What’s Old Is Still Old

…but it often keeps resurfacing.

 

Camus, himself

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.

Caligula

 

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).

Is It Illegal? Just Hang On A Sec!

The Centre of The Liberal Universe

 

(http://deadder.net/   https://www.thechronicleherald.ca)

While it is deemed that economic impacts may not be considered in the implementation of a DPA, it seems we can always find a way around any roadblocks inhibiting special treatment of our special friends in business.

The above is from the paper of record (for a lot of folks) and hints neatly at how the PMO can do it’s due obeisance to SNC so as to preserve votes in Québec. The law doesn’t do what we want it to do? The law, slack as it is, might cut SNC off the public trough? Wait, we can change the law, and deem it retroactive to the time of Methuselah, just, y’know, to be sure.

(with the gracious permission of the author: (http://deadder.net/)

Who publishes at:

https://www.thechronicleherald.ca

Mail It In

From linked site.

 

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!

It’s Like Vietnam, A Little, All Over Again

 

 

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

“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” – H.G. Wells

 

Living as if there were no tomorrow, we are converting a carefree metaphor into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
—John Whiting
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. 
—Douglas Adams

Sir John A., We Hardly Knew Ye

 

Mayor Lisa Helps announced yesterday that the statue of our first PM will be removed from its podium of honour in front of the entrance to Victoria City Hall pretty much forthwith. This has, of course, generated a good deal of tsking, finger wagging, and jaw flapping, much of it to do with the reverence we feel for our founding father, to borrow a USism. But let’s have a bit of context, by perhaps considering Johnny Mac in his own context, but somewhat transposed into our current status.

 

Do we hold Justin Trudeau to be worthy of the same level of reverence and Sir John A.? How about Stephen Harper? Paul Martin? Jean Chrétien? Kim Campbell? Brian Mulroney? John Turner? PET? Joe Clark?Mike?

With few exceptions for exceptional circumstances, the answer is no. I haven’t done the required research and reading to really nail it down, but my sense is that these folks, and all the rest of their ilk, were, first and foremost, politicians, with all the mixed connotations that that term carries on its overloaded back. They were people both revered and reviled, depending on your political stripe, your policy outlook and how deeply you were embedded in the system that produced them.

 

Perhaps a gentle step back to consider all facets of admiration and condemnation might help us to keep our blood pressure in check as we navigate possible attempts to reconcile settlers and First Nations, as well as our past with our present and future.

Deflection of Necessary Perspective

Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash

 

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.
Paraphrased this morning in Libération:
Quand le sage montre le climat, l’économiste regards l’inflation.
When the wise man points to the climate, the economist looks at inflation.
No wonder they call it “the dismal science”. This is the very picture of pretty much all out national and regional leaders who still don’t seem to get the urgency of the situation in which we find ourselves. This is Trudeau/McKenna claiming to mitigate climate disruption while buying/expanding dilbit infrastructure, Horgan building Site C, and a whole whack of premiers fracking merrily away and giving away to energy to foreigners without bothering to collect royalties or taxes. It’s clear that Trump and Ford aren’t the only idiots, they just have less of the veneer of sanity.

A-Peacekeeping We Will Go

For those who don’t read French:

Unprecedented attack on the Blue Helmets and French forces in Timbuktu

This is where Justin Trudeau et al propose to send out peacekeepers, Not much peace, it would seem.

Perhaps you can read something about why this is…

I believe the “mines” in question are land mines, but a quick check might show that there are considerable French mining concerns in the area. It rather reminds me of why Hondurans never seem to be able to sort out some kind of government that will stop mining companies from murdering activists.

We Return to Peacekeeping

From Libération

 

The big announcement that Canada “is back” in the peacekeeping game rings somewhat hollow in the absence of a peace to keep. The government is sending a half-dozen helos and associated personnel, along with other troops, apparently including a significant contingent of women, to a place ill-suited to our equipment and training and where an elusive and sometimes ill-defined enemy has proven elusive in an ongoing series of clashes involving not only the local government, but a large contingent of French troops, and, it seems of late, a sprinkling of US forces.

This is a link to a series of stories from Libération, a mainstream French daily that gives some idea of the scope and duration of the conflict, easy to discern even for those who speak little or no French from the dates and the photos. What seems clear enough is that there exists more conflict that peace, and one has to wonder, given the fractured nature of the “enemy”, whether it’s possible to settle a peace accord with a single faction.

We have been witness to the heartbreak of returning peacekeepers, the physical wounds, the PTSD, the difficulty re-integrating into normal life in Canada, the unmet needs of veterans sloughed off by the military when considered redundant for whatever reason, and the general indifference of a population already dealing with marginalization, housing woes, and political fol-di-rol on a grand scale, with the exception of Don Cherry-like calls to support the troops and salute the flag. Hence, it seems something of a dubious undertaking to send valuable resources off to Mali to struggle with hostile people in a hostile environment , especially with so little prospect of a constructive outcome. The whole mission is looking increasingly like a veiled contribution to the ol’ War On Terror in which we are called upon by NATO (North AFRICAN Treaty Organization?) to keep the lid on some restless locals while the empire does its dirty business in Mali, elsewhere in Africa and in as much of the rest of the world as possible.

The question arises as to with whom one might engage in dialogue about peace, and would that include a broader geographical definition of peace. It doesn’t look as though contemplation of those questions will be moving to the forefront of global efforts.

 

 

What, Exactly, Is Chicoutimi Doing?

Photo by yang miao on Unsplash

 

A report on CBC Newsworld featured David Common aboard HMCS Chicoutimi patrolling in the Pacific in proximity, apparently, to the Korean Peninsula. It seems that their rôle is not directly connected to the imminent Olympics, but rather to enforcing UN sanctions on the North Koreans. The report showed pictures, vaguely familiar from other, earlier reports, that the Koreans were breaking the blockade by transferring coal and oil from one ship to another on the high seas, then off-loading from DPRK-flagged craft  in North Korean ports.

Part of their gig seems to be coming to the surface from time to time to take pictures, assuming that this will produce damning evidence of collusion on the part of, say, the Chinese or the Russians, but at the cost of blowing the sub’s cover, assuming that anyone interested hadn’t already discerned what the captain of our sub had for breakfast. The photos of the collusion that appeared in earlier reports were all taken from above, which, barring the unlikely event of Chicoutimi levitating (did she not spend a lot of time in dry dock, so being out of the water wouldn’t be entirely unfamiliar), would mean that the provenance of the photos would be either aerial reconnaissance or, most likely, satellite tracking. This scenario would obviate the need for Chicoutimi to be there at all, other than as a seemingly significant mission, to get the men some sea time and some training credits. Given the general state of our armed forced, it would also be the occasion for the issuance of a battle ribbon to adorn the chests of the brave souls intrepid enough to sail in what was purchased as a used sub and which went through two decades of the terrible twos.

Don Cherry, our Cuckaloo-in-Chief, will have fun with this, touting the prowess of “our Boys”, which brings this wandering mind to another thought following an awkward exchange with a wounded veteran at a town hall, where our PM is said to have exclaimed in frustration that vets were asking more than we can afford. Sadly, my take is that our ability to afford services and pensions for veterans is more a matter of priorities: as we keep low-balling price points on natural resources as they exit the country and the commons, as we remain deaf to the sound of fortunes exiting the country for tax havens, as we prepare to indulge all our favourite bankers and infrastructure project managers in a feast at the public trough, we might want to reconsider the plight of those who have served their country to the best of their ability. We might also want to scrutinize the mission creep that sends people off on wild goose chases where the pay off for the risk incurred is insufficient to merit going in the first place.  The best way to avoid the burden of broken vets is to keep them out of any bellicose silliness unless we are directly threatened. I like Francis Bacon’s quip about marching off to war:

The best armor is to keep out of gunshot.

abc.ca

 

 

Drinking A Bit of Dilbit

 

Wining About Dilbit

A post on CBC tells of a trattoria in Fort MacMurray that won’t serve BC wine because of Horgan’s rejection of KM’s TM dilbit expansion. Here is a comment I left on FB reacting to said boycott:

Fine. I won’t patronize THAT restaurant! (Little chance of being in Alberta at all in any foreseeable future). However, I don’t like the implication that we wouldn’t have any gasoline without KM, and various other whoppers being told by a plethora of politicians, some of whom (Nenshi and Notley, notably) I thought might be beyond that sort of thing. We get all our distilled petroleum product from the United States. There is no refinery for dilbit, or even for sweet crude, in BC, nor in Alberta (could be dead wrong here) whose specialty seems to be digging up the stuff and moving it elsewhere. KM sends the stuff offshore. They are, however, along with their digging friends, kind enough to leave us with the tailings ponds, sour gas and downstream pollution in several river systems. Has Rachel stashed away enough loot to deal with all that? History tells us that as soon as the profits are gone, the KM tentacles will withdraw to Houston with all the loot they’ve accumulated and disappear into a name change (Accenture comes to mind, as well as whatever Blackwater has transmogrified into). Instead of preparing a swift and just transition to renewable energy, Notley and Trudeau continue to back sunset technologies that will doom life on Earth within the lifetimes of their children, and pretending that KM went through any approval that was anything other than a sham and a rubber stamp would be laughable were it not so brazenly false and damaging. Now can someone invoke a divine presence to turn all that dilbit into wine? I think Ernest and Julio might still have a few tankers kickin’ about.