Saturday, December 12, 2009

Brief and rare window of opportunity for Alberta Left

Like it or not, the one and only real chance we're going to have to save medicare, stop the tarsands and invest in renewable energy is here.

The next two years leading up to the next provincial election are pivotal for the future of non-business focused interests in Alberta. Alberta's Center-Left and further-left need to accept the numbers facts and use this rare split in the right-wing vote to reform itself and present a viable alternative to government.

A recent Angus-Reid poll conducted province-wide places the Calgary-born Wildrose Alliance well ahead of the Con dynasty in popularity, putting them in the running to gain a minority or majority government.

Albertans, long since noted to criticize the hard working NDP and Liberal parties as "not standing for anything", are apparently embracing a party that has yet to stand for much of anything other than a Sarah Palin-esque leader with business-friendly, right wing policies and less government spending. Go figure.

However, all is not lost. While rural Alberta seemed quite willing to throw their support behind Danielle Smith and her flower power (44% in rural ridings vs 25% for the Cons, 21% for the Liberals and 7% for the NDP.) Both Calgary and Edmonton show interesting numbers; The Wildrosers have climbed to a surprising 36%, with the Liberals holding 26%, the Cons 25% and the NDP at 7%.

In Calgary, the numbers are even more striking. 38% support the Rosers, the Liberals take 30%, the Cons have a mere 23% and the NDP at 6%.

These numbers are sure to change as the Wildrose becomes more active and begins to achieve media scrutiny. Chances are Ed is not going to be leading the Cons into the next election, with is at least two years away and is prettymuch at the discretion of the Cons. A political shakeup in the conservative brass may be enough to put out the Wildrose infestation. But if the Cons continue to show the complete lack of creativity, inspiration or any sense of will that they have been showing for far too long, the Wildrose infestation could set in and we would be dealing with more of the same and not less.

But there is hope here. Look at the numbers. The Liberals have 26% in Edmonton, the NDP have 7%. That's 33% if those votes were going towards one party. A party that have 33% in a poll has the same chances of victory as a party with 36% in a poll.

In Calgary, the numbers are equally encouraging. Unified, the Liberals and NDP would have 36% of the vote vs the Wildrose's 38% - less than the margin of error.

2 out of three pillars is enough to form a government. If the Wildrose and the Cons remain in competition, there is an actual opportunity for a single party to capture the progressive vote in Alberta.

But it has to be one party. We don't have enough space in the left for two parties and have either of them get anywhere.

The Alberta Liberal and NDP parties need to begin talks about a possible merger. A total re-branding of the Alberta left that can provide a realistic resistance to the rose tide.

A unified center-left party would allow for a combination of resources and expertise. The party would undoubtedly take Edmonton by storm, and would be very marketable in Calgary, given the numbers. It may even be able to penetrate crazy rural Alberta - but let's be cautious with our optimism.

A single, strong party would draw out disgruntled non-voters. And most importantly, it would actually depend on activists for its power - so it would actually listen to them.

This tipping point between the Con dynasty and the rising Rose tide presents a rare split in the Alberta right that allows a single left party to actually compete in the numbers game, something that could allow it to gain momentum in time for the next provincial election.

If this party could sneak up the middle and take both major cities, we would finally be able to do things like restructure Health Care so it works properly, invest in economically viable renewable energy, place sensible limitations on cancersands growth, enforce sensible forest management and preserve wetlands. Labour rights could be re-established, basically everything we've been yearning for as we watched King Ralph drink and slash his way through the entire government.

Again, I need to stress, this is a rare once in a lifetime opportunity for the Alberta center left to actually do something other than protest and file the occasional lawsuit. But, I need to stress, the Liberal and NDP in Alberta need to set aside their differences and focus on what is really important: Taking control of this government apparatus so we can set up policies in this province that are not disgusting.

The alternative is the one we've tried so many times before; if the NDP and Liberals continue to fight for that 30-40% of potential popular vote, the vote will be split in key ridings and the left will lose it. Voters who would otherwise vote for a left candidate will be disgruntled and stay home, and the Wildrose will sweep the province. Then, another 20+ years of perpetual 10-20 seat opposition will befall us, and a new corporate dynasty will continue where the last one left off, dismantling public systems to get rich on the side, selling resources for peanuts in exchange for a quality of life damaging economy and continuing to dig a gigantic hole oozing the black pus of the mother (latest discovery - the equivalent bitumen from an oil spill leaks from tailings ponds into Alberta's water table every year.)

It's crunch time, ladies and gentlemen. Write David Swann and Brian Mason and tell them to start negotations to unite the Alberta left. We have at least two years, that's enough time for sure. This is the one and only chance we have to actually save Alberta.

David Swann - Liberal Leader -

Brian Mason - NDP Leader -

Also worth CC'ing:

Rachel Notely - NDP -

Hugh MacDonald - Liberal -

Laurie Blakeman - Liberal -

If you believe in any of the things that activists and lefties in Alberta have believed in in the past so many years, please do this. It is the only chance we're going to have to change this province and how it deals with things this generation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Things to remember

Today, as we do every year, we stop to remember those who died in conflicts, predominantly the two world wars but also the Korean war and Afghanistan.

This is the day where the grim reality of warfare is placed in the eyes of every person. Not just a tool for Kings to increase their wealth any longer, war is a state of anarchy where your brother, sister, mother or father can and likely will die.

Remembrance day has been an interesting ride for me. It was what lead me to my rather negative view of government and large overpowering institutions in general. It has provided an excellent opportunity for me to shoot my mouth off and get put in my place over the years. But most importantly it provides the context of what being a warrior is-and-isn't about.

Between watching Bush II joyride the american people into Iraq and seeing our own military's function in Afghanistan change with the shift from Paul Martin to Stephen Harper, I came to the conclusion the government was not the best thing to be deciding who I kill and when I die. The government is far too cumbersome and under far too many varied influences for me to obey its will without question. I choose instead to make my survival my own responsibility.

Whether you agree with me or not, one cannot stress enough the importance of today to question the purpose and use of these institutions of ours.

For example, have the 133 Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan achieved a purpose?

With a mission that began with holding Kandahar under Martin and then moved to battling insurgents under Harper, the power of spilled blood has struck new vigor into a military that was beginning to show danger signs of redundancy. Anybody with half a clue about how combat works will tell you that no amount of training is sufficient substitute for the real thing. From a purely training standpoint, the war was good to "wake up" the army suffering from humiliating scandals such as Somalia.

But is Afghanistan, with a recent re-election of Karzai that made Bush II's re-election look almost legitimate, any better off today than after the initial invasion that toppled the Taliban government?

Or, perhaps more fundamentally, are we even there for the Afghan people at all? Many of the soldiers themselves are, but the military as an entity itself may be quite a different manner.

There are some important strategic facts to consider here that most world leaders won't mention - because it would wreck their strategies. Afghanistan is right between nuclear armed Pakistan and nuclear wannabes Iran. The region that NATO forces have been fighting in is the northern tip of a triple border between the three countries.

Afghanistan is also close to China, particularly China's western side, which being far less populated would serve as an ideal place for Chinese covert training and research. Undoubtedly it has crossed the minds of NATO leaders that a military presence in Afghanistan makes it far easier to keep an eye on China.

Having a military presence in Afghanistan also gives NATO powers an excuse to have a navy presence (ie: ships carrying ballistic missiles and fighter planes) in the Indian ocean.

This is all the results of post-cold war politics. Whereas in the Cold war most nations fell in line with the positions of either Russia or the USA, in the post cold war era many nations have been free to determine their own destinies.

With nations such as India, Japan, South Korea and China balancing the geopolitical table, the ability of NATO to control the world stage has become far more difficult.

No longer under threat of communist invasion, many nations saw less reason for NATO presences. Other nations that previously served as bases for NATO forces, such as Japan and Germany, became to come of age by contributing forces to peacekeeping efforts and eventually military efforts.

NATO has all but lost control in South America, where the post-cold war era has shown a complete redundancy for the organization and the fact that it propped up brutal dictatorships all throughout the continent has resulted in outright hostility to the alliance.

As preventing any more nations, including Iran, from getting "the bomb" is a keystone to all NATO policies, it only makes sense to have a nearby military presence to deter any usage of "the bomb." With NATO forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran will have to be very creative to produce and test any nuclear weapons they might want to make without being detected.

NATO props up an utterly corrupt, but somewhat western friendly, quasi-democracy in Pakistan because it has nukes. Invading a country with nuclear weapons is an obvious no-no since it stands to reason that any government facing absolute defeat that had nukes would undoubtedly use them to survive. On the flip side, allowing a nuclear-regime to fall risks allowing those nukes to pass into unknown hands, which usually leads to further proliferation.

At the same time, troops right next door in Afghanistan ensure the leaders in Pakistan stay NATO-friendly.

If you aren't yet convinced how much nuclear weapons still play into everyday life around the planet, look at North Korea. They are armed, they've clearly demonstrated it. Yet despite posturing publicly to save face to their own people, most leaders quietly give into Kim Jong Il's demands because of "the bomb." Again, it's a case of "better the devil you know" logic in that it's safer to placate Jong Il's regime than to topple it and risk the use and/or loss of the nukes.

Suggestions that that these wars are predominantly to ensure energy supplies in the future have some weight, but the fact is the trans-afghanistan pipeline, which was originally begun in 1995 between Turkmenistan and Pakistan, with the Taliban government signing on later on, has been effectively stalled since the NATO invasion. While Iraqi oil most likely played into White house ambitions during the Bush II years, the venture does not seem to have been an economic success. The entire NATO handling of the area between Jordan and China since Pakistan and India went nuclear has been one of trying to regain control in the middle-east; control it once held quite effectively but has lost in the wake of collapse of the iron curtain.

As these nations have matured industrially and began to awaken into the atomic age, the western dominance of the world has begun to dwindle.

So there you have it. Canadian soldiers have been battling the Taliban to help ensure NATO control of the middle east. Canadians grieving the loss of our 133 soldiers can take pride that our sons and daughters are helping prevent the spread of the most destructive weapons of history, because the laws of probability dictate that the more of these things there are lying around, and the more people that have them, the more likely some asshole is going to use one.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

General Freestyle sarcasm

re: An Ice Free Boom - FP Comment - Barry Zellen- Posted: October 27, 2009, 7:24 PM.

If there ever was an example of how out of touch with the world some people are this is definitely it.

Mr. Z here calls himself a climate change optimist. He believes that with the Arctic Ocean slated to be ice free during the summer by 2050 at the latest, we are on the cusp of an international cultural renaissance because it will be easier to trade across the arctic, linking North America and Europe to Asia in a way they never have before. Canada's Inuit peoples will gladly give away what bare remnants of their culture that remain for resource riches and white-collar culture as their traditional homelands become Fort McMurray north, and all the resource-hungry nations will agree to a territory treaty that everyone is happy with for eternity.

Mr. Z theorizes that after the arctic ice melts we can cut greenhouse gases using the arctic ocean by the decreased distance between locations, and that shipping lanes will be easily protected from piracy and terrorism. He finishes his grand vision of the future with the line "we can welcome the many changes that this new day will bring together — not just East and West, but North and South as well." That's right folks, melting arctic sea ice and opening up shipping lanes in the Northern hemisphere is somehow going to bring the northern nations closer together with the Southern hemisphere, which of course will only be affected by the ice-free arctic summers with massive hurricanes, droughts, floods and infestations of invasive and opportunistic species.

There is so much wrong with his logic here that it's really hard to figure out where to begin. Perhaps he means North and South will be closer together because the severe environmental and economic conditions in poorer southern nations will force more people from those nations to migrate to the north. Perhaps he means these nations can grow economically by undercutting the northern nations and doing all the shipping themselves. We may never know.

What of the pirates? Are they unable to rob ships on the Arctic for some reason? Maybe we can re-train polar bears to stop them. Obviously the pirate terrorists won't be thwarted by arctic sea ice.

Mr. Z is sure disgruntled Inuit peoples won't be engaging in any piracy - he points out that they've been seeing the destruction of their culture (presumably by ours) for over a century and they're ready to accept and get really rich and have no problems whatsoever to all the resource development that will be happening. Nope, none at all. The complete destruction of your society in the name of capitalism, that doesn't cause depression and isolation. Not in this man's universe.

Ignoring the fact that not having an ice-free arctic is part of the reason people are concerned about greenhouse gases, Mr. Z suggests we could cut greenhouse gases in shipping by the reduced distance between locations. Perhaps we could also minimize the effects of overfishing by fishing from this untouched area too. After all, those whales can figure out a different way to communicate besides singing, it's not as if the jump in traffic wouldn't in itself raise water temperatures, nor is there any reason to think that increased traffic (ie: economic growth) in the Arctic might not necessarily result in a decrease in traffic in the Pacific, Atlantic or Indian oceans. It would be ludicrous to even conceive of the idea that releasing hot greenhouse gases in the condensed, low temperature arctic wouldn't lead to other climate problems down the line.

Russia, having recently gone to the trouble of sending a submarine to the north pole and dropping a flag at it to signify it was their territory, will be a worry-free new trading partner. The eastern members of the EU can attest to this.

Now, to be fair, I'm somewhat of a climate change optimist myself. I occasionally fantasize about living in a post-reality world, climbing through the ruins of modern civilization, salvaging whatever I can, driving my beat-up alcohol-powered muscle car around a bleak and alien landscape and protecting beautiful maidens from zombie mutant dinosaurs with my martial arts powers*.

The chief (and scary difference) between my zombie apocalypse fantasy and this man's economic explosion driving world peace vision is that some of this man's expectations are sure fire bets, in that the arctic sea ice will melt, and the arctic will become a new shipping lane. But currently only a handful of countries have any sort of real access to the Arctic ocean, and all of those countries are industrialized. Chances are any industrialization of the arctic will result in greater climate transformations, which will result in more industrialization.

Perhaps the problem with this man's logic can be best summarized in his statement "While we can mourn the passage of an era and the loss of a unique ecosystem, we can also celebrate this tremendous transformation of the world, and the long-awaited final chapter of the Ice Age. Tomorrow’s Arctic will no longer be on the periphery but a “Midnight Sea” at the midpoint of the world’s sea routes, like the silk road of ancient times." which in non-business language translates to "We might be destroying everything unique and beautiful, but think of all the money we'll make!"

* The author of this piece possesses no martial arts powers.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Get the feeling Ed Stelmach is getting a little stressed out?

Recently vowing to punish Greenpeace activists "to the fullest extent of the law" and his solicitor general's musing about charging them as terrorists, Stelmach may be cracking under mounting pressure to show that he actually has some level of idea what he's doing.

Unable to hide his ineptitude with rude, outrageous comments like Ralph Klein or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Stelmach appears to be finding it increasingly difficult to manage the PR nightmare the tar sands have become. Things have gotten so bad for him that he's attempting to show he's "tough on crime" (a common tactic by Con politicians to rile up support) by wanting to crack down on non-violent protesters.

Suggesting that these protesters put rig workers (getting sent home from work is dangerous for you, don't you know?) and rescue workers at risk (aren't rescue workers at risk every single time they do their job?) Stelmach is seemingly trying to borrow a tactic from Bush's playbook; label someone as the enemy and turn the mob on them.

The problem is that Stelmach doesn't have the charisma or the character to pull it off. "Steady Eddie" is a Con MLA elected in rural Alberta with at least 80% of the vote, because in rural Alberta people all seem to agree that the Cons will protect our money and any one else would just hand it over to Ottawa. He then was handed the crown by the Con party as a compromise because none of the different camps would budge from their own particular rocks.

Already, Stelmach has shown to have a hard time dealing with international customers for tar sands oil who, unlike many of his constituents, don't automatically believe him because of the party he belongs to. He seems to be losing Calgary, a pillar of Con power, and much of the buzz of late has been how "badly managed" the tar sand's image has be handled by private and public alike.

Now, for the record, the tar sands has earned its international reputation as a mordoresque cesspit puking out the cancerous essence of our collective doom. Cancer rates in the Fort Chipewyan region have skyrocketed. The project is calculated to be emiting close to the equivalent of a volcanic eruption in toxic fumes every year. An area the size of the state of Florida has been transformed into a massive mine that is apparently visible from orbit. Wetlands, forests and fresh water are being poured into a massive pit to fuel the global market and fatten a couple wallets.

Stelmach's solution to the environmental woes caused by our artificial volcano totem god is convincing oil companies to develop "Carbon Capture technology", a theoretical technology (like warp drive) that will allow us to take carbon dioxide (and presumably other nasty greenhouse gases) and store them in the ground.

So we're going to drill holes into the ground, cracking the solid crystal bodies of the bedrock, and store a gas in this cracked bedrock, below the air, and it's going to stay there whilst we continue to blast away at the same bedrock trying to suckle up any remaining oil we can find.

Yeah, there's no flaw in that logic, right? =P

The underlying message here is that this Alberta Con government is quite content to keep the tar sands operating indefinitely, and the idea that in the future we are going to need to find something different to base our economy - really our entire society - on is not possible in their view. The reliance of the 28-year-long Con government on oil revenues to maintain everything and the rediculous acceptance of the electorate of this practice now means that every single person who lives in this province is in some manner reliant on the tar sands and the revenue generated by it for their day to day survival. Detaching Alberta from the sticky, black ooze is no easy task.

At least, it's no easy task if you're a Conservative in Alberta, and you've never actually been at risk of not being elected. Such a culture of entitlement is not exactly the breeding grounds for genius. If you're anyone else, you've probably already read about various proven technologies that are being utilized in Europe and the United States, you've probably done the math and realized that surpluses of 3+ billion dollars should have been enough to get such industries around those technologies at least underway, and you've probably had to be exceedingly creative to get your point heard, let-alone getting it across.

Which brings us back to our good friends at Greenpeace. These guys are working their asses off to point out what should be blatantly obvious: the tar sands project is causing far too much long-term damage for far too little short-term gain.

Let's put this in context; Stelmach gets up, drives to the legislature, goes to his various meetings where he's given recommendations on what to do by people he appointed to recommend what he wanted to hear, goes and sits in the house legislature with his 72 seat majority. The opposition, with a whopping 11 seats, does what it can to oppose, which basically amounts to attempting to incite public rage towards various government actions (usually medicare issues) because there's no way it can hope to really affect any vote in the legislature. So, comfortably in nest of a government elected by a mere 45% of the population, Stelmach's biggest concern is his lack of mobility due to the mass of politicians and businessmen hanging off his buttocks.

Let us compare this to what Greenpeace has had to do to get things done. First, they have to plan a way to sneak into a gated oil rig. These have six foot tall fences with barbed wire, and tons of surveillance systems in place. After finding a way around the securities of these mining fortresses, they chain themselves to dangerous equipment, and a few even scale a smokestack to hang a banner. I'd love to see any elected MLA climb up a smokestack. They do all this knowing full well what they will legally be charged with. They then use the publicity generated by the incident to send their message across the planet. Claiming to be working for the better future of the entire world tends to generate a warmer reception than just "buy our oil" which is the best Stelmach has seemed to be able to offer as a defense of our provincial project.

So coming out and suggesting how the courts should handle the case is really not helping Stelmach's position. Alberta is a global supplier of oil, and as a result the world is paying attention to what we do and how we do it. The world did not buy it when the junta in Myanmar claimed Buddhist monks were inciting revolution and began arresting them en-masse. Nobody believes
Ahmadinejad won the election in Iran. Bush did not do a very good job convincing people about Saddam's WMDs. The global media monster has gotten really good at spotting the really stupid lies of really stupid governments. If Stelmach thinks that demonizing a group of activists using Ghandi-styled tactics to ensure the survival of the human species, amid an already massive international campaign against the project the activists are opposing, is going to survive global scrutiny then he clearly has the wisdom and expertise of an Alberta Conservative. Oh wait...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Why nuclear power is on the big no-no list for now

Alright, there's been quite the campaign of late to bring nuclear energy to Alberta, predominantly to power Alberta's already over-extended industrial sector, and I think I must point out that this is absolutely, completely, without a shadow of a doubt, total stupidity.

The idea is that the water flow from the Peace river will be enough to operate a CANDU reactor (that is, Deuterium - Uranium - the materials they use for nuclear fission; the CAN stands for the fact it's Canadian made) which will provide power for oil sands operation with no greenhouse gas emissions.

However, greenhouse gas emissions are generated throughout the process. The mining of uranium, as well as the purification of Deuterium (a heavy isotope of water used in the fission reaction) are both heavy in greenhouse gas production. This does not include the greenhouse gases generated in moving the various nuclear fuels from province to province.

A fission reaction occurs when you throw neutrons at an atom to break it apart, and you capture the energy released by that atom. A nuclear bomb is essentially an uncontrolled reaction.

All this is fine and dandy, but where did fission reactions occur naturally, before physicists figured them out?

Well, that would be the surface of the sun, about 92 million miles away.

Stars are gigantic atom smashers. They sit there, orbiting the cosmic center of our galaxy (a black hole, awesomely enough) more or less digesting atoms as simple as hydrogen and as complex as the rest of them millions of times a minute, bursting energy out in the form of heat, light and radiation.

92 million miles away, on a very large rock covered in water, that energy is enough to keep the Earth warm enough to sustain life.

The waste of a nuclear reactor has to be stored under hundreds of liters of water for five years to prevent melting through the bedrock, which needs to be very solid to withstand the intense heat of a fission reaction (again, surface of the sun). After that, the waste needs to be stored for an additional 5,000 years deep underground before it is believed it will be safe to recycle into the biosphere.

5,000 years ago, the Egyptian and Sumerian civilizations were in their infancy. The first pyramids had not been built yet. If Julian James' work "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" is to be believed, consciousness hadn't even developed in humans yet.

5,000 years is roughly 250 generations.

To suggest that we, as a people, have the right to burden our descendants with the waste of a few fleeting moments of prosperity is preposterous, especially when you consider that we'd be doing it to avoid burdening our descendants with the waste of a few fleeting moments of prosperity.

If oil sands production is so important, there has to be a less permanent means of acquiring the energy to fuel it. Even hydroelectric, with it's habitat/farmland flooding tendency, would be less devastating in the grand scheme of nature than a nuclear plant.

If you agree with me, or even if you disagree with me, you should take this link to the Alberta government's public survey and tell the government what you think. Don't believe me. Do the research yourself. Examine as many sources as possible. Weigh the arguments.

We're talking a decision that's going to result in over 5,000 years of commitment. This is something to be taken seriously.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Just buy GM already, Barack

With recent news that Barack Obama's administration asked GM CEO Rick Wagoner to step down as part of negotiations for an additional bailout (after already receiving over $12 billion dollars in tax dollars already), and since GM's own auditor has said that the company cannot survive as it currently exists, it is beginning to seem a bit redundant to keep GM as a privately traded corporation. It also seems apparant that the old market addage of 'laissez-faire' was really just a fancy line to pacify the workforce; the grand kings of capitalism are perfectly happy to accept government assistance and be propped up if needed. The US government should simply buy-out GM's shares and run it at a loss while it restructures the company. It would probably be cheaper than a couple years of continual bailouts as is currently being devised.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm perfectly down with government wasting my tribute on big statues, art films, building projects, science grants, etc. Things that can't and really shouldn't be making it on the market. That's fine and dandy; it's what government is there to do. But let's just examine what has been more or less implied in our rather multiple personalities oriented society.

The consumer has essentially failed, by not providing enough capital to keep the market in function. This is primarally because the market, being gluttonous in nature, will eventually self destruct if left to its own devices. Anyone who has ever owned a fat cat can attest to this.

The institutions involved and essentially determining these outcomes can't really be blamed, since they're institutions filled with people. The people working in the institutions can't really be at fault either; they simply fit into their institutional roles, doing exactly what they were paid to do and responding accordingly. If a CEO of one of the big 3 auto had decided to switch to totally green cars on his own accord, he probably would have been fired by the shareholder's association for damaging their stock.

The problem is the way this free market society is set up, eventually the market gets so big and expensive to maintain that the society can't maintain it anymore. The unavoidable collapse is then quite intense.

So now, since the consumer couldn't afford the market anymore, the market has gone to the government, which is taking from the taxpayer. Massive deficits are being reapped (is it me or does the White House have an essentially infinite budget?) to keep these private organizations alive.

What's basically happened is that the 'free' market wasn't 'free' at all. Since the taxpayer and the consumer are the exact same person, the corporate institutions are getting the money you get up and spend 8 hours a day earning whether you wanted to give it to them or not!

If these private organizations are so important to the continental infrastructure (and they are) then government should do the responsible thing and take over these organizations so it can at least waste public money the way public money should be wasted.

Canadians are actually fairly used to this idea; both federal and provincial governments have created and/or bought and eventually sold corporations for most of Canada's history. The formation of Liquor Boards throughout the nation and the dissolution of them in Alberta is an example. Anyone remember Ed-Tel and AGT, both government corporations that were sold off and formed the domineering Telus?

Canadian National Railways (which more or less is the backbone of Canadian industry) was formed as a crown corporation after the federal government bought out several bankrupt railways and reformed them into CN. In 1995 the Federal Liberals under Jean Chretien privatized the company, and it is now traded internationally.

If GM is going to survive as a North American institution, it needs to do things that it cannot do legally as a privately traded company. It needs to run at a loss. It needs to restructure itself from the ground up. No megacorporation can actually do this without facing massive lawsuits (far worse than environmental infractions, sadly.)

Bush II already demonstrated that the President of the United States currently has the power to do whatever he wants, and most of the western nations will tag along and Congress cannot stop him. So just do it and save everyone the trouble, it'll still be cheaper than Iraq's going to turn out to be with far more popular responses. It's not like the government can't re-privitize GM at a later date when the venture is actually profitable.

Just buy GM already, Barack.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The new image of pot heads

There was a time, long ago, back in the ancient world we grew up in, when pot users were stereotyped into freeloaders, obese and greasy, reeking of pizza and cheetos. Faces unshaven, dragging back bong hit after bong hit, watching sesame street and having realizations about their lives.

Not anymore.

14-time Olympic champion Michael Phelps has, hopefully, shattered the global media's representation of pot and shown the world what pot users have known for years: Anyone and everyone can be a pot smoker.

After all, if a marijuana user can win 14 gold medals, what else can potheads do beside grow pot?

Search hard enough and you will find pot smokers in every field of society. Athletics, Education, Government, Policing, Military, Lawyers, Space travel, Rescue Operations, Manufacturing, Retail, the list is ongoing.

Most pot smokers are wise enough to not smoke pot on the job, but their recreation has always been their own business and is enjoyed as such.

It's high time we realized that drugs (and alcohol is included in that definition) and various mind altering chemicals have always and always will be a part of society. Digs have shown that the first crops to be regularly harvested could have been used to make alcohol, the first piece of writing known is an egyptian papyrus made of hemp (ie cannibis, marijuana, ganja, etc.)

Why, pray tell, would you go from travelling from place to place, learning to co-exist with a variety of exotic animals, following the good weather and sunshine, as well as the abundant food, not having a huge family to care for and generally being free, trading and meeting different people as you go -- to being forced to stick to a plot of land to ensure a crop grows, having huge families of whiney kids and having to fend off people off the previous persuasion who are trying to steal your hard worked for crops?

Agriculture is regarded as the birth of civilization for a reason; after agriculture, people became linked to the land they tended; prior to agriculture people lived in small populations and travelled around with the good weather, following the big herds they harvested for their meat, furs, etc.

Indeed, almost every collapse of society known usually begins with a large drought, which is what makes the environmental changes currently taking place somewhat alarming.

The key point here remains, people did not settle down and become farmers until they had a solid incentive to do it. Food wasn't an issue, you followed the herds and the environment had stablized since the ice age by that point anyway; water, same thing, you followed the river flows. Sex was abundant, you raised as many children as you needed and most cultures probably possessed an indepth knowedge of herbs they'd encounter depending on where they were.

The only logical reason people stopped living a lifestyle like this was so they could grow their drugs.

Addiction is a powerful thing, so powerful that it may be responsible for civilization.

Excavations of the pyramid builders (that being, the thousands of willing, paid egyptian labourers that built the massive buildings) show that they were supplied with a near-infinite amount of beer for their efforts. Afghanistan was one of the earliest lands of agriculture, it is theorized to be the original garden of eden, in fact, and is the opium capital of the planet. Coincedence? Probably not.

Similarly, Greek Olympians and Olympic watchers were completely fine with potions, ointments, enemas and so forth that were said to give bursts of strength and muscle. Ancient mystics, alchemists and apothecaries alike produced potions to stimulate and build athletes, selling ancient varieties of modern steroids, uppers and amphetamines.

The Inca empire spanned the Andes, a mountain range, and covered an area the from Vancouver to Whitehorse without horses or locomotives. Messengers ran from city to city, every day serving the function of trucks and trains in our modern empire. How? Chewing the coca leaf, an ingredient in modern cocaine.

Tobacco has formed a link to the spiritual world for numerous North American native tribes for several millenia.

What was shocking to some was silly to most.

So an olympian is a pot head.

Join the club.