Grand daughter’s sixteenth birthday. Loved by all her family (with the sometime exception of her brother, but, hey, someone has to be the foil).
Last fall i had occasion to be on the UBC campus for the first time in a decade and the visit was revelatory. The view I had of the campus had been almost entirely submerged in new construction, and a whole new city had sprung up on the Endowment Lands to the south of campus, including the rising spires of the temples to real estate speculation. My guide, who taught at BCIT and who lives in one of the older developments on the EL, pointed out that only full-time tenured faculty could actually afford the rents/mortgages in the neighbourhood. So I had to have a rueful laugh at a headline on the landing page of the Times-Colonist this morning mourning the passing of the real estate visionary who revolutionized UBC housing. I suspect that the visions were likely that of pecuniary symbolism pasted on his eyeballs.
…but it often keeps resurfacing.
Long ago, in student days, I read a couple of plays by Albert Camus, Caligula and Le malentendu, each of which dealt with some fairly weighty questions that get left out of most of the day-to-day conversation. With thoughts of a couple of other Camus pieces (Noces and L’été) that had shown me a side of the author not generally acknowledged (reflections of sun-drenched vistas and the general beauty offered by nature, however indifferent or absurd that nature might be), I plunked down some serious coin for a Pleïade edition of the man’s complete works and invest some time in broadening that horizon while keeping some language skills activated.
As is often the case with works read in the deep past, the reader’s perspective will have morphed through piled up time and experience, and such is the case with Caligula, a ruler who has forsaken the conventions for his own individual struggle with a lack of limits, something that rings true with a number of authoritarian administrations, yet only partially in the case of our own Mr. Trump (he is a product of a confused and twisted world, and therefore belongs to all of us). The big difference between Trump and his Roman analog is that Caligula is fully conscious of who he is, what he is doing, and the nature of his relationship to those he rules. As devastating as Caligula’s rule might have seemed at the time, the threats to civilization posed by Trump and his associates are, if you’ll pardon a smarmy Camusian observation, existential.
And I’m sure it’s an utter coincidence that I arrived at this particular spot in Camus’ oeuvre at this juncture in the Trump narrative (impeachment, assassination of the top Iranian military figure).
I’m feeling snowed under. Aside from some recreational reading (C.J. Sansom at the moment), some long-time head-scratching (Les oeuvres complètes de Camus, Éditions de la Pléïade) and the usual daily read-around on the Net, there are particular bits of interest that keep popping up and fighting for time in the midst of family considerations, gardening (indoors, thus far, mostly) and playing a little music on the side.
An e-mail from the Post Carbon Institute sent me off to this (you’ll need to leave a name and valid e-mail address) on an emerging aspect of the transformation that will be necessary for humanity to progress and thrive. Bring it on!
A regular read-around site is the Blog Borg Collective who posted a piece by Robin Matthews, a veteran of the Bas, Bas and Virk BC Rail slog. And now I see they’ve added a bit about Andrew Wilkinson and his wacky period of renting. OK, I can do that.
Then Facebook, I think via the South Africa Food Tank group, coughs up something like this, a likely way to kill off another hour or so, at least. Hmmm.
Let’s add this to the pile, via a friend and further to a discussion relating to Transitions Health Check.
I get notes from Corey Robin about interesting discussions around and about intellectuals in places somewhat more steeped in intellectual activity than my present abode. So this appeared this morning. I’m not sure I want to spend the morning with Friedrich Hayek, but the perspective is important.
There were a couple of articles on The Tyee this morning more than worthy of reading in depth (my call).
And then there are volumes of Youtube video discussions along these lines to add to the heap.
Have you ever felt like a gum-chewing teen standing on the threshold of an outlet mall?
Is a pattern emerging? The bad news is that there is so much commentary because there is such a litany of misdeeds and malfeasance in all levels of society and in almost all areas of endeavour. The good news is that there are so many people concerned enough for the welfare of other people and that of society in general to run down the stories and to put them in front of those who will listen.
Sadly, there just isn’t time to do it all. Please consider taking up the task and supporting those already hard at work correcting what ails us.
Now I had better get after all this good stuff.
To no one’s great surprise, the NEB put its stamp of approval on the “revised” application for the construction of the TransMountain Pipeline, even the ‘new-and-improved’ model looks an awful lot like the original shabby sham of an oil-lobby grease job. This represents an utter failure of governance in Canada (not to mention the effect this will have on our atmosphere, oceans, storms, wildfires, sea-level rise and the rest of the disruption catalogue). None of these parties seems to get that, for our society to continue to exist, we have to leave this gunk safely buried in the ground, and, while the time to begin the process of weaning ourselves off our present addiction was several decades ago, we didn’t do that, so that makes now the next best option.
Justin Trudeau, campaigning in the last general election, deployed the full-spectrum Liberal strategy of saying most anything to get elected, particularly at the expense of Tom Mulcair, knowing that many were just so tired of the Conservative wet blanket of the previous decade that they would go to great lengths to unseat the Harper crowd. All those glowing campaign promises and the soaring rhetoric that filled the earliest of the sunny days disappeared into a morass of same-old, same-old once the rubber hit the road. Meanwhile, the Conservative Party settled on a brand new face for the same blood-sport capital sell-out that characterized the Harper years, but with dimples and a complete lack of either gravitas of intellect. The New Democrats turfed Mulcair and replaced him with Singh, a seemingly decent guy who seems to need to check the weathervane before making a policy pronouncement, and even then, doesn’t necessarily stick to it.
These three stooges have taken centre stage in Canadian governance against the backdrop of an economy that serves only a relative few, a frayed social fabric, simmering internal divisions, and an environment that threatens to become entirely inhospitable to life in general, and specifically a teetering technological human society. All three major national leaders continue to play in the sandbox of Canadian politics as though it’s 1950 and a new era of prosperity and progress awaits us, rather than recognizing the crises into which we’ve already entered and educating us as citizens as to the necessary steps in mitigation, adaptation and revamping that will be necessary to ensure that the numerous offspring of the Trudeau and Scheer households have a shot at a decent life. Instead of mining more goop from the tar sands, why not put those yellow vests to work doing something constructive, building renewable energy infrastructure, reforestation and agricultural rejigging to ensure that we all get fed and that more people can work the land in a regenerative fashion?
This isn’t happening because none of our leaders has the courage to say what many of us know and then to take the steps necessary to throw off the ties that bind them to their handlers and the people whose interests the handlers represent: banking, pharma, Big Ag, the arms dealers, tech companies and, above all, fossil fuel concerns. Those whose good gigs are suffering because so much wealth has already left the country and even the slightest steps toward sanity feel like persecution. No one has been able to decouple a good living from the insanity of the oilfields, and it’s unlikely at this point that people are going to lend much credence to anything that comes from the mouths of our most august leaders.
Elizabeth May stands out as the only leader to do the right thing: she went and got herself arrested protesting TMX, and so need say little else. It would be too much to hope for a minority government next October with May and several colleagues holding the balance of power. Ephemeral though it might be, it would at least have a chance at airing some serious concerns in the kabuki theatre that is the Commons.
A friend sent a link to the news that BMW has developed the technology for a completely autonomous motorcycle. I used to indulge in cycling for both transportation and pleasure and mostly gave it up when I realized that climate stabilization and blowing fuel out the tailpipe for fun were not compatible.
So I wrote back:
This ranks right up with my other favourite automated activities, like eating, sex, and, why not? drinking wine. Think of all the snotty wine-tasting vocabulary you can forget, and God! the lack of hangovers after too much enthusiasm at the tasting bench…
Imagine sex without the need for dating, foreplay, birth control, STDs, messy relationships…
Food without having to buy, prepare and serve, no more chewing swallowing, gastric distress, voiding and defecating, no more spice-burn, salmonella and ptomaine poisoning, contented belching, low-flying ducks, fibre requirements, cholesterol, diets…
Feel free to weigh in on other activities!
Methinks Dame Cathy and her Court have missed the lectures on climate disruption, but are still willing to attempt to score political points trying to wrap themselves in a cloak of the greenest of fig-leafery. In this race, the Crudeau crowd wants to win by taking six giant steps backward before the opening gun goes off. Sadly for them, and well and good for the rest of the planet, there are others who have been tortising along for a couple of decades and have splendid results to show for it. But, hey, we’ve got a crud oil pipeline and fossil fuel subsidies and Alberta has found the magic spell that’s keeping Canada working, or at least those in the advertising industry who are best at half-truths and outright fabrications. It’s a good thing that Scheer’s goose steppers are going to start talking about abortions again so that Justin can get re-elected on a raft of recycled and new promises that he can then break. So sad.
End note: It’s good that we now know (via the Lancet) that we can commit slow and blissful suicide by single malt.
Back in the days of my USian existence, it was a bit frustrating during the course of the 1960s, my teen years, to watch the Vietnam engagement grow in scope, gravity and bloodiness, as well as in the consciousness of some of us coming out of the chrysalis of childhood. All around us, there was surf music, burger joints, game shows, big-bore V-8s and a whole lot of business as usual. It wasn’t a war, there was no declaration, it wasn’t even a police action like Korea a decade earlier. Everything on the home front seemed to perk along without the war bonds, rationing, and the exhortations on every street corner to traipse off to a foreign tar pit to put an end to your miserable little life for the good of God, democracy and the American Way. The home front never went to war, so it was easy to ignore the signals.
Of course, as the decade came to a close, the murmurs morphed into chatter and then to a roar to the point where even those legislators in the hallowed halls of power began to waver in their determination to see an end to the resistance of these black-pyjama clad little brown people until “we” finally tucked our tail between our legs, told our South Vietnamese allies that they were on their on, and high-tailed it out of Dodge in the last helo to depart the roof of the embassy compound.
Now there’s smoke all around me. The signals that we’re waging war on ourselves are plain to see, hear, smell: it has never been so obvious that we are, in the name of convenience and consumption, fouling the only nest we have and setting up a gruesome end for civilization and for most life on this planet. And now, there begins that transformation from whisper to chatter as people wake up and discover that our collective complacency and procrastination have brought on the crisis foretold by phalanxes of climate scientist Cassandras, just when we reach the point where there may be no method to remedy the situation without major suffering, if at all.
It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.—Sir Josiah Stamp
There is an old Chinese proverb:
Quand le sage montre la lune, l’imbécile regarde le doigt.When the wise man points to the moon, the idiot looks at his finger.
When the wise man points to the climate, the economist looks at inflation.