You Get What You Give


neanderthalReally drastic times always have both positive and negative aspects. History is filled with major events that altered the path humans were on, and brought about new developments. The Black Plague. The Renaissance. Evolution itself, for that matter. We’re all happy homo sapiens now, but I’ll bet the Neanderthals weren’t too joyful when that branch of the family tree was sawed off.

We often bring on the catastrophes all by ourselves. I believe we’re bringing on some pretty serious alterations to our planet through climate change, and knowing that we did all of that environmental damage just by refusing to clean up after ourselves doesn’t make it any easier.

Sometimes the big bang that changes things illuminates how emotionally fragile humans really are, and how little they enjoy change of any kind. Oh, they say they want change, but actually dealing with alterations to the status quo gives them the heebie jeebies. They’ll second guess themselves into oblivion.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick to death of hearing about how scared and confused American voters were, when they chose to elect a known – nay .. renowned! TV certified! … con man to run their country. How freakin’ delicate do you have to be to believe that someone, who has spent his entire life gleefully and repeatedly fleecing the rubes, really does have the answer to America’s problems? How emotionally unstable do you have to be to believe that a guy, who has nothing in the way of ideas or a proper platform, or experience in any form of politics, who has nothing but disdain for previous administration, will know how to deal with complex diplomacy? How incredibly naive are you to take the word of someone who promises to ‘repeal and replace’ the only health care insurance some have ever known, who claims that he, and he alone can ‘fix’ a broken America with a wave of his magic wand …. You wanted to be fooled, and you were.

What happened to that vaunted American Exceptionalism? When did it become more fashionable to play the victim than the victor?

Gimme that ol’ time religion ….

 

doug ford pussyDon’t get me wrong, I am well aware that it’s not just Americans who are that naive. There’s more than a few of these strongmen and wannabe or actual dictators scattered around the planet. Ontario may well be the next launching pad for another contemptible bozo who wears his racism, sexism and xenophobia proudly on his sleeve. Listen – I get it. You’re angry at Wynne, whom you feel has screwed up her time at the helm. So angry that you’ll throw away any progressive growth in the province in favour of a man who is the walking, talking embodiment of NIMBY?

You’ll get what you deserve, as the people always do. It’s not about electing the least offensive option, it’s about caring enough about your city, or province, or country to nurture safe, sane growth, while keeping those in charge accountable. You can’t wake up forty years down the road to ruin and ask, “wha’ happened?” We built this city and this country by turning a blind eye to suspect deals, cronyism and corruption, with each successive governance going further down the wrong path, and piling on more debt for our kids and grandkids. How many shady politicians have walked away from positions of power with full pockets and zero accountability for screwing over the electorate?

bullies on campusWhat you get instead of good candidates are guys like Trump and Ford, who are basically those asshat Big Men On Campus that you had to endure in senior high school or college. The big bullies who swagger down the corridors with their buddies, all of whom are both a little afraid and a little in awe of Biff’s cruelty, but who are far more afraid of getting on his bad side and having him lash out at them.

So they laugh when he shoves that kids with the glasses into a locker, or trips that nerd with a full tray in the cafeteria. They’ll guffaw when he spikes the punch, and talks smack about the cheerleaders, and leaves one or two of the girls pregnant. Because he’s got the power, they’ll go along for the ride, and reap what benefits they may from the scraps he leaves behind.

Of course, this kind of governance leaves behind damage far beyond Biff’s years on the football team, or Trump’s time in office. We’re still trying to get the science teacher’s Volkswagen down from the roof of the gym, and we may never get all that coal detritus out of America’s rivers.

new yorker quote Trump end daysAnd that’s assuming Biff leaves the building willingly …

We all must take responsibility for allowing the Biffs of the world to come to political power. We have to root out and trash the idea that the bullying, entitled, ‘big swinging dicks’ of the world have anything to offer the rest of us. They sneer at us, and view us with contempt. We are just the sheep they seek to fleece and lead to slaughter. They are the spoiled, the entitled, the corrupt, and they seek to profit from our naiveté. The tools that elect fools and criminals to office are our insecurities, fears, and prejudices, along with our willingness to let anyone else who’ll volunteer, to do the heavy lifting of keeping an eye on those who are supposedly running countries for the good of the people, and to make sure that they are not simply working for their own gain. These faults are what elect terrible people to the White House, or Parliament. Bad politicians are the reflections of our worst flaws.

bad choice worse choice. jpgIf we want better, we need to deserve better. And deserving better means actually caring about who is running your government. It means doing the research, understanding basic civics, having an opinion, and demanding that our elected officials listen to all of the electorate, not just the part that greases their palms. Elected officials need to be scrutinized as severely as any other public servant, because they ARE your servants, and they are well paid to do the will of the people. If we, as citizens, can’t be bothered to learn what it takes to run our cities or country, if we find it all too boring, and unimportant … then we’ll continue to be asked to choose between two or more terrible choices to lead.

Social media teems with trolls, rants, memes, and the lashing out of frustrated, angry people. It feeds the divisiveness and lack of empathy that will tear our worlds apart. Everyone has an opinion, but opinions are not facts. We now have solid proof that neither your drunk uncle nor your favourite armchair politician are actually the smartest, or the best qualified, to make the intellectual, diplomatic, decisions that enable countries to run smoothly.

We are not enabling our ‘better angels’ when we choose those who will control our governments by Facebook polls. If citizens truly want to have a say in how they are governed, they have to put in the work to be better citizens.

i love the poorly educatedAs George Carlin told us so very long ago, ” If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain’t going to do any good; you’re just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant leaders. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it’s not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here… like, the public. “

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You Are Here


When I was growing up, in the late 1950s and early sixties, it was very important to me that I know exactly where I was living, to know what was my place in the world. I would inscribe not only my name on my school books, but my ‘full’ address. as 10904-98th Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, North America. Earth, the Milky Way…

My world was the length of the streets that I could walk. If I walked several blocks, I would be at my school. If I walked several more blocks, I would be on Edmonton’s main drag, where The Roxy Theatre (why are all little cinemas with big dreams called The Roxy?) had Saturday afternoon matinees. For $0.25 my sister and I could spend several hours watching cartoons, episodic westerns, and a main sci fi feature that inevitably featured some mutation of Godzilla, followed by an hour of competitive games – with prizes!

rox and jodi edmonton 1963 001My grandparents lived several blocks to the west of us, and if my mum, sister and I took a bus for about a half an hour, we would be at an outdoor public swimming pool, where we could take swimming lessons, and watch each other’s lips turn blue.

These were the parameters of my world. My sense of self was very much tied to where I lived, and to where I could walk or be driven to. Nothing else had much relevance. Nothing else felt like it really mattered, or made much difference to my world. I was here. Here I was.

My sense of geography was so skewed that I once naively believed that a soppy Irish song’s lyrics were, “If you ever go across the street to Ireland. ” I literally had no sense of how big my own province was, let alone a concept of the expanse of Canadian lands. And I most certainly could not conceive of going across a sea.

city-of-edmonton-signs3We had a globe in the house, but I had little use for the countries on the lower half – I had no emotional investment in what went on below the equator, even if the nuns at school did collect our pennies for the orphan babies of China. The 185 miles between Calgary and Edmonton spooked me, because those two cities looked so close together on the map, but I had heard they did things very differently there.

When my grandmother came to Canada from Great Britain in 1900, she came by boat, as did most of the early settlers to our country. My paternal grandmother walked from South Dakota to St Albert, Alberta, as part of a covered wagon convoy. Travel might have been necessary, but it was rarely convenient.

WagonTrainIt’s probably hard to imagine how incomprehensible long distance travel was for many people, in those days. Our access to the world has changed significantly in the last several decades, through improvements to the methods of travel, and through the technology by which we come to know other countries.  Now we can see the attractions of ‘faraway places with strange sounding names,’ in living colour, and visit nearly anywhere in the world on a whim.

living in bubblesBack in the day, the average person was physically and emotionally isolated, based on where they lived. There were clear differences in attitude and behaviour between rural and urban groups. And yet, no matter where a child was, they believed that they were at the centre of the universe, and that the beliefs with which they were surrounded, were the only true beliefs.  Even today, there are many people who never veer from that belief. This is who I am, because this is where I live.

By the time I was ten years old, I had taken the four day train trip back and forth to the very much more cosmopolitan Montreal several times, but I had never met anyone who had been on a commercial airplane.

It would be another several years before I myself would finally set foot on a plane, travelled abroad, and crossed a sea. Air travel was considered something that only the wealthy could enjoy, a major financial indulgence that also required a special travelling wardrobe.

I was lucky enough to tag along with my grandmother on one of her trips ‘over ‘ome’ to England, when I was just 19 years old.

boac stew 1970Perhaps there are people who feel relaxed and at ease on a plane. I am not one of them. The idea of floating above the clouds, no matter how comfortable the ride, puts me in a dead panic. We flew British Airways, of course, and the stewardesses were wonderful to my gram, treating her like a queen. I was in awe of their cool uniforms, and their Beatle-ish accents.

Arriving at Heathrow, I entered another world, that couldn’t have been more different than the Montreal we’d left behind, only eight hours before. For the first time in my life, I was rootless. I was no longer bound to the earth on which I’d been born or raised. It was an epiphany.

Better writers than I have spoken of the merits of travel, and of how important it is to experience people and worlds that differ from what we have always known. I have always believed the same. No matter how much one travels within one’s own country or continent, there is something magical about walking the streets of other countries, far from our own, populated by people who are like us, but not like us at all.

Did you know that you have an accent? Probably not. But people in England think that Canadians and Americans have very pronounced accents. It’s all about perspective.

If a traveler is open to the experience, something magical snips the mental umbilical cord that tethers us to a local groupthink or speak. And you are never the same again.

I felt a sense of wonder, while walking the streets of London, or pacing the wilds of Epping Forest. For the first time in my life, I was completely outside of the physical parameters I believed defined my life and my thoughts.  Leaving the corporeal confines of my reality allowed my mind to look outside of the restrictions that had been imposed upon my thinking.

Today, travel is rather taken for granted. My kids and grandkids think nothing of jetting away on vacations. The only thing that stops them from roving globally is financial shortfalls.

overhead compartmentBut ironically, this new freedom to travel as we will is not necessarily accompanied by a concurrent openness of mind. It is possible to take one’s prejudices and beliefs to anywhere in the globe, packed in the overhead compartment, to be pulled out at inopportune moments.

Perhaps this relative ease of travel makes it harder to step outside of ourselves, and to feel that sense of wonder. That would be a pity, for it is in those magical moments, when we are truly off balance, and our minds adrift with what might be, that we realize both how alike and how different we are from one another, no matter where we find ourselves.

 

Tilting the Mirror


There’s a conspiracy theory that’s been around for a few years now, in which people believe that CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) experiments have caused the world to shift into an alternate reality, a parallel universe. They claim that the organization was warned of the possibility by physicist Stephen Hawking, but that the alarm was ignored .. and now, here we are, somewhere other than where we should be..

bizarroworldSome days … most days! … it really does feel like our reality has been tilted just a little sideways. There is an enormous difference in the way I thought and wrote in 2016, as opposed to the way I do now, in 2018. We are living in interesting times that often do resemble a universe like our own, but upside down and backwards. It leaves me  feeling a little like Superman’s friend from the fifth dimension, Mr Mxyzptlk, or like I am living in BizarroWorld.

 

 

How else can you explain the Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series since 1908, and Donald Trump‘s election to the presidency? Nothing has made sense for years – up is down, black is white, and Dollarama delisted not one but two of my favourite deodorants. There is no justice.

Mitch Alborn memePerhaps you are feeling ‘the Mandela effect,’ something which you might have come across on line, or in a group of friends, when you encounter people who believe and will bet their last dollar on their insistence that something happened – although all evidence shows that it never did.

Examples of the “Mandela effect” include believing that Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1980s, and swearing that the comedian Sinbad played a genie in a 1990’s movie. Oh, and that the “Berenstein Bears” were really named the “Berenstain Bears.”

If you believe this theory, then Trump’s assertions of Muslims cheering in the streets after 9/11, or of terrorist attacks on Sweden, or any of the six plus lies he spews a day, are all true .. in his own universe. Just not in ours.

Of course, this is just a wild theory, meant to protect our fragile minds from cracking under the strain of living through the disaster of the Trump administration and the end days of capitalism. According to both French economist Thomas Piketty and German economist Wolfgang Streeck, society is on the verge of collapse due to the worst form of socioeconomic inequality in capitalism’s history. Which sort of trumps Trump, if you will.

With just eight multi-billionaires owning the equivalent amount of capital of half of the global population, we could be in for a world of pain, If and when the next major global financial crisis strikes, perhaps as a consequence of trade wars and excessive national debt.

hobbes nasty brutish short quoteBig capital, government and the military would ascend to full control. That would work out well for the privileged, who could afford to hole up in comfort, but life for the masses would be miserable in a polluted, brutish world.

On some level, we are all aware of this inequity, this imbalance of the playing field, this looming Armageddon that we are unable to prevent, and that unease we feel translates to how we interpret current events. If it is in our nature to double down on our core beliefs, we may have to deal with a shocking amount of  cognitive dissonance.

cognitive dissonanceFear of losing what we have always perceived to be true can be incredibly painful. When our truths are challenged, we will push back, unable to hold two truths in our minds simultaneously. That’s when you hear the screams of ‘fake news!’ and see the undermining of science, actual corroborated truths and facts, and respected journalism. It is easier to shoot the messenger than to absorb new information that contradicts our long held viewpoints.

But yelling ‘fake news!’ every time you hear something you don’t like, doesn’t make it fake. It just makes it contrary to what you want to believe.

Some of our most deeply held values may stem from our upbringing, and the unconscious ethics we’ve absorbed from our families and our peers. Much is drummed into us by our choice of media, especially as it has evolved in the last two decades.

We are the product of our environment, of what we are born into, and of what we choose to surround ourselves with when the choice becomes our own. It’s fascinating to unravel the gymnastic moves that minds can make when they are asked to confront how they came to a point of view or decision. Kind of like the new math meets the Kama Sutra – fun to watch until someone loses an eye.

How we name and sort concepts may depend less on reality, and more on innate prejudices. What we believe about others and their behaviors may have more to do ourselves and with what we have been lead to believe, than what those other people are actually likely to be thinking or doing.

In these days of divisiveness and bitter words, of anger and a sense of disconnect that threatens to bring countries to an emotional or physical civil war, it’s important to remember that it is only by coming together that societies flourish.

great society lbj. jpg‘A rising tide lifts all boats.’ In 1933, Roosevelt’s “New Deal” brought America back to prosperity by utilizing the federal government’s power to help the weakest amongst them. In 1964, Lyndon B Johnson tried to do something similar, with his vision of a Great Society, the main goal of which was the elimination of poverty and racial injustice.

He applauded the nation’s wealth and abundance but admonished the audience that “the challenge of the next half century is whether we have the wisdom to use that wealth to enrich and elevate our national life, and to advance the quality of American civilization.”

It has always and ever been the coming together of a people that enriches and ennobles them, not outbursts, divisions, anger and threats. A true leader does not divide to conquer, but rather, brings all together to prosper.

This time we are living in will pass. History will record what happened in these days of discord, and pass judgement on all of us, for what we did or what we failed to do. Some will continue to rail against what they do not want to hear or believe, while others will sadly put their ideals in the bottom drawer and carry on, diminished.

broken mirrorBut thee and me, and all of us, we will still be here, and all of the harsh words and deeds we aimed at each other will lie around us, like the husks of dinosaurs, or the steam that rises off a dumpster fire, fetid and festering.

The mirror tilted once – it can tilt again. But what will it reflect? A brave new world, or a desolate landscape of broken dreams?

Hold Your Loved Ones Close


Easter was magic when I was a little girl. My mum was a writer, so we would wake to a trail of poetic clues that would lead us to where the Bunny had hidden his goodies. As kids, any creature that left goodies, be it Santa, the Easter Bunny, or a Leprechaun, was all good in our books.

I will never forget the year that my godmother sent me a chocolate bunny that was as tall as I was! We ate chocolate until we were bursting, and then my mother had me take the leftover candy to share with my friends.

Trump as Easter BunnyIt was a simpler time. But I guess everyone likes free stuff, even if you know in your heart that you’re gonna have to pay for it in the long run.

I paid my Catholic dues as a child and teen, singing in the choir. “He is risen!” we chorused, as the dark days of Lent and deprivation came to an end, and the little snowdrops popped their heads up thru the last of the winter’s snow.

It’s been years since I’ve thought much about Easter. The kids grew up and moved away, and took the grandkids with them. Neither Shawn nor I are religious, and I got out of the habit of making big, fancy Sunday dinners decades ago. Not much point, with the family scattered to the four winds.

This year, however, we have had to acknowledge Easter. Shawn will be spending Easter with our daughter, son-in-law and seven year old granddaughter, along with his many siblings and relatives, all of whom do indeed celebrate the holiday, whether with chocolate or prayer, or a little or a lot of both.

Shawn’s youngest sister died suddenly on Tuesday, and he has traveled to Windsor to be a pall bearer at her funeral, while I am home, holding the fort, and herding the cats. She was just 46 years old.

Both of Shawn’s parents married several times, so he actually has a total of eleven brothers and sisters, though not all of them are related by birth. We don’t see them as often as we’d like, but we try to keep in touch via social media.

Alison Counihan LeeAlison was a lovely girl. Twenty years younger than Shawn, she had a positive, happy spirit that endeared her to all whom she met. When I think of her, I always picture her in the middle of a hearty laugh. Physically, she reminded me of the country artist Wynona, as she had a similar look and charm.

For the last decade, she’d worked with Value Village, managing the teams that open new stores in other countries, and was well loved by the employees she directed.  She was engaged, and was to have been married in a few months.

Twenty plus years ago, Alison and I spent a lot of time together. I’d often travel to Windsor to visit with Shawn’s dad, Asa, and the family, and spend some quality time with ‘the girls,’ all of whom were blessed with quick wits, good humour, a love of a good time, and mad dance skills. It was worth the long bus ride just to hang with Alison, Jackie, Mary, and Debbie. They were Shawn’s sisters, but they became my family and friends.

Asa died, and his frequent requests that I visit ended. In time, we just drifted apart. Everyone got busy, and had complicated personal and business lives, and after a few years, our interaction waned, finally tapering off to the occasional comment on social media. And I’m not very proud that I allowed those relationships to slip away through inattention.

love the peopleLife can get away from us. We’re always so busy, and then one day, there’s a phone call, or a knock on the door, and our opportunity to spend time with a loved one is gone forever.

Easter is as good a time as any to remember to hold our loved ones a little tighter, while we still can.

Alison taught me – or at least tried to teach me – how to dance to Janet and Michael Jackson‘s big dance hits in the nineties. I was hopelessly two left footed, but I would give it my best shot, and she’d try not to fall over laughing at my efforts.

She had such a big happy laugh.

Whenever I hear this song, I’m always reminded me of her.

Rest in peace, Alison. You are loved.

 

 

The View from a (Canadian) Broad


Every morning, around four a.m., there’s something that wakes me up. I don’t know if it’s a noise from the street, a neighbour heading to work, or a very punctual raccoon with OCD, but nearly every day, there’s a sound that rouses me from my dreams and leaves me washed up on the shore of my thoughts.

The reveries that preoccupy me in the hours between four a.m. and an almost normal six o’clock rise are the ones that might flit through your mind during the day, but that are not chewed over like they might be at say .. quarter to five in the morning.

Thoughts like, could Melania actually be Trump’s Russian handler? Is this weird red mole-y thing cancerous? And, why is it that so many males, from boy to man, love running around pantless?

The wee hours are also the time of déjà rêvé.Déjà vu is French for “already seen” and déjà rêvé is French for “already dreamed”. Depending on whom you ask, it could mean that weird feeling you have when you’re in a dream and you suddenly think and believe you have dreamed this exact dream once before …or that your dream is a prophesy of something that has yet to happen.

I get that a lot, and for me, it’s like being partway into a movie and thinking, “damn! I’ve had this dream before and I know how it ends! The alligator eats the drummer!

A bit of a lunch bag letdown, if you will.

no more gun violenceThis morning I was thinking about how refreshing it was yesterday, to have a day when the antics of the madman to the south were not front and centre, or even lurking around a corner.

It was all about the kids, about common and uncommon sense, and what the future could look like, if all of the cynical, corrupt shysters who’ve warped our perceptions of the world to shape their own fever dream were forced to stop. No no no no say the kids … you’re not gonna get to use us to line your pockets with the NRAs dirty bribe money. We’re not gonna let you use us as human targets for those who snap under the pressure of hormones or fear or paranoia, so often engendered by adults who labour under their own heavy weight of paranoia and discontent.

Never again! they shouted, those children who, 37 days ago, spent the scariest six minutes and about twenty seconds of their lives, wondering if those were the last minutes of their lives.

Emma Gonzalez‘s speech was the loudest silence in the history of U.S. social protest, said Mother Jones magazine. As I watched those attending struggle with the silence, I thought how uncomfortable people are when they have to contemplate the absence of sound. People were visibly distraught as tears poured down Emma’s face, and the silence stretched on interminably.

” “Never again,” many in the crowd of 500,000 chanted in response. After her timer went off, Gonzalez said, “since the time when I came out here, it has been six minutes and twenty seconds. The shooter has ceased shooting and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape, and walk free for an hour before arrest,” she said. “Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.” And then she left the stage.”

” At least 73 teens have been shot to death in the 37 days since that massacre, according to HuffPost’s review of a database compiled by Gun Violence Archive, a not-for-profit organization that tracks shootings across the country. (Because Gun Violence Archive culls its data from media reports, there may be cases that haven’t been included.)

That’s a rate of nearly two teens each day. Among them were Kaiden Vague, a California student who died on his 16th birthday after accidentally killing himself at a shooting range, and 15-year-old Jay Diaz in El Paso, Texas, who survived a childhood fight with cancer only to be killed when a family member fired his shotgun while cleaning it.” (Huffington Post, 03/23/2018)

jim carrey never againKids are being shot and killed, all over America, by people who put their ‘right’ to own guns over the lives of their own children. And it is increasingly clear that those same Americans, who so loudly and proudly proclaim that owning guns is their god-given right, are incredibly lax in how they handle those guns.

There is no respect for either guns or the law in the heart of the woman shot in the back by her toddler with “a firearm that slid out from under the driver’s seat.”

The “responsible gun owner” is largely a mythical creature.

Every day there’s another case of people just leaving their guns around for kids
to play with. On March 12th, a one year old boy was accidentally shot and killed inside his home in Mobile, Alabama by his 2 year old brother. In the time it took for the mother to tell the grandmother that she was heading for work .. boom!

And how much care and gun sense was in place when a four year old child in Temple, Texas shot his seven month old sibling two days ago, with a gun that was also apparently just lying around?

Sicker still, a neighbour being interviewed by the press volunteered that he did not blame the family, since “in my family, it happened once with my cousin. My cousin killed accidentally my other cousin. It happens. Accidents happen.”

Newsflash, bozo – accidental gun deaths don’t happen when you treat guns as the killing machines that they are, rather than something that you casually leave around the house, like your sunglasses or your copy of the National Enquirer.

guns_in_homeGuns are not ‘magic.’ Guns are killing machines. When you buy one, when you pick one up, you and you alone are responsible for happens next. No excuses. No exceptions.

 

Every one of the kids and speakers at the “March for Our Lives” spoke to power, and they did it with the verve and energy of the righteous.

“David Hogg went on to call out local lawmakers and the NRA for not taking the lead.

“It just makes me think what sick f–kers out there want to continue to sell more guns, murder more children, and honestly just get reelected,” he said. “What type of sh–ty person does that? They could have blood from children splattered all over their faces and they wouldn’t take action, because they all still see these dollar signs.”

Yes, kids .. it’s time. It is YOUR time. And we all thank you.

trump vs teen gun heroesI’ll bet Trump’s handlers weren’t thanking you, though. Can you imagine what it must have been like, down in Florida, as his ‘people’ tried to keep him from exploding over someone else getting all the attention? All of those hours when his name and face weren’t glaring at people from every form of media? Oh, it was lovely, all of those hours with nary a tweet nor an opinion from or on Mad King Trump.

All of those hours without the human equivalent of the lactic acid which makes milk taste sour.

It was like spring finally sprang.

it was like the birds came out and sang like they haven’t since November 9, 2016.

snow whiteIt was like an old timey Disney movie when all of the animals dance around Snow White!

But, inevitably, it had to end, and we were back to the gloomy, pessimistic, and frequently salacious non-stop drip of Trump’s bareback rape of America.

I cannot stand anything about the man; he triggers in me an awe-inspiring level of hate and violence – and I’m pretty sure that is how many people feel, both in Canada and the United States.

how cdns see the US in 2018What motivates this madman? What makes him, time and time again, choose to burn down the village rather than built it up? What makes him so focused on proving others wrong just so that he can call even a mild rebuke fake news? What drives him to behave like an abusive parent or husband, giving free rein to his worst impulses, while screaming LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO! LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!

What had most struck me during my two days with Trump was his sad struggle to extract even an ounce of respect from a political establishment that plainly viewed him as a sideshow. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that he’d felt this way for virtually his entire life — face pressed up against the window, longing for an invitation, burning with resentment, plotting his revenge.” McKay Coppins

Well, whatever the reason, America is headed to a precipice .. a crisis in which it will be determined if rule of law and democracy holds or if they have quietly surrendered to authoritarianism and a wannabe ‘president for life.’ Trump the bully, that bundle of ‘malevolence tempered by incompetence‘ will fire Special Counsel Mueller, sooner rather than later, and when he sneers, “what are you gonna do about it?” the course of America’s future will be set.

A democracy or a fascist dictatorship. “What are you gonna do about it?

john bolton war cabinetI think that moment is swiftly approaching. The countdown began when General McMaster was forced to resign and John Bolton, the warmonger who wants to ‘clean house’ and bring in his own staff of warmongers, was installed. As Trump toys with the idea of running America all by himself, taking on the roles of Chief of Staff, Secretary of State, Spokesperson, and, probably, his own living statue for the tourists to admire, he’s just waiting to hear the last senator’s tires leaving Washington for their spring break.

Oh yes, we’ve heard from ‘the boys’ in The House, as they swear that Trump’s told them he will not, absolutely WILL NOT fire Mueller while they’re on hiatus, and he also promises that he won’t drink all the booze in the liquor cabinet, smoke pot, or play with guns or firecrackers. But …

When the adults have all gone off in all directions, leaving Trump home alone until they return on April 9th to get back to governing ….

.. you know it’s gonna be the Trump equivalent of Risky Business

The House and Senate insisting that there would be no need to protect Mueller from being fired, (wink wink nudge nudge,) based on Trump’s assurances that he hasn’t the faintest inclination to do so, are the weak sauce of a government branch that sorta kinda maybe wants to know what really DOES happen when you let a three year old play with a nuclear bomb.

They know damn well that he’s going to fire Mueller … just as soon as he hears how Fox and Friends want him to proceed.

How bad does he want to fire Mueller?

That’s how bad.

 

You Can Choose


life is all about choicesOh yes, you can choose. You can choose pretty much every aspect of your life, from the small to the large, from the clothes you wear to the colour of your hair, and the music that you listen to, and of course, to the politicians you elect to run your country and ultimately tell you … what you can choose.

But it’s not all lollipops and roses, this ability to choose. First off, once we’ve chosen, we might not be happy with what we chose, and we might not want to take responsibility for how our choice worked out.

That’s free choice. And it can be exhausting.

Now, of course, there’s some stuff that is best when it’s our choice. That’s the prime directive from our childhood – it’s all about getting out from under the right of other people to make choices for us. We can’t wait for the day when we’re on our own, able to decide what we want to eat, drink, and wear, and how we wish to behave without being told what we can and cannot do.

And yes, we find out the hard way that these choices are always available to us .. as soon as we are able to pay … financially, physically, and emotionally … for the right to choose, and the consequences of what we have chosen.

It’s a child’s parents who have to teach children how to make smart choices.

One thing that parenting magazines stress is that giving kids virtually unlimited power to make choices is damaging to the child.

Some kids are better at decisions than others; some kids shut down when confronted with too many choices.

But one thing is certain. “An infinite number of choices will make a child anxious and insecure, ” says Dr Gorski. “Think how you feel when you have a dozen important decisions to make. What we think are small issues, such as what to wear, or what to eat, are huge to a child. Having to make too many choices – even kid sized ones – can be overwhelming.”

Children are more comfortable within boundaries. “A child who acts up is begging with her behaviour to be shown limits. ”

I know exactly how they feel. It’s not so different when we get older. Yes, it’s great to be able to choose our destinies – that’s what being an adult is about! However there are times when it’s just so much easier if someone else makes the choice for us.

Take music, for instance. It’s great to be able to access any song we want to hear, and to hear it as many times as we would like, but sometimes, it’s more relaxing to let a radio station’s programmer made that decision. Not only might we hear songs we like, but we might even hear new songs we wouldn’t have found on our own.

no choice is still a choice. jpgOr TV programs. Remember how we used to follow a series for years .. like Seinfeld, or Friends, and Thursday was the night you didn’t go out because you might miss an episode?

Well, it’s not like that anymore, because there are 500 channels on the satellite, and then there’s NetFlix, Hulu, Kanopy, and a half dozen other additional outlets, and then you can also stream television episodes from any point in the history of broadcasting, and watch them at any time of the day or night.

All you have to do is choose which episode … And again .. that’s stressful. What if you decide to watch this one episode, or this movie, and there’s another better one you don’t have time to watch because there’s only so much time in anyone’s life?

You can choose. But sometimes, it is great when someone else chooses for you. Isn’t it great when you ask your official or unofficial ‘other’ what they want to do, and they tell you? In detail? What they want to eat, where they’d like to go, and what they’d like to do after that? It can feel really good to hand over the reins to someone else, occasionally.

If you are the one who is always tasked with making choices and decisions, even about petty things, like what to eat for dinner, it can become exhausting. Deciding what to make, gathering the items needed, and then preparing the meal … and doing that day after day after month after year … the excitement wears off pretty quickly.

choice is energyYou can choose to agree, or disagree, or to start a dialogue where your preferences are considered and best of all, suddenly, you have more choices!

What we learn, as kids, and what we take with us into our adulthoods, is that every group in which we are included is a community, and that not everyone’s needs can be met all of the time. Fair is not always equal. We resent if there is one person making all of the decisions all of the time. We need to spread the freedom of choice around and amongst us.

As we grow and begin to reason, we also see the consequences of our choices, and learn that what might be fun or easy in the short run, could be disastrous in the longer run. Not flossing in your teens might feel like you are getting away with something … but you’ll be making some dentist rich in your forties from the consequences. We learn that we may have to deal with the regret of making a bad choice, but that we can’t always know what is best, and that mistakes, and how we deal with them, are also a part of life.

Choice can be a liberating or a limiting thing, depending on circumstances. There are days when, just like a child, it’s best to limit your choices, to ask yourself to be responsible for just so much, and no more. Limiting the amount of decisions you need to make can be as beautiful a thing as having the reason and responsibility to make really big choices.

You can choose that too.

 

HEY! Give Me Back My Hour!


Happy 100th birthday to a really dumb concept.

We can thank the railroad companies of the world for the entire idea of time zones, which were basically established in the late 19th century in order to get the trains to run on some sort of consistent time. Prior to that, people just looked up at the sun to know what time it was. And at night, it was dark, so they didn’t need much more than a vague idea of the time. railroad workers. jpg

First time zones, and then along came the concept of standard time, and suddenly we needed alarm clocks in order to get to school or work Oh yeah, the Industrial Age was a slave driver.

And here’s the thing – the railroads were such an enormous economic engine, all around the planet, that the replacement of sun time with standard time was enacted with no legislative backing, and very little public resistance.

daylight savingWhen it came time to mess around with the time zones we’d landed up with, proponents of a ‘daylight saving’ bank pushed those who believed moving our clocks ahead by an hour during the months with the most sunshine, would reduce energy consumption and encourage people to get out and do things outdoors.

Well, they were partly right.

Moving the clocks ahead DID influence our behaviour. When the days are longer, later sunsets dramatically increase participation in after school sports programs, and increase paid attendance at pro sports events. Golf ball sales in 1918 increased by 20 percent. In fact, the entire golf industry was well served by daylight saving, with each DST month worth mega millions in additional sales and greens fees.

But energy savings? Not so much. In fact, studies have proven that North Americans use more domestic electricity when they are in daylight saving mode than when they are out. And, yes, they’re going to the park at night, but they’re driving there, so there’s no decrease in gasoline consumption.

daylight saving NativeWe also didn’t have a lot of info, back then, on what messing around with our brain’s sense of time could do, and how changes impacting our sleep could do real harm to our society. We certainly know a lot more about that now.

It was on March 18, 1918 that American President Woodrow Wilson signed the Calder Act, requiring Americans to set their clocks to standard time. And less than two weeks later, on March 31, 1918, the nation’s first experiment with daylight saving began.

And was repealed within a year.

However, many of the larger American cities, including New York City, were setting their own daylight saving policies, apparently without requiring or asking permission of their government to do so. In 1920, it appears that it was the Chamber of Commerce that decided these matters.

How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm, after they’ve seen an increase in sales of everything from golf balls to summer fashion? By 1965, pretty much all of the states had a daylight saving program in effect. And have continued to practice that ‘savings’ ever since.

” There was a time US municipalities could choose whether or not to observe daylight saving. Then, as technology integrated different local economies, differing time changes and zones caused chaos and confusion. In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which required whole states to fully commit to daylight saving.

States have the option of opting out, so long as the whole state stays on the same time. Arizona and Hawaii, for instance, don’t observe daylight saving. Florida is doing something different, in wishing to be on DST permanently, which requires congressional approval.”

Florida lawmakers are considering a “Sunshine Protection Act,” which would make daylight saving a year round reality.

By contrast, consider an experiment done in Queensland, Australia. After a three year trial of pushing their clocks ahead one hour during the summer months, the people had a referendum on the question, “Are you in favour of daylight savings?”

While there were many who argued that later daylight hours in the summer would be beneficial for both economic and public health, in the end the voters narrowly chose to abandon the practice, 54.5% to 45.5%.

The plain truth about daylight saving is that it was never about energy savings, health, or giving farmers an extra hour of light to work the farm.

It was always about corporations lobbying to sell more stuff. There are no energy savings. But we spend more money in those long summer evenings. The big winners during daylight saving are the candy lobby, the barbecue lobby, and the golf ball lobby.

Fore!

Meanwhile, sleep deprivation experiments run on healthy people prove that less sleep leads to slower reaction times and an inability to handle tasks that require concentration.

“There’s some literature showing that there are increases in accidents, workplace, motor-vehicle accidents, and the severity of them is greater following the time change. And there research showing that even a small amount of sleep restriction, an hour or two, can have an impact on your ability to drive, and things like that. “

There’s a movement going on that wants to end the daylight saving programs all over the U.S. Lives are a lot more flexible now, and we tend to set our own schedules, morphing the hours we spend at work and play to fit what works for ourselves and our particular group of friends. We don’t do ‘event TV,’ anymore, we watch it when we feel like it. Our world is 24/7.

So, if we are no longer slaves to ‘official time,’ why change it twice a year? The Monday after the clock springs forward is notorious for having more car accidents, heart attacks, and the general grumpiness of sleepy people. Time to stop that artificial construct, and maybe save a few pedestrians lives …

 

 

 

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Being apolitical, not having the need to follow the politics of your own country and others, is a privilege. It may not seem so, but the very fact that your life and identity does not hinge on the whims and laws of those in power, is a very big privilege denied to many.

Ai WeiWei, a Chinese artist and political activist, has lead an interesting life, most often at odds with authorities. His latest project is the documentary, Human Flow.

Human Flow, an epic film journey led by the internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei, gives a powerful visual expression to this massive human migration. The documentary elucidates both the staggering scale of the refugee crisis and its profoundly personal human impact.”

The trailer images made me weep. Even as countries harden their borders and hearts, the stream of refugees continues. This film should upset you, and make you think. It is only by the grace of your current place and status that you are not one of those fleeing,

 

 

 

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seagulls pulling my girls Wilhelm photography

And now, a delightful palate cleanser! I just discovered this wildly entertaining family, lead by John Wilhelm, an IT Director at a Swiss University.

 

pregnant mama john-wilhelm

The family – mother, father, three daughters and a son – are the subjects of Wilhelm’s surreal and imaginative photo manipulations.

 

beaver child john-wilhelm

It is a world of fantasy and imagination …

 

 

mouse trap john-wilhelm

“Due to the fact that it’s more an obsession than plain passion I call myself a photoholic.” John Wilhelm.

 

Discover more of his wonderful art on Facebook at tuasmalou.ch, or visit his website for even more amazing images!   http://www.johnwilhelm.ch/