Saturday, July 29, 2023

Look up! Look way up!

Starting in the evening of July 30, until dawn July 31, may be the best chance to catch a glimpse of the Southern Delta Aquariids meteor shower, as long as the moon doesn't get in the way. This Smithsonian photo shows the Aquariids over Mount St. Helen's (photo by Diana Robinson Photography via Getty Images)
Carlyn Kranking at the Smithsonian magazine writes: 
Earth is currently traveling through multiple clouds of dusty comet debris, bringing a higher-than-usual amount of meteors to the night sky. When these fragments of rock and metal enter the atmosphere, the air around them heats up, creating a blazing glow visible from the ground. The Delta Aquariids coincide with a few other meteor showers, such as the famous Perseids, that promise to impress spectators for weeks to come. 
Also, the Perseids are starting now and peaking later in August, while the less impressive Alpha Capricornids are happening now as well.
If this kind of stuff interests you, you can sync your google calendar to the New York Times Space Calendar (gift link).

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Keeping up with Canadian Security Stuff

One of the things that Twitter used to do -- though sometimes neither thoroughly nor well -- was to let everyone keep up with things in a general way. 
For example, we used to be able to scan relevant news and views about relevant issues, without needing to read a PhD-level 5,000-word articles. 
These days, we're on our own. 
One of Canada's recent topic areas is national security -- the main news recently has been about Chinese interference in elections, but we've also had news stories and leaks or whistleblowing about how our national security system is working. 
 And honestly, I have to admit, I just can't keep up with it. 
That's why I am so glad that I discovered Wesley Wark's National Security and Intellegence Newsletter. This month he has posted about a batch of issues that probably didn't make the news anywhere else: 
..."it comes down to the lack of a National Security (NS) culture in Canadian government, including around intelligence. Canadians just don’t take NS seriously, despite the dangerous security environment in which we find ourselves and all the events of the last two years (Afghanistan, Ukraine, the freedom convoy, foreign interference). Our major Allies seem to get it, but we don’t. Producing a strategy, creating a cabinet committee on NS, strengthening intelligence coordination at the centre, or being more transparent through public threat assessments and other similar measures, would put us on the same level as our allies. "...
The annual report from the National Security and intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians was tabled in Parliament on July 19. There was no one home to receive it. MPs and Senators are enjoying their summer recess and will not return to the Hill again until the end of September. A stealth release of this important committee’s report is in no one’s interest...
The RCMP have made some intriguing national security arrests recently. One involved terrorism offences. A second was based on charges laid under the Security of Information Act dealing with foreign interference. Both cases have unique features and are the product of long -run and, presumably, complex investigations. 
For anyone interested in the government’s handling of national security issues, the biggest news coming out of today’s Cabinet shuffle is the replacement of the much besieged Marco Mendicino as Public Safety Minister by Dominic LeBlanc. Next in line as big news is the move of Bill Blair from a minor Cabinet post (Emergency Preparedness) to Defence, replacing Anita Anand. Melanie Joly stays as Foreign Minister. This is the big three trio of Ministers with responsibilities for security and intelligence. 
As an addendum to news about the Cabinet shuffle, PMO is also announcing that the PM will create a National Security council-style Cabinet committee on national security and intelligence.
Here's a little more detail about the NSC:
Other newsletters which occasionally discuss Canadian security issues: 
Routine Proceedings by Dale Smith - parliamentary issues including security
Bug-eyed and Shameless by Justin Ling - includes coverage about far-right Convoy stuff
Phillips's Newsletter by Phillips P. O'Brien - particularly about NATO and the Ukraine War

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Opinion column roundup: From Trudeau to Barbenheimer to masculinity to climate change polling to the King of Spain

In spite of being late in July, there will be lots of news this week, particularly with the cabinet shuffle coming up. 
But I have also been learning some new stuff this week by reading some good columns - here's a selection:

First, even though Canadian pollsters keep producing convoluted stats about how Trudeau's government is past its best-before date, Trudeau just keeps on keeping on. At Scrimshaw Unscripted, Evan Scrimshaw writes about the Liberals' Lingering Longevity:
...Poilievre might have gone too early – that he might have been better off from the position of doing well while in the leadership had he waited a decade – is very real, because right now, he’s not ready. Allowing his candidate in Portage Lisgar to use a photo of Max Bernier at Pride as an attack, posing for a photo with the Straight Pride Guy, going to the East Coast to talk about gun rights the weekend before a suburban byelection, accusing Justin Trudeau of conspiring with China to commit treason … at some point we have to face the reality of his fundamental unseriousness.
[The Trudeau government] isn’t an unambiguously good government that is guaranteed a win on its merits, but that doesn’t matter if the opposition’s shit. Election are choices, not referendums, and Poilievre ... makes the electorate’s choice for them. ...
At the end of the day, the Liberals are where they’ve often been in this country’s history – in office, and likely about to stay there, not on the merits of their term but because the Opposition has not hit the threshold at which this country overcomes its inertia against toppling Liberal governments. Unless we see a lot of people taking their chance to leave soon – and we won’t – then the idea that this Liberal government is dying should make its way to a graveyard, and usher in a proper understanding of reality. 
Moving on, over at The Present Age, Parker Molloy writes 'Barbenheimer' Takes On the Online Rage Machine and Wins:
It’s been interesting to watch as the same outrage merchants who led the unhinged attacks on Target and Bud Light for the *gasp* scandalous decision to… hire a trans woman (BL) and sell some super generic Pride merch, have struggled to land hits on Barbenheimer....
Watching as professional crybabies like Ben Shapiro tried to get people to boycott “Barbie” because one of the actresses in the film (Hari Nef, who played Doctor Barbie) is trans, and seeing that has absolutely no effect on the film’s success demonstrates that the Bud Light and Target controversies and capitulations only became big deals because Bud Light and Target responded to the outrage as though it were genuine. It was not.
Had Bud Light and Target told the outraged weirdos to pound sand, they’d have avoided the mess, but in the rush to appease the far right, they handed Shapiro and the rest of his Daily Wire goons wins they thought they could use to reshape culture around their own bigoted and exclusionary beliefs. ...
Anyway, I hope that businesses around the country (and world, for that matter) realize that if you ignore these far-right goons or tell them to screw off, members of the Daily Wire’s hate machine will be the ones who come away looking foolish, as Shapiro has in his post-viewing tantrums.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Today's News: Grievances on parade

In a post about Poilieve's Shack of Seclusion, Evan Scrimshaw writes about why some people seem to absolutely HATE! Trudeau:
...It’s a movement of people who have been radicalized for various reasons – the importation of American culture wars, the general fact that the right has been losing the war for hearts and mind in recent decades, and COVID, which was a deeply traumatic event for a lot of people. We’ve never reckoned with the damage done, and even if you think draconian measures were required, there was a price for it. And it’s a movement that Poilievre has gone to great lengths to endure himself to.
It's an angry movement because for a lot of people, the world makes less sense now than it ever has before....
Poilievre has positioned himself as the leader of this movement, a movement that has overinflated the responsibility that the Prime Minister has on this country and therefore has pinned all their grievances, real or imagined, on him. It’s a movement that’s diffuse on specific grievances but united on their contempt for the one man...
More of that grievance was on display when Trudeau made a brief stop in Belleville, Ontario this week:

Thursday, July 20, 2023

It's too damn hot!

At Garbage Day, Ryan Broderick writes: The New Culture War Issue Will Literally Just Be Ignoring How Hot It Is 
I suppose it shouldn’t shock me that right-wing influencers are acting like extreme heat isn’t actually that extreme. It’s sort of the entire philosophy behind climate change denial. 
But I guess I just assumed that if the weather became extreme enough, at the very least, we could all agree that it was, in fact, extreme. 
 About three years ago, Atlantic writer Charlie Warzel tweeted something that has always stuck with me. In regards to the then still-emerging coronavirus outbreak, Warzel wrote, “The coronavirus scenario I can’t stop thinking about is the one where we simply get used to all the dying. There’s a national precedent: America’s response to gun violence.” He was, of course, right about that. 
But I think he inadvertently summed up America’s national response to pretty much every large-scale systemic crisis we’re bound to face going forward. The weather’s going to keep getting worse and the right-wing media ecosystem will downplay or outright deny it, and, more often than not, they’ll find ways to tie the acknowledgement of it to definitions of masculinity. 
And just like the folks who thought they could ride out the pandemic without a vaccine or masks because they were tough, only to end up on ventilators, so too will a lot of folks get hurt trying to man up and ignore the rising temperatures. 
And here we go:

Monday, July 17, 2023

Sock it to me!

Trudeau gets hammered day after day, across Canada, for everything from Port of Vancouver trucker policies (which were actually introduced by Harper) to Lac-Mégantic land expropriation
But he keeps on just being Trudeau, wearing his funny socks. 
Maybe that's what drives some people nuts -- that their hatred doesn't faze him.
Here is the latest -- a video of Trudeau sitting with some guy in Calgary, patiently explaining the complexity of federal-provincial education jurisdiction, right-wing conspiracy theories, and the importance of supporting LBGT rights while respecting Muslim parents: 
 "Its not a buffet...we will stand up for everybody's rights." 
This is a clip of what Trudeau said -- just ignore the right wing media commentary:

Saturday, July 15, 2023

"The memories will be so thick, they'll have to brush them away from their faces..."

Sad news this week - both the LA Times and the New York Times are making radical changes to reduce their sports coverage. At Defector, Ray Ratto writes The Slow Hemorrhage of the American Sports Desk:
Across the country, papers are cutting back their last deadlines to pre-dinner hours so that the annoyance of night sporting events and their coverage can be eliminated, and the new enemy of profitability is the people who used to fill those pages.
If reducing drag is the heart of efficiency, the Times is the first to give in to the logical extension of this philosophy. If one could be sure The Athletic would actually broaden the Times' coverage, then this move might be defensible journalistically, but The Athletic has never been about reimagining anything. It just tried to out-newspaper newspapers, making writers hope their beats wouldn't suck so that they might get enough clicks to sell enough subscriptions to imagine themselves central to the business. And making the talent worry about the business is always a dangerous strategy, because it allows the business people to fail and blame it on someone other than themselves.
....nobody will remember the business thugs who did today's deed because they thrive in the anonymity of the best hitmen. They might remember some of the people they read and enjoyed and learned from, but that's not what a newspaper is anymore. It's just another way to explain late-stage capitalism: eating the people who do the work and replacing them with fewer and cheaper ones.

This is why I love sports: Read the whole thread - its great. 

Monday, July 10, 2023

Roundup: Hot and bothered

The news from all over is challenging this week. First up, I think I'm very glad I don't live in the southern US - hotter than Hades this week.
Overseas the weather is no better. This video falls into the Holy Shit! category:
According to the Weather Channel coverage, nobody died.

Friday, July 07, 2023

Weekend funny stuff: from Monty Python to Mary Simon; and dogs of course

First, I haven't seen one of these funny twisted Threads for a long time -- its when someone asks a "question" on twitter and everyone replies with the wrong answers: A bunch of people took her seriously at first -- of course, she's talking about the Argument Clinic in Monty Python - but then everyone caught on and started posting this kind of stuff: Can't finish without posting the real sketch:  

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

"I am down to be common. Bring home the chill. Yo. "

In a desperate attempt to try to demonstrate relevancy as a prospective Prime Minister, Pierre Poilievre is adopting sun glasses and t-shirts to give himself a new look -- Canadian commentators are giving #PoilievreMakeover about as much respect as it deserves:

Saturday, July 01, 2023

Happy Canada Day!