Friday, January 31, 2014

The snow advantage

A town in New Mexico has been buried in tumbleweeds, to the extent that
some people can't even get out of their houses.
It had never occurred to me before that snow has one advantage -- snow will eventually melt.
Tumbleweeds, not so much.

No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up

When the NDP proposed their e-petition idea, I'm sure they were thinking how nice it would be if Canadians could petition the Commons to debate things like denying health care to refugees, and smearing environmentalists, and closing veterans affairs offices.

But when I read that the NDP scores surprise win on e-petitions thanks to Tory MPs I thought, how odd that eight Con MPs would vote with the NDP on anything.

Then I noticed that these particular Con MPs also voted in favour of the Wordworth motion two years ago -- Con MPs have tried again and again and again to get the abortion question opened up, but Harper, to his credit, won't do it.

So is it too cynical of me to think that the Con MPs supported the NDP just to force the Commons to debate abortion?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Do NOT mess around with our drive home!

Politicians get away with it most of the time.

I'm not talking about corruption, just the usual stupid stuff.

Though journalists often try to call out rank incompetence -- and us bloggers are frothing at the mouth about politics -- people usually aren't really paying enough attention.  What comes from Washington or Ottawa or Regina or city hall is just more yada-yada-yada and they're busy with their own lives and not really paying attention.

But DO NOT screw up our drive home!

There is nothing that infuriates us more.  Recent examples? Well, Chris Christie's political career is apparently over because of the traffic jams on a bridge last September. And in Atlanta, "snowpocolypse" has the mayor and the governor under fire for stranding people overnight in cars and school buses.

It's such a shock to them when everyone actually starts paying attention.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Harper's words slither when they pass

Trudeau was asking questions today about why the Harper Cons spent $2.5 million on advertising for JobScam, the job program that never existed.  Harper's response sounded pretty spacey:
..the Liberal leader had simply refused to acknowledge one important element of the Canada Job Grant: the basic notion’s ability to cheer people up.
“Mr. Speaker, I noted that the Canada Job Grant was in fact very well received by those in the marketplace,” Mr. Harper enthused, “by people who want to upgrade their skills, want to receive more training, want to gain jobs and, by pluralism, want to create jobs.”  . . . a bit like the film industry deciding to promote movies that have not yet been financed or cast.
As Dave writes:
Well, that just makes you all squishy thinking about all those happy people dreaming about the imaginary jobs they're going to get when the Harper government finally gets off their collective asses and actually negotiates a deal with the people who will be providing the access to training. Someday. Maybe. Would you like a sparkle pony with that elephant turd pie?
And Montreal Simon continues
Canadians were GRATEFUL to pay millions of their hard earned tax dollars to make it look like he was creating jobs when he wasn't?
... OMG. Has the mad emperor no trappings of decency?
Or has our mad Moses lost his marbles?
No, actually, I think he's just listening a little too much to the Beatles lately.  He and the rest of the Harper Cons make about this much sense...
Words are flowing out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe
Thoughts meander like a
restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as
they make their way across the universe

Monday, January 27, 2014

Good faith bargaining

I don't know the details of this particular case, but I am very glad to see a court slap down a public service negotiator for not bargaining in good faith:

... the government representatives were pre-occupied by another strategy,” Justice Griffin wrote. “Their strategy was to put such pressure on the union that it would provoke a strike by the union. The government representative thought this would give government the opportunity to gain political support for imposing legislation on the union.”

...The government’s team, led by former president and CEO of the Public Sector Employers’ Council Paul Straszak ...thought all that was needed to make the legislation constitutional was consultation – a conclusion condemned by Justice Griffin as incorrect.
“A party cannot say it is consulting if it starts from the position that its mind is made up no matter what the other side presents by way of evidence or concerns,” she said.
Yes, exactly!

I've been in and out of unions now for more than 40 years.  The people who do the bargaining on behalf of the public are never doing taxpayers any favours when they play political games and subvert bargaining processes.  There's been entirely too much of this type of thing in public sector bargaining in Canada, particularly over the last decade.  I'm glad the courts are sending a message to cut it out.

And speaking of unions, here is a chart from Unifor --via Larry Hubich -- which compares unionization to poverty rates.

It is not in the least surprising to me that the poverty rate in a country plummets when more of its employees are protected by unions.

Unionization and poverty

The union makes us strong.

If you work in an office

Here is a conference call in real life:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Things I hate*

Well, Saskboy, I tried.
Saskboy had a post about my town of Saskatoon, so of course I tried to leave a comment. Then his website wouldn't accept my login or maybe I didn't have an account or maybe I wasn't using the right password for that particular account or something, I don't know...
So, after three attempts, I gave up -- it wasn't that important a comment anyway, so sorry, Saskboy!
There are a number of great websites I can never comment on because of problems like this -- POGGE is another one that I have tried and failed several times to comment on, often enough that I don't even try anymore.
I guess it's all the fault of spam, isn't it. In the good old days, we were all just one big happy family and everyone could just comment anywhere we liked. And then too many spammers started leaving irrelevant sales pitches in comments sections of blogs, and the blogs fought back by requiring log-ins, and mystery word squiggles, and so much for "community" ....

*First in what I expect will be a series, considering how crotchety I am getting.

Hitting them where it hurts

Post image for Cheers To Sochi – A Coca Cola Ad For LGBT Russians

Photo: #CheersToSochi says Sochi 2014 Winter Games sponsor Visa. It's the ideal way to pay your hospital bills #Everywhere.
Companies sponsoring the Homophobic Olympics in Sochi are being shamed across the world for their contributions to the Russia games. The MacDonald's hashtag #CheersToSochi has been hijacked by LBGT activists. AmericaBlog reports that Coke is getting very quiet about its sponsorship, and on QueerNationNY, we find out that several universities are abandoning Coke products for the duration.
Below is the moving video which contrasts Coke's singing with Russia's violence against gay people.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Most offensive hashtag ever

I thought the negative reaction to Neil Young's Honour the Treaties tour was way, way over-the-top so I'm not surprised it has circled around to bite his critics in the ass.

Jim Parrett at Let Freedom Reign II points out the most offensive hashtag ever invented when he post about Ethical Oil calls Neil Young 'IndianIgnorant'. Jim explains the group

created the racist hashtag #IndianIgnorant for Neil Young. Then they deleted it when they realized their own racism. This is what we're up against.
At The Albatross, Ishmael Daro asks

Is #IndianIgnorant supposed to be a comment about Neil Young being ignorant about issues facing First Nations in Canada, as a charitable reading might suggest? Or were they calling aboriginal opponents of the oilsands “ignorant Indians”?
Supposedly the former, I guess, according to the group.  But actually, its like Dawg says:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Guess the country

Guess which country just passed these laws?

Embedded image permalink

If you said The Ukraine, you're right.
But when I saw this photo on the twitter tonight  my first thought was maybe it was Canada -- because there's certainly lots of this that our government MPs would support. And who knows what the Harper Cons have tried to bury somewhere in their purposefully-omnibus bills?
Oops!  I don't want to give them any ideas...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Great line of the day

Dave and Boris at the Galloping Beaver have been on fire lately, burning Harper and the Harper Cons with the fierce light of a thousand suns.  Here's some of Dave's best lines in a great post about Harper's so-called "strategy" that was supposed to get us all cheaper phones:
the pack of wise-asses in Ottawa who dreamed up the idea have the attention span of a two year-old and the research acumen of a kindergarten class.
...So, as the 700 mHz spectrum is put up for bids today the Harper government will allow the same old companies to swallow up your property and charge it back to you for the same old rates with the same level of gouging.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Don't go alone into a hospital in Winnipeg!

Have we reached the point where we need despanchantes to make sure the health care system doesn't kill us before it cures us?
The Winnipeg health care system seems to keep losing track of people who try to tackle it alone.
We have now found out about three cases where patients have died because the system wasn't paying attention to them -- first the Sinclair case, and now two elderly patients who were dumped into cabs and send home alone to freeze to death on their doorsteps.
The moral of the story in all three cases seems to be -- don't try to deal with the health care system alone anymore.  When you go to a hospital these days, you need to take someone with you who's got your back.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

String 'em up

Sean Devlin, a climate change protester, holds a sign reading 'Climate justice now' during an event with Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the Vancouver Board of Trade on Jan. 6, 2013.
They wore aprons and sneaked behind Harper to hold up little paper signs.
The horror! The horror!
Now esteemed senator Bob Runciman thinks lèse-majesté is the crime of the century when Harper is the target.
Former Ontario solicitor general Bob Runciman is questioning why two activists who got to within an arm's-length of the prime minister this week were allowed to "walk away scot-free and smiling" — and he says he'll use his Senate seat to bring in new laws to deter similar future protests.
"People who sneak into these kinds of events, using phony ID, impersonate others, or conspire with others to do the same, should face indictable offences with serious fines and/or imprisonment," said Senator Runciman in a written statement sent to the parliamentary press gallery.
Next, they'll want to ban silly costumes.
Oh, wait....

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Disabled, poor and Aboriginal shouldn't be a lethal combination

An inquest examining the death of a man during a 34-hour wait in a Winnipeg hospital emergency room has seen video of Brian Sinclair's final hours languishing in a waiting room.
I hadn't realized before this that Brian Sinclair was Aboriginal, as well as being disabled and poor.
It was a lethal combination --  Sinclair sat in his wheelchair in a hospital emergency waiting room for 34 hours dying due to a blocked catheter.
It happened in Winnipeg, but it could have happened in any prairie province.
The Globe and Mail article provides us with an update on the inquest into his death. And even in this article, his race is minimized, mentioned only at the end.
In prior articles, which described how other patients tried to get help for him, his race isn't mentioned at all.
Even the most recent Globe article begins with the usual complaints about emergency wait times and short staffing, as though this accounted for the neglect that Sinclair endured.  It is only at the end of that article that we find out that Sinclair was not just disabled and poor, but also Aboriginal.
It was a death sentence:
Marcel Balfour, acting executive director with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said it would be a missed opportunity if the inquest were not to address the role Mr. Sinclair’s race, social status and disability played in his treatment. Although Sinclair’s case is extreme, Balfour said the organization has heard similar complaints from other aboriginal people seeking medical care.
“That intersection of race, poverty and disability, I think, really needs to be examined,” he said.
Emily Hill, lawyer for Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto, which has standing at the inquest, said numerous hospital employees have testified they worked 12-hour shifts in the emergency room but didn’t see Sinclair. She said the inquest needs to delve into why the double amputee, who was partially blocking an aisle in the emergency room, was so invisible.
The answer may lie in the negative stereotypes of aboriginal people that are “deeply rooted in Canadian society,” she said.
“As a result, there is discrimination,” Mr. Hill said.“What aboriginal people experience in the health-care system, in the justice system, in the education system — in all kinds of places where Canadian society is reflected — is that extension of systemic racism.”
Yes, exactly.
We minimize, neglect, ignore and assume the worst about Aboriginal people all the time.
"I'm not racist" is the phrase you hear all of us saying across the Prairies all the time.  But all that means is we don't wear pointy hoods and burn crosses.
In reality, we don't understand what racism actually is, we don't realize how racist we ourselves actually are, and we certainly don't acknowledge how pervasive it is across our part of the world.
I remember this great clip from the great movie, Smoke Signals, where Thomas describes how his dad was found guilty of "being an Indian in the 20th Century".  That's all it takes:

C-c-c-christ, its c-c-c-cold

It's 33 below here tonight -- with the windchill, its almost 50 below.
CTV reports that they're expecting another snowstorm in Ontario, and there are still widespread power outages tonight in Newfoundland.
A recent article in Salon explains the link between extreme weather and global warming:
. . . the temperature gap between the Arctic and the rest of the hemisphere gives rise to a band of steady winds called the jet stream that governs weather patterns across the region.
Your location relative to the jet stream “says everything about the weather conditions that you’re experiencing,” Francis said.
As the Arctic warms, the temperature gap between north and south narrows. Francis’ research suggests this causes jet stream winds to slow down, and the path of the jet stream to meander.
That prompts weather in America and elsewhere to change less quickly. It becomes hung up, essentially, in extreme loops that can lead to unusually long periods of heat or cold, rain or drought.
Boy, that's for sure. And are we ever tired of the cold here this year.