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 José Andrés, 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 ‘alalā, also known as the Hawaiian crow. ‘Alalā 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. 

Thursday, August 03, 2023

It was one of those days

My keyboard driver died. Who knew such a thing could happen? 
So now I have an inexpensive keyboard plugged into my laptop and its working just fine. But trying to fix it before giving up was three hours of my life that I'll never get back. 
I intended to write a serious piece tonight - maybe about the heat dome destroying the southern US, or about Covid roaring back, or how startling it is to see Americans only now realize how close they came to losing their country on Jan 6 2021
Instead, I just assembled some of the funny stuff I have been collecting. Enjoy!

Speaking of three hours.... 
Enjoy these:

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Creating a three-ring circus?

Yesterday I read another media demand for the Trudeau government to undertake another "public inquiry" and I'm afraid this is getting to be too much. 
First, the drumbeat to investigate foreign interference - especially by China -- in Canadian elections has become so loud it drowned out Governor-General Johnson's May report
Next, there was the substack article Paul Wells published last week describing the extreme pressure to hold a public inquiry into Canada's COVID pandemic response -- even though the apparent source of this pressure (as The Globe and Mail also flagged today) was only a batch of articles in the British Medical Journal finding fault with our COVID policies in spite of our relatively higher vaccination rates and lower death rates.  
And finally, last night, I read about how we maybe will need to have a public inquiry into the sexual abuse of young athletes in Canadian sport organizations because too many of these organizations failed the children they were supposed to be training.
But I have my doubts that Canada is really going to set up three public inquiries at once

Looking at the recent history of public inquiries in Canada, there seems to be a range of justifications for them. Some -- like the Rouleau inquiry last winter into the Emergencies Act declaration in 2022 -- are required by legislation, so the government of the day doesn't have any latitude about terms of reference or scheduling. Others - like the Portapique Massacre inquiry in 2021 - seemed to be set up to hold authority to account for failing to protect people without actually finding fault.  And still others -- like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2009-2015 -- are a way to focus on complex issues and create public concensus for action.

All of these were useful exercises, I guess.  
But I'm not sure how useful it would be to create a three-ring circus right now. 
Because after the drumbeat to set up these inquiries, undoubtedly we would start hearing complaints from the Opposition parties and the media about how stupid they all are, and how the Trudeau govenment is just trying to deflect attention and delay action, and so on and so on.

So let's look at the rationales.