Thursday, June 5, 2014

June 5: A day of silence in Moncton....

After killing three policemen and wounding two, a gunman escaped into heavy woods that press into Moncton, often almost into the downtown area. And those woods are connected to the even heavier forest beyond the city.  But the police seem to have done a very good job of containing him.

I have no doubt the city should and will organize memorial service for the victims of the shooting. I would urge it also  to go to great lengths to offer comfort and practical help to the families of the victims.
I don't have much to say about  today's Times and Transcript because there was no delivery   (presumably because of the danger of exposure.) The only news item I know of - besides the shootings - is that selected New Brunswick teachers  will be going to China this summer to establish contacts with education professionals in China. They're in for some big surprises.

I taught university in China for  three summers. In that time, no student missed a class. Not one. Nobody was ever late. No assignment was ever late. If I mentioned an article was interesting, everyone would have read it by the next day - even though I had not required reading it.

Many of them followed me back to Montreal to complete their degrees. There, they studied as hard as they had in China. One boy was even took pills to stay awake all night so he could study. I got him to stop only by threatening to hospitalize him if it continued. (He is now an extremely wealthy man - so what do I know.)

It's not the school system that does that to the children. It's the society. There is enormous respect for parents and relatives in China. To do badly in school would be to disgrace the whole family.

There is also enormous respect for books and learning. When I told the class they had to write a criticism of a certain article, they were aghast.  "Oh, no, sir. This is an article by a wise man. We must read it carefully and memorize it. We cannot criticize it."

It was all quite a lesson in how the attitudes of a society shape learning. And no amount of business methods or statistical analysis will change that. It's also a lesson in why our occasional bursts of activity have produced virtually no improvements in literacy.

It's not the fault of the schools we have to change. It's us. All of us.

Finally, I'll add a little to what I said about war with Russia and China.

1. It's not the American people who are looking for a war. Most wars are economic. This one would be exception - a war to make the very rich even richer. (Yes, that was a motive on both sides in World Wars One and Two.)

2. The rest of the people can be propagandized to favour war - with propaganda heavily loaded to produce hatred. Ever notice that Moselms became hateful only AFTER they began to resist western intrusions into their societies. That's when we began to see newpaper columns about how Islam was hate-filled and backward and how murder was built into the faith.

(There was no mention of how, if Islam was so murderous, that the biggest killers on the world stage were commonly Christians. Nor was their mention of how, if Islam was so terrible, our greatest friend was the strictest Islamic state in the world - Saudi Arabia.)

Is their a campaign to spread hatred of Russians? Just read the speeches by Kerry or Obama or, by the king of Russia haters, Stephen Harper. In the US, especially over the last 40 years, virtually all news media have become controlled by a handful of billionaires. That even includes the "quality" press.

For a sample of this at its worst, try Fox or CNN TV.

Much the same has happened in Canada.That's why we have propaganda papers like the Irving press.

Americans have shown signs of having enough of hate and propaganda as their "news". But the big money boys, their bought politicians, and their propaganda sheets will probably run over them. Ditto in Canada.

3. The US strategy for years has been to surround Russia and China and anti-missile sites - thousands of rockets designed to shoot down Russian and Chinese nuclear missiles aimed at the US. These have been set up progressively closer to Russian and Chinese borders  They have now been moved into Poland - and you can expect Ukraine to be on the list. (I'm not sure I'd care to live in any of those countries. It might not be a really good idea to have nuclear missiles getting hit and exploding over your country.)

These anti-missile missiles are what now make it possible (if insane) for the nuclear missiles of American billionaires (let's not kid ourselves about who owns them) to attack Russia and China, and then to (mostly) block any Russian-Chinese response.

What would be the effect of all these nuclear explosions in mid-air? Nobody knows. But, hey, I'm sure we can invent something to fix it.

4. Why would American big business want to do such a risky thing?
Because it's earlier moves, like free trade and deregulation, have put the US in a serious decline that is not going to get better.

But big business wants to dominate world trade. (That's where this "American exceptionalism" comes from - the belief that the US has the power and the right to ignore international law - but other countries don't.)
But it doesn't have much time to do it. The US, like Britain and France and Spain, is about to become a failed empire. It  has to make its move now or never.

The move is extremely dangerous (in addition to being vastly murderous).

It doesn't matter. The people behind this are at least as immoral as any in history,and greedier than any in
history. This is where the system we wrongly call capitalism  has taken us.

If this works, it will make some hundreds of super-rich even richer. It will kill Russians and Chinese by the millions. It will make the rest of us poorer.

But it probably won't work. And nobody knows what the effect of that will be.



  1. I find myself in totally agreement with just about everything you write.

    A couple of points. You could add a tax-funded CBC to the list of controlled media since it fails to provide any journalistic moral high-ground to distinguish itself from any other media regurgitating Washington's lies.

    There's a lot of social-engineering and propaganda happening at CBC. But then again all the media giants in Canada spread disinformation.

    In the case of the CBC however, here in Canada we get to have the privilege of paying ever increasing taxes (GST, HST) so we can be lied too.

    But, what does it matter - a drop in the bucket when we consider we're paying $60 -$70 billion/yr in Canada just on the interest of our national debt to the holders of the debt at private banks because, our country has been hi-jacked and we let them criminally charge us a compounded interest instead of charging no interest to ourselves for public works, and infrastructure loans.

    And if our education system was better, don't you think we'd be receiving more of a classical education taught at the turn of the 18th century that would automatically include courses on civil laws, economics, and how money is created and issued? We'd understand to keep a vigilant watch for any central bankers attempting to consolidate power.

    Too late now of course...The mountain of crap that has evolved is so big now, and we're so dumbed-down it was probably inevitable in the end. As you say... now it's just a waiting game.

  2. Try using spelling and grammar check before publishing. That is the least a former teacher who professess to know everything about everything can do. God, reading through this rambling mess of typos and grammar mistakes is every bit as bad as reading through the T&T. Are you a retired editor of the T&T?

  3. To Anonymous:
    Are you kidding? This is all you can complain about?

    When you're in your eighties and you consistently put out this volume and quality commentary and info, see if your eyes don't fail you from time to time, etc.

    Anonymous - is that your name? You sound like a troll.

  4. Be kind to anonymous. He's only trying to help. So I encourage him to send us a list (giving the line number) of each of my mass of typos and grammar mistakes.

    Doddering as I am, I counted only four.- on the small side for a mass. But I see I could learn a lot from a keen mind like yours.

  5. Yeah, there is LOTS to criticize, but I didn't see any typos or grammar problem. If my only complaint about Irvings rags was typos and grammar then I'd probably still pay for it.

    As for China, people should be making sure that its not tax dollars sending teachers to China, that would be truly horrific. Society though is only part of it. Should young chinese people really sit quietly and proudly reading about Mao's genocides? People inherently want to learn, you don't need to shame people into killing themselves because they've let down their family, or sit them in a classroom dryly recounting theories and facts that even bore teachers.

    And again, big american business has been controlling the world for over sixty years. There's a reason why the world currency is the US dollar.

    The CBC is far far far from perfect, but at least it covers some issues and allows SOME access which others don't. Tax wise it makes not much difference because when you look at corporate tax rates you are probably paying just as much to read any of the national newspapers or private broadcasters out there.

  6. I'm not sure I follow you. I never said anybody shames them. Certainly, I never knew of a teacher who shamed them. The sense of shame developed in thousands of years of history in which children were raised with a strong sense of obligation to family.

    I quite agree that this can be carried too far. But it's a part of the culture, and I have no idea how one can erase it.

    I have no idea what they learn about Mao's genocides. Remember, they also died during a century of western occupation which caused widespread famines, disease, destroyed government, and deliberately created opium addicts. There are no figures on how many we killed. We also turned Chiang Kai Check on them - and he matched Mao as a murderer any day. Mao is not the only villain in history.

    On balance, the Chinese were better off under Mao than they ever were under us.

    Generally, I spoke to many Chinese whose attitude to politics was a what can we do about it, eh?

    Nor do I know where you get the idea the children are bored in classes. I never saw any sign of it. They listened carefully, and they studied eagerly.

    As to being bored in my classes, they never gave a sign of it. In fact, many followed me back to Canada to take more of my courses. This was all over 20 years ago, and I'm still in touch with some of them.

    The world currency is not the US dollar. It was. But that ended weeks ago. Over half the world no longer uses it.

    Why shouldn't we pay tax dollars to send teachers to China? It's important for teachers to get experience of the breadth of approaches to education. That's how we improve our system.

    Hell, it sure beats paying tax dollars to send Harper and several hundred friends to Israel.

  7. Teachers make some pretty good money and they have summers off and flights from Toronto are pretty regular. The internet pretty much covers the world, so there is simply no need to go to china, certainly not on the taxpayers dime. It might help improve LOTS of 'systems' but sending people all over the world is simply not acceptable these days. There's China, so what next, pay for teachers to visit Hawaii, Finland, South Africa, Morocco, Brazil to see the sites as opposed to turning on their computers and reading a book? Sell that if you want, but I'm not even a conservative and I don't buy that.

    I haven't actually seen the 'body count' of chiang kai-shek vs mao, but certainly those who survived chiang and didn't survive mao wouldn't agree with you. And it certainly wasn't 'us' in any sense of the word controlling shek. And that wasn't really the point.

    As for the 'bored' part, I was talking about OUR educational system, certainly the parts I am acquanted with and what I still see as being the main problems in various studies I see published. Whether their educational system is the result of 'thousands' of years I'm not equipped to say, but you can look at lots of the evidence of chinese suicides to see how strong that 'fear of failure' can be, and while 'respect' is fine, my point is that there ought to be a happy medium between respect and challenge of historical traditions.

    If Hitler had won world war two would we think it acceptable for children to quietly sit in classrooms learning aryan history not questioning their parents who committed the atrocities? My point is that the bad parts of BOTH systems ought to be improved. Meanwhile, one of the NY Times top selling books is a fictional novel about an asian woman at a law firm which is based on the reality that while 'bookworming' has given asians the knowledge, they apparantly lack the networking skills which has meant they hit the same 'glass ceiling' which women hit.

    We've had the debate about currencies too many times to go over it again, but it certainly isn't 'half the world' and just because China and Australia don't use it, hardly means its not the international currency. And even if what you said were accurate, you are still admitting that the US currency WAS the world currency, which means your earlier statement should not read that the US is trying to take over the world, but rather to REtake it.

  8. Well, I accept your view that the US is out to "retake" the world - though it's a bit extreme, it isn't worth arguing about.
    The US dollar is being abandoned by China, Russia, Iran, with many other countries at the tipping point. Whether is yet exactly half the world doesn't matter.
    Our children NOW go to school without hearing about the atrocities the West has committed. And they can match Hitler's.
    I agree that respect should not be so great as to lead to suicide. But it happens. I didn't say we should copy it. I just said it happens.

    As to Chiang, he most definitely WAS one of our boys. His direct employer was a Chinese drug dealer who actually game him the first Chinese air force. But he was supplied and supported by the US and Britain. And these and a few other European countries had controlled China for almost a century before that.

    It WAS us who controlled Chiang. That's why the US gave him shelter and protection in Taiwan. And I h ave spoken to many chinese who survived both Chiang and Mao. They equally hated both of them.

    Why do you waste time splitting hairs over things I never said in the first place?