The Shore

The Shore

Monday, January 29, 2018

Pink pussyhats, inclusive feminism and changing the mind of old ladies.

An "older woman" (alright I am a "senior" ) suddenly "gets it". . .. . . at least a little. . .

So first,  where I was. . . 
I was concerned.  There were a lot of attacks on "pink pussyhats" from the women's march. . .  and I felt like - wait a minute. . . 1) that was a great organizing tool. . . women made them and then wore them and it looked great at demo's. As someone who has done a lot of organizing - anything that helps people feel included is a good thing. . . and 2)  if you saw someone wearing one on the street, it made me a feel a little "warm". . . like they were on "my side". 

So then I started to hear the complaints and arguments. . . women of colour do not have pink pussies.  Trans women do not have pussies (necessarily) at all. 

Then, the  mulling it over, and hearing the discussion. . . 
Well I thought - that is true - black women in particular tend to have brown or purple vulvas rather than pink . . . but, I thought to myself,  all women have pink vaginas and I have often heard the hats called "vagina hats". . . (yeah rationalize some more - M.A.  - even I knew I was defending something I should be questioning. . .) When people say vaginas, that way, they mean vulvas, and I know that. . .  My other rationalization was that I actually had assumed that they were pink "pussyhats" - that is pussy's of any colour, but pink hats. . .  that is also what the Asian American woman -- do I point that out in my defense?  Gee I hope not --  who came up with the idea says she meant - that "pink" is the colour assigned to girls and women, in general, and nothing to do with actual "pussy" colour.  A great compromise but it means that everyone has to use my interpretation - one of those - "oh you are offended, look at it this way. . ."  Yikes! Though, thank goodness,  in the U.S. they did ask people at many marches not to wear them, in order to be inclusive. There were few in Halifax, but I did note that tons of people in Toronto were still proudly wearing them.

Racialized women, esp women of African descent, tend to be marginalized in every way.  Whatever I am doing as a feminist,  better put their struggles first or I am not an ally.  I know that - I do support Black Lives Matter, and when able -bodied I did attend Black Lives Matter, First Nations and Indigenous,  demos and protests (including visiting Elsipogtog First Nation and the Water Protectors of Shubie. . .I do not mention those to toot my own  horn but to explain that I thought of myself as a "good ally" and someone who "gets it", but who was definitely struggling - though it took me a while to realize how much. ) 
Oh dear. Then,  I also thought, well, maybe not all trans women have pussies, but still cis women (who are more than 95% of the woman population) have pussies,  and how else are we going to define "women" if not by their pussies, Periods, pregnancy, menarche and menopause etc.  etc.  'cause I always thought women were just their biology (NOT!) So why was I wanting to do that now? Don't trans women want into that category "women" and that category includes pussies,  whether they individually have one or not . . . I thought that,  even while simultaneously thinking that trans women are women.  Two of the trans women I know I cannot think of as anything other than a woman - I do not wonder what their cis gender is, I do not wonder what their "plumbing" looks like.  They live in the world as women.  But, I realize that  it is not always the case, and it is hard for many trans women who seem spurned much of the time by any and all genders.  It is personal choice - theirs, not mine.  People do their own "categorizing" or resisting categories. I can only support them.

Even though I am totally in support of gender queer people and those who want to be genderless, AND trans people.  I have tried to be an ally . . . but what this whole discussion made me realize is that I cling very hard (too hard ) to gender categories.  I find it amusing when I meet someone or see someone who is very androgynous.  I love it when I cannot determine someone's gender - but I had, until a few days ago been treating it as a puzzle to be solved - as some point I would identify a cis' or trans' gender -- even though I know not to ask . . . but why do I feel like I have to put people in one of those categories?  No wonder I struggled (though just in practice not in philosophy) to use "their" instead of his or hers.   Have I not spent my life fighting as a feminist and a woman and a socialist, to end capitalism, to make women more equal,  to fight for peace and justice and equality,  and elimination of violence against women? The urge to categorize is (wrongly) strong in me! 

So I started to talk quietly (and with some trepidation) to people about those hats and my discomfort,  and out of those conversations I came to realize how much I cling to gender categories.  I do not for a moment,  not put trans women in the woman "category" I have no trouble doing that - but have come to realize over the last few weeks that I still want the categories.  Why?  Because I have fought for women, and I want there to be a definition of that. . . and I am scared of the category "men" defining the category "women".

Conclusion and new thinking . . . 
But, I am slowly realizing that there is no reason to cling to those hard gender boundaries - what makes me uncomfortable is something I can learn from . . .  I am trying very hard to get away all together from those categories.  We do not need to define "woman" by body part, (and I would have sworn I did not do that until I examined by discomfort with an attack on pink pussyhats)  I think in the near future (at least in the privileged north) there might be people more masculine,  or more feminine, without such clear boundaries,  and I think that there will be a lot more androgyny/genderlessness.  Millennials seem to  find it easy.  I can imagine it. I had no trouble with the Left Hand of Darkness.  Navigating sex in that world is something I won't have to do (too old) but what an adventure.  I have never had sex with anyone whose "genitalia" I could not categorize in advance.  More or less I knew what I would find "down there" (including a lot of individual variation)  I think in "The Kin of atta is waiting for you" there is a scene about that, or maybe it was Marge Piercey. . .  - but otherwise, than fictional experiences. . . it is a new thought for me. 

So the big realization is that I really don't need to care about what is in anyone's pants.  Including my own.  I do not need to identify with a category of "female sex" and who is in the category "woman", or the "genderless/queer" category,  is of no real consequence. . . I should just get over it - which means right away being more inclusive. It is backward thinking -- like seeing the increasing equality of black/African Canadian as somehow taking something from white people.  (all those white nationalists/racists I do not see myself as among!) Expanding "categories" rather than using them to exclude people,  expands us all and takes nothing from me. (or you!)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Animaniacs, Intuitive Eating, defining "research" and Amy Cuddy

First,  Hulu is "rebooting animaniacs", and letting the back catalogue be available. . . . Used to love those cartoons and "Pinky and the Brain" -- and some other related. . .


So complained about something on FB using the word "research" (that is I did a short - not exhaustive lit review on pub med) but some people objected to "looking things up",  including published "research",   being referred to as "researching a subject" - only doing the actual trials counts as "research". Please let me know in the comments what you think.  I think this is "hard science treats everyone else as an idiot" bias - but perhaps I am protesting too much. It means in law and sociology and history there is very little "research".   Even in heavily "evidence based" midwifery school "research paper" meant doing a lit review of the best evidence for certain practices.  Using cochrane database, pub med etc.  But that is not "research", according to my Science PhD's.  It is in the dictionary definition but makes some people howl.   It has, at this moment, changed my use of the word so as to not get involved in semantic arguments. I was surprised to be "corrected" that a lit review is not "research" but there you go. . . what do you think?

I have been following and studying critiquing and collecting info on (not "researching" which I otherwise might have used here)    intuitive eating and non-diets. Most (literally most of it) nutrition advice is bogus and we actually have no idea what size people should be, or that there is a proper size,  but have a bias to thin (and white, and straight and tall,  but that is neither here nor there. . . for my purpose here).  Over weight people are often blamed for all their problems regardless of how they eat and exercise and what their actual state of health is. . .

My ND/dietitian no longer coaches people on weight loss - it does not work to lose weight or to increase health in the long term.   95-97% of diets fail - They may often work in the short term but people don't keep the weight off more than 12 months.   Everybody loses.  You don't get satisfaction from eating - but deny yourself things. . .   This approach of body acceptance and intuitive eating reminds me of a program called mindful eating that was not popular but around years ago, but it had little research/evaluation/critique/science behind it. Not sure the new one does either but I am going to give it a try. It is not just at what you want but figure out when you re really hungry and what really satisfies. . . Over time you get what you need. . . and you stop dieting and decreasing your metabolism

So here's a few pieces on this "new" approach to weigh loss and no weightloss/size acceptance. Don't think about losing weight.  Get rid of your scale - figure out what makes you satisfied, happy and feeling good.  Maybe not the same for everyone. . .

Here's an overview where 13 Experts Explain Why Diets Don't Work And What To Do Instead                ". . . Even if we could, [determine what size people should be]95–97% of purposeful weight loss attempts fail. Instead, I help my clients build sustainable habits that aren't built on restriction, and let their body settle at whatever size it's supposed to be."  

or. . . "Weight is not the issue — whether or not the body loses weight is up to the body, not up to the client or me, for that matter. Food can be a comfort, a source of nourishment, and a source of joy. It’s a part of life, just like movement."

 If you prefer listening,  this streaming or podcast from CBC The Current is also interesting - Forget everything you've heard about 'bad food' to avoid, says doctor - although he does think that you should avoid sugar . . . 

I have not read it yet, but apparently the book that started some of this (and is NOT available at the Halifax Public Library - anyone got a copy, I can borrow?) is Health at Every Size.  

And lastly  - although the web is full of stuff about Intuitive eating -  here's another titled "what thin people don't understand about dieting".  If you are not "over weight" and are judgmental of those who are, or if you are a practitioner still trying to coach people to sustainable weight loss, this outlines some of the issues. . . (not "science" just popular info)  


Final musing today is about Amy Cuddy - speaking of research. . . I showed  this Ted talk, about power poses,  to lots of people and found it fascinating - especially to Stewards to build confidence before their first meetings.  I had no reports of whether people used it or found any benefit but tons of people were fascinated by it. . .   

So today I learned (although I was slow to catch up) that a larger study was done and they could not replicate the results and found no effect. . . LOL  So I think "science" is broken! And I will stop using this talk!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Wind, Cannabis, apprehension of children, minimum wage and more

So made it thorough a wild night of crazy wind (up to 120km an hour gusts) - no snow though.  Trees down in front of/beside our house but all belong to neighbours. . . although two are in our driveway they are on the house side of both cars - Assume eventually construction workers building new house next door will deal with it --   on Monday if not before.  We have power and warmth and light and internet etc. (113,000 NS Power customers without power this morning - never privatize your power company!!!!) )   All happily in place with one son, wife and grand child, and waiting for the other son and family to arrive for another "Christmas" at our house.   So happy. 

Well thank goodness for the occasional judge that can literally see through the DCS judgment.

"An impoverished Halifax-area couple have regained custody of their toddler daughter, after a judge declared: "There is a difference between parents who are poor, and poor parents."   . . .
"The province's community services minister argued in court there is a "real chance" of harm if the girl is returned to her parents.
"But the judge noted the woman has had no mental-health crises for 17 months, and previously sought help when needed. She said the woman works as a babysitter, and has extensive experience caring for five younger siblings, and is "a confident, competent and capable care-giver."
"Parents who have poor mental health are not deprived of their children: parents whose poor mental health puts their children at risk and who do not seek needed treatment are," Jollimore said in her ruling."

Lots of blow back in Ontario on minimum wage increase. . . and media playing their part by publishing lots of articles about how the increase will hurt minimum wage workers.

Although I cannot find the article this second - many news articles were about how 50-60,000 thousand jobs will be lost because of it - but the truth is that they are only predicating a slow down in job growth, NO job losses in fact.  And yet many headlines repeated this error. . . 

Michael Coren wrote a great piece (will wonders never cease - not the first time - amazing watching his views change over the last decades) saying in part: "The response seldom has anything to do with economics but is about control and even humiliation. Critics believe that those earning minimum wage somehow deserve to go without, need to pay a price for some imagined sin of failure or lack of ambition. Minimum wage is in their eyes punitive. Listen to talk radio, read right-wing columnists and we see a contemporary Calvinism, a perverse form of predestination where the undeserving poor need to know their place.
. . .
When, for example, it’s revealed that business leaders are to receive bonuses on already astronomical salaries we never hear that this will lead to inflation or the need to reduce the number of bosses. On the contrary, the same types who oppose minimum wage increases explain that only such munificence will attract the best, even though the evidence indicates otherwise."

Tons of other great pieces on the minimum wage defense.  . .


This article in Wired is from the summer,  but I just read it and found it fascinating:
Metformin - that is used primarily to stabilize blood sugar in diabetics  may be the key to living, maybe not longer,  but healthier for longer - so more years of good health and ability - still perhaps getting cancer or heart disease,  but much later. . . Sounds good to me - I would love more years of health to enjoy the world. 

There seems to be an assumption in this story that Cannabis use is way worse than alcohol.  Why is it any different than not allowing people to be drunk on the job?  Why need different methods or processes? It uses language like
Do you want some bozo driving a tank to be strung out? No," said Stuart Hendin, a lawyer and instructor at the Royal Military College and Canadian Forces College.
"strung out" on weed? Miriam Webster describes strung out as addicted or physically debilitated from long term drug use.  Cannabis does neither of those things on its own.   You can develop a "habit" but there are no physical symptoms from stopping use -  just psychological ones. . . there seems to be real panic as if there is not much difference between cannabis and heroin (a la Jeff Sessions) The Military seems a little panicked and the press are not asking questions about their lack of science/medical knowledge.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Women, Work, Palestine and Carnival Games

The worst jobs. . . the most dangerous jobs. 

 Global TV published a piece about the "worst jobs" citing the most dangerous (with death as the outcome) but with a focus on jobs (like healthcare) where mental health is a big issue. 

Most people think of "dangerous jobs" as the ones where there might be violence like policing and corrections, but death (although it happens and is always a tragedy when anyone dies at work) is not an issue statistically for those professions - they do not even make the list of most dangerous professions and yet they are compensated for that risk.  Police Officers in Halifax now (in large numbers and including overtime) make over $100,000/yr  -- and that list was compiled before they got an arbitration decision of 2.75% increases each year for 5 year.   Basic requirements - physical requirements, a pass on a basic knowledge (GED equivalent) test, a high school diploma and a good character with no criminal record.  Compare that to nurses, (basic requirement now - 4 year degree and working unpaid under supervision) and teachers, (require two degrees and working unpaid under supervision) and librarians (many with master's degrees) There is history at work here - as historically,  male occupations were unionized first and for along time we existed in a world where "men are the bread winners" and "men have to be able to support a family",   which set up a lot of these dichotomies.   But it is not any kind of "pay for work of equal value" which we are supposed to be working under/toward (for the last 25 years) 
The worst thing for your health as a workers is to work mixed day and night shifts - where do they still do this?  Healthcare for sure.    And have you seen the pics of the violence that Educational Assistants put up with?    My only point is that job compensation is not related to actual danger, or pre-reqs like education,  but, in fact, are segregated and compensated by union density, year they got organized,  and gender.   Lest you think I do protest too much about gender, there is evidence from the New York Times. . . When the number of women in an occupation increases, the pay for that occupation drops.
"Women, for example, are now better educated than men, have nearly as much work experience and are equally likely to pursue many high-paying careers. No longer can the gap be dismissed with pat observations that women outnumber men in lower-paying jobs like teaching and social work.
A new study from researchers at Cornell University found that the difference between the occupations and industries in which men and women work has recently become the single largest cause of the gender pay gap, accounting for more than half of it. In fact, another study shows, when women enter fields in greater numbers, pay declines — for the very same jobs that more men were doing before."
Not like it could not be fixed - just requires political/social will.   In Iceland, as of this year, it is illegal to pay women less than men. 

'Iceland is not waiting for the gender pay gap to fix itself.
Starting January 1, 2018, it is now illegal for employers to pay women less than men. In Iceland, both public and private employers with 25 employees or more will need obtain government certification of equal pay policies. Organizations that fail to obtain the certification will face fines.


Was reminded of something today from a Facebook "memory" of us meeting my son's,  in-laws for the first time (and we really love them!) There is a word in Yiddish for the relationship - our "machetunim" -- thanks to Yiddish for having a word we do not have in English!  But need.



Gideon Levy - a journalist and Israeli Human Rights Advocate writes about the arrest and detention of Ahed Tamimi and how much Palestinians have become non-human to most Israeli's.   Yes there are Human rights Abuses all over the world and Israel always wants to us "whataboutism" - - what about Russia, what about the Philippines, what about Indigenous People in Canada?  Well I decry all of them too - but I think Israel gets the brunt because they keep saying they are a democracy and have the rule of law etc but in fact it is only for some, jut like it is in some Arabic/Muslim countries. . . . We object to rule by religion in other countries. But Israel expects a pass.  Click on photo for link to full article.

"Yet even Ahed Tamimi’s “non-Arab” appearance hasn’t managed to touch any hearts here. The wall of dehumanization and demonization that has been built through vile campaigns of incitement, propaganda and brain-washing against the Palestinians has trumped even the blonde from Nabi Saleh.              . . .
"Tamimi is a Palestinian, that is to say, a terrorist, and therefore, she doesn’t deserve any feelings of sympathy. Nothing will crack the defensive shield that protects Israelis from feelings of guilt, or at least discomfort, over her outrageous arrest, over the discrimination by the justice system, which would never have paid any attention to her had she been a Jewish settler.         . . .
"Israel hides behind an iron curtain that it’s no longer possible to pierce. Nothing Israel does to the Palestinians is still capable of rousing any compassion. Not even the poster girl, Tamimi. Even if she were sentenced to life in prison for a slap, even if she were sentenced to death, her punishment would be greeted with either open joy or indifference. There is no place for any other human emotion toward any Palestinian.

Science of Carnival Games

Have not got time today but someday I am going to take this and write the same info about Capitalism scams!  LOL

Monday, January 1, 2018

I'm back!

So apparently I let this blog lapse for two years. I keep suggesting I am going to blog daily and put all the things I want to share in one blog post and then I will share THAT on Facebook.

So, I guess first, the traditional Happy New Year!  2017 was not good for me personally, nor politically, nor for the planet.  Although on the good news side they did get some positive worker legislation in Ontario --  Increased minimum wage and improved benefits and days off for workers covered only by Labour Standards.

I intend to spend less time on FB. Between their new algorithms that make it hard for me to see or share what I want, with/from who I want. . . it seems like a lot of wasted time.  That combined with their removal of accounts on the request of Israel and other governments. .. ubiquitous capitalism on display and plying along with the "wrong side" too often.

So here's what interested me today. . .

Galen Weston won Scumbag of the year from Rank and File. Not a great guy - decried the raising of the minimum wage in Ontario complaining that it would cost Lob=laws stores too much money - this from a company that has huge profits, and from a man who is a Billionaire.   They also admitted to a bread price fixing scandal for TEN YEARS! From Rank and File: 
"Never mind that Loblaw Companies Limited profits continue to smash new records and that Weston’s personal wealth is in excess of $8 billion, Weston wanted you to feel bad for him and his company because they couldn’t pay the poverty wages to his workers.
Loblaws, which has been long in the spotlight for tax dodging, was named in this fall’s release of the Paradise Papers. The company registered offshore holding companies in Barbados and Bermuda in 2005. By some estimates its tax avoidance schemes have cost tax payers up to $350 million dollars.
And then on the day the Ontario government passed Bill 148 increasing the minimum wage to $15 and strengthening labour laws Loblaws announced it was closing twenty stories and firing 500 people from the company, despite making record profits."

Another thing that I think about every day is the occupation of Palestine and the life that people have to tolerate.  Israel is always asking "what about . . ." other countries and their human rights records, and "what about. . ." - we're the only country in the middle east that has democracy and freedom for gays and lesbians. . . sigh . . . called pink washing.    But recently the worst was jailing a sixteen year old (do you know they have special children;s military courts?) for slapping a soldier who had just slapped her as she tried to defend her home from an invasion by soldiers.  Sigh again. Judy Haiven wrote about it here.


I am soooooo     looking forward to Black Panther. 

And so I also enjoyed this review of and a little history of black super heroes. . . Some "food for thought. . .


And lastly, on this morning of this first day of 2018.  I enjoyed this podcast from Laurie and Eleanor Penney, on New Statesman.  Click on pic for link.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday musings - film reviews and more

This looks like tons of fun - a new video game that is for an iphone,  and voice controlled - first time I ever wanted an iphone.    Story here.

Remember Phyllis Schafly - I recall her from the 80's as the American anti-feminist -- women should stay home, have babies  cook and clean -- too many women working she thought!   She's in the news again with a solution for College sexual assaults:  reduce the number of women on campus!  Bring back more money for male sports (they now have to share their bucks with female sports) and maybe something else -- who can remember idiocy - just posting because it is amazing she is still out there and being published!

Then there is the difficulty with the recent spate of supposedly fabulous pics,  and problems with the historic accuracy of the films.  Each reviewer suggests that, although movies do not have to be absolutely accurate, and can conflate events, contract relationships or move events around -- and they might dramatize conversations that no one can report on -- but these films (like Zero Dark Thirty suggested that torture helped produce information about the whereabouts of Osama, which is not true)   spread the mis-information or create new information that is factually wrong.

So. . .

Selma - two issues - focuses too much on the one man theory of history,  and not enough on all the organizing work that went into getting Selma "ready to march";  and  suggests that LBJ did not want to pass the Voting Rights Act when in fact he did and the two men colluded on the timing.

Then there is Clint Eastwood's American Sniper is also full of shit.  One - although  it does talk about the true story of this man but there is no analysis at all of what happened in Iraq.  Check out this review.

Then there is The Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch which apparently although a great film, makes mincemeat of Alan Turing.   The Reviwer in the NYTimes Review of Books says: "There’s no question that the real-life Turing was decidedly eccentric, and that he didn’t suffer fools gladly. As his biographers vividly relate, though, he could also be a wonderfully engaging character when he felt like it, notably popular with children and thoroughly charming to anyone for whom he developed a fondness. All of this stands sharply at odds with his characterization in the film, which depicts him as a dour Mr. Spock who is disliked by all of his coworkers—with the possible exception of Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley). The film spares no opportunity to drive home his robotic oddness. He uses the word “logical” a lot and can’t grasp even the most modest of jokes. This despite the fact that he had a sprightly sense of humor, something that comes through vividly in the accounts of his friends, many of whom shared their stories with both Hodges and Copeland."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Daily Musings -- Feb 11th

An article in Truthout, this week, has an excerpt from Max Haiven's new book Crises of Imagination, Crises of Power: Capitalism, Creativity and the Commons (Zed Books, March 2014)

I want to quote many paragraphs but will just leave you with this one. 

"The crises of our age, like the crises of ages past, are the crises of capitalism. In this book, capitalism represents a cancerous disorder in the 'fabric' of social reproduction, one that works by perverting our sense of what and who is valuable and conscripting us to reproduce a system that works in the short-term interests of the few and against the interests of the vast majority of humanity. The failure to acknowledge that the many global crises we now face are, inherently, crises of capitalism represents a massive failure of the imagination. And without the radicalization of the imagination, we have no hope of overcoming these crises." 
With slightly more exciting news and a little sneak peak -- Looks like the book launch will be part of this year's Mayworks Festival!!

On the environmental front more bad news. . . 
Even a single polar bear can devastate all the eggs on a single island where birds such as common eiders nest. This unfortunate colony was visited by three bears at once. (Courtesy Steve Marson)

Polar bears cannot get to seals -- In northern Hudson's Bay the ice is frozen 60 days less per year.  The freeze is thirty days later and breakup is thirty days earlier.   So, in bad news for both birds and polar bears -- they are raiding bird nesting islands and eating eggs in huge numbers in some cases more than decimating the population.   In this piece on CBC it says: 
Iverson, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biology at Carleton University, recalled one rampage he witnessed in which a polar bear ate its way through an eider duck nesting colony with 300 nests, each containing about four or five eggs. The eggs were nearly "completely consumed within about a 48-hour period."

And on the Harper Cons. . . the story of how our national resources including water are going to be essentially sold off -- as soon as you tie public funding to P3's for municipal water you have essentially transferred control over water - a public good and something we need to survive -- to for-profit companies.  This is not more efficient or cheaper,  it just transfers a public good into private profit and should not be contemplated by any municipality in Canada (some have private sector involvement already!   )  Read more about on Rabble.

and there there is the elections act - something yesterday - more tomorrow -- this is bad. .  very bad. . .   This piece on Rabble is terrifying -- when even the Chief Electoral Officer calls it "an affront to democracy"   something is terribly wrong and we need to be reacting.  Unfortunately I heard today (Feb 11th ) about an action by the Council of Canadians yesterday -- where everyone was supposed to contact their MP but since my partner and I are social media mavens and news hawks and we didn't know about it. . . I think it must have been kept too quiet!

Then there is this NYTimes story about Snowden -- love you Eddie -- come by anytime.  You will go down in history as a hero --- hope they give you the Nobel (which he has been nominated for by two Norwegian Parliamentarians.)
Using “web crawler” software designed to search, index and back up a website, Mr. Snowden “scraped data out of our systems” while he went about his day job, according to a senior intelligence official. “We do not believe this was an individual sitting at a machine and downloading this much material in sequence,” the official said. The process, he added, was “quite automated.”
The findings are striking because the N.S.A.’s mission includes protecting the nation’s most sensitive military and intelligence computer systems from cyberattacks, especially the sophisticated attacks that emanate from Russia and China. Mr. Snowden’s “insider attack,” by contrast, was hardly sophisticated and should have been easily detected, investigators found.

A coupe of nice ones from the Olympics -- and pushing gay rights -- no matter that Russia doth protest too much. . . 

One is a story about the Greek team in blue and white as usual but with rainbow gloves to give the Russian state the finger, with. . .

And the other is a CBC story about how there has been more prominent LGBTI press and support as a result of the anti-gay law in Russia. . . in fact, says CBC they may be the gayest games ever!  Which says in part: 
"You look around Canada today and there's municipalities flying rainbow flags all over in support of the LGBT population," said Helen Kennedy, executive director of Égale Canada, a charity promoting LGBT rights."
 No comment on these two - but they interested me and may interest you too . .

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Daily Musings Feb. 9th

Best laid plans of blogging instead of sharing on FB. . .  but it is so much easier to just hit like and share -- to write this takes takes time and thought - I have been too busy at work to think of anything else -- though I, of course, do think about other things -- but no time to write -- so here is what I am musing about today. . . and for the last few days.

Upworthy published the video, below, with the headline  - Canada makes a great point about the Olympics in thirty seconds, which sounds like it is something the government of Canada did (ie Harper Cons!) .   It is a nice little video but has nothing at all to do with the Canadian Gov't.

Upworthy got it a little wrong -- this is a private sector organization (with a good goal) but private nevertheless, and in the same business as HR and business management consultants, as near as I can determine. . .  still loved the ad. From their website:
The Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion (CIDI) is a made-in-Canada solution designed to help employers, and diversity and inclusion (D&I), Human Rights and Equity (HR&E) and human resources (HR) practitioners effectively address the full picture of diversity, equity and inclusion within the workplace.
And here's the 30 sec clip: 


I wish I could recap what is in the piece by Chantal Hebert about the new bill on elections. .  but it is all important, an easy read, and I couldn't do better -- so please just go and read this piece from The Star.   Harper Cons are striking one more blow against democracy.

And there is another great piece on Global, here, about the NDP trying to filibuster to stop them from ending debate.  Once again the Harper Cons are taking what should be a non-partisan issue that all parties and the people get some say in. . . turn it into a piece of legislation that is very partisan (the people that they are denying the vote to are disadvantaged and generally not likely to vote for them) plus they are taking away rights from Elections Canada. . . like the ability to promote voting. . . and then, there is this -- 

And then yesterday on "the House" with Evan Solomon on CBC radio the Chief electoral Officer called the act an "Affront to Democracy".   More in this CBC website piece which says in part: 

The government's proposed overhaul of the Elections Act includes elements that constitute an affront to democracy, according to Canada's Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand.
 In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio's The House, Mayrand said "my reading of the act is that I can no longer speak about democracy in this country."
 "I'm not aware of any electoral bodies around the world who can not talk about democracy," Mayrand told host Evan Solomon.
Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand says the government's proposed Fair Elections Act puts severe restrictions on the information he is able to communicate to the public. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Daily Musings Feb 3rd.

Is Edward Snowden a prisoner in Russia?   The Guardian newspaper asks.  In the second exclusive extract from his new book, The Snowden Files, Luke Harding looks at the role of Russia's shadowy intelligence agency, the FSB, in securing the whistleblower's exile – and whether they have cracked his secret files.   I feel so bad for Snowden -- instead of politics he often brings out the Mom and Grannie in me. . . I just want to bring him home and look after him.


There was a presentation in Halifax on the possibility of postal banking. . . a good idea whose time has come though the Post office CEO doesn't think so. . .   It suggests in part:
Traditional banks are closing, true. But they're also exclusive places and increasingly centralized in high density, higher income, areas, like shopping malls.
To prove the point, he draws back the curtain of a boardroom at the Holiday Inn in Dartmouth. Outside is the neon rush of another Pay Day loan storefront, a high interest loan provider that preys largely upon those who have been excluded from traditional banks due to poverty.
“We know who uses the pay day loan system,” says Bickerton. “It's basically the people who have been excluded form our 'great' banking system. In many cases they are part of the 3-5% of the population who don't have banks accounts. These are the poorest people in the country and they are systematically excluded from the banks. We know that First Nations people are often the greatest users of the pay day loans. Why? Because they are the most excluded from our banking system.”
Another of the great bank-excluded classes are rural Canadians. And here, with its cross-country network of postal outlets, Canada Post would be at a distinct advantage. Bickerton notes that there are over 2,000 bank-less communities across the country that are served by a postal outlet. Add a financial service delivery capacity to these outlets - et voila - an instant underserved market, goes the logic.
I like it. 


Tell Shell's New CEO to stop drilling in the Arctic.  Sign the petition here.

Our way or the highway. . .U.S. Cuts off aid to Bolivia,  Bolivia says: 
In any case, Morales said, 80 percent of the United States’ money returned to the U.S. in the form of Bolivian contracts for business enterprises and consulting services, “so what aid are we talking about?”
“If we review the data, the latest data, I believe it comes to 20 or 25 [million dollars], practically nothing,” he said at a press conference in the presidential palace.
Presidential chief of staff Juan Ramón Quintana told the press that USAID contributions amount at present to $23 million.
“We want to tell [the United States], with much pride, that we’re not a mendicant state, we are not beggars, we don’t need charity, we have pride and we’re going to finance the struggle against drug trafficking ourselves,” . . .       
See more here. 


Lakoff!!!   George Lakoff has tried to teach the left about framing.  He says, in this interview in the Guardian,  we are still losing -- he is mostly talking about the democrats in the U.S. and many of them are not progressive at all. . . but I still buy the framing idea.  It is just hard to make confident, black and white statements when you have an analysis, and not just an opinion, or  direct revelation from the Lord.   Lakoff says in part:

'Conservatives don't follow the polls, they want to change them … Liberals do everything wrong'

Of course me and mine are not liberals in small or large L versions. . . but I still think we can learn from this. 
 "Framing is not primarily about politics or political messaging or communication. It is far more fundamental than that: frames are the mental structures that allow human beings to understand reality – and sometimes to create what we take to be reality. But frames do have an enormous bearing on politics … they structure our ideas and concepts, they shape the way we reason … For the most part, our use of frames is unconscious and automatic."
. . ."the left, he argues, is losing the political argument – every year, it cedes more ground to the right, under the mistaken impression that this will bring everything closer to the centre. In fact, there is no centre: the more progressives capitulate, the more boldly the conservatives express their vision, and the further to the right the mainstream moves. The reason is that conservatives speak from an authentic moral position, and appeal to voters' values. Liberals try to argue against them using evidence; they are embarrassed by emotionality. They think that if you can just demonstrate to voters how their self-interest is served by a socially egalitarian position, that will work, and everyone will vote for them and the debate will be over. In fact, Lakoff asserts, voters don't vote for bald self-interest; self-interest fails to ignite, it inspires nothing – progressives, of all people, ought to understand this.

 This is just a funny piece, in MacLeans,  about how the government bureaucrats in Ottawa struggle with twitter.  Everything has to be approved and takes a lot of time and a medium that should be timely is left to languish and is always late.

Does raising the minimum wage kill jobs?  asks Rabble blogger Tod Ferguson.   The right says: 
The Ontario PCs, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and the usual suspects for the 1% have been wringing their hands and wailing about how terrible the notion of increasing the minimum wage by $0.75 is. The CFIB claims that increasing the minimum wage hurts minimum wage workers "by reducing the businesses' capacity to hire and retain them." In fact, the CFIB predicts that a 10 per cent increase in the minimum wage would trigger up to 321,000 job losses.
However the rest of the article provides actual,  statistical evidence from  5 provinces that it does not. 


You'll have to watch this to get the joke but all I can say is that I would have considered this an effective ad for landmine removal.   I am not sure it is a great ad for staying in school.  watch it - what do you think?  Perhaps the OZ mindset is different from here but I don't think that this would be at all compelling. . .

Good news/bad news . . .

1 of 4. Thousands of people march to protest a government plan to limit abortions in Madrid February 1, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Andrea Comas

 And in Alabama,  pregnant women who miscarry can be refused care -- all the staff in an emerg don't want to end that pregnancy where you might bleed to death?  They are being protected from liability and have no obligation to help you find treatment -- just a way of saying -- women can go die. Appalling. Details on the ACLU site, here.

Given that my son (30 years old),  lives here full time, and his two children 12 and 7, live here part time, and we are not chomping to have them gone; this article was a little breath of fresh air for me.  

It seems to me, it was/is capitalism,  in the rush for "expansion of the economy" and selling more more more. . .  that broke down the extended family and moved us all to nuclear families, and now to atomized individuals. . . (so that everyone needs their own fridge, TV, car, stove, washer and dryer, lawn mower etc.)  Living in extended family (however defined - we have spent many years living with family members that we met and made into family ourselves) is an act of resistance!!


ALjazeera reports on the effect on children in Gaza and the lack of international response to get Justice for the families in Gaza even though so many of Israel's actions are illegal.  

                                                            Photo by AljAZEERA

They say in part: 

. . . It has been five years since Operation Cast Lead, a 22-day Israeli military offensive in Gaza which took place between December 27 and January 18, 2008 and claimed the lives of at least 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 350 Palestinian children.
Despite damning evidence of war crimes, the US government played a role in blocking international efforts to hold Israel accountable for serious breaches of international law. The resulting impunity has enabled Israel to continue its oppressive policies in Gaza where children undoubtedly remain targets.
. . .
 Human rights groups, including Defence for Children International Palestine, Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch, have documented cases of children killed and maimed in unlawful attacks; the destruction of civilian infrastructure such as schools and water and sanitation networks; the use of children as human shields; the unlawful use of white phosphorous in populated areas; and the arbitrary detention of children.
. . .

Following the attacks, the UN Human Rights Council established a fact-finding mission headed by Justice Richard Goldstone. Their mandate was "to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law" that may have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations conducted in Gaza between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009. Although international law requires states to investigate war crime allegations, Israeli authorities refused to cooperate with the investigation.
The mission's report, published in September 2009, found evidence of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity committed by both the Israeli military and Palestinian armed groups. Known as the "Goldstone Report", it was overwhelmingly endorsed by the UN General Assembly on November 5, 2009, with 114 states voting in favour of a resolution demanding that Israel and the Palestinians undertake "independent, credible investigations" into alleged war crimes. The resolution also urged the Security Council to take action on the report's recommendations, primarily by referring cases to the International Criminal Court.
Unsurprisingly, the US was one of 18 countries to vote against the resolution. The Obama administration then employed its diplomatic power to mitigate the impact of the Goldstone Report, and also blocked any further potential progress through the Security Council. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Daily Musings Jan 31st.

So the word is out -- even RollingStone thought Marx had some good ideas. . .
It lays out 5 ways Marx was right -- I will not repeat them here but I will repeat the final paragraph:
Marx's moral critique of capitalism and his keen insights into its inner workings and historical context are still worth paying attention to. As Robert L. Heilbroner writes, "We turn to Marx, therefore, not because he is infallible, but because he is inescapable." Today, in a world of both unheard-of wealth and abject poverty, where the richest 85 people have more wealth than the poorest 3 billion, the famous cry, "Workers of the world uniteyou have nothing to lose but your chains," has yet to lose its potency.

It is a frightening expose of our modern world and a story about how far we have fallen and what kind of things make it to the realm of #firstworldproblems. . .   Babies ill from never eating anything except take out food and fast food,  According to this BBC documentary.    It comes from not having time to cook, to sit down and have family meals together.   I mean who has time?   With poverty wages becoming the norm, and people having to have two and three jobs to get by -- they also have to get poorer by not making food at home cause there is no time -- I only watched the intro to a bunch of families in this video and I suspect that they just blame the families,  but "the problem" I think  is a sign of what we have created.  Individuals are not solely (or maybe at all) responsible for the breakdown of families -- capitalism, as well as driving globalization, monopoly, low wages and unemployment, also atomized families ('cause individuals buy more) made us alienated and we are nuclear families or individuals and help is hard to come by. . .


I have been carefully following and trying to support Canada Post and dis the Harper Gov't changes.   In this blog on Rabble,  David Bush writes about the way that we can support the postal workers and how we can help maintain Canada Post as a viable PUBLIC SERVICE -- 60% OF Canadians currently have home mail delivery and they want to keep it! 


I am quoting here -   Kris McGrath - my FB friend from Saint John, NB who,  on posting the news release  about the fact that the the faculty at UNB had a tentative agreement,  posted the following,  and I thought it was worth repeating. 

Congratulations on a successful round of negotiations, restoration of balance and positive steps forward for all concerned. While we await a ratification vote, there will be well-deserved celebrations in many quarters, and activities in many classrooms!

Yet as happy as I am for AUNBT and all the folks at UNB, I'm reminded of an old Labour saying: *There are no victories, just new battles*. While AUNBT will be back to work, MAFA (Mount Allison Faculty Association) continues to walk the line, the Saint John 7 (CMG- Radio Free Saint John) remain embattled in an interminable action, and Workers at Labatts in St John's (NAPE- Support NL Labatts Workers on strike) continue their fight. Today CUPW workers across the country face an uncertain future, veterans and workers from veteran's affairs continue to struggle with government decisions to close office, and workers rights across this country remain under siege by government bills aimed at torpedoing collective bargaining. AUNBT has a tentative agreement and I couldn't be happier for them, but brothers and sisters- there is still so much for us to do!!!

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”

And Ken Georgetti - head of the Canadian Labour Congress -  wrote this article about the effect of corporate tax cuts in Canada.   In it, he details what those cuts were supposed to achieve and what has happened in the last twenty years.  Are we better off?  More employment?  More research and development?  More innovation?  increasing full time or living wage jobs?  The answer is no. The article gives you the numbers, I am just repeating the conclusions.

A Canadian Labour Congress research report shows that, due to lavish tax breaks, the largest of Canada's non-financial corporations had paid their entire share of taxes to all levels of government in 2012 by the end of January. We call that Corporate Tax Freedom Day. 
. . .

 Good, family-supporting jobs are the key to Canada's economic success and corporate tax cuts aren't delivering. In fact, corporate tax cuts have delivered nothing, except windfall profits that haven't benefited the ordinary Canadians who paid for them.
 . . .
Corporate tax giveaways mean that the federal government has foregone billions of dollars in revenues. To pay for the tax breaks, Ottawa has borrowed billions of dollars and driven up the national debt. Now, the government has chosen to make big cuts to public services essential to Canadians in order to pay the bill for its tax giveaways.


The Nova Scotia Barristers Society is holding a public consultation on the application from Trinity Western University to open a law school.  I think (though still investigating) that all provinces would have to agree to register their graduates or at least let them write the bar exams.  IN an effort to ensure fairness to all we need to ensure that law is not taught in an environment which by their own missions, values, and procedures isists athat all courses be taught keeping the bible as their highest authority and that Christian Values would over rule all others.  They call themselves fundamentalist Christians at that school and part of the statement of faith and Christian Covenant that they have to sign in order to enter the school says that they believe (and will act as if) marriage is only between a man and a woman and that they will not have sex outside of marriage -- therefore banning all gay marriage and in fact I understand that they are quite intolerant of "gays and lesbians" believing them to be outside of god's will and intent for humans.

The same thing happened when they opened a teacher's college and the supreme court said that they had to be allowed to do so.   So this may be all for naught - but they perhaps can stopped by having the NS bar refuse to register them if we put pressure on them.