Plus Ça Change

Which One IsHiding The Pea?

Which One IsHiding The Pea?


An article in today’s Globe discusses a possible change in attitudes in a toney Nova Scotia town where, as they put it, the “gin and Jaguar” set is hosting a fundraiser on behalf on the current Liberal Leader, an unlikely occurrence given that the riding has elected only one Liberal in the last several decades. The Globe points out that this occurred in the context of the decimation of the Tories at the end of  the Mulroney reign, a grace period that lasted exactly until the next election, and the precedent is somewhat portentous for the rest of us: we should recall that Chrétien was elected on a platform of killing the GST, cancelling the helicopter contract and revoking NAFTA, and we all know how that turned out. This is basically a case of “here we go again”. A vast number of people might be disenchanted with the high handed, rather dictatorial style of Mr. Harper, and the anti-progressive and downright nasty way in which he rains on peoples’ parades and pulls the underpinnings out from under Canadian society. There are many rumblings about doing whatever it takes to rid Ottawa of the blight of CONservative government, including cross-party cooperation and strategic voting, as well as a concerted effort to get out the non-Con vote. In the face of all this effort, all the stirring of the electoral pot, and the strident calls to action, it’s hard to feature that the election of a government run by either of the other party leaders will be a great deal different. Both Trudeau and Mulcair seem wedded to the regimen of free trade documents that are currently blitzing the negotiating set, what with TISA,TPP, CETA, FIPPA and who knows what else might be emanating from the back rooms of the corporate dream factory, and it may be that Canadians don’t have the stomach for a platform that would reestablish some semblance of sovereignty for Canada and an economy that works for Canadians at home while working on diplomatic and economic initiatives abroad that would make staying home a viable option for all those TFWs, refugees, and whatever offshored jobs might be lost in the call centres of the underprivileged world. Canadians may not be capable of the adjustments in the way we live that would ensure that we use resources in a prudent and sustainable way, but, in any case, it seems unlikely that any of that will happen behind and of Doors 1, 2, or 3. The sad fact is that our current crop of leaders are all likely to lead us off a fiscal, social and environmental cliff, even though they may recognize that there are great minds telling us collectively that we need to re-educate ourselves quickly and act on our newly-gained tenets of wisdom. Would Messers Harper, Trudeau, and Mulcair be up to the challenge, once elected, of initiating that educational process? I would wager not, and not expect to get a lot of takers for that wager.


What Time Can Teach Us


(belongs to info

(belongs to info


Title from an article on the Globe & Mail’s site. I’m not going to read it:

The rise of the drones: Do privacy concerns outweigh the benefits of this burgeoning technology?

The obvious answer is yes, but not just drones: our lives are interlaced with a plethora of different technologies and their associated gadets, some of which may enhance our lives, but many of which have too much downside, and the sum of which amounts to an addiction to veeblefeetzers and goldbergian claptrap. We’ve been sold a load of not-so-goods that channel the way we live and bind us to the culture of consumption. It would be interesting to know what portion of the Earth’s human population is employed in the development, production and marketing of what are essentially toys: civilization seems to have structured itself to choke itself on stuff to the extent that our escape route is not entirely clear and becomes less so by the day.

I suppose the radio and television set the tone early on in the last century, a brilliant way of extending communication and a possible step in improving the human condition. What we got was the best pavlovian Bernays sauce of conditioning through limited discussion and debate reinforced with tsunamis of emotional drek and lowest-common-denominator views of society and its discontents. What started with the promise of a vehicle for the improvement of culture and the broad dissemination of information and analysis, became, with the television, the complete medium for the perpetration of a scheme of lies and salesmanship, promoting consumption, covetous desire for baubles and meaningless status, and the preeminence of an American dream built on the pillaging of other peoples’ resources. The culture, debate, information and analysis was there, but it took a skilled and dedicated seeker to connect with it,a task that became increasingly difficult as a compliant school system largely failed to give students the requisite questioning skills before trying them loose to be good producers and consumers.

I have been good at this sort of compliance, even in the face of an education, part of it in school, a lot of it from reading, from social interactions with peers and family and, finally, from recoiling from some of the anomalies in what I was hearing/seeing, and what I perceived to be a version of real events. Here I am working on a somewhat passé computer, using a browser and blogging software, so I haven’t escaped unscathed from the onslaught, but the ad below, for our provincial political masters, one of the sleaziest governments I’ve ever encountered in person or in story tells me that we haven’t learned much. We haven’t learned that any technology can be bent to the rules of crass commercialism  in the service of colonization by capital. The Internet, like radio and television, seemed to start out as a medium of contact and discourse, but has evolved into a maze of pornography, cute cat videos, a shitstorm of political venom and yet another bully pulpit for oil lobbies and other destructive groups.


This is not to say that there isn’t a ton of good material and fine journalism and rhetoric out there, that there aren’t loads of inspired images and sounds, some that go beyond simple entertainment to provoke thought and engage the viewer in a constructive interaction with others, but without actually putting the thesis to the test, a browse through a day’s Facebook posts seems to confirm it, as do the frequent arrests of people from all walks of life for charges relating to porn.

It is yet again an instance of doing what comes easily to us rather than tackling what really needs to be done.


Meanwhile, here’s a link to a video of the late Charlie Haden playing with none other than Ginger Baker (who’d-a thunk it) and Bill Frisell:


Nowhere To Run To



I got home to see this in my inbox and on Facebook. It’s the kind of shenanigan that makes people distrust political parties of any stripe. I’ve had dealings with Paul, all of them constructive. He has been a consistent advocate for democracy, environment and rule of law, including the fighting of discriminatory and corruptive legislation. However, he isn’t good enough to even present himself as a candidate for the NDP. Sad, and in particular because it highlights the current struggle in the progressive mind in the conflict between the desire to get elected and to hold the power to form government, and the adherence to ethic and principle. Ideally, the power of a party to educate citizens to the necessity of changing direction from our present self-destructive course would mean that this dichotomy wouldn’t be in play, but parties don’t seem to get that they need to be constantly schooling their prospective electorate. Paul has done much of this, but not in the quest for political power, but because he has seen the destruction wrought by our present lot of scallywags  and has foreseen the consequences of failing to make a radical course change. In this, the NDP has failed miserably and left it to Elizabeth May federally, and Andrew Weaver at the provincial level, to probe and elucidate the horrors being perpetrated in our name. Solution: vote Green? This is a tough one because Greens and Dippers don’t talk much to each other and increasingly it appears as though neither can unseat the incumbents whose cancerous tentacles seem to have sunk deep into the consciousness of Canadian voters, either to continue with Harper as the prudent fiscal manager he touts himself to be, or to give in to apathy and not vote at all. Trudeau is a younger, slicker version of the same corporate shill and, though most people don’t seem to see through the smokescreen, is, given access to a majority in the House, would likely follow in the footsteps of Stephen Harper, just as Barack Obama seems to have been largely unable to change course from the W era.





Backing Down, Spinning Around



This Janet Holder, the face of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project. I wrote a post  a week ago or so before disappearing into the wilds of Southern Ontario for a family occasion, lots of schmoozing without song or strong drink, a ton of humidity and heat, but mostly pretty relaxed and in good company. I haven’t published the post because it might be too inflammatory a thing for pure opinion. Who knows? The gist of it was that Holder and all the other mucky-mucks at Enbridge, the NEB, the Conservative caucuses in both Alberta and Ottawa need to be issued hazmat suits and put on standby for the rest of their natural lives in preparation for working in the trenches of the world-class clean-up contingency crew when the inevitable eventually comes to pass. A big part of the problems  we face stems from the lack of personal responsibility for decisions that affect us all.

Then I get home to learn that we’re shipping yet another round of shipbuilding contracts for BC Ferries to Europe, specifically Poland. The curtain of deception makes it hard to see how they selected this group to do the building, but this is surely the forerunner of the whole procurement process inherent in the Free Trade agreements we seem to be signing without debate or even being allowed to see what benefits and constraints might be under that polished silver dome awaiting the unveiling of the main course. Do we need ferries? Build the suckers here, and, in the process, build capacity and skills to similar work in the future. I din’t particularly like Glen Clark, but his fast ferry fiasco included a lot of training for metal work, welding, fabrication, machining and what have you. Are there enough of these trained people around to work on new ferries and whatever the Royal Canadian Navy might need? Or have they all drifted into the Athabaska tar pits?

Australian solar power is already competitive with coal for generating electricity. I have a nephew who has a contract to place a couple of solar arrays on his “farm” for which he is paid $0.80/kw/hr. Go figure, I guess it’s a free market solution, now that Ontario Hydro has gone the same privatization route that BC Hydro suffered under the Campbell régime.

S.T., a member of our local Transitions initiative, sent this link to a TED talk that rings a responsive chord to thoughts over the last couple of decades.

…a recent brush with an updating of ancient history: