Monday, July 27, 2020

On a Radical Vision of Future Earth

I grabbed this book, by meteorologist Eric Holthaus, as soon as it went on sale, excited to check out the new vision of how we can all better live together. There's lots of information for the uninitiated, and then it becomes sort of a fictional narrative. There are no characters or plot to speak of, instead it's a description of what needs to happen but written entirely in the past tense, as if it already happened. He seems to think this is how we'll better imagine what it all looks like when we solve this crisis. And it all really doesn't work (as a book and as a concept to save us), which I find a bit heartbreaking to tell you the truth. But good job trying something original, I guess.

It's being billed by the publisher as "the first hopeful book about climate change," which ignores so many many hopeful books out there: most recently Michael Mann's Madhouse Effect and George Monbiot's Out of the Wreckageand, going way back, Chris Turner's The Geography of Hope, which was a fantastic read about people actually getting shit done. I checked the publisher's page because the book has a self-published feel to it from the get go: cliché phrases and incorrect comma use, and a weird organization - part 1 is about a third of the book without any chapters, and part 2 has just three chapters, all followed by a very lengthy epilogue. But, nope. It's Harper-Collins. Curious.

Hedges - the Last Word on Cancel Culture

Having a mass of people able to "cancel" someone in power can seem like a fantastic form of fluid democracy when it shuts down something harmful in a harmless manner, like people reserving space at a Trump rally they have no intention of attending. But it can be dangerous that a mass of people can shut down something merely controversial, like a YouTuber losing their followers after associating with someone with problematic opinions. But most often, it's completely ineffective "boutique activism" because it targets the wrong people.

Chris Hedges, writing for Scheerpost now, explains that cancel culture "is not a threat to the ruling class." In fact, the ruling class is using it to their own advantage. That's their superpower:

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Some Paintings

I got on a painting kick this week. I haven't picked up a brush in years, but, seeing as I have nowhere else to go, I gave it a whirl.

It started with my obsession over a photograph of Charf Lloyd taken by Kirk Tsonos. This is my rendering of it all:

Thursday, July 16, 2020

On Learning History

I made a little history quiz, just for fun, for people to see how much they know about Canada's history of horrific treatment of Indigenous Peoples as well as our history of slavery and internment camps. I mixed in facts about America at many points just to give people context. Because of our media, we know American history so much better than our own. I had the preamble of the American Constitution memorized in about grade 2 because of those fun Schoolhouse Rocks people. I added even more exciting details in the answers to my quiz, but my kids say it's too boring to finish all twenty questions. It's just way too many words!

History has to be a fun little jingles or famous people have to reenact a drunk guy explaining a story. But that's so much more work that just listing events and explaining an event that people have to read. It feels like reading is just for the elderly who don't understand TikToks. GenZ is all about the future and only old people care about the past, which is why usually one or two students each year come up with some sweeping solutions to global problems like getting rid of money will somehow create world peace. The past shows us all the problems we might have with that idea, but it's more fun to just jump into the idea blind to all that older generation negativity.

Monday, July 13, 2020

On McQuaig's Sport and Prey

Linda McQuaig's newest book, The Sport and Prey of Capitalists: How the Rich are Stealing Canada's Public Wealth, is a fast read full of local history and written as history should be written, as colourful stories about fascinating people! But, in order to try to remember any of it, I've whittled it down to the bare bones here. She comes down hard on Trudeau, both of them, and for good reason, but takes a generally non-partisan role in exploring the good and bad players in our history.

Her concern throughout: "We've failed to appreciate our heritage as a nation that has embraced public enterprise to great effect" (6). Then she traces our gradual acceptance, at a huge cost to our country, of the neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatization, and union busting through the history of specific industries affecting Canada today: the banking system, tar sands, railways, 407, hydro, and medicines.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

On Laws and Common Sense

I'm thankful that my city council decided to make masks mandatory starting July 13th, even though I know a few, like the Regional Chair herself, were hoping that people could be persuaded to do the right thing without the law getting involved. Three weeks ago, our region launched a #FaceMaskFriday initiative to normalize wearing a mask at all, and I've been very concerned that we're so late to the party, and moving so slowly on this, despite, at one point, having a similar spread rate to Toronto.

And then I just now had this exchange in a small local store, which was letting only two people in at a time, which is great, but then opening the door for customers individually and projecting, enthusiastically, "Welcome to our store!!" unmasked and less than 2' away in the tiny entrance to the store. I was glad that I had on a mask and sunglasses, at least.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Another Rant About Overpopulation Arguments

I don't actually care that much about overpopulation, not nearly as much as I care about re-regulating industry with climate a top priority and changing economic policy to decrease inequities, but there's such a frustrating argument I've seen a few times on social media and ranted about it before, but now I've seen a YouTuber with a philosophy background, Abigail Thorn, make the same argument, so I'm compelled to have yet another look at it, just to make sure I'm not missing something. It's this:

"Overpopulation is a myth." And the supporting points? "It's just a fact." The unspoken premise in the video at the link above, which is most frustrating, is this: The suggestion that overpopulation is a problem can lead to a horrifying solution; therefore, there is no problem.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Found Letters from 1944: Frank and Ray and Johny

My daughter just found an old tin in the back of a cupboard. I have no idea where I got it, but it has two photos and two letters:

Frank and Ray? or Johny?

Both letters are addressed to Mr. F.  Krizoski / Kresky / Krizusiki, Kitchener, Ontario, with a King George VI, 4 cent stamp:

Saturday, July 4, 2020

An Eye for an Eye in Cancel Culture

Some finish that with "... leaves the whole world blind," but that somewhat belies the meaning of the phrase. The idea is that we should never take a drop more than equitable retribution.

It's was written in the Code of Hammurabi almost 4,000 years ago: "If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out" (196), and popularized in Exodus and Leviticus, about a thousands years later: In one part, after explaining how to act on the Sabbath, there's a little story where God tells Moses about a mixed race guy (half Egyptian and half Israelite) who, while arguing with a pure Israelite, cursed God in the middle of a heated argument. They asked God what to do about it, and He told them, "Any Israelite or any foreigner living in Israel who curses the Lord shall be stoned to death by the whole community" (24:16). Yikes! Elsewhere, God admits that he's jealous and vengeful, and he clearly doesn't deal with insults well. Then he goes on to announce this famous bit:
“If any of you injure another person, whatever you have done shall be done to you. If you break a bone, one of your bones shall be broken; if you put out an eye, one of your eyes shall be put out; if you knock out a tooth, one of your teeth shall be knocked out. Whatever injury you cause another person shall be done to you in return. Whoever kills an animal shall replace it, but whoever kills a human being shall be put to death (24:19-21)
So, after clarifying that you should definitely call out harm against you, and only do to others what they do to you in kind, but no more than what they do to you, the crowd takes the guy outside, who had just said some swears, and stone him to death. Now, at the time, "cursing" isn't just saying "F.U." It was seen as actually putting a curse on someone, as if our words are the precursor of an action to follow. So if you say "F.U." to someone, then they will end up F'd, and it will be because of the harm your words provoked.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Eriel Tchekwie Deranger and El Jones on #CancelCanadaDay

Migrants Rights Network hosted an online teach-in for "so called Canada Day" with two revolutionaries: Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, a Dënesųłiné (ts'ékui) member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, and Executive Director of Indigenous Climate Action, from Treaty 8 land, and El Jones, a spoken word poet, educator, journalist, co-founder of the Black Power Hour radio show, living in African Nova Scotia.

The idea of #CancelCanadaDay is forming roots now in a way I haven't seen before. I feel like many of us are beginning to turn a corner on what it means to live on stolen land. This video might help with that turn. (And it was really well moderated, with excellent sound, which is starting to matter a lot more to me in these days of online everything!) This is a general summary of the main points of discussion, an abridged transcript of their words:

Remember Climate Change?

We have a strong survival instinct that has us focus on immediate dangers at the expense of potential long term dangers. So we've been immersed in trying to solve Covid19 issues and BLM issues to stop people from dying right in front of us, and I've been rambling on about masks and policing. But, looming in the background still on the same disastrous trajectory, climate change needs our immediate attention.

Australian climate scientist, Will Steffen, says that it could take 30 years to get to net zero emissions, and we'll trigger feedback loops well before then. Nine of the 15 global trigger elements have already been activated. In this thorough Voice of Action article, Steffen explains,
“Given the momentum in both the Earth and human systems, and the growing difference between the ‘reaction time’ needed to steer humanity towards a more sustainable future, and the ‘intervention time’ left to avert a range of catastrophes in both the physical climate system (e.g., melting of Arctic sea ice) and the biosphere (e.g., loss of the Great Barrier Reef), we are already deep into the trajectory towards collapse. That is, the intervention time we have left has, in many cases, shrunk to levels that are shorter than the time it would take to transition to a more sustainable system."
There is "now scientific support for declaring a state of planetary emergency."