This was on the Globe and Mail’s site, but the article beside Doyle’s piece was about making your own hair extensions. I had to update my screenshot utility and they changed it on me while I was away. Can’t think why…
Also caught a minor bit of a clip of Justin going all Marc Antony on Stephen Harper. perhaps thinking ahead of the words he wants spoken over the coffin of his tenure as PM.
Along those lines, a friend of my wife’s brought me a copy of Alain de Botton’s book on NEWS, knowing that I’ve frittered a good part of my life chasing after a vision of what is really happening and why and what the hell can I do about it. It says all this stuff in here about the fluff nature of news and the scare factor that’s built into the broadcast and how it may not be a good idea to impute the capacity to fix most anything to any, I say ANY, politician or patriarch or whatever.
Two events this week have demonstrated how badly we’ve lost track of the measure of reason, of a sense of perspective of events in the larger scheme of whatever part of the universe we occupy. As I type this, the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympiad are unfolding, just the last paroxysm of blather, bluster and hyperbole in a two-week long assault on the media landscape. The most telling incident of the whole games for me, growling curmudgeon that I am, was the arrest of the Irish IOC rep for scalping, followed closely by the gratuitous frat-boy incident with the US swimmers.
In terms of excess, the Olys are followed some ways back by the telecast of the final concert in the Tragically Hip’s current tour, met with a frenzied fervour inspired by Gord Downie’s recent (?) diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. Whether or not I like the music of the Hip is somewhat irrelevant to the fact that this event has been blown all out of its proportionate importance as a unifier of Canadians and as representative of all that’s good in Canadian culture. I get it that lots of people really like this band and its music, and that there is an outpouring of empathy for a group of people handling a difficult situation with grace and aplomb, but the transmogrification of that grace and aplomb into our own Velvet Revolution is, as the French say, “de trop”. The two really fine items springing from this event have gotten some attention: Gord Downie apparently having called out Justin Trudeau on his ongoing lack of progress on improving lives, specifically First Nations’, in the North, and a comment I saw echoed on Facebook this morning about a broadcaster that puts up an event on national television with no ad breaks, no ticker ads and extends the broadcast when it goes beyond its allotted time, demonstrating the value of a publicly funded, owned and directed national broadcast system.
I read this piece from The Disaffected Lib, alias the Mound of Sound, one of the most thoughtful and trenchant of the blogging crew. It’s frightening mostly because it tells a truth that many of us seem to want to duck and delay. Then our Premier unveils a new climate plan that is, in effect, nothing but a stalling tactic to allow the friends of the current government to finish the final pillaging of the public weal. Knowing, and seeing daily, the degradation of the living space that is our planet, and knowing, and seeing daily, the willingness of those supposedly in positions of leadership to completely sidestep the crucial service that they owe to their electors, to future generations, and to all life forms on Earth is a jarring experience. Yes, Christy Clark is showing true leadership, but not of any sort worthy of admiration and emulation: she demonstrates perfectly what is necessary to embody the foot-atomping, fast-talking irresponsible truth-twisting and selfishness that will be the death of many in the short term, and of all of us in the longer term. Admittedly, she can’t accomplish this feat all on her own, but she is being ably abetted by our own Prime Minister of Canada, a suicidally compliant press corps and a business establishment that appears bent on dying young and leaving a big bank account (as a substitute for a beautiful corpse).
En visite au Puy-du-Fou, le ministre de l’Economie n’a pas pu s’empêcher de lâcher une petite phrase.
This is the French Minister of the Economy allowing that he is not really a socialist, the flavour of the current French government. Ho, Hum! You see, neither are most of those sitting on the government benches and nor is the President of the Republic, even though whole herds of them belong to the Socialist Party. None of them lives up to the label, and it was known pretty much, even from the distant sidelines, that Macron was not even as much of a faux-socialist as Valls, the PM, or Hollande, the Prez. After 14 years of Chirac and five of Sarkozy, the French thought, perhaps, they might try the other side of the political spectrum. Turns out that there really is no other side, at least within the realm of electability. This, also, should come as little surprise, given that the preceding 14 years of Mitterrand produced the same level of fundamental change that the French have seen under the Hollande presidency. This is a stark reminder of the value of “Real Change” or “Hope and Change”, Chrétien’s Red Book or any other promise that there is anything good in store for the broad electorate, and something we might want to keep in mind as we ponder the possibility of a change in leadership here in Beautiful British Columbia.
Traditional news outlets have gone a long way down the path to irrelevance, and the economic consequences are showing in a dire fashion, as outlined in today’s post from Norm Farrell over at In-Sights.ca (https://in-sights.ca/2016/08/11/one-way-or-another-well-pay/comment-page-1/#comment-13291). I stopped reading almost all traditional newspapers over a decade ago, and visit the front pages of sites on the web only to get a flavour of what’s being pasted up on their pages. They continue to spew the same line of corporate back-slapping, advocacy for corrupt sycophant politicians, a stubborn refusal to seek a broad spectrum of opinion, and, often, a tendency to be very select in their use of factual information. Good investigative journalism seems to have become almost exclusively, despite Keith Baldric’s cries of “foul!” and “Nay Nay!”, the bailiwick of a cadre of dedicated citizen journalists who pump out some pretty remarkable work on a series of blogging sites across the province, the country and the world. In a comment on Farrell’s latest post, Rafe Mair, a former Socred cabinet minister and general loudmouth whose image has gone from goat to god in the last decade because of his advocacy for ecological sense and a better degree of economic justice, suggests that newshounds need to morph into scanners, casting a wide net to get an accurate sense of where things are headed in any given domain. Some of the content will be available without payment, but you can bet that most bloggers of all stripes will have their hand out to catch any spear cash that might accidentally fall out of your digital pocket.
One of the recent twists in the saga of the transformation of information and its delivery is the appeal on the part of traditional news organizations for support from the public purse, lest the public be misinformed about the course of events by sourcing unvetted material from the Internet without the guiding hand of these same organizations who can best be characterized by Mark Twain’s quip about being uninformed if you don’t read newspapers and misinformed if you do. The same applies to pretty much everything in broadcast media as well. In essence, outfits like Torstar and Postmedia are victims of their own free market game. Funny how these folks are such admirers of a free market until they come out on the losing end, at which point they come to think of themselves as cultural icons worthy of public support. There should be an enormous hue and cry should the least little nickel of public funds find its way into the corrupt coffers of the aforementioned Journalist Masqueraders, a phenomenon that seems unlikely with the general level of apathy and ignorance that characterizes much of our population, and with the jolly abandon with which the elected governments hand over wads of your cash and mine to people who already have too much and can’t really even win at their own rigged game.
I find that I now probably spend more on news than I did back in the days of newspapers, even though many of the contributions are voluntary and intermittent, and I’m actually quite pleased to do so. There are expenses involved in investigative journalism, including hosting and other Web services, FOI requests and just keeping body and soul together in the case of those people who don’t have the luxury of a well-paid day job. It gives me some satisfaction to share some of my meagre resources with those who do such a vital public service and the neat thing is that I get to make the choice. I don’t feel too badly about supporting only those whose material supports a clearer vision of society, economy and ecology: those on the other side of the argument generally have access to ample support. I don’t want to live in an echo chamber, but it’ll be a frosty Friday in hell before before I hand any money over to the Fraser Institute crowd.
Do become a scanner. Substitute a read-around from a selection of the sites that grace the front page of In-Sights, and continue to follow links from those links. Bookmark those that seem promising and revisit them regularly. Should you come to appreciate a site, make a contribution to ensure that the author is feeling the support. As well, leave comments, questions and suggestions. Finally, as soon as you sense that you have the necessary background knowledge, start acting on it in whatever way you can (Oh, rats! that sounds a lot like activism. It is, and it’s good.) This is much more engaging and exciting than reality television or fantasizing about your favourite actor/actress, musician or other personality.
Now I’m going off to make a contribution to In-Sights because Norm made me think and got me up out of my torpor to write about something that’s been bothering me.