Friday, April 30, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• The five stages of grief --- denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance --- are bunk, according to Russell P. Friedman, executive director of the Grief Recovery Institute in Sherman Oaks, California, and co-author of The Grief Recovery Handbook. He says, “No study has ever established that stages of grief actually exist, and what are defined as such can’t be called stages. Grief is the normal and natural emotional response to loss.... No matter how much people want to create simple, bullet-point guidelines for the human emotions of grief, there are no stages of grief that fit any two people or relationships.”

• "Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day, or 1,500 texts a month, and one in three send more than 100 texts a day, or more than 3,000 texts a month," says the Pew Research Center, which surveyed a nationally representative sample of 800 U.S. teens.

• The average American uses 57 sheets of toilet paper per day, six times the global average, according to the the Worldwatch Institute. Maybe too much fibre in their diet?

• Prahlad Jani, an Indian gentleman, appears to be able to live without food or water. He claims to have done so for 70 years. Oh, and he requires no toilet paper.

• The appears to be a link between chocolate and depression. It's unclear, though, whether chocolate causes depression, or depression creates an appetite for chocolate.
How about that?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Not a Toyota

The Firebird III (left) embodied the vision and optimism of the world's dominant automobile company in 1959.

Foreign car-makers' design experiments in the fifties never had this kind of unrestrained exuberance. Nor did they dare to dream then that the General Motors behemoth, selling half of the cars purchased in the U.S., could be taken down.

Displayed at car shows and expositions around North America, GM's titanium-bodied, turbine-powered dream machine promised driving excitement and breakthrough technology. It got teenage hearts (including mine) racing in an era when 99% of cars on the road were boring, four-door, family sedans.

We kids of the car culture prayed that GM would build something like this, but instead we got the Pontiac Aztek, the Chevette, the Cadillac Cimarron and, eventually, corporate bankruptcy.

Shame.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Is this guy whacko, or are we all in deep doodoo?

[Sent along by Gerry]

Today, we present a recent radio interview from South Africa. Jenny Crwys Williams interviews Barrie Trower, retired British military intelligence scientist in microwave and stealth warfare, on the topic of microwaves and their effects on us.

Truly scary stuff about the way cellphones, bluetooth, WiFi, etc. are giving us cancer, scrambling our genes, causing neurological damage, and doing other nasty things.

Listen to the interview here , or read the following unedited transcript of the broadcast.

Transcript:
Jenny Crwys-Williams: Now we're speaking to Barrie Trower, and it is Trower isn't it?

Barrie Trower: Yes ma'am.

JCW: And Barrie you are a retired British military intelligence scientist, and for years and years and years you worked in microwave and stealth warfare. What does that actually mean?

BT: During the 1950s...and may I say good afternoon ma'am...

JCW: ~Laughs~ Good afternoon.

BT: During the 1950s and 1960s during the Cold War, it was realised both by accident that microwaves could be used as stealth weapons against the Russians beamed the American embassy during the Cold War and it gave everybody working in the embassy cancer, breast cancers, leukemias whatever, and it was realised then that low level microwaves were the perfect stealth weapon to be used on dissident groups around the world, because you could make dissident groups sick, give them cancer, change their mental outlook on life without them even knowing they were being radiated, and one of my particular tasks...I spent eleven years questioning captured spies...one of my particular tasks was to learn the particular frequencies of microwaves that they used on which particular victims, if I may use that word, and what the outcome was, and I built up a dossier...I'm probably the only person in the world with the complete list...I built up a dossier of what pulse frequencies of microwaves will cause what psychological or physiological damage to a person.

JCW: That's not covered under the official secrets act or anything like that, is it?

BT: To be honest ma'am, I don't care about the official secrets act when I see what is going on in the world through...really ignorance... what I call ignorance. I think the official secrets act goes by the [ball?].

They can do with me what they like, but I feel that it is my task to answer questions from governments, royalty, schools, anybody around the world, I tell them exactly what I know, exactly what I've done so that governments and organisations and people can actually make safe levels.

JCW: Okay, so you did this work for eleven years, but you've also been involved, obviously, in stealth warfare microwave, and your particular expertise was on the impact of this radiation on health and brain functioning.

BT: Absolutely.

JCW: And you debriefed microwaved spies and dissidents and things as you explained to us. So what are you doing here in South Africa?

BT: I was asked to come...

JCW: ...stranded in South Africa...

BT: ...stranded in South Africa, well, not stranded until tomorrow, uhm, there's a very young lady who was sitting outside...organised a series of lectures and talks for...there's a little boy not far away with a tumour...near a transmitter and I was asked to go see the little boy and discuss what I knew...uhm.. .his majesty in Botswana asked me to give a conference, or present a conference to his ministers on, not only the health issues, but the environmental impact to the animals.

Uhm...I'm doing a public talk this evening for anybody to turn up...so, it's really the young lady taking me around. I have a series of interviews, lectures, newspaper articles...anyone that really wants to know will just come and ask whatever questions they like to ask. So I'm here as a guest in what I think is the most beautiful country in the world without a shadow of a doubt, and I'm being taken around and asked questions which I'm answering.

JCW: Alright, so just remember the lines are open, 883 0702 and if someone is erecting say a...we're talking cell phone masts, aren't we?

BT: Cell phone...ordinary cell phone masts...and wi fi.

JCW: Okay, and wi fi in your office...and. ..

BT: Yup, and walkabout telephones.. .anything which emits microwaves.

JCW: Okay, so if you've got any questions, give us a call on 883 0702 and we've got an expert here and he has got information that very few people, I dare say, are privy to. So what is electromagnetic radiation? Just explain...it's the same thing as microwaves? Is that correct?

BT: The electromagnetic spectrum is a band that goes from gamma rays and x-rays at one end, the very high energy waves, and it comes down through visible light, which is also some radiation, and then it goes through infrared microwaves, tv and radio. Now the only ones which really affect us in the communications industry are the microwaves, and microwaves have a special ability to interfere with water, which is how microwave ovens work, and we are made of water.

All of our chemical and electrical signals involve water in the body, somehow, electrical communications in the body. So, the industry has picked the worst possible part of the electromagnetic spectrum to give to young children and to adults.

JCW: And here we are talking about cell phones for instance...that's what you're talking about.

BT: Cell phones yes, yes ma'am.

JCW: So, if France for instance is saying that children should not be given mobile phones under the age of fourteen, for instance...uhm. ..the European parliament voted by a large majority to recommend tighter safety standards, and this included wi fi and whatever, but also protecting vulnerable groups like children...pregnant moms as well?

BT: Absolutely ma'am...uhm...can I come back to your first point?

JCW: Yes.

BT: Uhm...I saw quite a large delegation from France a few years ago, and not just down to me, but they obviously took heed of what I said and went off and checked a few things, but, we know now in France, I'll have it published, that they are pulling wi fi out of every single French school, on health grounds.

JCW: Now, presumably, they wouldn't have done that had they not known, or maybe seen the results of wi fi, because wi fi has probably been in schools in France for...what.. .ten years, or is that an exaggeration?

BT: I don't know what the answer is. I don't know how long wi fi has been in French schools. I do know that they are spending now 174 million Euros rewiring wi fi sets with fiber optic cables or ordinary cables...uhm. ..because of the risk to the health...mainly to young women...that the health risk, and if you care to ask, I'll happily answer.

The main risk from wi fi is to young girls, and the main risk which we know...uhm.. .to children is to the fetus or the infant. But, children are much more vulnerable than adults...with this radiation, the smaller you are, the more you absorb. So, the main risk is to young girls and the fetus, or the infant.

JCW: And, to young girls, are you talking about sterility for instance?

BT: No ma'am, it's worse than that I'm afraid. I don't want to scare your listeners, but I believe in the truth. Uhm, I have one other...uhm. ..research papers here. I have three research papers. I am a scientific adviser to five organisations, which, part of my brief is I read international scientific papers, I retranslate them into a language that most people can understand, which is how I advise.

Now to answer your question, ma'am...uhm...I have three papers showing that low level microwaves can interfere with the genetics in the ovarian follicles. Now what that means in everyday language, different from boys, young girls when they're born, they will have up to four hundred eggs in their ovaries. The microwaves can damage the genetic structure, we now know, in those ovaries. So, when this young girl grows up, gets married, and has children, if she has a daughter, this particular mitochondrial genetic damage is irreparable. There is nothing at all that can repair it.

So, if she has a daughter, the daughter will carry that genetic deformity, and her daughter will carry it, and her daughter will carry it. So, it isn't a game anymore, it isn't a little box that you can press buttons and run around in, and have fun with, we are now seriously jeopardising the future generations for as long as there is a female line of our children's children's children, and that is to me the most scariest aspects of all of this.

JCW: All right, now if you've just tuned in, we're chatting to Barrie Trower who is a retired British military intelligence scientist. For years and years he's worked in microwave and stealth warfare, and his particular expertise was on the impact of this radiation on health and brain functioning, and he is here. We are chatting about microwaves, we are talking about wi fi, we're talking about cell phone masts, we're talking about the damage done to vulnerable groups of people...everyone of course is vulnerable, but there's some groups that are more vulnerable than the others, and kids texting, and you know that they can spend hours and hours and hours texting...bad, bad, bad news. But give us a call on 883 0702 if you've got any questions, and we'll take them right after this.

All right, well let's go to Lance, so Lance thank you, you've been holding on for quite some time, and you're chatting to Barrie Trower, and you've got a question.

Lance: Yeah I do, thanks Jen. Barrie, I've got a question. We work in an office building, we're on the first floor, above us is a concrete ceiling and there's another floor and there's a concrete roof and then there's a cellular base station on top of that, and I must be honest, I'm not entirely happy about that and I'd like to my question is really sort of what are the implications of that? Is it actually quite dangerous number one and number two, is there something we can actually do to our ceiling, like literally foil it and then earth the foil, you know something like that to actually reduce these radiation?

BT: Uh, good afternoon sir. Uhm...the first part of your question with a transmitter on the roof, there is research from India, uhm...from a professor in India from the university, that shows that people living beneath a transmitter tend to suffer more neurological damage than people who do not have transmitters on their roof. In other words, you will have psychiatric problems, you will also have a reduced immune system. In other words, it could mean that you have more colds, more coughs, longer colds, longer coughs, and your general health could deteriorate. Uhm, that has been tested experimentally and published.

The second part of your question sir, is there something you can do to...like bursting a boil I believe you said, was that correct sir?

Lance: Uhm, no-no-no-no- no, uhm, getting...putting foil, tin foil, in our roof.

BT: Oh tin foil! I thought you said bursting a boil!

Lance: Oh! No-no! Literally like putting tin strips, you know, roles that they put in the roof and earthing it. Something like that.

BT: Yes sir, okay...uhm, this can be done sir, but not tin foil. Tin foil actually has little microscopic holes and lets the radiation through and in fact focuses it. Uhm, what you could use is aluminum tin, which they use in the building industry, radiator foil, aluminum foil, the thick insulating aluminum foil, that, between you and the roof, shiny side to the roof, that will reduce the radiation coming in.

Lance: Okay.

JCW: But Lance, on your behalf, if it reduces the radiation coming in, Barrie, it doesn't eliminate it, does it? So presumably then you are still at risk?

BT: Without a doubt, yes, but less of a risk.

JCW: Okay...Lance?

Lance: Uhm...Jen? Sorry, can I...I missed the beginning of the show. I just want to ask Barrie...uhm. ..what like...uhm, how come you're actually here...in the country?

JCW: Well listen, I don't want to repeat everything, but he's now retired, he's a retired British military intelligence scientist, and for decades he's worked in microwave and stealth warfare, and this is his area of expertise, and he's been invited to South Africa to speak.

Lance: Oh, okay cool, so not for soccer...

JCW: No not for soccer, ~laughs~ bit early for that, and Josef, wi fi precautions?

Josef: Ja, thank you Jenny and Barrie, uhm...

BT: Good afternoon, sir.

Josef: I'm...good afternoon. I'm aware that a lot of research has been done on this and there are many reports concerning the harmful effects of this kind of radiation, my concern number one, before I get to the precaution side is that if governments are resisting the actual truth on these reports because it would affect revenue, but secondly I'm also aware that there are precautions that certain companies have taken in manufacturing [?], certain [?] that can be attached to one's cell phone, to one's laptop, to one's microwave... can be inserted in plug points in order to minimise the harmful effects of the radiation and in fact change the frequencies so that the body actually sees them as healthy frequencies as opposed to harmful frequencies. Can you elaborate on that?

BT: Uhm, could I answer the first...I was concentrating on the second. What was the first question? Sorry.

Josef: The first question was that governments seem to be deliberately resisting the actual reports.

BT: Yes, can I answer that part first, and then we'll come to the second part. Uhm, when I address governments, what they don't realise is that there is an initial boost to the government from the industry, putting up towers, and paying rent and anything else that is being paid, but I was talking to a government just two weeks ago, and I said can you really afford this system unregulated, and I'll tell you why, sir, because most of the money generated from the cell phones, apart from the tax, leaves the country. It's estimated that from the illnesses, the health bill could go up as much as forty percent in some countries, and they're not prepared for that. May I just finish, sir.

The third aspect of this, and this has been calculated by The Times, an editor in The Times, that the cost to the planet in making the pollinating insects sick, that pollinate the plants that feed the planet, the cost could be as much as thirty three trillion, that's a million million, US dollars a year. So, when it comes to profit, there may be a lovely initial boost for the government, but when I address governments, I say, have your economists actually sat down and worked out the real cost of all of this, and they haven't.

That's the first part of your question, sir, the second part was...

JCW: Well I think you've answered that in full. Let's move on. Ryan, you've touched on the answer that Barrie has just given about pollinating insects, and your question is about bee colony collapse disorder? Hi there Ryan... All right, Ryan from Gallow Manor asked the question about bees which are in trouble, and that of course is pollination, that's what we're talking about.

BT: I could expand on that, just one thing.

JCW: Yes.

BT: Uhm, I've done a lot of research on bees, and in fact I gave a lecture just before I came to this country. The bees are out of all of the insects, all of the animals that are affected, bees are affected worst. And the reason is, is that they are the size that the frequency of the microwaves can react with most. They have three different types of iron in their bodies that help them navigate, they use the earth's magnetic field to navigate, but the microwaves going through the bees, will remagnetise what they use for the earth's magnetic field, so they are disorientated.

And the other part, and this has been published in Nature, the planet's foremost scientific journal. They have found that the bees' visual navigation system where they use the sun, that is also affected by all microwave frequencies, so the bottom line is, bees will get lost, their immune systems will suffer and then eventually whatever illness they come across, the varroa mite, anything, that will then take its course. But the bottom line here is that migratory insects, even ants, will be disorientated.

JCW: All right, so give us a call, 883 0702. I've got a whole lot of questions I want to ask, Barrie, and yes they do revolve around cell phones, children, masts in playgrounds and masts in buildings and things like that. Should we be concerned, or should we just lie back and take it as it's given to us?

Now Barrie, before we get onto cell phone masts and things like that, what does the World Health Organisation say about what you are saying?

BT: The World Health...it's a very good question. The World Health Organisation were challenged by the European parliament very recently, on their stance. The World Health Organisation replied in writing to the European parliament, and I have that document here.

The first thing they said was that they will not give any form of comments or estimate of the impact of this, health wise, until 2015, and they also said that they only started to study the effect on children, last year. So that may be in fifteen years, fourteen years time. So the World Health Organisation are not actually saying anything.

JCW: So, how could they have been so lax as not to start, because the rumours have been going around for years and years and years and years. One would have liked to have thought that they would have picked up earlier on.

BT: There are to my knowledge legal issues here where parliaments are questioning the decision making processes of the World Health Organisation, and this is an opinion that there may be industrial influences with the committee that helps run the World Health Organisation, and I do know there are legal questions headed that way, but, everybody including myself is bemused, because a few years ago, we looked at the World Health Organisation's database on electromagnetic radiation of the microwave communication frequencies, and eighty percent of all of their data showed either cancer increases, neurological disorders, what they call microwave syndrome, which is electro sensitivity. Eighty percent of their research showed this, but they were doing nothing about it.

JCW: What is the Bio-Initiative Report?

BT: The Bio-Initiative Report, it really flew in the face of the World Health Organisation's lack of support. Two thousand...no I tell a lie...several scientists from around the world, leading scientists from around the world, spent many years studying the latest two thousand research papers. They cross checked them, they read them, they looked at them, they argued, the discussed, and the scientists who wrote the Bio-Initiative Report, they decided on a safe level that would include children, and they listed all of the illnesses and they came out with this safe level that they considered with today's knowledge, today's experts, a safe level for children and everybody else for a lifetime's exposure.

They published this safe level, and anybody can read it and anybody can use it. To my knowledge it's been picked up by six or eight governments so far, two were already on it, and I think another six have decided to ignore the international guidelines, ignore the World Health Organisation, and to go straight to the Bio-Initiative safety level.

JCW: How long is it before you start showing, for instance if there's a mast in a child's playground, and you've got children going there every single day apart from school holidays, how long does it take before some of them might start showing symptoms, and theirs can be things such as nausea for instance, or dizziness or rashes and things like that, there's the initial stages are they not?

BT: Absolutely correct. The three percent, we know from experiments from around the world, the minimum that will show signs instantly, almost instantly, within minutes, is three percent, so, if you have a hundred children in your school, three of them will show signs straight away.

The Nobel Prize winning Irish Doctors Association believe it's probably nearer fifteen percent, but I'm settling for three at the moment. So we know three percent initially, and then, depending on the child's state of health and a few other factors, probably within eighteen months to a few years, you will then have the more serious symptoms starting to show.

JCW: What about houses that are in the proximity of that particular mast for instance?

BT: Absolutely the same, ma'am, absolutely the same. Children are everywhere. The problem we find with schools...and may I just say that...may I just come in with a piece of research please?

In 2003, there was an international study of schools in just France and Spain, and they found a hundred and thirty leukemia clusters in schools that had transmitters in the playground. Just a few years later I was invited to address the Welch parliament, and I found another forty seven, so, by the end of 2006, between England, France and Spain, we had over two hundred leukemia clusters in schools of eleven children or more, aged eleven or under. That is over two thousand children.

JCW: Right, well that's...I mean that is an alarming statistic. What about adults? What about teachers? What about people living in the houses nearby that are not children?

BT: The report I wrote, and I'm having it published soon, but I've left copies behind, I've referenced the report that looked at all the schools and they did find that there was elevated breast cancer...uhm. ..the first symptom in a lady tends to be breast cancer if it's going to be serious.

There was elevated breast cancer in the teachers, psychological problems, general ill health...so. ..my...when I've travelled, and I have been right around the world, and I say to any school and any of your listeners now can check this, anyone, I say if you have a transmitter in your school, I will guarantee, absolutely guarantee two things; first, the sickness level will go up, and that includes staff, and the behaviour of the children and the exam results will go down.

JCW: All right, well that's a huge claim. What area are we talking about? What circumference are we talking about?

BT: No mobile transmitter should be within a kilometer and a half of a school, if it is an ordinary transmitter, putting out an ordinary 20 Watt microwave beam. It should certainly not be within a kilometer and a half of any school.

JCW: If it's in the middle of a high street and it's on top of a two storey building?

BT: No, it shouldn't be there. There is no reason for microwave transmitters to be near people. They can be moved far away from people. The only reason they're near people is because it saves the company money. They're easier to maintain. If you have to maintain a transmitter, it's easier to pull up with a lorry and a ladder, and go straight up, than into the middle of a field, with a four wheel drive truck, and reach one there. It's purely to do with profit.

JCW: Let's go to Eric. Hi there Eric, you've got a question about different frequencies?

Eric: Ja, hi Jenny, hi Barrie.

BT: Good afternoon, sir.

Eric: Barrie said that microwave frequency is 2.4 GHz, and I guess that's where most of the damage occurs, and I'm just wondering how far you have to move away from that frequency on either side before you can minimise damage, or is there no effect?

BT: All of the...the microwave frequencies go from 300 Mhz to 300 GHz, and it's not so much the frequency, sir, it's the pulse frequency or the modulation frequency that they put with it. That tends to do most of the damage. So, it's not a question of the microwave frequency per se, it's a question of all of the pulse and modulation frequencies that carry the pictures, the movement, the sound.

Those are the ones which are known to cause the damage, and I'm not blaming the industry here, they invent something, and there is nobody around that will say to them, hang on, you are picking a particularly dangerous pulse frequency or modulation frequency, change it. All the industry has to do, is turn to a government or turn to somebody like me, and say, would you comment. The problem is solvable, but, to answer your question, sir, it's really the modulation or the pulse frequency, the carrier waves that they put in, that tend to do most of the damage.

JCW: All right, Eric, interesting questions, thank you. And here's another one, Themba asking this question: what are the effects of microwaves when using blue tooth in the car, which many of us do, and/or when the blue tooth device is actually on your person?

BT: Two questions, the first you should never ever use a microwave transmitter inside a car, because they reflect all of the microwaves backwards and forwards and backwards and forwards, and you are effectively putting yourself into a microwave oven. That is the first thing. The other thing is that we know from experiments, and this has been published, that when you have microwaves near your brain, we know that...it was carried out on children, and a child who used a microwave transmitter, an ordinary cell phone, for two minutes, had his natural brain waves disrupted for two hours afterwards.

Now when you disrupt your natural brain waves, it's called entrainment, any personality change, depending which part of the brain you're changing, any personality change can occur, and that's just with two minutes. So if you have children in your car or you are using a blue tooth near your brain, you are effectively entraining your brain.

Now if you are using your blue tooth for several minutes, then the chances are your brain will be entrained for many, many, many hours, and if you use a mobile phone and blue tooth, a mobile phone and blue tooth, on and off through the day, then your brain will not actually function properly and you could experience all sorts of neurological funny feelings, and I'm afraid this was the basis of my spy training and this is what they were used for.

JCW: And lots more questions coming from listeners and I've also got some more questions, and if you've just tuned in, we're chatting to Barrie Trower, retired British military intelligence scientist, and he's here to answer your questions. He's out here as a guest of the electromagnetic radiation research foundation of South Africa, and I'll give you details of the talk that he is going to be giving. That's a talk, a public presentation this evening at seven pm, but I'll give you those details a little bit later on.

All right, we're going to run out of time, but let's see how we go. Is there a minimum amount of texting that is safe for girls?

BT: Uhm, the question is too hard for me to answer. The question really is like 'is there a minimum amount of cigarettes a child could smoke and stay safe'. There are so many complicated issues here, a girl may just text once, send the microwaves straight through her ovaries, and cause genetic damage, or she may text for a month and have no specific issues.

JCW: So you just can't say.

BT: The question is too hard to answer.

JCW: You were saying to me a moment ago whilst we were off air that if a child uses a cell phone once a year, it's once too many. Is that not being too rigid, too melodramatic?

BT: My own government has said that children should only use cell phones in a life and death emergency. Some countries, I believe Russia, actually ban children from using cell phones, but if we stick to the life and death emergency, if a child says to me 'I've used my cell phone once a year' I would say 'well you have a pretty rough life to have an emergency like that every year'. A child should not use a cell phone, only in a life and death emergency. And there are other medical issues that I don't have time to go through, to do with the immune system and the development of the nerves, but uhm, a child should not use a cell phone unless it's a life and death situation.

JCW: And it should not, emphatically, the mast should not be sighted in a school ground.

BT: Absolutely not, without a shadow of a doubt.

JCW: Let's see if we can answer this question from Moira, hi there Moira.

Moira: Hi uhm, hi Barrie and Jen.

BT: Good afternoon ma'am.

Moira: My question is, do satellite dishes emit, uhm, microwave radiation and I'm not talking about the home TV satellites, I'm talking about the 50 meter diameter satellite dishes, and the reason I ask is that I have an factory next door to an area that is like a satellite farm. I've been working there for 15 years and my health has deteriorated to the point where I can't even work anymore, with neurological problems and various health problems.

BT: The easy answer to your question, ma'am is 'yes they can'.

Moira: Is it the microwaves that are the problem? Because these are satellites that, I believe, some of them track satellites orbiting the earth and, uhm, two that are located about ten meters from my factory are at least 50 meters diameter.

BT: If they're tracking satellites orbiting the earth, to be honest, it depends what the dish is there for and what it's doing. If it's tracking a satellite then nothing should be coming your way. If it is tracking a satellite picking up information and forwarding it to a cell tower...

Moira: Yes, that's what it does.

BT: ...or receive from a cell tower, if it's receiving from satellites and forwarding it to a cell tower, that is, generally, sort of in the form of a beam and if you are in the way of that beam then you are absolutely correct, ma'am, that could be the explanation of your illness, without a shadow of a doubt.

Moira: And can it cause things like clinical depression and neurological problems? I've lost feeling...

JCW: Okay Moira I can't be too explicit about that but Barrie will answer that question, thanks.

BT: Yes.

JCW: Okay. Fantastic, Barrie, you'll stay for a few minutes after the news?

BT: Of course.

JCW: Fantastic, that would be absolutely lovely, otherwise we're going to run out of time, we've got lots and lots of interesting questions coming our way, including the use of wifi which of course affects so many South Africans and so many people all around the world. In your house, in your car and in your office as well, so let's talk about that, and possibly ways to combat that. Let me slip in a question to Barrie before the news and he'll stay for about ten minutes after the news and hopefully get through all of your questions. Barrie, just a quick question, is it safer not to keep your cell phone next to your bed when you go to sleep at night?

BT: Oh, absolutely! What happens, if you have your cell phone next to your bed, it is emitting microwaves if it is on standby. The microwaves go into the body and they influence a chemical known as melatonin. The melatonin goes around the body at night mopping up cancer cells that we can produce every day, so if your cell phone is on beside your bed when you are sleeping, which is the most dangerous time of the day, when you wake up, your immune system can be 40% less effective than when you went to bed.

JCW: Really, so if you switch off that cell phone, not put it on silent, but if you switch it off, presumably, then it's okay because it's switched off?

BT: Yes.

JCW: Same as television sets in the bedroom?

BT: Absolutely.

JCW: Same with anything that is electronic?

BT: Yes.

JCW: Goodness. Okay, so there you go, there are some quick answers to some questions, but we'll take some of your other questions after the news. Stay with us, I think it is a vital conversation. I think it is an important conversation and just some information that Barrie has given me, that in Taiwan, 1,700 schools have actually taken out wifi. I think that's what we were talking about, they've actually got rid of it all together, very very interesting and we'll talk about that a little bit after the news, so please stay with us, talking to Barrie Trower.

I mentioned just before the news that Taiwan had removed all sorts of things from school grounds, what I was talking about because it don't think I was clear, I was vague, has already removed 1,500 masts from school grounds or near their schools and that was as early as 2007 and yes there have been studies around masts in schools and it's coming up negative just about everywhere.

Barrie, I asked you about the Bio-Initiative Report. I asked you about the World Health Organisation. What is the Ecolog study?

BT: The Ecolog study was a study commissioned and run by the mobile industry itself, it was a very long study, I believe it was over ten years, with top world scientists. And, the conclusion to the Ecolog study, which is really the mobile industry researching its own product for health reasons and the conclusions were that low level microwaves can cause the cancer inducers and cancer promoters to act inside the body, in other words, they risk cancer and also there could be DNA damage.

JCW: And that's the mobile industry itself?

BT: Exactly.

JCW: Now, you don't have a website.

BT: No.

JCW: But if people want to access your research, how do they go about that?

BT: If they Google, my name is Barrie Trower, if you Google my name, nearly everything I have published or my lectures to governments, they're all on there, I hope they're all in simple to understandable English and you can download them for free.

JCW: Alright, let's answer some other questions, we're going to be as quickly as we possibly can, Leonora, you've got a question?

Leonora: Yes, please, I'd like to ask Barrie if amalgam fillings, metal fillings, be it amalgam or gold, as well as implants, titanium implants in teeth have any impact as far as using cell phones are concerned and cell phone towers?

BT: You're absolutely correct, ma'am. Any metal inside the body will absorb microwaves and they will re-emit microwaves usually at a slightly different wavelength, but into the body and you can get quite a serious heating effect inside the body.

JCW: Oh.

Leonora: So experiencing pins and needles and that kind of effect, sensation, could possibly be due to that?

BT: Oh, without a shadow of a doubt ma'am, you're correct.

Leonora: Okay, all right, thank you for your answer.

BT: My pleasure, ma'am.

JCW: Stephanie, hello.

Stephanie: Hi, hi, hi Barrie, my question is, my children go to school outside of Johannesburg and they've had to go wireless with wifi because cables have been stolen, so the whole school is wireless. What - and they have been approached and the school said, 'well, prove it to us' - what could one, where could I go to, who could I speak to, to come and measure the radiation that is going on in that school - or would you say pull them out of the school, my children.

BT: They say prove the wifi is dangerous...

Stephanie: Yes.

BT: You only have to quote the industry's own research in its own product. Uhmm, the, to me, if I had children at school, I would change schools to a school that didn't have wifi, personally. I wouldn't run the risk with my daughter having a genetically damaged child.

Stephanie: Yeah, okay, thank you so much.

BT: My pleasure ma'am.

JCW: Alright, and it's the Ecolog study that we're talking about here. Just some quick answers, my husband works at cell masts every day, what are the implications for him?

BT: Wear protective clothing, very, very good protective clothing, when you are going up or near a transmitter.

JCW: My three year old boy plays games on my cell phone daily. Is it safe for him to continue or should I stop him?

BT: If the cell phone is just being used like a simple calculator for games, there is no problem. If it is transmitting somewhere then there is a problem.

JCW: Will car radios have the same effect on you, turning a car into a microwave, if I turn on my car radio? Is that a problem?

BT: You should never , ever have microwave radiation inside a car, not ever. Never ever.

JCW: Even if it's an old cell phone?

BT: Especially if it's an old cell phone.

JCW: Uhm, new cell pone mast is about 300 meters away beaming into my five year old daughters bedroom, would planting trees help?

BT: No.

JCW: Uhm, the recommended 1.5 km radius around a cell phone mast, and where it is safe for you to be, is that higher when 4G technology is released?

BT: It will be much higher and much more complicated, can I come back please just to the lady with the four year old daughter?

JCW: Yes.

BT: Uhm, one of the things you can do, cause not everybody can move house, one thing you can do, if you get some thin tin or thick aluminum, not cooking foil, and if you remember going back when ladies would go behind screens if they had to undress for doctors, that sort of thing, if you build screens and you put the aluminum or tin, on the screen, shiny side to the transmitter and put it between the transmitter and the child's bed, then you are shielding the child.

JCW: Oh well, then that's absolutely, that's what she's got to do.

BT: Yes.

JCW: Because she simply can't do it in... but, you probably got to do it on all the walls in the house.

BT: Only the walls facing the transmitter.

JCW: Okay. Alright, so don't forget you can go along and Google Barrie and get a whole lot of the stuff that we've been speaking about, and the questions that we've been getting about 'are animals affected', well they've got the same cellular structure that we have, of course they are affected in the same kind of a way. But, maybe this is the last question we're going to take, Amanda, you are asking the 64 thousand dollar question...

Amanda: What is the solution?

BT: That is a brilliant question, ma'am and thank you for asking it. There is a solution, is that the governments and the industry follow the Bio-Initiative safety level, that is all. All they have to do is turn the knob down to a safe level, and that is the solution.

Amanda: Simple

JCW: And you can access that, by the way Mandy, it's called the Bio-Initiative Report.

Amanda: Thank you, I will do.

JCW: Okay, so, cause I think that that might be vital for many, many people listening. Now we could go on and on and on, but we can't so Barrie is giving a public presentation this evening. It's at 7 pm and it's at Fourways high school which is Kingfisher Drive in Fourways and this really and truly is, it's a unique opportunity to hear more about what is really known about the dangers of cell phones and other wireless technology that we are all involved in in one way or another. The health damage it is causing, the legal battles around the world that are being fought to actually address this issue. And this is open to all members of the public and it is free. So that is 7 pm at Fourways high school, Kingfisher Drive in Fourways. We're talking to Barry Trower and he is consulting to governments and other authorities around the world on the health risks of microwave exposure. And you can Google him and you can get your hands on some of his research, which is all put up there and that will amplify some of the things that we've been speaking about today. But, Barrie, thank you, very sobering conversation

BT: My pleasure, ma'am, thank you very much for your courtesy.

JCW: Thank you.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rebranding Canada

Rebranding is big right now. It's keeping many consultants employed, and providing something new for Marketing Directors to pitch to their CEO's. There are a zillion books on the topic, and now we have one that proposes an image makeover for our home and native land (OHNL).

Right up front, I am declaring that I have not read Branding Canada --- Projecting Canada's Soft Power through Public Diplomacy, as McGill-Queen's University Press did not send me a review copy and I am too cheap to shell out $32.95 for the paperback edition. So this is based on the publisher's précis, and the author's comments on his own website.

The author, Carleton University assistant prof Evan H. Potter Ph.D, has written several other books on foreign policy.

In this one, Potter says "foreign public opinion is now as crucial to national success as negotiating with foreign governments."

Apparently foreign folks see us as nice, and decent, and tolerant, and .... did I mention nice?

Well nice is as nice does, and it's just not good enough, says Potter, allegedly.

We seem to be the Miss Congeniality of the international beauty pageant, and we need to step up our game a bit.

In reality, we are not really on anyone's mind most of the time, which may be a good or bad thing, depending upon your point of view. For example, many lament that Americans in general pay no attention to us, and have a poor understanding of our many fine qualities.

This is true, but not necessarily a bad thing. Countries that America pays attention to often look up to see incoming cruise missiles. Personally, I'm happy to just keep selling them oil while keeping our heads down.

Still, as Potter says, "protecting and nurturing a distinct national identity are essential to Canada's sovereignty and prosperity." That, presumably, is an identity not entirely centred on Tim Hortons double-doubles and Stompin' Tom's The Hockey Song.

"Brand stretching" is the way to go, he writes. That means talking up our oil sands technology, and playing down the mounties and mountains thing. Fewer red coats, more lab coats.

Stand on guard.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Who do you trust to run your world?

If you think Facebook (FB) is just a place to dish and diss, you're not getting it.

At least you're not getting Mark Zuckerberg's plans for your life. The site's founder is pretty chuffed these days, having blown through the 400 million member level, and decimated all challengers along the way.

Last week, there were plenty of nifty ideas for FB at the organization's annual clambake/hype-up for developers. At the root of it all is Zuckerberg's vision of FB as a gateway to other stuff on the intertoobz.

Right now, you need a separate username, password, and log-in process for each online service. FB envisions a world in which your Facebook cookie would get you into those sites automatically. How nice of FB to perform these services for the benefit of all netizens.

The tradeoff for you would be that your profile, your friends list, and any other info you have made public would be shared with those other sites, and presumably parsed by them, and various other third parties, for opportunities to sell you stuff.

Those third parties can expect to pay FB for the privilege of being part of their world, and to be required to play by FB's rules.

You may be OK with that deal, but consider this a heads up that free lunches in cyberspace are rapidly going the way of the VIC-20. Personal information is the new currency. You give up a chunk of your privacy, and you get services in return, including unsolicited services you don't necessarily want.

All of that, if successfully implemented in its full glory, would make FB equivalent to Rome at the height of its empire, the place from which all roads lead.

But nothing is inevitable.

If you think Google is just a place to look up stuff, you're not getting it.

For Google, 400 million souls is little more than a rounding error.

Google enfolds everyone in the known world, or will soon, and is now conducting foreign policy discussions with other major powers, like China.

Google's vision is to be part of everything everyone does, everywhere.

So far, its services include YouTube, Picasa, Orkut, Gmail, Blogger, Google Maps, Google Buzz, Google Analytics, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Groups, Google Video, Google AdWords, Google Alerts, Google Books, Google Chrome, Google Dictionary, Google Earth, Google Finance, Google Gadgets, Web History, Google Health, Google Images, Google Insights, Google Scholar, Google Latitude, Google Translate, Google Videos, Android, Nexus One Phone, Google Reader, Google News, Google Online Storage, Google Rankings, Google SketchUp, Google Product Search, Google Sync, Google Talk, Google Trends, Google Places, and heaven only knows what else. This is just some of the stuff they're telling us about.

Less well known, the company's large scale initiatives to manage patient information for the health sector, and to manage energy grids for public utilities, prove it is thinking big in pursuit of its mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

[Caveat: As a commercial enterprise, with its stock listed on NASDAQ, Google's motivations can not be entirely altruistic and benign, despite their stated philosophy that "You can make money without doing evil." Sometimes people and businesses are just collateral damage of strategies that are not intentionally evil.]

Google Wave, introduced as a tool for brainstorming, posting photographs, running meetings, and other real-time communication/collaboration activities, isn't getting much traction. [Note: It has now been yanked.]

But don't be too surprised if the thinking behind Wave evolves into a framework linking all Google (and other) services to each other and to you. Imagine the commercial possibilities of collecting and mining your information, probing your every dislike and desire, deconstructing your buying decisions across all of these services and those yet to come, not to mention sharing your transactions, affinities, and interactions with other retailers, charities, and political parties who pay for a look at your profile.

Okay, it's 2012. You're thinking a backyard deck would be nice. You go to SketchUp and draft a concept in 3-D. You get a nice message from your local Home Depot outlet with some plans and materials lists, conveniently linked to their online store. You muse about your ideas on Buzz. You hear from a deck-builder, a franchisee of a national chain. They'd love to take care of the whole thing for you. You get an invitation to join the Outdoor Entertainment group. You build the deck. You do a Google search for deck chairs. Amazingly, the very first search return is for an outdoor furniture store right in your neighbourhood. A charity sends you an e-brochure on skin cancer, with a link to its online donations page. It goes on like this. Seamless. Shameless.

And don't forget to update your Facebook page. Maybe invite your friends over for a deck party. Do you need hors d'oeuvres? There'll be a pop-up on your Android phone as you walk past the market.


Update: January 8, 2013, Google brings in high-horsepower guy Ray Kurzweil. Now it gets interesting.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• As if further proof were required that people do not read online "terms and conditions" documents before clicking their acceptance, retailer GameStation has disclosed that 7,500 customers agreed to hand over their souls. The customers were OK with granting "a non transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul", and agreeing "to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification." The devil is always in the details.

• There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on planet Earth. No, really! Didn't Frankie say that to Annette in the movie Beach Blanket Bingo?

• Samsung recommends that, among other things, you should be fit, well rested, and sober, to watch their 3-D televisions. Also good advice for Toyota drivers.

• There's a movement afoot to get left wing film maker/propagandist Michael Moore to run for the U.S. Congress.

• A Muslim woman in the state of Maryland has been denied the opportunity to be a foster parent. The reason given was that she does not serve pork in her home.

• If you think your ears are getting larger, you are correct.
How about that?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What the heck have I been talkin' about?

Probably of no interest to you but, given my short-term memory issues, I was wondering what I'd been prattling on about lately.

This Wordle "word cloud" gives greater prominence to words that have appeared more frequently in my posts so far this year.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I'm not an engineer, but I play one on TV

Further proof that, if you wear a white lab coat and speak with authority, complete bullshit can sound convincing.

Years ago, Rockwell International decided to get into the heavy duty transmission business. As a warm-up to taping an introduction video, the presenter began what has become a legend within the trucking industry. There was no script. All of this was off the cuff.

Ladies and gentlemen --- the turbo encabulator.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why so many natural disasters lately?

Mother Nature has been kicking up her heels lately in places like Chile, Iceland, China, and Haiti, as if to remind us of our pipsqueak status on Planet Earth.

Seeming to think that having her children fly through space on a spinning ball is not exciting enough, Mom's been giving us regular wake-up calls by way of earthquakes, avalanches, floods, mudslides, landslides, volcanic eruptions, and hurricanes. In fact, there have been 36 such events so far in 2010, according to ReliefWeb.

Q: So, why have there been so many more of these lately?

A: Surprisingly, the number of earthquakes is stable and may actually be declining, according to the U. S. Geological Survey, but urbanization and population growth have put more people at risk. Massive destruction of cities and loss of life gets media attention. In addition, more earthquakes are being detected, due to a much-expanded network of monitoring stations.

Likewise, water-related calamities have probably not increased either, but they have more serious effects due to unfortunate decisions made by human beings.

Mudslides are more likely when hillsides are deforested. Destruction of mangrove swamps increases the destructive power of tsunamis. Building homes in hi-risk locations (fault lines, floodplains, hurricane-prone coastal areas, etc.) is a recipe for disaster. Channelizing rivers leads to swift-moving, high water that floods downstream cities having insufficiently high levees.

Plus there is the explosion of news media with on-air time that must be filled, so all of this stuff gets chewed over endlessly, giving the impression that the world is constantly under attack by natural forces.

Monday, April 19, 2010

No hope for domestic peace

If you're hoping your partner will shape up if you just stay on his/her case, the news is not good.

If your spouse bugs you now, it's only going to get worse, according to new research that suggests couples view one another as even more irritating and demanding the longer they are together.

You would think that, at some point, husbands and wives would negotiate a truce, or get tired of arguing, or someone would give in, or they might even try to see their respective partners' points of view.

Nope!

"As we age and become closer and more comfortable with one another, it could be that we're more able to express ourselves to each other," said lead study author Kira Birditt, a research fellow at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. "In other words, it's possible that negativity is a normal aspect of close relationships that include a great deal of daily contact."

"Because we found that pattern was overall among the participants, it appears to be normative. It's not something unusual that happens," Birditt said.

The study found that "as people age they get better at regulating their emotions and experience less negative relationships" with pretty much everyone but their spouses.

Coincidentally, other research found that spouses who fight may live longer. Hiding anger, brooding and resentment causes stress, which shortens lifespans, whereas releasing anger can be healthy.

Summing up, conflict is normal, it will only get worse, AND you will be forced to endure it longer.

Alright, then.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• The Ahlgrim Family Funeral Home in Palatine, Illinois, has pinball, shuffleboard and a miniature golf course in the basement. No bar, though. Sounds like a franchisable concept ready and waiting.

• If the chap sitting next to you on your next airline flight is less than chatty, you might want to check him for signs of life. Police arrested two women last week at Liverpool airport for trying to smuggle a corpse onto a flight. The "passenger" was a deceased, 91-year-old, man. He was wearing sunglasses. No word on whether he ordered the in-flight snack.

• The birth rate goes down with the stock market. Yep, birth rates in the United States began to decline in 2008 after rising to their highest level in two decades, and the decrease appears to be linked to the recession, according to a Pew Research Center analysis. Look for this be a trading signal right up there with the Super Bowl Indicator.

• Some professors are banning laptops from their classrooms, or banishing them to the back row, after observing students web surfing instead of listening to their lectures.

• A 16-year-old Arkansas boy is suing his mother for hacking into his Facebook account. Mom is fighting the charges.

• The Toyota recall may be caused by cosmic rays, scientists now say. No, really, cosmic ray radiation from deep in the cosmos has been known to plague vulnerable data and memory chips in electronics, which could explain the faulty gas pedals.
How about that?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A charitable act

A man and his wife were awakened at 3:00 am by a loud pounding on the door.

The man gets up and goes to the door where a drunken stranger, standing in the pouring rain, is asking for a push.

"Not a chance," says the husband, "it's 3:00 in the morning!"

He slams the door and returns to bed.

"Who was that?" asked his wife..

"Just some drunk guy asking for a push," he answers.

"Did you help him?" she asks.

"No, I did not, it is 3:00 in the morning and it's pouring rain out there!"

"Well, you have a short memory," says his wife. "Can't you remember about three months ago when we broke down, and those two guys helped us?

I think you should help him, and you should be ashamed of yourself!"

The man does as he is told, gets dressed, and goes out into the pounding rain.

He calls out into the dark, "Hello, are you still there?"

"Yes," comes back the answer.

"Do you still need a push?" calls out the husband.

"Yes, please!" comes the reply from the dark.

"Where are you?" asks the husband.

"Over here on the swing."

(From the mail. Author unknown)

Monday, April 12, 2010

A game of numbers



No game is more in love with statistics than baseball, so to get you in the right spirit for the Blue Jays' home opener today, here are some Major League Baseball stats you might not find in the sports section.
• In cities with baseball teams, 46% of companies see increased absenteeism and inattention on Opening Day.

• A team will win its home opener 54% of the time.

• The average MLB ticket price is $26.54.

• 1 in 5.56 fans need peanuts at a ballgame.

• 88% of fans will eat a hotdog at a sporting event in a year.

• About 22 million hotdogs are served at MLB ballparks during the season.

• You can catch a Colorado Rockies game for a buck less than the price of a hotdog at an L.A Dodgers game. Rockies won on Opening Day 2010, Dodgers lost, so you can see the importance of keeping track of this stuff.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• You can be beheaded for sorcery in Saudi Arabia. Ali Sabat, a Shiite muslim and TV psychic, has been sentenced to death for making a prediction, which is viewed as witchcraft by the Saudi religious police. He might cheat death if he is prepared to admit his psychic powers are a hoax. Ali failed to predict his current dilemma.

• While most of us can't do two things at once, such as talking on the phone while driving safely, it appears that about 1 in 40 people is a "supertasker," according to a University of Utah study. This rare group of people actually perform as well or better when multitasking. Researcher Jason Watson noted that people definitely shouldn't "self diagnose" themselves as supertaskers. "Many people believe they are the exception to the rule," he said. "However, the odds are against them."

• The war on obesity starts with [cue drumroll] cake. Yep, a U.S. Department of Agriculture research project is working on cake and icing that have 50% less fat, thanks to a product called Fantesk, "a mixture of cornstarch, water and oil." Taste is said to be similar to conventional cakes.

• 42-year-old Donna Simpson of Old Bridge, New Jersey, is shooting for the title of Heaviest Woman To Ever Give Birth. Currently weighing in at 604 lb., Donna is hoping to eat her way to 1,000 pounds. She figures 12,000 calories per day ought to do it. She will be sticking with old school cakes.

• Each of us generates about 3.5 pounds of rubbish a day, most of it paper. Most of Donna Simpson's rubbish is food wrappers.
How about that?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fore!



As golf season gets underway, I thought you should know the risks.

• The odds a person will visit an emergency department due to a golf cart accident in a year are 1 in 19,100.

• A golfer's chances of being injured while playing are 1 in 644.

• The primary causes of golf cart injury are:
1. falling/ jumping from a moving golf cart
2. cart overturn
3. collision with another vehicle or stationary object
4. being struck/run over by a cart
5. injury while getting into or out of a cart
6. injury to a protruding limb
• The most common cause of such injuries is falling or jumping from a golf cart, including being ejected during a sharp turn.

• Death from these accidents is usually a result of the cart rolling over on top of the occupant(s).

Play on!

Sources: Book of Odds, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Raise a glass to the future


Some think that, in the future, water may become the new oil, that it will become a scarce commodity that will cause disputes between nations, even wars.

How much useable water is there, really?

This graphic from TreeHugger tells a surprising story.

Of all the world's water, only 2.5% is fresh water. Of that, 70% is ice, so just 30% is actual groundwater that we can access.

Subtract polluted water, water used for irrigation, and water used by industry, and we find that less than 1/10 of 1% of the world's water is thought to be available for domestic use.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The temporary tax

As you scramble to pull together those charitable donations receipts, T-4 slips and other information required to complete your income tax form, here's a little background for that annual chore.

Federal personal income tax was introduced in 1917 via the Income War Tax Act. It was sold as a temporary measure needed to fund the country's military in World War I. The Business Profits War Tax Act, requiring all Canadian corporations having capital of $50,000 or more, had been introduced a year earlier.

Married Canadians with an income below $2,000, or unmarried Canadians with an income below $1,000, were exempt from filing a tax return, as were soldiers fighting overseas.

At the end of the war, a series of justifications were found for continuing to collect the tax. For starters, Canada's war debt totalled $2 billion. Then the Great Depression, known as the "Dirty Thirties," shrank government inflows and increased outflows. That was quickly followed by World War II, which cost a bundle.

Long story short, the feds got used to income tax as a handy way to get revenue, and a whole new generation of taxpayers just assumed it was the way things worked.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Weird Al on grammar

Friday, April 2, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:

• According to the Dunning–Kruger effect, unskilled people rate their own ability as above average while highly skilled people underrate their abilities.

• If you want to get away from it all, really get away from it all, go to 82°06′S 54°58′E, the most inaccessible point in Antarctica, the coldest place in the world. Look for the bust of Lenin peering weirdly across the ice toward Moscow. Dig down 20 feet. Open the pair of locked doors to enter an old Soviet research hut, now completely entombed in snow. Sign the golden visitors’ book.

• Police in Exeter, England, have been entering private homes through open windows or unlocked doors, as a warning to residents about taking security lightly. The officers pick up any valuable items they see, such as iPods or purses, and leave them in a 'swag bag' for the owner to find.

• One of the world's longest wars also had the fewest casualties. The Three Hundred and Thirty-Five Years War between the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly (off the southwest coast of England) started in 1651 and ended in 1986. No shots were fired.

• A 51-year-old woman robbed a Florida bank because it was on her "bucket list." She told TV news that she thinks "everyone should have a list of things they want to do before they expire." Nonetheless, she faces two counts of robbery. Maybe doing time is also on her list.

How about that?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The news blues

With about a week to go before heading back to Canada from our winter hideout in Florida, I am happy to be leaving behind this season's endlessly repetitive American news themes.

I'm tired of Sarah Palin, the Tea Party movement, the rancorous posturing of John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, and right wing pundits praying for Obama to fail because he is Hitler/the Antichrist/Stalin/a foreigner.

I'm overdosed on the constant whining about a perceived "socialist takeover" represented by healthcare reform and the bank bailout.

My eyes glaze over when yet another self-righteous politician is caught doing something sleazy, or another "investment manager" is found to have wiped out a bunch of retirement nest eggs with a Ponzi scheme.

The pros and cons of oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the belief that global warming is a fallacy because Florida had a cool winter and Washington had a blizzard, the continuing flood of mortgage foreclosures, the constant fixation on Iran and South Korea (both of which seem to have stumped "the world's only remaining superpower"), the stickiness of Toyota gas pedals.

The beat goes on.

Of course, relief will be short lived. Soon enough, I will be back home, immersed in endlessly repetitive Canadian news themes.

Is the seal hunt over yet? Is Canada still officially miffed that the rest of the world is miffed about the seal hunt? Are they still serving seal meat in the parliamentary restaurant? Whom has Helen Guergis pissed off this week? Which charter airline has gone belly-up today? What about the deficit? Has the gun registry been cancelled? What of the HST? Does Hillary still hate us? Harper. Ignatieff. McGuinty. Flaherty. Where should niqabs be prohibited?

Same as when I left.

So much to catch up with.