Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The 4,000 mile African front

A recent piece on John Kerry about al Qaeda in Africa was interesting. Pull up a map of Africa and list countries where there is a north-south civil war along religious lines with Islam in the north. Mali, Nigeria, Sudan.

String them together and the broader picture becomes clearer. These "separate" conflicts are part of a larger pan African campaign as Islam expands from the middle east across north Africa and pushes south by force. Never mind about some imaginary al Qaeda bogeyman. That's a convenient distraction to avoid thinking about what's really happening.

There's also a northward campaign into Europe but for now the demographics and situation requires a different approach in Europe.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

President for life Obama

There is a remarkable, incredible story in the news this week. Obama orders judges to overturn law Congress passed. Think about it for a moment. As president, Obama's role is to work with Congress to create new laws, and repeal bad or obsolete laws.

Yet here Obama is openly bypassing Congress and attempting to issue executive orders to the "independent" judiciary to get a law he disapproves of repealed. If Obama wants the Defense of Marriage Act gone then why doesn't he ask Congress to repeal it? After all the law originated in Congress and it would be to Congress to repeal it. That's how law is supposed to work in a checks and balances system.

Is contempt of Congress a crime? Because that's what Obama's actions amount to. Refusing to acknowledge Congress' powers under the constitution, openly defying and undermining Congress. Because that's what it is. This act is nearly 20 years old. If it was unconstitutional then it is preposterous to believe that activist lawyers and the courts would just "realize" that today.

So what's next? If Obama can blow off working with elected Congress and by fiat order unelected judges (who he appointed) to just wipe off the books laws Obama finds inconvenient, then what's next? Perhaps the president can continue to push the envelope and order his judges to create new laws that he wants. Maybe the judiciary could be "urged" to agree that law can originate with executive order from the president, and Congress role is just to consult in some undefined manner.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Nova Scotia fishing tragedy

The top news here this week has been the Miss Ally sinking. A week ago the fishing vessel was lost and 5 young fisherman on board perished.

Since then I can say I'm shocked but not surprised by the case from the government and the media. Luckily at the time of this writing, by some miracle, the overturned ship has again been found. Incredibly it was found 5 days ago by the coast guard, then they somehow managed to lose track of it, leaving it to sink!

That makes no sense. If the idea was to find survivors / bodies then when they found the capsized vessel originally, what would the coast guard think to do?

  • how about mosey up to the fishing boat and put a specialist diver in the water to check for bodies? after all, they were looking for bodies so why didn't it cross anyone's mind to check in the vessel for bodies
  • how about attach a line to the boat. if they can't turn it upright in place then fine, but if it's sitting in the water then surely it could be towed to port. or at least stay with it and keep track of where it is
remarkably, incredibly, the coast guard just voluntarily sailed away Tuesday, leaving the capsized vessel with bodies possibly aboard (they apparently didn't bother to check) to sink or whatever. losing its location.

it fell to the fishermen from the village to launch their own mission to locate and recover the Miss Ally to embarrass the coast guard / navy to act to only now attempt to re-locate and recover the vessel. shame on them both. what are we paying these people all of these millions a dollars a year for?

the media coverage has also been pretty bad. in the first hours it was reported that a US coast guard plane had spotted a life raft and a flare. since then the local media has completely dropped the ball. no follow up with the US coast guard. no follow up as to what happened to the life raft and where it might be now, or if there may have been survivors or bodies on it.

no follow up about the flare. was there a flare? it is possible for flares to be launched automatically without human intervention? also the media failed to put any pressure on the coast guard to stay with the capsized vessel once it was found, and was very passive in the reporting of the decision of the coast guard to just sail away without bringing the Miss Ally back or even bothering to check the vessel for bodies

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The greatness of Optico wipes

There's a remarkably good screen wipe. It's Optico wipes. I discovered them at work they have them in the office supplies.

This is superior technology. They are awesome for eyewear, electronics, monitor, flat screen tv, game console, keyboard, mouse, joystick, cell phone, tablet, computer desk, printer, speakers. They produce a real dust and grime grabbing clean.

I was looking for them for my own use at home. Alas they are a bit hard to find despite being such a great product. I felt like buying them and trying to retail them locally they are so good. You can find them at Staples under the brand name iCloth in the computer cleaning section if you look. It's $10 for a 40 pack which is ok for a premium product.

The best price on Optico wipes is interestingly at Henry's the photography place. With Henry's it's only $3 for a 16 pack. The catch is $10 shipping on orders under $50. What you could do is post on Facebook asking your friends to go in together on an order. If a few people go in for 2-3 boxes each then together you will get to the free shipping threshold and get the great price.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Investments again

I made a couple of tweaks to a couple of investments the last few days.

There's a GIC my parents bought for one of my kids that I ended up now managing. The last deal was good, a 5 year stepper finishing at over 7% in the final year. Pretty good for a GIC.

So the TD bank called after sending the notice in the mail that the GIC was maturing. so back to the branch to figure out what to do with the rollover. The TD person was pleasant and knowledgeable. She suggested a more comprehensive personal financial review at the start of the sit down. I explained that with RRSP I get 100% matching from work with Manulife. And this investment is something my parents bought for my son. So I just needed to deal with this GIC rollover and that was that. We quickly moved on to the GIC.

Well my son is nearly in high school so a 5 year scheme isn't in the time frame for an education oriented investment. Additionally the rates on the 5 yr stepper now suck. After going over some options I decided on a 3 year scheme at 1.95% a year. Not great but should be good enough for its purpose.

Over to my own RRSP. I did a small amount of research on dividends a few weeks back. After noticing that Aliant pays 7% a year dividends and their shares have been in a $26-$31 band basically since at least the middle 1990s I wanted to try to get some of this dividend action. If I could I would just put like 40% or whatever of my Manulife RRSP into Aliant and take the 7%. Alas of course it's not so easy. Anyway I deleted a 15% money market and 5% 1 yr fixed allocation from my instructions. I shifted the 20% into 5% of four funds, 3 large cap Canadian and 1 balanced fund which is something like 40% equities.

And with that Manulife grades my selections as "moderate", up from "conservative". Which I think is about right. What they call the "balanced" approach I think is too much stock market / non and low dividend shares. I'm still getting 100% on my own money that I put in due to matching so hopefully this new allocation will give a slightly better yield. I mean retirement is something that's out there, right now say 21 years away. Who knows what might happen in those years but hopefully on a track to a reasonable future standard of living if I can get there.