Tuesday, September 26, 2017

American Contempt For Health-Care Protesters

Nothing says more about the American political establishment's attitude on health care than this video of the handicapped being manhandled and ejected during a protest at a Senate committee hearing yesterday:


H/t Theo Moudakis

Meanwhile, sportscaster Dale Hansen offers this powerful meditation on protests:

Monday, September 25, 2017

Scenes From The Resistance: A Spreading Solidarity

Continuing with yesterday's theme, here are some scenes from Sunday's sports contests that show increasing numbers of players refusing to stand for Donald Trump and America's racism by either taking a knee or linking arms in solidarity.

The New England Patriots:

The Oakland Raiders:

The Jacksonville Jaguars:

Perhaps Bruce Maxwell, the first MLB player to take a knee, said it best:
The point of my kneeling is not to disrespect our military. It's not to disrespect our constitution. It's not to disrespect our country. My hand was over my heart because I love this country. I've had plenty of family members, including my father, that have bled for this country, that continue to serve for this country. At the end of the day, this is the best country on the planet. My hand over my heart symbolized the fact that I am and will forever be an American citizen, and I'm ore than forever grateful for being here. But my kneeling is what is getting the attention, because I'm kneeling for the people that don't have a voice. This goes beyond the black community. This goes beyond the Hispanic community. Because right now we're having a racial divide in all types of people. It's being practices from the highest power that we have in this country, and he's basically saying that it's O.K. to treat people differently. My kneeling, the way I did it, was to symbolize the fact that I'm kneeling for a cause, but I'm in no way or form disrespecting my country or my flag.

With examples like the above, these are days when I can almost believe there is hope for a better world.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

UPDATED: Time For A Cost-Benefit Analysis

Only the supremely naive would think that the extollment of athleticism is a central operating principle in professional sports. While at one time there might have been some purity to the contests, today it is all about making money, often obscene amounts, for the owners and agents of these present-day gladiators, or, as some have called them, slaves, albeit well-compensated ones.

Slaves, of course, are regarded as property, and one only has to look at the more violent sports to see that the analogy holds true. Football, despite the increasingly well-known risks of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) caused by repeated concussions, continues apace, as do hockey, boxing and a myriad of other sports that leave a legacy of early dementia, violent behaviour, and even suicide.

None of these facts will change the nature or the practice of these sports. Business is business, violence is violence, and fans would not have it any other way.

But in light of the great physical and mental consequences of such contests, it occurs to me that players can make their shortened lives and intellectual diminishment mean something. They can all take a stand by taking a knee. They can all be Colin Kaepernick and much, much more.

There are a few hopeful signs on the horizon. A few weeks ago, in a preseason game between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants, a white player, for the first time, took a knee.

As the anthem sounded, several Browns players knelt in what they later said was prayer. Among them was Seth DeValve, who is white and whose wife is African-American.

"I wanted to support my African-American teammates today who wanted to take a knee," he said in a post-game interview. "We wanted to draw attention to the fact that there's things in this country that still need to change."

Up to this point, taking the knee has been an act, not to disrespect the American anthem, but to protest the racism Blacks regularly experience at the hands of the authorities. Now, in light of Donald Trump's absolutely disgraceful remarks about sports figures, both at his Huntsville cult-gathering, and his childish and ongoing tweets afterwards, I believe the gesture needs to spread to all altheles and take on new meaning as a protest against the toddler in the White House whose only mission seems to be to spread division and discord.

And there are some hopeful signs in that more and more athletes are starting to speak out. Lebron James, in response to Trumpian tweets about NBA champion Stephen Curry's refusal to join his team at the White House, had this to say in a tweet directed at the Trump:
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!
James then explained why he wrote it:

Sports have often been looked upon as helping to unite countries. The fact that little unity exists in the United States is ample testament to the simple-mindedness of that idea. But, I believe there is a window of opportunity here in which athleticism can transcend itself.

What I have written here is probably mere wishful thinking and will likely, for various reasons, never have a hope in hell of being realized. Nonetheless, can you imagine the effect that such demonstrations of cross-cultural and cross-racial solidarity might have? At the very least, it could provoke some much-needed discussion about the state of America, and at the most, it could help increasing numbers understand that the madman they put in the White House has no place there.

This is a cost-benefit analysis surely worth undertaking.

UPDATE: Bravo, Steve Kerr. The Golden State Warriors' coach had some harsh words for Donald Trump yesterday:
“The idea of civil discourse with a guy who is tweeting and demeaning people and saying the things he’s saying is sort of far-fetched,” Kerr stated. “Can you picture us really having a civil discourse with him?”

“How about the irony of, ‘Free speech is fine if you’re a neo-Nazi chanting hate slogans, but free speech is not allowed to kneel in protest?'” Kerr added. “No matter how many times a football player says, ‘I honor our military, but I’m protesting police brutality and racial inequality,’ it doesn’t matter. Nationalists are saying, ‘You’re disrespecting our flag.’ Well, you know what else is disrespectful to our flag? Racism. And one’s way worse than the other.”

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Perfect Word

When Kim Jong-Un recently labelled Donald Trump a "dotard," not only did it demonstrate that the North Korean madman has a better vocabulary than the American Toddler-in-Chief, it also served as an apt description of a man intent on making the world in general, and the United States in particular, an increasingly perilous place to reside. Here is a man whose stream-of-consciousness tweets and rants serve only the interests of chaos and destruction.

Take, for example, Trump's 'thoughts' on Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback that I recently wrote about. Because he chose to kneel last season instead of stand for the American national anthem to protest American racism, he has been subjected to a form of economic terrorism as punishment. After declaring himself a free agent after last season, he has not been hired by any other team.

Not content to bring the world closer to nuclear war, Trump now has Kaeperniak in his sights. Here is what the dotard had to say at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama last night:
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He is fired. He’s fired!,'” Trump shouted to a cheering audience.

Trump's contemptuous message is simply: Americans have nothing to apologize for, and they need not examine either their past or their present racism, because all is right with the world as long as you respect the flag.

As my old literary friend, Hamlet, said,
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul
That not your trespass but my madness speaks.
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place
Whilst rank corruption, mining all within,
Infects unseen.
In other words, to ignore the cancer of racism and to simply see Kapernik's taking the knee as egregious disrespect for a national symbol ensures only that the cancer continues to grow and ultimately destroys the body politic.

To aggravate matters, Trump exults in the role he thinks has has played in Kaepernik's stalled career:
“It was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump,” Trump told a cheering crowd in Kentucky this July. “Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that.”
I will leave the final word here to Minnesota Right Back Bishop Sankey, who last night tweeted:

"It's a shame and disgrace when you have the President of the US calling citizens of the country sons of a bitches."

About sums it up, doesn't it?

Friday, September 22, 2017

This is Excellent

Pillorying pretensions, political buffoonery and language abuse are all commendable goals. However, Mrs. Betty Bowers brings this much-needed service to a whole other level. Enjoy:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

UPDATED: Not A Hopeful Sign

As much as I have long been an advocate for the development and honing of critical thinking skills (while readily admitting that I often fall short of the mark - for me, it is always a work in progress), I regret to report, via the CBC, that there is much, much work still to be done. In fact, many Canadians are having a great deal of difficulty distinguishing between facts and opinion, fake news and science fact. In our fraught times, that is surely a recipe for disaster.
Are scientific findings a matter of opinion? Forty-three per cent of Canadians agree that they are, suggests a new poll.
47 per cent (up from 40 per cent last year) agreed that "the science behind global warming is still unclear," despite what scientists have been calling for years "unequivocal" evidence.

19 per cent agree "there is a link between vaccinations and autism," even though the study that made the link was found years ago to be "an elaborate fraud."
The poll, commissioned by Ontario Science Centre, has results that should worry all of us. Maurice Bitran, chief executive officer of the Ontario Science Centre, had this to say:
"If you think that climate change is one of the main issues that we face as a society, and almost half of us think that the science is still unclear when there's a pretty broad scientific consensus about it, this affects the chances that we have to act in a unified way about it."
He is concerned about some of the findings that suggest a lack of trust in science and media coverage of scientific issues such as:
68 per cent agree that media coverage of scientific issues is "reported selectively to support news media objectives."

59 per cent agree that media coverage of scientific issues is "presented to support a political position."
Such conspiratorial views of the media when it comes to fact-based science should give us all pause to consider, among other things, the role media themselves play in this perception:
Kelly Bronson, a University of Ottawa professor who has studied and written about science communication, said people are confused about where to go for reliable information and how to tell facts from beliefs.

She thinks the media are partly to blame for focusing too much on telling both sides of the story: "It doesn't help the public learn how to distinguish true knowledge from mere opinion, if both are given equal weight in a news story."
An excellent illustration of this is to be found in a recent Hamilton Spectator letter to the editor:
RE: Republicans in denial (Sept. 13)

This article calls climate change skeptics "deniers", but is itself a denier. To accomplish this clever trick of contradicting itself, the Washington Post (WAPO) cunningly suppresses the huge hidden assumption behind their "denier" pejorative, which is that man-made climate change is settled science, which it isn't.

An example of the bad science behind "man-made climate change" is CO2, an essential component of all life including ours. In fact we likely need more of it. Reduce pollution, yes, but reduce CO2, no. We emphatically do not have a link between climate change and human-generated CO2.

Pedlars of bad science like Michael Mann are quoted supporting this unproven man-made climate change hypothesis. Natural phenomena like sea level rise are dragged in as proof of it, when actually the sea level is simply rising as it has been for thousands of years. Further, we should note that the climate change industry yields nice personal profits for its promoters, such as writers of columns like "Republicans in denial?"

It is difficult to connect these dots into a picture that warrants calling skeptics of man-made climate change "deniers", particularly when WAPO itself denies much.

Frank Gue, Burlington
Mr. Gue, and all others of his ilk, try to peddle the opinion that the science of climate change is not settled. The fact that it has been settled is but an inconvenience people like Gue circumvent by exploiting people's ignorance and prejudices. Are newspapers doing anyone a service by publishing such arrant nonsense?

Ignorance, sloppy thinking, mindless chatter and misdirection continue apace, but here is an incontrovertible fact: The time is growing very late, and the window to mitigation is rapidly closing.

UPDATE: Pursuant to the comments about online polls (one was used in the above Leger poll,) made by Jay and UU4077, it was not a poll in which just anyone could contribute. Here is an excerpt detailing its methodology:

A survey of 1,514 Canadians was completed online between August 15th to 16th, 2017 using Leger’s online panel, LegerWeb.

A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.


Leger’s online panel has approximately 475,000 members nationally – with between 10,000 and 20,000 new members added each month, and has a retention rate of 90%.


Stringent quality assurance measures allow Leger to achieve the high-quality standards set by the company. As a result, its methods of data collection and storage outperform the norms set by WAPOR (The World Association for Public Opinion Research). These measures are applied at every stage of the project: from data collection to processing, through to analysis. We aim to answer our clients’ needs with honesty, total confidentiality, and integrity.
My wife is part of a large online polling group. Originally responding to a telephone poll by EKOS, she was later contacted by the pollster asking her to become part of an online polling panel, as they needed someone in her demographic. My understanding is that such groups are meant to represent a large cross-section of Canadians, and therefore does not have the notorious self-selection and skewing that open online polls do.