Saturday, February 11, 2012

Feb. 11: the kids (oops, ...young people)...

 The most sensational story in Canadian history is on p. D1.Well, it should be the most sensational - but nobody seems to have noticed. Sticking it at the bottom of Section D, p. 1 certainly suggests that The Moncton Times and Transcript sees nothing sensational about it.

Harper wants to develop China into something like a free trade partner - and also to sell China the world's most strategically important resource - oil. Does that sound just like a trade deal? Well, if true, it's not just a trade deal.
1.Historically, Canada has always been the servant, both diplomatically and militarily, of some power that dominates its economy. Until the end of World War One, that power was Britain. Canada had no reason to take part in the Boer War, for example. In those days, when Britain went to war, the colonies were legally at war, too. But they were not required to take part. Canada did take part.It sent troops. The reason had nothing to do with justice or loyalty or the defence of Britain. The reason was that Canadian business leaders relied on the British Empire for investement and for markets. So it was business leaders who put the heat on the Canadian government to send over troops to kill and be killed. It was good for business that Canada should be a loyal servant to the crown.

Much the same thing happened in World War One. After all, if the war was so crucial to Canada that it would sent troops in 1914, why was it less important to the US, which didn't enter until 1917?

After World War Two, Canada's economic dependency shifted to the US. That's why Mulroney inked a free trade deal with the US. The new market for Canadian business was the US - along with some share of existing American markets, as in Latin America.

To maintain good favour with the US, we have to support it diplomatically and militarily. That's why we're in Afghanistan. That's why we bombed Lybia. That's why Harper now makes nasty faces at Iran.
We used to fight British wars; now we fight American wars. (Mind you, we're still in a big campaign to put pictures of the Queen wherever there's a bare wall in any government office. Much as we're now a servant to the US, Harper needs all those voters who are still gaga over the Queen, and Kate and all that.)

2. Chinese business is emerging as the most serious challenge to US economic power. The wars in Iraq and Libya and Afghanistan were stages in the US struggle against Chinese expansion. So will be the wars in Libya and Iran. The US Pacific fleet is already stationed to contain China. The US is also adding to its military bases, notably in Australia and The Phillipines, for the same reason. In short, the US is in the early stages of a cold war against China.

So, if the story is all true, which side will we be on? (I'm sure the US and China will be big-hearted and understanding no matter which side we choose.)

Oh, of course Harper has warned the Chinese that close relations with China will not prevent him from speaking out against human rights abuses in China. And we know that for a fact. I mean, look how he spoke out against the US for its slaughter of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan and Guatemala. Look how he spoke out against the wide use of torture by the US (in violation of American as well as international law). Look at how he defended a teenage Canadian who was illegally held and tortured for years at Guantanamo Bay. Look at how he handed over at least two other Canadian citizens (who were not even charged with any offense) for prolonged torture.

I'll bet Chinese leaders are shaking in their boots.

The teens section in Whatever is really the only part of today's paper worth reading.

Jana Giles wrote a column that made me feel like the particularly unattractive remains of a pre-historic creature. I grew up in an age when we learned to communicate by putting a pencil to paper. Then, as we matured, we learned how to hold a little stick with a piece of metal on the end of it,and dip it into a bottle of black liquid - and make marks with that.

When I was thirty I at last got space-age equipment. It was called a typewriter. (All of this stuff can now be seen in any good museum.)

Jana Giles, of Lewisville Middle School, has writen her column about a new computer programme. She's a good writer.  It's a well-written column. It's in clear language. And I can't understand it. I've been using computers for decades. I can't understand a column about them written by a girl in middle school.

Lucky I still have that stick with the metal thingee at the end, and a bottle of that black liquid.

Alex Corbett has his column on a subject we've all had to deal with.  - when is it justifiable for us to be arrogant? I'm happy to tell him there are two answers. 1. Arrogance is justifiable when it works. 2. It is not justifiable when it is used by somebody else.  In fact, those answers hold true for a lot of the habits we develop as we grow older.

Aurelia Pare has a commentary on a topic we all take seriously - but only sort of seriously. It's bullying. I would just add to points to what she says.

1. Bullying is not just something we pass through. There were kids I went to school with who were savagely bullied. Many of them suffered lives that were pemanently marked by the experience. It's not just a stage we pass through. It's an experience that cripples for life.

2. As for  the bullies, it cripples them into growing up as louts who make life miserable for everyone around them.

Yes, we take bullying seriously. No, we don't take it nearly seriously enough.

Christina Korotkov has a thoughtrul commentary on something we all go through.When you plan your life, do you go for the dreams? Or do you to for the reality? I don't know the answer. I don't think anybody does. As a child, I grew up where reality was so limited that I was a life success by the age of 17.

Then I spent the rest of my life learning to go for the dreams - and better reality. Dreams can be reality. I guess, really, that reality is what other people think we can do. Dreams are what we think we can do.  So, as a general rule, I'd say don't pay too much attnetion to other people.

Isabelle Agnew has the most intelligent commentary I've seen in the TandT on the Moncton High School question. That's because she attended a city council meeting on it, and saw through illogic of the major speakers. And it's party because she's a student - and saw through the blather of the representative of the Royal Oaks development. One of her reactions is particularly striking.

The presenter talked a vision of students from the new school being able to cross the street to a lovely park where they could sit outdoors and study.  This is pure drivel. But it probably worked on more than a few of the adults in the audience, conjuring visions of happy children sitting out in the sun enraptured with nature and their class notes. Students and teachers have an advantage over most of those adults. They know that school runs from September to June. They know we live in New Brunswick. (They're taught that in school.)

I glance out my window on this typical New Brunswick day. It's been raining and snowing with all of it slowly turning to ice.

And, as I think back to my own student days, I cannot remember ever studying outdoors, not even on a nice day. Since those days, I've lived a life caught up in studying. In all of those years,I have never studied outdoors. How can one possibly study with traffic going by, people playing in the park, talking?

But here was a developer presenting this warm and fuzzy picture, and there were adults, sitting and nodding their heads in bemused images of happy students lying on the grass with their books.  Monctonians, as ratepayers and taxpayers, are going to spend millions of dollars on this illusion.

There is no plan. There never was a plan. All we have is a highly imaginative picture spun out by a promoter. A high school student figured that out. The reportorial and editorial staff of the the Times and Transcript didn't.

There's a lesson in this. Read the Whatever section. Skip the rest of the TandT.

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