Sunday, October 30, 2011

Occupy Police?

The US Occupy movement is getting interesting. It has attracted a high profile presence of US military, particularly Marines, including the now viral tirade launched at the NYPD by Shamar Thomas. More so perhaps, the symbolism of an Iraq veteran finding himself in an induced coma due to a fractured skull from a police baton round is profound and utterly shreds an remaining narratives about who this movement resonates with.

Now, amid reports about Denver police turning in their badges over the police response, and Albany officers refusing to arrest Occupiers, there is now an Occupy Police group forming for like-minded officers.

We're all part of The 99% and if there's fractures in the security forces, few and hairline though they are at this point...

Keep an eye on this. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

At the going down of the sun...

With respect and condolences to the family and friends of Master Corporal Byron Greff, 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. Killed due to enemy action.

Ric a dam doo

At the going down of the sun...

With respect and condolences to the family and friends of Sergeant Janick Gilbert, 424 (Tiger) Transport and Rescue Squadron, 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario.

Castingandos Castigamus

Friday, October 28, 2011

This will not stand!

"You won't recognize Canada when I get through with it"
-Stephen Harper

Not content with running roughshod over the wishes of the majority of Canadians and eliminating the long-gun registry, ignoring the majority of wheat farmers and cutting the throat of the Canadian Wheat Board, the Harper conservatives are now starting to tinker with national symbols.

Dam the beaver — use the polar bear as official emblem, Tory saysOTTAWA—A Conservative senator says it’s time Canada was symbolized by something more majestic than a buck-toothed rodent.
Senator Nicole Eaton wants the polar bear to replace the beaver as an official emblem of Canada.
She says the polar bear is Canada’s “most majestic and splendid mammal,” and a powerful symbol in the lives of native peoples in the North.
She believes the furry, white carnivore’s “strength, courage, resourcefulness and dignity” is an appropriate symbol for modern-day Canada.
By contrast, she derides the lowly beaver as a “19th century has-been,” a “dentally defective rat,” a “toothy tyrant” and a nuisance that wreaks havoc on its environment.

                                                                                           I suppose next they will want to change the flag to a circle of 10 white maple leaves on a blue field in the top left corner over a field of red and white stripes, or maybe just bring back the Red Ensign, since they seem to want to burn down anything that has happened since Diefenbaker was prime minister.

Occupy WOW!

Occupy Orange County, California:
Late last night after a 5 and-a-half hour marathon city council meeting,
in which 72 speakers took the floor to express the need for the Occupy OC
Tent Village to be accepted as a form of free speech, the city council
passed an emergency motion to add the needs of The 99% to their official
agenda. This was a feat which, according to one more conservative
Councilman, he had never seen in 7 years of service.
The council members each spoke in turn to the civility, articulateness and
peaceful process represented by the Irvine Occupation at contrast with the
several other Occupational Villages in California, which were, at that
very moment being tear-gassed. The general sentiment being: This is quite
clearly the model. And the occupation most in tune with city needs.
One councilman stated clearly, I disagree with most of what you're
saying. But you've clearly shown that this is an issue of free speech. So
if you need to sleep on our lawn… by all means… sleep on our lawn.
Shortly after, a motion was brought to the council to grant license to the
occupiers to occupy the public space overnight citing the unusual form of
the movement. (Another first in council history.)
It was then passed unanimously to the sound of thunderous applause.
Shortly thereafter, the City Council was invited to attend the General
Assembly of the People. (Which takes place each night in the Occupation
Village at 7:00 PM.)
On a personal note… I myself was stopped by the Mayor on my way up the
hall, when he said, "You know what concerns me?" "What's that?" I asked,
expecting him to cite a civil code. "Do you have enough blankets, or
should I get you some?" he asked.

Occupy strikes back

This is very interesting. In Oakland, the violence of the police crackdown on Occupy members has resulted in a young former US Marine, Iraq veteran, and movement member in hospital with a fractured skull. Aside from the awful optics of a war veteran wounded at home by the state he served, this event has created an opportunity for the movement to show it's clout.

In response to police violence, the Occupy Oakland folks have called for a general strike on 2 November. This is interesting because it shows Occupations how they can non-violently strike back at governments that allow violent police crackdowns or try to ignore or dismiss the movement.

The key ingredient here is unified union support in the local area. Even better, and I probably dream here, labour support across Occupy movements so that a general strike in place spawns solidarity strikes in other places.

Even countries.

The unions become strategic and tactical weapon, not just of their membership, but of The 99%. There is much potential here.

Females and firearms

FIREARMS ARE A "MOTHERHOOD" ISSUE; they provoke all manner of ill-thought knee-jerk — just look at the outcry from the hard-of-thinking over the Long Gun Registry boondoggle. Enthusiasts for the sport are described caustically as "These are the civilian gun nuts who pretty themselves up like a JTF-2 assaulter and accessorize with "cool" looking tactical shotguns and whatever other Parkerized steel and black-furnitured firearms are presently legal in Canada.".

Of course, the person commenting hasn't ever heard of  the International Practical Shooting Confederation Of Canada — these people "pretty themselves up like a JTF-2 assaulter", because that's the equipment you use. Even 70 year-old grandmothers, like Edith and her Parkerized military 12 ga Benelli and her 10mm Glock. 

Now, firearms owners aren't all mullet-wearing trailer park Walmartians. WIRED has a delightful photo essay, "Chicks with Guns", with non-psychopathic women and their favored firearms. As far away from the Kookier crowd as you can get.

Cally O'Neal lives! I think I'm in love . . .

Courtney, Houston, Texas, Yildiz 20-gauge —
"My favorite gun is a 20-gauge over-and-under. The 12-gauge I can use, but it has too much kick for the kind of hunting/shooting that I like to do. I recently bought a ladies’ Turkish 20-gauge side-by-side that I love. It is lightweight, and it looks pretty. And I like the look of side-by-sides and over-and-unders.... I also really like to dress to hunt even though dove are colorblind."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Mouth of Sauron addresses OWS

Blinkered neoliberal economist Tom Velk discusses OWS (if I have more time, I might do a proper dissection):

Love CBC

Thanks, Marg.

Big eyes . . .

REMOTELY PILOTED AIRCRAFT — aka "drones" are developing with explosive rapidity. I have mentioned this before, that this is very much the wave of the future. Some "progressives" get very uncomfortable about these machines, and seek relief in disparaging discussion as being fixated on weapons as a fetish material. Even idiots are entitled to their opinion, I just hope they stay out of positions of authority where they send people into harm's way, because, regardless of whether you are "progressive" or troglodytic, the battlefield is about to become way, way more deadly than it's ever been.

The New York Post, a strident right-wing rag, has an article by Noah Shachtman, "Dread zeppelin" — ya gotta love it — about the ‘Blue Devil’ — the US military’s massive new eye in the Afghan sky.

Come this fall, there will be a new and extremely powerful supercomputer in Afghanistan. But it won’t be in Dave Petraeus’ headquarters in Kabul or at some three-letter agency’s operations center in Kandahar. It’ll be floating 20,000 feet above the war zone, aboard a giant, robotic spy blimp that watches and listens to everything for miles around.

That is, if an ambitious, $211 million crash program called “Blue Devil” works out as planned. As of now, the unmanned airship’s “freakishly large” hull — seven times the size of the Goodyear blimp’s — has yet to be put together. The Air Force hasn’t settled yet on exactly which cameras and listening devices will fly on board. And it’s still an open question whether the military can handle all the information that the airship will be collecting from above.

• • •

The first phase of the Blue Devil project is already underway. Late last year, four modified executive planes were shipped to Afghanistan and equipped with an array of surveillance gear.

Phase two — the airship — will be considerably bigger, and more complex. The lighter-than-air craft is longer than a football field, at 350 feet. The hull is being stitched and glued and sewn together out of Kevlar-like composite fibers at a facility in North Carolina.

“It’s freakishly large,” says a source close to the program, “one of the largest airships produced since World War II.”

The Air Force hopes that the extra size should give it enough fuel and helium to stay aloft for as much as a week at a time at nearly four miles up. That’s an improvement over most airships, which float at about 3,000 feet — and therefore have a pretty limited field of view. It’s also an upgrade over spy drones, which can only fly for about a day before they run out of gas. So instead of constantly rotating in and out robotic planes, the US military can keep this eye in the sky staring at a suspected Taliban hideout for seven days at a stretch.

WIRED has a companion article, "Flying Spy Surge: Surveillance Missions Over Afghanistan Quadruple", that expounds on this expansion:

In mid-2009, as the Pentagon began sending a slew of new spy planes to Afghanistan, a top military official joked that the U.S. was about to “blot out the sun” with all the new surveillance drones there.

Turns out, that official wasn’t entirely kidding. Back in 2009, NATO aircraft flew about 22 surveillance missions per day over Afghanistan. Today, according to military statistics, the coalition is flying nearly 85 spy sorties daily, for a total of more than 22,800 missions in the first nine months in 2011.

Back when the official cracked his joke, there was only a handful of spy planes flying at any given time over Afghanistan. Now, there are 54 Predator and Reaper drones in the air at once, most of them above Afghanistan. They’re joined by an array of executive-planes-turned-aerial-snoops and dozens of traditional fighters and bombers, all of which now come equipped with surveillance cameras. Thanks to this aerial spy surge, Afghanistan has become a virtual Panopticon.

A lot more dangerous. Anyway, "Dread Zeppelin" could be ideal for our Arctic surveillance.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Kombat Wombats"

A friend alerts me to the following video advertisement from a well known and heretofore respectable ammunition manufacturer. The company in question is apparently doing their best to discourage the sort of "responsible gun ownership" the pro-gun crowd is adamant about.

There are several problems here.

First, the ad encourages poor weapons handling. Running, jumping, and then rolling over a car bonnet with a charged handgun (the ad suggests no safety mech is used) is a very good way to injure or kill yourself or others. A handgun's small size and short barrel demand very careful control because it is easy to misdirect. Moving your hand a few centimetres translates into a much wider arc a very short distance away, endangering anyone within that arc. Add a light trigger and the thing could very easily involuntarily discharge in all that leaping about. You'd think an ammunition company would get this.

Second, it suggests shooting at unarmed human targets is an acceptable thing to do. Zombies or not, normalising people as targets has absolutely no place in responsible civilian firearms use and ownership.

Third, this Zombie ammo is explicitly 'targeted' at Walter Mitty fantasists, or as my firearms retailing friend calls them, Kombat Wombats. These are the civilian gun nuts who pretty themselves up like a JTF-2 assaulter and accessorize with "cool" looking tactical shotguns and whatever other Parkerized steel and black-furnitured firearms are presently legal in Canada.

I'm sure more than a few would agree that these are not the people you want to possess firearms. Might even be the sorts you want to have to register their firearms. Selling lethal ammunition dressed up as a novelty gimmick certainly doesn't help the gun lobby or the Conservative case in any country.

Rev.Paperboy adds: Speaking of zombies

Monday, October 24, 2011

Them what has . . .

THE CORPORATE MATRIX, as reported by BOINGBOING's Cory Doctorow, consolidates wealth and wealth control to a disturbing degree, in an article, "Densely-linked cluster of 147 companies control 40% of world's total wealth":

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a "super-entity" of 147 even more tightly knit companies - all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity - that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. "In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network," says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

A CORE OF 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships. Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. H/T — SCANNER.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

F-35 "AN/PRC-77 II"

The AN/PRC-77 was a 14 lb rectangular metal box wiyh several knobs and dials on the top, two types of antenna, and telephone receiver gadget on the end of a rubber cord. From its first introduction in 1812 to retirement early 2000s, it was given to section and platoon level signallers or radio operator in the Canadian Army as punishment for being appointed the section and platoon signaller. The signaller or radio operator carried this box on one of several types medieval torture devices known as "harnesses" or sometimes "rucksacks." The operator's job was to was develop severe back injuries carrying this box whilst being abused by section and platoon commanders. Section and platoon commanders erroneously thought the AN/PRC-77 was something called a "radio." Radios are devices through which they or the signaller could reach mysterious entities broadly termed called "other call-signs" (usually other signallers being cursed by his/her superiors) but sometimes the all-powerful deity called "Sunray." Actual radios were not acquired in large numbers by the Canadian Army until the new millennium.

However to be a proper radio, the AN/PRC-77 would have to be able to transmit and receive radio signals converted to and from human voice along the electro-magnetic spectrum. It did not do this. The AN/PRC-77 might have looked like a radio, but this was merely to camouflage its true purpose, which was to be a 14 lb inert metal box carried by signallers so platoon and section commanders would have someone to abuse for their own misunderstanding of the nature of the AN/PRC-77. 

In much the same way the Royal Canadian Air Force - via several future generations of Canadian taxpayers - is about to purchase a large number of very expensive flying metal boxes called "F-35 Lightning IIs" which, like the AN/PRC-77, are supposed to be able to send radio signals to space and back so they reach a long way over the horizon. However, Lockheed-Martin, the company that makes the F-35 has been kind enough to tell the air people that the F-35 cannot do this. At least for several years.  In doing so, they reveal the true purpose of the F-35, which is in fact to be a flying machine designed to cause citizens to heap vast amounts criticism and abuse on the Conservative government and RCAF command staff for spending so much of their money on something that doesn't work.

A first for seconds . . .

CRISTINA KIRCHNER SEEMS CERTAIN to be re-elected President of Argentina. According to the Guardian, "Cristina Kirchner set to be re-elected as Argentina's president"

Exit polls predict landslide victory for current president, making her first woman in Latin America to twice win the presidency.

It actually seems that Latin America is becoming a place with some political sanity. Maybe they could export it along with that wonderful wine . . .

Signs that your war is not going well

Juan Cole informs us of present Afghan leader Hamid Karzai's comments about which side Afghanistan would support in a war between the US and Pakistan. Several things.

First, that even mentioning the possibility of a US war with Pakistan is an indication of just how badly relations have deteriorated between the Americans and Pakistan.

Second, that the government of Afghanistan and its leader, essentially products of  US intentions, have threatened to turn on their patron, is an indication of how badly things have deteriorated there.

This also follows on the heels of threats from the head of Pakistan's army to meet US incursions into Pakistan's tribal areas with force. Some South Asian media is reporting that he reminded the US that Pakistan is a "nuclear power."

Third, much of this seems to follow the raid earlier this year by US special forces that killed Osama bin Laden. Everything about that from the fact that OBL was embarrassing for Pakistan, from the lack of consultation to the overt presence of that terrorist in a military town. There's the issue of countless US drone and special forces strikes against the Taliban on Pakistani territory as well as the wheels within wheels of Pakistan's Inter-services Intelligence group and its links to militants. More broadly, Pakistan is developing strategic linkages with China including large orders of Chinese military hardware.

Pakistan's leaders are not dumb.  They understand that their immediate security concerns are local and regional and rely on either on good or at least accommodating relationships with internal malcontents, neighbours, or in the case of nuclear India, something akin to a mutually assured destruction (MAD) pact.

The US war against Pashtun militants has not benefited Pakistan and indeed often humiliated that country and created serious domestic security problems. Pakistan is now firmly asking the US to leave. It's probably time they did as it would be unpleasant and bloody for all concerned, especially the civilians, should things get worse.

I wonder if the Obama people are doing a cost-benefit analysis on the bin Laden raid...they might have nailed the monster but cost themselves a major regional ally and a war.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Can we have a General Strike already please?

Raitt has an idea.

The government has to look at changing the labour code to include the economy as an essential service, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said Friday — a day after Air Canada and CUPE agreed to go to binding arbitration and avoid a work stoppage.
The "economy" you say? Well gee, just about any business or public service could be argued as contributing to the economy therefore striking members be open to accusations of disruption of "essential services."

The Conservative War on Labour continues apace.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

But seriously, folks . . .

OCCUPY WALL STREET is top-of-mind for care and concern with people from all over the political spectrum, all over the world. This beginning of the beginning of a new, more equitable world order might be our last, best hope at avoiding the advent of what is essentially the Fourth Reich on cyber-steroids.

The rather amorphous 'organization' or lack therof has been a source of snide opinion from mainstream pundits. But like Mr. K. observed, "You're the only one that you are screwing. When you put down what you don't understand." — Kris Kristofferson, If You Don't Like Hank Williams

THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION has an article on the origins of the OWS that is worthy of your attention. It's no wonder the gang at FOX don't get it.

The movement has an academic heritage that spans political science, economics, and literature, but its organizing principles owe a debt to an ethnography of Madagascar.

It was on this island nation off the coast of Africa that David Graeber, one of the movement's early organizers, who has been called one of its main intellectual sources, spent 20 months between 1989 and 1991. He studied the people of Betafo, a community of descendants of nobles and of slaves, for his 2007 book, Lost People.

Betafo was "a place where the state picked up stakes and left," says Mr. Graeber, an ethnographer, anarchist, and reader in anthropology at the University of London's Goldsmiths campus.

In Betafo he observed what he called "consensus decision-making," where residents made choices in a direct, decentralized way, not through the apparatus of the state. "Basically, people were managing their own affairs autonomously," he says.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Designers are optimists . . .

YA GOTTA ROLL WITH IT — the 750c.c. UNICYCLE, conceived by Alkis Karaolis in Solidworks CAD-reality, then rendered in another CAD prog, Rhinoceros. That means you actually could possibly really build it, instead of creating it in Photoshop phantasy-land, where all it can be is an arrangement of pixels. TUVIE is the site with the article, proclaims itself to be concerned with "design of the future", it's an interesting collection of stuff, like the wonderfully silly racer below, as well as real-life practicalities that make it out of Boffin-land.

Switchblade . . .

"DRONE" TECH KEEPS CHANGING. According to DefenseNews, a report from AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE proclaims the addition of Switchblade to the US infantry's arsenal.

Switchblade is a "kamikaze" drone.

A miniature "kamikaze" drone designed to quietly hover in the sky before dive-bombing and slamming into a human target will soon be part of the U.S. Army's arsenal, officials say.

Weighing less than two kilos, the drone is small enough to fit into a soldier's backpack and is launched from a tube, with wings quickly folding out as it soars into the air, according to manufacturer AeroVironment.

• • •

The Switchblade, however, is touted as a way to avoid killing bystanders.

"Flying quietly at high speed the Switchblade delivers its onboard explosive payload with precision while minimizing collateral damage," the company said.

The end result of this is that the schwerpunkt is going to become even more lethal as time goes on. How these changes will affect what the strategists call 4GW, aka "wars of liberation" in the coming decades is anybody's guess, as we are at a stage of development roughly equal to WW1 aircraft like Tom Sopwith's Camel.

Chris Hedges on Occupy TVNY . . . .

Embed Code removed. Here's the YouTube link . . . .

Monday, October 17, 2011


LAWYERS, GUNS & MONEY has a wonderful report that bends the needle around the stop-peg of the irony meter and bears re-posting:

Banana Republic Stores to Open in Panama and Colombia

Hogan's comment on their blog was marvelous:

Maybe they’ll call the stores something else, like Yankee Go Home or So Far from God.

Yankee Go Home! WHAT A BRAND! Grunge-distress Nirvana! Just add "Authentic".

I wonder what Jimmy's take might be?

Hey CBC, you know they're banned in Norway, eh?

I really like the pretty mountain landscape you've picked as a border for the homepage, but could you be a good public broadcaster and please remove the Rio Tinto logo and link from it?

Their labour and environmental records are a little problematic and it looks like they've branded you the Rio Tinto CBC. Also please note that this is exactly the sort of bullshit that lost you Chris Hedges and is putting people in the streets around the world.

That's gotta hurt . . .

PUTTING THE PIECES BACK TOGETHER. "Heal" by Ghost Productions, is a fine piece of animation which shows the state of the art in skeletal repair. Always good to have an idea of what's possible, when you have healthcare. Don't like ladders . . .

Sunday, October 16, 2011

OWS ad

Humans at that time

You have to understand something about many humans at that time.

Many did not understand what they were. They conceived their existence on incredibly short time-scales. The day, the hour, the next few years. They did not understand themselves as the incarnations of energy existing since the beginning and still exists now. Their science told them they were made of atoms, elemental atoms, the same elements they saw in stars so far away that to reach them one needed to fold time itself.  But still they did not grasp it.

Instead, they stood blinking in the sun wondering, captured by primitive ideologies about methods and modes of exchange and beliefs about numbers now unknown to us. The saw the world and their lives as finite things to be structured in such a way as to accumulate possesions, trinkets, which often would fall out of use very soon after they were acquired.  They were utterly terrified of their "mortality" and expended vast amounts of emotional and intellectual energy attempting to counter and camouflage the decay of their own atomic structures.

Emissaries appeared long before they built the machines that let them see stars and atoms and sense the energy which connected them. In the language of their time, these "prophets," as they were called by those early humans, tried to show them their own reverent infiniteness. These prophets said that death was only the shifting of energy, that the now was not the end, nor was it the beginning. That their fear of themselves, which led to conflict and destruction, had no basis. That they could be free to stand with each other without fear. That there didn't have to be darkness.

Some understood this and tried to convince others. But others were not to be convinced. They feared the unbounded living energy that saw the tides move, the stars twinkle, and their children breathe. They took refuge in perversions of ancient emissaries' stories. They chained themselves to primitive ideas about how they ought to live and what made their families, communities and species function, turning on one another when these proved false. Many went screaming back to the stars while eviscerating their own host organism, poisoning the very air they breathed and the water they drank.

Some survived, and began anew.

We are their ancestors.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

OWS Occupies Vancouver . . . .

Having only had about an hour and a half to spare, the Occupy Vancouver facilitators were able to get thru the first side of the "Consensus Decision Making" flyer before I had to leave.

Lots of discussions, counter-discussions, "are we loud enough?", "where should the translators stand?" kind of stuff.

Guess there's lots of time for patience as they are planning on occupying thru December.

Don't envy them out there in the cool, damp air at that time of the year in Vancouver but "more power to 'em ! ! ! !"

Bizarro . . .

Friday, October 14, 2011

"I am not moving!"

Get in your streets.

Bashardashery . . .

SARTORIALLY, SEVERE SUCKAGE. You gotta work at getting this bad; even the visiting commies in the 40's and 50's looked better than this, honest. Maybe he's got an inflatable hump, I dunno, maybe he intends to take roids and pump iron? Maybe it was his dad's? Maybe if somebody had done his colors when he was a teenager?

The 53% and The 99%

Part of the phenomena that is the growing occupy movement are a couple of websites where people post descriptions of their circumstances. If you haven't seen them, the first is The 99%. These are you and I, but mostly American saddled with debt, unable to afford insurance, many with chronic health problems. Their stories articulate their circumstances.

A few years back, during the reign of Bush II, I argued on rightwing US message boards. I remember blinking at the screen at one individual who described how he worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for a low wage and he was proud to do it indefinitely because it meant that he was a "hard working American." Talk about internalising your oppression. I thought he must have been an anomaly until I ran into the The 53%. These are more "hardworking Americans" who maybe don't realise that they're actually part of The 99%. These are more people who are proud to work well over 40 hours a week doing and have been lucky enough not to get sick or debt addled but see this as result of their own resolve and agency. There are many younger people, many are claiming military service, which can engender a work ethic that'll have people work without sleep for days without complaint. There are others who embody the same ethic and still believe the myth that all it takes is a little hard work. Nevermind of course that the amount of hard work it takes for a given return has been steadily increasing, the middle class is disappearing, the jobs are vanishing, and one day they themselves will understand what it means to be part of The 99%.

The narrative is common. They got themselves where they are all by their lonesomes. No one is denying them they've worked pretty hard, but to give oneself all the credit for ones circumstances is a bit rich, not to mention arrogant. I've seen this before. I worked in social services at residential facility for a short time. The powers that be prided themselves on hiring people who had come successfully through their addictions or residence programs for positions with responsibility for clients. I suppose the logic was that they'd understand the problems of clients better than others and all that stuff. Fair enough. But in situations that ended up uglier than I care to think about, recovered addicts and such would lord their success over the other clients. They would mock and abuse them, and tell anyone who was listening that their former peers were too lazy or stupid to overcome their circumstances like they did. Sounds familiar, eh?

Another thing. These 53% are sometimes among the most vulnerable of The 99. Why? When things fail, people with heavily individualised senses of identity, often male, fall much harder. Cut-off insurance, get injured, sick, laid-off, one bad decision, their worlds often fall apart and they cannot cope. Their partners end up in abuse shelters, they find themselves with addictions problems. Suicide and depression occur. You might have seen this.

It's the rest of the 99% who clean up the mess when this happens.

Times are tough . . .

NOW THEY'RE STEALING BRIDGES. Specifically, the one that was found at Covert’s Crossing in western Pennsylvania — a century-old, 50 feet long, 40 tons heavy. According to Liz Navratil, at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, someone came in with blowtorches and dismantled the whole thing sometime between Sept. 27 and Oct. 7. Worth about $100K, will eventually re-appear as a Hyundai or somesuch.
H/T Helmut, merci.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another RCMP disgrace

In a better world, the RCMP constable involved would have voluntarily resigned in disgrace before the force charged and fired him.
The parents of a woman slain in Mission, B.C., say they have a new reason to believe the conduct of an RCMP officer cost their daughter her life — an audio recording of the 911 call, which they've exclusively released to the CBC. Mark and Rosemarie Surakka have received an audio recording that the RCMP was compelled to turn over to them which the couple says reveals a careless attitude by the investigating RCMP officer. The Surakkas’ daughter, Lisa Dudley, and her boyfriend, Guthrie Jolan McKay, were shot in their home in the Fraser Valley community, east of Vancouver, on Sept. 18, 2008. But police didn’t discover the victims until days later.
Immediately after the shootings, Dudley’s neighbour called the RCMP to report he’d heard several gunshots and the sound of a crash coming from the home. The officer who responded, Const. Mike White, soon arrived near the property, but never got out of his car and did not talk to the man who’d made the 911 call. White left the scene a few minutes later, reporting he’d found nothing suspicious.
Instead, of course, they delicately tap his wrist and promote him.

White eventually admitted to disgraceful conduct, received a reprimand and was docked one day’s pay. He since has been promoted to corporal.

It isn't clear if "Cpl." White has plans to use his skills at avoiding consequences to become a Wall Street banker, being cut from the same amoral cloth and all.

Organic architecture . . .

HERE THERE BE HOBBITS, for sure. Cost $5,000, for the climate in Wales. Find out more at Peacock Poverty. Also, Green Building Elements.

Even Wall Street's own Journal is a racket

Sometimes all you can do is stare and blink
The Guardian found evidence that the Journal had been channelling money through European companies in order to secretly buy thousands of copies of its own paper at a knock-down rate, misleading readers and advertisers about the Journal's true circulation. 
The cracks are spreading. 

Peanut progress . . .

ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK from allergic reaction to peanuts may have a cure! According to Alasdair Wilkins' article in io9, "Scientists figure out how to switch off peanut allergy", the technique is rather clever in its simplicity.

The peanut allergy is one of the eight most common types of food allergies, and the common use of peanuts in a wide range of foods makes it particularly dangerous. But now scientists have a solution: trick your immune system.

Now researchers at Northwestern University may have found a solution. The key is finding a way to short-circuit the immune system's response to peanut proteins. To do that, researchers Paul Bryce and Stephen Miller attached peanut proteins to blood cells, which are then reintroduced to the body. The T cells in the immune system recognize the familiar blood cells and start building up a tolerance to the peanut proteins, effectively removing the immune response that creates the peanut allergy. This method has been used before in helping to treat autoimmune disease, and now the researchers have been able to extend it to working with food allergies.

Soon, maybe, peanut butter can reappear in school lunches. Love those cookies.

Steve . . .

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Asia-Pacific interests . . .

Cold War Dinosaur: the gigantic, 34,000-ton Typhoon-class nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine

THE DIPLOMAT is a thoughtful site that focuses on things going on in the Asia-Pacific part of the planet. Their FLASHPOINTS page is well worth visiting, listing some very interesting topics.

One of them, "Is the US a Reliable Ally?", is an interesting look at the impact of North Korea and Taiwan on the US and China. Another worth looking at, is "Russia’s Disappearing Subs", about the current state and uncertain future of the Russian missile sub fleet. It's not an easy gig: How do you tell a Russian submariner? He's the one that glows in the dark.

Also "Secretive New Space Shuttle?", an article on Boeing's proposed new space shuttle, a lengthened version of the X-37B robotic space-plane, that will carry up to 6 astronauts. With the STS retired, the US has to rely on Soyuz rentals while the Orion capsule/booster system is built, and the Boeing proposal might offer a reasonable-cost way to get back in orbit before the Orion is ready, because it uses the already extant Atlas V heavy booster.

Ain't nothing like... imperial war to get the Conservatives all excited. Even one that happened 200 years ago.

A new memorial in the nation's capital and a series of commemorative events are among the plans announced Tuesday by the federal government to mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
Heritage Minister James Moore released details of the government's plans at an event in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., and they include an education campaign to raise awareness among Canadians about the historic struggle.
"We don't do enough in this country to protect our past, to teach our past, to get kids involved and to learn about this country's brilliant history and the important moments of our past," Moore said. "There is no greater example of that than the War of 1812. Not enough Canadians know about the importance of the War of 1812. It was the fight for Canada."
A memorial? Seriously? To what? The brave men of the Empire who died fighting for British expansionist colonialism against American expansionist colonialism?

Or, maybe again it's a case of their duplicitous celebration of war in defence of Canada (because Canada existed 1812...) against the US, at the same time they sell us out to US corporate and security interests.

Wankers, all. 

Traffic . . .

CARACAS, VENEZUELA HAS HIRED 120 MIMES to help downtown traffic. According to Lauri Apple's article on JALOPNIK,

Mimes: What are they good for? Oh, so many things! They bring laughter and joy to everyone who encounters them. They help the white makeup industry stay financially afloat. Sometimes they make precious balloon animals. And most importantly, they know how to combat traffic in high-density urban areas, which is why Caracas, Venezuela has just unleashed 120 of them into the streets.

Marcel, altogether.

Great idea, but with road rage, Marcel Marceau could become Marcel Morceaux, only more so, depending on velocity . . .

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sign of the times . . .

Love the New Yorker.

WTF? . . .

THIS HAS TO BE A JOKE, but according to the Hindustan Times, the MiG 21 has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize! That's right, the MiG 21, an obsolete Cold War era fighter/interceptor. According to the article by Gursimran Khamba, "Indian Mig 21 nominated for Nobel Peace Prize",

The Indian Air Force came in for a surprise today as the Nobel Foundation in Sweden nominated the Mig 21 for the Peace Prize in 2012, shortly after announcing Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman as winners for 2011. In a press release, the Nobel Foundation states "We would like to appreciate the role of the IAF Mig-21 which is the most prominent aircraft to reject the notion of war by deciding to crash in entirety before any conflict arises, thus saving thousands of innocent lives. Unlike Barack Obama who was given the prize despite being at war with two countries, the Mig 21 is only at war with its inability to survive a flight."

Indian defence analysts however were not amused. "This seems like an attempt by the Scandinavians to mock the equipment levels of the Indian Air Force. They are probably still peeved that the SAAB Gripen got rejected by the IAF for the 126 MMRCA fighter contract, and they're using the Nobel Foundation as a front to publicly humiliate us."

For a variety of reasons, the old MiG (and its Chinese copy, the Chengdu J-7) is a bitchy aircraft to fly, it will kill the inexperienced long before they might fall to enemy guns or missiles. According to the Wiki link above,

The safety record of the IAF's MiG-21s has raised concern in the Indian Parliament and media, leading to the aircraft sometimes being referred to in the IAF as a "flying coffin". One source estimates that in the nine years from 1993 to 2002, the IAF lost over 100 pilots in 283 accidents. During its service life, the IAF has lost at least 116 aircraft to crashes (not including those lost in combat), with 81 of those occurring since 1990.

Must be somebody's got a sense of humor, and great hacking skills. Go figure.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Harper's Jets Coin

WTF? Since when in the Royal Canadian Mint in the business of branding currency with the logos of private business?

Lovecraft . . .

What if Dr. Seuss wrote The Call of Cthulhu? io9's Cyriaque Lamar notes that "now, children of all ages can learn about he who slumbers in his house at R'lyeh".

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Your clash of civilisations

Years ago a couple of big-name academics (Lewis and Huntington) wrote papers and books where they argued the post Cold War lines of conflict revolved around 'civilisations' and the states the comprise them. The Muslim world vs. the West featured large in their analysis. This was largely an extension of Cold War thinking that viewed the world in terms of US vs. Soviet power centres and spheres of influence.

This thesis informed and still informs much of the West's adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, and drives much current foreign policy and strategic thought (at least insomuch as the latter exists).

This year shows us that a different clash of civilisations is actually driving the world. Two things have happened that reveal it.

The financial melt-down of 2008 is ongoing and worsening, revealing in black and white the disenfranchisement of what is now termed The 99%.

The Arab Spring, begun in Tunisia and sweeping the middle-east is the same conflict in a different context.

Around the world, the ruling classes, be they dictators or despots, nobles, private corporate capital and its political enablers, or some combination thereof, have succeeded in removing the hope of a secure future for billions of people. Sometimes it's with bullets, tanks and secret police; other times it's through privatisation and pollution. In all cases it means social, political, economic, and environmental destruction and decline.

This has in effect created two broad civilisations: The Haves and the The Have-nots. Yes the circumstances are different, but anyone who has travelled or regularly interacts with people from other cultures and regions of the world, quickly realises that we all laugh, cry, love, and bleed the same. We all feel the effects of power and oppression, no matter where we live. We know what injustice and unfairness look like in all their forms. Through the internet and global media, travel and immigration, we are aware of each other and share our stories.

Yes, there are large comparative differences between cohorts of the Have-nots. However, this is a temporal distinction. By many definitions those of us in the developed world are Haves, but we see ourselves moving closer to the more dire Have-nots through growing economic and environmental insecurity. We see little hope for ourselves, let alone for the poorest of the Earth.

Crucially, we see that it does not have to be this way. We understand the processes and structures that got us here and we can describe much better alternatives. We sense, acutely, what the Indian writer Arundhati Roy captured so perfectly:

"Another world is not only possible, she's on the way and, on a quiet day, if you listen very carefully you can hear her breathe."

This is our World. This is our Evolution. The momentum must not cease.

Occupy the Earth.

Angry and bitter old man

Don Cherry needs to be retired. He's become ugly.

"Pukes," is an often derogatory term popular at the junior levels ofs military circles for civilians ('civvy pukes') or members that haven't achieved some level of qualification or apparently demonstrate some sort of weakness.

Don Cherry un-apologetically thinks that people who question fighting in the NHL, including enforcers, are "pukes." According to Cherry, if your job as a hockey player is to hurt people instead of stopping or shooting pucks, and this task somehow wears on your humanity, you've committed high treason against the game. I mean, "What do you do for a living, Daddy?" "I beat up other people," isn't exactly something most people would eventually be proud of telling their kids.

Indeed, I worry now that "puke" is going to become the new slang for all the young kids and idiot parents in Cherry's audience. Way to encourage bullying.

The problem is that Cherry himself is not an enforcer. It's been decades, if ever, that he's been in a fight. Nobody's hit his head so many times he's become encephalitic. He hasn't had to live with the idea that his reason for employment is to dispassionately dummy someone for fans' entertainment.

He's made a very comfortable life for himself as a coach, and now especially as a TeeVee commentator. Once he went to Afghanistan and the army for some fucking reason let him fire a big gun. Maybe he killed someone, but like his comments in front of a camera, he's never really experienced the effects of his fetish for brutal violence.

In essence, then, he's a poseur and a coward. Fond of the tough talk and attitude, but safe and sound behind his walls of cameras, wealth, and colourful textiles. Quite like our Harperites.

It's about time he left the airwaves.

Also, what Cathie said. 

Delusions of faith . . .

DANGEROUS MINDS has a fascinating report on some Christian wackos. Apparently, they believe that Pokemon is demonic, as is Minecraft and Guitar Hero. Below is another example of delusional "thinking".

Time passes . . .

$5.50 for a bottle of hooch at the LCBO? Them's was the good old days.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

What Pale said.

Go here. Read. Act.

Create the world you want to live in.

You do not need their permission or consent.

Frites . . .

ACCORDING TO THE LA TIMES, France has banned the use of ketchup in school cafeterias — except for consumption with French Fries. Go figure. Kim Willsher reports that

In an effort to promote healthful eating and, it has been suggested, to protect traditional Gallic cuisine, the French government has banned school and college cafeterias nationwide from offering the American tomato-based condiment with any food but — of all things — French fries.

As a result, students can no longer use ketchup on such traditional dishes as veal stew, no matter how gristly, and boeuf bourguignon, regardless of its fat content.

Moreover, French fries can be offered only once a week, usually with steak hache, or burger. Not clear is whether the food police will send students to detention if they dip their burgers into the ketchup that accompanies their fries.

A Stocking Stuffer . . .

JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS!! The Stephen Harper Colouring & Activity Book. Really. The site proclaims the oeuvre to be written by Dave Rosen, with a foreword by Brian Topp, and that it is:

A wildly irreverent poke at Canada’s Prime Minister that lays waste to everything from Stephen Harper’s hairdo to that most sacred of national pastimes – making fun of Stephen Harper’s hairdo.

The Stephen Harper Colouring & Activity Book puts the PM right where Canadians most want him – at the business end of their crayons.


zzzzz • Build a G8 Gazebo
zzzzz • Pick a Supreme Court Justice
zzzzzRe-Brand Canada
zzzzzPaper dolls
zzzzz • Connect-the-dots
zzzzz • Word games
zzzzz • Mazes

…and much, much more!

H/T to Scanner, thank-you, sir.