Saturday, July 2, 2022

Covid and Climate Change: Similar Rationalizations, Different Intensity

I was searching through YouTube looking for things to include in my career retrospective, mainly looking for a clip of an old CKCO show, What's Your Point/The Final Round, from March 28, 2009, filmed at my school. Four teachers were set up to argue on various random issues, and Brent Hanson provoked us to argue with a poke in the back to indicate when we should each talk, and I'd jump in as commanded, which made it sound like I was intentionally interrupting people! By a student vote, I won the debate. Unfortunately (or not) that clip appears to be lost to the ether. But I did come across an old CTV newscast about an Earth Day festival I used to put on, and it has interesting connections with my reaction to our current Covid crisis. 

Back in 2010 (at 1:30 min. in), I said, "The feeling with a lot of my students, maybe 30% or so, is that this is all a conspiracy, that we're fine, we've done nothing to change the world, and some crazy environments are making us think that we did."

Sound familiar? 

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Last Day of Teaching - Ever!

Well, never say never. But I'm officially done at KCI, at any rate, where I spent part of my grade 13 year as a student back in '85, then was a student-teacher there just five years later, and spent 31 years teaching (minus a few maternity leaves). I was invited to the retirement luncheon today, but there was potentially 80-120 people in the library, one of the only air conditioned rooms in the school, with no windows opened, and almost no masks in sight. I can't imagine walking into a room that full of people unmasked right now! Luckily, I could watch it through a google meet. 

My poor friend who drew the short straw and had to give a speech about me hates speaking in front of people, so I offered to make her a video to play instead - she could just get up and push start, and then sit down. That video didn't make the cut, possibly because she was fine with giving a speech after all, or possibly because it's a bit of a bummer near the end and has some swears in it! I wanted a warts and all remembrance! A friend of mine said, You had to know it couldn't be shown, and I really don't know. Maybe it's just as well that I'm leaving; I could never understanding those kinds of rules. I'd hate for it to go to waste, so I'm glad I can post it here! 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Open Letter to Universities Removing Mask Mandates

Open Letter to Dr. Deborah MacLatchy, PhD, President and Vice-Chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University, president@wlu.ca, and Dr. Vivek Goel, CM, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Waterloo, president@uwaterloo.ca  [NOTE: I sent this as a letter to both, without the images.]

RE: Removing mask mandates at your universities.

My daughter and I are both starting university programs in September, and I'm hoping you will reconsider removing mask mandates. I'm wondering about your reasoning for this change in policy in light of recent studies that indicate continued mask-wearing is necessary due to the BA.4 and BA.5 mutations that are predicted to increase cases significantly leading into the fall. I'm newly retired and was ready for my next adventure in grad school, but now I will be spending the next two months considering whether it's worth it to return to school since it now poses a risk to my health. I'm sure anyone immunocompromised is also having to face this same conundrum, which is particularly heartbreaking for students at the very beginning of their schooling who were previously confident in the wisdom of these two world-renowned universities to keep staff and students in masks.

Friday, June 24, 2022

In Conversation with Richard Marsh

After writing about the Klondike Papers originally, my little blog got a ridiculous number of hits very briefly but just long enough for Richard Marsh to notice and fact-check my post. He's the ex-member of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (PBCC) that "fixer" David Wallace was tasked with hunting down, creating a paper trail in the process that was given the now-iconic name. Richard and I started chatting, and here's his further explanation about the elusive documents and the nefarious nature of the Brethren. I left the 2-hour video unedited and in full in part because Richard is a very fluid speaker, so there's not a lot of pauses to delete, and in part so it's clearly authentic and untouched. I've time-stamped and summarized sections below to make it easier to jump to a specific segment. Note, once again, I'm just making this information available, and I don't have further evidence to support or disprove any claims made, but we are getting it directly from the horse's mouth, and Richard is very careful with words like allegedly, so I imagine it's pretty accurate!

Listen to some further clarification about what's actually in the Klondike Papers, how the Brethren is a profit-making empire, ways it controls instead of ministering to members, and why Richard finally left. 

Thursday, June 16, 2022

And on to LongCovid

Masks are all but gone in my neck of the woods. A couple stores have employees that wear them, but not many, and then very few customers do. The people I know who don't wear masks seem to fall in three camps: The first are people with kids who are beyond their control (too young to be non-conforming mask wearers or rebellious teens), and they're absolutely terrified to the point of having to convince themselves, "We're all going to die of something!" in order to sleep at night. To them, wearing a mask is admitting to themselves that there's something to fear, and that's just not something their psyche can take right now. The second are people who have had a mild version with no lasting effects and are certain, based on their own experience, seeing it with their own eyes, that it's not a big deal. And the third group are people who watch very different media than I follow, and they are very convinced that the pandemic ended. Didn't I get the memo?? They really believe I'm crazy to keep wearing a mask now that it's all over. I might believe them - I'd love for it to be true - if it weren't for so many scientific journal articles that say otherwise. 

It ain't over. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

On Expertise

We've grown to develop an anti-expertise view in society. I imagine it might have something to do with a do-it-yourself mentality born of individualism and capitalism. I can work harder to figure out how to do it myself and then I don't need anyone else's help. I get that. 

About eight years ago, I built a reading/writing/painting studio in my backyard all by myself despite not really knowing what I was doing (h/t YouTube videos), and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. But, I hired an electrician to wire it and a window guy to install that huge front window. I know my limitations. From the other side of things, though, as a teacher, it's pretty annoying when non-teachers are confident they could do the job better and offer helpful hints around time management because surely you can finish the day's work by the end of the school day.  "Prep your lessons on PD days," I was told recently. I can't even begin to explain everything wrong with that suggestion. Teachers have a skill set that many well-meaning parents don't have, and it would be amazing if people could believe that and trust us just a little. 

When I posted a little summary of what I understand so far of the Klondike Papers, many asked me for access to the 6,400 pages of documents that were discussed - the corroboration of many of the claims. As far as I know,  those pages were only provided for select journalists chosen by David Wallace. Someone claimed they're all open source, but I haven't seen signs of this elusive file online. But this is where I think we need to understand our limits and when to find an expert. I summarized what I know of this story from watching six hours of interviews and reading a handful of Reddit posts and another handful of news sources. Once I started down that rabbit hole, I spent a day watching and reading and the next day sorting and writing. Sifting through 6,400 pages would be like reading War and Peace FIVE TIMES, and with the chapters and paragraphs all out of order so it's an enormous effort to make sense of it all. I'm not sure how many people asking for a copy are really up for that kind of journey. 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Russia's Hunger Plan

 This Timothy Snyder (historian specializing in genocide) thread is unnerving:

"Russia has a hunger plan. Vladimir Putin is preparing to starve much of the developing world as the next stage in his war in Europe. In normal times, Ukraine is a leading exporter of foodstuffs. A Russian naval blockade now prevents Ukraine from exporting grain. If the Russian blockade continues, tens of millions of tons of food will rot in silos, and tens of millions of people in Africa and Asia will starve. The horror of Putin's hunger pan is so great that we have a hard time apprehending it. We also tend to forget how central food is to politics. Some historical examples can help.

The idea that controlling Ukrainian grain can change the world is not new. Both Stalin and Hitler wished to do so. For Stalin, Ukraine's black earth was to be exploited to build an industrial economy for the USSR. In fact, collectivized agriculture killed about four million Ukrainians. Notably, as people began to die in large numbers, Stalin blamed the Ukrainians themselves. Soviet propaganda called those who drew attention to the famine 'Nazis.' Actual Nazis had related ideas. They liked the idea of controlling Ukrainian agriculture. This was in fact Hitler's central war aim. Hitler wished to redirect Ukrainian grain from the Soviet Union to Germany, in the hope of starving millions of Soviet citizens. The Second World War was fought for Ukraine and in considerable measure in Ukraine, between dictators who wanted to control food supplies. 

Russian memory politics prepared the way for a 21st-century hunger plan. Russians are told that Stalin's famine was an accident and that Ukrainians are Nazis. This makes theft and blockade seem acceptable. Putin's hunger plan is, I believe, meant to work on three levels. First, it is part of a large attempt to destroy the Ukrainian state by cutting off its exports. Putin's hunger plan is also meant to generate refugees from North Africa and the Middle East, areas usually fed by Ukraine. This would generate instability in the EU. Finally, and more horribly, a world famine is a necessary backdrop for a Russian propaganda campaign against Ukraine. Actual mass death is needed as the backdrop for a propaganda contest. 

When the food riots begin, and as starvation spreads, Russian propaganda will blame Ukraine, and call for Russia's territorial gains in Ukraine to be recognized, and for all sanctions to be lifted. Russia is planning to starve Asians and Africans in order to win its war in Europe. This is a new level of colonialism, and the latest chapter of hunger politics." 

Millions starved during the Holodomor. Russia is bombing fields and storage facilities as Ukrainians are scrambling to save some of their crops. Some commenters suggest that the Ukraine just produces about 10% of the world's grain, so no big deal, we'll all just reroute a bit to help other area, but 10% is huge. In some areas, the smallest drop in access will cost lives. And re-routing a little extra from all other grain-producing areas is a huge undertaking both in terms of changing policies and in terms of will. How much will Canada be willing to export grain to new buyers? And this missing 10% will raise costs here as well, affecting far too many who are just barely scraping by as it is. The war has been bumped out of the new cycle by everything else going on, but it might surpass it all in the effect it has on our immediate future. 

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Klondike Papers

I'm just getting my head around it all here. But I've watched lots of videos and read lots of threads, and here's what seems to be happening in as brief a nutshell as possible. I don't know what's absolutely true here, but it's a compelling story with lots of supporting documentation available to the media, which mostly isn't biting at this point, except for Press Progress and some small independents like Blackballed and the Dean Blundell Show. This is paraphrased and/or transcribed and re-assembled for brevity and clarity from the sources linked at the bottom in a way that I can understand it, and I believe I haven't misrepresented what was said, although I don't always clarify who said what, so do check out the videos and articles on it! It's fascinating!

ETA (June 16) --> Check out Justin Ling's article. He disproves some of the points below including that Chipeur is NOT a lawyer for the CP or Poilievre. The file has nothing about the convoy or Russian financing or any kind of harm to Trudeau. He questions the credibility and motives of Wallace and Jacobson: "The fact is, both men had burned their professional relationships." The PBCC is about as shady as Scientology, but isn't this powerful or nefarious. I've corrected a few things below in red or crossed out (but visible so you can see what was added and removed) based on Ling's article and Richard-freakin'-March's contact with me to clear up some misconceptions! Gosh! 

ETA a bit more on June 19 --  Press Progress wrote about the problem when "people who have never seen the documents began trying to explain their significance," like me. In my defence, I said from the get go that I'm just trying to make sense of some podcasts, later clarifying (on June 14th) that I don't have the skill set to fact check things like Russian involvement in our politics. I wrote the following disclaimer once I started getting an unusual amount of traffic taking me from about 100 hits on a post to 40,000 on just this one. I'm not here for hits, so I'm not baiting readers, just trying to bring some clarity to what's unclear and unwittingly muddying up the waters in the process! I'm sorry if I misled anyone to believe the claims, when I, myself, wasn't certain of their veracity. I said as much twice in this preamble, but apparently it wasn't enough.   

ETA: Disclaimer: This is just a tiny blog, not a news article with editors and fact checkers. Normally, a handful of people read anything I write here. I'm usually careful with citations anyway, so boy do I regret not citing each specific piece of information below. I took notes in a pile as I watched videos and read articles, with some parts verbatim and some parts paraphrased, without always tracking who said what or where, and then put it together under headings to try to figure it all out, noticing some patterns or connections that may or may not be the case. The post seems to be useful to people, but, really, DO check out the videos and articles yourself to see if you get the same picture from it all. The Reddit post at the end has some recording and verification, but I haven't listened to that or seen any of documents available to the press. I have no idea how much of any of this is true, but it sure is a compelling narrative that could make sense of some things if a media team took some time to unravel it further! 

THE PLAYERS

Long ago I bought in to the idea that Stephen Harper is the puppet-master of all the provincial conservative parties, but that's not quite it. These Klondike Papers show that Harper and most federal and provincial conservatives in power are being run influenced by an outside organization with ties to Russia and the United States: the Universal Business Team (UBT). It's the financial wing of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (PBCC), which has congregations all over, a big one being in Grand Prairie, Alberta. They have one in the industrial section of Toronto, all fenced up; they don't do community outreach, but they'll talk to anyone. They are strongly exclusive, only willing to talk to people within the church, run their own schools and businesses in a closed economy, but they do some dealing with hand picked leaders and CEOs to shape the world to their benefit. The church started in 1827 in Ireland, but was radicalise in the 1960s under "Big Jim" Taylor, in Brooklyn. at which point UBT began to become the point of the church in the 2000s - to make big deals and shut out the rest of the world. PBCC is all a front for profits, not prophets, which can be seen if we look at registries, lobby lists, shell corporations, etc. A coherent picture emerges. There is a handful at the top controlling this fascist mafia-type movement. 

Friday, June 10, 2022

On Masks and Narcissism

I was reading a random woman's social media feed as she was considering that an increase in narcissism might be to blame for masking issues, and I nodded along to each of her points. Then she happened across this study that shows that people who don't mask are more prone to narcissism. 

"Narcissists are by definition self-absorbed. Grandiose narcissism involves a sense of superiority and entitlement and people who are high in grandiose narcissism are likely to ignore the needs of others and not exhibit reciprocity when someone else does something to benefit them. . . . People high in vulnerable narcissism are likely to be very sensitive to rejection and judgment. Results showed that people high in grandiose narcissism were less likely to wear a mask. . . . Vulnerable narcissism, however, has a more complicated relationship with mask-wearing due to egocentrism being associated with less mask-wearing and sensitivity to criticism being related to more mask-wearing." 

To get grandiose narcissists to wear masks, it says, make the behaviour unique. For vulnerable narcissist, make it popular. Both work better than "emphasizing the greater good" or focusing on helping others, which is pretty much all I've tried so far. Of course I've failed with the only people who argued against masks, likely because I was approaching it all wrong talking about compassion for the vulnerable and all. 

Love and Sorrow

I've recently started reading Martha Crawford's blog and following her on Twitter. She's a therapist in remission from cancer. I want to keep this particularly beautiful and timely thread to revisit from time to time:

"I try not to participate in war and game binary metaphors of victory and defeat, success and failure, but it's challenging when this was fed to me as staple food by the culture around me. And the place that this haunts me most profoundly is in my role as mother. I can still get caught up in trying to pursue 'successful' parenting -- even though I know it is only parenting. 

And when the world makes it impossible to guard or protect my children, I feel 'failed.' I feel so personally failed that I have been unable to protect my children from covid and reinfection -- like I failed them, failed their birthmother, failed my maternal mandate somehow.

It's all gibberish but still excruciating.

It's an attempt to control the uncontrollable by personally 'taking on the burden of the badness' as Fairbairn would say. But the world and these young adults' conflicting needs are not in my control. The irrational burden hangs there, unmoved by logic. 

Only grief releases it. 

Also: super essential to learn to avoid talking to other parents caught up in this game because it's catchy. Also, the drive to parent 'better' than your own parents is another form of this game -- even if your parents sucked. It's not a game. There is no winning. 

Just love and its eternal companion sorrow travelling through, back and forth. No kind of game at all."

I'm feeling all this in trying to give my kids the best opportunities I can and the most enriching lives possible within a limited budget (single mom now retired) and during a pandemic. There are always other kids that have more and better, and it destroys me when that's overtly pointed out. I don't tell them that, of course, because they're grieving their own losses and regrets - from missed lessons as kids to the unlikelihood of ever owning a home, and I don't want to get in the way of that with my crap. And now there are year-end celebrations being missed because of Covid, which is frustrating because they could be made safer with masks, but that spoils all the fun. 

I'm just no fun. 

So far, I've kept 2/3rds of them virus-free, but not without complaints and evidence of how "normal" people live, regularly going to restaurants, concerts, bars, and parties, hanging out with friends without a second thought, in and out of each other's homes, all without masks. I know. They're free to go anywhere they want if they isolate and test afterwards, but that's not worth it to them, which is their decision to make and own. 

As many parents do, I also grieve when they grieve. Their pain is always shared. Even when I cause it.

(And then I feel pathetic since we're all fed and housed and healthy enough to do most things. Who are we to regret the path that led us here or grieve the trappings of what's just out of reach? But there it is, the sorrow, hanging around in a line up of things to deal with today.)

Monday, June 6, 2022

A Bit More on Burnout

I was listening to VoicEd.ca last week (Wednesdays at 8:45 am), and they recommended Lynn Thomas's post on resilience and burnout summarized from a talk by Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe. I agree with much of what she writes, particularly about the number of teachers hitting a wall (70% of teachers are concerned with their own mental health), that too much changed too fact (creating anomic stress), and that the public's negative perception of teachers doesn't help. 

I looked up the speaker, and a blurb that's following Hanley-Dafoe says our "modern conception of resiliency as 'fighting' or being 'tougher' is misguided."  Absolutely. I like Dr. Alok Kanojia's reminder that the opposite of sensitive isn't strong, but INsensitive. Yup. 

But, I have some stoppers with all the resiliencey-speak and with a primary solution geared towards reducing the workload-to-time ratio. I wrote about my concerns with resilience being a scapegoat last January:

"If we train students on resilience-speak, then it makes everything they experience a 'them' problem. They just don't have enough resilience to weather the storm, and they should be working to improve that. . . . . Make no mistake, 'resilience' is the new and improved version of 'grit.' Paul Gorski once referred to grit and growth mindset rhetoric as a 'long line of ways to avoid confronting inequity--desperate attempt to locate the 'problem' in kids, not injustice.' He says that telling people they just need a different mindset or more grit or resilience to do better in school denies, in the most condescending way, the reality that people who are marginalized are often models of resilience and grit. . . . We could pull our bootstraps up to our necks and still be struggling with it all"

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Some Words on Hope

The Narwhal quoted police and prison abolitionist Mariame Kaba on her understanding of hope:  

"The idea of hope being a discipline is something I heard from a nun many years ago. The hope that she was talking about was this grounded hope that was practiced every day, that people actually practiced it all the time. . . .  It's less about 'how you feel,' and more about the practice of making a decision every day, that you're still gonna put one foot in front of them other, that you're still going to get up in the morning. And you're still going to struggle, that was what I took away from it. It's work to be hopeful. It's not like a fuzzy feeing. Like, you have to actually put in energy, time, and you have to be clear-eyed, and you have to hold fast to having a vision. 
It's a hard thing to maintain. But it matters to have it, to believe that it's possible to change the world. You know, that we don't live in a predetermined, predestined world where like nothing we do has an impact. No, no, that's not true! . . . I take a long view, understanding full well that I'm just a tiny, little part of a story that already has a huge antecedent and has something that is going to come after that ... my little friggin' thing I'm doing is actually pretty insignificant in world history, but if it's significant to one or two people, I feel good about that. If I'm making my stand in the world and that benefits my particular community of people ... I feel good about that."

Friday, June 3, 2022

Just 1,460 More Days 'Til We Vote Him Out!

They called the election before all the polling places were closed because Ford had that much of a lead. My first thought this morning: 

"Realizing what a bubble I'm in online and in real life. I don't know a single person who would consider voting PC. I'm blown away that cuts to healthcare, profit-driven LTC, no autism services, online ed, paved over farmland, etc. is what Ontario actually wants."

Many were quick to point out that it's not what Ontario wants, but possibly just the 18% of eligible voters who actually voted for Ford. It helps to know that 25% of people voted against Ford, and the big surprise - sort of - is that 57% didn't vote at all. I was all in a tizzy about this one, yet lots and lots of people just stayed home

Can you blame them?

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Ford's Privatization Scheme


How privatization of social services and healthcare is moving forward in Ontario from an anonymous ODSP employment provider: (from here with links to articles here and here)

Ford two years ago brought in American companies who have been figuring out what approach / messaging to take that would be ‘acceptable’ to Canadians with the intent of cutting our services. They became non profit agencies in Canada. So they can call themselves “Canadian” non profits. Our tax payer money is paying them to chip away at our healthcare and social service systems. We will wind up being paid huge tax dollars to then have our services be made minimal and virtually nonexistent. They are calling it privatization – but it is privatization with these companies as the decision makers. These companies are really good marketers/sales people and know how to make things “look and feel” good. 

The tip of the iceberg is that they are transferring ODSP employment assistance and supports to help people on ODSP find and maintain employment. They are moving this from from Social Service to the ministry of labour colleges and universities....going from region to region switching these services over to be ‘managed’ by these companies – making huge profits from this with ODSP and OW’s employment supports. They are paying our agencies assisting these clients less than ODSP paid has done and I assume taking the rest of our hard earned tax dollars. They are distracting the job developers and counsellors working with the clients looking for work with at least double the administrative work and have put in place algorithms so one agency cannot share a client with another agency – even though they may have different expertise and ways to support and help the client with obtaining employment. 

So why is Ford doing this??? There is no advantage to the tax payer – there are huge disadvantages – the only conclusion anyone can come to is, He is doing it for the kick backs and that appears to be how he operates. Ford has opened the door for these are American companies coming into Canada, acquiring non-profit status here and making huge amounts from taxpayer’s money and allotting a small stipend of it for us to have our social & health services and to the mentally ill and poverty stricken and ill." 

A bit more in the comments: 

They've gone much farther than most people realize. Ontario Health is a new Crown Corporation that will have total control over the health care budget. We will see more corporations like Telus acting as intermediary. They're already a big player. The majority of the Board are corporate CEOs, including some who spent time in the US corp. There is a physician on the board who used to work with the group that provides physician malpractice insurance. They run up bills so patients can't afford to sue. 

Some people may wonder why US companies? The answer lies with the Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Under the terms of the FTA, foreign companies can sue the Canadian government in a special trade tribunal for lost anticipated profits -- it's like a one-way street -- services can be privatized, and the terms of the FTA make it very difficult to impossible for any services, once privatized, to be made public once again. This is why the Rae government never introduced public auto insurance, due to the threat of being sued for damages for lost anticipated profits.

ETA: Jean Yoon's post:

"Maybe we should stop using the term privatization; and describe the redistribution of public dollars to commercial interests an restructuring services to lock the people into exploitative commercial contracts in perpetuity as theft - of our safety and the shared savings of the government."

ETA: Ontario Health Coalition's fact sheet on Two-Tier Healthcare and Private Clinics 

Vote like your life depends on it. One day, it will.  

Friday, May 27, 2022

So, Where are We Headed?

I knew what he was going to say as soon as we made eye contact. A bearded shit-eating grin in a pickup-truck stopped at a light while I cycled across the intersection to join a trail packed with university students. I just wanted to clear my head after events of the past couple of days with a nice long ride, but here we go: 

"Take off your mask, sweetheart!" 

It's the new, "Show us your tits!" but it's strikingly more effective if the goal is to provoke fear. I used to write off the horn-dogs on my trips around the city, and welcomed their depletion as I aged out of harassment, but this new group isn't easily deterred or reasoned with, and their actions are overt and condoned. Threatening to film or let their boss or family know about sexual comments was embarrassment enough to stop drive-by creeps. They knew it was wrong, so there was often something we could do. I even called the cops and they listened to me, taking down a license plate number when a gentleman stalker wasn't so easily rebuffed. But if their mum found out they harassed random people about masks, they'd might actually be proud of them. There's absolutely nothing in our social system or legal system that suggests they're doing something wrong when they yell at strangers or stop them in their path, even when they circle the block to do it again. 

I really do think we're in the worst timeline, and that we won't make it out alive. 

CW: policy-driven lunacy and the resultant rambling, rage-fueled, depressing rant

Monday, May 23, 2022

On Optional Grade 13 - aka Breaking the 34-Credit Threshold

When Conservatives Mike Harris and Ernie Eves decided to get rid of grade 13 and the OAC year - Ontario Academic Credit - in 2003, I was opposed to the move even though Ontario was last in Canada to offer it. At the time, everyone had to finish grade 12, but students who wanted to go to university also had to take six OAC credits. This year was typically made up the more academically rigorous courses in most disciplines. When they ditched this fifth year, they also added 10 days to the school year. Remember when exams started nearer the beginning of June and were only for students who got below a 60 in the term?? For many students, they'd end up with between 30 and 40 credits over the five years, with many taking 8/year for 4 years, then 6 in their final year. I remember the excitement of finally being allowed to take a spare, but my school was one of few, it seemed, that forced us to remain silently working in supervised conditions for that period. Going home early or arriving late wasn't an option, and I felt pretty ripped-off for that at the time! 

Then in September 2013, McGuinty's Liberals introduced the 34 credit threshold, which meant schools wouldn't get funding for students taking more than 34 credits as a cost-savings measure. Although there are some exceptions (e.g. kids with IEPs), kids have been typically strongly discouraged from taking more credits. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Pandemic Amnesia

Someone told me that we need to adapt to Covid faster, and get used to masks and checking air quality much faster for our own survival. They think our problem is our inability to adapt to this new environment. I said that I think we have adapted quickly, but we've done it in the other direction: we've acclimatized to accept that we will know people who have died at a young age or who haven't been able to get out of bed in months. We've adapted to the turmoil instead of the preventative measures. 

Then I came across a thread by Professor Debra Caplan in the U.S. She commented on the lack of films and books on the Spanish flu relative to all that was written about World War I despite the flu taking about six times as many lives in the United States. There are a couple episodes in Downton Abbey. Then there's this 24 min. NFB film, The Last Days of Okak, but she's got a point: so many post-WWI movies that discuss the ravages of war don't mention a thing about the devastation caused by the flu. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Are We Being Manipulated to Ignore Covid?

Recently @LauraMiers wrote:

"When people finally realize they're being manipulated--that repeated Covid infections cause permanent organ damage and autoimmunity, dramatically shorten life spans, exacerbate all re-existing issues, and lead to a markedly decreased quality of life--they're going to be furious. The "Urgency of Normal' people are running out of arguments so they're attacking those of us who have been disabled by the virus, and accusing us of being on par with anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers. Classy. At the same time, articles like this one by an 'Urgency of Normal' representative seeks to convince people their valid concerns about the brain shrinking,  organ destroying, bat virus are overblown. Back to work! This is really sick." 

In an article in The Irish Times, "'Living with Covid' is Empty Sloganeering in Need of a Plan," Anthony Staines and Daniel Carey take a similar stance when writing about the reality of living with few protective measures: many deaths, tandeming infections in families, repeated reinfections despite vaccinations, and a large number of people out of work at any given time, which will effect the economy both within families and in the country.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Harrowing Road for Candidates - and the Rest of Us

I've recently read two articles on the problem and solution to the current nastiness in elections after hearing first hand about serious issues candidates have had at the door. You never know who you're going to get when you knock on someone's door, and most people don't want to buy what you're selling. I've been door-knocking as a volunteer in the past and was fortunate not to run into any conflicts, but people are becoming less civil in their expression of discontent recently. 

In "Why is Politics Getting Nastier," Stephen Maher writes about candidates giving up running because of the reactions at the door, on social media, and extending into their lives.

"[Former MP Scott Simms] remembers a big fellow coming out of one house while he was walking up the driveway. The man began shouting at him about prime minister Justin Trudeau. . . . The man was upset. No problem, Simms said, he would leave, but the man kept coming, furious, getting closer. 'I'm going to grab you,' he said, 'and I'm going to throw you in a ditch.' . . . 'So that's one of those times when you realize, I think my time in this business is done.'" 

Physical assaults and death threats have been reported by candidates from all levels of government and all parties, and in other countries, including police charging a woman "for pinning a Liberal incumbent against a wall with a table,"  an office being lit on fire, candidates receiving packages of chemicals and violent images, and the fatal stabbing of MP David Amess

Monday, April 18, 2022

Masks Work

 I posted this on social media, and it garnered some notice:

At almost half a million distinct views in four days, it's doing considerably better than my entire blog! Of course many viewers were not also likers and I've had to set aside some blocking time each day to weed out the bots. Many non-bots, however, appear to really believe that masks do nothing to stop the virus and may even bring us significant harm, so I'm taking the time and trouble here to debunk their rabid misinformation.