Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Taking On Sarah Palin's Idiocy

I would say Jimmy Kimmel does a pretty good job:

“I have a theory,” Kimmel said. “I think maybe Sarah Palin wants global warming. It’s cold in Alaska. It would be welcome up there. But, the idea that she knows more than 97 percent of scientists is offensive and dangerous. No matter what Sarah Palin and these geniuses she surrounds herself with try to tell you, climate change is not a liberal-versus-conservative thing.”



If anyone needs more convincing, well, there are always scenes like this:


Monday, May 2, 2016

Morally Weak, Intellectually Contemptuous

That's how I regard the justifications for continuing with the Saudi arms deal offered by Stephane Dion and his puppet master, Justin Trudeau. I see I am not alone in that assessment:
Re: Approval of Saudi arms deal was illegal, lawyer argues, April 22

According to the Prime Minister, the Saudi arms deal must go forward, notwithstanding profound universal concern about the Saudi government’s cavalier attitude toward human rights.

According to Justin Trudeau, “We will continue to respect contracts signed because people around the world need to know that when Canada signs a deal it is respected.” That statement is odd and troubling on many different levels.

Does Mr. Trudeau believe himself to be Canada’s CEO or its head of government? Are we employees of Mr. Trudeau or are we citizen of this country? Is Mr. Trudeau our boss or our servant? Does Canada, as a political entity, sign commercial deals, or is it rather commercial enterprises within Canada that sign deals, and it is the government’s job to regulate those deals? Most importantly, perhaps: Is Canada a large commercial enterprise or a nation that calls itself a democracy?

A likely explanation of Mr. Trudeau’s statement is that he has a habit of improvising rationales that are at odds with rationality, such as his perplexing statements to the effect that Canada will use fossil fuel production to combat fossil-fuel-induced climate change.

Stephane Dion has turned into a quick study in the art of sophistical rhetoric and improvised rationales. On the subject of the Saudi arms sales, he says he had “reviewed the issue with ‘the utmost rigour’ and will continue to do so over the life of the 14-year deal.” It seems I have been under a false impression that his government had been elected for a four-year term.

Earlier, he had cleverly stated that the sale was justified because the Saudi government has promised not to use the armoured vehicles to suppress domestic dissent. Even if we were to believe the Saudi claim, what about the serious concern about the Saudi ruling family’s hobby of invading neighbouring countries and massacring their civilian populations? Do we need that blood on our hands?

Al Eslami, North York

Jobs worth killing for? Online video April 24

Full marks to Scott Vrooman for, like many other Canadians, pointing out the rank hypocrisy of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government. Could there be a more blatant example of this than the Saudi Arms deal?

While our Prime Minister will happily show up at any photo op for a Pride Parade or similar event (as he should), he quite clearly has no problem selling arms to a regime that executes people for the crime of being gay. If he can’t see the hypocrisy of that, he’s a fool.

This government’s supposed fresh new approach (transparency and honesty and optimism) is looking more and more like a variation of the half truths and manipulated facts that contribute to many people’s default setting with politics and politicians: distrust and cynicism.

Paul Romanuk, Toronto


Friday, April 29, 2016

Four Days In A Wild Weather Week

I admit I am a bit of a weather geek. To witness nature's fury and our powerlessness in its face is truly humbling. However, the other reason for my fascination with our increasingly volatile and destructive weather is the rueful recognition of our collective refusal to make any changes that might mitigate the worst effects of climate change. If given the option of sacrifice (losing some convenience, changing our lifestyle, taming our bloodlust for beef, paying higher prices for energy, etc.) or enduring the destructive force of climate change, it seems that for almost everyone, both leaders and the led, the choice is lamentably clear.

We get what we deserve:







Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Rich Businessman's Humility

Far too many employers see their employees as disposable, fungible, or, even worse, targets to exploit. I am happy to report that the CEO of Chobani yogurt, Hamdi Ulukaya, is not one of them. He is giving his people a 10% share in his company, shares that they will be able to sell, once the company goes public. The money that these workers will soon receive means a lot, they say, but being appreciated means even more.

Watching this report, I couldn't help but wonder how different our world would be if more owners felt the same way about the people who make their success possible.



Should you want to read more about this remarkable gesture, click here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Truth Is Not Out There - It's Right Here

Fox Mulder of the X-Files got it wrong. He believed that the truth was 'out there;' in fact, it is right here, but as the Mound of Sound said in a recent post, we live in "a world full of fact-resistant humans."

Our capacity for denial seems almost limitless, perhaps most tragically attested to by our ongoing nonchalance about climate change. Despite increasingly severe weather events, melting arctic ice and rising sea levels, we insist on whistling past the graveyard. The time is growing very late.

Consider what Gwynne Dyer had to say recently:
We cannot count on the average global temperature rising steadily but slowly as we pump more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It may do that -- but there may also be a sudden jump in the average global temperature that lands you in a world of hurt. That may be happening now.

"We are moving into uncharted territory with frightening speed," said Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, last November. He was referring to the fact that the warming is accelerating in an unprecedented way.

2014 was the hottest year ever, until 2015 beat it by a wide margin. 2016 may beat that record by an even wider margin. It was the hottest January ever and the average global temperature in February was a full fifth of a Celcius degree higher than January.
To take solace by blaming recent event on El Niño is folly:
As for the frightening acceleration in the warming in the past three months, that has no precedent in any El Niño year, or indeed in any previous year. It could be some random short-term fluctuation in average global temperature, but coming on top of the record warming of 2014 and 2015 it feels a lot more like part of a trend.

Could this be non-linear change, an abrupt and irreversible change in the climate? Yes. And if it is, how far will it go before it stabilizes again at some higher average global temperature? Nobody knows.
What was once thought to be many decades, if not centuries off, is now starting to materialize. Watch the following two videos to consider what may very well be in store for us, perhaps in the lifetime of some alive today, but almost certainly in that of our children and grandchildren:





Such scenarios are no longer in the realm of science fiction, but we continue to treat them as such, and it doesn't appear that anything will shake us and our 'leaders' from this state of denial. It therefore seems appropriate to end this post with Jimi Hendrix's version of Bob Dylan's All Along The Watchtower, a song that I have always interpreted as depicting impending doom:

Monday, April 25, 2016

Guest Post: A Manitoban Reflects On His Province's Choice of Brian Pallister's Conservatives



I have a friend in Winnipeg with whom I regularly speak and correspond. Although he does not work in the field, he is possessed of a keen mind and a journalist's instincts and methodology that enable him to frequently uncover an array of misbehaviour on the part of public officials and organizations. I have urged him to devote himself to these pursuits when he retires, perhaps in a blog or some other forum.

He has given me permission to publish a missive he sent me about the recent Pallister victory in his province. For very good reasons he wishes anonymity, so he will remain unnamed, but here is, slightly edited, what he had to say:

Montreal Simon is a well-informed man and also knows the importance of history. If only people remembered things, especially political history.

The point that bothers me the most regarding the conservative victory here is that it is so large. I was hoping for a miracle such as a minority government but the unwashed have spoken. It will take more than one term to extinguish this government just because there are so many ridings held by it. Back in 1977 I remember when the Lyon government came to power. As a political rube at the time (I was a wet behind the ears high school student in grade 12) I had no idea how partisan politics could become. Manitoba was perhaps a more ‘balanced’ place at that time as Lyon only lasted one term before the electorate threw him out. Now no one seems to remember the legacy of the Filmon government.

In the late eighties came the Filmon government. Thanks to the spread of neo-liberal thought Gary was able to win three elections in a row. I remember his puckish grin during a news interview for the latest triumph. He called his third mandate a ‘threepeat’, echoing his competitive jock background (was a big basketball star at Sisler High). Nobody now remembers his lies (‘We have no plans to sell MTS”), bureaucratization of health care (creation of regional health authorities with resident bean counters who ‘manage’ care), big investments in casinos (great jobs, right) and cutting funding in education and healthcare (16-20 million for each department); also a bald attempt to privatize segments of provincial healthcare.

Meanwhile as cuts and austerity were implemented in the public sector no one paid much attention to the money showered on the private sector. Let’s see; 16 million gift to the Winnipeg Jets pro hockey team, increase in funding to private schools, subsidies for international companies: an American phone centre company called Fanueil and a Korean computer outfit call Wang. Both folded their tents within a couple years and quietly left the province with who knows how much government cash. I think the crowning financial toilet flush of public money occurred in the late nineties when the government was preparing to host the Pan American Games. The final price tag was never really pegged but of course to ask the total cost would cast a pall over the festivities enjoyed by Manitoba’s class conscious elite. They wanted this so bad that I remember one of the province’s leading plutocrats actually coming out into the public light of day and demanding that the Filmon government spend more money on the games (or else he would quit the organizing committee).

Ahh Lorne, memory is such a curse. Why do I torture myself? Guess I will be living through ‘interesting times’ as the Chinese say.

To cap it off the news brings word of more victory for the dark forces; Duffy acquitted, no one in the PMO even charged. The CBC continuing to ignore stories of importance and merit. Here is a link to the Huffington Post. It published an AP story on South Korea. Maybe CBC avoided publication because it might affect its bid for broadcast rights for the 2018 games?

P.S.: John Ralston Saul was right in that we are an ‘unconscious civilization.’