Saturday, July 27, 2013

Adjectives for the Harper Cons

Cloud, meet silver lining.
The Harper Con's cheap partisan dissing of astronaut and Liberal MP Marc Garneau has produced a very useful set of adjectives which we can all use in the future.
Under FOIA, the Canadian Press obtained a batch of emails to then-heritage minister James Moore from the Canadian public relating to the snub of Garneau over Canadarm unveiling in April.  Here's how people described what was done to Garneau:
The list of adjectives and phrases in the more than 60 emails was all negative: childish, despicably partisan, tacky, classless and petty, absolute disgrace, spiteful and mean-spirited, ungracious, nasty, ignorant, sleazy behaviour, loutish behaviour, puerile, boorish discourtesy.
Yep, that pretty well sums it up.

Bring on the BC bud

Kinsella thinks Trudeau's pot legalization proposal is a mistake:
To sum up: a policy that is made on the fly, apparently without much caucus consultation – to curry favour with a segment who mostly don’t vote – and that will (a) place Liberals on the defensive in the 2015 election and (b) would have a debilitating effect on Canadians, and Canadian trade, at the border. Some Liberals may think that’s great. I think it’s dumb.
He may be right, but I hope not.
This summer when we were on the ferry between Vancouver and Victoria, a sardonic announcement came over the PA system asking the the group smoking marijuana on deck six to put it out, with the reminder that though it was legal in Washington state it wasn't legal in BC.  The boat rocked with laughter.  That's how seriously everyone now takes our drug laws.
Of all the "wars" fought in my lifetime, the war on drugs has been the stupidest and the most destructive, ruining young people's lives with criminal records while enriching some of the worst criminal organizations on the continent. If all of the people now addicted to alcohol could switch to cannabis, their families would be a lot better off -- nobody ever got high and started a fight in a bar or beat up on their wife and kids.
And BC growers could make a fortune.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue

So I decided earlier this week to add to the new links on my blogroll.
Then they publish this ridiculous piece of Drudge-report link-bait, apparently because they thought they should be contrarian about Obama's fine Trayvon Martin speech.
Then they published this ridiculous piece of tripe about how Ted Cruz could beat Hillary for president, which is stupid on so many levels, not the least because Cruz was born in Calgary and isn't even eligible to run for president anyway so who cares.
Bye-bye, Salon.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Diving into the racist cesspits

At Eschaton, Thers wrote yesterday:
You know, anyone who thinks that we as a nation have Overcome Racism ought to check out the comments section of any local newspaper that has any online story whatsoever to do with race, however tangentially. That comments section is, I guarantee, a fucking racist cesspit.
Canada has its own racist cesspits when it comes to the comments on news stories about our Aboriginal people.  MP Charlie Angus flags some recent horrible comments:
Online commentators responded to the natural disasters in places like Oklahoma, Bracebridge or Alberta with an outpouring of comments that were very heartfelt and moving.
And yet, when two communities in my region -- Attawapiskat and Kashechewan -- were hit by flash flooding earlier this spring, the pages were overwhelmed with vicious glee. . . The idea that government agencies might send aid to help these Canadian citizens sent the online commentators into a rage.
And I'm sorry, I had intended to quote some of the comments that Angus used to illustrate his article but I just can't --  they make me feel tainted even to repeat.  Just go read the link.
What Angus asks is why the rest of us are apparently so willing to tolerate these cesspits, to go along with what is being said, to not push back.
I used to think that trolls wrote this crap because they could post their junk anonymously. But now I seeing people who are not only willing to sign their name but supply an accompanying headshot. Far from feeling marginalized, the purveyors of these false stereotypes -- the "lazy" Indian, the "corrupt" Chief, the "ripped off" taxpayer" -- seems to be hijacking the public conversation away from issues like chronic infrastructure underfunding, third class education and the inability to share in economic development.
Having received such little push back the trolls continue to promote even more dehumanizing caricatures. In a recent comment on Attawapiskat one person wrote, "Europeans have created the modern world, while you people created lice, fleas and more welfare recipients." Such screeds were once found on marginal Neo-Nazi sites. They now find themselves at home on the public spaces provided by reputable media organizations.
In my own case, I usually don't even read these types of news comments.  I'm uncomfortable getting into pissing matches with foul-mouthed, ill-informed and mean-spirited people, and I didn't think I could say anything that would change their minds anyway.
But it never occurred to me to wonder about the effects of my cowardice on Aboriginal people:
. . . I think of the trauma experienced by children in Attawapiskat by online attacks. When the media began reporting on their struggle to have a school built in the community, the online haters overwhelmed the comments pages. A teacher in Attawapiskat told me the children were very shaken up when they read the long string of abusive comments that demeaned them as "lazy Indians," "losers", "gasoline sniffers," etc.
. . . Some Aboriginal friends have asked me if the silence from general society reflects a tacit support for such views? I certainly don't believe this is the case, but clearly Canadians and the media need to do better.
This brought me up short.  It never occurred to me that my silence implied consent with what the racists are saying.
So once more into the breach, dear friends.  As I wrote a long time ago, we cannot always choose the battle. Sometimes all we can do is choose our side.  
My side is with Charlie Angus and the children of Attawapiskat.  And if this means I have to dive into the cesspits of news comment sections from now on, then so be it.

Baby's first year

A Second a Day from Birth. - YouTube: ""

You won't be able to stop smiling.
Thanks to Daily Kos.

Gay marriage approved in Great Britain

George Takei posted this photo montage in celebration.

Canada played hunger games with Aboriginal children

Reading this made me sick: Hungry Canadian aboriginal children were used in government experiments during 1940s, researcher says:
The first experiment began in 1942 on 300 Norway House Cree. Of that group, 125 were selected to receive vitamin supplements, which were withheld from the rest.
At the time, researchers calculated the local people were living on less than 1,500 calories a day. Normal, healthy adults generally require at least 2,000.
In 1947, plans were developed for research on about 1,000 hungry aboriginal children in six residential schools in Port Alberni, B.C., Kenora, Ont., Schubenacadie, N.S., and Lethbridge, Alta.
One school for two years deliberately held milk rations to less than half the recommended amount to get a ‘baseline’ reading for when the allowance was increased. At another school, children were divided into one group that received vitamin, iron and iodine supplements and one that didn’t.
One school depressed levels of vitamin B1 to create another baseline before levels were boosted.
And, so that all the results could be properly measured, one school was allowed none of those supplements.
How appalling that anyone thought they had the right to treat other Canadians this way. Who published this research anyway -- the Mengele journal?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Enemies lists and members bills

The Harper Cons are warning new and shuffled Cabinet ministers about who their friends and enemies are:
On the “Transition Binder Check List” are 10 items, such as: “What to expect soon” and “Who to appoint,” as well as “Who to engage or avoid: friend and enemy stakeholders” and “What to avoid: pet bureaucratic projects.”
Item No. 6 on the list is “Who to avoid: bureaucrats that can’t take no (or yes) for an answer,” but Furtado said in a later email that day — also obtained by the Star — that this list was “no longer required.”
Another news story adds the tidbit that new ministers are also being briefed about "private members bills" -- I wonder if this lends credence to the assertion that the Harper Cons are purposefully using such bills as an easier way to implement government policies without all that bother of committee reviews and hearings?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The bitter legacy of race in America

I'm not surprised at the Zimmerman acquittal and neither is anyone else.
First, the prosecution didn't really prove its case very well; second, in the United States, white people usually get the benefit of the doubt, while black people do not.
When Obama was elected in 2008, the self-satisfied attitude of the media was that the race problem in America could now be declared solved.
It wasn't, of course.
It is a complicated thing to be young, black, and male in America. Not only are you well aware that many people are afraid of you—you can see them clutching their purses or stiffening in their subway seats when you sit across from them—you must also remain conscious of the fact that people expect you to be apologetic for their fear. It’s your job to be remorseful about the fact that your very nature makes them uncomfortable, like a pilot having to apologize to a fearful flyer for being in the sky.
If you’re a black man and you don’t remain vigilant of and obsequious to white people’s panic in your presence—if you, say, punch a man who accosts you during dinner with your girlfriend and screams “Nigger!” in your face, or if you, say, punch a man who is following you without cause in the dark with a handgun at his side—then you must be prepared to be arrested, be beaten, be shot through the heart and lung and die on the way home to watch a basketball game with your family. And after you are dead, other blacks should be prepared for people to say you are a vicious thug who deserved it. You smoked weed, for instance, and got in some fights at school (like I did)—obviously you had it coming. You were a ticking time bomb, and sooner or later someone was going to have to put you down.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The skinny on Sharknado

When we saw the ads this week for Sharknado, we thought it was another Shark Week joke commercial, like Snuffy the Seal.
But Sharknado is real. Terribly terribly real.
Its the newest trend in movies, the schlock ripoff.  More here --Inside the Asylum, One of the Most Successful Low-Budget Movie Studios:
For a typical film, the Asylum floats a concept to its stable of writers. They blast back a slew of 100-word pitches. If the Asylum chooses Horton’s concept, he bangs out a draft in 10 days, then hands it off to a producer; revisions are made, then the Asylum shoots the film, fast.
...When Latt runs down the list of the Asylum films slated for production in the first half of this year, it sounds like a list of hot-button search terms: zombies, sharks, haunted houses, talking dogs. It’s almost as if the Asylum doesn’t even have to make the movie—but it does, for “just a little bit less” than what they will collect from the Netflix-Redbox-Syfy group of middlemen who are likely to buy it. It doesn’t matter how unwatchable it is.
Never underestimate the creativity of Hollywood.

End of the game

When I read Ender's Game I enjoyed it and looked forward to reading more.
Then I found out how virulently anti-gay Orson Scott Card is, and how extensively he worked against gay marriage.
So I just can't read anything else he has written, because it only reminds me of his mean-spirited bigotry.  I guess many others feel the same way -- there's a boycott being organized of the upcoming Ender's Game film.
So now Card is whining about how everybody should demonstrate how fair they are by being tolerant of his intolerance.  The internet is laughing at him.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lac-Mégantic disaster

The Lac-Mégantic disaster happened when we were on holidays and we were not really following the news.
Now that I am catching up, I have realized that the magnitude of this terrible disaster.  Police have now released several photos of the destruction.
These comparison photos ran in our newspaper:

The more I read about it, the more it looks to be one of those "perfect storm" situations where a series of problems and maybe also some human or systematic errors cascaded and compounded.  Looking at the photos, its not surprising that they haven't found all of the bodies yet, and maybe never will.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Legoland stupid

Hey, I'm back.
And noticing that government doesn't have a monopoly on the stupid -- here's one from Toronto's Legoland -- they wouldn't let a man and his daughter in because they didn't have a child with them:
John and his daughter, Nicole St-Onge, saved up, planned the trip and made the three-hour drive [from Windsor to Toronto], only to be turned away at the door because of a rule, unbeknownst to them, that adults must be accompanied by a child in order to get in.
"They wouldn't let us go in and so we asked to see a manager," Nicole said. "Five minutes later the employee came back and said the manager was too busy to see us, but that was their policy, they weren't allowed in without a child and there was nothing they could do about it."
As a result, they turned around and headed back to Windsor.
"I was crushed. My dad is 63 years old, he was devastated. The look on his face was like a child not getting the gift at Christmas that they want. He felt discriminated against because he's a senior citizen who also happens to like Lego," Nicole said.
Nothing they could do about it? What is it with corporations that act like their policies were handed down to them from the mountain on stone tablets? And these are the first guys who'll complain when a government bureaucrat doesn't give them a break.