Saturday, December 7, 2013

Dec. 7:

Well, let's start with Jana Giles on p. F3. That's in Whatever, the high school section. She wonders how sports have become so important in high school and university, and there's little interest in the arts. There's a story in that.

Going back to the 1700s - at least - the British upper classes had money and power. Their weakness was in brains to justify that money and power. Now, in those days, organized sports (games with standard rules) could be played only by those who had the money and time to organize them - the upper classes. Out of that developed the myth that the upper classes didn't need brains. What was required was something vague called leadership and character. A pioneer in this was one of the leading schools of the upper class - Rugby.   And, yes, that's the school that invented the game of rugby which, with modifications, became football.

The children of these upper class schools became the ones to go to university. So Rugby, like cricket, became enshrined as the game that prepared these special children to become leaders in the House of Lords, in the army, in just about everything.

Of course, none of this was available to their sisters. Women, after all, were not going to be leaders or to have power, not if men could prevent it. So women were kept at home where they could study things that were still upper class, but would not make them leaders - music, art, literature.

The result? The upper classes produced large numbers of male dunces, most of whom would be sent to the army to become generals - a practice that continued up to (and including) World War 1. Others would become incompetent politicians.

Women were the ones who developed brains - but little chance to use them.

A survivor of those days is the belief that football, for example, develops character and leadership and has class status. Thus its continuing importance in our universities.

The first section of today's TandT would h ave been popular reading among the old, British upper classes. There's nothing in it that requires or encourages any brain whatever.

There's the story that SWN has packed up and gone home - and a rumour that it isn't coming back.

Finance Minister Higgs says the province must cut its spending. That's a theme that runs over to the editorial page as well. It's quite a frequent theme, and the tune is always the same. The province is spending too much money. And the cause of the problem is social services, EI, the flinging of money at the poor. I have never, not even once, seen a hint that there are some very rich people in this province - and that maybe they're part of the problem. How much does it cost to keep those people's bellies filled? They are getting richer daily. Most of us aren't. Where's their money coming from?

What taxes, in real money, do the rich and the corporations pay? How much have they wiggled into doing jobs that government used to do (Public/Private/Partnerships)? How much to do we give them on the sly, as city council did for Robert Irving?

How come the newspaper is always keen on cutting down on spending for those who need it - but openly propagandizes to go deeper in debt for  something the rich want - like the events centre?

A newspaper is supposed to give us information - like how much to the rich cost us? How much do we give away to them? How little do they pay us back? Their incomes are going up. Our incomes are going down. How can we be the only cause of the province's budget problems?

But we don't get information. All we get is propaganda and ads.
The big story in NewsToday, "N.B.'s unemployment rate goes down", tells us nothing. One can play all sorts of games with statistics so that, if you torture them enough, they say whatever you want them to say. Bruce Northrup flaps his wings and crows with joy that the rate has dropped below ten percent to 9.7. That's a figure that doesn't mean poop.  The drop is less that a half of one percent - and that includes an unstated number of part time jobs.

There's a story I couldn't find but that should have been there. Alberta, despite severe warnings from its own Environment minister that it is going to cause severe environmental damage has approved an expansion of the oil sands. Why this rush to expand oil production on all sides?

It's because the oil companies know that their selling days are numbered. Even if extracting oil were as harmless as rubbing skin cream on a baby's bum, we won't be doing it much longer because, as demand rises, the price is going to go up. It will very soon be impossible to operate millions of gasoline-engined cars or to heat homes with oil. It's bad enough now. It can only get worse, and in a hurry. The oil fields have to make money NOW because they won't be able to within a very short time.

And that's not even counting climate change.

Big business thinks three months at a time. Our survival depends on extending the attention span of big business. Ot elect a government that thinks? Business thinks three months at a time. We need a leadership that think ahead by twenty uears or more.

And that's most of NewsToday.

As always, the sports section has more news than the news section does. And they're still using that corny headline "Wildtown Catfight". Isnt' that a tad juvenile for adult readers?

And, look, even on a sports page, a  headline should be a news statement, not an ad for the team. Similarly, one of the biggest stories "Wildcats Tigres clash" isn't a story. It's really an ad for a game that hasn't been played yet.
The editorial page is entirely on the province's finances. Read it carefully. Underline the word Irving wherever it appears. (No. Don't bother to get up. You won't need a pen.)

The editorialist says "We're maxed out".  This is, I presume, the same editorialist who routinely harangues us to borrow 125 milliion (or more) for an events centre.

Norbert Cunningham's column is the very silly result of an appalling ignorance. He doesn't, for example, appear to know what the word capitalism means.

Norbert, look up. The world is in a profound economic crisis. That crisis was caused by the greed, shortsightedness, and criminality of the people you (wrongly) call capitalists. Other people you think are capitalists (but are not) are stealing all the world's wealth, creating poverty all over the world  (especially in the west and Africa). As well as being ignorant of the meaning of the world capitalist, you seem not to notice the enormous damage these people have done.

Then you babble about leftists - a word that seems to mean anyone who doesn't agree with you. You accuse "leftists" of wanting to give more of other people's money to (presumably) poor people. In fact, much of what "leftists" advocate is legislation to make capitalists act like real capitalists.

So where the hell were you when we found out the city government was giving  other people's money to Robert Irving?  I must have missed the abuse and rant you poured on him.

Norbert, grow up. We are living through a crisis that began with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. They shovelled national wealth into the pockets of the rich. The result is that we now live in a western world that is in serious decline  caused by selfishness and greed.

The rich have also used their new wealth to seize control of governments. They have used that control to steer even more money to themselves, to increase development in areas our world cannot handle, to effectively destroy democracy (espeically in the US), and to destroy individual privacy with spy systerms which are as much for big business as they are for any national interest.

As a result, we not only face economic uncertainty and severe environmenal crisis, but decades of wars - all of them fought to make the rich richer.

In your own, miserable paper,  two years ago, you published an op ed piece by an Irving in which he actually said he was a member (without being elected) of the government. That statement was illegal under the Canadian consitution.

He then appointed his boys to be advisors to the Minister of Finance. (a real Minister of Finance would immediately have resigned on that. Who the hell was Mr. Irving to give himself that right?)

In other words Norbert, since Irving's hoods were  advising the minister, that means they set the budgets. So where is your column giving  hell to Irving for having made a mess of the budgets? Was it greed? Was it incompetence? Is it possible he did himself favours with his control of the budget?

Come on, Norbert. Let's hear you call Mr. Irving names.

Brent Mazerolle has a column on op ed. The point seems to be that we need to prepare for terrible accidents like the Halifex explosion of World War 1, and the more recent deaths of 47 people in Lac Megantic.

Brent, where have you and your paper been since the Lac Megantic tragedy? Where were your questions? Where was  you investigative journalism? Boy, talk about pious.. How do we prevent these things when we get no information on what caused them?.

Gwynne Dyer has an interesting column on how big powers bully lesser ones with, in this case, Russians bullying the Ukraine. There aren't any of them big powers nice guys, not to anybody.

The Faith Page sermonette is the usual wimpy and close to irrelevant stuff. Are there other possible topics?

Well, ever heard of cluster bombs? These are small bombs dropped in a bigger casing that opens up widely to cause indiscriminate slaughter. (They spread so widely, there really  can  be no such thing as a target). There they lie, perhaps for decaades, until some child picks one up out of curiosity - and then loses an arm - or a life.

They were dropped in the millions in Vietnam; and to this day children are still picking them up. They were also used in Iraq, with similar results. Indeed, cluster bombs are so vile, that most of the world, including Canada, signed a treaty never to use them.

If I remember correctly, it was Harper who signed that treaty. Now, unnoticed by our  press, he has said that Canada is still opposed to cluster bombs and supports the treaty. However, Canada will use them if allied with another country that feels them necessary. (The US did not sign the treaty, and still feels cluster bombs are necessary.)

Perhaps Jesus might have touched on such an issue?

Then there's Norbert's opinion that the poor cause recessions. And he has only praise for the rich.

Well, Jesus was poor and unemployed. And his country was being run by those nice, rich people who have all the brains.

These might be good topics for a sermon.


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