Wild Ride of Cowboy Canada

ACORN International

calgary_sunriseKamloops After 12 hours in New Orleans my daughter dropped me at the airport for the milk run to Kamloops through Chicago and then Calgary.  I’m caught in a culture warp between Thailand, India, and now North America.  On the TV is the OLN (Outdoor Life Network) which is running a show filmed in beautiful west coast surf where they are proving the “plasticity of barnacle penises.”  Don’t ask, but it seems barnacles are hermaphrodites and when they have to mate depending on the proximity of the next barnacle the equipment expands…you can imagine the rest.   Anyway while I’m writing this, I’m actually wondering if they would even allow the show to be shown in some countries….

I’m not sure I have ever been in Calgary, but think of a gleaming city sprouting up on the western plains with the Canadian Rockies majestic in the distance to the west, a mini-Denver, just newer and more compact, and you have the visual imprint.  Quite dramatic with a newish, confusing four concourse airport and the statues of wild horses and the rest of what sends those of us with western roots wondering how cold are the winters and what the price of real estate might be.  Leaving for Kamloops over the ridge, the propeller pilot lets us know that there may be cloud cover in which case they will bring us back to Calgary, but we get there fine.  His next announcement is that there is a “traffic jam,” so we’ll need to wait on the runway for a bit because the two gates are both filled up.   We have a minute to look at the dry, brown mountains outside the small propjet windows.

After almost a month on the road my bag was stacked with a dozen magazines that needed to be plowed through to catch up on what’s been shaking.  A half-dozen Newsweek’s produced a cartoon reprint of a Cleveland Plain Dealer political cartoon of Obama appointing Eliot Spitzer as his “new prostitution czar” to “investigate ACORN.”  Ha-ha.  More thought provoking was a piece by Ellis Cose in another issue entitled “ACORN, Heal Thyself:  The group’s problems like within” in which, regardless of the points he gets both right and wrong, hits the mark in the final sentence:  “But in the end, ACORN’s ruin may not be the radical right, which can hurt its funding but can’t take away its 400,000-plus members.  Its biggest problem may be itself, and its inability to see its own potential.”  I keep rereading the sentence throughout the trip and wondering how much of the membership is being protected in ACORN’s current bunker mentality and meltdown especially given the contradiction of what also seems an mystery attack on the strong New Orleans membership.

The other Newsweek piece I found myself tearing out and re-reading asked the question:  “Was Russia Better Off Red?”  Clearly they were reaching for reaching for relevance and trying to stir some controversy with research done by Ian Yarett from sources at ILO, UNESCO, WHO, and even the Russian government itself, none of which were lefty folks with a vantage point to sell.  Three years a delegation from the Organizers’ Forum had visited Moscow and St. Petersburg, and this had been one of the questions we had heard raised repeatedly by Putin critics, some scared for their very lives with good reason.

The list:

Then Now

Population:                  147 Million                                          142 Million

Life Expectancy          67.8                                                     67.5

Divorces                      639,200                                               703,400

Disease Diagnosis       91,296,000                                          109,571,000

Hospitals                     12,600                                                 6,800

Economically Active   76,174,000                                          73,248,000

Recorded Crimes        2,761,000                                            3,210,000

Ag Land (acres)          520,403,933                                        414,148,619

Forestland (acres)        1,999,116,140                                     1,998,090,660

Drinking Per Person    7.5 liters                                              10.5 liters

Cinemas                      2337                                                    1510

Time to go out and beat the dawn and see how early a place called “Cowboy Coffee” opens so I can keep from scratching my head too often before visiting with my union friends in a couple of hours here in Kamloops.