Monumental Folly

I signed a petition today in what will likely be a vain effort to forestall the construction in a prominent location in Ottawa of a monument to the victims of communism. Even though that brief interval and the energy of a few keystrokes may have been wasted, it is a fine jumping-off point for some reflection on ideology and the ideological underpinnings of régimes and their resulting misdeeds.

The motivation behind the monument, along with the scale and placement of the structure amounts to a dishonest pandering to one or more constituencies being curried for votes and financial consideration and perhaps to a lasting sign of the Harper legacy of eschewing any real diplomacy for supporting the side that best suits his own ideological and religious bent. Ideologies, like guns, don’t kill people, but, also like gun, if you leave one lying around, there’s a pretty good chance that someone will pick it up and use it for his own ends, likely in the service of coercion. In this, communism has certainly been the backdrop for millions of victims, but let’s not mistake what we called the Communist Bloc for communism: the USSR and its satellites were tyrannic dictatorships that spouted communist rhetoric as they exacted vengeful exactions indiscriminately on their own people and on those who had the great misfortune to fall under the extended Soviet influence. Do other ideologies have a tally on the victim slate? I would think so, even in something so “innocent” as the British/American strategy during the Second World War of delaying direct engagement with Axis forces in Europe until the Russians (note: Russians, communists and otherwise) had essentially absorbed the worst punishment that the Third Reich could hand out and turned the tide against the Nazi menace. Under the occupation, sympathetic factions arose in almost all countries to carry out many of the worst atrocities attributed to the Nazis, using National Socialism as a screen behind which to shelter the murdering, rapine and thievery that was at the heart of the matter, without regard to some ideological justification. And when the tide went the other way, there was more of the same, but from the other side, and pretty much without regard to any opposing or replacement ideology. The story of Alexander Solzhenitsyn is instructive, a seemingly loyal artillery officer who, at then end of the Great War, was gifted a dozen years in the gulags, demonstrating that Stalin et al were equal opportunity oppressors.

On the other hand there is the purported antithesis of communism, capitalism, whose record contains a litany of the same horrors perpetrated by the Stalinists. In theory, it is a perversion of capitalism for personal gain that lies at the root of the crimes, and that puts capitalism in exactly the same category as communism. It’s interesting to note that Mussolini characterized fascism as the marriage of capitalism and state power. This sounds vaguely familiar:

Pols Have Nothing To Do With People











Let’s add Pan-Slavism and Zionism, the Greater Asiatic Co-Operation Sphere, The White Man’s Burden, the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Aztec and Incan empires to the list of ideas that have wrought great deeds (their own definition) and left great works as monuments to their superiority (yikes, do the world’s great religions get caught up in the net?). So really, to be fair (not something for which the Harperites are really known), each of these ideas should have a memorial erected  to the memory of its victims, and, given that real estate in Ottawa is at a bit of a premium, we could do these memorials as scale models of the great works such as that planned for the victims of communism, and house them all in a single building.We could then call it The Museum of Civilization.

Front Page News


This was on twitter:

You know what really needs to be front page, national news? Indigenous people turning down $1 billion of dirty money.

Here is more:

Thanks for all the Fish.


This is a revolutionary act, telling the money to walk because it maters not where the environment and culture are concerned. Too bad it took the rest of us so long to figure out that those First Nations we beat up so badly might have had the right idea in the first place and that Wal-Mart doesn’t wash when the devastation hits.



Blues On Top Of Blues

BBKI guess when you’ve become an icon, you get the big news. CBC Newsworld was full of B.B. King’s passing, and a lot of it was truly gag-worthy as the level of faux reverence, long faces and script-reading ratcheted up to full stun, including touching testimonials from the likes of Kelly Clarkson. (?) Really? Nice words from Eric Clapton via Skype, though.

I went to see What’s New, Pussycat? with a Bill, Stella and Leah when it was a new movie. Leah’s mother drove us, then left us to hang out for a second showing of the movie, meaning that we were walking east on Geary Blvd. late at night on our way back to Stella’s place on Hayes around Steiner before Bill and I would turn north on Divisadero to get back to my place. It was after two when we got to the turn on Divisadero, and, being fitted, we were both hungry, so we went into this burger and barbecue place, the only thing open. We must have looked like the proverbial deer in the headlights as the reception from the all-black crowd was not particularly welcoming with an added tinge of WTF at the sight of two white boys somewhat off course.

Sensing a certain hostility, we ordered burgers to go, but in the wait, the jukebox was going full-bore and it was King playing, though it took me a couple of days after to run down the song, hence the artist. This was something of a revelation for a couple of whippersnappers steeped in Beach Boys, Beatles and Stones. I had the pleasure of seeing King live on a couple of occasions while still living in the Bay Area, the whole routine where the band would come out and do a number or two before bringing King on stage with flourish and fanfare, and he played from a fairly well-stocked catalogue with panache and freshness that belied the several hundred dates he was playing each year. The last time I saw him in the Bay Area was at Winterland (I think) and he still did some of the same routine, but he seemed much more relaxed and the connection to the crowd was much more direct. He mentioned in his inter-song patter that he’d been listening to some jazz and proceeded to ruff up some Django on the spot.

That December, Magic Sam died of a heart attack at 32, and I was sad. He went early and left a lot of possible career on the table. If you get a chance, check out King’s appearances at the Crossroads Festival to get a feel for the decline that must have been difficult for the man. Noting his passing is fine, but I know I’ll just keep on celebrating the music from the early jump stuff à la Louis Jordan right through duets with EC.

Let’s see, who’s next?

The Teacher


How ironic, the Clarkish one in the rôle of teacher. Ms. Clark has come up with another doozy in the wake of the Notley election in Alberta, to the effect that she has a lot to teach Alberta about carbon and climate change, and that, in fact, she has much to teach the rest of the country. Presumably this is because we have a carbon tax and they don’t, but she fails to mention that the carbon tax was a ploy by her predecessor to hog tie Carole James, making her either agree with the rampaging Liberals, or gainsay them in a move that would alienate her from voters in the greener shades of the spectrum, politics pure and simple. Herself hasn’t helped to redefine BC as anything other than a carbon furnace with the continued shenanigans related to the Pacific Carbon Trust, to dedicating agricultural land to carbon offset projects, and mostly her giveaway support of the gas industry, particularly the fracking end of it..  Her government has consistently missed opportunities to support alternative energy, despite indications that wind, solar, tidal and geothermal energy all hold great promise. She is an object lesson in what not to do, even as she waggles her finger at the rest of the country from the standpoint of someone who, without any reasonable explanation, seems to consistently dodge the consequences of both her actions and her inactions.