Categories
news clips

Self-defeating behaviour during the Covid-19 pandemic

A proptestor with no understanding of communism, thinks that it is its opposite, and winds up supporting communism by being against that which separates us from being communal.
  • According to a Google search, a Madison media organ will say that a protest against social distancing back on April 25th will be reported by TV stations if their channels are a multiple of 9. Channels 9, 18, and 27 in Madison have reported that the protests where people had been refused a permit to hold the rally in the first place, and violated social distancing orders have defeated their own object by inadvertently shutting down businesses that would normally be open.
  • There has been a spike in serious illnesses and deaths from people ingesting household cleaners, following a suggestion made by Dr. Donald Trump about a week ago. Emergency hotlines from all over the country are receiving calls asking about ingesting household disinfectants.
  • For their Covid-19 medical stats, some countries are counting as “no longer contagious”, dead people.
  • Among the protestors in Michigan, was a woman who told a reporter that there was nowhere where she could get her hair colored. Another told a reporter that it was now difficult to obtain lawn fertilizer or grass seed, body piercings or tattoo services.
  • Florida governor Ron DeSantis has classified live professional wrestling as an essential service.
  • Missouri, a state which begain the re-opening process on May 3, is suing China for economic losses and suffering.
  • Donald Trump, after bragging about brokering a deal with OPEC, saw the oil prices in the United States become negative (-38 dollars a barrel) by April 20. Oil producers were paying buyers to take oil they couldn’t store.
  • Arkansas, whose state had not issued stay-at-home orders except for schools, has now denied visas to Chinese students who wish to study the sciences.
  • Maybe lawyer and former drug company lobbyist Alex Azar, the head of the U. S. Health and Human Services Department, could have done better than to pick Brian Harrisson, a labradoodle breeder, as head of the Coronavirus Task Force (a position later replaced by Vice President Mike Pence, whose background was as a lawyer and former Congressman). Remember to keep away people with science backgrounds at all times.
  • Florida corrections ordered inmates to manufacture face masks without wearing facemasks themselves, or any other protection, risking contamination to the facemasks they were making for the wardens and guards in the correctional facility.

Categories
crappy album covers

Crappy Album Covers 334: Classic Crock Revisited

Tennessee Ernie Ford (1919-1991) had a rare million seller with the folk song “16 Tons”. It is itself a 1955 cover version of a song written by Merle Travis (1917-1983) and released in 1947.

Not only is it Tennessee Errnie Ford’s signature tune, Ford sung it so definitively, that it is the only singer one readily identifies with the song. By today, there are easily over 100 cover versions of this song, done by artists as diverse as Johnny Cash, Stevie Wonder, The Dandy Warhols, and Rage Against The Machine.

A year later, Gene Vincent had a smash hit that caused great controversy. And after some kind of a public inquiry, it was concluded that no one could understand the lyrics. There was no dispute that it was a fun tune, and was listed as the 103rd of the 500 top songs of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine in 2004.

Rumor has it that “Shredding for Satan” was an album released in 1957 (same year as Be-Bop-A-Lula). If that is true it seemed to pass without all of the bothersome controversy that was brought to Gene Vincent.

If Yvette Oldemeyer existed at all, it was as a model posing with an electric guitar and a cute yellow amplifier on the cover of a 1957 edition of Popular Electronics, showing her preference for “throbbing vibrato”.

Categories
Psychology

The Legacy of Bonnie Burstow (1945-2020)

Bonnie Burstow

Dr. Bonnie Burstow (Ph. D.) was a professor of education at OISE at the Unviersity of Toronto, who recently died of kidney failure at 75 as of 4 January, 2020.

I have been at OISE a few times, but I have never met Dr. Burstow, but her radical feminist approach to anti-psychistry as part of a patriarchical system I am sure helped many, but I wonder if feminist issues were the entire problem with psychiatry. I have always questioned its very scientific basis, a point made early on by the late Thomas Szasz (1920-2012). The only problem with Szasz was that he founded CCHR, which is aligned with the Church of Scientology. It had been the reason I lost interest in the anti-psychiatry movement over the past 30 or so years. Both sides seemed to be locked in a power struggle over who controls an individual’s mind, and both sides are politically tainted in the most unhelpful of ways.

Thomas Szasz

Szasz’s main criticisms, the most basic of which is that “mental illness” occurs in “the mind”, is a myth because “the mind” is an abstraction. He has now been upstaged by findings in “biological psychiatry”, and many are now coining the phrase “psychiatric illness”, which personally I find unhelpful in that “psychiatric” sounds like just another abstraction (maybe a more precise one?). A psychiatric illness diagnosis is still a death sentence to most people’s careers (unless it is being a standup comic or something), making it difficult to understand on what planet is what psychiatrists do considered “helpful” when it involves incarceration?

Szasz wrote a journal article (The Psychiatrist) a year before his death in 2011, which criticized the professional and legal support for modern psychiatry as raising the idea of mental illess from the level of a “myth” to the level of a “lying fact”. In response, Dr. Edward Shorter (Ph. D.) wrote in the same journal that there have been many advances along with the emergence of “biological psychiatry” which has made much of psychiatry more rigorous and scientific, although he admits that the DSM is a largely politicized document, and agrees with Szasz there.

Edward Shorter

Burstow also attacked the scientific basis of psychiatry. She herself did not have any counselling credentials academically, but acted as counsellor and had maintained that psychiatry is a patriarchal structure. I am of the thinking that the “patriarchal” structure is probably due to the lack of science, and that if you addressed the lack of science then the rest of the injustices would be resolved by and large by default. So, unless you are among those that support the notion of “feminist science” and “patriarchal science”, I am not sure what basis in reality this has. Even then, the idea that there are multiple “sciences” in the same field which depend on the views of the scientist is absurd on the face of it. The entire point of science is that the findings of an investigation should not depend on the scientist. That’s why we require reproducibility in scientific investigations. I have read Burstow, but not enough of her to know for sure if that was her take on science generally. From what I did read, I saw nothing I could construe as being part of this philosophy.

It is heartening to hear that psychiatry has come around to insisting on an evidence-based, biological approach. I also like the humanistic ideal of “freedom from labels” that appeal to those in the anti-psychiatry movement, of which Burstow was vocal. The problem is, you can’t have a science (or anything else of intellectual import) without labels. Whatever the “thing” is I need to talk about, needs to have a name, otherwise, the reader will be given a verbal diarrhea of mumbo-jumbo, making discussion difficult. So, in reality, labelling humans is difficult, but if we need to talk about someone who thinks the world is out to get them, it clarifies discussion if we give the thought obsession a name, and are nuanced enough in our discussion that we are labelling what humans do and not labelling humans themselves.

Categories
babbling factoids

NSFW: Funny airport IATA codes

IATA LogoAll capitalized three-letter “words” are actually airport codes. You may hover your mouse over these codes to reveal the specific airport and the part of the world they originate.

THE IATA (International AIR Transport Association) HAS some, shall we SAY, some interesting airport codes. I MAY go to HEL for writing THS, THO. LET‘s hope NOT.

I am hoping you will find this article FUN, make you yell OMG. Some names will make you go MAD, or GAG, or cry EEK as you DIE laughing until you either PEE or POO your pants. The kind of poo that comes from your BUM.

Doha IATA Code
Clicking on the image takes you back to the originating website.

Let’s just make sure you never arrive DOA. BUT whether you yell YAY or BOO; or BAH! HUM BUG,you will probably exclaim DOH! at each new airport code PUN.

Most PPL CAN LOL at some FAT SOB as they need to take up two seats on the plane. I could have said COW, but that JOK will PIS people.

Maybe your MOM told her shrink that your DAD is GAY or a DUD in bed when they try to DOO it.

But enough WIT talk ABT SEX. Too many PNS GAGs.

Flight #666 is going straight to HEL, although it is unclear if the tag is attached to a handbasket.

You might have a BUS to catch. Stop at the ATM. RUN home, have a piece of PIE, along with a BAG of LOX. Or maybe just have a BUN and PET your CAT or DOG. Don’t forget to feed them a FIG. Call up your SIS or BRO on the FON. Or maybe invite your best BUD over and settle that IOU by sharing a few pints of ALE. Better not be LAX, as HEE might be carrying a SODOFF.

IATA Airport codes mostly from here. Funny airport codes mostly from here. Also here. Several others were Google’d. Please take care during the COVID-19 pandemic, and seek opportunities to laugh.

Categories
politics

Why the Democratic race is a joke

The American people face the most serious time in their history. We are observing politicians submitting to a ruler who thinks he “is” the people. Not since the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings has such a mentality become the ideology of the day. To oppose this nonsense, you would think that the Democrats would put their differences aside and select a politician more committed to the rule of law than by fiat, and the contenders throw their support behind him or her.

What we are getting instead is the same style of nomination process that worked for Donald Trump, with the same thinking in mind: If Bernie Sanders is thought of as such a loony toon (I think he is fine but this is the wrong time for him), why don’t the others forget their ambitions and unite against him? Once again, like the Coronation of Trump, this is appearing to be a coronation of Sanders, which all but hands Trump his second term, and exacerbates any divisions in the country.

The reason it hands the victory to Trump, is because Sanders exactly fits the stereotype of the Democrats that Trump wants to attack. Trump and those in his party stereotype the Democrats as “socialists” and “extremists”, and so on. While none of that has been remotely true for over 50 years, and the Dems have been just as guilty of abandoning the working class over that time (half the reason Trump appealed to those same people in the Rust Belt), they open themselves to the worst attacks, nigtmare scenarios and conspiracy theories that the Republicans can throw at them.

Overall, I actually hope for a Sanders win, with control of the house and senate turned over to the Democrats. I just think that the dems are better off with a more moderate foil to Trump. But this lack of united front seems to be more helpful to Trump, since they thrive on division, and the choice of dems to divide themselves just makes the Republican’s job easier.

Categories
album covers crappy album covers

Crappy Album Covers #333 — Why it doesn’t suck: Black History Month

In Canada, due to the activism of former Member of Parliament for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Jean Augustine, we celebrate Black History Month during the month of February, and I thought it would be worthwhile to show some landmark musical contributions by black people that have caught my attention.

The history of black people contributing to music has been well-documented, and in the 1950’s, it was acknowledged to be a “race barrier” for black people to break into the music charts. What was at the time called “race music” — the music of people like Fats Domino and Chuck Berry, was music often panned by radio stations, while cover versions of the same songs by the likes of Elvis Presley and Pat Boone were played endlessly.

Calypso (album) - Wikipedia

Harry Belafonte was among the first to break the race barrier in 1955 with his album Calypso. The second album by him to reach #1 on Billboard, it contains signature tunes such as Day-o, Jamaica Farewell, and Man Smart, Woman Smarter.

Belafonte is still around, he is 92 years old. Before his ilve performances of Day-o, he would explain a particular lyric in it, which was “Come Mr. Tally Man, tally me banana”. The song was about dock workers loading heavy bunches of bananas on to a boat for export over night, waiting as dawn breaks for the tally man to count their bunches of bananas so they can get paid and go home.

What makes this particular LP special is that it was the first record album in history to sell over a million records. Before that, million sellers were a term attributed to singles, such as Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, or Tennessee Ernie Ford’s Sixteen Tons. But this was the first time a whole album was acknowledged as a million seller. Calypso also stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 for 99 weeks — almost two years.

Rosaparks.jpg
Rosa Parks in 1955, with Rev. King standing behind her.

Belafonte was very much involved with the political activism of Rev. Martin Luther King, and as a result was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. He paid for Reverend King’s bail to get him out of Birmingham Prison in Alabama, and raised bail money to get other unjustly imprisoned black people out of prison on the eve of the Birmingham protests. The protests were against Apartheid-style racial segregation, common in the southern states until the early 1960s, and Birmingham was seen as the focal point of segregation during that time. The person who started this was a local seamstress who boarded a municipal bus in Birmingham, dutifully sitting in the section reserved for “coloured” people. When the white-only section of the bus became full, she refused to relinquish her seat to a white passenger who was standing, as required by municipal and state segregation laws, and as requested by the bus driver. The passenger, Rosa Parks, was also a leader in the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, and the conviction was fought all the way to the Supreme Court, with the conviction and the segregation laws surrounding it being overturned.

While Parkes was fired from her department store job as a seamstress, and received death threats for many years onward, she won world renown, as well as having streets named after her, winning medals of honor, honorary doctorates from several universities as far away as Tokyo, and a county in Washington state dedicated the front-row seats of their municipal buses in her name, shortly after her death in 2005.

Categories
crappy album covers

Crappy Album Covers #332 — Hair wearing their humans

The Continental’s (sic) album depicts a female that can’t seem to do a thing with her hair.

No information exists on this album or the artists.

Svenne and Lotta had a hit with Bang-A-Boomerang before ABBA took off with it in 1975. Apparently, Benny and Bjorn wrote it, with Svenne and Lotta entering it into a singing competition. Their hit was overshadowed by ABBA’s version, and they faded out of existence, but remained for a while as a national talent in Sweden.

The 1969 Psychedelic/Glam band known as Wild Thing list their places of origin as, depending on which way the wind blows, either Hudson, Massachusetts or Norfolk, Virginia. Their sound was typical of the more progessive sounds during that time. This is the cover of their 7″ single Old Lady, backed with Next To Me.

Categories
news clips

Local story of the year: the Chair Girl

One meme: Chair throws girl: Chairgirl!

“Balcony Becky” is how she is known to some people, except that her first name is Marcella, and the 45th-floor balcony belonging to an AirBnB listing at Maple Leaf Square is only a bit player in her video. She claims to be an exchange student from Brazil, but seems more like an escort from someplace more local.

This has given rise to several memes, and along with it criminal charges of reckless endangerment or something along those lines. Later photos appear to have her with much more plastic surgery and breast enhancement, which tells us pretty much how her counselling went.

In the old days (before 2005!), all you needed to do to get censured by future employers was to post a picture of yourself doing something immoral or stupid somewhere searchable; or a video of yourself on YouTube. To make the newspapers, radio and TV, you still had to do something truly ridiculous or heinous. Marcella has, in the age of Instagram and Twitter, overcome the meme barrier to enter the major media, thus amplifying the number of hateful messages sent to her.

Last I heard, at some point before or after Marcella’s guilty plea, her lawyer was trying to get her dental school to reverse the expulsion, but she remains expelled. I would say that the school was rightfully afraid of becoming known as “the dental school where the Chair Girl attended.” She was training to be a dental assistant, while modelling to help pay bills.

Categories
democrat politics republican

End of the year in review: A review of the reviews

It is because I subscribe to the Times that I have commented so much about them as of late. In my mind, I serve as the latter-day incarnation of LOOT magazine from the early 1990s. Lies Of Our Times was a critique of America’s newspaper of record, the New York Times. It had an unfortunate radical-sounding name. However, the critiques were scholarly, and it taught me, before I became influenced by FAIR magazine and Noam Chomsky, how to read newspapers or magazines in a way that revealed their subtext.

The end-of-year/end-of-decade reviews are not so much a way to remind us what had gone on in the past, as it is a way to show by way of a yardstick the success to which the propaganda system which is the major media, have made it possible for the Donald Trumps of the world to divide us and conquer us.

After a solid three years of anti-Trump vitriol, the New York Times now characterizes us as “divided”, “mistrustful”, and so on, in their opinion pieces. Of course, this would not be successful had it not been for Trump’s incessant tweeting, Trump’s rallies and Fox News. The Times probably blames Trump and the Republicans; Trump blames “the fake news”, of which the New York Times is one of several targets.

I know the media would say that Trump would say outrageous thing to “stay true to his base”, or to “play to his base”. It is never stated who “the base” are, exactly. Without doing much of a survey here, I would say it’s a solid guess that anyone who would benefit from his promises would be his base. Rich people obviously. But there are also the poor white people in the southern and midwestern states that the press likes to mention so often. And middle-aged white men. I think they mean bigots and people of low literacy. Yes, the people the paper of record mentions do happen to be largely working-class and have been abandoned by the Democrats for several decades now. They have become so desparate, that they now cling to a billionaire born with a silver spoon in his mouth — just the kind of person the working class would normally despise, just because he seems to rankle the Democrats, and speak of the working class in terms that raise them slightly above the level of a doormat.

As an asside, yes, the Democrats abandoned the working class. This leaves the Democrats with nothing really to stand for. The Republicans have now shown the Democrats up on this very point by showing us all that “the party of the rich” can also command support of the working class, whose needs they will promptly ignore but for advocacy at rallies and election speeches. It is hard to see for all of the fireworks, but the Republicans being against “anything Democrat”, paired with the Democrats now fighting over what their party stands for, now lays bare the idea that for the past 40 years or so the Dems have stood for nothing, but have only appeared to stand for the working class. As of late, the charade has been revealed in the Dems uneasiness with the Green New Deal and other enhancements to working class and minorities such as raising the minimum wage, championed by Ocasio-Cortez and her like. Since the mid-seventies, America has been pretty much a one-party state masquerading as a two-party state. All the Republicans are guilty of is revealing to all of us the truth about this reality. Republicans have waged an all-out war on the poor from the start. In recent years, they have tried to undermine or tear apart the Affordable Health Care Act; and have on several occasions sought to turn away refugees and immigrants, and sending children and toddlers of these immigrants to concentration camps. The border wall is the most visible example, though largely only symbolic. No one is a friend of the working class in any true sense, but both parties need their vote.

In this light, the major media’s job apparently, seems to have been to preside over assessing how successful divide and conquer has been to guarantee allegiance to parties that are really essentially alike. Expect a lot of this from the major media in the coming week or month, under the ruse of “reflecting us back to ourselves”. We know what that reflection will look like: we are divided. This is thanks to the efforts of Fox News to cheerlead the Republican party, and of CNN and the Times to cheerlead the Democrats. A discourse of basic facts counts for little these days, when we are disputing what the facts are.

Categories
media Popular Culture Rants

Tampering with Freedom of the Press

I have tried to hold off on writing about the latest kerfuffle regarding Donald Trump being cut out of the CBC televised version of the 1992 film Home Alone 2 during the time that Trump was still a private citizen, and not at all in politics. It is predictable, and right out of the Daily Stormer playbook that the Trump family would exaggerate this entirely out of proportion as a political slight against Trump.

This has now migrated from the CBC News desks to the New York Times, and what is newsworthy to me is that these big-money media organs found it newsworthy. This is man-baby syndrome at its worst. And the major media reports on the man-baby every time the man-baby coos, belches, spits up, bawls, throws a tantrum or tweets.

The thing is, we already know that Trump has a screw loose, so can we just get past that and have more journalistic efforts concentrated on normal tragedies like wars, homelessness and global warming?

Categories
christian democracy democrat jesus propaganda republican

Watching and listening to the Trump impeachment debates

Last night, I listened to the debate over the Trump impeachment vote; the 30 seconds given to each member to speak their mind forced everyone to not express anything unique or interesting. It forced concision. And among lawyers and lawmakers that may not be a bad thing, but to listen to hours of speeches last evening it was clear that all the Republicans and Democrats sounded the same, and listed out the same talking points, as if they all had “the memo” from their party brass. It was only toward the end when we heard the party brass themselves speak that some utterances that were in more detail as to the learned opinions of the leadership of the House of Representatives.

Sometimes, speaking at length is just verbal diarrhea. But that is the only time we get to hear an individual’s thought process. In 30 seconds, it is really easy for a Republican to say “there is no evidence against the President”, since that already used up a couple of those seconds. A few more of these sweeping sensatioanlist statements, and their time is already up.

Another use of the 30 second rule is that if you say something truly absurd, you don’t need to elaborate. You drop your verbal bombshell and just leave your nonsense hanging in the air. Like when one of the nameless, faceless speakers stated that Jesus was given more rights by Pontius Pilate than Trump was given by the Democrats. It had the effect of a crazy Trump tweet. There is no journalist asking the person questions, so the statement is disconnected, taken as it is. The beauty of crazy statements made to “the speaker” or of tweets made in social media, is that no one is there to question you, your grasp of reality, or ask for details. Who cares if Pontius Pilate consigned Jesus to carry his own cross, endure public scorn, and suffered 40 lashes, only to have nails driven through his feet and hands to the wooden cross at the end? What kind of numb-nut would say that Trump had it worse? It is great copy for those who don’t care about the Bible.

Would a more accurate comparison be to compare Trump’s public speaking appearance at a Michigan stadium yesterday (same day he was being impeached) to the Nuremburg rallies, and the propaganda against the Democrats as being like the Reichstag fire? Actually, it is close: the New York Times has compared it with Castro rallying his followers after the government did the same thing to him one year. The Nazi comparisons I’ve made as an example are kind of extreme too, and would only rankle die-hard Republicans. Those views don’t teach us much nor advance any discussion regarding articles of impeachment based on evidence. In fact they do the opposite, in inhibiting clarity of thought and in discouraging honest and open debate and discussion.

Categories
factoids Opinion ramblings

The shrinking family

Shrkinking families have a long history. The terminology of “the nuclear family” is long gone, but ever more present. “Nuclear families” were referred to as families consisting only of parents and children living in the same dwelling. This was in contrast to “extended families”, once called “families” in an earlier time, which consisted of children, parents, and grandparents living in the same dwelling. The now-universal expectation that adult children must leave their families and seek their own independent living has only become the norm since World War II, after we have all experienced great increases in living standards since then, and could afford to move out.

The prosperity came at a price, not measured in dollars. I think that with the shrinking family, there was also a shrinking in our connectedness as a society in general. The term “atomization” in reference to the separation of individuals from each other became a popular term, popularized by Emile Durkheim near the end of the 19th century, has now become the cornerstone of sociology. In addition to atomie, he also coined “anomie”, which is the opposite where you blend in so much with society that you lose your individuality. Both extremes can be bad for us and our mental and social health. But our close association with each other, when it is healthy, is self-affirming and life-affirming in no way that a motivational poster or book ever could be.

The main force in today’s culture are clearly the ones driving us apart. This time, not just from our families, but from each other. Atomization has been raised an order of magnitude in our culture. Along with that, we have become easier targets for society’s more totalitarian forces. The internet is one medium that separates us, and it is common these days to see a couple enter a restaurant, be shown to their seats, given their menus, order, and then promptly get on their cell phones to check their messages, remaining that way until the food arrives, and even beyond that. You start to think what the point is in dating anymore, when one or both people are not speaking to each other, opting instead to check their facebook accounts for lolcat videos instead.

OK, so it may not be lolcat videos — perhaps it is something of greater import, such as messages from your boss. Whatever it is, it can wait. I believe at that moment, no matter who or where you are, the most important thing at that moment should be chatting with your date, and being attentive to the person in front of you. This inattentiveness adds up over time in lost connections with actual human beings whom you see face-to-face, and relationships don’t strengthen, and feelings of alientation become stronger. The greatest beneficiaries of social media use are the social media companies.

I digress. But text messages from your boss that “can’t wait” is a recent phenomenon which has extended the workplace’s control over the worker to hours outside of work. This segues into another atomizing force: extended work hours, which have become commonplace in society.

This last atomizing force, in my opinion, makes it more difficult for individuals to consider families as an option, let alone marriage. The importance of career over marriage, once an individual decision not chosen by many individuals, appears to be largely an employer-driven decision and a means of worker enslavement. The cost of this was to make employment, even self-employment all-encompassing, making families less and less of an attractive option to the point where we live in an urbanized culture with a significant increase in single person dwellings, increasing with each generation. That means for most of us, the single driving force in shaping our social perceptions becomes less to do with neighbours and family and more to do with media, especially corporate media.

And the best way out of atomization are social contact, discussing your concerns and feelings with others, and in forming social groups, visiting relatives, parents, sisters and brothers. The only group that becomes stronger are the corporate structures that rely on increased atomization to keep us from forming groups and — God forbid — making demands.

It is understood immediately how capitalism pollutes the natural environment around us, and our world has been replete with examples of polluted rivers and lakes over several decades, with new issues piling up with each year. Now, it is becoming clear that capitalism also pollutes the human condition, our psyches. They drive us from our natural, social selves, to alone, lonely, and confused people who are easier to control and scare into obedience.

Categories
Canada factoids ramblings

The rising, delerious popularity of Eldred, Saskatchewan

Periodically, I do some standard Google searches, but I distinctly recall the “Eldred, Saskachewan” search string to come up fairly dry. Maybe a few applicable search results and some data-driven gazeteers here and there. There was also that 2016 video that comes up.

There was also the “Roadside Thoughts” website which appears to be a script/data-driven website with template pages and not a whole lot of special attention given to the communities they devote pages to. To their credit, while they are very thin on insightful information, at least for a time, it was something. There is another website attempting to do “Eldred Geneology“, but short on detail; an “Eldred map” with no map (not that I would expect to see one), but a applet advertising Trivago trips to Prince Albert, about 105 km away by highway.

And above, the hourly forecast for Eldred for the next 30 or so hours, provided apparently by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. It has a link to weather radar, presumably for Eldred, but it doesn’t succeed in giving any radar. But of course, The Weather Network has Eldred weather for the next 7 days, and it has radar if you just have to have that Eldred Weather Radar “fix”.

Also, Eldred is also given a footnote in Wikipedia, as a former town within the Regional Municipality of Spiritwood #496. It was mentioned because it was a town where the Big River branch of the CN Rail passed through.

All of this recent attention is not bad for a town that hasn’t existed since about 1959.

Categories
activism entertainment liberation Love

You can’t go back to the Garden

You may not be able to get back to the garden, but you can buy your merch here!

It is difficult to get into the reasons why the 50th anniversary of Woodstock was cancelled this year, but it was set to go on the 16th of August. For that, you have to avoid the major networks and newspapers, and that means CBC, CTV, The Globe and Mail, CNN and the New York Times. The major media is not that much invested in the politicking and intrigue underlying the music business.

It is so much better to give a detailed read of the trade publications themselves, because, they can’t get it wrong, or be vague if a little more research or a few more interviews would give the story more flesh. What Billboard and Variety magazines provide is a much more sobering read about the ill-fated concert. I even got quite an education just from reading the comment section of Billboard, which is more than I could say for the journalists in the major media who are trying to make a living on stories like this.

It is a story of organizers getting screwed by promoters, venue changes when the old one couldn’t be secured, a lack of planning (apparently, very little thought to security or how to manage vehicle traffic into or out of a concert which had a target attendance of over 160,000).

Billboard is where I learned that, as a condition of performing at a large venue such as a theatre or stadium, many performers have a “radius clause” imposed on them, meaning that they could not have any concerts within a certain radius of the venue they signed up for. If these performers were performing, say in Virginia, or any place along the middle part of the American Eastern Seaboard, they had to cancel their Woodstock appearance when it was announced that Woodstock was being moved from Bethel, New York to Maryland.

Alas, it was not to be, and seven hours ago, the organizers cancelled Woodstock’s 50th anniversary altogether.

Woodstock 50 was to have among its lineup, original acts such as Santana, Canned Heat, David Crosbie, Melanie, John Sebastian, John Fogerty, Country Joe MacDonald and Hot Tuna (two members of Hot Tuna are from what used to be Jefferson Airplane); and a big name from “classic rock”: Robert Plant; and then a lot of “cool” modern performers, such as Pussy Riot, The Black Keys, and Brandi Carlile. It is not clear that Miley Cyrus fit the general theme of a concert like Woodstock 50, and many thought that by admitting her and some others, that organizers had diverged from the peace/love/positive vibe that they should have been conveying.

This is a parody by Christopher Guest for the National Lampoon in the early 1970s.
Categories
Science and Technology

Suspicious youtube channels

I have been noticing over the past years, a couple of suspicious YouTube channels. For the past number of years, a number of fairly lefty videocasts, such as the news/comedy program Redacted Tonight seems to have “RT” as the provider of these rather polished video shows. “RT” is the video network Russia Today, based in Moscow, with offices and studios in Washington, DC. While the views expressed on Redacted Tonight fell within a certain tolerance a few decades ago, the views nowadays would be considered to be on the “far left”. I stop short of saying “radical left”, since this phrase is often uttered with an insufficient understanding of the word “radical”, and I don’t feel it applies to this program.

Below, host Lee Camp speaks on behalf of himself and the other creators of Redacted Tonight in a video posted last year as to the reasons why they chose RT as the vehicle for their comedy programs:

In his rather unusual way, Lee Camp has a point. No other major commercial media outlet would fund or support programming that would utter content that is critical of the military, corporate America, or their agenda. This would make us into aware participants of democracy, which goes agains what corporate America wants. They want us to be consumers. We can “vote” with our dollars for various products, not that the anticompetitive practices we have come to tolerate even provide us with a worthwhile choice between products.

Well, there are a lot of outlets that can provide the same thing as as what Camp claims RT is doing, and there is no reason why Camp and company could not start their own YouTube channel. However, it might mean that they would have to forego the flashy trappings of the RT studio. Because, that is what it means to be an alternative voice. Alternative voices are usually not well-funded, and don’t consist of a wall of multiple monitors, and a staff of layout artists, animators, cameramen, and sound engineers. Redacted Tonight would be considered small-budget for major media, but for “alternative voices”, such professional team efforts would be out of reach financially.

The question then becomes, how is programming from people such as Lee Camp benefitting Russia Today? Why would the Russians want to cause us to question our corporations and military? While I have watched enough of Redacted to form an opinion of whether they are disinforming us (it’s not obvious if it is), it is still consistent with the Russian penchant for sowing societal division through social media. However, it is barely perceptible by YouTube standards, since their videos typically garner not much more than 60,000 views, hardly a force to be reckoned with at the moment. They do have over 200,000 subscribers as of this viewing. To put that in perspective, one of my faviourite “math nerd” channels, 3Blue1Brown, has close to 2 million subscribers.

I wouldn’t normally feel this was that much worth writing about if it were not for the fact that there is another channel from another oligarchic nation. This time, China. CGTN is the China Global Television Network. They too have an American outlet, CGTN America, which is also in Washington DC. Of the few news videos I watched, I would characterize CGTN as more like the BBC in its reporting of foreign (American) stories, with not a whole lot of comedy competitive with Stephen Colbert, let alone Redacted Tonight.

Categories
Science and Technology

An attempt to re-think the block editor

Due to some plugin problems, I deleted nearly all plugins now and am cautiously rebuilding the site. This is now another chance to check out the features of the block editor.

I had complained that there were toolbar problems with the editor that support groups have construed to be a problem with plugin conflicts. So, I now have a chance to, without plugins (except akismet), see how the editor is really supposed to behave. And the absence of plugins makes a positive difference.

Below is a video I have embedded from YouTube to show as a proof of concept that you tube plugins can be loaded with only the native code. It is one of my more recent videos.

In the coming weeks, I will be attempting to restore functionality to the website. Note that there are certain articles which have missing images. There are several images that need replacing, but most of the images have already been restored, especially for the old articles.

Categories
Academe activism democracy

Notes on Free Speech — Only for some?

I have been conflicted over the idea that, in the name of free dialogue and advancing discussion of topics of social and political import, that some university campuses have banned certain speakers from talking at their campus. Of course, this has been going on for decades.

Most people (such as I) react incredulously to such totalitarian measures, and dismiss this as academics having their heads in the clouds to the point that they have become out of touch with the meaning of their own rhetoric (is it possible to advocate free speech while banning people from speaking?). But so too, I have had the experience of people (on a personal level) whose dialog is toxic to frank discussion.

Related image
From: XKCD Comics (https://xkcd.com/261/). Under the Creative Commons license v 2.5 (Attribution-Non-commercial-Generic). These comics may be copied and shared but not sold.

There is the kind of rhetoric that is intended to shut down open discussion of issues. It ranges from hate speech to science discussions to discussions about sex. We have banned free speech over several internet media, the most famous kind of banning has to do with “Godwin’s Law”, which unfortunately specifically targets references or comparisons with Adolf Hitler. I think the spirit of the intent of forum moderators invoking it was (or should be) to ban speech which is designed to intimidate others from expressing themselves, that is, creating a toxic environment designed to shut down opposition rather than enable them to fully express themselves and be heard. Views are not shared, because sharing views is no longer safe.

 

Categories
activism articles

Quote of the day – found on these here Interwebs

I was not a fan of Big Bang Theory (as I don’t watch a whole lot of TV), so I found this end card to one of their episodes, which apparently flashed for a couple of seconds. The quote is below, if you can’t read the image.

“Don’t be fooled. Big daddy can’t save us. Our salvation lies within ourselves. Within our own ingenuity and determined effort. ‘Make America great again’ is a bumper sticker for victimhood,” Lorre writes, referencing Trump’s campaign slogan. “But we are not victims. We are the creators of opportunity. Sure the system’s rigged. It always has been. So what?! We are a nation of immigrants who have consistently ignored the rigging. You won’t let us join your club? %#&@ you, we’ll start our own club. You won’t let us go to your school? %#&@ you, we’ll start our own school. You won’t let us earn money your way? %#&@ you, we’ll earn it our way. You won’t give us a chance here? %#&@ you, we will go elsewhere. You want to know what makes America great? I got two words for you.”

— Chuck Lorrie (Big Bang Theory)

Categories
satire tasteless

L1Ph3, 4((0RD1|\|9 70 5P4/\/\ 3/\/\41L

Title translation: life, according to spam email

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Translation: these are subject lines of emails i have received recently

Yeah, this will be difficult reading. These email subject lines were actually fed through the “L337 Speak Converter” at www.brenz.net. Consider this to be a test of your “Leet” (L337) translation skillz 🙂

1 b3L13\/3 j00Z |\|33D 17
1 Ph0U||D 4 |\|3\/\/ 91RLPhR13|\|D 35P3(14LL’/ Ph0R j00Z
4 (0||7R1BU710|\| pHR0/\/\ 7|-|3 \/\/0R|< 0pH 90D
4r3 j00Z L00|<1|\|9 Ph0r LU><Ur’/ pr0P3r7’/ 1|\| (0$74 d3L 50L?
|-|3LL0
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1 \/\/4||7 70 U|\|DR355 1|\| PhR0|\|7 0Ph j00Z
1’/\/\ \/3R’/ |-|07!
7|-|3 b357 p1(|<3D 94RL1( 5UPPL13R
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Categories
politics Psychology

Electability

There has been, in recent elections, a new word that adds to the rhetoric of the role of the media in telling us what to think and helping to shape the outcomes of elections, whether wittingly or unwittingly. “Electability” is a subjective term, taken, I suppose, to mean that the platform and views held by the candidate have what the media deems to be a dose of reality and pragmatism. So, no dreamers, no idealists, definitely no socialists, but no fascists either (although Trump comes close to the latter).

Isn’t the concept of “electability” just another way of deciding an election before the ballots are cast? Why do discussions like this even exist, if it were not for the promotion of one candidate over another? Not sure why Biden is being picked on, I am not partial to him, myself; but I think that some things need to be left to the minds of the voters, and not tell them what to think. I shouldn’t care about “electable”; I should only care if a candidate shares my views and supports policies that affect “me”.

Electability, in the context of the 2020 American elections, begins to sound too much like being careful not to upstage Trump and for the Democrats to return to the role of Greek Chorus to Trump’s every new outrageous distraction.