Music

This page has several hours of YouTube videos of peaceful and serene music distributed over several playlists. Click on “continue reading” to show all playlists. Single click on a playlist to start playing. After that, double click on the playlist to make it full screen. Double click again to change it back. Several of the Continue reading »

Canada: Whither Goest Thou?

A section in John Mauldin’s weekly eletter, Thoughts From the Front Lines, caught our attention. In particular he showed this chart:

The point here is that manufacturing costs (mostly labour) in Canada are 15% higher than in the US. This means that Canada needs the Loonie at 0.87 to be cost equal. To persuade manufacturing to move north however we need a marginal advantage which might be on the order of 5-10%.
This is what unions want of course because the competitive advantage is not achieved by labour cost adjustment and market reform but by currency market adjustment. The real issue to become competitive is to reduce the labour costs. This can be achieved by introducing technology such as robotics or by reducing wage and benefit costs. Unions will fight either approach.

Failure to make the adjustments means a continued loss of manufacturing jobs with a corresponding decrease in the collective standard of living. This will continue until living standards have declined to the point where the labour market will adjust internally to a point of competitive advantage again. Of course if this decline is happening broadly in the developed economies, the adjustment may take a long time and become severe. Can you say third world country?

More From the Desk of Prophet Muhammad: Definitive Teaching on Matters of Christian theology

Below is the second essay in a new series by Paul titled: From the Desk of Prophet Muhammad.  We present this essay reprinted by permission of Paul and from The Bayview Review. See the links at the end for direct access to the rest of Paul’s work.

Say Not “THREE.

From the beginning, Muslims have taken the view that the Prophet Muhammad’s message contains everything that Allah has given us to know about everything. This belief informs the 240-meter-long inscription that appears around the drum of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and bears the date A.H. 72 (A.D. 691-2). These constitute some of the earliest surviving versions of any texts know to us from the Qur’an.The text reads in part:

O ye People of the Book, overstep not bounds in your religion; and of God speak only truth. The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, is only an apostle of God, and His Word which he conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him. Believe therefore in God and his apostles, and say not “three”. It will be better for you. God is only one God…. The true religion with God is Islam. (As quoted in Garth Fowden, Empire To Commonwealth: Consequences of Monotheism In Late Antiquity (Princeton U.P., 1003.)

It is far too easy for the Muslim tour guide to dazzle a flock of Christian tourists with descriptions of the magnificence that plays around them. The lesson that serious Christians should be absorbing is usually lost. It is about Islam’s absolute and unqualified confidence in its unqualified right to explain other people’s religion to them. In the case of Christians, they must “Cease to say THREE” and submit to Islam.

The Origins and Implications of the Scottish Referendum

By George Friedman

The idea of Scottish independence has moved from the implausible to the very possible. Whether or not it actually happens, the idea that the union of England and Scotland, which has existed for more than 300 years, could be dissolved has enormous implications in its own right, and significant implications for Europe and even for global stability.

The United Kingdom was the center of gravity of the international system from the end of the Napoleonic Wars until World War II. It crafted an imperial structure that shaped not only the international system but also the internal political order of countries as diverse as the United States and India. The United Kingdom devised and drove the Industrial Revolution. In many ways, this union was a pivot of world history. To realize it might be dissolved is startling and reveals important things about the direction of the world.

Ebola Update

Our friend JR sent us this link today: Millions Will Die, the Opportunity to Stop the Plague Has Been Missed. The key point the article makes is:

Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg told DW that he and his colleagues are losing hope for Sierra Leone and Liberia, two of the countries worst hit by the recent Ebola epidemic. “The right time to get this epidemic under control in these countries has been missed,” he said.

As of Sept. 4 WHO reported the death rate at 50%.

Keep in mind that patients that have survived went through a period of high fever, dehydration and possible partial organ failure. Part of their survival would be attributed to medical care. Also consider the high rate of infection and death in medical professionals. If the epidemic gets out of control in any area, staff and facilities will be overwhelmed to the point that the basic medical support will not be available. We might then expect a considerably higher death rate.

The article suggests that countries will have to be quarantined. What if we have to quarantine a continent? A spread outside of Africa to Western communities will tie up their medical resources at home and these will not be available for assisting African nations. In this case money won’t help as the pool of resources is so small.

It will take months at a minimum for this epidemic to burn itself out we think. The world is focused on its various wars either current or potential, obscuring the threat from this outbreak. We remain concerned.

The Virtue of Subtlety: A U.S. Strategy Against the Islamic State

By George Friedman

U.S. President Barack Obama said recently that he had no strategy as yet toward the Islamic State but that he would present a plan on Wednesday. It is important for a president to know when he has no strategy. It is not necessarily wise to announce it, as friends will be frightened and enemies delighted. A president must know what it is he does not know, and he should remain calm in pursuit of it, but there is no obligation to be honest about it.

This is particularly true because, in a certain sense, Obama has a strategy, though it is not necessarily one he likes. Strategy is something that emerges from reality, while tactics might be chosen. Given the situation, the United States has an unavoidable strategy. There are options and uncertainties for employing it. Let us consider some of the things that Obama does know.

From the Desk of Prophet Muhammad: Advice to Jews

Below is the first essay in a new series by Paul titled: From the Desk of Prophet Muhammad.  We present this essay reprinted by permission of Paul and from The Bayview Review. See the links at the end for direct access to the rest of Paul’s work.

The Message to the Jews from Today’s Muslim Preachers

Every Friday there pour forth from European mosques messages to the Jews, more-or-less along the lines of this one, dated August 25, 2014, from a town in Spain:

[Allah] described them as killers, so their killing of our brothers in Gaza and in Palestine should come as no surprise. They killed the prophets, the best among mankind…. Allah said [to the Jews]: “Taste the punishment of the burning fire”…. Oh Allah, destroy the plundering Jews. Oh Allah, the Most Merciful, count them one by one, and do not spare a single one of them.” (http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/4448.htm)

A bushel-basket full of such inflammatory addresses, intended to terrify all Jews everywhere and uttered from towns and cities in the heart of Europe as well as from everywhere else on earth, is always available from the internet site of Middle East Media Research (memri@memri.org.)

More and more, this odious message is being taken up by non-Muslims for whom solidarity in anti-Zionism trumps all other considerations. According to one site dedicated to documentation of these matters,

Since the beginning of the latest clash between Israel and Hamas on July 8, European Muslim groups (and some European leftists) have engaged in violent protests aimed not only in supporting Palestine .. [but] for the destruction of the Jews…. The now-familiar refrain(s): “Hamas, Hamas, all Jews to the Gas” … “Itbah ya Yahud” (“slaughter the Jews”) and “Khaybar Khaybar ya-Yahud” … [are] being shouted out with growing frequency these days on the streets of Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Berlin. [See, Abigail R. Esman, “Anti-Israel demonstrations in Europe ---- In Europe, They Call For Death To Jews, www.investigativeproject.com, August 6, 2014.]

As this mentality gains legitimacy among leftists, mob-incitement of this sort is taking place against Jews every day and is captured by the photographers of the global news-broadcasters. Indeed, these bloody-minded goons parade with virtual impunity and in company with the distinguished atheist-intellectuals who dominate European high culture.

The instinct of all decent people is to change the channel. But we have to keep in mind at least two things: (i) that this is regulation-issue teaching regarding the extant duty of Muslims to liquidate the Jews, and (ii) that this duty to liquidate applies to Sunday’s people (us) as well as to Saturday’s people (the Jews.) As to Sunday’s people, I will get to that in subsequent essays. But let’s begin with Saturday’s People.

Flash Point: Hot It’s Not – Get Your Bias Right

We have written many articles under the Climate category on this site that deal with the “global warming” issue and climate temperature. The IPCC and AGW adherents have been confounded by the fact that temperatures have not risen since 1998 (their grudging admission). They have been working overtime (read: Excuse #52 for ‘the pause’ in global warming – natural climate variability as secular trends) to explain this “hiatus” as a pause in a trend towards planetary ignition due to anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere.

Today we became aware of an academic paper by Dr. Ross McKitrick, an economist and statistician specializing in environmental science, titled HAC-Robust Measurement of the Duration of a Trendless Subsample in a Global Climate Time Series. (McKitrick, R. (2014) HAC-Robust Measurement of the Duration of a Trendless Subsample in a Global Climate Time Series. Open Journal of Statistics, 4, 527-535. doi: 10.4236/ojs.2014.47050.) From the abstract (emphasis ours):

The IPCC has drawn attention to an apparent leveling-off of globally-averaged temperatures over the past 15 years or so. Measuring the duration of the hiatus … Application of the method [described in the abstract but technically complex] shows that there is now a trendless interval of 19 years duration at the end of the HadCRUT4 surface temperature series, and of 16 – 26 years in the lower troposphere.

In other words, temperatures have not increased at the planet’s surface for the last 19 years (since 1995). In the lowest layer of the atmosphere (the troposphere) the “hiatus” – the term widely used to identify this period – may extend to 26 years.

Sam Collins – September 2014

  • Short-term:
    • down
  • Midterm:
    • down
  • Long-term:
    • the long-term trend is bullish

Ukraine, Iraq and a Black Sea Strategy

By George Friedman

The United States is, at the moment, off balance. It faces challenges in the Syria-Iraq theater as well as challenges in Ukraine. It does not have a clear response to either. It does not know what success in either theater would look like, what resources it is prepared to devote to either, nor whether the consequences of defeat would be manageable.

A dilemma of this sort is not unusual for a global power. Its very breadth of interests and the extent of power create opportunities for unexpected events, and these events, particularly simultaneous challenges in different areas, create uncertainty and confusion. U.S. geography and power permit a degree of uncertainty without leading to disaster, but generating a coherent and integrated strategy is necessary, even if that strategy is simply to walk away and let events run their course. I am not suggesting the latter strategy but arguing that at a certain point, confusion must run its course and clear intentions must emerge. When they do, the result will be the coherence of a new strategic map that encompasses both conflicts.

The most critical issue for the United States is to create a single integrated plan that takes into account the most pressing challenges. Such a plan must begin by defining a theater of operations sufficiently coherent geographically as to permit integrated political maneuvering and military planning. U.S. military doctrine has moved explicitly away from a two-war strategy. Operationally, it might not be possible to engage all adversaries simultaneously, but conceptually, it is essential to think in terms of a coherent center of gravity of operations. For me, it is increasingly clear that that center is the Black Sea.

Terrorism as Theater

By Robert D. Kaplan

The beheading of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq was much more than an altogether gruesome and tragic affair: rather, it was a very sophisticated and professional film production deliberately punctuated with powerful symbols. Foley was dressed in an orange jumpsuit reminiscent of the Muslim prisoners held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay. He made his confession forcefully, as if well rehearsed. His executioner, masked and clad in black, made an equally long statement in a calm, British accent, again, as if rehearsed. It was as if the killing was secondary to the message being sent.

The killing, in other words, became merely the requirement to send the message. As experts have told me, there are more painful ways to dispatch someone if you really hate the victim and want him to suffer. You can burn him alive. You can torture him. But beheading, on the other hand, causes the victim to lose consciousness within seconds once a major artery is cut in the neck, experts say. Beheading, though, is the best method for the sake of a visually dramatic video, because you can show the severed head atop the chest at the conclusion. Using a short knife, as in this case, rather than a sword, also makes the event both more chilling and intimate. Truly, I do not mean to be cruel, indifferent, or vulgar. I am only saying that without the possibility of videotaping the event, there would be no motive in the first place to execute someone in such a manner.

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