#241 Mark & Steve – Swine Flu
Mark: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another EnglishLingQ Podcast.
Mark here with Steve.
Steve: Hello there. We're going to hear a little bit of background car noise. That makes is authentic here.
Mark: We're enjoying the nice spring weather we're having today. Steve: We even have a visitor here in the room with us, Gordie the dog.
Mark: He may join in at some point.
Steve: We hope not.
Mark: But he's kind of shy. Steve: That's right. Do you know what I want to talk about?
Mark: What's that? Steve: Mark, I think that anybody who's not interested in what I'm interested in is a fool. Does that make sense?
Steve: Anyone who doesn't share my interest is stupid. Mark: For sure.
I mean it goes without saying.
Steve: The reason I realize that is because a person who is much listened to in Canada, at least by some people, who gets invited to speak at universities, a certain Sacha Trudeau, son of our former…I won't use any kind of epithet…Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, this Sacha Trudeau, addressed students at the University of Western Ontario and had two things to say. One, he said, “People who only know one language can be very myopic, just look at the United States.” That was his statement.
He speaks two languages, French and English and he's so impressed with himself. He's convinced that anyone who doesn't speak two languages…he can be a brain surgeon, he can be an engineer, he can be a ballerina or she, it doesn't matter…these people are all myopic because they only speak one language. Sacha Trudeau speaks two languages and therefore he is farseeing.
Mark: Well he has two purposes with that statement: (A) He draws attention to the fact that he is extremely clever because he does speak two languages and (B) he gets a cheap shot in at the States, which is part of the culture there.
Steve: With Barack Obama trying to buy out the American industry and hand out money and basically turn the United States into the American Socialist Republic, is that still fair game?
Mark: I think so, I'm pretty sure. It's pretty hard to eradicate that mentality, the U.S. bashing mentality of the Liberal Party here. That's a pretty strong core belief there. Steve: But it is rather extraordinary, you know. I mean I speak 11 languages, I love languages. I think languages are great, but there are all kinds of people who speak many languages who are (A) stupid. Maybe I'm included in that category in some people's opinion. It doesn't matter; some people like to play the violin. Mark: Exactly.
Steve: Some people like to do other things, how can you categorize?
Mark: Lots of people do things that you have no interest in doing and are very good at them.
Steve: Well, sure.
Mark: If they think anyone who doesn't know how to fix cars is an idiot that... Steve: I had a great friend, an older man who was a friend of the family, and he used to build these model sailboats and put them inside a bottle. I mean I could never do that.
Steve: That's a tremendous skill. It's not very useful… Mark: No.
Steve: …but it's a skill. I mean there are all kinds of useful skills, too, and just to say… And then the second thing is to categorize, you know, look at America like everybody in the United States is myopic and everyone in Canada or in, I don't know, Russia, China, Afghanistan, they're not? Mark: Right.
I don't know. Steve: How can you be so retarded? And this guy gets invited to talk…
Mark: It's amazing. Steve: …and all the so self-righteous, intellectual people all giggle when he says stuff like that.
Steve: What an idiot. What an absolute idiot. He is living proof that you can speak more than one language and be an idiot.
Mark: Yes, he is.
Steve: Anyway, that was the one thing. He also said, in the same presentation, that Canada being bilingual is worth more to us than the tarsands.
Mark: Or as much to us.
Steve: Or as much to us as the tarsands. No, but in terms of value, money-wise. Well, no, because being bilingual costs us money. It costs us a lot of money because it's a political slush fund. Mark: Right.
Steve: So that anything that's involved with teaching French, being bilingual, means you can go and access public money and no one is going to ask questions and we're talking billions of dollars. Anyway, enough of that.
Mark: Enough of that.
Steve: So, anyway, I just thought I would pick up on him. Anyone who's not interested in what I'm interested in is a fool. Mark: Well, on that note, are you interested in the Swine Flu, because here's certainly been a lot to do with the Swine Flu in the news lately? Steve: I know. I mean it's very hard. We're sitting here and all you can really do is hope that you don't get the Swine Flu. Mark: I guess so.
Steve: I don't know much about it. I gather it's another one of these illnesses that originates where people live in close proximity to animals, whether it be fowl, you know in terms of the Bird Flu, but every day you read something different. That the strain we have in Canada is not this virulent strain and people aren't going to die. I don't know. Mark: Well, yeah, and that all these people had died in Mexico, but nobody had died in the U.S. Although, I saw today that one person has died in the U.S. from it, apparently, so obviously there must be a few different strains around.
Steve: And do they really know that all these people who supposedly died of the Swine Flu, in fact, died of the Swine Flu? I mean people die from many different causes.
Mark: Well, yeah, you wonder how they know whether it's the Swine Flu or just a flu or what indicates that it's, in fact, the Swine Flu. And then, of course, you get all the accompanying hysteria and the economy is going to suffer because of the Swine Flu.
I saw another article where Rogers, which is on the local cell phone providers, was saying that their results this quarter will be affected. Because if travel restrictions are implemented and Canadians don't travel as much that will restrict the amount of roaming charges that people who travel and use their cell phones will incur. Steve: I know. You know what really annoys me with these roaming charges is I can have my phone when I'm traveling in Phoenix, Arizona or somewhere, Palm Springs, and I get one of these telemarketing phone calls. It's not even a live person that I can, you know, get mad at… Mark: Right.
Steve: …it's a recording! Mark: Yeah.
Steve: As soon as I hear this, of course, I turn it off, but you pay for each one of those.
Mark: For sure.
Steve: Another interesting thing about mobile telephones, cellular phones, charges and so forth, I read that there was a guy who had his cell phone stolen, I don't know, in Columbia or Bolivia; he's a Canadian. Mark: Right.
Steve: And he didn't report it and so whoever stole his telephone ran up $25,000 in charges. Now he's responsible for those $25,000 and the cell phone company won't back down; like he has to pay. Mark: Right.
Steve: I guess legally…legally, I guess they're right. Mark: Right.
Steve: Boy, I wouldn't want to be in that situation. Mark: That's unreal. Steve: I'm going to make sure I report my cell phone if I lose it. Mark: That's for sure, that's for sure. I don't know, I think it's different in different countries, but I think Canada is just about the worst insofar as cell phone charges and in terms of expense of cell phone and long distance charges. Steve: I'm sure it's related to the fact we have all kinds of ridiculous regulations and that it's over-regulated and less competition, so that the cell phone companies are in a monopolistic position and they can charge what they want and do what they want. Mark: Yeah, I think that's what it is. I mean we don't have many cell phone providers, so, as you say, the competition doesn't drive the price down. That was a big reason why the iPhone took so long to come to Canada; because the data packages were so expensive here that Apple didn't feel like it wanted to be a part of that whole thing. Steve: Yeah.
What else do we have in the news?
Steve: I'll tell you one thing on my blog, while we're on the subject of the arrogance of intellectuals or people who feel they're self-righteous. I posted on my blog about the fact that I visited the sawmill that I'm a part owner of and I talked about how great I think the wood industry is. That we have a surplus of wood in the northern hemisphere and in the southern hemisphere in the coniferous forests and, of course, inevitably, you'll get the people commenting who are of the sort of environmentalist strain. I posted some comments and research that we've done, because in our forest, which is a natural forest, we do research on the caribou, on the bears, on the migrating birds, just to see the impact of our activity on their, you know, ecosystem and their life and so forth. So this person comments with his counter piece. Fine, put out by the Green Association or whatever it is, that's fine. (We'll just let that airplane go over. ) But then he says, “You know, obviously, you're going to say that because you're in the industry. You know, I wouldn't ask a whaler about the whaling industry.” Well, my question is why wouldn't you? Who are you going to ask, some guy at a university? Some guy like you who's waving some fake sign? Mark: Some environmentalist organization that derives 80% of their income from revenue associated with talking about the negative affects of forestry or whatever the case may be?
Steve: I see nothing wrong with the fact that there are these environmental organizations. He posted this link on my blog and I leave it there for people who are interested. By all means, I think we should ask an environmentalist about our forest or about the whaling, but we should also ask the whaler.
Steve: He knows. He's got a perspective colored by his interest. The environmentalist has a perspective colored by his interests. Let's see who's got which facts; compare the facts. Mark: Unfortunately, people tend to perceive environmentalists as being objective…
Mark: …which is not the case at all.
Mark: Their bread and butter are these environmental causes and scaring people into separating the money from them to keep up the inflow of money.
Steve: Well, that's good, nothing wrong with that. But, yeah, now what about the Crisis, what's going to happen on this Crisis? You know, every day there are three bits of good news and two bits of bad news.
I mean, I guess the thing is, nobody knows, nobody knows. I was reading something on the stock market, which was saying that, you know, this is not the time to pull out of the stock market. You want to stay invested; stock markets all go up over time. This may be the bottom, it may not, but if you miss the top that the stock market moves the most on. A small number of days, but if you're not invested during those days then you miss a large amount of the rise. I think this was obviously put out by somebody trying to promote stocks or an investment, but the point is nobody knows which way the market's going. Steve: Right.
Mark: I guess that article is trying to get people to not be afraid to stay invested.
Mark: If they're able to do that and if more and more people believe in a recovery, then all of a sudden things turn around. Steve: I mean the other thing, too, is to keep in mind, you know, what really is important. Obviously, if you have lost your job and whatever…the number of unemployed, the percentage has gone from five and it's going to up to seven-eight or nine percent. I mean those people are seriously affected. If they aren't bringing home a paycheck, then they aren't able to buy food for their family, so that's a really serious problem for those people. But for most people, the value of your house went down. But if you still owe on your house, that's fine. Now, if you don't… Like there are people (I think they call them in the States “upside down”) where they owe more; that their mortgage is larger than the value of their house. Mark: Right.
Steve: That's a pretty serious situation to be in. Mark: Yeah.
Steve: But, still again, you've got to allow things; over time, the value of the house will come up. Over time, if you have stocks, the value of the stocks will go up. Not everyone has stocks; it's a small percentage of people who have stocks. I mean the sun rises every day…
Steve: If I look at the things that I like to do, I like to get out when it's sunny. I just went for a run today. You know you get together with friends and family, you have something to eat. You share things with them, you share time with them. You know I think one can get overly-depressed thinking about the economic situation.
Mark: Well, that's right. Most people are still going out for dinner or they still want things, you know they're still buying things. Maybe not as much as they did before, but they're still going to Starbucks or whatever the case may be. Steve: You don't see the evidence here. I mean the streets are not deserted.
Mark: No, not by any means. But you do hear stories of people whose businesses have been seriously affected, for sure.
Mark: But, you know, at a day-to-day level people still carry on. People still need to eat, people still need to buy things, so… I mean, obviously, a large part of the Crisis is created by fear and perception and I guess, over time…
S But, it's real too, it's real too. Last night I had the dinner; our hockey team won our championship.
Steve: We had our celebration dinner...pasta night... so all the guys were there. A couple of them are in construction and a lot of people are laying off staff and there is not very much construction work. Now part of it is the post-Expo boom, but the other part of it is…
Steve: Sorry, the post-Olympics.
Mark: Well, yeah.
Steve: A lot of the construction is no longer there.
Mark: Has completed, you mean.
Steve: Yeah and new construction is way down. I mean the Americans... housing starts in the United States are at a quarter of their high of a couple of years ago, so there are some people seriously affected.
Mark: Absolutely. I think the real estate and construction has been seriously affected.
Steve: And I heard on the radio, too, that one area that's particularly…this is my Portuguese podcast that I listen to…that Africa is pretty badly affected by this. Because obviously in Europe, where there's now increasing unemployment, a lot of people who are affected, initially, are these migrant workers – legal or illegal – from Africa who send money home. Now if they're out of work they can't send money home. There's been a reduction in foreign investment in Africa, which apparently was up the last few years and now that's fallen off. The price of oil affects countries, like Nigeria, Angola and stuff like this. And I guess foreign aid is down; although, I suspect that the foreign aid is a large waste of money anyway.
There was a book put out by an African journalist from Uganda…I'm not sure…Kenya, one of those countries, a serious economist, who did a study of the impact of foreign aid and came to the conclusion that it damaged Africa. Mark: I'm sure it does, I'm sure it does. Steve: That without the foreign aid, which distorts the market, which favors certain political cliques and the whole business… It's the same as the education sector in Canada, because the game is all about trying to grab more funding rather than improving the performance of your education system. Mark: Right.
Steve: Here, the aid, it's all about grabbing more aid and dividing it up amongst your friends and family and so, therefore, this distorts the market. And without that, she concluded based on her economic studies, the African countries would be more advanced. They would have more industries.
Steve: They would be more serious, less corrupt, so that the aid actually breeds corruption and distortion. I'm sure that's true. Mark: Well, I'm sure that's true. I mean how many years has the West been pumping money into Africa? Has their lot been improved?
So probably it's time to try a different approach. Steve: Right.
Mark: I mean it can't be any worse. Steve: Right.
Mark: But, of course, people feel good. I gave money to Africa, you should give money too and then we can both feel good.
Steve: Well, that's right. I mean, obviously, where there wasn't a school now there's a school. Mark: Right.
Steve: Where there was dirty water now there's clean water. I mean you can see some very, you know, specific examples where the lot of certain people was improved, which is a good thing.
Steve: But, overall, if the net result is, you know…
Mark: …to keep people down…
Steve: …look at Zambia today. They used to be able to feed themselves now they can't feed themselves and with that comes disease and poverty. So, yeah, here and there, there's a school, there's a new water pump… Mark: Right.
Steve: …but in the total picture, maybe that's not such a good thing. Mark: No.
I mean they have to learn how to build up their economy, so they can provide these things for themselves.
And let the genuinely entrepreneurial and capable people rise to the top.
Steve: Not those that are able to, you know…
Mark: …advance because of who they know.
Steve: That's right. Mark: Anyway, that's probably enough for today. Steve: Right.
Mark: We will take it up again next time.
Steve: Thank you for listening.