BOOMERBROADcast

Baby Boomer's social commentary on life in OUR sixties for those who rocked life in THE sixties.


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From this day forth, all male citizens will be circumcised

Imagine if Parliament passed a law that required every male in the country to be circumcised. Or, what if getting a vasectomy required the written permission of the local Catholic priest, regardless of your religion. What would the reaction be if every male in the country was forced to undergo a rectal exam before he was allowed buy condoms. As bizarre as this sounds, that’s exactly the kind of obstacles and unwarranted control over their bodies that women in the United States are now facing compliments of a reactionary, misogynistic government.

There are reasons the original fathers of the American constitution insisted on separation of church and state.  Removing funding from Planned Parenthood has eliminated access for millions of women to assistance in health-related services like breast and pap examinations, STD testing, birth control and other counseling. Students, low-income women and minorities are not the only beneficiaries of services related to women’s health and particular segments of the population are totally dependent on them.

It’s difficult for men to comprehend the challenges faced by women on many levels in everyday life. We cope with lower pay, gender discrimination and general lack of support for “women’s issues”. Many men are oblivious and it’s our responsibility to educate and inform the men in our lives about the importance of fairness and equality. I wish I’d been more vocal when I was younger. If I had, I would have made more money and had a much fatter pension plan waiting for me upon retirement. But, it’s still not too late to make our voices heard.

This won’t hurt a bit. Trust us. We know what’s best for you.

Fortunately, as a Canadian, I live in a more enlightened society. We take care of our sick through universal health care and are more progressive in recognition of women’s issues than our southern neighbours. Canadian women are able to access maternity and health care services our American sisters only dream of.  Perhaps they should start lobbying for reciprocal restrictions on males in health, economic and social issues. Many health plans reimburse men for the cost of Viagra but do not reimburse women for birth control pills. Imagine the backlash if men earned just seventy-six percent of what women made? How would they react to being told they had to get the approval of a fusty old doctor before they could father children or alternatively, choose not to father children. The threat of mutilation or something physically invasive happening to their little boy private parts might get the attention of the alpha neanderthals running the country. Only then will they truly understand what it feels like to have a third party have the final say on what happens to their body, i.e. to be a woman. Religious dogma notwithstanding, men as well as women are the beneficiaries of freedom. America’s founding fathers understood this, but unfortunately the current government can’t read.

Tracey Ullmann captures the essence of women’s struggles brilliantly.

If you haven’t seen it already, you’ll understand the imbalance when you watch this YouTube Video by British comedienne Tracey Ullmann. Click here.

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Now’s the time for a great American President

Where’s a John F. Kennedy or a Franklin Roosevelt when the American people really need one. After watching the Trump/Clinton debate last night, I came away with one thought: thank heaven I don’t have to cast a vote in the American election. I wouldn’t want to bear any responsibility for the future of the United States based on my choice on election day. Whatever the outcome, the results are going to be scary for the American people, although I would love to be proven wrong.  It’s amazing how they arrived at two equally disliked candidates, but that’s democracy at work. I can see the book just waiting to be written: “The Rise and Fall of the United States of America”.

Then, this morning I burst out laughing when I read the editorial cartoon in today’s Globe and Mail called “Pick one” by Brian Gable. I couldn’t have said it better.

cartoon1

 

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Are you as fed up with Hydro One and the Ontario Liberals as I am?

I thought extortion was illegal.

I thought extortion was illegal.

When I clicked to open my on-line hydro bill this morning, I nearly went into cardiac arrest. While clutching my chest, the first thing I had to do was check to see if the bill was for hydro or gas as the names sound the same and I’m always getting them confused—Enersource is for hydro electricity. Enercare is for gas. My bill has doubled in the last year, in part to pay for the gas plants fiasco. There’s been a lot of backlash about mismanagement of this resource by the Ontario Liberals and the situation is not improving. In fact, the problem is escalating. Everyone is aware of the fat-cat culture that has endured for generations at Enersource, Hydro One or what we used to call Ontario Hydro (and what we recalcitrant Boomers still call it), not to mention the pervading lack of accountability. Who hasn’t watched an idle field crew of six or seven Hydro One workers standing around on the ground next to several trucks watching one person up a pole or down in a manhole doing something. Do we even have an opposition leader these days? Where is whats-‘is-name when we poor taxpayers need someone to advocate on our behalf?

hydro3Does it not strike you as peculiar that Ontario is so blessed with abundant electrical resources that we end up dumping it to outside markets at cut rates just to meet our contractual obligations to Enersource/Hydro One? We’re all doing our best to conserve. I do my laundry on Sundays when the rates are cheapest and hang clothes outside whenever possible to save running the dryer; I run my dishwasher late at night when rates are lower; I go around turning off lights and try to be as efficient as possible in my daily use of power. The reward I get for this conscientious behaviour is the highest, most expensive electricity rates in North America while our government sells cheap surplus power to outsiders who don’t pay taxes here. My father lives on the Eastern Ontario border where they import electricity from Quebec and his bills are one-third of what I pay in the GTA.

Cut off their power and redirect it to those who will use it wisely.

Cut off their power and redirect it to those who will use it wisely.

It’s time to storm The Bastille. Emperor Kathleen Wynne and her gang of dilettantes must be brought to justice. Likewise, the lazy fat cats running Hydro One or Enersource or whatever they call themselves these days. We keep reading about the outrage experienced by Enersource customers but we all feel impotent to do anything about it. Let’s get the ball rolling with some suggestions: I’ll start.

  1. Turn off the air conditioning/heating and hot water at Queen’s Park and all the MPP’s homes including Premier Kathleen Wynne until they understand what it feels like to choose between paying your Hydro bill or buying groceries to feed your family.
  2. Send our laundry and dirty dishes to our MPP’s homes so they can pay for the increased costs of keeping our province clean. Perhaps we should shower there too.
  3. Launch a petition on Change.org demanding a transparent audit of Hydro One operations and the Ontario Government’s mismanagement of same.
  4. Slash the fat at Enersource by whatever method is the fastest and most effective. Put a single mother on a fixed income in charge of things there and task her with cleaning house. When she finishes there, she can go after Queen’s Park. (I realize this is sexist but since single mothers on average earn only seventy-six percent of what single fathers earn, mothers tend to be more creative and conscientious in their spending habits.)
  5. . . now it’s up to you.

Click on the Comment section of this blog and give me your suggestions on how we can stop the insanity. Answer this question:  “How can we fix the mismanagement by Hydro One and the Ontario Liberals?”. I’ll collect your feedback, publish it and we’ll see what happens. If the responses have merit, I’ll forward them on to Kathleen Wynne.  Power to the people.

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Aboriginal problems are not theirs alone

aboriginal1After reading an editorial in The Globe and Mail this week written by a member of the Tyendinaga Mohawks of Bay of Quinte reserve near Belleville, Ontario, my knee-jerk reaction was a lack of sympathy. In writing “Why I won’t leave my native home” the author mourns the loss of her aboriginal community when she moves to Hamilton, Ontario for a month. Describing her feelings of displacement associated with being taken away from her native fishing and hunting grounds and the proximity of family, combined with the shock of living in a noisy, crowded city, Susan Bardy presents a naive view of life in the twenty-first century.

I grew up in a small community of thirty-five-hundred souls about twenty miles north of where Bardy resides on the shores of Lake Ontario. Growing up, I shared her love of nature’s proximity, having family and relatives living within walking distance, and the support of a community. It was an ideal childhood. But not sustainable. Most of the young people in my high school knew that upon graduation they would have to leave—for post-secondary education, to work at General Motors in Oshawa, to work in an office in Toronto, a factory in Peterborough or, in fact, to work at all. Jobs in small communities are limited and that’s a fact of life. And we need to work to live.

Expecting to continue a lifestyle that was sustainable when big businesses made buggy whips or ice boxes is no longer real life. Generations of family farms have been sold and redeveloped for this reason. Fishing families in the Maritimes have faced this reality. Hunters and trappers understand their days are numbered. That doesn’t mean they’re happy about the situation but it is a reality that must be faced. New enterprises have grown to replace former ones. Computer coders and programmers are in short supply as are health care workers, service providers, construction tradespeople and even entrepreneurs. Some of these jobs can be operated from home but most require moving to where there is the demand.

Don’t get me wrong. I am totally sympathetic to the problems of the native communities across Canada. The issues are painfully obvious and complex. But the blame and onus for providing solutions must not be borne entirely by the government. Growing up non-native in an isolated small town is not unlike growing up on a “rez” but without the influx of government (taxpayers’) money and social programmes. The government requires that natives live on reserves to reap their full benefits, which limits their mobility. If these benefits were portable, perhaps some people would choose to expand their horizons beyond isolated reserves and become part of a larger community. Former residents of small towns do this. Farmers do it. We love where we came from but life intervenes.

The destructive lifestyles and suicides inherent in many native reserves across Canada is a horrifying social problem. The status quo hasn’t worked and I’m hoping that people much smarter than I am can come up with the solution. I have ancestors who were native Canadian (I am, in fact, one-sixteenth aboriginal) and chose to look beyond the reservation for a sustainable lifestyle. Maintaining invisible walls around those living on reservations doesn’t work. Walls didn’t work in Berlin. The Iron Curtain didn’t work. Trump’s wall won’t work. The world is getting smaller.

While I understand and sympathize with Susan Bardy’s position, I do not condone it. We are living in the twenty-first century and life for her is no longer about hunting and fishing any more than it is for me about living in a small town with no hope for employment to support my family. Non-natives also left our culture and traditions, our community, our loving families, our closeness with nature, the graves of our ancestors. Non-natives also have to travel outside their communities to schools, health care, social services. It has nothing to do with race. There’s no hate involved. That’s just reality.

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Like father, like son . . .

Trudeau The First once madet an off-handed comment about throwing "candy" to the voters that still stings.

Trudeau The First once made an off-handed comment about throwing “candy” to the voters, that still stings. And we’re still paying for it.

Canada’s federal election last fall marked a much-needed time of change. We needed to get rid of Harper and his brand of lite fascism, and Justin Trudeau seemed like a ray of sunshine, despite the fact I’ve long been a critic of his father’s legacy. I clearly remember Trudeau mania the first time around and its resulting fiscal spiral downward. We’re still paying for all that increasing debt to buy votes in the sixties, seventies and eighties. It’s like making the minimum payment on your Visa every month—you can’t actually remember what you went into debit for in the first place and you’ve accepted you’ll never get your head above water again. And it’s not just the Liberals; take a look at the recent Conservative Senate scandals.

My Dad was allowed to vote at the age of eighteen during WW2 because he was in the army. When discussing with his grandmother how to cast his first vote, he indicated a leaning toward the Liberals. She gently suggested he reconsider for a number of reasons, the main one being the Liberals’ propensity for overspending and incurring debt. That brief discussion permanently affected his voting perspective for more than seventy years. My great-grandmother was right and her words still resonate today.

debtchainNow that the Liberals are in power provincially and with a federal majority, the taxpayer is nothing more than a serf to be duped, deceived and taxed to death. Imagine if we ran our household budgets like the government manages our country’s budget? While I appreciate that governments have a benevolent responsibility to ensure we are taken care of, I don’t agree that it has to be done on a platinum credit card. I’ve always maintained that money earned is infinitely more valuable than hand-outs. We appreciate things more when we’ve worked hard to earn the money to buy them.

Justin Trudeau, like his father grew up with a silver spoon. The family never had to worry about making the rent or mortgage payment, having their phone cut off or dealing with collection agencies. I doubt they ever had to choose between buying groceries and paying the hydro bill. For them, the money was always there and always would be. It’s like Monopoly money, play money that magically materializes when you want something or when bills come in. Not a problem. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Did neither of you take math at school? Or is it a simple dearth of ethics.

Did neither of you take simple math at school? Or is it a simple dearth of ethics you don’t comprehend?

And now we hear that our federal deficit is going to be more than five times what was promised during the election campaign. Top that off with Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario government being deemed one of the worst managed (from a fiscal standpoint) in the world. Ontario taxpayers shell out $11.7 billion annually in interest payments alone. Imagine the good work we could do with that money if it wasn’t being wasted in interest payments.

Looks like Justin and Kathleen could use a little pre-emptive dressing-down from their employers—the taxpayers. So I’ve drafted a little letter of warning to be included in their hiring documents:

Dear Justin and Kathleen:

We hired you to make things better, not worse. You’re failing miserably so take this as a warning that your employment will be terminated unless you get a handle on responsible financial management of our government services/household budget. Imagine you’re a lowly taxpayer on a limited fixed income and you’re facing unemployment. Which of these options would you chose?

  1. Create and stick to a financial plan that includes socking away ten percent of your income off the top in a special automatic deduction account for emergencies?
  2. Sell the McMansion in the city and buy a modest townhouse in the burbs? Use the resulting net profit to pay off the credit cards?
  3. Watch the old movie Dave starring Kevin Kline about how a stand-in U.S. President injected some common sense into government spending.
  4. Buy a copy of The Wealthy Barber and put the advice into practice?
  5. Start paying cash from your savings account for all purchases and show us the receipts?
  6. Apply for an extension to your line of credit and go on a spending spree?

If you picked Item 6 (which you obviously have), then you’re wrong, wrong, wrong.

Here’s what we want you to do.

  1. Stop throwing money at chronic losers like Bombardier. With a captive market and an increasing demand for their product, why are they consistently losing money and now being sued by the City of Toronto for non-delivery of transit vehicles? Because they’re a poorly managed, coddled and over-fed bad investment. And don’t even get me started on Ontario Power Corporation and the gas plants.
  2. Redirect funds to areas of genuine need like public transit (excluding the hair-brained Union-Pearson diesel express train), health care, elder care, affordable education that focuses on market requirements, and industry-training programmes.
  3. Stop posing for photo ops with Vogue magazine and the Toronto Star, get back to your desks and do some real work. Get out that pocket calculator and start figuring out how to stick to a budget in line with your income. Money in/money out. No debt or deficit allowed. It’s not that complicated. And you’re not getting a raise, so deal with it.

    Has responsible fiscal management in government become an oxymoron?

    Has responsible fiscal management in government become an oxymoron?

  4. Stop lying about your quarterly statements and ‘fess up. You owe a lot of money and it’s high time you developed a plan for paying it off. Our children and grandchildren don’t deserve to pay for that new Lexus you really couldn’t afford but bought to impress the relatives.
  5. Show me your books. If you can’t figure out how to live within your means, then I’ll do it for you and I guarantee it will hurt.
  6. If you fail to listen to our mandate, then we’re going to send you to a third world country and reacquaint you with living hand to mouth, before we become a third-world country.

If you fail in our expectations, then all hell and damnation will rain down on you and our future generations. Oh! That’s happening already. Merci beaucoup M. Trudeau et vos amis. C’est un faît accomplis? If you don’t start doing to job you were hired to do, consider this your last warning. We’re not stupid and we’ve had enough of your empty promises and boondoggling. The next letter will be to advise you that you’re fired—and your little Ontario lady friend too!

Your employer

The Canadian Taxpayer

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Trump’s playing to the lowest common denominator . . . the non-thinkers

Trump's vision of a secure America is tragically retro.

Trump’s vision of a secure America is tragically retro. Has he learned nothing?

We’ve all been watching the bizarre reality side-show runup for presidential candidates in the United States and it’s getting scarier every day. I’ve resisted commenting on a political situation in which I have no say, but the results could have major implications for Canada. With the leading Republican candidate promoting building border walls (shades of East/West Berlin and the Iron Curtain), halting immigration (despite the fact two of his wives have been immigrants) demolishing free trade and reinstituting discrimination and racism, we have the potential for having a very nasty neighbour living next door to a polar-opposite Canada. Donald Trump is playing to the basest feelings of frustration and disappointment with the existing political system. His constituency is strongly composed of poorly educated, economically challenged voters who are looking for reassurance and need someone who will give them some kind of vision, regardless of how fascist it may be. Sound familiar? And his competitors’ platforms are equally insane.

Donald Trump and his brand of Republicanism has turned out to be Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ greatest asset. While Clinton and Sanders may not be everyone’s cup of tea, at least they seem to have a modicum of sanity on their side. Unfortunately, it’s the sane majority of voters who are not being heard. Once again, the tail’s wagging the dog. We can only hope.

Canadian4As an average Canadian on the outside looking in, I’m nervous about the prospect of a Trump-led government being our nearest neighbour. With the possibility of Putin and his armies marching over the north pole into Canada and the Americans building walls to keep visible minorities, Mexicans and Canadians out, our borders are going to be squeezed in a vice between Communism and Fascism. And we know what that did to Poland and Czechoslovakia many years ago.

Bring 'em on. . . bienvenue a Canada.

Bring ’em on . . . welcome to Canada on the bridge to real freedom!

The upside is that Canada can expect a mass exodus of “daft-dodgers” as intelligent Americans reject the Republican insanity and move to Canada. And we’ll be better off for it, just as the anti-war draft-dodgers of the sixties enriched our country over the long-term. Just leave your guns behind; we don’t get your crazy preoccupation with guns and killing each other. And we believe in taking care of our fellow human beings so you won’t have to mortgage your home to get a hip replacement.

In fact, I look forward to having Bill Maher or Jon Stewart living in my neighbourhood and broadcasting from Toronto or Vancouver. The brain drain will flow north for a change and enrich our businesses, educational institutions, professional services and fatten our already fat, solid Canadian banks. Canadians should rethink financing the entire cost of the bridge between Windsor and Detroit, affectionately known as “the bridge to nowhere” since Michigan refused to pay its share? Hell, we’d be happy to pay. The United States’ shame could be Canada’s gain.

 

 


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Both my left and right brain say ‘go for it’

Sure.This may look easy to left-brainers.

Sure. This looks easy to left-brainers.

Leah Eichler’s article in The Globe and Mail on Saturday, August 15th  entitled Should coding be compulsory for kids? got me thinking. Is this another flavour-of-the-month idea along the lines of learning Mandarin? There are plenty of “tiger parents” out there who will do anything to ensure their young geniuses acquire whatever skills are necessary to give them a leg-up in the academic and eventually the business world. Is learning how to code one of those hair-brained ideas that will soon die on the vine to be replaced by new-newer-newest math?

As a confirmed right-brain thinker who occasionally questions whether my left cortex is even still operating, I naturally have an opinion on the issue. And, of course, I have no qualifications in education or anything else remotely relevant but here’s what I think. Math, science, physics, chemistry and all those logical left-brain subjects I was forced to suffer through in school were extremely painful experiences for me. My marks were consistently atrocious as I simply could not grasp the concepts. On the other hand, ask the class to write an essay and I soared; to me, that was heaven. Each of us has different abilities and aptitudes.

Math and science classes always gave me lots of time for more creative pursuits.

Math and science classes always gave me lots of time for more creative pursuits.

Despite my hatred of maths and science and corresponding poor performance, however, I am glad that I had some exposure to these subjects. While I retained almost nothing of what I learned, I still have a vague recollection of what an algorithm involves; I can recognize a table of elements; I understand the process of osmosis (although this is more the result of sticking the nib of my fountain pen between the fibres of the mohair sweater worn by the girl sitting in the desk in front of me, and watching the ink spread, a.k.a. osmosis). I studied Latin for a year and a half; I studied French for five years. I only wish that after all that time and effort I could actually speak and understand French. History, which is now a favourite subject and hobby of mine as an adult, was rammed down my throat for years in a very painful and unsatisfactory manner in school. The teaching methods have a lot to do with our level of comprehension and retention.

Setting up and launching my own blog without any help was extremely hard work without coding and other technical skills. But I persevered and now you can't shut me up.

Setting up and launching my own blog without any help was extremely hard work with no coding and other technical skills. But I persevered and now you can’t shut me up.

The lesson from these experiences is that although we don’t always like to take our medicine it ultimately does us some good. Learning to write code for me is like having pins stuck into my eyeballs. It’s painful for right-brainers to understand and execute this skill but eventually has some payback. Two years ago I attended a one-day Saturday seminar in coding put on by a dedicated non-profit organization called “Ladies Learning Code”. By 11:30 in the morning I was completely overwhelmed and lost. Because of my deficient left brain equipment, I had a great deal of difficulty understanding and performing the basic skills being taught. So I reverted to my high school math class M.O. and day-dreamed through the rest of the day. But the lunch was good—I remember that.

Now I’m a blogger, happily sharing my right-brain fantasies on a software program called WordPress. If I could understand and practise coding, I could now do so much more with BOOMERBROADcast on the WordPress software, but because I failed my opportunity to learn code I’m stuck in the last century. Just like learning to type, oops, keyboard, I think there are certain skills that should be included as mandatory parts of school curriculum long enough to give students a basic understanding of the theory and practices that will help them in the working world. And like it or not, keyboarding and coding are skills can make life so much easier in the real world. When I was still working, I could have easily manipulated the custom marketing software I used had I known basic code instead of waiting forever to find someone else to do it when and if they ever had time.

If I could just get my left and right hemispheres t communicate, I could be so much more productive.

If I could just get my left and right hemispheres to communicate, I could function like a normal human being.

In grade eleven I dropped Latin to take typing and short of reading and writing that  turned out to be my most valuable job skill, one of the best things I ever did. I was unsuccessful at learning how to code and I regret it. There are many other practical skills that could be taught in school to help young people cope with everyday life. I’ve never run across a Roman on the street to impress with my fluency in Latin. Nor have I ever needed to calculate the liquid displacement factor resulting from a chemical reaction in a beaker. While I did once know how to use a slide rule, it has now been replaced by a gadget called a computer and if I only knew how write code, I could set the world on fire. I already know how to type, er, keyboard, so I’m making progress. All I need to do is drill into that remote, mysterious, never-used left side of my brain and start ‘er up. Yep. It’s that simple. Just give me the secret code.