Wednesday, September 27, 2023

History is just one damn thing after another

Like everyone, I have been following the uproar with House of Commons speaker Anthony Rota and his ineptitude in hosting and applauding Yaroslav Hunka, who as a WW2 Ukrainian teenager was fighting for the Nazis against the Russians. 
When this first hit the news, I thought "Doesn't anybody know history anymore? Who couldn't have figured out that of course the people fighting the Russians in Ukraine in WW2 were the Nazis?" 
But it's actually not quite that simple. 
Justin Ling wrote a brilliant column yesterday that delves into the politics around that period of the war in Europe - About the SS Officer in the Gallery: History is messy, horrible, complicated. All we can do is face it:
 ...Dozens of veterans of the Ukrainian 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, the Galicia Division, came to North America after the war. As did soldiers from the 15th and 19th Waffen Grenadier Divisions, the Latvian Legion. As did others from Estonia, Lithuania, and elsewhere. 
Back then, we considered their actions and, ultimately, welcomed them here. And then we tried to forget about it. 
While there are occasions where crying “Nazi!” should be the beginning and ending of the conversation, this isn’t one of them. 
 ...Yaroslav Hunka was 14 years old when Nazi Germany and Communist Russia signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, invading Poland and divvying up Ukraine. ...
Ling continues to summarize the events of WW2 in Ukraine, the shifting alliances as the war evolved, and how peace was achieved. He concludes: 
The Galician Division, like many aspects of the war along the eastern front, is caught in a tension. It exists in a difficult space between one genocidal regime and another. 
For those of us in North America, whose democracies sided with one over the other, we often pretend as though the choice was a simple one. 
It wasn’t. 
The compromise we settled on long ago is, I think, a good one: For those who fought with the SS in Eastern Ukraine and the Baltics, we looked for evidence of war crimes and, finding none, we accepted that war is hell. We let these men go about their lives, without ever forgetting that history. We chose not smear that fight for independence — which is still happening today in Ukraine — with the decisions made during the war. 
Rota’s decision to put Hunka in that gallery upset that fragile compromise. The histrionics have only made things worse. 
As Shkandrij concludes: “The force’s controversial, complex, and long story presents contemporaries with a range of lessons and challenges, and obliges them to consider how a previous generation reacted when trapped in the maelstrom of war.” ... 

Friday, September 22, 2023

Farewell to twitter, I guess

Apparently Musk is going to try to start charging for his platform.  
He simply doesn't understand Twitter at all - he never did. Its like a pulp and paper company thinking it can collect a nickel from everyone who reads advertising handout flyers. 
If he tries to charge us all just for using the site, Twitter as a social network will be over - it will spiral down very quickly to become just few people yelling at each other. Nobody will bother to pay for such a platform and no business will buy ads on it, so that will be the end it. 
Musk deserves some kind of "Christ, What an Asshole" award for destroying his $44 billion investment in less than a year!
And at that point I will finally have to delete my account. 
Its going to take a little while for Threads and Substack to pick up the slack but I don't doubt that they will do it. 
So here's a few tweets I can still share.

First, an excellent summary: I will miss all of the wisdom about COVID that Twitter distributed to everyone around the world. 

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Today's News: Brandolini's Law and the Gish Gallop and existential stupidity

As Samwise says, Well, I'm back! 
Lately I have been trying to figure out why everything in American politics has become such a shit-show -- the Trump disaster, abortion rights, LBGTQ rights, Jan 6 prosecutions, watching Republicans try to destroy Hunter Biden for the crime of his dad being president, the list goes on and on. 
I have been reading some stuff about what the media is doing wrong in adopting its usual "rowboat journalism" model - you know, when a journalist writes "on the one hand, this; on the other hand, that; journalists aren't supposed to pick sides, ya know!" 
The most recent example is Trump's abysmal NBC Meet The Press interview on Sunday. There may be several concepts that explain what happened. For example, this:
Brandolini's law, also known as the bullshit asymmetry principle (2013): The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than that needed to produce it. 
Or this:
Gish Gallop: a rhetorical technique in which a person in a debate attempts to overwhelm their opponent by providing an excessive number of arguments with no regard for the accuracy or strength of those arguments. ...a debater confronts an opponent with a rapid series of many specious arguments, half-truths, misrepresentations, and outright lies in a short space of time, which makes it impossible for the opponent to refute all of them within the format of a formal debate. 

Saturday, September 09, 2023

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Why School Deadname Policies are wrong: "If a child cannot discuss their identity with their parents, the problem is with the parents, not the child"

I found both of these posts so shocking. 
The first one is a reminder about AIDS and how only within the last 20 years has our society learned to respect gender identity and gender expression. 
Post by @beingliberal
View on Threads
The AIDS crisis was a terrible time - and the casual cruelty experienced by LGBT people was so shameful.  
The second post is about how our society is reverting back to that terrible time, as conservatives seize on LBGT as a culture war issue:
And its happening in Canada too. Our Conservative politicians are pandering to the far right in New Brunswick and in Saskatchewan --and soon to come to Ontario and to the CPC convention - by promoting school policies which the media describes as innocuous "pronoun policies" but which are actually hostile "deadname policies".
Too many Canadian voters do not see these policies for what they are - a political pander to anti-trans homophobia. The Conservative goal here is a political one, not a social one. They aren't trying to protect parents' rights, but rather to create another culture war front. 

Friday, September 01, 2023

Trying out Threads

Threads is finally available on a desktop and it has an "embed this post" button!
So I am trying it out with this post -- I really really hope I can use it in addition to "X, formerly known as Twitter" for my posts. 
X seems to be a dying platform these days, and while I have tried out others (Bluesky, Post, Spoutible, Mastodon, Countersocial, Tribel), none of them have the "embed" capacity until Threads.
Unfortunately Threads doesn't seem to have Bookmarks yet to keep track of posts, nor can I keep track of people with Lists, so its harder to scroll through posts I am interested in and then keep track of items to use when I am blogging later. But maybe that will come too. 

Saturday, August 26, 2023

This week in stupid: from Sask Ed policies, to Trump-fatigue, to Trudeau polls

What a stupid week it has been! 
First, Saskatchewan is following New Brunswick's lead and requiring teachers to deadname trans students. 
But this isn't an issue of "parent's rights". It's an issue of respect for students. 
Teachers know this. 
Our Scott Moe government apparently does not. Rallies are being organized against Sask Ed: Star Phoenix reporter Julia Peterson writes a very comprehensive article about the Saskatoon rally this weekend: "I think there's going to be an army there': Advocates to rally in Saskatoon against new Sask. education policies
...Fran Forsberg is one of the organizers of a rally set to take place Sunday afternoon at Saskatoon MLA Don Morgan’s office, where she and others will voice their opposition to the policies. 
When Forsberg heard about the new policies on Tuesday, she recalled a conversation she had with now-Education Minister Dustin Duncan about rights and dignity for transgender people in Saskatchewan more than six years ago. 
“He said to me that he was a 40-year-old from (Weyburn), so he didn’t really understand or know about all this,” she said. “And I said, in this day and age, where this information is so readily available, his kind of ignorance is not acceptable. 
 “Now, he’s had a lot of time to learn. And I’m older than him by 20 years. I learned about transgender people. I educated myself and I understand how important this issue is. What’s his excuse?” 
 Jolene Brown, who sits on the board of Prince Albert Pride, says these new policies are “harming more than helping, while pretending to help.” Prince Albert Pride is calling on the government to rescind Tuesday’s announcement. 
 “To me, this policy change is not positive,” said Brown. “It solves no existing problem. It just shackles teachers’ ability to help (and) all this is doing is removing resources. It’s putting a cage around teachers, and it’s putting a cage around kids, too. I just can’t imagine how a parent would want that.” 
 Forsberg says schools need to be a safe place for children to be themselves — whether or not they come from an accepting home. 
 “Being a foster parent, I’ve seen so many kids literally kicked out of their homes because of their sexual or gender diversity,” she said. “I’ve seen physical violence towards these children and youth.
“The government is saying this is for the safety and well-being of children and youth, but I think they’re just pandering to the far-right. It’s ridiculous, and it’s so backwards.” 
Brenda Montgrand, who works as a school counsellor at Hector Thiboutot Community School in the village of Sandy Bay, says that especially in remote, isolated communities like hers schools need to be safe havens for LGBTQ2S+ youth. 
 “They hang out in the school, even after classes in the evening,” she said. “If I was doing something in the evening — even showing a movie and having a talk about it afterwards — they’ll stay for that. Because a lot of them don’t want to go home. It’s not comfortable there, or they may not feel safe. So it’s nice to have them here, and we don’t mind being there for them.” 
Some of Montgrand’s gay, trans and two-spirit students have recently started a GSA. She says these students are “brave, and they want to do something,” and eager to learn more about their own identities and those of their friends. 
“We want to be able to talk openly amongst each other,” she said. “We all need to be able to look and talk more openly. But we need more, in that area, for them to learn about what it is to live a gay life and to be more comfortable. And if these kids are getting treated differently because they’re changing how they want to be called, that’s going to have an effect on them.” 
 Forsberg also worries about how the changes to sex education in schools will affect the rates of STIs and unplanned pregnancies in Saskatchewan, which are already much higher than the national average.
“When we know better, we do better,” she said. “This education can do nothing but help kids make the right decisions for them. I know of nobody who has ever been harmed by too much education; quite the contrary.” ...

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Words of Wisdom: Hamilton Nolan, Dale Smith, Evan Scrimshaw, Robert Reich, Oliver Willis. And Pogo.

I've read a number of great substack articles and tweet threads recently by Hamilton Nolan, Dale Smith, Evan Scrimshaw, Robert Reich, and Oliver Willis, among others (and Pogo, of course).
But first, I have to start with this great tweet thread by a tweeter calling herself Aurelia Cotta:

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Friday, August 18, 2023

21st Century Fire: “...there is no top end.”

I don't think there is anything more terrifying than a wildfire. 
If Canadians are now beginning to grasp the magnitude and imminent danger of climate change, then it is this terrible Canadian fire season that has done it. 
Today's Canadian fire news is bad, and its getting worse -- Yellowknife evacuated, and the Okanagan Valley is on fire tonight: Journalist John Vaillant has a new book out - Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast - about the Fort McMurray fire in May 2016 and the Literary Review of Canada has published Bob Armstrong's review titled Alarm Bells

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Today's News: It's been a great month for political cartoons!

Well, the news has been so crazy lately there is only one way to make sense of it -- with political cartoons. Here's some:

Hey, do you know conservatives have no sense of humour? 
Just hum a few bars and I'll see if I recognize it!

Monday, August 14, 2023

Today's News: Rescuing Maui Pets

I was going to do a post about Poilievre and his stumbles tonight, but then I saw posts about rescues of animals in Hawaii -- and they are so much more important right now. 
“I’m thankful for the people who made it out alive,” said Ms. Wong, who is also the chef and owner of the Koko Head Cafe in Honolulu, “but an entire town has burned down.” 
The Pioneer Inn was known for a parrot, Alex, who regaled guests. He made it out alive, Ms. Wong said, “but again, there are thousands of pets who didn’t.” 
Ms. Wong is now working out of the University of Hawaii’s Maui campus with World Central Kitchen, the global nonprofit organization founded by the chef Josรฉ Andrรฉs, as well as local business owners to prepare meals for evacuees.
The Maui Bird Conservation Center, a sanctuary for endangered bird spieces, was defended by a staffer and a neighbour until firefighters could get there. 
... The center houses about 40 ‘akikiki, a native songbird, and about 40 ‘alalฤ, also known as the Hawaiian crow. ‘Alalฤ are extinct in the wild, and only about five ‘akikiki are known to remain there. The only other members of these species live at the center’s sister facility on the Big Island. 
... As Ms. Pribble watched the fire in the distance, she felt reassured that it was in the forest, where a bed of thick pine needles seemed to be making it hard for the flames to spread. For a time, they actually reduced in size. 
But she grew increasingly worried as fire approached grasses closer to a road. 
If it crossed, she thought, the grasses on the 46 acre property would provide ample fuel. 
 ...“All of a sudden, basically, the fire jumped the road and it was on our property,” she said. 
 Ms. Pribble ran inside to get two fire extinguishers to douse the flames, but she worried it would happen again. She raced back in for more extinguishers and a garden hose. She texted the forest manager saying she needed assistance. “We just went out and kept it under control the best that we could, just so it didn’t cross back over the road, until the state firefighters could arrive.” 

Here's another post: Checking several of the posts at X (twitter) tonight, I see conspiracy theories by the dozen are already springing up all over the hashtags about the Maui fires. 
But if you are wondering how to help the real Hawaii, you can follow news updates at the Honolulu Star Advertiser, and at a new facebook page Maui Fires Pets Help Group set up by the Maui Humane Society.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Weekend stuff: Craig Baird history and Tevye stories and funny posts and animal crackers

Here's someone every Canadian should be following -- Canadian historian Craig Baird's X (twitter) feed (and the dogs in parliament AI photo above is from Craig's post here)

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Following up: Trudeau's funny posts, some pro-choice wins, and Online News act support

Here is Trudeau's follow-up to the Barbie post that drove Canada's right wing crazy (and Piers Morgan)
Ha ha!

Monday, August 07, 2023

Ain't we havin' some fun now!

Seems like its been one of those crazy weeks, so I found some interesting comments to share.
First,Trump just cannot seem to shut up, and everyone is down for it: 
keep going,’re about to find what it’s like to no longer be above the law. 
you’re going run your stupid mouth until you talk yourself into custody, and you’ll have no one to blame but your own reckless self. 
 Donald Trump has the right to remain silent. too bad he doesn’t have the ability. 
 pass the popcorn. this is going to be entertaining as fuck.