Nov. 9th, 2016 08:54 pm
ltmurnau: (CX)

Goodnight children, everywhere.

- Uncle Mac
ltmurnau: (CX)
Down our way, some Earl Cowan wannabe defaced some NDP signs on the street corner with a spray-painted hammer and sickle.
But he didn't stay to do a good job of filling in the the hammer shape, so it looked like a lollipop and sickle.
Unfortunately they replaced the signs before I could get a picture.

[ETA, 6 October: He did it again!]
ltmurnau: (CX)
I hate reading stuff like this.
It's so discouraging.


CBC Asks: Many Canadians distrustful of federal politics, poll indicates
4 in 10 Canadians never talk politics, Samara Canada survey suggests
CBC News Posted: Mar 25, 2015 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 25, 2015 4:02 PM ET
A strong majority of Canadians don't take part in politics beyond voting and don't trust their federal parties or MPs, a new report suggests.
What's more, four in 10 Canadians said they hadn't had a single political conversation in the past 12 months, according to Samara Canada, a non-partisan charitable organization that works to improve Canadian democracy.
In Democracy 360, Samara's report card on the state of Canadian politics, a wide-ranging poll of Canadian residents shows strong levels of distrust and disengagement.
Among the highlights:

  • Only 40 per cent of Canadians say they trust their MPs to do what is right, and only 42 per cent place some trust in political parties.

  • Sixty-two per cent feel politicians only want their vote.

  • When asked to rate MPs across six areas of responsibility, Canadians gave failing grades in five categories, including helping people in their riding and explaining decisions made in Parliament. The only passing grade was for "representing their parties' views."

  • Thirty-one per cent of Canadians say they have contacted an elected official in the last year.

  • Thirty-nine per cent of Canadians say they haven't had a single political conversation in a year, online or off.

  • Many see politics as irrelevant

Samara says in its report that Canadians are withdrawing from the democratic system, because they see politics as irrelevant. Less than a third of Canadians (31 per cent) believe politics affects them daily, and slightly more than half (54 per cent) believe MPs can shape the direction of the country.
Despite the apparent negativity toward the country's democracy, 65 per cent of poll respondents said they are "very" or "fairly" satisfied with democracy.
Samara said in its report that there is some cause for hope: while only 37 per cent of Canadians give time or resources to political activities between elections, 83 per cent did participate in at least one civic engagement activity such as donating or volunteering.
"This is proof that many citizens do care about their communities and their country and are willing to give their time or resources accordingly. But this activity is often at a distance from politics." the report says.
Samara plans to use their report as a baseline and re-do the survey in 2017 in time for Canada's 150th birthday.
Samara Canada conducted its survey online, surveying what it called a nationally representative sample of 2,406 Canadians in English and French from Dec. 12 to Dec. 31.


Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ, how can people see politics as irrelevant?
I guess they do, if they can't even see past the plate of nachos set in front of them.
Small-p or large-P, politics horns in on anything and everything in modern life.
You can try and live without, but it will come and get you, and bite you in the ass eventually.
But it will be too late by then.

I wouldn't be so upset by this if democracy would stay the same whether these butt-scratching schlubs were around in such numbers or not, but this is no longer the case - there's less and less of it to be had these days, and a certain fraction of people would seem to be just fine with that.
But the roof will fall in on all of us.
ltmurnau: (Default)
This is one of those things that I want to post here, otherwise they'll be lost as I go poking around for "that thing I saw that day that was so good..."

But it is that good, it is really starting to disturb me how "we" are sitting back and taking it, when we're not actually on board with what's going on and being done in our name....

1984 in 2012 – The assault on reason
By Allan R. Gregg | Sep 8, 2012 8:35 am |

Allan Gregg is Chairman of Harris/Decima, and is considered a pioneer in the integration of consulting, public-opinion research, public affairs and communications. A frequent commentator on radio, television and in print, he is also an entrepreneur with diverse interests in Canadian culture. He was one of the founding shareholders of Canada’s children’s network, YTV, the Chairman of Toronto Film Festival, past Chair of the Walrus Foundation (publisher of 2007 Magazine of the Year, “The Walrus”) and has executive produced documentary television as well as recordings by Canadian artists such as The Tragically Hip, The Watchmen and Big Wreck. He serves on the General Motors of Canada’s Advisory Board and the Bank of Montreal’s Advisory Council on Retirement.

The following speech was delivered by Allan Gregg on September 5, 2012, at a celebration of Carleton University’s Faculty of Public Affairs and its move to the new River Building.

Read more... )
ltmurnau: (Default)
Some sobering thoughts in print, echoing what I have been thinking for some time now.

"Who controls the present controls the past;
Who controls the past controls the future."

- George Orwell, 1984

Making Canada's past a slave to power
From Friday's Globe and Mail
Published Friday, May. 04, 2012 2:00AM EDT

Citizens can be almost certain that, when governments use public money to write history, the result will be a deformed version of the past. So it has proved to be with the Harper government, with more rewriting to come.

The Conservatives display two-facedness in the telling of history, systematically reducing the role of the informed and the neutral in explaining the country to Canadians, while enhancing the capacity of the government to cherry-pick what it chooses to highlight.

In the last budget, for example, funding was reduced for Library and Archives Canada, the CBC, Telefilm Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and Parks Canada by a government that had already scrapped plans for a National Portrait Gallery. (The government also is eliminating support for scholars in other countries who study Canada.)

The government spared the National Gallery, the national museums in Ottawa and the Canada Council, but the net effect on the ability to explain history in an unfiltered way through people and projects funded by public institutions was reduced by the cuts.

By contrast, the government found money in a “restraint” budget for projects that will allow it to highlight those scattered and fading (or faded) remnants of our history that suit the government’s political agenda: recreations of the War of 1812 (a political civil war on each side and a cross-border military conflict), medals commemorating the Queen, and yet another royal visit, this one offering Canadians (or at least the handful of them who will care) the emotional surge of seeing their future king and queen: Charles and Camilla.

For the Harper Conservatives, there’s no sense of contributing to a new or evolved sense of Canadian identity, but rather a reaching back and dusting off of fragments of the past that suit their politics – which is why the military and the monarchy are their favoured subjects for historical attention.

There’s also the enigmatic legend of John Diefenbaker, the Progressive Conservative prime minister from 1957 to 1963. In reaching back for Mr. Diefenbaker, Canadian Conservatives are contorting themselves as U.S. Republicans do.

For them, the two Bush presidencies have been airbrushed from public incantations of Republican history. Instead, Ronald Reagan has been placed atop the pedestal of Republican adulation, his missteps resolutely forgotten, his triumphs retold, his rhetoric repeated, his ideology extolled, even if that ideology was frequently at variance with his deeds.

Mr. Diefenbaker was a weak prime minister, or at least that’s what Canadians came to believe after seeing him in office for a while. They handed him the largest majority then recorded in Canada in the 1958 election. Halfway through its mandate, his government was tearing itself apart, and Mr. Diefenbaker was flailing and failing.

By 1962, with the cabinet in revolt, his party was reduced to a minority. A year later, Canadians booted him and the Progressive Conservatives from office. It took four excruciating years to drag Mr. Diefenbaker from the party leadership.

Historian Denis Smith, who has written by far the best biography of the PC leader, Rogue Tory, said Mr. Diefenbaker lived a life of “turmoil, rebuff, failure, disappointment, and bitterness more than of triumph and satisfaction.”

Mr. Diefenbaker’s time in office was judged by a majority of his countrymen at the time, and by almost all historians, as largely a failure offset by a few triumphs. But by carefully selecting episodes from his life and certain of his successes, his admirers managed to construct a modest legend around Dief the Chief, a legend that does a disservice to historical fact but offers a fillip of inspiration to those who idealize his memory.

The legend leads the Conservatives to slap the Chief’s name on ships, buildings and other bits of contemporary Canada, a response, one presumes, to all those Liberal names across the country.

History is never written in stone; it’s always being checked and rechecked, written and rewritten. Arguments about the past never cease, and it’s intellectually worthwhile for such arguments to be made by those who learn history and/or write it, often with the support of the very institutions the government’s now cutting.

When governments take up the pen, fill it with the ink of public money, and start rewriting the past, political agendas chase the search for historical understanding.
ltmurnau: (Default)
Oh dear, and another month slips by. It has been such a busy year, at least since May, and there are only a few weeks left in 2011.

But not time for end-of-year accounting and 2011 memes yet.

Chronological accounting-for-myself:

October 10 (Thanksgiving) - we gave this a miss because Aki had his wisdom teeth out a few days before and couldn't chew - and I was not about to make a turkey smoothie for him. He had five (!) taken out, they are a lot bigger than I remember. The procedure is different now too - when I had mine out, about his age, it involved day surgery in a hospital with a general anaesthetic. He had it done in the dentist's office, with IV sedation. He bled for a day or so and recovered very quickly. The following weekend we had a proper dinner at my mother's.

October 19-22 - I went to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey California. Dear Readuhs will remember the conference I went to in early August, and how well one of my games went down at the demonstration period there ( Well, out of that I got an invitation to go to the NPS and talk to them about using digitized versions of this and other games of mine, in a project related to another, much larger project they have going on. I got to make a lunchtime presentation to their Irregular Warfare students, mostly Special Forces captains and majors - I was kind of nervous about this but they were very friendly and interested. I spoke for less than half an hour and they filled up the rest of the time with questions, so I didn't get a chance to talk with them which I really wanted to do. I did have a quick chat with a Marine Corps major who had trained in Armor, and instead of charging across the desert dealing death to enemy tanks from two miles away found himself and his tank company in a neighbourhood of Baghdad, working out which streets would have priority for garbage collection and which block leaders could or couldn't be trusted.

If anyone wants to look at my script or Powerpoint slides, they are here: . This is another blog I have started that will be confined to my game design and "serious games" development and other stuff. Not much there yet though, as it has not proven possible to port my game-design related entries on LJ over to Wordpress en masse.

Anyway, the ensuing discussions with the project team went well, I came up with some new ideas for games for them that I will be working on and I put them in touch with [ profile] emperorkefka who has made up a version of Guerrilla Checkers for Android mobile phones, and will probably do the technical work for the team on what they need for the project. See a screenshot at Little Viking Games.

A "guided gaming session" went less well, I tend to forget that a game I regard as being comparatively simple (especially if I've designed it) is still quite complex to people who have grown up playing ordinary board games or just computer games. As much as I tend to dislike computer games, a lot of the complexity and fiddliness of a game design can be subsumed into the structure and interface of a game. Players do not need to remember what pieces can move where or how, when the program will simply not let them do it, so they can concentrate on playing the game - and that's enough for most players, but there needs to be some explanation of why this or that thing can't happen, or the penalties for doing so. And it's a lot easier to change a sentence to two in a rulebook than it is to rewrite hundreds of lines of code. Anyway, I left them with a big bag of playable copies of my games.

Monterey is a beautiful little town, and Friday night I went out to look around. The NPS is just a few blocks from downtown, so I walked down to the big pier that is full of shops and restaurants. I looked at I don't know how many cheap t-shirts, and got a pound of salt water taffy for Aki (and a bunch of cheap assorted candy from the Walgreen's downtown later). I had a plate of completely ordinary chow mein at a small Chinese restaurant where this huge Mexican family was having dinner - I think it was someone's birthday or something. "Dad" was at the head of the table, obviously the patriarch and wearing the biggest hat - they were having a great time. Later I walked back by a different route but did not turn when I needed to, and ended up walking by this highway to a gigantic shopping mall with no way out except the way you came in, and the buses had all stopped running - in the end I did get out and back, but had walked five miles more than I had planned!

I went back on Saturday the 22nd - the NPS had actually paid for my flight and hotel, which was great. My flights were well spaced so I didn't have to hurry at all; and I have resolved to hand-carry my luggage from now on if I can possibly help it. You can get a lot into a small bag if you roll it right. (I saved even more room on the flight down by forgetting my good pants at home! Luckily I remembered this in the air on the way to San Francisco, and got a pair of acceptable golfing slacks at the pro shop in the airport - otherwise it would have been pretty embarassing.)

October 24 - was my 47th birthday, which we didn't really bother marking except for a good dinner at San Remo. I'm feeling rather more middle-aged now, and while I'm happy to have outlived George Orwell, I don't have TB and haven't come near to matching his output.

October 29 - was "Grave Situation II", the second annual Gothvic Halloween party. (entry in respect of the first: Lianne came out for this one too, and we had a nice time. I was supposed to DJ for the first hour and a bit, but the person who was supposed to bring the CD players didn't show up until late so for the first while I had to improvise some with what Gray had on his laptop, using Mixxx which was not-bad software. No one was dancing anyway, so it was OK - can't post my setlist right now but will later.

October 31 - we just left the lights off. I didn't see any kids out and about. Very disappointing. Aki went to play computer games and have some pizza with his friends.

November 4-6 - We went to deepest darkest Surrey, for BottosCon 2011 - the fifth annual board wargaming convention put on my Rob Bottos. It's small, maybe 60 people came this time and that was the biggest yet. About half of the attendees were Advanced Squad Leader players, who usually don’t play much else (or at least, they came to the convention to play ASL only), and the other half were people playing practically everything else, from non-wargames like Urban Sprawl to Angola or Storming the Reich.

I don’t go to many conventions, and when I do I usually don’t play games – I spend my time talking to people, catching up with friends or trying to interest people in my new designs in the hope of snagging playtesters. Guerrilla Checkers ( ) proved to be a hit again, and someone expressed an interest in writing an iOS application for it so it can be played on iPad, iPhone, iKettle etc., which would be great. I also played out a few turns of the brigade-level version of my Finnish Civil War game ( ), which prompted someone to say that he thought he’d seen everything now, and did a complete run-through with a playtester of a newly written 2006 scenario for my Third Lebanon War game – it worked well and concluded on time, with a marginal Hezbollah victory. A minor revision to two to the rules and they’re even better – the basic designs are quite sound.

We also went out to one of Surrey's many industrial zones - the whole area looks like it's composed of strip malls, suburbs, and warehouse districts, there's more than that but that's what you see form the highway as you're whizzing through - to get 25 pounds of Cerrotru, the metal I use for casting my miniatures. It's gone up in price a lot, and this will probably be the last time I buy it for quite a while. I kind of like going to these industrial parks, reminds me that things are still made or at least assembled here.

Anyway, I went for the gaming and metal, Lianne went for the shopping. The con hotel was next door to the last Skytrain station, so it was easy for her to get downtown without aggravation. She went to check out the Occupy Vancouver campsite at the Vancouver Art Gallery, what she saw and what I've seen of our own Occupy Victoria site makes me think that perhaps it's time to fold the tents and continue the next phase in the fight. The continued and enlarged presence of conspiracy crazies (Truthers, chemtrail people etc.), deinstitutionalized mental health cases, homeless, criminals and drug addicts at these camps are just the sort of thing the detractors of the Occupy movement want to see (and in fact have even been encouraging, as NYPD cops regularly send these people from other parts of Manhattan to Zucotti Park, and police in other cities are infiltrating different Occupy campsites to instigate trouble themselves). Yes, I am fully aware that these people are just as much products of the version of semi-feudal corporate capitalism as anyone else camping out down there, but continuing to sleep out in tents like this will tend to make it easier to trivialize the whole movement as, well, sleeping out in tents.

I'm not going to say anything more about the Occupy movement itself; anyone who reads this has already read what I would say, in many other places and probably better phrased. I was looking up some George Orwell the other day and found this telling chapter from The Road to Wigan Pier, which he wrote in 1936 - he makes some good points, and this chapter contains some of his more spiteful writing, but it's also interesting to look at this from 75 years in his future.

Read more... )
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From, Ed the Sock makes a very astute post-mortem, for an article of footwear - especially the last two paragraphs. We can no longer feel so smug and superior to the Yanks as we once did.

Ed Socks it to Them
by Ed the Sock (TV Host; Cultural Commentator; Sock)

First Posted: May 05 2011 07:23 AM

In response to the madness that took place on election day.
As the election results came rolling in on May 2, a line from a Roddy McDowell ’80s horror flick kept running through my head: “Welcome to Frrrright Night.”

Despite all the crap about the vote being historic, very little was different about the mechanics of this election: The Liberals and the NDP split votes, giving the Conservatives a victory. Ignatieff and Layton swapped deck chairs on the Titanic.

What can we expect from the new Harper government? Considering the fact that Prime Minister Stephen Harper governed like he had a majority before he had one, more of the same: mean-spirited attacks on critics; the bankrupting of social services that represent opposition to Conservative social values (read: anything that varies from a Dickens novel); the building of prisons for phantom criminals, then the criminalization of more offences so they can fill those prisons; etc., etc.

One difference that we might see is an end to the non-stop campaign mode the Tories have been in. Without being afraid that they could be forced to go back to the polls at any moment, maybe Harper’s boys’ club can turn its focus away from constantly slagging opposition leaders and start acting like a government instead of a 24-7, one-stop propaganda shop.

What can we expect from the Liberals? Well, they won’t go quietly into that good night, but they’re done. When Harper cuts the public subsidy to political parties, the Liberals won’t have the means to rebuild. They have no inspiring figure to breathe new life into the party. The Liberal party has been a terminal case since the Chrétien-Martin fight destroyed it from within, and now the party is officially a corpse. Best to get it out of the sun before it starts to stink. Well, stink worse.

Sure, the Tories suffered a worse kick in the groin when they were reduced to two seats and they still made a comeback, but they were hobbling along until they were eaten by the Reform party. Similar absorption will happen to the Liberals, but with the NDP playing the role of Pac-Man.

Why did this happen? Why did a country that tossed out a Liberal government over a scandal endorse a party that had more scandals under its belt than the one it replaced? Simple answer: The Liberal scandal was about money. People react with indignation to the notion that their taxes are greasing crony palms. Contempt of Parliament? So what, everyone is contemptuous of Parliament.

Harper successfully convinced people that the rules he broke were technicalities that really were impediments to doing what’s best for the country. He’s like Starsky & Hutch or Axel Foley of Beverly Hills Cop – a hero forced to break the rules to save the day, all the while being nagged by an anal-retentive police captain whose love of the rules is depicted as a danger to the greater good. The role of the anal-retentive police captain was played by professor Michael Ignatieff. Take a bow, Iggy.

What does this say about us as a nation? That we’re not as superior as we think. Canadians are no less susceptible to slogans and greed hypnotizing us into voting against our own best interests than our American neighbours. The notion of Canada as a nation of fair-minded people with a deep social conscience has been effectively replaced by a nation of people who want big-screen TVs.

We were seduced by promises of more tax cuts, which will shortly be followed by cuts to services we will then have to pay for at market rates – costing us more than we are saving in taxes. It won’t be long until we see Tories shed crocodile tears for our social safety net, eulogizing that it was a wonderful concept but one that reality couldn’t sustain. What’s unsustainable is running a country with tax revenues choked off by tax cuts that are largely ephemeral to individuals but costly to the country – but don’t tell them that. Piss off Palpatine and he’ll Order 66 your ass.

Okay, let’s end this on a positive note by looking on the bright side: There won’t be any more proroguing for the next four years. (I know, that isn’t really comforting. But try not to think about it too much.)

ltmurnau: (Default)
Tomorrow Belongs to Steve
(tune from Cabaret)

The spring of ’11 was summery warm
The scandals and lies they ran free
So Iggy and Jack thought to try and see
If tomorrow belonged to Steve

The contemptuous motion was duly drawn up
The writ was dropped quite promptly
But outside the House grew a sense of dread
Would tomorrow belong to Steve?

Tory candidates marched out from their lairs
The Dear Leader travelled widely
The voters heard yells, “Fear Red and Orange!
Der Morgen musst zu Schteve!”

First Past The Post has once more shown us
That vote-splitting makes us all bleed
Four more years will see Canada dead
‘Cos tomorrow belongs to Steve

ltmurnau: (Default)
Let's begin with a quote from The Tyee today:

"Stephen Harper won the election, but make no mistake -- yesterday this was a country created and defined by Lester Pearson, Tommy Douglas and Pierre Trudeau; this morning Canada belongs to Preston Manning."

I have seen an estimate of the popular turnout at 61.4% of eligible voters - that's a tad higher than the 59% or so in the 2008 election, but still not an overwhelming mandate from Da Peep-hole.

Also, once again we come to the fatal mismatch between voter numbers and seats occupied (vs. the number "due" them in a simple rep-by-pop system (just for comparison, I know that is not how the game is played, nor how it will ever be played).

Harperites: 38% and 143 seats (117)
Liberals: 26% and 76 seats (80)
BQ: 10% and 50 seats (31)
NDP: 18% and 37 seats (55)
Green: 7% and 0 seats (22)

Harperites: 39.6% and 167 seats (122)
NDP: 30.6% and 102 seats (94)
Liberals: 18.9% and 34 seats (58)
BQ: 6% and 4 seats (18)
Green: 3.9% and 1 seat (12)

So 39.6% of the 61.4% of eligible voters who voted = 24.3% of all the people who could have voted, voted for Harper. So the one who has the support of fewer than 1 in 4 of us gets to tell everyone what to do. Well, that's politics - the world is run by those who show up, at the right time and place.

I was glad to see the BQ destroyed, and am hopeful it's dead-dead-dead forever, but I also hope the NDP, with over half its members now from Quebec, can avoid the appearance of having been absorbed by the BQ. The talent pool Jack Layton has to splash around in is also woefully shallow. I do not think they will be an effective Opposition (though it may hardly matter, Harper governed as if there were no opposition before the election, now he doesn't even have to be polite to them). And yes, the NDP will have to move even further to the right than they've moved in the last 10 years. Not a good thing.

Both Ignatieff and Duceppe have resigned, having failed to win even their own seats. I'm only mildly curious as to who might replace the Igster.

I was glad to see Gary Lunn unseated, but I do not think Elizabeth May will be a good MP for me and my riding - she will be too busy being the Green Party's national MP. And having two NDPs and a Green MP in the Victoria area probably means no Federal money coming into the region at all, except for whatever the Navy base might need.

And I am awed at what, in the end, has proven to be an amazingly effective and totally cynical piece of politicking on Harper's part. With the ethics scandals dangling out there (and I am sure he knew about them, never-a-sparrow-shall-fall) he all but goaded Iggy and Jack into this election, knowing that they had far more to lose than he did - at worst he would have come out with a reduced minority. He used the attack ads. He framed the discourse from the beginning. And, in the final weekend, he appealed to fear in Ontario and stampeded Liberals into the Harper fold, lest the Socialist boogeyman (who never really existed) get out from under the bed. It goes to show two things: that at crunch time, the Liberal party will tip centre-right rather than left; and that what happens west of the Lakehead still really doesn't matter that much - the issue was decided by the time the polls closed in Ontario and everything else was just gravy for that big chicken-fried majority.

Give the lizard-man his due, he knew what he wanted to get and now he's got it.
And from now on we're going to get it good and hard, to paraphrase Mencken.

So, until some time in October, 2015... that's all folks.
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As usual, The Onion says it all... honestly, it's like C. Montgomery Burns is writing the world-script right now.

Governor Walker Should Be Flogged For His Inability To Control His Underlings

By T. Herman Zweibel
Publisher Emeritus (photo circa 1911)
February 24, 2011 | ISSUE 47•08

By any civilized measure, this should be a golden age for America. My editors inform me that the gap between rich and poor is the greatest in history, which is a comfort, as I wish the coal-smudged wretches as far from me as possible. So, too, are we in a vast recession, meaning I am allowed to appear fiscally pious and unusually virtuous as I refuse to share even a parcel of my staggering wealth with the less enriched. Best of all, the lack of spare spending-pennies among the general population has put every-one in such a foul demeanor that the good people of Georgia may soon pass a law decreeing that any woman over 13 who is not pregnant must be put to death, and about time, I say. Truly, it is a good time to sell news-papers, as people do lap up the repeated failures of their society like a dog its vomit.
But for one noxious exception: This governor of Wisconsin and his glaring impotence in constraining the state's wretched hirelings.

You may imagine my rage when I was informed that the Governor was facing down seventy thousands of angry state workers after informing them that they had lost their right to bargain for Union contracts! He allowed them to rise up like so many aspirational prairie-dogs, without fear of lashing, the gibbet, nor public humiliation! Wisconsin, as we all know, is a hinterland of ruddy-faced, venison-gnashing peasants, so naturally the in-ability of this man to rule there infuriated me so greatly that my iron dentures clashed together with a force sufficient to spot-weld them closed. We have come to a pretty pass in this country when common citizens feel they have the right to assemble in public and shout any God-damned thing they want!

Once I had been calmed and my jaws freed by my house dentrifice-monger, I discussed the matter of the Union workers with my solicitors. My first question, of course, was whether or not these Union toilers could be replaced with vastly less expensive workers under the Confederate model, but I was informed that for various complex reasons this may not be feasible for several years. I was much heartened by the news, however, that Walker was trying to drag the Union work-men down to the level of the average slobbering working person, which should be the goal of every Governor. After all, I would not build a lead-slurry plant in Wisconsin if I can pay the workers in New Jersey a few cents less, and unions make that very difficult. Therefore, if they care one whit about cheap and thank-less jobs, the 48 governors of this nation ought to be scrambling to see which state can beat its citizens into the most hopeless, miserable, and pathetic conditions possible. The governor with the most desperate citizens will then get all the lead-slurry plants and be hailed as a hero. That, as any news-paper will tell you, is how America works, God damn it!

Yet what little blood still seeps through my calcified and brittle veins was brought near to boiling when I was told that minions, lackeys, and servants were threatening to assemble publicly and make their opinions known in the neighboring cesspools of Ohio and Indiana. If this madness were to spread, the grotesque accumulation of capital I and my brother barons so cherish would be under some feeble threat. What would these workers demand next? A six-day work week? Nonsense!

I was quickly informed, however, that many of the plow-and-hammer types actually support their asparagus-spined governor, apparently from the impulse that it is easier to tear others down than to lift yourself up—a principle I wholly support, as it is the foundation upon which journalism and democracy are built.

So while this near-treasonous Governor should resign for slackening the customary iron grip on his state and allowing the common rabble to have a voice, I believe that this will be only a brief setback. The people of Wisconsin have been reasonable, civil, and articulate, I am told, despite the fact that many among them are mere laborers, and, what is even worse, teachers. And if there is one thing I have learned from my time on this God-forsaken Earth, it is that reasonable, civil, and intelligent people have not left much of a mark on history.
Now, get back to work!

In other news, I scored a very nice pair of Corcoran jump-boots with zippers down the sides at Value Village - they fit well, but I have to break them in a bit more. They look like this, but shinier:

ltmurnau: (Default)
This signed editorial from today's T-C says what I was thinking, only better. It's not exactly news, to people who have been reading the news, and IMIO Canada has slightly retreated in recent years from being "this most civilized of nations", but it needs to be said once in a while, to remind us of where we came from.

Editorial: Torture, WikiLeaks and our lost sanity

By Dan Gardner, Times Colonist December 7, 2010 6:48 AM

Last week, in response to a question from the opposition, a minister of the Crown stood in the House of Commons and assured the honourable members that neither he nor the prime minister of Canada advocates the murder of Julian Assange.

How is it possible that in this most civilized of nations, in 2010, a member of Parliament felt the need to raise the matter?

And while we're asking rhetorical questions that would not need to be asked in a sane world, how is it possible that the Republican party has so completely embraced aggression and brutality that almost all its leading figures feel the near-drowning of suspects is a valid interrogation technique and imprisonment without charge or trial is a legitimate practice that should be expanded?

Why is it that most people in the United States and elsewhere are not disturbed in the slightest that, despite abundant evidence, American officials who apparently committed heinous crimes in the war on terror will not be investigated and held to account, while WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who apparently did nothing illegal, is hunted to the ends of the Earth?

And how in hell is it possible that when a former U.S. president admits he authorized torture -- which is to say, he admits he committed a major crime -- the international media and political classes express not a fraction of the anger they are now directing at the man who leaked the secrets of that president's administration?

I marvel at that paragraph. It would have been inconceivable even 10 years ago. Murder treated as a legitimate option in political discourse? Torture as acceptable government policy? No, impossible. A decade ago, it would have been satire too crude to be funny.

And yet, here we are. The question in the Commons was prompted by the televised comments of Tom Flanagan, political scientist and former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "I think Assange should be assassinated, actually," Flanagan said last Tuesday.

This was the hard-right laid bare. The day before, Sarah Palin said much the same. Explicitly or implicitly, so did many others.

Happily for the cause of decency, sanity and civilization, Flanagan apologized for his comments. Less happily, the others did not.

It started on Sept. 11, 2001. We were frightened. We were prepared to think the unthinkable, to accept what had been rejected, in the name of security. What was it Ben Franklin said about those who would trade liberty for security? We couldn't remember.

It was small stuff at first. There was talk of "stress-and-duress" interrogation techniques. It's only sleep deprivation and a little pain, we were told. It's not torture.

Incarceration without charge or trial. Kidnapping. "Enhanced interrogation." Detainee deaths. We learned more and more but cared less and less.

A 2009 Pew poll found half of Americans think torture is "often" or "sometimes" justified when interrogating terrorists. Another 22 per cent say it's "rarely" the right thing to do. Only one-quarter say it's always wrong.

Critics now call the Republicans the "party of torture" for good reason. Dick Cheney's bizarre and legally absurd claim that the near-drowning of prisoners -- "waterboarding" -- is acceptable because it isn't torture is now dogma among leading Republicans who either don't know or don't care that this and other policies they advocate would be deemed major crimes by any court in the civilized world.

Then along comes George W. Bush with a memoir and the boast that "damn right" he had authorized waterboarding. Waterboarding is torture. Torture is a major crime. Bush freely admitted it.

And the Convention Against Torture requires authorities everywhere to investigate and prosecute "wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed."

Which they refuse to do. And most people are just fine with that. Stuff the law.

Now, contrast this with Assange. One can argue -- as I would -- that Assange is an irresponsible zealot. One can also argue that there should be a law forbidding what he did. But there isn't. Legal analysts have looked hard but it seems that what Assange did wasn't a crime.

And a lot of people want the U.S. government to murder him.

I suppose, if I were considerably more cynical, and liked crude satire, it would be funny. But all it makes me feel is a vague sadness for something that has been lost.

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist


And something from Julian Assange himself, writing to The Australian, a national paper Down Under. Nice swipe at Rupert Murdoch, too:

Don't shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths
Julian Assange
From: The Australian December 08, 2010

WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.

IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide's The News, wrote: "In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch's expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain's The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be "taken out" by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be "hunted down like Osama bin Laden", a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a "transnational threat" and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister's office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a US investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the US.

Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn't want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.

Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: "You'll risk lives! National security! You'll endanger troops!" Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can't be both. Which is it?

It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn't find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.

But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:

► The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.

► King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US to attack Iran.

► Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran's nuclear program stopped by any means available.

► Britain's Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect "US interests".

► Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.

► The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said "only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government". The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.

ltmurnau: (Default)
I post this here because I know I'll wnat to refer to it later, and I'll forget where it was.

I saw it on, a place I peruse a lot lately, but ultimately, it came from

Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Becoming a Third World Country

In the course of writing last week’s Archdruid Report post, I belatedly realized that there’s a very simple way to talk about the scope of the brutal economic contraction now sweeping through American society – a way, furthermore, that might just be able to sidestep both the obsessive belief in progress and the equally obsessive fascination with apocalyptic fantasy that, between them, make up much of what passes for thinking about the future these days. It’s to point out that, over the next decade or so, the United States is going to finish the process of becoming a Third World country.

Read more... )

Interesting points raised here. Further below in the comments, someone posted:

"Over the past couple of decades, gangs and their turf wars have spread far from the inner cities and large population areas of the northeast and west where they first gained a foothold, into the south and areas much more sparsely populated and rural. Case in point, a small city near here with no more than 15K in population, tucked deeply inside the local "potato belt," now has a gang problem ! A gang problem complete with graffiti border markings, drug trafficking and murder of rival gang members. It seems that gangs are now well established in most areas of the country. And the sheer number and variety of gang affiliations out there is mind-boggling, to say the least.

So, it occurred to me a few weeks ago that in many ways, this gang phenomenon echoes the turf wars and civil wars that often break out in third world countries and work to keep the populace hounded and terrorized, drain the economy of some of its last shreds of normal productivity and continually disrupt normal trade operations. If the US governing infrastructure weakens significantly - as it well may because of funding issues, many cities and counties are already cutting back their police forces - I worry that the vacuum will be rapidly filled by this ever-present "criminal element" and that these rival factions will plunge many areas of this country into a situation very like the one Mexico is currently dealing with where the civilians in some areas are literally trapped between armies in an ongoing and vicious war over turf and political control....."
ltmurnau: (Default)
My stepsister Maria, visiting from Britain, arrived last night. I haven't seen her in 12 years! I made breakfast for her, my Dad, Gary and Denise in the morning and came into work in the afternoon.

Then I read 's post (, and then read the following in today's Tyee, reflecting thoughts I have had over the last couple of years. Murray Dobbin's columns often overstate the case I think, but still, something to think about here.

The Ugly Canadian
Nine ways we are ruining our once enviable reputation in the world.

By Murray Dobbin, Today,

It was really just a matter of time. The deep well of affection and respect around the world that Canada has drawn on for decades has been slowly poisoned by the Harper government (and the Liberals immediately before it) and the world is now taking serious notice. In the words of the famous Yes Men (who pulled off the brilliant hoax in Copenhagen): "We've always kind of grown up looking up to Canada... We've always thought that Canadians were such nice people and had much better policies than we did -- national health care and all that. And this is just a real disappointment for us, energy policy and learning that Canadians' carbon footprint per capita is higher than us." The Copenhagen conference may just be the final burden that brings us to critical mass, that qualitative leap where Canada is suddenly seen as a mean-spirited, disingenuous, and reactionary force in the family of nations.

Here are some of the most important image-busters in Canada's foreign policy bag of nasty tricks.

Read more... )
ltmurnau: (Default)
I post this here for historical interest.

Opposition wins landslide in Japan election

Last Updated: Sunday, August 30, 2009 | 4:02 PM ET CBC News

After 54 years of nearly unbroken rule, Japan's ruling conservative party conceded defeat Sunday to the left-of-centre opposition in parliamentary elections.
Read more... )

Perhaps some interesting changes coming; perhaps not.
But having one party run your country for 55 years is no sort of democracy at all. The LDP even had the electoral districts so gerrymandered that one farmer's vote was worth three city-dwellers' votes. They got the votes, they dished out the lolly, until the roof finally fell in.
ltmurnau: (Default)
It could just be me -
I've been coughing and feeling exhausted all week, feels like a relapse of that cold/flu, coming back as bronchitis -
or it's the weird weather -
or just apathy -
but I don't feel like doing an electoral post-mortem as I did in 2005:

But I probably will. Can't keep away from crunching those numbers, in my amateurish way. I see there are a few recounts, and in 16 districts there was less than 5% difference between elected and runner-up.

But no one particularly seems to care - voter turnout was under 50%, down from 58% in 2005, down from 70% in 1983. I just read a news story where it alleged that the Stanley Cup playoffs interfered with the voter turnout, or maybe it was the election that interfered with the Canucks' chances (ha)....

This kind of stuff amazes me though! If people can't be arsed to go and vote, but will stay in line for two or three days to get tickets for something, then they shouldn't have the right to complain about the government they elected, or didn't elect, however you want to look at it. Voting is one of those acts of civic responsibility that seem minor but are actually quite important, it's an act of faith in the idea that people getting together and choosing others to run things on their behalf has merit. And if you don't turn out for that, well, I guess that's a choice too.

BAH! (shuffles off, coughing and hacking)

[EDIT: saw this in the comments to Rafe Mair's post-election column in the Tyee:

"... according to the wisdom of the BC electorate [we should have]:

Conservative - 0 [ ~ 2% counted voters]
Green - 3 seats [ ~ 8% counted voters]
New Dem -19 seats [ ~ 42% counted voters]
Liberals - 21 seats [ ~ 46% counted voters]
Empty seats - 42 [ ~ 50% / absent ]"]
ltmurnau: (Default)
Certainly it is now common knowledge that Glenn Beck is Losing It Big-Time, but I missed this segment of his show that aired in February 09 where they more or less fantasize about insurrection against their own duly elected government.

Didn't you ever wonder what had happened to the militia movement, who used to supply all the stock bad guys and wackos for the crime shows back in the Clinton Years?

Sunday Feb. 22, 2009 07:36 EST
Fox News "war games" the coming civil war

Read more... )
Link with other links and references:

More on Glenn Beck, Fox News and conspiracies:
ltmurnau: (Default)
Everyone said they wanted change, and so they got together and made some.

As of right now, the balance is:

Electoral College votes: 349 Obama, 162 McCain
Congress: 254 Democrat, 173 Republican
Senate: 54 Democrat, 40 Republican

So, we have a trifecta of a Democratic President and both chambers, with a clear hold on power (oh, will Al Franken get in as the junior Senator for Minnesota? If he and a couple of others do, then it's a filibuster-proof Sneate majority.).

But what will they do with that power? How could one even begin to address digging Uncle Sam out of the enormous manure pile Bush & Co. have piled up on top of him?

Bear in mind also that while the Democrats have a clear preponderance of elected representatives, the popular vote is still deeply divided:

Democrats: about 63.2 million votes (52%)
Republicans: about 55.8 million votes (46%)

That's not a great popular mandate, and it shows how the American system can get just as skewed between popular vote and representation as ours can, but in a different way. ( That's less than eight million votes' difference of the total 137 million votes cast - which was only 64% of all the 214 million votes that could have been cast by all registered voters, and an even smaller percentage of the who-knows-how-many-million Americans who could have voted but did not even bother to register. (Though in fairness, good on the Yanks for getting as historically good a turnout as 64%, apparently the best in the last 45 years.)

Any-hoo, that's 56 million people out there who will just as energetically declare that Obama is "not my President" as fervently as many left-wingers denied over the last eight years that George W. Bush spoke for them, or for America as a whole, on anything. That's not a judgement, it's just the way things are, and if the Ewe Assay can't get its act together on this, then the Democrats will have frittered away what, on this day, looks like a chance for some substantive change.

Or Not.


Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons
packed up and ready to go
Heard of some gravesites, out by the highway
a place where nobody knows
The sound of gunfire, off in the distance
I'm getting used to it now
Lived in a brownstone, lived in the ghetto
I've lived all over this town

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco
this ain't no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey
I ain't got time for that now

Transmit the message, to the receiver
hope for an answer some day
I got three passports, couple of visas
don't even know my real name
High on a hillside, trucks are loading
everything's ready to roll
I sleep in the daytime, I work in the nightime
I might not ever get home

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco
this ain't no fooling around
This ain't no mudd club, or C. B. G. B.
I ain't got time for that now

Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
somebody might see you up there
I got some groceries, some peanut butter
to last a couple of days
But I ain't got no speakers
ain't got no headphones
ain't got no records to play

Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
Gonna be different this time
Can't write a letter, can't send a postcard
I can't write nothing at all
This ain't no party, this ain't no disco
this ain't no fooling around
I'd love you hold you, I'd like to kiss you
I ain't got no time for that now

Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock
we blended in with the crowd
We got computers, we're tapping phone lines
I know that ain't allowed
We dress like students, we dress like housewives
or in a suit and a tie
I changed my hairstyle so many times now
don't know what I look like!
You make me shiver, I feel so tender
we make a pretty good team
Don't get exhausted, I'll do some driving
you ought to get you some sleep
Get you instructions, follow directions
then you should change your address
Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day
whatever you think is best

Burned all my notebooks, what good are notebooks?
They won't help me survive
My chest is aching, burns like a furnace
the burning keeps me alive
Try to stay healthy, physical fitness
don't want to catch no disease
Try to be careful, don't take no chances
you better watch what you say
ltmurnau: (Default)
I'm posting this here mostly for future reference and present bitterness:

Read more... )
ltmurnau: (Default)
Now here's an interesting thing - it was about time this issue was burped back into the spotlight anyway:

Artists oppose Tory plan to vet films before granting tax credits

Last Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2008 | 2:22 PM ET
The Canadian Press

Canada's arts community is condemning proposed changes to the Income Tax Act that would allow the federal government to pull financial help for film or television programs that it finds offensive or not in the public interest.
Read more... )

Well, yes, of course this is censorship, and the terms "offensive" or "not in the public interest" are flabby as all get-out, and potentially this does lend itself to all kinds of abuse. So what next?

I'm not sure whether this notion comes from a "fundamentalist perspective" as the man alleges above, images of the Mapplethorpe-Helms-NEA debacle running through his head. These things seem to come up every time an artist who's received public funding (at the time or in the past) does something someone else doesn't like, or whenever some politician remembers once seeing something he didn't like and realizes all over again that there's always a good percentage in going after Culture That Isn't Robert Bateman. It also seems to me that regardless of which party is in power in Canada, the Heritage Minister always seems to be someone who doesn't have much use for or personal interest in the portfolio - seems to be kind of a loser post.

I have to say I am quite ambivalent on the general issue of public funding for the arts. The fact of the matter is, whether public funding was involved or not, there will be some art - perhaps I should say "entertainment", since films and TV are what's being discussed in this case - that some people don't "get", don't like, and don't want. David Cronenberg's infamous film Shivers, one of the first to get assistance from the Canada Film Development Corporation was savaged by Reggie Fulford in Saturday Night magazine in 1975 as "an atrocity" and "the most repulsive film I have ever seen", and concluded with the statement "If using public money to produce films like this is the only way English Canada can have a film industry, then perhaps English Canada should not have a film industry."

The fact is, there is no agency, organization, board or council that should determine the artistic merit of anything. The concept has no objective reality. It cannot be anything other than a strictly individual decision, one of the few left to us. Die Gedanken as I like to say so often, sind frei.

From there it's an easy jump to the idealistic position that there should be no government funding for the arts, in any form, not no way, not no how. I never got any Canada Council grants for the numerous and minor provocations and creative atrocities I've inflicted on the world in my time, nor was I ever accountable to anyone, not even the postman who delivered my work to its unwitting recipient. But that's too much of an easy out, almost as impractical as demanding there should be unlimited public funding for anyone who wants to do anything creative.

It certainly does not work for films and TV, because these are expensive to make - and there's the important difference! It's a truism that it takes money to make money, and the only reason why there continues to be even a vestige of a cultural industry in this country is because it does make money. Shivers made money - no one expected it to, but it did. And while it was being made, people running the cameras, making sandwiches, and mopping up the fake blood and goo were putting food on their respective tables when they went home at night. Can't be all bad.

So, does "not in the public interest" necessarily mean "unsaleable or not commercially viable"? Some (but not all people) in Stephen Harper's government would take the semi-libertarian argument that the ultimate arbiter for culture is the marketplace. If people pay to look at it, there must be something in it. Others in that government wouldn't even want you to see so much as some side-boob, no matter how much you wanted to pay, because government, in their view, has to be some kind of moral enforcer.

Anyway, I am rather going in circles here because I don't have the answer - that's why I say I'm ambivalent about the issue. Would like to hear your thoughts.


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