Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sept. 3: I can't even pretend to understand why....

....but the Irving press seems to get worse each day. I'll just go over it briefly for today, then move onto something worth talking about.

In section A, "riggers,stage crew assemble giant AC/DC stage". Please. This isn't news They're doing what they are supposed to do. It's no surprise, and it in no will affect the course of our lives. (If they weren't assembling the stage, that might be news - but not page 1.)                      

"Nova Scotia orders review of fuel system" So?   "Province's stone quarry industry a shadow of what it once was". A well-known rapper (well-known in circles in which people listen to rappers) is coming to Moncton. It's accompanied by the usual photo of the whole group of five looking very conciously important as they stride ---somewhere.

The only story worth reading is on A2. "St.Norbert becomes 1st of five Catholic churches to close." No matter what one's religion might be, the slow collapse of Christianity in the western world signals enormous change in our society. This makes it worth asking what the consequences will be.
The editorial is yet another commentary on how the import of beer from Quebec should be freed up. There's even a suggestion that this issue has 'sparked' debate in our federal election, taking us from 'more mundane' subjects. In fact, this is, according to the editor (as he reigns his chariot horses to their rear legs) denying the free market a chance to work.

Donne-moi un break.

On the issue of access to information, Norbert says we have to create a culture of openess among politicians and bureaucracy. Neat idea. But this province has never in its history had a culture of openess. So let's go for it, Norbert. Write a column on how the government should open the books on how much we give the wealthy every years, and how much income tax they don't pay. I can't wait to read it.

Rod Allen offers a column largely about himself - which appears to be the only topic that interests him.

The guest column is superb. It's about saving health care money while making the system more effective. Note, all you columnists at Irving press - this excellent idea comes from two medical people, not from business leaders. Medical care is not a business, and will not work if we try to impose business methods on it.

Alec Bruce examines a topic worth examining - the turnout of voters at elections. It looks as though it will be better than usual. That's good because it's generally been going downhill for  years. In the U.S., it is hitting some of the lowest levels in history - almost certainly the result of dissillusion, especially since 1960 or so, and made worse by the virtual impossibility of creating a third party. That's likely to mean serious violence in the near future.

I don't know why it's happening in Canada - unless it's a milder form of the U.S. case combined with the lack of informed and honest commentary in our news media.

Oh - the cartoon. A good cartoonist has to be a good artist. And de Adder is certainly well above the national average as an artist. But a political cartoonist also needs the skill of being a shrewd political analyst. Today's cartoon suggests a problem here.

It portrays Trudeau as 'tweedletax', and Mulcair as 'tweedlespend'. In fact, left wing parties don't have a record of being big spenders. Oh, I know. The gossip over a few beers and a shared pipe, punctuated by hits on the spittoon, is that the NDP have a record of being big spenders. They don't. Historically, the big spenders have been right wing parties - and in more countries than Canada. The big spender in Canada now is Harper; and he's the biggest we've seen for a while.

As for Trudeau and the Liberals, that party was a big taxer in World War Two. And lucky for us it was.  On taxing in general, though, it has a record very similar to that of the Conservatives.

Just thinking out loud, this looks to me like a loaded and biased cartoon.
As for Canada&World, a big story (this will have echoes in national capitals around the world) is that a family in Nova Scotia lost its pet llama - but found it again. In Illinois, police are searching for three suspects wanted for a killing. In Rhode Island, a Fox news anchor is suing Hasbro for its toy hamster with her name on it.

There is almost no significant news in this whole section - and almost no sense of what it means to us.

The one piece that has some connection with us is that in Alberta, a group called "energy Citizens" is conducting a campaign  about how good oil is for us. It was organized by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. So don't even think about climate change.  I wonder if we can expect a similar campaign from our own, friendly, neighbourhood petroleum producer.

It's designed to counter a campaign by Greenpeace.
C2 has good advice by student columnist Aurelie Pare on how to study . So I'll toss in the method I used - free.

I had failed high school, then somehow got into university to complete a truly awful B.A.  One grad school said to me when I applied for an M.A., "This is beneath contempt." Somehow, I talked my way into Acadia for a repeat undergrad year. And I knew I had to get real or it was back to a lousy factory job. So -

Day 1.  Read all notes several times  (five or six) for day 1.
Day 3, review day one notes several times. Also read day 3 notes.
Day 7. read day 7 notes. Briefly review day 3 and day 1.
Day 30. read day 30 notes, plus days 1, 7, and 3
             follow this pattern every day, including Saturday and Sunday.

For the last couple of weeks of the course, review everything.

It shouldn't take more than a half hour a day - and maybe an hour  in the home stretch.
It works, I got straight As.

Of course, you don't really learn much by memorizing. But memorizing is mostly what university is about. I remember very little from any of the courses I took. But they got me to be a prof - and that's how you really learn - by teaching. Loved it.
I spent more time on all the above than I meant to.

What I wanted to write about was how news media which simply report what is happening now, don't  give us much idea of what 's going on. Events have to be placed in a context. You cannot understand the popularity of Donald Trump just by reading the news or watching him being interviewed. He is a product of some 350 years of American history.

But knowledge of history is commonly (usually) dead wrong.  

Americans live in a history most of which, like much of our Canadian history, never happened.

American history teaches that Americans are good, are motivated by freedom and equality. In fact, American history is nothing like that. Its history, beginning as a set of British colonies, was a history of aggression, destruction, murder (where do you think all those 'injuns'  disappeared to?) It was guided by greed, theft of land, slavery. Nor has it ever brought democracy to the world. On the contrary, it was an empire from the start which expanded into Mexico, South America, Asia, and now aspires to be the ruler of the world.

But, raised as we in Canada are, Americans see themselves as good, kind, peace-loving, and democratic. It follows, then, that whose who oppose them are evil. And those who shoot back at them are cruel, even terrorists.  And that is reflected very much in American news media.

One of the crises the U.S. faces now is that many Americans are losing their belief that they are all equal. You only need to look African or oriental or poor to realize that.  This is coupled with a half-understood sense that their democracy is failing them.

That's why so many Americans are turning to the 'different' candidate, a television clown named Donald Trump who seems to have no policy at all, except an anti-Mexican one that plays to the fears and hatred generated by a  lying press.

This is the result of a disillusionment which has long been driving voter turnout down. Crippled by their vision of history, most cannot see what the real problem is or even what they really want.

Harper has played much the same game, and so have Canada's private news media. The Irving press is probably the lowest version you can find among our private news media.

There are no big issues in this federal election campaign in Canada because anyone who tells the whole truth about what we need would be committing political suicide. Canadians have their own fictious history and their own forms of racism that prevent them from dealing with truth. Like the U.S., our image of ourselves and the world is a false one based on false images of our history. And it's all made worse by news media that are propagandizing or, like the Irving press, keeping us trivial.

Meanwhile, some huge changes have taken place around the world.

The very wealthy have come to exercise political power in this world, and at a rapid pace in the last 30 to 40 years. Not only are they now allowed to run free of any control, they have effectively become our governments. And they can control us because they control most of our news media. And their only moral values are greed and profit.

This is not just in the U.S. Canada is following the U.S. decline in democracy very, very closely. So is Britain. So is Russia. So is China. That's why I don't refer to these countries as full democracies or even as dictatorships. They are all owned and controlled by the very rich.

 Greece and Ukraine have both effectively lost democracy. Both are now governed by international bankers.

What all this has led to over centuries and to this day is the social destruction of countries all over the world. Stable societies no longer exist for Latin America, Africa, the middle east, most of Asia. Nations have become simply a means to humiliate, bully, starve, kill people in order to make a profit for the very wealthy. And Canadian and American captialists are no angels in all this. Nor are we, even as we are victims of it. It's what we have always been - except in most history books.

That's why the story on the closing of churches caught my eye. No world can survive without a sense of morality.  (By the way, though I have been known to lead services, I have not gone to any church for five years. And I suspect most Christians wouldn't recognize me as one.) But morality, from some source, is essential to our survival. And we aren't getting any morality from 'capitalist' oligarchs turned loose to feed on us.

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