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British Columbia is currently in a province-wide state of emergency due to the over 560 wildfires throughout the province. Over 3,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and BC currently has the worst air quality in North America.

Taken on Highway 1, in British Columbia.

Yes, how dare our Federal Government enact a Carbon Tax, as clearly, there is no need to deal with the effects of climate change…

 

*sigh* – Well I hope this proud anti-Trudeau-ite is enjoying his hickory-flavoured air.

 

Given how the world works, I find it hard to believe that Canada is taking a principled stand on human rights in Saudi Arabia. Western democracies certainly try to own the rhetoric when it comes to democracy, peace, and freedom – but their realpolitik is quite similar to the nations they routinely criticize for being autocratic dictatorships that are terrible to their people.

My skepticism aside, this is the tweet that started the diplomatic furor between Saudi Arabia and Canada:

Well, the powers that be in Saudi Arabia didn’t like that one bit:

“We consider the Canadian ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours,” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.

“Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada’s internal affairs,” it said.

“Saudi state television later reported that the Education Ministry was coming up with an “urgent plan” to move thousands of Saudi scholarship students out of Canadian schools to take classes in other countries.”

“Saudi Arabia said it is also freezing all new trade and investment transactions with Canada and “reserves its right to take further action.” Saudi Arabia is one of Canada’s largest export markets in the region, and some 10 per cent of Canadian crude oil imports come from Saudi Arabia.”

“Of course the major worry for Canada will now be the fate of a $15-billion contract for almost 1,000 light armoured vehicles between the Saudi government and London, Ont.’s General Dynamics. The controversial deal, struck in 2014 and approved in 2016, called for the vehicles to be delivered starting in 2017, but it’s not clear how many have already been sent as Ottawa refuses to release the “commercially confidential” information.”

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is reportedly selling off its assets in Canada and will stop buying Canadian wheat and barley, in the latest escalation in the sudden diplomatic dispute between the two countries.”

“The national Saudi Arabian airline, Saudia, said this week that it would suspend all flights between the country and Canada, starting next week.”

[Sources cbc.ca 1, 2, 3, 4]

I think I speak for many Canadian when I say. “WTF just happened here?”.  The Saudi record on human rights isn’t a particularly deep dark secret and to call for a what seems to be a bit of leniency in one specific case doesn’t seem as beyond the pale as the Saudi’s seem to think it is.

Would Canada recall its ambassadors and impose sanctions if Norway made light of our decidedly horrible treatment of our First Nations people?  I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t.  Most likely some diplomatic hand-waves and some impassioned statements about how we’re working hard (we’re not) to improve the lives of all Canadians and then the issues would pass.

What is more intriguing is that despite the Saudi backlash, Canada’s government isn’t backing down:

     Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada isn’t backing down from its position that led to diplomatic sanction from Saudi Arabia.

Freeland made the comments Monday afternoon in Vancouver a day after Saudi Arabia announced it would cease new trade deals with Canada and expel the Canadian ambassador.

“I will say Canada is very comfortable with our position. We are always going to speak up for human rights; we’re always going to speak up for women’s rights; and that is not going to change,” she told a news conference.

“Canadians expect our foreign policy to be driven by and to embody Canadian values, and that is how we intend to continue our foreign policy.”

On Friday, Global Affairs Canada had tweeted, “Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists.”

This is post is just full of WTF’s.   Freeland seems to be articulating a values based position on a foreign policy issue.  It makes little sense has Saudi Arabia is clearly demonstrating their willingness to go full-trump and punish Canada economically for having the ‘bombast’ to ask them to release a blogger they have detained and are torturing (sorry folks, flogging is torture any way you want to slice it.)

It’s sad that I’m feeling so cynical about this particular story, and continue to look for the angle that the Canadian government is not sharing with the press.  Like, since when do nations actually take ethical stands on any issue these days?  It just isn’t good for business.

I’m going to continue to follow this story folks, because something just isn’t adding up.

 

Around 250 organ works by Bach have been handed down, the most intriguing of which are works thought to have originated early on, but of which there is no surviving autograph. The speculations of Bach researchers all boil down to a single question: how early on can we determine signs of genius in his work?

In the Passacaglia in C minor, in any case, his genius is as clear as day. As a variation work, it surpasses anything Bach could have heard in his younger years. The ostinato, the repetitive bass line that forms the foundation of a passacaglia, is made up of eight bars, rather than the usual four. The work consists of twenty variations, rather than the usual five or six. And on top of its initial function, the bass line is then split up and treated as two separate themes that, accompanied by a third theme, form the material for an ingenious fugue.

The earliest copy of the Passacaglia was made between 1706 and 1713 by Bach’s elder brother Johann Christoph. In 1705, Bach paid an extended visit to Buxtehude, the man who undoubtedly had the greatest influence on his variation work, so it would be logical to conclude that Bach composed the Passacaglia shortly after returning from his journey.

Canadian Luc Beausejour’s rendition of BWV 582

Facts do not necessarily win political arguments. The sooner the progressive left realizes this, the better. As a progressive lefty I’m consistently amazed by the voting patterns of the common people i.e. the people the political left is supposed to represent. Recently in Canada our most populace province decided to elect an business sense challenged, no political platform, boorish individual who spoke not in terms of political policy, but in catchy, folksy, accessible language:

His populist message resonated with voters who were unhappy with the provincial Liberals. Ford promised “buck a beer,” ten cents off a litre of gas and major tax cuts. He also promised to cut government spending by $6 billion but didn’t say how.”

Like, jesus christ in a fuckbasket, what kind of platform is that?  Anyone with more than two neurons to rub together can see the bread and circuses messaging and the usual conservative trojan-horsery going on here.  I’m not sure people get it, so let me state it here.  Conservative party policy focuses on maintaining the good times for people who most likely are not YOU.  The business elite, the wealthy, the current power structure are all beneficiaries of conservative rule – the hoi polloi – is not.

Not ever.

But hey, my fellow Canadians, enjoy your cheap beer while the newly minted government savages and merrily defenestrates the social safety net and related infrastructure that makes your life bearable.  Your vote indicates that you are good with that.

Why I shake my head (more) is that these paradoxical voting patters are nothing new.  Sharun Mukand and Dani Ridrik expound on how world view memes (in the Dawkins sense) can influence people to vote against their self interests.

 “Importantly, identity and worldview memes do not prevail equally across all subgroups of the population. Political entrepreneurs target these memes toward the electorally critical subgroup. Our model predicts that identity polarisation and support for policy memes will both see their greatest rise within the lower- and middle-income group of the majority-identity group. These are the potential switchers to whom the memes will be targeted. We should not expect those memes to operate as strongly among the wealthy who belong to the majority group or the minority-identity group of all incomes.

Increased inequality raises the reward to the rich from successful ideational politics. The returns from discovering a policy meme that persuades the median voter, for example, that lower taxes are in the interests of not only the rich, but also the low-income median voter are much higher when inequality is high. Similarly, an effective identity meme that catalyses identity around issues such as gay marriage, women’s rights and immigration can also serve as a ‘wedge’ giving low-income voters a reason to vote for the high-income party. As one team of economists concluded in 2015: ‘Despite the large increases in economic inequality since 1970, American survey respondents exhibit no increase in support for redistribution … demand for income redistribution in the US has remained flat by some measures and decreased for others.’ This is remarkable. And it happened, as our research framework suggests, thanks to the role of ideas as a catalyst for policy change. The elite, along with an allied ‘political-ideational complex’ (including academics, think tanks and talk-radio), successfully disseminated the worldview that rising inequality was an inevitable byproduct of structural changes in the global economy, which in turn necessitated the adoption of financial deregulation, low capital-income taxes and the embrace of globalisation.

Ideas and interests both matter for political change, and the two feed into one another. On the one hand, economic interests drive the kind of ideas that politicians put forward. As Kenneth Shepsle, professor of government at Harvard University, put it in 1985, ideas can be regarded as ‘hooks on which politicians hang their objectives and further their interests’. However, ideas also shape interests. This happens because they alter voter preferences and/or shift their worldviews ex-post, in both cases shifting rankings over policy.”

Fuck.  I wish the notion of concise writing would make a comeback in academia.  There are the makings of a great article in this piece, but it is severely hampered by clunky, inaccessible writing.

The gist is that you make people focus on an bullshit issue(s) that has little relation to the actual levers of power in society.  Once elected, on said mountain of bullshit, its like “Oh, by the way, along with your buck-a-beers, we’ll be needing to privatize healthcare (and other policies that screw the Average Joe and Jane sideways).

This isn’t magic, folks.   Honest.

“For those who view politics in terms of a narrow and static notion of interests, the electoral support for Trump, Brexit and other populist movements seems to pose a puzzle. It seems as if many poor people are voting against their self-interest. But the puzzle is more apparent than real. It is rooted in a habit of thinking of interests only in economic terms, and also as fixed. Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon understood well that interests are malleable. With the right message and framing, Bannon noted in 2013, you could change the political calculus by shaping popular perception of self-interest: ‘Trade is No 100 on the [Republican] Party’s list. You can make it No 1. Immigration is No 10. We can make it No 2.’

What appears to be culture might be economics – the consequence of identity or worldview memes marketed by economic elites for their own self-interest. For example, Reagan used the imagery of a ‘welfare queen’ to attack unemployment benefits and the welfare state. So identity politics was being deployed by him to ensure that voters supported the Republican low-tax economic agenda. Similarly, what might look like economics might be shaped by cultural predispositions that provide voters with their interpretive frameworks – such as Merkel’s celebration of the ‘Swabian housewife’ when making the case for austerity.

Defeating autocratic and nativist political movements will likely require strategies based on both ideas and interests. As we have seen in recent elections, proposing policies that are better suited to the economic needs of middle- and lower-income voters will likely not be enough. Successful challengers will also need to come up with narratives that help to reshape peoples’ worldviews and identities”

What a long way of saying is that left needs to up its bullshit game, so we can baffle the brains of the populace and then introduce policy that will actually benefit them.

Interesting conclusion though, is that the right consistently wins through the bait and switch that treats people as if they were feckless, greedy, morons.   Yet, the left politic seems hesitant to do so, as if somehow the patronizing authoritarian method is somehow disdainful and wrong.  I’m at the point of ‘fuck it’ and do what works already, because I’m tired of the Right being the sole benefactors of this proven, winning political strategy.

(The best part is that the Right always accuses us lefty types of elitist authoritarian tendencies, all the while exemplifying the best practices of the former.   Like, okay, then let’s do this then, and beat them at their own shitty game.)

Did you want to see the effects of toxic masculinity?  Most women do, but men don’t.  The reason for this glaring difference cuts to the quick of issue.  Most men would want to see the evidence behind the claim – the statistics, the causal connections, et cetera.  Seems reasonable right?  So why wouldn’t (generally) a female also want to see the ‘proof in the pudding’ so to speak or have the evidence ready to when making a claim?  What’s going here?  Is the female lady-brain just not made for making arguments and defending their claims?

No.  It isn’t a female problem at all.

The root of the problem  is this…

Men <em>assume</em> that how they experience society is how women experience society.  And when men vocalize that assumption they end up sounding like mansplaining asshats; just like Alex from this thread on facebook.

We shan’t plumb the depths of Alex’s heavy mantle of skull deadening ignorance (at least not today) .  The take-away here is don’t be like Alex, because full frontal ignorance isn’t a look good on anyone.  As illustrated countless times here on DWR, the female experience in society is radically different than the male experience, so any notions of “equality” espoused by men need to be quietly tucked away, and saved for the day when they actually concur with reality.

So now we know how not to think (my dudes), let’s look at example n-millionth+1 of how the class of men is absolute shite.  This is what happened in Toronto.

  “The man accused of plowing into pedestrians along a strip of one of Toronto’s busiest streets on Monday is expected to be charged with a 14th count of attempted murder in addition to the 10 counts of first-degree murder he already faces.

Alek Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill, Ont., was arrested after a white van left a trail of death and injury down a busy stretch of Yonge Street in north Toronto.
At a news conference Tuesday, police said little about any possible motive the suspect may have had, but did refer to a “cryptic” message posted on Minassian’s Facebook account moments before he allegedly drove south down a nearly kilometre-long stretch causing what paramedics described as “pure carnage.”

Make no mistake, we are dealing with a rage filled male individual who is quite willing to place his fucked up narrative ahead of innocent lives and the suffering of others.  Here is what he said on facebook:

“Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161. The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys. All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!” reads the post.

Facebook confirmed the authenticity of the public post, created under a profile on the social networking site belonging to an Alek Minassian that has since been deleted by the company.

“It’s something that we’ll take into account in this investigation,” Toronto Police Det.-Sgt. Graham Gibson said of the post, before declining to speculate on a motive. Police said the victims in Monday’s attack were “predominantly women.”

Yeah.  Look what happens when men can’t impose their delusions on reality – they resort to violence to ‘fix’ the problem (see parallels in the ripe misogyny known as transactivism).

Yes, well lets look at what being an incel is what its about (transcript from CBC Radio 1 – The Current).

“AMT: Rebecca Solnit what did you think then when you first heard there could be a link between the Toronto attack and Incels?

REBECCA SOLNIT: I wish I could say I was surprised. And I wish we talked about misogyny as a kind of terrorism or hate group or something like that, but it wasn’t surprising at all because misogynist violence is so pervasive now. You know as Kim Walls killers just sentenced, as we wait to hear the jury verdict on Bill Cosby, as we deal with so many other stories like this one you know in one or another stories of hatred and violence against women.

AMT: So what do you think is behind the attitudes of these young men?

REBECCA SOLNIT: You know I think that there are some very peculiar Internet culture specific things about it, but I think the general hatred of women and the idea that sex is a commodity that men are out there to get, and more is better and this sense of entitlement of having a right to women’s bodies which the Incel murderer in Isla Vista four years ago strongly believed in is really pervasive. And you know this is kind of an intensification of misogynist culture, patriarchal culture with its entitlement and its rage.”

 

So there we have it folks the problem – a sexist, misogynistic cultural soup that feeds feelings of male delusion, entitlement, and rage.  Feminists, particularly those of the radical stripe, have seen these currents in society (patriarchy) and have been naming the problem, writing about it, and constructing theories for decades.  Systemic problems of society require systemic solutions – the emancipation from patriarchal norms (the goal of effective feminism) falls squarely into this category.

We cannot let ‘mental illness’ or ‘lone wolves’ become the narrative for this tragedy.  It is the fucking system we live in that creates these horror shows and they will not stop till we deal with the root of the problem – the patriarchal ‘norms’ that hurt both women and men.

So what can you do as dudes to stop another Toronto Toxic Masculinity Massacre?  Stop feeding the beast.  Do not normalize rape jokes and rape culture, view women as fully human and not just objects to stick your dick into, and for goodness sake try to have a couple scraps of empathy and try to understand that your experience in society is not the same as everyone else.

 

 

     Silly me.  I thought Alberta was timidly embracing the idea that the province was going to be run for the benefit of someone other than the corporations and the rich.  This latest poll (via the CBC) suggests that many of the people of Alberta want to get back to the good times of kowtowing to the business class and letting the rest of us dine on the meagre scrapes that ‘trickle down’ from the lavish head-table feast. 

   “In focus groups CBC conducted after the survey found that most people — from all political stripes — said the NDP wasn’t to blame for Alberta’s tough economic times, but that the party wasn’t doing enough to dig the province out.

Yet, there was praise for Premier Rachel Notley.

“There’s not too many politicians that could have navigated what she’s had to,” said 44-year-old Kelly Kernick, who participated in CBC News’s focus group of middle-of-the-road voters.

Right-leaning Tristan Arsenault, 22, echoed others in the focus groups, saying the recent recession hit people hard and many still aren’t feeling the recovery.”

Undoing the damage of 40 plus years of one party rule isn’t exactly a small endeavour.  Cleaning out the cronyism, and rot takes time.  Yet it seems that after a brief 5 year stint we Albertans are done with this idea of government being run for the benefit of the people and are rushing back to the party that best enshrines the idea of the neo-liberal corporate state.

The election is still far away, and there is the chance that our dear UCP party will have more than a few bozo eruptions that boldly illustrate their incompetence and inability to govern.

I’m not ready to be plunged back into yet another dark conservative political regression.

Hey Alberta, can we not vote in the regressive conservatives?  That’d be great, thanks.

The status quo is a nasty piece of work.  It has a multiplicity of tools and avenues of attack and repression available to keep the current equilibrium and quell dissenting voices that threaten the norm.  Tolerance, is considered to be a ‘good’ liberal value.  Yet, in context of female struggle in society it is used to keep discipline female thought and action.  Meghan Murphy examines the role ‘tolerance’ plays in the patriarchal suppression of female activity.

 

“The word, “toleration” is derived from the Latin tolerare, meaning “to endure, sustain, suffer” and, quite literally, “to bear.” In patriarchy, women have been groomed into a perpetual state of tolerance. The toleration of male customs, cultures, behaviour, and sexuality has historically been enforced onto women by the laws of male gods, male states, and male family members. From the “witch craze,” where hundreds of thousands of women were publicly tortured and killed for refusing to defer to the authority of the Church, to the often brutal forms of anti-lesbianism directed towards women who choose to have sexual relationships with women rather than with men, persecution is seemingly inevitable for the women who refuse to be tolerant of male rule. Today, tolerance training starts early — young girls are taught to endure the boys who humiliate them in the playground, to turn their gaze away from the online pornography, to close their ears to the misogyny they hear all around them.

Raymond describes tolerance as a passive position. It creates non-action, apathy, and a repressed sensitivity to the injustices done by men to women. In other words, conditioning women and girls to be “tolerant” is not unintentional.

It is not completely surprising, therefore, that women — particularly young women — are reluctant to form their own sense of right and wrong; of discerning what values can be considered feminist and what can not; and of articulating what needs to change, if women are ever to be free from male domination.

This tyranny of tolerance is most evident in what is today referred as “intersectional feminism,” and dominates in many a Western university. Misuse of Crenshaw’s original theory means that this brand of “feminism” more closely reflects a certain type of liberal individualism, which adheres to male dogma under the guise of progressivity and social justice. It is not coincidental that the choices this ideology frames as “feminist” represent, down to the very last stroke of mascara, the tools used by men to colonize women.

Prostitution, now aptly named “sex work” by many student activists and academics, is defiantly presented in this framework as the result of a woman’s personal, empowered choice, despite the reality that most women in prostitution are there through lack of choice. The multi-billion dollar pornography industry records and distributes sadistic acts of misogyny, as well as pedophilia, homophobia, and racism, to millions of men and boys across the world — and yet using the guise of “sex-positivity,” these showreels of abuse are marketed as “feminist” by some, while women who criticize the industry are branded “anti-sex” or “whorephobic.”

It is clear that in order to be accepted into the new feminist gang, one must be tolerant of all systems in which women can (hypothetically) exhibit choice, regardless of the system’s intended purpose. The promotion in some contemporary feminist circles of what Raymond describes as “value freedom” — or as Hein puts it, “doing your own thing” — makes it near impossible to define a set of collective values or assert shared goals due to the desire to appear sensitive to and “respectful” of the opinions of every woman in the group. Maintaining respect towards other women is, of course, important, yet surely this should not come at the cost of being entirely unable to express disagreement about a particular point of view or political stance. Moreover, while it may be relatively easy to oppose values which are obviously patriarchal, the difficulty lies in speaking out against those which are more covert.

Under the popular understanding of “intersectional feminism,” women are told that they have sinned by having “cisgender” privilege, which positions being born female and continuing to call oneself a woman as a privileged position to be in. Crucially, females who hold “cisgender privilege” are said to have the ability to oppress males, if those males have decided that they would prefer not to be identified as such.

The idolized image of the “trans inclusive” feminist in Western identity politics has become a marker for whether a woman is truly apologetic for her female body — apologetic enough to render it meaningless and, in spite of its historical exploitation, objectification, and domination by men, come to view it as a sign of privilege instead. To be a tolerant feminist today is to publicly and endlessly repent for one’s supposed sins — the greatest sin of all being, according to some, in possession of a female body.”

It is the corrosive neo-liberal ideology at work – promoting individual choices as the only (obeisant) method of empowerment – while systematically neutering group cohesion and solidarity, the later being the actual threat to status-quo.

A good test to see the difference between the neo liberal standard and effective feminism is to watch and see if males use the action or act in question to get ahead in society.  For instance, take pole dancing.  Speaking to liberal feminists one can get the impression that pole dancing is just an amazing route to gaining self confidence and empowerment in society.  Apply the test though – do men pole dance to get ahead in society? – the answer is, obviously, no.  Therefore the activity in question, may indeed be a good experience on the personal level, but societally speaking, is not threatening to the status quo.  A very important distinction if your goal happens to be changing society for the better.

 

 

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