Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How 70,000 became 300

If you read some media, you’d think that Canadians are supporting our war against Afghanistan in growing numbers. Just all the nauseating hullabaloo about the “Red Friday” rally in support of the troops that happened at the CNE last week was enough to make you lose your lunch. It was going to be massive, they promised. They had the ruling Conservatives building the rally. They had the military. They had major media figures like perennial asshole Don Cherry and pre-publicity in the Toronto Sun and other outlets. This is gonna be big, they told us. Big like that “Save Canada” invasion of Quebec prior to the last referendum (that actually swung votes in favour of a “yes”).
“Organizers are hoping tens of thousands of people will gather to support our troops in a mass Red Friday Rally at the CNE grounds,” the Toronto Sun reported.
“Organizers are anticipating Friday's rally could bring thousands of red-clad supporters to the CNE. ‘If we can beat Ottawa (10,000 demonstrated in 2006), that's good news for me,’ Capt. Wayne Johnston told CTV News on Friday.”
On the Tuesday prior to the Friday rally the Toronto Scum had a headline, which screamed: “Organizers of this Friday's Support Our Troops rally at the CNE are hoping to see red. 70,000 are expected.”
Sorry guys. As you can see from the photo, they only got about 300 people. Coverage of the event said hundreds. Even the looming presence of leopard tanks couldn’t fill up the space they booked. Not too worry though, if you believe the movie of the same name, since it only took 300 Spartans in meat suits to turn the tide against those obscurantist Persians.
The utter failure of that rally shouldn’t be any surprise. The war in Afghanistan is remarkably unpopular, no matter what the government does to promote it. According to a July Strategic Counsel survey, 59% oppose sending troops to Afghanistan, as opposed to the 36% who support the policy. Between May 2006 and June 2007 the numbers of people who thought that the “price to be paid was too high” vs those who felt “that is the price that must be paid” did an absolute reversal. From 36% and 59% respectively the numbers switched to 60% thinking it was too high a price and 36% accepting it was the price to be paid. And is it any wonder, according to an Angus Reid poll, 49% of Canadians consider the mission a failure. Only 22% think the mission is a success. That’s only a little bit higher than the increase in this year’s opium crop in Afghanistan – at 17%. Of course the absolute decline of support would be anything but clear if you were to just follow the media. In fact, it would get downright confusing. For instance two articles, almost exactly the same word for word posted on on Friday. With the same information the headlines are totally different, with the first being "Canadians split on Afghan mission, poll shows" and the other headlined "Support for Afghan war effort stable, poll reveals." Somebody give Chomsky a call.
And for some reason the wonks, the politicos and the professional commentariat can't figure out why people aren't throwing themselves whole-heartedly into this Afghanistan thing. I guess we must just be stupid. “Mario Canseco, director of global studies for Angus Reid Strategies, said the numbers reflect a lack of understanding about the mission…”
It seems to me that Canadians understand things all too clearly.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Spinning Tories

I don’t remember who said that there are three kinds of lies - “lies, damn lies and statistics” – but surely we’d have to include opinion polls as a fourth kind of lie. For instance on the cover of today’s Globe & Mail newspaper is a half-page article on the "Stephen Harper paradox"; ie. how the Tories are doing great at solidifying support and winning us to their agenda but Harper can't quite win our hearts and minds. I will only point out here that the Tories now stand at 33% in the polls. However, in May, 2006 the National Post was creaming its jeans that the Tories - then at 43% - had enough support for a majority. Great job indeed.
With every day bringing more bad news from Afghanistan and the hardening of opinions in opposition to Canada’s involvement over there, it seems funny that the Globe & Mail – which made a special effort to lick Tory butt in the last federal election – decided that now is the moment to tout the "growing support" for the Conservatives. Funny as in suspicious.
So, I went and had a look at the poll on the Strategic Counsel website.
First of all the questions they ask are pretty vague in relation to the Conservatives. For instance “I disagree with the Harper government’s approach to Afghanistan” – 44% agree with the statement, 47% disagree. Well, Harper has been sending out mixed signals recently in relation to Afghanistan. He’s now saying that the troops will come home at the end of their mission in 2009 if there isn’t support. So, people go, ‘ok, he’s listening to the opposition and he’ll bring the troops home.’ And, of course the response from most of the opposition, NDP aside, is to say “oh yeah, well, you better bring the troops home in 2009.” Not exactly hard-hitting critique.
The same basic thing applies to the question on climate change: “The Harper government has shown that it is serious about starting to deal with global warming” – 48% agree and 46% disagree. Well, Harper has worked hard – and done a pretty good job with the help of a compliant media and pathetic parliamentary opposition – to deflect and diffuse their way out of the early controversy over their opposition to any notion of stopping climate change (remember when Harper claimed that Kyoto was a socialist plot? Ah, those were the good old days...)
However, what is more interesting than the confusion that these numbers indicate both because of the questions and the spin of the Harper Tories is how steady is the opposition to the main political thrust of the Tories – and this stuff is revealed deeper in the survey, after the meaningless nonsense about “Stephen Harper is somebody I like – agree or disagree”. Here people were asked whether their opinion would improve or worsen if the Tories did a series of things. The numbers were as follows:
Get us out of a combat role in Afghanistan immediately – 63% (vs 28%)
Standing up to George Bush – 77% (vs 13%)
Meeting Canada’s Kyoto targets to reduce global warming: a WHOPPING 83% vs 13% are down with the socialist plot. Even in Western Canada, that supposed bastion of oil burning conservatism the numbers were 78% vs 13%. So much for that myth.
Putting significantly more money in public transit – 78% vs 8%.
The list goes on. And it’s not all unproblematically left-wing – a larger minority would have their opinion of the Tories improve if they lowered corporate taxes than not (47% vs 39%). And, as usual, the fear of crime drives 81% to want to see the Tories get tough.
Overall, however, the results show clearly that the Tories are WAY to the right of the general population, even in Alberta. In fact, looking at a mid-July survey by the Strategic Counsel Tory support has fallen the most in two regions: Quebec and the West. In the West they have slumped from 49% in 2006 to 40% today – and remember, that’s in the middle of a massive oil boom in Alberta.
If you can’t hold your support in a boom, well, it doesn’t bode well.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Canada Out Of Afghanistan

The visit by President Bush to Ottawa on the weekend – and the magnificent demonstrations against him – reminded me of just what a mess these neo-con boneheads have gotten themselves into. Unfortunately, they’ve taken us down the garden path with them – by diverting social resources from extravagances like social programs and disaster relief (think: Hurricane Katrina) and into military spending instead and by sending young men and women to die in the service of imperialism. And it appears that even on their own terms it’s all been for naught as the British flee from Basra and have all but declared defeat in southern Iraq.
The same future, I would suggest, awaits Canada’s army in the quagmire known as Afghanistan.
This country, one of the poorest on the planet, has borne the brunt of imperialism for hundreds of years. Having the misfortune of being located at the boundary of empires – the Russian and British-controlled India and then between the Soviet and American spheres and now between the Russian, American and Chinese spheres – Afghanistan has been invaded, occupied, and manipulated seemingly forever. And yet it is a testament to the Afghan people that they have never surrendered to foreign occupation but have always resisted and pretty consistently defeated various imperialisms.
Alas, resistance has its price as long as imperialism continues to exist in the world. Ask the people of Haiti who continue to be punished for overthrowing slavery at the end of the 18th century. Or the people of Palestine. Those who resist must be made to suffer more than all the rest as a lesson. And for the people of Afghanistan they have the misfortune of not only supplying an object lesson to others who might pursue an independent path. They are also a key link in an inter-imperialist rivalry in that region. The Americans want/need to isolate and contain the growing Chinese threat. And they need to prevent the Russian empire from re-emerging and re-consolidating control in the Caucasus. Afghanistan has become key to that battle – it is the route through which gas and oil from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan need to pass if they are to avoid Russian control or passing through America’s arch enemy, Iran. And of course, to avoid China, except as a market.
Beyond the immediate resource needs, the America can’t hegemonize/dominate the Caucasus region if there is a restive Afghanistan at its rear. It’s a basic premise of military doctrine that you never leave your rear vulnerable. If the Russians or the Chinese or the Iranians could insinuate themselves into Afghanistan, the Yanks would be in trouble. And so, there we are, as part of the Yankee Doodle Democracy (gas pipeline) Brigade.
And the mess is getting bigger every day as we bomb, harass and dominate growing numbers of Afghans into the arms of the Taliban. With the machinations of global power politics behind our intervention in the region, could it have been any different. These are the reasons why Canadian troops are being shot at. These are the reasons the insurgency can't be defeated. You'd think after Vietnam - hell, after the drubbing that the Soviets go int Afghanistan in the 1980s - that somebody would figure this stuff. Apparently not.
Anyway, it’s heartening that a majority of Canadians now oppose the intervention in Afghanistan. We can only hope that sentiment can be mobilized to force our government to withdraw the troops before more die. Keep your eyes - and calendar on October 27, that's the next big national mobilization against the war in Afghanistan.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Feelin' Hot Hot Hot

Things are getting hot here on Mother Earth. Damn hot and there’s a very good chance that it’s going to get hotter before it cools off. And that’s very scary. It can seem to us mere mortals (as opposed to scientists) that it’s all very arcane, these debates over parts per million of CO2 or what effect an increase of 2 degrees will have on the planet. But a little reading makes it clear that these numbers matter and we better get to understand them very quickly.
One person who has done more than most to sound the alarm over global warming has been George Monbiot, a British writer. I would say, in fact, that he is the UK’s answer to David Suzuki.
Monbiot’s recent book Heat has gotten a lot of attention because it puts in plain terms the dangers that we face as a species and as a planet if we don’t get a handle on Climate Change. And fast. And he proposes a number of solutions. For these alone his book is worth reading.
In a recent response to a critique of his book, in particular his argument that we need to prevent temperatures rising greater than two degrees, he wrote the following (worth quoting at length):
“Two degrees of warming is the point at which up to 4 billion people could suffer water shortages, crop yields could fall in many regions of the poor world, mountain glaciers disappear worldwide and the irreversible melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which could eventually raise global sea levels by 7 metres, is expected to begin. It is also the point at which several important positive feedbacks could be triggered. The permafrost of the West Siberian peat bog, for example, contains 70 billion tonnes of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. If all of it were released, its warming effect would equate to 73 years of current manmade carbon dioxide emissions. The methane that escapes due to melting would accelerate global warming, melting more permafrost, which releases more methane. A two-degree rise in temperatures could cause the runaway warming of permafrost throughout the Arctic Circle.”
I read this kind of stuff and it scares the bejeezuz out of me. Basically, unless we do some drastic shit, we're fucked. And Monbiot has done an amazing job of letting us know what kind of changes need to happen, at least in terms of reduction numbers.
For me though, there is also a side to the argument that must be based upon hope. And hope is always more attractive than fear. It is this: the destruction of the environment is part of a system that also destroys our lives or at least makes them miserable – who wants to be stuck in traffic for an hour each way to and from work? Who wants to live isolated in the suburbs with a heart condition because you can’t walk anywhere and the only practical food (after 2 extra hours of travel time each day) is processed food filled with body-killing garbage? We can imagine and put forward a better world, a more humane world with a greater, more pleasurable integration with nature. Our motivation doesn’t only need to be avoiding death but also enjoying life. That sort of program will resonate with people.
The thing with Monbiot's argument though, besides being rooted so much in fear, is that it approaches the problem with a "blame everyone equally" perspective - at least in terms of solutions. As he says:
"But my scheme... is not an attempt at social engineering. Let us hammer the rich by other means, but let us not confuse this programme (ie. hammering the rich) with an attempt to cut carbon emissions. Fighting global warming is hard enough already."
The problem is - we're not all to blame equally for the state of the environment. And the class question is not separable from the environmental question: corporations are the biggest polluters in every sphere. To condemn - even middle class greens - with failing to reduce their own consumption, as he does, is a little ascetic for my tastes. And it misses the point about the entire structure of communities, available transport, housing, heating, food production, etc. etc., which are social questions - not individual ones. It is about enforcing a redistribution of resources towards environmentally friendly development. Changing my light bulbs to fluorescent is, to my mind, a dangerous illusion, a diversion from the real action necessary to stop the destruction of the planet.
So, to me, Monbiot's argument for a carbon rationing system - where we all get an equal amount of carbon points to spend - as a radical solution is, in fact, just a repackaging of that old (conservative) populist saw: the flat tax. Hey, everybody pays the same, right - how can that be anything but fair. Except that it doesn't address the fact that resources aren't distributed equally. Well, this will redistribute wealth downwards, he says, as the rich purchase carbon points off the poor so that they can fly around in their private jets. In other words it fundamentally leaves in place the market dynamics and class divisions that have gotten us into this mess in the first place.
And, frankly, it's neoliberal because it is about individualizing redistribution when it should be social. The $50 I get for selling my excess carbon could buy me a carton of smokes - or pooled and centralized via government, it could fund better healthcare, more research into alternative fuels, building materials, etc.
It is simply confusing and it won’t work. It is a strategy based in panic and not in a vision of a different world. For that reason, I think it is a non-starter.
That isn’t to say, however, that Monbiot shouldn’t be read and supported in all sorts of ways. He, like Suzuki, is raising some difficult questions. We will have to answer them – or the world will answer them for us.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Head: Giving & Getting

I’m the kind of person who obsesses about things once they are sufficiently planted in my mind. So it is with death and its associated problems. You know, like the end of your identity and shit.
Anyway, I read a few years ago about an experiment where they transplanted the head of a gorilla onto another gorilla and that it survived for some period of time. This got me very excited. The idea of head transplants have always stayed with me. So, when someone says something about getting old or dying my stock response became something along the lines of: “I figure by the time I get that old they’ll have perfected head transplants, so, no problem.”
Well, now I’ve been thinking about death a lot this year for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that I turned 40 this year. Now, I know that’s not particularly old, probably barely middle age these days. But, still, it means I’m now heading into the second half of my life. I’m on the downslope, as it were. Of course, being obsessive, I immediately began to develop all sorts of aches and pains – my guts hurt, pain between my shoulder blades, pain in my chest (the counter-effect of the shoulder pain), arthritis in my toes, tendonitis in my left arm, bad knees, weakening eyesight. Fortunately I don’t yet drool and my penis still works. Most of the time.
But this neurotic gift that I received for my 40th birthday (aw, couldn’t you have just gotten me a hair transplant?) was accompanied by the news that my father (and my uncle, and their uncle) have or had Alzheimer’s Disease. And, to top it off, it might be early onset Familial Alzheimer’s Disease, which they theorize is directly inherited (you can see my groaning on this stuff in an earlier post). Suffice it to say it was a very big log on my obsessive-compulsive fire about my looming journey to the after-life.
The point is this: I suddenly started thinking about head transplants again.
Now, the other day at school – I’m in the Writers’ Lab at the Canadian Film Centre – we were told to generate an idea for an ultra-low-budget feature film. I wracked my brains and there was the head transplant idea again.
So, I googled head transplant and discovered that, in fact, there had been a head transplant performed some years ago. The story goes like this:
During the Cold War, Uncle Joe Stalin sunk a whole load of bread into scientific studies in life extension – I suspect he was worried about his own mortal coil more than world domination here. Secret labs in the woods were established. The whole evil scientist thing. One of the scientists on the trail was Dr. Demikhov. He pioneered all sorts of techniques for organ transplants and has been forgotten for his efforts. Instead, we remember Marilyn Monroe. I’ll leave you to ponder the significance of this.
In 1954 Demikhov attached the upper body and head of a puppy onto the neck of a full-grown mastiff. Both survived, interacted, drank, panted, etc. The world was stunned.
And the Americans shit their pants.
Why, if the Russkies can transplant heads and we can’t, Communism will take over the world. Then who will buy General Motors vehicles? Who will buy IBM computers? Who will buy our guns? Hell, who needs guns when you’ve got multi-headed animals – maybe even multi-headed soldiers.
Never to be outdone, the Yanks sank some loot into the same research – head transplant research, that is.
Enter Dr. Robert White. A World War Two veteran, White was also a brilliant neurosurgeon by day. However at night (cue lightning and thunder), he was conducting experiments on brain removal with dogs; ie. trying to keep the brains alive outside of their bodies. He even transplanted the brain of one dog into the neck of another and kept it alive for some time. The trouble was, as he saw it, how could you tell if the brain was still thinking or not? The only way to know this is if the transplanted brain had some way of interacting with the world. Ah-ha, he thought, if I can transplant the whole head, then we’ll see.
He spent three years planning the head transplant operation with a monkey. A rhesus monkey by the looks of it. And he did it. He cut off the heads of two monkey and plopped the head from monkey A onto the body of monkey B, just like that. It opened its eyes and looked around. It ate food from a tube, etc. etc. Now, of course once you cut the spinal chord you’re screwed and so the monkey was quadriplegic. And, being a test animal that killed it a few days later (if anybody needs a union its test animals. Yipes!). But here was the world’s first total body transplant.
Anyway, this was in 1970 or 1971. And instead of making White a superhero of the science world, it made him something of a pariah. Animal rights activists freaked out and threatened him and his family so that he required police protection for a time. And that was that.
But, what if secretly, Dr. White kept a lab somewhere in Switzerland or something. And suppose he had this one patient, a very rich young man who had suffered a terrible accident in, I don’t know, 1976, which paralyzed him from the neck down. In fact, his body was quite destroyed so that in a short time he was facing total organ failure. He hires Dr. White to secretly perform the head transplant operation, removing the head of a brain dead man and transplanting the quadriplegic man’s head onto the body. Well, now he’s been living like this, with this secret, for 30 years. Every eight or ten years he needs to get a new body because the old one is failing him. Now, say it is 2008 and scientists somewhere discover a revolutionary way to re-grow nerve tissue. After all these years – and all these bodies – our paralyzed hero can now see the possibility of walking again. But first he once one final new body…
And there you have one tiny disturbing insight into the brain of an artist.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

When the Empire Goes Bust

Far be it for me to act as Chicken Little and suggest that the sky is falling. I’d hate to be accused to fear-mongering or hyperbolicity. (Well, actually the latter sounds fun.) But since I’m not the first to do so, I’d like to humbly suggest that the rusting hull of the USS Empire just cracked open a little more.
I’m of course referring to the sub-prime mortgage meltdown now gathering pace and zooming around the world at high speed.
There’s a bit of the chickens coming home to roost in all this – sticking with our initial metaphor. Well, actually, a lot of chickens. A whole coop in fact. In that there might be a certain amount of pleasure except that the people who suffered to create this mess are the same people who are going to suffer as a result of it, ie. US workers.
The recipe for this meltdown looks like this:
1) Impoverish large sections of your population by a two generation assault on living standards and union organization.
2) Sell the store to maintain a global empire through a massive military budget.
3) Lose your global economic supremacy because you spend all your surplus cash on guns instead of on productive economic expansion.
4) Borrow heavily from China and other countries to continue paying for the military hardware you have become utterly dependent upon to sustain your position because you no longer have economic supremacy.
5) Outsource as much productive economic activity as possible to cheap labour districts, like China, resulting in a deepening balance of payments deficit (you gotta buy back all those consumer goods after all).
6) Encourage scams, rip-offs and a casino economy at home to squeeze more consumption out of your population who don’t really have the money because of 1).
7) Light match.

The US ruling-class have so fucked-up their country through their imperial wet dreams that they are now almost completely hemmed in. As they discovered the other day they can’t even encourage productive investment in the US by forcing an increase in the value of the Chinese Yuan (ie. make Chinese goods more expensive so that there’s more incentive to invest in production inside the US). At the mere suggestion, Chinese leaders very publicly reminded Bush (or at least those around him who can understand) that they have the largest holdings of US currency and any attempt to mess with their currency will lead to them selling-off US dollars. A Chinese sell-off will lead to a global sell-off.
And if the US dollar drops, interest rates will rise to defend it, which will kill the US economy big-time. Never mind the effect of dislodging the US dollar as THE foreign reserve currency. This would be massive and I can’t go into it here.
However, If nobody will buy US dollar it means nobody will lend the US any more money to continue its spending spree. In other words this will also lead to an economic collapse. Talk about caught between a rock and a hard place.
So, the only choice that seems on offer for now is to make the ride go faster: Wall St. wants the US Federal Reserve to lower interest rates to boost consumption in the face of a collapsing housing market. But at a certain point enough people are going to point out that the emperor has no clothes – ie. that people are borrowing and spending phoney money.
Real incomes haven’t risen significantly in a couple generations. So, how can US workers consume more? It can only be against phoney value – eg. Housing market speculation: a bubble, which drives up prices even though there has been no increase in REAL value (like, you haven’t done anything to improve your house but it’s price goes up by $50,000). Sooner or later those bubbles burst. Last time it was tech stocks. This time it’s housing. One of these times it’s gonna be the whole shithouse.
When that happens, I suggest running to the woods and hiding in a cave because in a nation like America, with no viable political alternative at present, with so much racism, regionalism, fundamentalism, not to mention a megalomaniacal and sociopathic ruling-class with access to a lot of nuclear weapons – well, it’s gonna make the fall of Rome look like a game of bridge.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Beckham? Feck 'em!

Christ, it’s bad enough that we have to deal with the bloody British royal family and all their hijinx. “Ooh, look at little Prince Willie dressed up like a Nazi for his friend’s costume party.” “Gosh, I hope they don’t send Prince Harry into battle in Iraq.” Besides being fucking nauseating – after all close to a million Iraqis have died since the 2003 invasion, who gives a crap if that spoiled brat buys the farm? What’s more, it’s a complete and utter distraction from the real issues, uh, you know, things like: why is there a hereditary monarchy in a supposedly democratic country and why do they own, you know, half the land in Britain and why is Queen Elizabeth, that sour-pussed parasite, one of the wealthiest women in the world.
And now those bastard Brits have sent us Beckham and I can’t read the newspaper while taking a dump without having to see an article about David and Victoria. Christ. Fine, he’s a good soccer player, maybe even a great one – I’ll have to trust what other people tell me. But so fucking what: it’s SOCCER! Did the guy cure cancer? Solve world hunger? Create a work of art so astounding that it will live through the ages or a have a philosophical insight so deep that it will change the way our culture thinks about itself?
Jiminy Crickets people. And what about his wife? I can barely put word to page because it brings to mind her image, which makes me want to launch my lunch across the keyboard. Will someone give that lady a cheese sandwich and a beer?
I guess I shouldn’t be so hard on Victoria Beckham, after all she’s about as skill-less and useless as Prince Harry and his inbred ilk. Her claim to fame – other than marrying a cute guy with certain financially valuable sporting skills – is that she was part of an entirely manufactured girl group called The Spice Girls. Had these women even met before they auditioned for the band? Can they play any instruments? Uh, no. Did they write any of their own songs? Uh, no. In other words she is a fashion mannequin with a soundtrack. And now it’s been recognized by Glamour Magazine, which has just awarded her “Woman of the Year” for 2007?! What? Woman of the year? Her combination of anorexia and breast implants makes her look like a toothbrush. That’s glamorous?
I do have a certain sympathy, I suppose, for the self-absorbed git. She is the ultimate expression of sexism – women aren’t about their talents or hard-won skills, their value derives from their ability to provide sexual satisfaction to men. And that ability comes from two places, the completely arbitrary luck of the genetic draw and, with enough money, cosmetic surgery and a personal trainer. It’s the old story over again: the rich are beautiful because they can afford to be.
Now, maybe I should show more pity to this obviously psychologically unhealthy woman and her over-inflated, soon to be forgotten ball-kicking husband. Perhaps. But I won’t. They’ve gotten rich by riding the wave of the most important ideological con job of our times: envy us, emulate us because, with enough hard work, you could be us.
That’s right, don’t spit in your bosses eye or protest the government sending you overseas to get your ass shot off so the oil and gas companies can continue to fuck up the planet with environmentally destructive technologies. No, no, no. Instead sit slack-jawed in front of your fucking tv and wish that you had Victoria Beckham’s non-existent ass, or that you could kick a ball like Beckham and shag Victoria (and not your wife who’s as soft as you are from living in the burbs) and get invited to drink martinis at the Oscar party.
And while you’re at it, believe that if you only worked hard enough you could be David and Victoria. It’s the old rags to riches story. Suck it up and pull up your bootstraps and then you can be like these pathetic assholes. I mean do you really want the fucking paparazzi hanging outside of your house in the hopes of getting a shot of you taking a piss first thing in the morning? Do you really want every part of your body turned into a saleable object – Beckham shoes, Beckham pants, Beckham shirts, Beckham watches. Fuck, next they’ll have a Beckham shlong so you can fulfill your secret oral sex fantasies.
So, no, I don’t care if Beckham will play in the game vs Toronto this week. Frankly, I don’t give a shit if his plane power dives into Lake Ontario's polluted waters.
David and Victoria, kindly fuck off.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Gimme Yer Loot

This is only the first time that I've asked for money on my blog - but it won't be my last, I'm sure. However, usually when I'm asking for money it's for some political activist event. You know, like you come out to the even and pay to get in and in doing so help us oppose war and injustice, etc. This pitch is a little closer to home for me personally.

I've spoken about this before but I'll tell it again so you don't have to go back and dig it up: My father was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. He is the second immediate relative to have developed the disease and the third suspected family member in direct line. There is also some suspicion that he has a rare form called Familial Alzheimer's Disease, which strikes young (50s) and is a directly inherited gene.

Now, I don't know about the medical world's near-religious faith in the idea that your genes absolutely determine your future - whether you have a drinking problem, violent tendencies, if you're gay or you're going to get Alzheimer's. I suspect it's a LOT more complicated than they think and that genes have become the new phrenology (the 19th century pseudo-science of measuring bumps on your head to determine personality and, in particular, criminality). But the news was still scary.

Anyway, Kathryn and I wanted to feel like we'd done something and weren't just sad and worried. So, we've decided to run in the Scotiabank Run For Charity at the end of September. It's a 5K run and, assuming Kathryn doesn't have to piggy back me across the finish line, a good opportunity to get healthy and raise some cash for Alzheimer's research.

If you're so inclined, we'd appreciate if you would sponsor us on our run. It's easy - just click this link and it'll tell you exactly what to do.

Any little bit you can give - even a couple dollars - would be appreciated.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Soy Is Making Us All Gay! Yippee!

How exciting. It seems this little bean is making us all gay. I suspect we'll discover that soy beans are behind socialism and the theory of evolution next. Gee, it seemed like such an innocuous little bean, jiggling so cutely as a block of tofu.
It would be easy to dismiss the idiot brigades of the right wing - always on the hunt for the source of deviancy. After all, stamping out deviancy is the first step down the road to preserving individual freedom. Right?
Well, the only thing is, it's true. No, not about soy making us gay - and who the hell cares about that anyway? If that were the case I'd say it's time to get rid of fluoride in the water supply and start pumping in some plant estrogens. If anyone wants to pursue this idea, just lemme know and I'll draw up a list of cities and even buildings that we can target.
What I'm talking about is the fact that soy production - industrial soy production - is exploding, particularly in Latin America. Nothing like capitalism to take a good thing and turn it into an overproduced Frankenstein's monster.
In Brazil and Argentina they're tearing down rain-forests (what'd we need those trees for anyway?) and driving farmers off of the land so that the big agriculture corporations (Monsanto anyone?) can stack up the profits. A lot of this soy production is for bio-fuels.
Never mind the obvious stupidity of replacing carbon-producing fossil fuels with carbon-producing biofuels (this is the answer to climate change?). Producing crops to power next year's SUVs, displaces food production, which drives up the price of food in those countries where people can least afford food inflation - the Global South.
I won't even get into the possibility that the Genetically Modified Soy that is being produced has possible side-effects on birth weight of newborns, etc.
I will only note the fact that Al Gore - Mr. Environment - was paid $170,000 to speak for 40 minutes at the First Biofuels Congress of the Americas, which was co-sponsored by the government of Santiago del Estero in Argentina. This government has been ordering the arrest of farmers who resist having their land taken from them. Way to go Al!
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