Wednesday Night #1875

Written by  //  February 14, 2018  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY AND/OR HAPPY ASH WEDNESDAY! 

It has been a fraught week for us that included the unheralded and unexpected disappearance of www.dianaswednesday from view. Restoring it entails a complicated, frustrating and opaque process. I shall be forever grateful to Tracey’s wonderful friend Stephanie,  who is trying to shield me from the worst of the techno-bureaucratic  dialogue – she assures me we will prevail – while I cope with David who has had a nasty fall and is still in considerable pain. Never a good patient at the best of times, he has been demanding, largely because he forgets what he has been told.  It is at times like this that we appreciate the support of friends and Alex has indeed been a friend in need. We are hopeful that as the pain subsides, our Chairman will be back to a semblance of his old self.

With this, my new computer is arriving on Thursday which both delights and terrifies me. So much can go wrong during the transfer and I will have to master (or would that be ‘person’ in politically correct Canada?) Windows 10. Fingers crossed that the process will not be too painful. Almost anything would be preferable to current problems that make work and life quite miserable. Back-up systems include telephones and carrier pigeons.

Kudos to those who were undeterred by last Wednesday’s miserable weather; they were rewarded with a sparkling evening in Peter Berezin’s company with the added treat of a highly informative discussion of the spat between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia led by Ken Matziorinis. We also enjoyed meeting Pierre Arbour’s guest, Mala Crampton, president of Atlas Paper, who was eloquent on the subject of paper vs. plastics, the need to preserve and renew forests as carbon sinks and also for their role in maintaining a defense against soil erosion and natural disasters. We look forward to her return.

Since then, many of us will have been keeping one eye on the news and the other on the Pyeongchang Olympics, now suddenly being referred to as the “Peace Olympics”, which seems to us to be a bit premature. It is notable that we have not heard one word of criticism about flaws in preparedness, the facilities, treatment of athletes or audience. South Korea seems to have done a great job of organizing, and as far as we know, without the characteristic charges of corruption and/or budgetary excess. In fact, the only criticism we have heard is of the cold and the wind factor for many of the outdoor competitions. The opening ceremony, aside from the interminable March of the Teams (can anyone explain the order in which they entered?), was so impressive. Glad we taped it so that we can watch the show  again

It was good to see G-G Julie Payette leading the Canadian cheer-leading contingent with her son, far less pleasant to witness Banquo’s ghost being churlish. Now, we learn that  “senior IOC member Angela Ruggiero has called for North and South Korea’s joint women’s ice hockey team to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. “ It certainly seems the team’s efforts have been having positive ripple effects. IOC President Thomas Bach told Reuters he plans to visit North Korea after the Games and even  Mike Pence  seems to have been touched (however briefly) by the Olympic spirit, commenting  that the U.S. may be looking more favorably at “diplomatic engagement with the North.” Premature undoubtedly, but mildly encouraging.

With that pronouncement, the occupant of the Oval Office was able to turn his sights on other targets, this time allies, saying that the United States cannot be taken advantage of by other countries. He singled out  Canadian trade practices while threatening some as-yet-undefined international tax that has revived fears he might be contemplating new American import penalties.   Presumably he has been irked by Justin’s U.S. tour? Not to mention that he needs to distract the public –or at least the chattering classes- from events in Washington. It is hard to keep score, but we highly recommend the Politico Playbook daily newsletter. Their take on the massive infrastructure proposal which puts  the Burden on State and Private Money  with the goal of generating a total pot of $1.5 trillion to upgrade the country’s highways, airports and railroads.: “An infrastructure plan as big as the one the president proposed is not going anywhere eight months before Election Day — and that’s according to Republicans, not Democrats.”

His good friend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in a spot of trouble facing corruption charges, however we doubt the situation will develop to the embarrassing level of that of South Africa’s Jacob Zuma this week. Poor South Africa, this happens just as Cape Town is suffering from an unprecedented water crisis that requires all powers to be focused on helping. In a totally unrelated item, South African lions eat ‘poacher’, leaving just his head – karma!

There is an intriguing  Reuters report  that the Saudis’ are giving up control of Belgium’s largest mosque in a sign that it is trying to shed its reputation as a global exporter of an ultra-conservative brand of Islam. The agreement last month coincides with a new Saudi initiative, not publicly announced but described to Reuters by Western officials, to end support for mosques and religious schools abroad blamed for spreading radical ideas.

Reuters also reports that Two ethnic armed groups in Myanmar signed a ceasefire with the government, as Aung San Suu Kyi seeks to revive a stuttering peace process to end decades of conflict. This does not, however, help solve the plight of  the Rohingya

The worst storm in 60 years devastated Tonga. Cyclone Gita hit the archipelago nation in the South Pacific with 145-mph winds. The storm flattened parts of the parliament building, knocked over power lines, and caused widespread injuries. It’s set to strike Fiji next. We await Cleo’s report.

In local news, CBC reports that the City of Westmount is seeking  a stop-work injunction because the new design of the Turcot interchange  won’t decrease noise levels. Worthy cause, but our bet is that nothing will change and stopping work just means more prolonged traffic agonies.

Bits & Pieces
Most of us may remember the art theft from Boston’s Gardner Museum, but as the case grew cold and then colder, we put it out of our minds. Now it seems that it is being brought back to life in a novel way.

I have forgotten how to read
Author Michael Harris sums up his problem: “For most of modern life, printed matter was, as the media critic Neil Postman put it, “the model, the metaphor, and the measure of all discourse.” The resonance of printed books – their lineal structure, the demands they make on our attention – touches every corner of the world we’ve inherited. But online life makes me into a different kind of reader – a cynical one. I scrounge, now, for the useful fact; I zero in on the shareable link. My attention – and thus my experience – fractures. Online reading is about clicks, and comments, and points. When I take that mindset and try to apply it to a beaten-up paperback, my mind bucks.” We did manage to read (and even retain the contents of) the article, along with pertinent comments from Doug Sweet, but confess that it rings true for us as well. The piles of half-devoured books around us attest to the fact.

As we begin the Chinese New Year and enter the Year of the Dog, it seems appropriate to remind you that If you aren’t into the Olympics, or even if you are, you could have followed the prestigious Westminster Dog Show and enjoy a different set of emotional thrills as Best-in-Show is crowned on Tuesday. Of course if the award were  based on intelligence, the Border Collie would have won paws down. But no, it was Flynn the bichon frisé

More animal news: Goats will work as golf caddies in Oregon. (What would we do without the BBC?)  Silvies Valley Ranch officials in Seneca, have enlisted goats to carry golf clubs, tees, balls and even beverages on its new seven-hole course. Can’t wait for the stories …

Iceland will use more electricity mining cryptocurrencies than powering homes this year. The country’s cheap, abundant renewable energy is a boon for bitcoin miners.

 

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