when the status quo frustrates.

Unnatural disasters

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

PBF No one is thirsty

It’s 32°C today. That’s 90° in American, or, in other words, brutally hot. Now, I still prefer this to our long, torturous winters, but this is cause for us Canuckistanis to engage in our favourite hobby: complaining about the weather.

Yep, it’s bad. Not as bad as it was for one July week in Chicago in 1995, though. Starting on July 15, unusual atmospheric conditions there sparked a massive heatwave that killed 365 people.

From an article in the New Yorker:

As the air mass settled on the city, cars began to overheat and stall in the streets. Roads buckled. Hundreds of children developed heat exhaustion when school buses were stuck in traffic. [...] A series of rolling blackouts left thousands without power. As the heat took its toll, the city ran out of ambulances. More than twenty hospitals, mostly on Chicago’s poorer South Side, shut their doors to new admissions. Callers to 911 were put on hold, and as the police and paramedics raced from one home to another it became clear that the heat was killing people in unprecedented numbers. [...] The morgue ran out of bays in which to put the bodies. Office space was cleared. It wasn’t enough. The owner of a local meatpacking firm offered the city his refrigerated trucks to help store the bodies. The first set wasn’t enough. He sent another. It wasn’t enough. In the end, there were nine forty-eight-foot meatpacking trailers in the morgue’s parking lot.

It was certainly awful, and just like that other recent natural disaster that struck New Orleans, most of the victims were poor. Most were elderly. Of course, back in those days, when a natural disaster killed large numbers of people, the folks in charge did bother looking into why the death toll was so severe. And this is where the interesting bit happens.

In Dark Age Ahead, Jane Jacobs wrote about the large research team assembled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She writes:

The researchers carefully paired each dead individual with an otherwise similar survivor of the heat wave. The matching survivor was from a randomly chosen location. This swift and Herculean effort by eighty researchers, their supervisors, and the high-powered designers of the study was worthless, because it turned up only what everybody already knew, including the meteorologists who had issued the early warnings. Those who died had run out of water, had no air-conditioning, did not leave their rooms to find cool refuge, and were not successfully checked up on. Indeed, the researchers’ findings were worse than useless. Survivors differed in having successfully kept cool. The findings were misleading because they encouraged blaming the victims; after all, they hadn’t looked after themselves.

Sound familiar?

Anyway, both Jacobs and the article I linked to go on to praise the work of New York University sociologist Eric Klinenberg, author of Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago. Klinenberg has the distinction of being the bright guy who asked the right questions about who died, and why. Instead of looking at individual choices, Klinenberg looked at communities—particularly at North Lawndale and South Lawndale, two poor communities with large populations of poor, elderly people. The death tolls for the two communities, however, were wildly different—40 deaths per 100,000 people in North Lawndale; less than 4 per 100,000 people in South Lawndale.

The reasons were, when you think rationally about it, quite obvious and very structural. North Lawndale was a bustling, close-knit community—people knew their neighbours, knew air-conditioned shops that were in walking distance, felt comfortable opening their doors to strangers. South Lawndale was sprawling and underpopulated. Poor old people didn’t have anywhere to walk to, and died shut up in their apartments. They weren’t killed by heat so much as they were by poor urban planning.

Cities would do well to remember this tragic piece of history when they do what our city is doing now. There’s a relentless wave of gentrification at the moment, with low income areas being leveled to make way for condos. Grocery stores give way to high-priced restaurants. Affordable housing, when it does get built, gets built in the suburbs, where there is little public transit and no social infrastructure. The poor get swept out of sight, communities are destroyed, and we have a disaster in the making.

(Thanks to Zingerella for loaning me Dark Age Ahead.)

‘The rich are different from you and me.’ ‘Yes, they have more money.’

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

Via Sadly, No!, Peggy Noonan is befuddled: the rich are getting richer, just like the olden days, but the poor (or at least, the not-rich) are failing to return to their natural state of tasteful obsequiousness. Also, the rich are kind of assholes, too.

The gap between rich and poor is great, and there is plenty of want, and also confusion. What the superrich do for a living now often seems utterly incomprehensible, and has for at least a generation. There is no word for it, only an image. There’s a big pile of coins on a table. The rich shove their hands in, raise them, and as the coins sift through their fingers it makes . . . a bigger pile of coins. Then they sift through it again and the pile gets bigger again.

It seems she’s largely OK with this since her moral compass was replaced with the icy vacuum of free space, which is the only possible reason a person would use this paragraph as part three in a four-paragraph introduction to bitching that the service at tony New York shops is not what it should be.

“Um, thanks.” What they are forcing you to do is engage. If you engage–”Um, thanks”–you have a relationship. If you have a relationship, it’s easier for them to turn you upside down and shake the coins from your pockets.

…There are strategies. You can do the full Garbo: “Leave me alone.” But they’ll think you’re a shoplifter and watch you. Or the strong lady with boundaries: “Thank you, if I need help I’ll ask.” But your reverie is broken. Or the acquiescent person: “Take me under your leadership, oh aggressively friendly salesperson.” But this is bowing to the pushiness of the Gilded Age.

Those bastard salesgirls, trying to get their commission out of you just because you came into their store to buy something. Many of us have worked the service jobs, and Peggy it seems is that customer who is going to complain no matter what you do. That fake perky your corporate office mandates? Too fake. Leaving her alone? You’re ignoring her. I never could handle those jobs – I get pissy when people who don’t know what they want expect me to figure it out. How do the people who make that complaint not realize that they are only the zillionth person who has walked through that door, each of them wanting to be serviced in a slightly different manner than the one before. They’re salesgirls, not mind readers. Give them an e’ffn break.

It’s funny. In a time of recession, you’d think salespeople would be more aggressive, because so much might hinge on the sale–a commission, a job. In a time of relative wealth, you’d think they might be less aggressive. But the opposite seems true.

Buhhh…uhh….whaaa? Let’s put these things together:

The gap between rich and poor is great, and there is plenty of want, and also confusion.

It’s funny. In a time of recession, you’d think salespeople would be more aggressive, because so much might hinge on the sale–a commission, a job. In a time of relative wealth, you’d think they might be less aggressive. But the opposite seems true.

I’m going to put this in all caps for Peggy, should she ever see this. I’ll even type it out very slowly so she can follow along:

D-E-A-R M-R-S. N-O-O-N-A-N: IF THE GAP BETWEEN THE RICH AND THE POOR IS GREAT, THAT MEANS THE RICH HAVE A LOT AND THE POOR DON’T HAVE ENOUGH. SALESPEOPLE WILL BE DRAWN MORE FROM THE LATTER CATEGORY THAN THE FORMER. THE PEOPLE SERVING YOU ARE NOT EXPERIENCING THE JOYS OF THIS EXTREME WEALTH. THEY ARE JUST TRYING TO GET THEIR CRUMBS FROM YOUR SLICE OF THE PIE, BUT THERE ARE WAY MORE OF THEM THEN THERE ARE OF YOU SO THEY HAVE TO COMPETE WITH EACH OTHER TO LICK THE BOYSENBERRY THAT YOU CHOSE TO LEAVE ON YOUR PLATE. YOUR WIDE-EYED BEWILDERMENT OVER THIS OBVIOUS RESULT OF WEALTH INIQUITY IS THE SORT OF THING THAT EVENTUALLY MAKES THE PEASANTS REVOLT, SO PLEASE TROT YOURSELF DOWN TO DUANE READE’S AND PICK UP A CLUE.

Jesus f’n Christ, Peggy, if this is the pearl-clutching you do when the salesgirl at the exclusive store is too perky for your liking, imagine the vapors you’d get if you had to deal with an actual poor person who didn’t need your commission. They can be refreshingly blunt.

Guilty of snark deficiency

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

In a rather bizarre case from my neck of the woods, a 75-year-old man has been found guilty of making a death threat against his city councillor. The twist? The threat was in the form of a poem, which the man claimed was a work of political satire.

But Justice James J. Keaney claims that since Antonio Batista doesn’t have a high level of education, it’s unlikely that he knew what satire was.

Threeliesforone, who drew my attention to the article, is calling classism, and I agree. Plenty of educated folks fail at sarcasm. One friend of mine, a community college teacher (name withheld not to protect his identity, but rather the identities of his students) had his kids read A Modest Proposal; several reacted in horror, wondering why their teacher was advocating cannibalism.

But no, really, some of his best friends are women

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

Even those of us young ‘uns born after 1980 know that Pat Boone is that guy who gave us mainstream rock’n'roll by sucking the soul right out of black artists’ songs, thus making them bland and palatable enough for a white audience:



Above: Fats Domino moves parts of his body other than his mouth when singing and playing, justifying white parent’s concern that their daughters will go black and never come back. Below, Pat Boone demonstrates his ability to convert the raw sexual energy of early R&B into good posture:

Pat’s salad days of helping the black music community are long behind him (although I can’t be the only person who would pay good money even today for a Boone cover of MIMS “This is Why I’m Hot”) but that doesn’t mean he’s out of venues to display the self-awareness and cultural sensitivity that all of your conservative ex-entertainers (Chuck Norris, coughcough) are famous for. In his WorldNetDaily Exclusive Commentary Leave it to the Ladies, he wraps a shout-out to the leading ladies of conservative groups in a back-handed compliment and serves it hot with a side of WTF.

Consider the women, in our day, who have become the heads of state in India, Pakistan, Israel and Great Britain. Question: Is it likely that these very accomplished and brilliant women would have attained these positions if there had been men in evidence who seemed equally or perhaps even better qualified? Or was the ascendance of these women made possible by the public perception that there weren’t men of sufficient stature, integrity and experience available?

Don’t get all defensive, ladies; hear me out. I’m praising and complimenting you here. Thank God for you!

Yeah, ladies, don’t get your lacy unmentionables all in a knot just because Pat Boone wants to reduce your hard-won accomplishments in achieving some kind of representation in governance to the more properly feminine trait of picking up the pieces and soldiering on after your man let you down. Like Angela Merkel, she’s just like Lillian Gilbreth, who had eleven children when she was widowed. Not surprisingly, she was an expert in efficiency and was able to take over the leadership of her and her husband’s consulting firm and continue working until she was 80. Merkel’s just like that, except for instead of 11 kids, she has all of Germany, and instead of being widowed, it was just that all German male politicians are a bunch of pansies. Yeah, that’s it.

It’s a compliment. Really.

We’re getting used to seeing women as chief executives of huge international companies from Hewlett Packard to Xerox, Lucent and eBay.

These women have not only occupied positions of power, they’ve been doing man-sized jobs.

It boggles the mind. Women! Doing things! Just like they’re real people! And they’re doing it without the support and experience provided by the twigs and berries of leadership! How can this be?

pennyarcadeavatar.jpg

At this point, Pat may have realized that he may have laid the retro 50′s style sexism on a bit thick, for here he brings out the requisite disclaimer of the privileged person who is vaguely aware that he or she has said something about which they can be brought roundly and rightfully to task:

A personal note: I grew up with two capable sisters, fathered four remarkable and exceptional daughters, and now have 10 terrific granddaughters to go with the five talented grandsons God gave Shirley and me. And my wife, Shirley, herself has proven so capable, so wise, so energetic and perceptive, that I’ve said honestly many times, “If somehow Shirley were made president, she’d have this country humming like never before, in a matter of weeks! She’s just that amazing!”

“I can’t be sexist! I’m surrounded by women, at least one of whom I’m willing to hypothetically place in the White House; but it’s just hyperbole that expresses how together I think she is. The idea of an actual woman I’m neither poking nor owning anywhere near the White House in real life actually discomforts me a great deal. Respect your elders, dammit!”

Like you I hope, I get scores of newsletters from activist organizations every week, groups that have been created to address the moral decay in our society; groups that are devoted to protecting our children and defending the institution of the family; huge groups of concerned parents determined to hold back the immoral influences in television, movies, music – and the school systems! – that are clearly corrupting the minds of our young. Of these valiant groups, so many are led by women!

OMGWTFBBQ!!11!! Like, they’re supposed to care about things like family, children, school, things that affect children, things that children may or may not encounter, and kids, but I thought they just sat at home, radiating care rays or searching for the perfect recipe that will fix the problem. I’d no idea they’d figured out how to organize. I didn’t even know they could use tools or write, yet here they were the whole time creating systems to address their concerns, just like a man would. Some of them also drive cars. Fancy that.

We’ll skip the shout-outs (have you heard of this Phyllis Schlafly woman? She’s just amazing!) and get straight back to the backhand:

And that’s my observation. As men, who are the obvious candidates for leadership, abdicate their responsibilities and sell their birthrights for personal gain, strong and dedicated women will – please, God – step into the gap, rally their fellow citizens, and point us back toward the prize of the high calling.

So women, thanks for the leadership, and Pat Boone looks forward to the day when you’ll lead us all to the bright shining future that will allow you to stop all this leadering nonsense and get back in the kitchen, where you will cease to make him feel vaguely uncomfortable about this ‘privilege’ concept those radical lesbian chicks are always yammering about.

We’re going back…back to the FUTURE!

Friday, July 27th, 2007

reefer
Lookin’ forward to seeing it in it’s proper musical form

Chasity rings and modesty fetishes aren’t the only way to bring back the ’50s – don’t forget about the scaremongering over the tawdry evils associated with the devil’s weed.

Using marijuana seems to increase the chance of becoming psychotic, researchers report in an analysis of past research that reignites the issue of whether pot is dangerous.

The new review suggests that even infrequent use could raise the small but real risk of this serious mental illness by 40 percent.

If you smoke pot, even once, years later you might go keerr-aazyyy! So kids, when you’re out at the ‘sock hop’ with your ‘steady’ dancing to the tribal rhythms of your ‘rock and roll’ music, you must remember to Just Say No to Mary Jane and hereditary disposition to mental illness or any number of other uncontrollable variables that may affect the validity of the conclusions of this certainly-not-political review of previous scientific literature.*

“The available evidence now suggests that cannabis is not as harmless as many people think,” said Dr. Stanley Zammit, one of the study’s authors and a lecturer in the department of psychological medicine at Cardiff University.

The researchers said they couldn’t prove that marijuana use itself increases the risk of psychosis, a category of several disorders with schizophrenia being the most commonly known.

There could be something else about marijuana users, “like their tendency to use other drugs or certain personality traits, that could be causing the psychoses,” Zammit said.

…They found that people who used marijuana had roughly a 40 percent higher chance of developing a psychotic disorder later in life. The overall risk remains very low.

How shocking! How terrible! How wrong we were lo this past twenty years! Why it’s a good thing these heroically impartial doctors did this literature review now, just at the perfect moment to do something about it!

In the U.K., the government will soon reconsider how marijuana should be classified in its hierarchy of drugs. In 2004, it was downgraded and penalties for possession were reduced. Many expect marijuana will be bumped up to a class “B” category, with offenses likely to lead to arrests or longer jail sentences.

Two of the authors of the study were invited experts on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs Cannabis Review in 2005. Several authors reported being paid to attend drug company-sponsored meetings related to marijuana, and one received consulting fees from companies that make antipsychotic medications.

*What? Like the shorter DARE slogans are any more effective.

And at the All American Rejects concert the more cynical children will realize that that summer, they learned the most important lesson of all.

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

You know what sucks up the resources? Those damn kids. Always sitting in school, burning money. They can’t be taking time off to work in the fields or the factories and they can’t consume Coke products fast enough to pay for their sports AND their education. Lazy little fucks. Luckily the invisible hand of the market has stepped in to provide the wealthiest damn nation on the planet with the solution to adaquate school funding:

OfficeMax is gearing up for a sophomore season of “Schooled,” a reality style special that will air on the CW on Aug. 5, as part of the office supply chain’s back-to-school efforts.

OfficeMax and CBS? Teaming up for the kids? This can only be awesome!

Hourlong program’s essentially “Punk’d” for middle schoolers, and tricks students at New Jersey’s New Milford High School into believing their school is musically deficient, forcing them to attend a music rehabilitation program in order to keep its state funding. Prank culminates with a surprise performance by the All American Rejects.

“Music rehabilitation program”? I know every parent says this, but when I have kids, they will be specially trained to call shenanigans when adults start shoveling around that kind of bullshit. This is the sort of shit that “never trust anyone over 35″ slogan was talking about. These poor, gullible middlehigh (!!?!!OMGWTF!) schoolers. The adults that are supposed to take care of them went and sold their souls to OfficeMax and CBS. And for what?

Show was co-developed by OfficeMax agency DDB in Chicago, as a time buy and piece of branded entertainment that would entice kids to choose the retailer over rivals for their school supplies.

OfficeMax is awarding 55 of the participating students with backpacks filled with MP3 players, digital cameras and school supplies. Teachers received laptop computers, and New Milford High School was rewarded with a $60,000 OfficeMax gift card.

$60,000! That’s a lot of money! That the schools can spend however they like! As long as they like OfficeMax! And backpacks full of stuff! Why, how can OfficeMax and CBS combine to be so generous? Giving away tens (tens!) of thousands of dollars and getting nothing out of it but a whole bunch of publicity, which is worth like what, nothing?

Company saw an uptick in sales after the special aired, and is looking at the CW to provide it a potentially bigger audience this time around.

Maybe I’m over-reacting; after all, in this complicated digital age, isn’t having your parents and school administrators pimp you out to multinational corporations in exchange for baubles the same thing as when these kids put their pictures on Facebook? Who am I to say there’s a giant fucking difference? Plus it’s TV, which makes these kids famous, which everyone knows is way important. Maybe they’ll air the special next to PussycatDolls: Search for the Next Doll, which can give the girls extra encouragement to reach for those stars. So nevermind, forget I said anything against this wonderful, win-win idea that has no shady side and no possible negative ramifications.

The Diet Coke Apocalypse

Thursday, July 26th, 2007



You have to admit, if the Apocalypse had a spokesperson, he’d be it.

I freely admit I’ve been made lazy by American culture. No, I don’t buy the jar of peanut butter and jelly mixed together, but among other things, I’ve become accustomed to easy access to tasty beverages and non-coffee caffeine boosts. In other words, I drink Diet Coke. Depending on the day, I may drink a lot of it, too.

Since the Nutrasweet swirl first hit the can in the ’80s, we’ve been told of its potential harm (especially if you’re a lab rat). But back in the good old days of youthful naivete, I internalized the idea that the FDA knew best. Though I’ve had health-related reservations from time to time, and though I now know the FDA’s reliability rates just behind Satan’s, and even though it’s changed its name to the much less sexy “aspartame,” I’ve still allowed myself to drink the stuff.

Then a friend casually mentioned the one mood-related aspartame study performed to date, a study that found such strong connections between aspartame and increased depression (particularly if you have a family history) that they had to stop the study.

Then I heard about the chewing gum poisoning in New Zealand. Yeah, you heard that right — chewing gum poisoning. A woman in her 20s chewed 4 packs a day of sugar-free gum. Unsurprisingly, the sweetener used in the gum was aspartame. This is her story:

“I became very, very depressed and anxious and I wasn’t sleeping well. I tried to ignore it but it became worse and worse.”

A psychiatrist diagnosed Miss Cormack with mild depression but found it difficult to fathom as she enjoyed a very stable and happy family, social and work life.

She then began to experience panic attacks and suicidal thoughts.

“I started getting physical symptoms. Muscle cramps that started off in my legs. I put the muscle cramps down to weight training.”

She stopped the weight training but the muscle cramps spread and grew worse. Her doctors suspected multiple sclerosis but the numerous tests showed that everything was normal.

Now suffering from exhaustion and excruciating pain, and wondering whether it was all in her head, Miss Cormack said the last straw was when she lost control of her bladder at work.

At that point her mother suggested looking in to her heavy use of sugar-free chewing gum. After checking the ingredients, she ‘googled’ phenylalanine, and up came aspartame.

“And I clicked on that and my symptoms came up – every one of them.”

American researcher and endocrinologist, Dr H. J. Roberts, identified blindness as being ‘the most serious complication’ from the use of aspartame. Miss Cormack said her symptoms disappeared within days of stopping her sugar-free gum habit.

In no way shape or form have I experienced anything like this, but this anecdotal story combined with the earlier study of depression has given me pause. At the very least, it certainly can’t hurt to cut out Diet Coke from my, uh, diet. [There aren't that many good synonyms for "diet," are there?]

The hard part will be fighting the laziness. I like a drink that gives me a boost. I really like the way Diet Coke tastes, whether or not that means I’d also enjoy such beverages as pen ink and battery acid. And when I want a snack, I’m going to have to reach for something other than a soda. Or Frito Lay chips. Or Pop Tarts. Or whatever other over-processed monstrosity pases for food around here.

I just wish I’d decided all this before I bought two 12-packs of cherry coke zero.

Earth suspected of anti-U.S. ecoterrorism

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Punkassblog) – In a startlingly aggressive maneuver, home planet and longtime Bush administration opponent Earth may be preparing a series of strikes intended to disrupt U.S. oil interests along the coast of Alaska.

Sources close to Earth indicate that the planet plans to knock out a series of drilling installations by swiftly eroding the coastline via melting ice, a strategy designed to pull the oil wells into the ocean.

White House spokesperson Tony Snow reiterated that Mr. Bush will not tolerate such threats. “The president wants to assure the American people that freedom will prevail,” said Mr. Snow. “Terrorists can and will be dealt with harshly, especially if they threaten our way of life.”

While the two have never been close, the relationship between Earth and Mr. Bush cooled after the President commented that the United States needed to “thin its forests” without first consulting Earth. The final straw came earlier this year when the U.S. announced plans to expand its oil drilling efforts into previously protected areas of Alaska.

Defenders of Earth claim these actions pose a threat to Earthling interests. In particular, increasing the oil supply may eventually result in more carbon dioxide emissions, an outcome some conspiracy theorists insist will cause direct harm to the planet.

The Bush administration remains unconvinced. Vice President Cheney received a standing ovation at the William F. Buckley Memorial Fucknut Luncheon for his strong rebuke of these claims. “We’re not going to let this planet push us around anymore,” said Mr. Cheney. “We know these rising temperatures are just its way of trying to threaten us with another 9/11, but we don’t negotiate with terrorists. We just torture them until they die. And that’s precisely what we plan to do to Earth.”

Earth did not immediately return a call requesting comment.

Diplomacy is a sign of political immaturity

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Obama is catching heat for daring to suggest that “neener neener neener I’m not talking to you” isn’t really the greatest foreign policy ever.

Seriously, people. It’s not like he’s under the table giving Fidel a blow job. He said that if he were the leader of a country, he would talk to the leaders of other countries. Which, last I heard, was part of the presidential job description.

Does anyone want to explain how Edwards gets away with “I personally have been on a journey on this issue [equal marriage]” without being soundly mocked, and Obama gets called “irresponsible and frankly naive” for claiming that diplomacy and negotiation are better than silence, occasionally interrupted with bombing raids?

Invisible histories

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

The latest issue of This Magazine has a fantastic article on Canada’s most influential rebellions. From a list of 89, This talks about four in detail: Oka (1990), the Abortion Caravan (1970), the Ford Strike (1945), and the Fraser Canyon War (1858).

Canadian history, as taught in high schools, is intentionally dry, written with the apparent purpose of turning kids off the subject so that they won’t look into it too deeply. Where textbooks depart from the litany of Prime Ministers’ names and colonial explorations, they will mention the Red River Rebellion or devote a paragraph to “the role of women.” Labour history and civil rights struggles, beyond another paragraph on the Winnipeg General Strike, seldom gets a mention at all.

Stories like the following, about the Abortion Caravan, are never told:

Pantyhose were donned. Hair was done. Makeup was applied. More than 30 women put on the camouflage of respectability to infiltrate the House of Commons. In those innocent days before metal detectors, each carried a chain in her purse.

Ellen Woodsworth remembers how hard it was to get the chain out of her purse quietly. Once shackled to her chair, she says she looked down at all of the men in the House of Commons and was flooded with a powerful sense of her mission to raise women’s concerns.

Just before 3 p.m., one of the women stood up and started giving the group’s speech. As the guards closed in on her, another stood up in another gallery and continued. One guard told The Globe and Mail’s Clyde Sanger that the women were “popping up all over the place.” They shut down the House of Commons, and the Vancouver Sun reported it was the first adjournment provoked by a gallery disturbance in its 103-year history.

Or this one, from 1918:

Just six weeks after the Armistice was signed in 1918, a group of Canadian soldiers mobilized for battle in a brand-new arena of war: Siberia. But on the day of their departure, Quebecois conscripts in the Canadian-Siberian Expeditionary Force mutinied in Victoria, B.C. The soldiers’ resistance to fighting in Russia was reinforced by the radical elements of B.C.’s working class, which had a strong community of support for the Russian Revolution and its ideologies. It was decades before the Cold War, but already, Canada’s west was becoming the battleground for western democracy and communism.

I don’t think there’s a Canadian equivalent to Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States; there really should be. Impressive collections like this are a good start to producing an authentic and comprehensive historical narrative. Go read it!

Laugh it up, veg-heads

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

We already know you’re better than us anyway. Now you can walk around proudly, all botulism free, while the rest of us go dizzy and become paralyzed:

A Georgia meat processor expanded its recall of canned meat products that may be connected to a botulism outbreak.

Castleberry’s Food Co. of Augusta recalled more than 80 types of canned chili, beef stew, corned beef hash and other meat products over the weekend, in addition to the 10 brands it recalled Thursday.

The list of brands recalled, in case you’re one of the potentially-stricken:

Austex, Best Yet, Big Y, Black Rock, Bloom, Bryan, Bunker Hill, Castleberry’s, Cattle Drive, Firefighters, Food Club, Food Lion, Goldstar, Great Value, Kroger, Lowes, Meijer, Morton House, Paramount, Piggly Wiggly, Prudence, Southern Home, Steak N Shake, Thrifty Maid, Triple Bar and Value Time. The recall also includes four varieties of Natural Balance dog food.

I’m curious what meat product you would sell under the name “Thrifty Maid.” Or maybe I’m not.

Because I can’t wait five damn days for the Pandagon comment thread, and I’m not joining some Yahoo discussion group

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

For those who’ve finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Thoughts appear at random.
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