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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope


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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Monday, July 29, 2013

That's great, sweetheart - can we see your boobs now?

You know, nothing gets the point across about our patriarchal society's objectification of women's bodies like showing off your tits on Parliament Hill.

Three Quebec teenagers did just that on Thursday to protest the plight of Nathalie Morin, a Montreal woman trying to get her children out of Saudi Arabia:
The nation’s capital caught a glimpse of the FEMEN movement Thursday as three Quebec teens ripped off their shirts on the steps of Parliament Hill in support of women’s rights.
As a scandalized youth-group leader shepherded her young charges away from the half-nude protesters, the teens shouted “Freedom for women!” and “Free Nathalie Morin!”
Morin is a Montreal woman who says she is trapped in Saudi Arabia. She moved there in 2005 to be with her Saudi husband and now says the Saudi government won’t issue passports to her three children. The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development has previously told reporters that consulate officials in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia are assisting Morin while respecting the Saudi legal framework.
The topless protesters said the Canadian government should be doing more to bring Morin home and believe that if enough people know about the woman’s plight they will pressure the government to do exactly that.
And how better to raise awareness, they thought, than to have young women bare their breasts in public?
“If we were just three of us there with our shirts on, it wouldn’t do anything,” said 18-year-old protester Julie-Anne Beaulac.
FEMEN is a radical feminist group founded in the Ukraine whose Canadian branch, according to their Facebook page, is trying to "to develop the leadership, intellectual and moral qualities of women in Canada". Well isn't that great. Admittedly, being gay, the sight of a woman's naked breasts in front of the Peace Tower probably doesn't stir the same sense of political outrage in me that it would in a straight man, but really? Displaying your bare breasts in public while shouting "Freedom for Women"?

I'm not sure what the young ladies expect the Canadian government to do about a situation that is the fault of the authorities in Saudi Arabia. To be perfectly blunt about it, how did Nathalie Morin expect to be treated when she married a Saudi man and moved to his homeland - a medieval theocracy where women are not allowed to vote, drive cars or leave the house without being escorted by a male relative, and are not allowed out of the country without their husbands' permission?

I've got a suggestion for Ms Beaulac and her two friends; go protest in front of the Saudi Arabian embassy - it's just down the street from the Parliament Buildings at 201 Sussex Drive. She must be aware that while women in Ontario are legally free to be topless in public, the penalty for "sexual misconduct" in Saudi Arabia is death by stoning. She can have a nice chat about the intellectual and moral qualities of women in Canada with His Excellency the Ambassador.




Saturday, July 27, 2013

Blues for a Saturday Night

Tonight's selection: Bad Bad Feeling, by Kansas City's Trampled Under Foot:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hmmm - was Trayvon Martin a gay basher?

This is awkward - according to Trayvon Martin's friend Rachel Jeantel, Martin may have attacked George Zimmerman because he thought Zimmerman was a "gay rapist". Jeantel, who was on the phone with Martin when the incident occurred, told CNN's Piers Morgan last night that Trayvon was afraid of being raped by "creepy ass cracker" Zimmerman:
She explained to CNN's Piers Morgan how she warned her childhood friend that Zimmerman -- could be a gay rapist!
MORGAN: You felt that there was no doubt in your mind from what Trayvon was telling you on the phone about the creepy ass cracka and so on, that he absolutely believed that George Zimmerman, this man, you didn't know who he was at the time, but this man, was pursuing him?
JEANTEL: Yes.

MORGAN: And he was freaked out by it?

JEANTEL: Yes. Definitely after I say may be a rapist, for every boy, for every man, every -- who's not that kind of way, seeing a grown man following them, would they be creep out?

She continued:
"And people need to understand, he didn't want that creepy ass cracker going to his father or girlfriend's house to go get -- mind you, his little brother was there. You know -- now, mind you, I told you -- I told Trayvon it might have been a rapist."
Well, what a conundrum. Zimmerman, who we are led to believe killed Martin because of racism, was apparently attacked by a homophobe. It's the ultimate liberal dilemma - hate crimes for everyone!

Monday, July 08, 2013

Hey, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid - pull your heads out of your asses and mobilize against THIS!

Robert Mugabe, the loathsome President of Zimbabwe, renewed his attacks on homosexuals in his country and threatened to jail them unless they have children:
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Friday threatened to jail gay and lesbian couples who fail to conceive any offspring as he launched his party’s campaign for this month’s general election.
The Zanu PF leader also attacked bitter rival and coalition partner Morgan Tsvangirai for his bed-hopping habits saying it was inconceivable that such a character could want to lead the country.
Mugabe, a rabid critic of homosexuality returned to the theme as he addressed thousands of supporters in Harare’s Highfield township.
...
“I should like to shut them-up in some room and see if they get pregnant; if they don’t then its jail because they have claimed they can have children. So, to that kind of rot, we say no, no, no, no!”
Continuously breaking into laughter as he warmed up to his gay bashing, Mugabe further criticized the Anglican Church for blessing homosexual marriages which he said was taboo among Africans.
He dared lesbians who assume the role of the husband in their relationships to prove that they were indeed 'men'.
“Women are also engaged in this vile activity. We have some claiming to be men but what is it that makes you a man?
“Show us your manhood; you want to make other women your wives and you the husband? Well, that is madness; we refuse to accept that,” he said.
Meanwhile in Toronto, the activist group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid fights the real enemy of homosexuals - Israel:
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid formed to work in solidarity with queers in Palestine and Palestine solidarity movements around the world. Today, in response to increasing criticism of its occupation of Palestine, Israel is cultivating an image of itself as an oasis of gay tolerance in the Middle East, a practice that is called pinkwashing. As queers, we recognize that homophobia exists in Israel, Palestine, and across all borders. However, the struggle for sexual rights cannot come at the price of other rights.
Queer Palestinians continue to face the challenge of living under occupation and apartheid, subject to Israeli state violence and control, regardless of liberal laws within Israel that allow gays to serve in the military, or recognize same sex marriage and adoption for Israeli citizens. QuAIA works to fight homophobia, transphobia and gender oppression wherever they exist.

"Wherever they exist"? Alright then - I expect QAIA to be marching in next year's Pride parade in Toronto denouncing Mugabe and mobilizing in solidarity with Zimbabwe's gays and lesbians, who are in real physical danger at the hands of their own government. Come on now, at least issue a press release! [crickets chirping]

How's that Keystone pipeline looking now?

Robert Waite of the Huffington Post, no less, is asking the question - could oil pipelines have prevented the Lac Megantic tragedy?
This weekend's tragic rail disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec, should serve as a reminder that there is no completely safe method of transporting oil, gas and other volatile substances. There are just magnitudes of risk.
Research consistently indicates that rail is statistically safer than tanker truck; pipeline is statistically safer than rail. Even the Washington, D.C.-based Association of American Railways, representing the U.S. rail industry notes that rail accounts for almost three times the number of spills experienced by pipelines. The U.S. State Department noted the same thing in their recent Keystone assessment.
...
The simple truth is that without increased pipeline capacity from east to west (and from north to south -- Keystone), greater volumes of oil will be moving via rail, be it from North Dakota to Atlantic Canada or from Alberta to elsewhere in Canada and to the U.S. In a report issued April 2 by RBC Capital Markets, it is predicted that failure to build the Keystone Pipeline alone will mean that rail shipments in Canada will rise an additional 42 per cent by 2017. 

Quebec gets the government it deserves

Sometimes it's hard to believe the stories about Quebec politics that one reads in the media - it seems that Quebec's political class is bent on committing harakiri and making the entire province die with honour rather than submit to reality.

How else to explain the strange case of Michel Brulé, who is currently running for mayor of Montreal after the sitting mayor resigned in disgrace and his interim replacement was taken away in handcuffs by the police?  M Brulé is upset by, among other things, the unpleasant English language and Paul McCartney:
He has written extensively in the past about English, which he says is not a nice language. For example, he points to the capitalized first-person singular in English — “I” — as a sign of individualism.
In a recent piece for Le Devoir — titled “For or against Anglo-American cultural imperialism?” — he bemoans the omnipresence of English culture and says the language of Paul McCartney is also the language of the genocide of aboriginal peoples and the Acadian deportations.
Brulé is upset that McCartney, a member of the oppressor class, was allowed to perform on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City in 2008:
“Sir Paul, representative of England — which is responsible for the genocide of 40 million Amerindians, the deportation of the Acadians and the assimilation of French-Canadians after so many demands to ‘Speak White’ — made an amnesiac people dance for a few hours.”
But it is Brulé's opinion of Americans that especially makes one raise one's eyebrow. M Brulé, who is, judging by his picture, not exactly a slim man himself, said in an interview with the newspaper Metro that he considers citizens of our neighbours to the south to be "obese, ignorant, uncultured dummies":
“If I say Americans are a bunch of big, obese, imbecilic, ignorant, uncultured dummies, it’s the truth,” he told the newspaper.
“Of course it’s sure bet that out of 303 million Americans, there are maybe 50 million who aren’t like that. But, collectively, they’re still a bunch of uncultured imbeciles.
Since M Brulé is so enlightened himself, he must be aware that last year almost 21 million US tourists visited Canada, and that in 2011 the tourism industry generated $21.4 billion in tax revenue to the federal and provincial governments (including the government of Quebec). Foreign visitors to Canada (over 25 million visits in 2011) generated $78.8 billion to the Canadian economy  in 2011.

Presumably M Brulé would be delighted if 21 million US tourists (84% of all our foreign visitors) stopped coming to Canada (and especially Quebec) and fouling the place with their obese, imbecilic, ignorant, uncultured carcasses and throwing their disgusting US dollars around the place. The people of Montreal could enjoy their city in peace and quiet and set up their socialist Utopia free from the distractions of the Anglo-Saxon bourgeoisie and all their money. Maybe the Parti Quebecois could run an independent Quebec at public expense like an exclusive historic theme park for tourists from France. That would be about the only alternative to a functioning economy in Michel Brulé's world. 

Monday, July 01, 2013

Memories of Expo 67

Happy Canada Day. If you're a certain age, you'll watch this video and remember every image vividly; for those of us who were kids in 1967, Centennial Year is etched in our memories.



I was eight years old in 1967, and our elementary school in St Catharines, Ontario was consumed with Centennial madness that year. The entire school was decorated with patriotic displays and Canadian flags. Each class had to prepare a bulletin board display on one of the provinces or territories; my class had Alberta. I thought "Oh please, not Alberta! Why couldn't we have one of the cool provinces, like British Columbia?"  I was jealous of the class across the hall that got the Yukon Territory - now that was a place worthy of a bulletin board. At least we didn't get Saskatchewan, for heaven's sake. My teacher that year, Miss Francechini, wore miniskirts and go-go boots and had a beehive hairdo - I thought she looked like a movie star. My father flirted with her at parent-teacher interviews and I thought "Boy, you're going to be in trouble with Mom when we get home."

We sang  Bobby Gimby's song Canada incessantly that year - it seemed as important as the national anthem, and I had the impression that there was something a little creepy about Bobby Gimby. When we weren't singing Canada, we were singing A Place To Stand, Ontario's official Centennial song with it's nursery-rhyme chorus "Ontari-ari-ari-o".



My parents took us to Montreal to visit Expo 67 that summer along the newly-completed Highway 401 in an epic voyage that seemed to go on forever. We stayed overnight at my aunt & uncle's place in Beaconsfield Quebec, practically throbbing with excitement, and then ventured to St Helen's Island the next morning on the groovy Metro. My mother had been forewarned to carry food and drinks because of the long lineups everywhere, so she lugged around a gigantic purse full of sandwiches and a thermos of Kool Aid.

I don't remember much about Expo 67 except that it was stinking hot and very crowded. I remember riding the futuristic monorail through the US Pavilion, that giant geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller, and thinking that this was what living in the Jetsons' city must be like.





















As much as the Centennial hoopla seems corny now, it was a time of great national pride and unabashed patriotism. We could use some of that old-fashioned jingoism right now, I think.

Greens vs fracking

Daniel Hannan, British member of the European Parliament, writes in the Telegraph, "Greens don't like fracking because they don't like prosperity".  An excerpt:
I can just about see what's upsetting the Eurocrats: they don't like capitalism, they don't like fossil fuels and they don't like Britain. Green objections are harder to understand: here is a clean, secure supply of power that will benefit everyone, but will disproportionately benefit the least well off, who spend a higher proportion of their income on energy bills. When I spoke in the European Parliament in support of fracking, most of the negative comments I received did not focus on specific safety concerns. Rather, they complained in general terms that fracking would 'poison the planet' or 'bleed Mother Earth' for no higher cause than 'greed'.
What is meant here by 'greed' is the desire for material improvement that has driven every advance since the old stone age. Someone sees an opportunity to offer a service that other people will pay for and, in consequence, wealth is created where none existed before. What happened with coal in the eighteenth century could happen again now: prices will fall, productivity will increase, and people will be released to new jobs, raising living standards for everyone. 'Greed', in this sense, is why we still have teeth after the age of 30, why women no longer expect to die in childbirth, why we have coffee and computers and cathedrals. 'Greed' is why we have time to listen to Beethoven and go for country walks and play with our children. Cheaper energy, on any measure, improves our quality of life.
But this is precisely what at least some Greens object to. What they want, as they frankly admit, is decarbonisation, deindustrialisation and depopulation. They regard the various advances we've made since the old stone age – the coffee, the computers, the cathedrals – with regret. What society needs, they tell us, is not green consumerism, but less consumerism. Which is, of course, precisely what most Western countries have had since 2008. The crash brought about all the things that eco-warriors had been demanding: lower GDP, less consumption, a decline in international trade. Yet, oddly, when it happened, they didn't seem at all satisfied. There's no pleasing some people.