Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sept. 4: hysteria?

Section A has a few pages of N.B. party platforms worth reading. Alward's platform is already dead in the water because we know what he'll do ----whatever Mr. Irving tells him to do. Gallant's platform? I would award it two yawns, possibly three. There's nothing in it  that has a grip on anything this province needs. If either of them is elected, I would expect Mr. Irving to do another arrogant repeat, and call for a provincial conference of his human hamsters to  plan the economic future (in one weekend at a good hotel.)

I have lots of sympathy for the Greens, but their programme is too narrow to remedy the province's problems.

Peoples' Alliance? No, thank you. I taught Canada's early history. But I have to desire to relive it.

NDP? It's the only party that has a clear philosophy on the purpose of government and the nature of human society. And it has, like the Greens, an intelligent and clear plan for what it wants to achieve. But I don't think it goes far enough to remedy the basic problems.  Nor am I convinced that New Brunswickers have the courage to support anything but their habitual politics of the mid-nineteenth century.
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In foreign news, the world is really in a state of hysteria - and that hysteria is being whipped up the news media across North America.  Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is in Baghdad to denounce terrorism, and to say that while we support Iraq, we're leery of Iran.

Well, of course he's leery of Iran. Being leery of Iran is the official policy of the US; and Canada's foreign policy has been nothing but an echo of the US foreign policy for decades.

He accuses Iran of sponsoring terrorism. Now, our friend, Saudi Arabia sponsors terrorism. The US sponsors terrorism very directly with massive invasions, weapons that kill huge numbers of civilians, drone bombers in the skies  over Pakistan and Somalia, mass murder by chemicals like Agent Orange and by depleted uranium that not only kills in large numbers but causes cancers and horrible birth defects for years after. Counting the unending wars, the assassination squads, the drones, the United States is far the worst terrorist organization in the world. But smarmy and self-righteous Baird would cut out his own tongue before he would say so.

And, certainly, you will never see even a hint of that in the press services that the Irving press subscribes to.

Harper is on the same page spouting the same hypocrisy - with an added touch.  He is determined to crush ISIS and to help the suffering people of Iraq (the same ones he didn't help when the US was killing them). But, well,  like...sort of...y'see, we're on a budget. Good luck for those who are counting on Canadian help.

Then we have Obama vowing to 'degrade, destroy' the people who beheaded an American journalist in Iraq. And we're told how the world was horrified by it. Beheading is certainly awful. So is carpet bombing of civilians in cities, poisoning the land, crippling and killing people by the million - including babies, women, elderly.....destroying schools, factories, plunging whole nations into poverty and starvation (as the US did to the Iraqis it is now so ardently defending.)

I don't remember the news media of North America getting all horrified at that - or even mentioning it. But foreigners  kill one American - ooooo- Obama and the news media reel in horror. And Obama shouts into microphones that he will destroy ISIS. Maybe - but there are a few points me might remember....
1. ISIS exists because of money from the good ol' boys in Saudi Arabia.
2. It is a spinoff of groups financed and trained by the US to fight a "civil war" in Syria.
3. The reason Iraq cannot defend itself is because it was so thoroughly and brutally destroyed by the US and Britain.
4. Terrorists like ISIS exist because of a century of conquest,killing and plunder by the western powers against the Middle East. They are created and sustained by hatred and fear of what the west, certainly including the US, has done to them.

"Degrading" and "destroying" is how you create "terrorists", not how you destroy them.

What's going on in Ukraine is still pretty fuzzy. The theme you find running through North American media is that it's all the fault of the Russians. Yesterday, The National Post featured a story that Putin is evil, hates freedom, etc. This is typical, much like the reporting before the Iraq war and before Afghanistan. This is the problem of a news media almost entirely owned by a small number of extremely manipulative people. Right now, they're in "hate" mode.

The general message is that Russia is a threat to peace. Yep. The US has killed millions is a series of wars that we still do not have any reason for. It operates torture prisons all over the world. It has almost a thousand bases all over the world. But, oh, them Russians is the real threat.

Most news media also make it a point to print every accusation that Russia invaded Ukraine, and is responsible for starting it all. That is simply lying.

This began with the illegal overthrow of a Ukraine government on good terms with Russia. Obama immediately recognized that illegal government. This is a problem started by the US. Now, NATO is going through the hysteria of preparing for war against Russia. With both sides having nuclear weapons, they are almost certain to use them. It is simply not possible for such a war to be worth the cost in money and human life. But it is worth it to the billionaires who happily killed, at huge cost, in Vietnam, Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan to increase their economic domination.

Incidentally, if the West is big on freedom, why don't we have a UN supervised vote in Western Ukraine on whether they want to be part of Ukraine?

We're being stampeded into wars to make the rich even richer. Then they can say we're living beyond our means. So they'll cut our services.
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Alec Bruce has an intelligent column on education. Norbert doesn't.

Doesn't is such a small word. Ignorant? Smart ass? Illogical?

From the deep and dark corners of his incomplete mind, Norbert says, in effect, that we don't need  education systems. We can learn without them.  His proof?

He looks up a bunch of funny quotations by famous people about education. Norbert, that proves nothing. And, in fact, it would easily be possible to find a much larger list of quotations by people who say education is essential.

And anybody who has actually read books on the subject knows well the tremendous impact of public education. A prime example is  the story of how a tiny and poor Scotland pioneered public education, and became, by the nineteenth century, a tremendous force in creating the ideas on which our modern society is based.

Some of the quotations are quite true - but they don't say what Norbert thinks they do. For example, his quotation from da Vinci "Study without desire spoils the memory..." or Plato, "knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind." Learn to read, Norbert. Those statements do not say that education is bad. They say that THE WAY IT'S TAUGHT is important.

Much of your criticism would have more value and truth if aimed at our universities. They are way behind public schools in their understanding of education.

26 comments:

  1. I'm not sure you have really followed the NDP very closely. First, the party disqualified the only other person running for party leader so that Cardy could be the 'acclaimed' leader-hardly a democratic example. Second, Cardy has claimed to have a poster of Tony Blair on his wall and is said to be a big fan of 'fiscal conservatism'. The NDP is much like the NDP in Nova Scotia-they got elected and then proceeded to act just like every other party in power, leading, not surprisingly, to their defeat in the next election.

    In fact, I'm not sure why you wouldn't be foaming at the mouth given your comments when you notice at their website their number one campaign promise is....drumroll....thats right, the elimination of the small business tax! Isn't that kind of catering to those entrepreneurs you often mention?

    For their 'poverty reduction plan', well, there is actually no plan, and if you read it, you will be horrified to learn that they are looking at privatizing numerous government services aimed at the poor.

    The other parts of their 'plan' are less than interesting, more meetings, although if you are public worker, I suppose the 'first contract' legislation may excite a few people who are in unions.

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  2. I share all your concerns. The NDP has been a disappointment to me ever since it was formed out of the old CCF. Indeed, I can still remember a long and loud supper I had with Lewis, a driving force in creating the NDP.

    But the choices gave me no choice.

    I hope we shall, on some blessedly sunny day soon, see Tony Blair arrested and charged with war crimes - not to mention the sleazy and high priced services he supplies to middle east leaders.

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  3. About Syria, looking to hear (read) your thoughts? You reckon that the West is fixing to bring the status quo back in Syria with Assad at the helm?

    Also, I can't say that I'd like to live in Russia (although not opposed to visiting) and can't say that I am member of Putins fan club, but wasn't he the one who has been saying from the onset that the "rebels" that the west we're funding we're groups linked to terrorism?

    Was the West aware of this also, but ego got in the way because they don't want Russia telling them what to do? Or are we just a bunch of dumb fucks not able to see what's going on?

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    1. Well, whatever the breed might be, we're certainly dumb. Not entirely our fault, though, because the lies of government and much of the news media have become quite sophisticated.

      The US, France, Saudi Arabia, Britain the emirates have all been financing terrorists - especially in Syria. I don't know what they intend to do with Assad. They wanted him dead, and they wanted Syria destroyed as a nation. But that's a plan that's gone awry.

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  4. Amen to that. Although just another point, I did have a bit of an issue about how universities can learn from public education. There's on article on that at the cbc website which is quite interesting. The one thing very positive about university is that professors are always publishing and researching. At least they should be, and nowadays if you don't, you definitely get some attention from co workers.

    Anyway, the up side of that is it makes the professors much like the students. In the public education system its set up as a teacher who supposedly knows everything lecturing a bunch of kids on what they SHOULD know.

    That's starting to change, but very slowly. Teachers are often being seen more as facilitators, but I suspect are fighting that, because in my view I think you could have high schools structured much like universities and the kids would learn just as well.

    But from recent articles we've seen that while NB is at the bottom of the pack provincially, in education the province isn't doing particularly bad in education. Where it is failing is in the kids who 'fall through the cracks', which is fairly similar to my day.

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    1. There is nothing about education to learn from the universities. Nor does research have anything to do with the quality of teaching. A great many university teachers (most, by far) have no training in teaching, no interest in it, never discuss it, avoid it if at all possible, and generally look down on it.

      Their research is usually so narrow as to be of no value whatever to undergraduates.

      Much of their teaching consists of lecturing information that is already available in books, and much of the "learning" is memorizing for the exam - which means it is soon forgotten.

      What they should be learning is how to understand, how to think, how to make judgements. Professors talk about it; but most of them don't do it, and wouldn't know how to do it.

      And professor don't know everything - though they often pretend to because they live in a pretend world.

      Public education is not a system which supposes teachers know everything.. It's not just lecturing (but most of university is.)
      And the people who decide what children SHOULD know are not the public school people. It's parents and politicians.

      I have been a few times on the carpet when I taught in the public schools because I had offended parents or politicians by what I was teaching. (Evolution was a sure cause for complaints, as was criticism of any of the "heroes" of Canadian history.) And not long ago, it was our education minister who proclaimed that it was essential for children's learning that they stand up every day to listen to O Canada on lousy PA systems.

      As for New Brunswick public schools, one of their prime problems is that they are in a province in which most parents have no intellectual interests whatever. So, of course, they're children don't.

      And newspapers like those of the Irving press do nothing to remedy that situation.

      High schools structured like universities? In what way? I spent half a year in a university class on Chaucer. For half a year, we did reading around the room in middle English, if yow leste, to learn the pronunciation.

      You would be amazed how little I now speak in middle English - though I suppose it might come in handy if I meet some middle English people in heaven. (or hell).
      When I look over my old transcripts, I find I can't even remember what many of the courses were about And I certainly can't remember what I learned in most of them. And of all my university teachers, some seventy of the breed, I can recall only one who know how to teach.

      The universities are facing a crisis in teaching. But their snobbery and lust for prestige gets in the way of dealing with it.

      Meanwhile, if you want to find a real pro in teaching, check out kindergarten teachers. They are good. (I have taught a kindergarten class from time to time, and just for a day at a time. My hat is off to kindergarten teachers.)

      Meanwhile, professors are so detached from teaching that many just drift through it with no effort or thought at all. And it shows.

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  5. a lot of useless talk about the NDP, maybe you should truly read the Green Party Platform.

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  6. I read it. I'm sympathetic to it. But they, like the NDP would, if they won, have an extremely difficult time fighting the forces against them. Don't think for a minute that a party that wants to establish democracy is going to have an easy time of it.

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  7. Amen to that. Its easy for the NDP and Greens to make grandiose promises when you know you will never have to actually make them. I was surprised the Greens didn't at least say they'd have a referendum on shale gas, because cancelling contracts will most certainly mean a multi billion dollar lawsuit from SWN.

    To 'establish democracy' you need a LOT of public support, and the general public in NB is simply not politically engaged. Democracy is almost never a 'top down' venture. I mentioned elsewhere that there are actually so few members of the liberal and conservative party, that if the Greens wanted some actual power, they should en masse have joined the liberal party and run candidates. Then you would see a 'green' liberal party, so there would actually be some policies put in place.

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  8. "...the general public in NB is simply not politically engaged."

    I'm afraid I have to agree with you. Indeed, it's not engaged in anything except, possibly, tattoos and mindless pastimes.

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  9. Well, to be fair New Brunswickers are no different than any other canadians, or practically everyone in the western world. They are actually more engaged than other places, New Brunswick had shale gas protests, while in the US people wrote blogs complaining.

    And in most provinces with larger populations of young people, voter turnout is far far worse than New Brunswick. BC, Alberta and Ontario have now sunk to about 50% who even bother to vote, while NB has pretty high voter turnout because there are more older people.

    And I just have to add, a mindless pastime could perhaps include lecturing people on Russian and world politics instead of actively engaging in the New Brunswick political scene-which certainly isn't barring people from joining. In fact, the number of 'independants' in this election is far greater than any other election in recent memory, so I don't think we need to be condescending here.

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  10. Oh, I quite agree that writing a blog isn't actually "doing" anything. It's not nearly as important as writing letters to the blogger. So I recognize the validity of your condescension.

    And, of course, there's no reason why New Brunswickers should given a damn about world politics. After all, New Brunswick is outside the world. So it's true. I would be doing something more engaged if I were doing something useful like putting up posters with my picture on them all over my riding.

    And your point about New Brunswick having a better turnout being because it has more older people is an important point in planning our future. All we need is a worse economy with even more young people leaving the province - and we'll have the oldest population in Canada and, presto, the best voter turnout in Canada.

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  11. Telling somebody not to be condescending isn't actually condescension. That's like saying that telling somebody not to call somebody stupid is the same as calling them stupid, which makes no sense at all.

    Writing TO blogs isn't much different than writing A blog, in fact I've written TO blogs and put more research and thought into the blogs themselves. Neither are any more 'mindful' than, say, going to a hockey game or sitting in a Tim Hortons and talking about the weather.

    But your 'condesension' as to 'putting up posters' misses the point of what those posters are for-which is political organization, which is what is necessary to make any change. People who DON"T do that shouldn't be condescending to OTHER people who don't do that.

    As for the age issue, we don't KNOW that that is what is determining turnout because we don't have exit polls. Like I said, there are more independants running this time, and more protests in NB than most places, which shows more political activity than most places. So THAT at least is good news.

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  12. 1. We don't know what is determining voting turnouts? I do. I know because you told me in your previous post. It's age. I know it's true because you said so.
    2. NB is more politically active than most places? I presume you're comparing us, perhaps, to Newfoundland. Certainly, you can't be referring to the whole world or even the whole of Canada. Live in Montreal for a awhile. See what real protest looks like. And political activity means more than protests. In other parts of Canada political campaigns are far more intense and active and public.
    3. Isn't a blog a political activity when it is largely devoted to political activities? You seem to be saying that if I run as a political independent then I would be engaged in a political activity. I'm afraid you have a very narrow concept of what political activity means. By your standard, the French writers who argued and distributed their pamphlets to encourage the French revolution were not politically active.
    4. Writing a blog is like sitting in Tim Horton's and talking about the weather? Then why do you waste time reading an irrelevant dolt like me -and writing posts to me. Hell, relax and enjoy your coffee. (Mind you, I have to guess what some of your words mean. For an example, check your use of the word 'mindful'. I suppose if one were to look down its list of meanings in the OED, one would come to yours. But it's not quite the same as the more common meaning..
    5. If I don't do t something, I shouldn't be critical of other people who don't do it? well, yeah - depending on what it is I am criticizing. I don't go out on a summer day wearing a suit made only of mosquito netting. Neither does Brian Mulroney. So I don't criticize him for going out fully dressed. Similarly, I don't criticize people for not running for office. But I do criticize them from taking the political process so lightly.
    6. telling somebody not to be condescending is not condescending? Depends on how it's done. (if you follow me.)
    7. And, in my dreadful ignorance, I have no idea what a TO blog is. And your whole first sentence on that topic in incomprehensible. Then you say you have put more research and thought into the blogs themselves. More than what? Comparied to what? And if you put more research and thought into them, why aren't they more 'mindful' - whatever that might mean? And if they aren't more 'mindful', why do you bother writing them?

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  13. Oh, en passant, this all began with your comment that the people of NB are not politically engaged.

    I wrote to agree with that.

    Then you wrote to accuse me of being condescending for saying they are not engaged.

    So, it I disagree with you, I'm wrong. If I agree with you, I'm wrong.

    Please. Tell me what I must say to satisfy your exacting standards.

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  14. Good points, I had to run and didn't have a chance to edit. Good point about the condescension, I didn't actually just say 'don't be condescending'. So a better reply would be, I was condescending to you because you were condescending to New Brunswickers. But I agree, both are condescending, but 'you started it'. Its one thing to say people aren't politically engaged, its another to say that they are wasting their time with mindless pastimes. Talking about russia or even learning about russia is no more 'mindful' (as in the opposite of 'mindless') than learning baseball scores. Niether actually accomplishes anything.

    Montreal has had its share of protests, but when you look at demographics and the fact that its usually young people who protest, once again New Brunswick looks pretty active. Quebec has ALWAYS had a more politically active population.

    In Nova Scotia they privatized their energy utility and nobody there hardly said boo, in New Brunswick they had massive protests. In ontario they are expanding shale gas and are developing an oil pipeline along a populated route, and they manage about a dozen protestors, usually not even that, and they have tons of young people and a population ten times the size.

    Talking about politics isn't necessarily political activity, its certainly a part of it. I haven't seen you EVER encourage any kind of 'revolution', in fact any reader in NB would be incligned to think that there is really no point in paying any attention to politics at all except to know that 'they're all crooks and liars'. Those french thinkers weren't talking about french foreign policy in polynesia, they were talking about tearing down the government.

    I'm not sure what constitutes 'taking the political process so lightly'. I suppose you DON"T take it 'lightly' because you write a blog saying, that its not light? I don't know. I don't know what the difference is between two guys going into a car lot and buying a lemon, one who believes what the salesman is telling him, while the other sees through his lies. Both are still buying the car.

    If you are advocating revolution, you are doing a lousy job, but that would be politcal activity. Those people out there running as independants are FAR more 'politically active' for the obvious reason that their activity is political. Its not their fault the electoral system is geared so that they can virtually never win. Those at the shale gas protests as well are far more politically active.

    That there are people who are only concerned with getting tattoos and whatever mindless stuff you want to come up with is probably true, generalizing 'New Brunswickers' as that is unfair.

    IF talking politics is political activity then again NBers rank up there with anybody, its a constant source of conversation. Your comments about the parties really aren't any different than any other heard in Tim Hortons. So no, I don't consider that 'activity', but some could.

    My exacting standards are to not insult the population, simple as that. We are all in this boat together.

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  15. Anyway, sorry about sounding condescending but that remark really cheesed me off. When I was saying New Brunswickers weren't generally politically engaged, it wasn't meant in a derogatory way, for reasons you and others mention, there is every reason why people would pay little attention to politics.

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  16. We are indeed in this boat together.

    I don't talk about revolutions - though I very much fear we're going to see a lot of them. I don't talk about them because they commonly do more damage than good - and you end up with a Hitler or a Stalin or a Mao.

    But it wasn't Hitler or Stalin or Mao that created revolutions. They were products of them. (Yes, I know Hitler was elected. But he sensed the revolutionary ideas at play, and built on them.)

    The problem is that those in power won't allow peaceful change. Those are the people who cause revolutions.

    And sport is more mindless than politics. And I like some mindless activity. I still remember the thrill I felt when Maurice Richard stepped on the ice. I was a great fan of the Alouettes until they dropped QB Sam Etcheverry. And I saw lots of boxing because my uncle was a coach, and I got free tickets.

    But I seldom wasted my time on the sports page reading about teams I never saw and never will see. But there are people, lots of them, who live by the sports page. It is their only intellectual exercise.

    That's why I worry about you. You claim that what I say in my blog is what you hear every day at Tim Horton's. Oh? Then why do you read the blog? is this some sort of self-inflicted punishment?

    Your story about two guys buying a car goes right over my head. I'm not trying to sell people on a set of lemons. I'm trying to to point out where the lemons are.

    To say that new brunswickers are inactive politically is not an insult. that's a reality. They get very little information from most of the local media. And I don't see the stores piled deep with better newspapers. And I see few political gatherings compared to other cities.

    If they learn from talking to each other at Tim Horton's, there must be something very special in the coffee.

    And some of the problem goes well beyond New Brunswick. It has to do with the way us humans think.
    For example, it's a terrible thing when an American journalist gets his head cut off. But the US military can invade a country for no clear reason, kill people, including babies, by the hundreds of thousands and even millions, leave the country in poverty and starvation - and we clap hands and bless them for....whatever.

    Anyway, your main point appears to be that the column is a waste of time because everybody already knows and discusses the situations that I talk about.

    Okay. So why do you read the blog?

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  17. Read you own statement above. On Sept. 5, you wrote "...the general public in NB is simply not involved..."
    Those are your words. Has the general public changed since Sept. 5?

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  18. Also bear in mind you are writing to a man who is not in great shape. A week ago, my twin sons left to go to university. It has depressed me more than I thought possible.

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  19. Like I said, saying the population isn't politically engaged isn't the same as saying 'they are only worried about tattoos and mindless pursuits'. One is an insult, the other is not. If you are more than a little cynical because of personal events, thats fine, I was just explaining why I (over) reacted. However, its not the first time you've talked about the general public in New Brunswick in those terms.

    Politics isn't necessarily less mindless than sports. I know sports fans who can reel off stats like you wouldn't believe, they know tactics and histories better than any political commentator who may just recite what was said that day in the daily paper. The question is whether WHAT they are looking at is more important, and if KNOWING about politics doesn't actually result in doing anything, then both are equally mindless in the political sense. The analogy I mentioned is just that a sports fan may go to a 'politician' and unsuspectingly buy a lemon , or me or you may go to a politician to buy a lemon. We may be smug in taunting that politician with "hey, I know you are bullshitting me, you aren't fooling me you know?"

    But we are STILL buying the lemon, even not voting gets you a lemon (and like I said, even most sports fans I know have the same distrust of politicians, even if they don't know all the 'details'.

    I agree about the revolutions, however, there are lots of different kinds of revolutions. Quebec had its 'quiet revolution', Ukraine had its 'orange revolution', and then there was the Arab Spring. And of course there are also smaller revolutions that accomplish smaller specific goals, like the environmental 'revolution' here at home.

    As for the blog, I read it in large part because its one of very few blogs in New Brunswick that isn't outright crazy like Charles Leblanc, or too smug to even allow comments like Alec Bruce or David Campbell. More importantly, I took media studies and its an interest of mine, which is why I say I'm discouraged when you talk about russia, something that thousands of bloggers and media talk about, rather than more specifics on the Irving media, which NOBODY talks about.



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  20. Okay, I'm lost. Early in the game, you wrote me I shouldn't waste time talking about the Irving media because everybody knows they're terrible. Now, you tell me I should talk about the Irving media because nobody else talks about it.

    I gave one column to Russia. That's because people can't understand media simply as an abstract. You cannot discuss how the media handle the news unless you know what the news really is - and you can't find that out by reading most news media. They report; but they don't explain. So I give the readers the context in which I see Russia.
    Yes, it's possible that people who "know" about politics are still inactive. But people who don't know about politics are not necessarily doing us a whole lot of good by voting, anyway.

    Look. New Brunswick has an extremely low literacy rate. That is not an insult. That's a fact. That low rate means a low level of intellectual activity. And that's not an insult. that's a fact. These are fundamental problems - and they won't be solved by waving a provincial flag and shouting how wonderful we are.

    As for the tattoos, I've never seen anything like it - not anywhere in Canada or other countries. I have lived in places where I might see a tattoo once a month or so -tops. In New Brunswick, it's many times a day. Obviously, they're meant to convey some sort of message - but I'm damned if I can figure out what that message is.

    Anyway, it remains that the high ratio of tattoos is a fact. To say so is no insult. I plead guilty to being insulting by intensely disliking tattoos.

    The prime meaning of revolution is change by violence. Yes, there it does have secondary meanings. But I was obviously using the primary meaning. The "arab spring" has ended in wars, dictatorships, and chaos. The "Quiet Revolution" was the noisiest quiet you ever heard. I lived in the middle of it. The environmental revolution hasn't happened. In fact, harper has been busy dismantling environmental regulations.

    You cite turnout at the polls as a sign of political involvement, and reciting sports statistics as a sign of intellectual activity. Gee. The latter could be a university programme. I can see it now. BA in Reciting Sports Statistics with a major in Baseball.

    Sorry. I have lived in places where voting is lower than here, but where people are far, far more involved in following what's happening, and where they far more openly and publicly discuss it.

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  21. Good comment, thats another reason why I like your blog, your good at critical thinking-but not perfect:)

    As for Irving, what I've said is that I'd like to see critical analysis, not 'this sucks', which is not 'criticism'. As you've said, some columnists occasionally have good articles, so even some quotes as opposed to "this is a good article, you should read this"-again, I'm not giving money to Irving, and people who already buy the paper are no doubt reading it anyway.

    If you want an example, check out FAIR.org. They are actually 'fair and balanced' when discussing news, like democracynow.org, in fact they pretty much mirror your views on Ukraine. Your views are not so unique that you are the only guy out there, even large scale media often says pretty much the same thing-heck, Noam Chomsky issues press releases almost every day that essentially give the same history you do.

    Anyway, thats your business, like I said, I can get that russian stuff elsewhere, I CAN"T get New Brunswick context-and you mention the Ukraine situation pretty extensively, not just once. But if you don't want to do that, thats your business and I'm out of luck. Fair enough.

    As for tattoos, young people and particularly poor people have tattoos all over the place. Many US cities you'll walk down the street and hardly see anybody WITHOUT tattoos. You LIVE in Moncton, so you aren't seeing all the other areas, and believe me, New Brunswick is hardly unique. I like visiting downtowns, and virtually every city in the east that I've seen has about four tattoo parlours. You hardly even see anybody in the entertainment industry without them nowadays.






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  22. However, again, maybe it was your mood, but the 'mindless pursuits' comment is at least as insulting. And I agree in part that talking about low literacy is not insulting, but saying people have a low level of intellectual activity sort of is. It depends what is meant by 'intellectual'. No, its not sitting around looking at a Picasso and talking in depth about it, but to me that means nothing about intelligence. Talk to a private woodlot owner about his chainsaw and wood and you can get as much 'intellectual activity' as the art critic, and that even goes without basic literacy skills. I know a furniture maker whose business is growing by leaps and bounds, he can barely spell at all, his account manager spells 'shovel' as 'shovle', yet he is far more successful than I am, and I can read and write all over the place! And I'm not sure, but I think he has a similarly low opinion of politicians and doesn't even vote.

    And currently you CAN study sports statistics in college, its a growing field. Here's an interview with two sports statisticians in how they got into their field:

    http://stattrak.amstat.org/2012/08/01/sports-statistician/

    The comments about the environment are way out there though. There is hardly a city in the country which doesn't have extensive recycling efforts, granted, New Brunswick is way behind the curve. However, the days of just piling garbage onto a mound are pretty much over. That Harper is not kind to the environment goes without saying, but that has nothing to do with the extensive environmental regulations throughout the western world. Most provinces have banned cosmetic pesticides for lawns, and in those which haven't, numerous towns have. I can go on and on about that, but it almost goes without saying.

    The mistake I believe you make is saying how these revolutions 'ended'. In Quebec, the 'quiet revolution' was not so loud though that hundreds were killed. The Arab Spring MAY be over, but certainly those who protested before are WELL aware of the current problems, and are attempting to resolve them.

    But I would definitely call those 'revolutions', they are massive changes, just like when the hands of a clock turn one revolution to the next minute or hour. They are also typically violent, the difference in these cases is that its usually only one side inflicting the violence.

    The big problem here is in discussing entire populations. But for one thing, unless your job is to run around and talk to people, you only see a tiny fraction. Just today in Charles Leblanc's blog he has pictures of more people at the election campaign who are protesting against shale gas, and demanding the liberals make a public statement. Thats political activity, discussed pretty openly and publicly.

    And in NB that takes real guts, because every time there is a protest Irving has security out there taking pictures of you, and Irving is probably the largest employer in a province with high unemployment. So actually there is more politicaly activity that would be reasonably expected.

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  23. okay. I give up. I can't follow your logic at all. You say, with no evidence whatever, that the world is getting more peaceful and that most people are not violent. Unlike you, I don't know most people. But I do know that it doesn't matter what most people are like because most people are not the ones who set up the violence.
    You're insulted I should say that New Brunswickers are very passive about politics. I said that AFTER you had said it. Then you contradict yourself by saying they're passive because of fear of the Irvings. You're last statement above actually contradicts what you said earlier.
    Then I say there isn't much intellectual activity. And that insults you because you know of so many people who can recite sports statistics. Then you tell me that learning sports statistics is taught in university. Nonsense. I taught history of recreation and leisure in Canada (which includes sports). i never even heard of anybody teaching sports statistics.
    And I don't regard memorizing sports stats as an intellectual activity. That may be snobbish. But memorizing sports stats is well down the intellectual ladder from looking at comic books but not reading the words in the balloons.
    I'm sorry I don't write the kind of column you feel you need. But I h ave no time or desire to write a separate group of columns just for you. Besides, you say you already know it all.

    I see very little recreation in New Brunswick that has anything to do mental development or the use of a brain in any way. This is a place of cowboy singers and the top twenty. The libraries get little use, and are the worst funded in Canada. The Saturday guide to church activities is a strong example of mental hibernation.
    The newspapers are deliberately designed to keep people torpid.

    These people are victims. But if anyone but you says that, you are insulted, and that's it. That's not a great, big help to the people of New Brunswick.

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  24. I think you're mixing up the threads, the one about violence was last week.

    You are inferring all kinds of crap into my comments that aren't even there. I didn't say I was insulted, I said I was condescending to you because you were condescending to New Brunswickers. If you don't think the comment "Indeed, it's not engaged in anything except, possibly, tattoos and mindless pastimes" then there really isn't anything to debate. You said that, I didn't. All I said was that they weren't politically engaged, in fact I think I've repeated that line three times, so as far as 'intellectually engaging' goes....

    I posted the link about sports statistics, whether you believe it or not is up to you. Yes it IS snobbish to think that just because you've read some stuff about what you think is going on in Russia is more 'intellectual' than reading some stuff on what you may think is going on in sports , moreover, its also just as meaningless. That information isn't going to change what happens in Russia or america, so there is really no difference between talking about russia, talking about picasso, or talking about sports. YOU think there is, because you are the one talking about it, just like if you were interested in picasso or sports, you'd probably find those conversations more intellectual.

    As for the last part, again, you should get out more. Libraries in NO province are particularly busy, thats just how the world works. Any library you go to will find the busiest section to be where people can sign out hollywood movies for free. Just like Art Galleries and symphonies are publicly supported because there simply isn't the number of people who find them interesting enough for them to make money to be self sufficient. And lots of people interested in those things put almost NO intellectual activity into their enjoyment of them.

    The problem seems to me to be that although you criticize the Irving press, you seem to think that all that is going on in New Brunswick is reflected in their pages. And like I said, MOST New Brunswickers realized how 'torpid' the Irving press is YEARS ago, which is why they have so few subscribers, and fewer people who actually believe anything they say. Heck, Moncton has a Northrop Frye festival, which is probably like the only literary festival outside of Toronto. In Fredericton practically every week the streets are lined with people talking and handing out information about fracking. Believe me, you aren't the only person in the province aware of this stuff. But the more voices the better.

    PS, lots of those people also have tattoos. Nothing wrong with that. I haven't pierced my ears either, but I don't begrudge my wife doing it. Whatever makes one happy and doesn't hurt anybody else.

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