Tuesday, March 24, 2020

#DieForTheDow is trending 

Image result for picture of throwing baby to the wolves
Age-wise, I am on the wrong side of the "let's save the economy by throwing grandma to the wolves" argument. So I have to say, I disagree with it!
And with COVID-19, it won't work anyway. 
Because it isn't only the grandmas who get sick and die. Its the doctors, the nurses, the teachers, the stock brokers, the policemen, the bartenders, the teenagers on a beach. 

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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Courage is found in unlikely places 

Things are awful and they're going to get worse - the economy is going to tank, maybe worse than it did in 2008, and hundreds of thousands of people are going to lose their jobs. 
To understand why the world economy is in grave peril because of the spread of coronavirus, it helps to grasp one idea that is at once blindingly obvious and sneakily profound.
One person’s spending is another person’s income. That, in a single sentence, is what the $87 trillion global economy is.That relationship, between spending and income, consumption and production, is at the core of how a capitalist economy works. It is the basis of a perpetual motion machine. We buy the things we want and need, and in exchange give money to the people who produced those things, who in turn use that money to buy the things they want and need, and so on, forever.
What is so deeply worrying about the potential economic ripple effects of the virus is that it requires this perpetual motion machine to come to a near-complete stop across large chunks of the economy, for an indeterminate period of time.
In spite of the billions that governments will spend to prop up the economy, our standard of living is going to decline. Or at least it will FEEL like it is declining -- we won't have the restaurants around anymore that we used to love, we won't be getting the variety and quality of food we are used to seeing in grocery stores because the agricultural and shipping industries are going to be in such disarray, we won't have sports or new TV shows or new movies or touring theatre companies or concerts or community events. For many of us, our retirement savings are taking a hit that we won't be able to recover. 
Not to mention, of course, the hundreds of thousands around the world who will get sick, and the tens of thousands who will die in the next 18 months to two years, before a COVID vaccine can be developed and put into production and reach the market.
Goodbye yellow brick road, yes indeed.
Someday maybe we will say "I remember when you could walk into a store and buy bananas any time of the year".
So in the meantime, I can only keep my spirits up by searching out some "good news" stories. Because once again, in a crisis, people have a remarkable way of pulling together, pushing though, helping themselves and each other to cope and to manage and to survive.
“But where shall I find courage?” asked Frodo.
“That is what I chiefly need.”“Courage is found in unlikely places,” said Gildor.
“Be of good hope! Sleep now!”

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Saturday, March 14, 2020

COVID Shakespeare 

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Friday, March 13, 2020

COVID tweet-fest 

I keep saving COVID-19 tweets and then before I can post anything, it all gets worse.  
So here's a few, but with the warning that they might be completely out of date by the time anyone reads this.

Palate cleanser

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Saturday, March 07, 2020

The sweetest thing 

My sister is presently training one of our dogs in Rally Obedience, so I am trying to flag any tweets, etc about this sport. 
And here is one that I found, which isn't exactly about the sport, but more about how people in this sport act:

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Friday, February 28, 2020

Tweet of the Day 

Here's a Friday palate cleanser for ya:

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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Wet'suwet'en update 

He waited as long as he could, too long in the opinion of many.
He was obviously hoping that peaceful negotiation could bring down the rail barricades, in the best Canadian tradition.
But at last Justin Trudeau's patience was exhausted.The negotiations were going nowhere, because there were none.
"We can’t have dialogue when only one party is coming to the table. For this reason, we have no choice but to stop making the same overtures."
And for that the blame must go to these old men, the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
Like Montreal Simon, I could not believe how lackadaisical and disrespectful the hereditary chiefs were being in refusing to respond to Trudeau's obvious respect.
They didn't seem to realize that the time to make progress was NOW, this week, when they had Canada's attention and a great deal of support across the country. 
What they cannot do is keep raising the ante.
While the story earlier this week was that the Wet'suwet'en had worked out a deal for RCMP to move back to Houston BC, the story today was that they wanted both the RCMP AND the pipeline company to leave, and then "nation-to-nation discussions with Canada and BC" should start.
And the tactic of leisurely visiting Mohawk reserves in Eastern Canada and holding news conferences instead of talking to the prime minister doesn't make any sense.
"We are waiting for Indigenous leadership to show that it understands," [Trudeau] said in a news conference. "The onus is on them."
Injunctions to clear tracks must be obeyed and the law must be upheld, he said, adding that it is pointless to continue making overtures to Indigenous leaders if they aren't accepted.
"Let us be clear: all Canadians are paying the price. Some people can't get to work, others have lost their jobs," Trudeau said. "Essential goods … cannot get where they need to go."
The situation "is unacceptable and untenable," he said.
Canadian support has started to evaporate when the chiefs could not seem to articulate what they wanted to achieve - no pipeline at all? a pipeline but on a different route? more negotiations for the existing route?  -- and when thousands of Canadians were being increasingly affected, losing jobs and fearing for their heating oil supplies. 
Also as predicted earlier this week, Canadian support for Trudeau's whole reconciliation agenda was disintegrating as the railway disruptions continued with no end in sight.
Trudeau appeared to realize this too, after talking to the Premiers on Thursday and to Cabinet today.
On Twitter, the usual suspects were berating Trudeau for not acting first and thinking later. But Trudeau tried to resolve the blockades with dialogue instead of immediately turning the dispute into a dick-measuring contest like Scheer and McKay wanted.
At least the Mohawks are clear about what they want -- the Mohawks have an agreement with Indigenous Services minister Marc Miller that the Ontario trains will run as soon as RCMP have withdrawn to Houston from Wet’suwet’en territory. 
As Manitoba Premier Palliser said today, no individual or group has an absolute veto on natural resource projects.
“Public opinion matters on these things,” he said. “This federal Liberal government has said that reconciliation is a priority. But if you want real reconciliation, then you have to do the real work of achieving it. And you have to establish some parameters. You have to put a fence around the discussion to some degree. And you don't do that if you don't make it clear that everyone does not have a veto.”

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Wetsuweten protests- we don't get to choose the battle; we can only choose our side 

Once again, I think we have reached the point in Canada where we don't get to choose the battle. We can only choose our side.
I can't say I understand the #Wetsuweten protests, but I am coming to realize that if Canada's usual suspects are against them, then the side I must choose is to support them.
I cannot yet see what the resolution will be acceptable to this impasse -- no pipeline at all? a pipeline in a different place? some kind of a joint economic development consortium between Wetsuweten and the government and the gas companies? I just don't know.
But I do know that I simply cannot support this kind of attitude:
Or this kind of frightening, provocative and unacceptable behaviour:
At least there is still a little humour to be found, too:
Montreal Simon is concerned that the blockade protests risk annoying and inconveniencing so many people in Eastern Canada who have no voice or choice in the matter, that support for reconciliation will be threatened -- and this is not an unlikely concern. Susan Delacourt also writes about how complicated the reconciliation issues have now become:
This is where Trudeau’s “most important relationship” gets complicated, maybe hopelessly so. It is not just about historic reconciliation. It’s also about economic circumstances, resource development versus the environment, and the populism arising from economic inequality — some of the most vexing, conflict-laden issues facing the federal government. Throw in contempt for the law and it’s easy to see why what looked important in 2015 can look impossible in 2020.
Here are some good tweet threads with more info:

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Great tweets: politics or animals or maybe both 

Here's some tweets I enjoyed this week.
And doesn't it always seem that January DRAGGGGS while February goes so FAST?

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Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Best moment at #SOTU 

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Friday, January 31, 2020

Great tweets of the day: laugh and the world laughs with you 

Well, I guess there's nothing to do today really except laugh, so here goes:

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Another poetry post 

Darkest Hour was on, so I was able to watch this great scene again today:

Horatius  —Thomas Babington Macaulay

Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the gate:
“To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods."

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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Great tweets of the day, animal edition 

Here's some tweets that I have been enjoying today:

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

I for one welcome our new Sussex Royal overlords 

Well, I'm not exactly giddy, but I am excited.  I think it will be great if Harry and Meghan and little Archie moved to Canada.
Their webpage is beautiful, very well done, and explains their overall intentions.
Full Disclosure: I did meet the Queen once, when I was a reporter at a Victoria newspaper and I got to cover a Royal Visit there. And I attended a press reception on the Royal Yacht Britannia - which sort of dates me, doesn't it, since the yacht has been decommissioned for 20 years.
Anyway, getting back to today's news, I notice Canadian twitter is combining some pro-monarchy enthusiasm with some bitching about how expensive it would be for Canada to pay for RCMP protection.

Though actually, I think most of the "Canada is furious!" coverage is coming from the same British tabs that drove the Sussex Royals out in the first place, so they don't have any credibility when they write about how angry we supposedly are.
My feeling is, we already pay for RCMP protection for a lot of other ceremonial positions -- the Governor General and all the Lieutenant-Governors, not to mention the Canadian Senate - so what's another Royal Highness or two between friends. I expect the Canadian government will work out a deal with the Brits sooner rather than later on this. Isn't Mark Carney still running the Bank of England? Maybe he can cut us a cheque.
The thing that is really making me laugh is how angry the racist British tabloids are now about losing Megan as their target of bile -- they're already ramping up the criticism of William and Kate, but their hearts aren't really in it. They really loved bashing every single thing that Meghan did or didn't do. and they were salivating to start in on Archie as soon as they could start comparing him to angelic George and winsome Charlotte and adorable Louis.
Seeing how bad their Meghan-as-Monster coverage was, its no wonder Harry was furious - and the rest of the family should have spoken up in Meghan's defense much louder and more vigorously - I suspect they other royals thought mere dignity would eventually deflect them (a mistake Trump opponents make all the time, too) or they were secretly relieved that she was the target rather than them. They could have demanded changes to that Royal Rota system years ago.
Now, the next time the Raptors are in the NBA finals, I suspect Harry will be joining Obama at the arena. Won't that be fun?
But leave it to The Beaverton to have the last word:

Update: Here's a good one too:

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Monday, January 06, 2020

What would war with Iran be like? 

We were talking yesterday about the possibility of a US-Iran war and how we are experiencing misty, water-coloured memories of the awful build-up to the invasion of Iraq way back in 2003, when related scare-mongering about Iran was also going on.
One of the things I remembered most clearly from that time was this old column from I, Cringely: The Pulpit, written by a journalist called Mark Stephens under the pseudonomyn Robert X. Cringely.  
I have never forgotten it so I looked it up last night on the Wayback Machine. The article was nominally about the 2004 reelection of Bush, but it also featured Stephen's description of a 1986 incident in the eight-year Iran-Iraq War and what this incident taught him about how Iran and America would compare in "moral" determination:

If the experts are correct, the 2004 election results mean we now live in a country where morality is apparently the major concern of people. Am I wrong, or is the same thing not true in Iran? And if our morality is in fundamental conflict with their morality, which side will be willing to sacrifice more to obtain what they view as their just end? I can tell you it ain't us.
Back in 1986 I talked Penthouse magazine into giving me an assignment to write the story: "How to Get a Date in Revolutionary Iran." The premise was that hormones are hormones, and those wacky kids in Tehran, most of whom could still remember the Shah, had to be finding some way to meet members of the opposite sex. So I headed off to Iran to find out the truth. If you are interested in such stuff, the only time a single man and woman not from the same family could be together in private back then was in a taxi (he being the driver), so all the teenage boys who had or could borrow cars turned them into taxis. This, of course, put all the power in the hands of the woman since she could see him but he had to take pot luck.
I eventually finished the piece and decided to go see the war since I had been in Beirut and Angola, but had never seen trench warfare, which is what I was told they had going in Iran. So I took a taxi to the front, introduced myself to the local commander, who had gone, as I recall, to Iowa State, and spent a couple days waiting for the impending human wave attack. That attack was to be conducted primarily with 11-and 12-year-old boys as troops, nearly all of them unarmed. There were several thousand kids and their job was to rise out of the trench, praising Allah, run across No Man's Land, be killed by the Iraqi machine gunners, then go directly to Paradise, do not pass GO, do not collect 200 dinars. And that's exactly what happened in a battle lasting less than 10 minutes. None of the kids fired a shot or made it all the way to the other side. And when I asked the purpose of this exercise, I was told it was to demoralize the cowardly Iraqi soldiers.
It was the most horrific event I have ever seen, and I once covered a cholera epidemic in Bangladesh that killed 40,000 people.
Waiting those two nights for the attack was surreal. Some kids acted as though nothing was wrong while others cried and puked. But when the time came to praise Allah and enter Paradise, not a single boy tried to stay behind.
Now put this in a current context. What effective limit is there to the number of Islamic kids willing to blow themselves to bits? There is no limit, which means that a Bush Doctrine can't really stand in that part of the world. But of course President Bush, who may think he pulled the switch on a couple hundred Death Row inmates in Texas, has probably never seen a combat death. He doesn't get it and he'll proudly NEVER get it.
Welcome to the New Morality.
I don't think Trump "gets it" either, and he knows even less about war and death than National Guard pilot Bush did.
I believe the only reason Trump is threatening war with Iran right now is his fear of impeachment and his belief that a Republican senate would never vote to remove a "war president".  
He's likely right.  So I think the world can only hope that the impeachment trial in the Senate moves quickly enough to change Trump's calculations - in the unlikely event that the Senate vote actually removes Trump from office, its a new game. And in the more-likely scenario of non-conviction, then Trump will just go golfing and war with Iran will be cancelled.

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