The Many Faces of Four-Twenty



Had a few thoughts yesterday,but they didn’t get onto paper because of a houseful of kids, grandkids, and in-laws for a low-grade Easter Egg hunt and dinner, all very jolly, loud, and full of movement. But it was April 20, a day of portent on several levels. Of course, the stoners claim it as their own. I think I’ll stick with wine as my complement to coffee, but I will opine that we spend far too much time repressing the stoners’ urges to escape.

It also marks the birthday of Adolph Hitler, a man who continues to mark our lives and haunt our society, not only through the memory of the Holocaust, but also for what his friend Benito Mussolini is said to have quipped: “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” This, of course, is precisely the point of Thomas Piketty’s recent musings on Capital In The Twenty-Frist Century.

AHI seem to remember that it was in honour of Hitler’s birthdate that two young men in Colorado unleashed this:





But my favourite Four-Twenty thoughts go to my parents who fell in love in 1945 and never fell out again, a very special relationship that weathered six children, several changes of venue and a slow climb out of the splendid squalor of self-imposed poverty (through rejection of lucrative but compromising employment) to relative comfort and recognition as architect and potter and as a pair of pretty committed activists, working for something like racial and gender equality, human rights, ecological preservation and enhancement and a host of other less lofty, but no less deserving, causes. Part of their long infatuation with each other was the practice of celebrating multiple anniversaries, their civil wedding (1946), their church wedding (1964, with all their little bastards present) and a host of other occasions, most of them likely relating to carnal acts of some sort (not a discussion that we ever had). I recall an April 20 when I was still in knee pants, but reading a lot of history, particularly the Second World War because they had lots of neat fighter aircraft, when we were all on the verge of being banished to another part of the house so that the parents could have a quiet moment of celebration together, and I had the silly temerity to point out that this was not only one of their anniversaries, but that it was also Hitler’s birthdate. They took it stoically, but it was clearly not a notion that they cared to contemplate.





One Cost Of Ignorance



Item on the front page of the Globe and Mail:

Canadians who know less about Fair Elections support it more: poll


So if we first accept the premise, then express the thought in another way, we should get something to the effect that the more Canadians know about the Fair Elections Act support it less. If you discount members of the Conservative Party Machine and their major beneficiaries (oil, finance, pharma, media and the COC types who would be happy to have the unrestrained playpen for their bad behaviour), the rest of us tend to feel that this is part of the Con plot to enshrine regressive politics as the default and only choice in the way that we run the country. The equating of lack of knowledge with support fits well with the overall strategy of a party that likes to hide behind a cloak of secrecy, to destroy knowledge by shutting down laboratories and discarding research libraries, knowing that people in general will be baffled into accepting disturbing changes if they don’t have the tools to understand the changes, why the changes are taking place, and what are the driving factors and people behind the changes. Ignorance begets compliance, at least to a point, particularly when it is accompanied by repeated chanting of the mantra that all this saves tax money (without the concomitant explanation that fees and prices for everything are also rising as a direct result of tax cuts, and that services are severely curtailed, along with the ability of people to act in common to improve our common lot.

So while we have been shedding tears (some sincere, some crocodile, some of joy) over the death of Jim Flaherty, progress continues apace on stringing the razor-wire circle of constraints on citizen action. We ignore this at our peril and at the peril of all humanity, given the widespread deployment of similar initiatives around the failing globe.

The Conundrum of Political Involvement

At a very genteel political gathering last evening, over a curry supper put on my several members of a local PAGO Grannies outfit, it seemed clear to me that our organizer, R., was a very sincere young gentleman who was aware of how despicable our current administration is and of how little real difference exists between our current Con admin and the traditional Grit alternance. however, I sensed no feeling of the urgency needed to deal with environmental challenges to go along with the economic and social challenges embodied by current local, provincial and federal régimes. The trick is that if the issues are addressed with any clarity, the party that does so becomes unelectable. Does  this mean that we can’t elect a government that will take the necessary steps to ensure our survival?WebHell

What, Me Worry?



Punishment. François Hollande has been sent a message, via municipal elections, by the electors in France, though the message may not be exactly what the pundits are saying. Regardless, he was elected to be something other than Nicolas Sarkozy, perhaps, given that he heads the Socialist Party, some rather socialist policies, policies that might redress some of the imbalance of “market” policies outlined and implemented by his predecessor. Instead, he seems to have swallowed the Kool-Aid of the EU bureaucrats, Angela Merkel, the IMF and the World Bank, meaning that there is no way to rebuild any vision of French society that is more egalitarian and humanitarian than the standard Chicago Consensus Milton Friedman homo economicus, a smokescreen for separation of haves and have-nots, environmental degradation, and a further decline of the general standard of living, especially in the areas of health, education, housing and nutrition. These are the very areas, along with gainful employment and participation in the business of society, that the Socialists are supposed to be defending. Perhaps they might have gotten the same slapping down had they governed as socialists, but at least then they would know that they had tried to do what their natural constituency had wanted in the first place. Principle? This is a thought that Federal Liberals might want to consider here in Canada (campaign from the left, govern from the right), and that the New Democrats at all levels might want to embrace.





Disturbing Outlooks and Attitudes #1



I used to argue back and forth a decade ago with a sometime colleague who was an ardent supporter of George W. Bush, with he usual outcome that we would agree to disagree. I have since drilled down a ways into the current and developing status of humankind on this planet, and the auguries are not auspicious, to say the least. I was not at all comforted when said gentleman asked me at a gathering last evening whether I was looking forward to once again engaging in the breaking of speed limits for thrills, something I once undertook regularly with great relish, but gave up when it finally dawned on me that being a carbon critic who stunted on back roads for fun was not a particularly good example for others to follow. I answered him in the negative without much comment at all and was a little taken aback when he pursued his line by telling me that humans had no control over the course of the unfolding of the universe and that our best hope for survival and for thriving as a species was to decamp to the farther corners of the known universe, and that he would therefore continue to burn up resources at as rapid a pace as possible for his own enjoyment. This falls right in line with the Bill Gates geoengineering crowd, a group who doesn’t seem to understand that our living systems are more complicated, interwoven and subtle than our engineering minds can fathom, and that a look back at our witting on other interventions in managing our living space looks like a bit of a chronicle of disaster: particularly without a significant attitude adjustment and the development of both deeper and broader questioning strategies, our past would point to abject failure, this time on a scale that would basically be guaranteeing that we would, in short order, be kissing our behinds good-bye, taking the vast majority of life on the planet with us. This outlook speaks to a willingness to do whatever it takes to protect a position of privilege, and, as with most conservatives/libertarians, any justification is good enough as long as it allows life to continue on without sacrifice of the least bit of personal freedom or economic clout. The sad part is that we’ve known for decades how to manage most of the crises that confront us: we have had solutions that involve very manageable levels of sacrifice, usually balanced by long-term gain in well-being and stability. How very sad.



Meanwhile, here are a couple of music videos that caught my eye:


Looks like Green, Spencer, Kirwan, McVie and Fleetwood. Interesting that all the guitars get a voice at the front.

Perhaps one of the greatest studies in how to grow old gracefully. I think Taj is the only North American, the rest being Brazilians. Particularly nice harp playing.

Sometimes Evil People Speak the Truth

Or parts of it, anyway.


I had one of those nights where I woke up and made the mistake of having a thought, and with thoughts, as with potato chips, one leads to another. Soon, I had wads of things flitting between my ears, and it was clear that I wouldn’t get back to sleep until I logged some time with book and early morning television, normally a great soporific. I saw a report about how lotteries in Canada are suffering because their best clients (milk cows) are old and dying off and that the current generation of Millenials, those in the 18-34 age bracket, aren’t playing with the gusto of the older folks. Of course, my own reaction is that this is a wonderful phenomenon and that I don’t feel a great deal of sympathy for those who run the gambling establishment in this, or any, country. Then, this being CBC Newsworld, there had to be an expert attestation: their expert on all things economic, Kevin O’Leary, about as sterling an example of anti-social greedmongerning as could be had anywhere, a man whose sense of entitlement and self aggrandizement grates against every fibre of my being. His take? Essentially, good on the Millenials for sussing out that lotteries, like most forms of gambling (stocks, bonds and mutual funds excepted) are taxes on the stupid. I hated that I would agree with KO on anything, and his undercurrent of tax avoidance  sealed the deal: KO wants us to fail miserably to support each other, to go it alone as rugged individuals so that the already-advantaged can use their financial and political leverage to perpetuate a system of gross inequity (and iniquity). Of course, the stupid factor was on full display with reports of an event honouring the real participants in The Great Escape, not Americans, and not Steve McQueen ( and who knew that Hollywood might rearrange the substance of a story to fit their hero cult) and a replay, several days delayed, of a nun singing some r ‘n b tune on an Italian version of some reality show, something of which I would have remained blissfully unaware were it not for the inordinate amount of “news” coverage that such a non-event got. Newsworld, all entertainment, all the time. How can Nancy Wilson keep a straight face as she reads this stuff (she was, in this case, the designated deliverer of good news, a task at which she has much company, unfortunately).



Then there is Henri Guaino, now an elected member of the French National Assembly and formerly a special advisor to former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was invited to answer questions on a segment of a Paris morning show (Télématin) called Les Quatre Vérités, with the hot topic being the outcome of the first round of the municipal elections. His rightish UMP did well, the current central government of François Hollande did generally poorly and the real “winner” seems to be the National Front, whose populist thuggish nationalism seems to have become a safe harbour for a lot of the protest vote. Bless Guaino’s pointed and selfish little head, he was able to spot that not only were the Socialists being sanctioned, but the whole political class was taking something of a beating for their unfulfilled promises to improve life for the general citizenry in France. Guaino cited in particular the surrender of the levers of power to the EU and to the financial and corporate structure (this from an individual very much in the house of those entities). I didn’t hear any real solutions (the segment lasts all of ten minutes), but the implication is clear that democracy, when it gives over power to economic interests and bureaucracies, is in serious trouble. Who knew.

mdAs a cap to all this, Murray Dobbin had a piece published in The Tyee this morning about big ideas and why the New Democrats seem to have lost some of their luster as they get more enthused about the idea of possibly forming a government (dream on!) and move toward the centre to attempt to capture that vote. In the end, the election of an NDP government might look more like a Pierre Trudeau government of the late Sixties than a real solution to the economic, environmental and social ills that beset us, so that the Dippers would have gained power, but would be unlikely to be able, or willing, to undertake the renewal that would lead us to a more just and equitable society.



Three Times A Fool

One for Syria, one for the Ukraine and one for Venezuela.



Stirring up the pot in the name of democracy where greed is the less apparent and root cause of the loosing of the hounds. Of course, it’s not the Henry Kissingers, Hilary Clintons, Angela Merkels, Dick Cheneys, and all manner of denizens of capitals wherever capital holds court who pay the price, either in terms of blood and despair, or in terms of austerity crashing down on opportunity and sanity. It’s the poor saps who started business  in the Maidan, in Damascus, and the poor of the barrios who will surely be stuffed back in their cages if the “middle class” privileged of Caracas regain the ascendency. So here’s another Otis Rush:



Tell me I’m ‘way off base, but it seems to me that Otis Rush’s All Your Love (Miss Lovin’) is the song that inspired Peter Green to write Balck Magic Woman, morphed into high-octane rock by Carlos Santana…





Every Once In Awhile

I like to revisit this ditty that often used to start off my week, a) because it’s about Monday mornings, and b) because it does have a tendency to engage the movement instincts (and really did when I was 17 or 18). The whole album is a masterpiece, and part of its charm comes from the meddling of Sam Charters, I suspect, who seems to have wanted to tone down some of Buddy Guy’s edgy and unbridled approach to playing: it’s not typical BG, but the restraint works well.

Of course, this misses the great news about the Oscars, the Heritage Classic and the end of the world, wherein Obama says to Putin: “I dog double dare you.” Putin says nothing, just goes ahead and deploys the troops. Well, what did you expect, Barry. Once again, an honest yearning for more local control and a better life has been hijacked by a group of local National Socialist types and reinforced by “diplomacy” from the EU and NATO. Ianukovitch and his lot should be gone, but when John Baird hies himself off to congratulate the newly installed administration (just who is it that rushes in?), you have to wonder which of the big miners is staking a claim. It’s what Canadians do. Again, rather like Assad in Syria, al-Sisi in Egypt, and whoever is running the show in Libya. Tunisia seems to be evolving, but who knows what goes on behind the scenes? Venezuela and Thailand are also targets for the “spokespeople” of the investor class, it would seem.


And, of course, this one always comes back:


Encore Redux

Yes, it’s like déjà vu all over again.




Again, Gail Shea does the bidding of the Norwegians:




(Got this from the Powell River Pesuader)

Against the advise of her own DFO people and First Nations biologists and decision makers, Shea wanted to open up the West Coast of Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii for herring roe fisheries. Her advice from other stakeholders was that there might be enough fish to justify a commercial opening, but that said opening might threaten the long-term stability of the herring population. This would open the possibility of a cod-like collapse in the herring population, something with which Shea ought to be quite familiar in her home turf: it would deprive First Nations of ceremonial and food fish (thereby degrading their cultural heritage as well as a source of healthful food), and would knock out one of the pillars of the survival of wild salmon. Of course, this would make a nice complement to expansion of net-pen fish farming on the coast as well as the increased support that taxpayers have been forced to give to an industry that operates against the interests of said taxpayers. It’s all part and parcel of a policy line that removes citizen control and access to what ought to he resources held and managed in common, and a good reason to choke on Shea’s title of Honourable Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.