully others to exert power, often because they feel insecure or inferior themselves. It’s not complicated. Until we call out the bullies, make them accountable and change the current psychology, we cannot change the world. I’ve had to address some of my own prejudices and misconceptions on the issue. After a lifetime of conditioning on such concepts as ‘degrees of abuse’, I’m reconsidering many of my own positions and opinions. I once thought women who dressed provocatively were inviting trouble. I’ve now rethought that issue and realize that regardless of how a woman is dressed, no one has the right to attack or invade her personal space without her permission.

‘Locker room talk’ that demeans women is not funny. It’s disrespectful and perpetuates the negative psychology. It’s not always about physical or sexual abuse. Bullies have an entire arsenal of methods to attack the vulnerable including financial, verbal and emotional.  Many people, women, men, seniors, minorities, children, anyone can be the victim of abuse. We have an enormous job ahead of us and it would be wonderful to think we are witnessing the beginning of change. Centuries of suppression and oppression cannot be turned around overnight but we can take the first step in a journey of a thousand steps. We are not advocating against men, just the bullies. All women want is true equality and inclusion which benefits men and women. Now that the problem is out in the open we have to formulate a solution. I’m working on myself to better understand and advance women’s issues and as we go into the new year I hope that you will do the same.

Click here to read I’m a witch and I’m hunting you, an essay in the New York Times by Lindy West.

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