Sunday, 31 January 2016

Sarah truths

No, it wasn't the  fact of hispanics being rapists, or drug lords, or criminals; it was just those "democrats" coming across the border.



Glad we got that over with.
--zr

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Extreme Entitlement, Alberta Style: Conservative Christine Cusanelli Pounces on the Public Teat


Extreme Entitlement, Alberta Style: Conservative Christine Cusanelli Pounces on the Public Teat

Oh well, I’ve had little to say on the Alberta election—who ever would, since governments change in Alberta in more or less the same way as they did in the Soviet Union or under the PRI in Mexico.  No dictator, anywhere, could ever look down more fondly and patronizingly ("math is hard, Miss Notchley") upon the Alberta electorate than a Tory leader.  Even Robert Mugabe must have taken a lot of notes, over time.

Still, I’m writing this post because I just have to say that it really stuck in my craw, big time, when I actually got a call from a semi-English speaking member of Cusanelli’s “team.”  Oh I’d like to believe that he was just one great big idealist who loved Cusanelli, but, after nearly ½ century, I think I can be excused for kind of doubting that he was just there for the stale doughnuts and warm coffee (sorry, scotch and steak, if you’re a PC).

Tory robo-calling is all-out now, with voters in Alberta getting nearly constant taped fright calls (what, couldn’t they actually find a warm body?) about the possibility of electing a party other than the PCs.  If you know you’re losing, and you have no volunteers, and you resort to canned scare calls. . .well, just sayin.’

Cusanelli, though, of Calgary-Currie, probably will win on May 5, and thus score her lifetime pension by being elected twice.  She could face a bit of opposition from the right, but it’s not all that likely.  No, all probability suggests that she will be re-elected (visit her site, I guess, to find out what she did in her first elected term) and score that automatic lifetime entitlement that comes automatically along with being elected twice for the PCs.  Frankly, I’m amazed the PCs would have elected her to run as their candidate again, but so they did, for entitlement runs deep.

You wouldn’t have heard of Cusanelli, because, well, why would you have, unless you’d noted her very first actions in public office: to start sucking madly, voraciously, like some kind of bionic polyp, on the public teat.  She instantly took her mother and daughter to the London Olympics on taxpayer money (yours and mine), and charged up an astounding amount of expenses billed to—you and me—taxpayers, including a $100 Starbucks gift card.  I kinda doubt Christine ever bought a $100 Starbucks gift card for herself, or anyone else, before she was elected as a PC and instantly introduced into cabinet by Alison Redford, but as soon as she could start sucking on the public teat like a crazed woman, she let loose with all barrels.  It’s all there in black and white, or at least the parts the public are allowed to see:

http://www.calgaryherald.com/sports/Calgary+Christine+Cusanelli+repays+taxpayers+after+flying+family+members+Olympics/7658409/story.html


I think Cusanelli’s actions say things about her, and her party. 

 First, it is amazing to me that anyone would be elected to public office and so instantly start sucking on the public teat as urgently and as vigorously as she did.  Yes, I guess it happens, especially in entitled Conservative circles, and especially in Alberta ones, where winning the nomination to be a PC candidate is infinitely more important than anything you’ll ever go on to do afterwards.  Christine knew that.  I’ve worked in at least quasi-political circles, and I know how careful I and my colleagues were to avoid even the slightest hint of spending others’ money.  But we knew people could come in and go over our files—Cusanelli, and her backer Alison Redford, clearly never had such thoughts on their minds—Redford wouldn’t have instantly begun building her sky-palace (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/alberta/alison-redfords-sky-palace-unveiled-but-as-humbler-meeting-rooms/article22731201/), once elected, if she had thought otherwise.  Who knows, maybe Alison was just, as Christine suggested she herself was, a little dumb, and didn’t really “get” the rules.  I suspect, though, that if you asked them, both Christine and Alison would react a little vociferously to the suggestion that they were somehow a bit slow on the uptake, on anything.  Oh, I’m sure they aren’t.  The evidence is in, well in; they knew exactly what they were doing, and if they want to prove, in a court of law, that they were just momentarily, serially, brainless idiots, then they are free to pursue their cases.

 

[Funny thing, Cusanelli was supposedly a school administrator before she sought the Tories.  Interesting.  She might have had a good pension in that job, but the allure of the public teat and Tory entitlement must have been overwhelming—the carte blanche of the PCs was irresistible even to someone who _had_  what would look like a fulfilling and well-pensioned position.  So much for smelly, runny-nosed kids—Christine had her eye on a much bigger prize she could bag in 8 years or less, forget 25.]

Further, Cusanelli’s sense of entitlement must go back to her family and her upbringing.  It may be that she coveted the Tories and the lifetime pension it brings and is about to bring her, and it may be that her good family just kept supporting her.  Good.  But if I just got a new job, and I told my family, “hey, folks, we’re all going to Disneyland!!  And I’ve kind of maybe got a meeting a little bit related to my new job while we’re there, but we can all go, and I’m paying,” you know what—do you know what—I’m going to say that again—DO YOU KNOW WHAT—MY family probably would have said, “er, Christine, can we afford this?  It sounds fun and we’re grateful, but, uh, can we do this now?  Maybe we can wait a bit and have a nice vacation sometime. . . .”  But oh no, not Christine Cusanelli, and not her family.  They were ALL eager to start sucking on the public teat like crazed maniacs.  Thus, while I do not believe that all parents should always be made to take total responsibility for the actions of their children (even 30-year-olds), I do swell with disgust at Cusanelli’s family, who, if they did not know they were sucking money out of taxpayers’ wallets, at least allowed themselves to go along with Christine’s charade.  They could say they didn’t know, but to say they didn’t know better would, once again, ask them to have to prove, in something like a court of law, just how it was that they so remarkably did not know better what pretty much most all normal working people in the world do.

For shame, for shame.

Second, the Alberta Conservatives took Christine’s attempts to gouge taxpayers in stride.  Sure, she wasn’t in the cabinet anymore, but hey, she’s our gal, is what the Alberta PC government and the good burghers of the Calgary-Currie riding association had to say.  Who knows, maybe the executive of the Calgary-Currie PC riding association had already done, over their lifetimes, a little of the ol’ public “gouging” themselves.  I don’t know.  But it says something about the Calgary-Currie PCs that they’d get behind an MLA whose first actions in office were to start sucking, egregiously, on the taxpayer teat.  Ask yourself—would you have done it?  And if you would have, why?  Had you done it yourself and found it to be enjoyable and rewarding behaviour?  Only PC executives can answer that one.

So anyway, desperate, fearmongering PCs, quit calling me.  I wouldn’t even have been stirred to write this post if I hadn’t gotten so many paranoid PC calls.  Who are the PCs afraid of?  The people? Christine will get in again and get a gold-plated pension for less than 8 years of work (since T-Bird Jim Prentice busted the PCs’s own legislation about “fixed” elections).  When she retires, years and even decades before many, she’ll be able to do many London junkets, on taxpayer money.  Albertans will have reassured themselves, as they have for nearly a half century, that they’d done the right thing, and that, in the interests of investment and job creation, Christine’s flying around the world with her family really and truly were tremendously worth it.  I’m sure Christine Cusanelli’s contributions to public life will, by that time, have been absolutely legendary.

--zr

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Henein's Law, Canada's


Articling?
 
A little bit bedraggling.




Getting off accused rapists whilst promoting yourself on the web--


 
--priceless.
 
--zr
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 

Ferguson Jenkins: Best NHL Hall-of-Famer Canada Never Had?


Ferguson Jenkins:  Best NHL Hall-of-Famer Canada Never Had?

Abstract: Baseball has begun again.  The Cubs have a new manager, by any estimation a fine man and fine baseball mind, Joe Maddon.  They also have about seven top shortstop prospects.  Can the Cubs go all the way in 2016 or 2017?  We’ll see.  This post is about the 1974 National Film Board Donald Brittain documentary, King of the Hill, in turn about Ferguson Jenkins and the Cubs in ’72-’73.  Don’t bother with this post; just watch the documentary:  https://www.nfb.ca/film/king_of_the_hill  (You can also find it on youtube, just as you can Dennis Martinez’s Perfect Game, which I wrote about a long time ago on this blog.)  If Frank Mahovolich can become a senator, then how, in the world, didn't Ferguson Jenkins?

 April 2015 – Well, baseball is upon us again; “hope springs eternal” has given way almost already to “the boys of summer.”

For those parched nomadic Expos fans out there. . .there is no relief.  There is none.

Yes, we were the champions in ’94. . . .

By any “metric,” and any non-metric, Chatham, Ontario’s Ferguson Jenkins put up just about the best numbers one could conceivably put up—mostly with the Cubs . (!)


 He probably would have won about 360 (ok well, 320-325) with the Cardinals or Dodgers, say.  Numbers kids doing graduate theses should study Jenkins’s numbers to see what a perfect, durable, 4-pitch pitcher he was.  But caution: in the search for someone more metrical than him, they might never finish their dissertations.

For any baseball fans out there, check out King of the Hill (1974), an hour-long documentary about Fergie, following him from spring training to. . .well, it’s the Cubs, off-season hunting and fishing (in NL!!!).  It’s an NFB (National Film Board) production, made and narrated by the redoubtable Donald Brittain, who also brought you unforgettable portraits of people like Leonard Cohen, if you weren’t watching (https://www.nfb.ca/film/mesdames_et_messieurs_m_leonard_cohen). Brittain’s dry, repressed, “I’m-almost-afraid-of-doing/saying-this-on-film” narration actually works well, all these decades down the road, for those of us who still love baseball love the dry and wry, nostalgic and modern-weary delivery, just like we like the canny Woody Fryman or Doyle Alexander pulling the string on those kids, just one more time.  It isn’t that we’re old farts; we just appreciate it more, each time it happens, because it reminds us that we aren’t old farts, and once upon a time, we didn’t have to pull that string.  In a way that never could have been grasped in 1974, Donald Brittain actually makes a great throwback commentator for today—the same ones you Cardinals and Padres fans of today, and ye old Tigers fans of yesteryear, clutch so close.  No, for anyone who watches this documentary and finds the voiceover silly, I say this to you: “Yes, it is incredibly silly.  It was incontestably silly in 1974, when there were helicopter shirt collars and bell bottoms that could make you Mary Poppins on a steam-grate, but now, in our petticoated age of mass porn and invented heritage, it strikes. . .just. . .the right. . .note. . .for baseball.”

And if you listen (and watch) carefully, of course, Brittain is very sly and ironic, in a way those who love and appreciate the game will grin at, rather than rebuke.

 It’s crucial to remember, here, that the Harper Conservatives have cut the NFB and will probably cut it again, within weeks of this post; the erasure of Canadian history, and its replacement with “values” (code: “mine: not yours”) is just one more reason for this post.  When slaves were transported to North America, one of the first things slavebuyers did was try to break those slaves down, according to language, so that slaves from Africa couldn’t communicate with each other.  The Harper government, using taxpayer money, is doing precisely the same thing, trying to break down national, shared, communal and family-generational institutions by breaking them up and degrading them so that they can be replaced with blanket media advertising propounding shared “Harper” values that will instill fear and greed leading to greater class separation and greater entitlements for the already entitled.  If you were to say to me, “oh, come on, come off it, Dan, you’re way too cynical,” all I could say would be, “ok, how?”  Watched the hockey playoffs and YOUR money being used by the Conservatives to promote themselves, lately?  Dictators could only hope for such freedom and access to public money and airwaves.

I’m kinda starting to feel it, so should stop.  The ways I could conflate baseball and society and morality are almost limitless.  Therefore, I’ll draw it down to three (all probably related) things that really stood out for me in the documentary (other than Joe Pepitone at first, for you ball fans out there):

1) NHL star--about 17:20, Fergie’s dad talking about what a great hockey player Fergie was, and about his mom.  We sports fans, we all live in the world of what-ifs, especially in baseball, but if you can imagine Fergie’s frame and touch and talent, and pace the Herb Carnegies and Will O’Ree’s and Mike Marstons, well, it’s hard, so very hard not to think that Ferguson Jenkins would have been a once-in-a-generation winger, warding off bodies and settling pucks for goals or assists like few others of his time.  Odd that, although we congratulate ourselves, in Canada, that Jackie Robinson could play for the Montreal Royals, we (our “values”?) elide what others might have done.  (To read more about Herb Carnegie, see: http://www.amazon.ca/Fly-Pail-Milk-Carnegie-Story/dp/0889626049).  It’s a sad reflection, but based on any evidence, probably a true one, that Ferguson Jenkins had a lot more opportunity to pursue his athletic talents in the U.S. than he did in Canada.  Oh, it’s complicated, but maybe not that much.

 2) Composure—about 22:00 and throughout the documentary, you see the reserved and guarded and mature nature of the black ballplayers, Fergie with Billy Williams in probably a hotel room.  Players like Fergie and Billy and Cito Gaston came up through times when they had to stay at different hotels, eat in different restaurants, etc.  That no doubt instilled a certain guardedness, maybe even a “secret code,” like the one Harper is trying to instill in us now—a sense that we’re not all humans, but that others are somehow less human than us.  Anyway, it will strike anyone who watches Donald Brittain’s documentary just how much fun and yakkety-yak and haw-haw the white guys are having, while the black guys are all pretty business, at least off the field—they’ve got much more on the line, and that’s largely counter to any stereotypes, then or now. (If anyone wants to argue re: Ernie Banks, who we see briefly, then ok, let’s talk.)  I could be wrong about this, but only a bit.  You tell me.  It’s a blog.

 3) Expos—former champions, 1994.  Jarry Park. 34:40 As the Cubs were (of course) collapsing, Ron Santo made it to first base on a walk.  The following is his conversation with Ron Fairly, a man who had a heck of a career and played a heck of a lot of ball in Canada.

 Santo: I don’t git it.

Fairly: It’s a tough fuckin’ ballpark.

 Santo: Damn right it is.  Bad.  Tough to hit, tough to field, tough to do everything.

 --It’s a nice town, though.

 Fairly: Oh yeah.

 

 
--zr

 

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Always Join a Club of Which You Weren't a Member: Mike Duffy and the Senate


Abstract:  Whatever happens in the Mike Duffy trial, let’s not forget one thing: Duffy watched the Senate for decades, and he wanted a part of it.  Whatever might be said of his actions, or of the (comically alleged) hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil, see-no-evil members of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s most intimate inner circle, the Duffster knew, from long, long experience, that the Senate was the place to be for easy money.  That the Duffster, an ultimate insider, knew what the Senate was like for so long, and so desperately longed to get into it, should make all Liberal and Conservative supporters wonder why they so enthusiastically support, for purely partisan reasons, the red chamber.  That’s red as in your money disappearing.

 No-one seems to be all that preoccupied by the fact that a guy who reported on politicians for decades so desperately wanted to be an unelected one.  I submit that that is a problem.

Sure the Duffy trial is annoying, but let’s not forget that the Duffster was watching it for decades; he knew what was going on, and he knew what he could get, and he wanted it, badly.  Mix in some party work, and the “Senate” becomes a taxpayer-funded propaganda instrument, even more expensive than the $75 million you already spent (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/that-75-million-in-ads-you-paid-for/article23824771/).  To what extent are Peter Mansbridge and Lisa LaFlamme already sizing up their opportunities, solidifying their contacts, making sure they’re at the head of the line?  You’d have to be mentally absent to think that Mansbridge and LaFlamme are not going to be your handsomely-paid and expensed senatorial representatives just a few years from now.

 Key thing to remember about the Duffster, lest we all lose sight of it, is that the Duffster was a Hill veteran for years.  He knew the ins ands outs, and the in-and-outs.  He angled like an obsessed man for his appointment, even launching lawsuits against those he thought hurt his entitlement opportunities (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Duffy).   Now, you could say, well, Mike was just tired of being a journalist and wanted to get in on the real political action in a partisan way his “journalistic” profession had “technically” always denied him.  I’d almost respect him for that—Mike Duffy waking up one day and saying, “Gee, I’m a Conservative, and I’m going to dedicate the rest of my life to that cause.”

But no, that’s not how it works.  Mike Duffy was there, all the time, and though he may have been more craven than most, he admired and was utterly smitten by the lawlessness of the entire Senate, the easy access to taxpayer money, the unashamed and mock-serious gloating of the party hack appointees.  He watched it for decades, and he wanted a part of that moral- and tax- and cost-free zone.  Who wouldn’t?  It says much, much indeed that Liberal and Conservative supporters have cherished, for partisan and publicly extortionate reasons, a body that, from its origins, was intended to preserve privilege, as opposed to initiative (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_senate).  Good ol’ Bertie Brown, the great Conservative farmer-senate-reformer Senator, was able to ring up over $330 000 in expenses in just one year (http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadas-only-elected-senator-also-the-most-expensive).  I’ve never met Bert Brown, but I know kinfolk like his, and all of them would be ashamed and disgusted to know that they had ever known such an individual as him.  His family will for generations be remembered as the one that used Canadian taxpayers for massive personal emolument while pretending to be on their sides.

The occasional jurisdiction has eliminated senatorial entitlement (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_abolished_upper_houses), and not necessarily for altruistic reasons.

Nancy Ruth, who objected to cold cheese and crumbled crackers on airplanes, raised a valid point when she said that “flying around the world” (in her case, for basic Senate purposes, Toronto to Ottawa), was something that others “just didn’t understand” (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/04/01/liberal-nancy-ruth-says-auditors-dont-understand-what-being-senator-is-like.html).  When you’re accustomed to such entitlement, you just go with the flow and take it as it comes, and it does become very easy to blend the private with the professional.  Yet it *can*, pace entitled Nancy Ruth, be hard to differentiate between legitimate personal expenses and professional ones.  They *can* blend. And sometimes, there *are* grey areas.  But, by appointing only party hacks and promoters, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has clearly upped the game—to be a Senator now, as Pamela Wallin and Duffy have shown, is not really about not being very clear on the already rather fuzzy rules; it’s about exploiting whatever fuzziness there is (Dean del Mastro, anyone?) for partisan Conservative purposes to indebt Canadian taxpayers for ideological reasons.

And there, really, is the rub.  Mike Duffy, who knew what was going on for decades, wanted a piece of the action.  Stephen Harper, operating in a personal moral-free zone with respect to taxpayers, liked the cut of the Duffster’s jib, and wanted some of the Duffster’s ample influence for his own: hence, the Senate. 

Plus ca change, ou est-ce qu’on peut change?

--zr

 

 

Friday, 27 March 2015

Germanwings 9525 = Al-Qaeda Triumphs Again

Germanwings 9525 = Al-Qaeda Triumphs Again

 Abstract: Fear and paranoia enabled the conditions and killing of the passengers on Germanwings 9525; in honour of the victims of that flight, and for all future fliers, sensible policies, that do not replace reasonable prudence with get-tough politically-expedient reactions and expressions of fear, nor place sole power in the hands of One person or agency, should be enacted.

 Surely I’m far from the first (1000, 10 000?) people to make this simple point, but fear and paranoia and obsession with “security” appear to have led to another disaster and mass loss of human life.  That the 9/11 attackers de facto created a policy that made much of the world place collective fates in the hands of one extreme or potentially wingnut person no doubt gratifies them immensely in their exquisite afterlives—surely such terror, or infidel reduction, was key amongst their goals.

The tragedy occurred because one pilot was allowed to stay in the cockpit, and prevent entry from anyone else.

(I’m a little uncomfortable that now, barely two--three days after the crash, we’re being asked to trust officials who tell us it was an intentional downing by a sole-acting young co-pilot.  A little more time for the public revelation of evidence and something emulating some sort of legal process would be more reassuring.)

 I’m struck by how former pilots and aviation talking heads are expressing shock and amazement that pilots would do something so horrible, when of course there are many examples of pilots embracing their godlike roles and taking many lives other than their own into their hands not for professional reasons, but for their own personal use and/or destruction (Ethiopian Airlines 702 and Egypt Air 990 are a couple of recent examples amongst numerous instances).  On CTV News, an “aviation expert” named Phyl Durdey offered: “You know, who would think that, y’know, an aircraft would be put into a descent by the co-pilot?”  I can’t speak for Phyl, but I don’t care if there’s 4 passengers or 400—I sure wouldn’t want to be on board an aircraft if one of the pilots found out that, say, he was being canned, or his co-pilot was sleeping with his wife, or something.  Phyl seems to attribute godlike non-humanity to pilots, and with reference to the black box in the German pilot’s head, Phyl’s views are terrifyingly ironic, indeed. 

(And Phyl, dude, if you’re out there, flying somewhere, I was initially with you.  I really didn’t buy that a pilot, wishing to commit suicide and mass murder, would do it so slowly and deliberately.  I would have thought he’d just have done a nosedive.  So far, we have only what “officials” tell us—heavy breathing and no contact—and for me that’s not total circumstantial incrimination enough—but that does not take away from the fact that there have been numerous instances of pilots taking themselves and their passengers down with them in recent years. Dan Zorg has been acquainted with several pilots, and one very close pilot acquaintance in particular has expressed greater mystification than this post does.)

As with most people, this crash caused me to reflect on some of my own flying experiences.  I remember being becalmed at the sleepy little Dusseldorf airport for hours on a bright sunny morning.  I remember being young—not that young—and being on an Air New Zealand flight. . .somehow, and surely not through anything anyone said with intention, the flight crew must have learned that it was my birthday, and an elderly pilot came right down to my seat and asked me if I’d like to see the flight deck.  Imagine (!).  I’m pretty sure I can remember, not just imagine, times when the flight deck was actually open during the flight and I could glimpse it.

 Or then there’s good ol’ Air Canada.  One time, just after 9/11, I was coming home from the U.S., and it was one bizarre flight.  The flight crew brought our food, late at night, and then disappeared to sulk, never to return.  We all sat there with our trays for an hour or so, and then began shifting them into bulkheads and under seats and into the aisles and so on; the attendants weren’t coming back.  This wasn’t prior to any kind of strike or major job action or anything.  I still don’t know what was up.  But what’s so chilling to think of now was how the Air Canada pilot (was he alone?) came on during that inky night at 35 000 feet or more and embarked on this long and incomprehensible diatribe about things in general.  He invoked Christ (Preston—“Presto”—‘no government is good but if we just follow God it’ll be great!!’--Manning, seated a few rows behind me, was perhaps comforted, but I sure as heck wasn’t).  The pilot talked about holidays and work and unfairness and so on, but I do remember he didn’t say anything explicit to explain what was going on behind him, as the flight crew basically vanished and refused to work.  He definitely didn’t support them or explain anything.  He really only referred to himself, not crew or passengers. But he talked religion and fumed and rambled disconnectedly as though he were playing a video game or poking a mobile device at the same time.  I suppose he was—I hope he was.  To be truthful, my most exact recollection of this flight was exchanging looks with my flight partner, looking up and around in the darkened cabin (I still have the beige mental images, to be sure), and just thinking to myself (praying?), “Christ, I wish he’d just shut up, because the longer he keeps talking and keeps working himself into this lather, the more dangerous it gets for all of us and the more likely it will be for all of us that something catastrophic could happen because of his distractedness and anger.”  Only when he quit rambling, and nothing radical ensued, did I start to breathe easier.  Thank goodness I didn’t have a heart condition and was flying, say, to see family for an almost last time—the Air Canada pilot’s irresponsibility could have caused a death in and of itself.  Was there anyone with him?  Maybe there was and it finally caused him to glance over and take a nod and settle down.  Or maybe there wasn’t and he took advantage of his godlike moments to berate the world in general as we soared through the black night in his hands.  Something like the Germanwings flight sure makes you recollect and ponder.

How in the world could a responsible company, or government, allow a situation in which a pilot, who could experience a medical difficulty (say, cabin depression?) be allowed to be in sole “control”?  The news says that someone who tries the correct password from outside the cabin can try again in five minutes if the password doesn’t go through.  Can a correct password be forgotten? Is five minutes not enough to crash a plane?  Unbelievable. 

This is what fear and paranoia have done to us: cause us to place godlike powers in the hands of one person.  In order to act tough against our fears, we seek out fear and establish rules to protect ourselves from fears that, ironically, can lead to our destruction.  In no sane jurisdiction would it be possible for one person to completely shut out the world and take the lives of others—this is what the 9/11 pilots did, and their actions constitute the response much of the world came up with in turn—a carbon copy of the 9/11 killers’ gambit. Yet in the Germanwings case, of course, allegedly, unlike with that of the 9/11 pilots, there wasn’t even any need for accomplices with box cutters; the only things required, like Chinese or North Korean self-censorship, were abstract--generalized fear and paranoid public representatives, infinite mistrust, and the infantile ability to flick a switch shutting out the real world of/to other human beings. 

Sure fine, I’m all for security; I have no wish to die on an airplane.  I’ll stand in line forever—whatever.  I just want public representatives to be sensible.  I’ll stand in an airport forever and take off my shoes and belt and hat and have my computer sprayed and my travel toothpaste taken away and go through a body scanner and all that—sure fine; but I expect public representatives not to endanger my life by putting in place measures that transfer godlike powers to sole individuals who can never be held accountable for their actions.  If the German pilot (is guilty, and if he lived), I wouldn’t want to act like God myself and determine that he should be killed; I’d want to keep him alive for his life so that he could be studied and so that he could ponder his actions until fate took those powers away from him.  I think it’s fair to say that, if most of Canada’s Conservative caucus had their choice, if the pilot had lived, they’d have killed him with capital punishment.  Only problem is, they wouldn’t even have had that option because of their fear and paranoia that enabled him in the first place—the Conservatives elected to place sole power in the hands of one pilot (it might be said that many of them are used to that, metaphorically if not literally, as with Presto).  The Germanwings flight could have happened over the Canadian Shield; the deaths of the Germanwings passengers could have happened to anyone on a plane flown by a Canadian carrier—all because the Harper government, cherishing its fear and paranoia about someone (other than God or the pilot God) gaining access to the cockpit, chose to endanger passengers on the flights of Canadian carriers by ensuring that there could be no God but the Pilot in the cockpit—not rational or life-cherishing, capable crew--or even passengers--just the Pilot/God.

 Well, as I say, the terrorists won again.  A statesman once said, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  By fearing fear itself, and distrusting one another and enacting ludicrous policies that can put One and only One person in charge, we opened the door for One to perversely and inexplicably take the lives of others.

--

I was going to draw in other political and domestic issues in this post, but when one writes about something like this, there’s no way to end (because you’re talking about people whose lives have ended, unlike yours, so far), and there are always those who will say “you’re exploiting a tragedy.”  Well, if I had brought in the other issues or shaped a different message, it would have been a bit harder to fling that charge.  Or maybe easier.  How many 9/11s (no, not hijackings) were there before 9/11?

 That’s right, 0 (until I stand corrected).  But the world largely reacted with policies that insisted that One godlike person should take control, and that does reflect a lot of our yearnings, whether that One is a person in a uniform or a generalized kind of overlord agency (or obviously a religious proxy/prophet).  And obviously the exact wishes of the terrorists.

 I’ve never been fond of flying.  I usually have to overcome physical and physiological fears and work my way into a kind of philosophical-mental zone.  You know how they say that, when you’re about to die, your whole life flashes in front of your eyes?  I thought that was just a phrase—a believable phrase—but just a phrase.  But I know it’s true because I’ve had that dream on airplanes and on airplanes alone—first pet, mother, etc.  You never have dreams like that on the ground.

Long ago I had some fears allayed by reading the French doctor and politician, Bernard Kouchner, saying that dying in a plane crash is probably a great way to go.  I’d never thought of that, I must say. I haven’t looked up that comment, but basically his attitude was that, hey, you’ve only got a few minutes left, and then it’s all over.  Contrasted with months or years of pain through innumerable possible illnesses, involving not just me but anyone associated with me, I’ve thought, yeah, the guy has a point.  Flying over Greenland, I subsequently haven’t necessarily thought: “could we land on that spike if we had to?,” but rather, “if we go on that spike, it’s done and done, full stop, and a few minutes of terror may be a better way to go than the one the One has in store for me (and in any case, I may die of something else first).” 

But this Germanwings 9525 is different—it’s different because our fear and paranoia-- pace “Phyl Durdey”--allowed us to put in place a situation in which, if a remedy were even possible, it was taken out of the hands of pilots, crew, passengers, and ground control experts, and all given over to exploitative “get-tough” politicians who dictated that there could only be One in a sealed God-only zone at the front of an airplane.  I have a feeling that that feeling is a little bit like what the 9/11 “pilots” felt.  Smug and in control, never having to answer to other humans for their actions that would be hailed by a “divine” being in the afterlife, ultimately blissfully unconcerned with a world that involved real human beings while they themselves lived.

The emotions of the people on that flight—or Egypt 990 or Swissair 111 or or or—are unimaginable and uncontactable—utterly unapproachable—but some things are, even without divine approbation, certain: amidst all the chaos and screaming and terror, surely people’s lives flashed before their eyes, bringing up the most vivid and important and crucial mental images—a kind of about-to-be-dead homage to the possibly still living.  Surely people embraced one another in the most basic human ways.  In my most tearful moments about this crash, I’d like to think that some of the German high school exchange students were able to express for the first and last times nascent desires or expressions thereof that might or would have sustained them throughout their lives, had they had those lives to live.

I really think we owe it to the fear and terror that those people experienced NOT to create policies based on fear and paranoia which allow sole, godlike powers to be placed in just one person’s hands.  It may be that “the Lord works in mysterious ways,” but the generalized interests of “security” should not be allowed to jeopardize the lives of individuals who may be subject to incomprehensible, cruel, and sometimes, if humans are in charge, avoidable fates.

 --zr

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Patricia Arquette of CSI: Cyber—Fat Because of Soda?


Patricia Arquette of CSI: Cyber—Fat Because of Soda?

(Nothing important to read here, folks, so just move along, move along.  Only rambling, but felt like jotting down something that was on my mind. . .people do such things on blogs. . . .)

Standing in line at the grocery store staring at celeb gossip magazines earlier today.  Prince William may be losing his hair, or something else, maybe.  Already did write a post about Martin Short’s craven advertising for life-shortening products.  Watched a ‘sode of this new CSI show on the computer, the second one I’ve seen.

I saw Patricia Arquette on The Daily Show a while back, promoting her new show.  She was wearing some kind of 70s-puce-coloured pyjama knit tight-fitting dress/pullover ($14 at Wal-Mart?) that emphasized her every roll.  Odd choice.  Don’t get me wrong—I basically think people should weigh virtually whatever they’re comfortable with. . .but of course obviously there are points at which health factors must come into play.  On CSI: Cyber, Arquette seems always to be dressed in “slimming,” or de-outlining black.  (Strange, now that I think of it, that the producers aren’t going with cleavage, for this is something all true female CSIs always brandish on TV.) 

 CSI—that franchise just propagates like head lice, or bedbugs, or mosquitoes at dusk on a northern lake. . . .  When I’m on my deathbed, I’ll rue the hours I sacrificed to CSI.  Once I had free cable for a few years—first time I’d had TV in more than a few years.  What with my schedule and the times I was becalmed, I think I saw every episode of the old Michael Moriarty Law & Order about 15 times—I guess that’s another franchise that, given Americans’ unquenchable appetite for fear and conspiracy, just kept growing.  Maybe it’s over now, though, that franchise.  I liked the episodes with Jerry Orbach.  Orbach seemed like a decent and philosophical guy while he lived, and I liked his weary seen-it-all character.  I really liked the moral seriousness of Moriarty’s character—when was the last time you saw that on American TV (and no, I don’t mean “ideological purity” or “ideological certainty”)?  But of course in real life Moriarty is apparently some wacko far-right conspiracy theorist.  Wonder if he’s still in Canada hanging out with tapstresses.  I remember when he came to Canada, fleeing the freedom-denying U.S.  ...one of the first things he tried to do was light up a cigar in his hotel room.  Tough introduction to liberty, that one.

 Anyway, remember how fanatical they always were about always showing characters eating, or just doing something, to keep us occupied while we watched?  Actually this is something that goes back to the earliest American radio detective serials, in which they built in patter outside the main plot to keep the audience thinking it was eavesdropping on a real situation, etc. (check out Frank and Joe swapping cigarettes in Dragnet, for example.)

Anyway anyway, I see in the two episodes of CSI: Cyber that I’ve seen that a feature of Patricia Arquette’s character is that she’s always holding a tub of soda when she’s walking around the quasi-lit monitor-festooned windowless enclaves where real CSI people always work.  Heaven knows what she does on an airplane or just how giant are the custom-made cupholders they had to put in the obnoxious more or less unmanoevreable monster SUVs they always make CSIs drive.  (Question: is it only sponsorship and vehicle placement, or is there any possible reason that CSIs need 15 ft. of vehicle space behind them when driving to a scene where they only use flashlights and rubber gloves?  Maybe there’s lots of bodies to stack up in the back, I guess, but I thought others took care of that while CSIs caught bad guys or looked at those astonishingly instantaneously informative computers rather than ferrying corpses.)

Now if Patricia Arquette is big or getting bigger, yes, yes, I know it’s probably not because of her soda tubs on TV.  Judging by their appearance and the way she airily waves them around like tissues, the way the straws always stick way straight up like toothpicks in an ice-cube tray, I guess they’re empty.  Hm.  Maybe the show producers are trying to suggest that her size is because of her soda addiction.  At any rate, it seems like the soda tub is meant to be linked with her character throughout the serial—or maybe the producers are already planning/have planned an episode in which she has a heart attack or something and has to give up soda and it becomes a crisis in her life.  I’m doubting that a bit, though, for we rarely see the personal sides of detective characters.  Remember how “Horatio Cain (sp?)” always found a way to show up at the funerals of victims whose crimes he’d solved (maybe he’s still doing it); that man was working 24/7, and since he probably slept in so many graveyards, he probably needed those sunglasses at dawn.

So Arquette’s overweight—no, there is no gender double standard here.  Overweight people of all kinds have been all over TV forever; with the early radio and TV Dragnet, Frank was portly and interested in food.  More power to ‘em, just less power to them to dictate their own mortality, is all.  I said all this stuff in my Martin Short post, anyway.  ((Speaking only personally, I think it is more attractive (and possibly more healthy, though I wouldn’t know), to be a bit more overweight than underweight.))

Of course, back in the day, EVERYONE was always smoking.  Pretty well every radio serial was sponsored by—not alcohol or cars or trucks or even oil companies so much—but cigarettes.  NOTHING was more ubiquitous.  But nowadays, cigarettes are so frowned upon that you might see fake ones or unlit ones, or whatever.  Now think about what kills Americans—heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.—why would Hollywood draw up a character such as Arquette who is always waving around a garish soda tub?  On a show where the writers sit around all day trying to dream up the most sick and convoluted and improbable murders, why would they write a lead character who chooses the most obvious self murder? I mean, cigarettes were supposed to be cool, or something, or evince adulthood, or satisfy sponsors or show brand affiliation, or offer a prop way to emphasize dialogue or gestures, say.  What can a giant soda tub do?  How is it cool or a pivotal addition to Arquette’s “range” of character traits?  It looks idiotic, like Yosemite Sam carrying around a BlackBerry. I thought Hollywood millionaires ate well and health consciously, to the extent of pretty much starving to death rural Peru by driving up demand and prices for quinoa, for example.  I don’t get it.  I don’t get how Hollywood, which is prepared to create and display endless violence, but will hair-split and mince around or even come out guns blazing against the most minor social offenses, will develop a leading character for a top franchise that shows her always attached to what tends to kill thousands upon thousands of Americans every year.  Do you buy that “role model” thing?  I sure don’t.  I liked hockey as a kid, but it certainly never occurred to me when I was playing that a guy on a pro team was some sort of “role model.”  But we’re addicted to this idea of “role models,” so let’s try it on: “Mommy mommy, I want to be a cool boss CSI someday, like Patricia Arquette—she’s so cool. . .and she gets to drink Coke all day!!!”  Yes Virginia, you keep doing that and balloon to 200 and see how many job offers you get, no matter how brilliant you are at delegating.  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s meant to “humanize” Arquette—make us see that this steely boss nevertheless has food or drink obsessions most of us can relate to. 

Why couldn’t they always have shown Arquette drinking coffee or tea?  These are chemically very complex beverages that, on the whole, science has suggested are largely beneficial.  Further, shows like CSI invest a great deal in creating an illusion of reality and seriousness—so then why the h*** would a supposedly cerebral top CSI do something that was so patently life-shortening and foolish?  How is she going to catch bad guys when she’s dead at 55?  That’s a lot of bad guys she might otherwise have caught as she approached retirement.

Yes ok, minds more brilliant and attentive than mine have no doubt already worked out this soda addiction topcop thing on the internet.  I’m just rambling, as I told you at the start I was.  Weird that ultra-sensitive Hollywood would write a star for a major series who so evidently had a (relatively non-addictive—I mean, soda isn’t heroin) life-shortening habit.

Well, that’s my piffle post for now.  It just struck me so I wrote a few (ok hundred) words, is all.

--zr

 

 

 

Friday, 6 February 2015

Just How Much Did Americans Pay for Super Bowl XLIX?


Just How Much Did Americans Pay for Super Bowl XLIX?
(NFL Set to Not Consider .01 Cent Rule)

The truth is, Americans will never know, because America lacks an independent media.  Americans themselves will just go on wearing this millstone of debt around their necks until they die and the next generations take over, paying the debt for Super Bowls until kingdom come.

Watching the super bowl over the phone with my folks when the halftime came on, I couldn’t help but think of the American taxpayers who had to support this orgy of private wealth—the fly-bys, the endlessly circulating public employees and no-fly zones and massive military presence, the CIA and endless governmental and public, publicly-paid for money that went in to making the NFL, no pauper itself, richer than ever before.  What truly was the final account of the massive public expenditure that the American people had to pay for having a super bowl?  We will never know, for America, like most undeveloped countries and some developed, lacks an impartial media with access to information.

It’s true that most Americans probably watched the super bowl on their TVs.  For those who didn’t, well, they had to pay their taxes, too, just like people who don’t like letting seniors live in homes, but have to pay for it, do too.

I had a look at an American financial site and read an article by a person named Kelly Phillips Erb:


In her article, she gushes over how much money was made by players and coaches and halftime entertainers, and she meekly wonders if the host city and state themselves made any money, faintly referring to carefully selected data and not actually referring to what economists have shown for eons, that big sporting events don’t make money but usually lose it for taxpayers.  I’m sorry, but if a big team comes to my city, it doesn’t mean that I will buy more hamburgers or gas.  If the Rolling Stones experienced engine troubles and had to land on my roof, it wouldn’t mean I had more money to pay for them.  I have a certain amount of money.  Right-wing economists don’t seem to understand this; they think imaginary money miraculously materializes when an event is announced—somewhere, anywhere. Hoteliers and restaurateurs might be able to gouge for a short period and make money, but that does not translate to long-term economic activity.  Curious that any corporate extension but Forbes, getting paid to think so, would think otherwise.  I, taxpayer, though, will have to pay for more cops and setup and maintenance and teardown and cleanup and civic services.  I suppose there may be those millions upon millions of tourists who magically descend once they’ve seen my city on TV, but Kelly doesn’t reflect on that—show some imagination, Kelly!! 

The main thing Kelly leaves out, though, is the one she has to face in the mirror each morning as she puts on her game face—gets the makeup on and the eyeblack so as to avoid the blaring lights of day and reality and so on—just how much federal money went into this and just how much average taxpayers—losers and poor people and coloured people unlike her, had to pay in order to fund her article and fund the bowl, and just how much everyday Americans would have to pay and pay and pay, until kingdom come, to pay for the enjoyment her household relished.

Look, here’s the crux: most people of most countries who have national celebrations of some sort would say, ok, even if I don’t like it, I still pay taxes for it and it’s ok.  OK.  But the NFL is a different breed.  This is a league that will pay former head-injured players $765 million (.5% of annual revenue) to shut up and go away (http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2013/08/29/nfl-pays-765-million-to-settle-concussion-case-still-wins/).

This is a league that will pay its commissioner $44 million to pretend he never saw video the rest of America did (and, of course, as “Kelly Phillips Erb” knows but would lose her job if she said, pay far less in tax than a McDonald’s employee).  This is the league that will. . .domestic abuse. . .homicide. . .concussions. . .child abuse. . .drug abuse. . .steroids. . .you get my point.

When does the socializing of debt and the privatizing of wealth stop?  Does America have any media at all?  What if the NFL introduced a one cent rule, stipulating that one cent from every dollar made by networks and sponsors and owners and players and coaches, and one matching cent from every dollar American taxpayers had to pay for military and security support, had to go to educating Americans and creating a playing field for the majority of Americans who don’t vote and are disenfranchised by race or economic status or gender or gerrymandering.  What if?  What if the super bowl could become not only a sporting contest, but a force for national growth and improvement?  What if?

--zr

 

Martin Short releases new biography: How I Ended Up so Desperate I Had to Shill for Companies that Will Help You Die Early or Bankrupt, Whichever Comes First


Martin Short releases new biography: How I Ended Up so Desperate I Had to Shill for Companies that Will Help You Die Early or Bankrupt, Whichever Comes First

I’m wondering now—was all that shilling just meant to get him out there as advance-promo for his new book?  How hard up is this guy?  How little work does he have, or how little money does he have left?  How desperate do you have to be to shill for credit cards and potato chips?  Or, how many millions more does he feel he really, really needs?

Saw Short on The Daily Show (Feb. 2, 2015). I remember Martin Short from SCTV days, and I, ah, must say that I really enjoyed his comedy.  I surely thought he was very funny and maybe talented, too.  He was a bit more one-note than most of his colleagues on the show, but there’s no doubting that he was one funny guy.  I guess he was in movies, too, but I don’t think those are going down in comedy history, save one or two whose memory might be kept alive by ardent devotees of certain works (heck, I knew a guy who actually knew pretty much every line from Mother, Jugs & Speed, for crying out loud.  That’s Mother, Jugs & Speed—if I hadn’t looked it up, I wouldn’t have realized it required an ampersand).  I guess he’s been in plays and live shows, too, but I haven’t seen one.  Oh, I’d go, if someone gave me a ticket.  Or if I were in New York, I’d go and see him, after I’d seen about 12-15 other things and felt I had the spacious time and indeflatable wallet so to do. 

But of course what I remember him for now is his recent shilling for credit-card companies and potato-chip vendors.  So I’m just wondering if, anywhere in his new book, he explains why he felt he was so hard-up and desperate that he had to do ads for immoral and unhealthy products. . . ?  Is such a topic addressed?  I must say, I probably won’t be seeing his book anytime soon—but again, it’s not like I’d avoid it.  He has done great comedic work.  If the choice in a dentist’s office were People, Us, or his book, I’d pick it up.  If I were staring absently at a library trolley while I waited for someone and the choice were Clive Cussler, Harold Robbins, or his book, I’d pick it up.  Knowing that he wants to get me hooked on debt or fat, and that he’s raking in money from doing it, certainly discourages me from actually actively looking for his book. 
 
Ok, so that was it, the point of my post—does anyone know why Martin Short was so desperate for cash or attention that he agreed to shill for companies that contribute to the misery and death of millions of North Americans?  I mean, it kind of is a real question, one that could be thought about from various angles, or, yes, just dismissed as frivolous, which it may, but not exclusively, be.

And now, as this post peters out, I will offer a few more words--but obviously they could never be enough—in pre-emptive defense against those who might muster ire enough to tell me I’m a jerk for telling Martin Short what to do.

I guess if I’m Martin Short, which I’m not, getting out there is what keeps me alive.  Doing some shtick, being in front of the cameras, that’s oxygen; no cameras=death.  I get it.  All celebrities pitch products.  Hey, if I were Martin Short, which I’m not, and Ford or Toyota came to me and gave me a spanking new vehicle with all the bangles (that I could keep or give away to someone, and whose options I could not find at a dealership), and drove me around and showed me all the neat new things it had, yeah, sure, I’d probably find myself thinking up some grateful shtick for it and raking in the royalties.  Money, even when you don’t need it, must be nice to acquire, and since the vehicle is free, it’s not like you’d end up with ruinous financing terms that sink so many working people and families.  Critics, and studio backers, don’t critique ads nearly like they critique turkey-flop movies—bad ads actually can be good for your career; bad movies, maybe not so much.  Maybe Marty wants to become the next Shatner, who has become a kind of advertising meme unto himself—with Shatner, both the product and the pitchman kind of become irrelevant, but that Shatner, the meme, is situated alongside the logo, in itself gives a kind of credence to the effability of the logo, or, product.

Many might say, hey, nobody put a gun to your head telling you to get a credit card or buy a bag of potato chips.  But that’s just being simplistic and idiotic.  Ever tried to rent a car or make a major purchase or do just about anything without a credit card?  Come on.  Credit cards used to be pitched as “convenient”—i.e., when you had no cash, you could use credit.  But in the debit era, credit card companies had to insinuate new ways into your lives, including not protecting you against hacking, etc.  Of course I’ve had and have credit cards.  They don’t improve my life; they’re a necessary evil and sometime nuisance I had no choice but to get in order to do other basic human life things I had no trouble doing before I had to get a credit card in order to be allowed to do them.

Have a look at the one that Marty pitches:

http://www.capitalone.ca/credit-cards/aspire-travel-world/

Only $120/year to own, and a tiny prime + 16.8% to carry around.  No worries if you’re Marty Short—but, if you're not Marty Short, a lifetime of misery if you make one slip-up, one bad decision, your card gets hijacked, you experience an injury or a job loss or a. . .thing that might happen in life to which CapitalOne is immune (too big to fail) but you are not.  And this is what Marty is desperate to pitch.

Or potato chips, and Marty’s proud new Pepsi partnership:

http://pepsico.ca/en/PressRelease/Martin-Short-partners-with-the-Lays-brand-and-invites-Canadians-to-create-the-br02042013.html

Now, do I like pop?  I guess I do.  Do I like potato chips?  Of course I do.  That’s why I don’t buy them.  I have a colleague who may be dead before 50 because she can’t stay away from them.  Do I have no bad habits?  Of course not.  Do I have good habits?  You bet I do.  Everyone has good and bad habits and everyone is more or less passionate about different ones.  Given the choice, I’d probably rather be locked in a room with someone who had only bad habits as opposed to only good ones. 

But that still does not explain why a mammothly wealthy person such as Martin Short (just to get a little shtick and face time and enrich himself superfluously) has to advertise for companies who have documented, long-term, and virtually undeniable deleterious effects on a sizeable minority, if not a majority, of the people who fall under their sway.

 It’s a wonder to me.

-zr

 I must say

Friday, 9 January 2015

Stephen Harper Declares War


Stephen Harper Declares that War Has Been Declared on Canada

(Scroll to the end if you like; the point of this message is that our Prime Minister should not be stirring up hate, but rather acting prime ministerial and urging all Canadians, as always, to respect and help one another; he clearly hasn't had a Bible handy lately.) 

You can just tell how upset he was by his hands in his pockets, his open-button, gut-over verbal stumbling, his casual waves, his downbeat reference to France, his dropped-down voice when it refers to specifics of Canada’s response to events in the Middle East and/or countries he can’t quite bring to mind.

He says that the attack in France represented an attack on something Canadians “cherish”—but meanwhile he won’t answer questions himself.  Many media outlets in Canada agreed to pull his comments—


 when it appeared he wasn’t getting his message across—to his liking.

The Government of Canada even agreed to shut its own self down, after Harper dictates:

http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2015/01/08/livestream-watch-pm-harper-deliver-remarks-live-delta-british-columbia-thursday

Media--and government--sources shut down at Harper's request--Putin only dreams of such subservience.  And CSIS on the job 24/7 to make sure it's maintained.

Here is a cut up and edited version of what electors elected (for as long as it lasts):


Make no mistake—Harper unbuttoned was still Harper calculating.  His words to the base were transparent—we’re at war, here, so you’ve got to support me.  No-one disses a war PM (the longer I’m Prime Minister). 

But even the Delta kids behind him looked quizzical as he assured them of the threat—that it wasn’t going to go away, that it was here to stay. As for that--

--Freedom of the press: Harper’s cutting of the CBC, a national broadcaster that most developed Commonwealth countries cherish for relative impartiality—and trust; Harper’s attempts to enfranchise far-right media and refusal to speak with anything but media that support his agenda.

--“We will not be intimidated by jihadist terrorists.”  Harper used to accuse others of cutting and running, but eventually, as this blog observed, when he realized he’d sent dozens of Canadians to their deaths, he backed up and realized the war wasn’t winnable.  I’m sure that his “thoughts and prayers” are with the families of his comfy sweater-vest actions.  Do a Prime Minister’s wife and kids have access to a Prime Minister’s tweeted “thoughts and prayers”?  (I guess not; only Prime Ministers have deepest condolences and thoughts and prayers; silly me.)

When you observe his speech, you see that Harper is actually most comfortable amongst schoolchildren, whom he thinks he can sway or preach to.  Most kids aren’t that dumb.  Justin Trudeau probably learned that long ago, when he had a real job, unlike Harper.  You see the kids standing behind Harper, as props, stone-faced, while Harper thinks he’s regaling them.  In fact, they are probably thinking, “look, I don't have to hate my friend, this is a fairly tolerant country, and I don’t buy your “incessant war” theory. What’s your problem?”  It’s clearly old-man s**t to them. 

But Harper’s louche enthusiasm for endless war isn’t that hard to explain, even if one discounts his fundamentalist Christian beliefs.  He points out emphatically that the war will never end (and as long as he’s Prime Minister, and can lyingly stop and start elections with his septuagenarian pal Davey Johnston’s addled approval and he’ll keep pretending he’s at war—not actually sending any troops or doing anything definitive, but boldly supporting Israel, and so on).  More guns, too, if possible; if the ones that slaughtered people in Calgary (http://www.edmontonsun.com/2015/01/02/killarney-shooting-victim-abdullahi-ahmed-previously-convicted-on-drugs-assault) and Edmonton (http://www.edmontonsun.com/2014/12/30/strathcona-county-mounties-probing-suspicious-death-on-edmonton-outskirts) stir up the base and keep our streets unsafe for unConservatives.  He already pulled a little insider action (Duffy, Wallin, anyone?) to get one Conservative candidate police chief, Rick Hanson, to get on board with wild murders that support their own careers with rich entitlements: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-hand-pick-police-to-serve-on-federal-gun-panel/article9648887/.  It's not really about income-splitting, people; it's about splitting the people who are allowed to have guns and kill people, from those who aren't allowed to have guns and people.  This much the PM understands and mandates.  And the more guns, for Hanson and Harper, the merrier.  Of course, Hanson oversaw a "gun amnesty" by which the Calgary Police Service collected firearms and then resold them to collectors and gun shops--just Hanson's way of making sure that as many illegal and unregistered firearms could get into as many hands as possible--hopefully so as to create crime and mayhem that could further his career and that of his new boss, Jim ("T-Bird") Prentice.

To be fair, as the following article (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-police-officer-pleads-guilty-to-firearms-offence-1.853499) makes clear, key new gun collection practices were supposed to come into effect some years ago:

"Insp. Ken Marchant said that in the future, officers would not be sent out to collect guns for amnesty programs — participants would have to bring them to police."

"Participants."  I like that.  I'd like to show up at a police station in Calgary and say "HI!, I'm a participant!!"

(In other words, instead of being forced to give up guns for future resale and collectors auctions at cop gunpoint, gun owners would be allowed to bring them in, of their own free volition, to have them collected and redistibuted, for profit and/or private investment, by the Calgary Police Service under Chief Rick Hanson.)  As for the practice of keeping cop gun resellers on pay but without actually working or doing any kind of job (unlike normal law-abiding citizens and taxpayers), but rather, just getting paid lavishly with huge pensions to do nothing--Chief Hanson declined to offer comment.
 
By declaring that war has been declared (on Canada, which it hasn’t been), Stephen Harper, a fundamentalist Christian, is trying to foment hatred and war amongst Canadians.  He’s using his usual divide and conquer tactics, which politically and partisanly always look good after whoever uses them is dead (Harp’s one of those “short-term” legacy guys).  Harper has kids, and they're going to have to go on living, and they're going to have to go on believing that the world is really as simple as their father thought it was.  Harper's kids will be sheltered from reality by their income-splitted wealth, but the kids of most Canadians will not be; those kids will have to figure out a way to get along with others.  They will be the true Canadian patriots.
 
[And since we’re talking about it, and since I’ve used the term “fundamentalist Christians,” it’s worth pointing out that Islam today is only replicating in many ways what happened during the Crusades.  In other words, it was Islam, not Christianity, which accepted wayward souls or infidels, in days gone by.  I surely don’t defend anything going on now, and may have more words to type, but for Christians to regard as shocking what Muslims are doing now is just silly.  A Christian in Yemen today probably has a lot better hope than a Muslim in pre-early modern Europe.  A little perspective, please.]

 Harper has clearly sized up his Ontario seats and Muslim votes, and in the most cynical way possible, determined that he would come out against Muslim Canadians—despite whatever canny Kenney can do (talk about mining the ground for leadership contenders). 

But we shouldn’t look at it this way.  No-one and no-state or even handful of twitterers has really declared war on Canada.  Our very own Prime Minister, who ought to be sober and stable, has jumped up and amped up the rhetoric like a hi-school teen and told us we’re all under threat—forever.

 No, we aren’t.  Despite Stephen Harper's long-mulled political strategies and his fundamentalist Manichean view of the world, no, we’re not.  We’re Canadians.  We’re made of tougher stuff—we came from all over and we figured out how to survive from the people who were already here, and we’re determined to re-enact that—and we will never, ever give in to cheap gun-crazy paranoid fundamentalists who want to tell us what our “values” are when they’ve never had to actually earn some themselves.
 
 --zr