Indiana – The Sting In The Tale


It almost seems redundant to once again revisit the events in Indiana of several weeks ago. And I wouldn’t even bother, except that I’ve seen several items on the television and in the media that miss a very important part of the story.

indiana stampIn a nutshell – Indiana Governor Mike Pense signed SB 101 into law on March 26, 2015. The bill, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was a variation of a similar bill that 19 other states had enacted. There was a slight difference with Indiana’s version, however, since the bill carried with it a significant risk of discrimination or refusal of service state wide to the LGBT population.

Before the bill had even been signed, several large companies with business in Indiana threatened to withdraw from any further dealings with the state. The bill was signed despite those protests.

indiana how stupidWithin hours, social media had erupted in fury, and businesses and other municipalities began to announce a boycott of the state, including CEOs from Angies’ List, Salesforce Marketing, Apple, PayPal, Anthem Inc., Eli Lilly, Cummins, Emmis, Roche, Dow AgroSciences. Mayors of some other American cities would no longer allow their representatives to visit Indiana on the jurisdictional dime.  As the potential loss of income and taxes mounted into the hundreds of millions of dollars, the Governor began to back pedal on his decision, first announcing that the bill was simply being misunderstood, and then admitting that they would be putting amendments into the act, in an effort to calm the troubled waters.

In the midst of this chaos, a video was released that quickly went viral on Youtube. The owner of a small mom and pop pizzeria was filmed saying that their business would refuse to cater gay weddings.gay wedding pizza

The story was that ABC-57 reporter Alyssa Marino  walked into a random shop – Memories Pizzeria –  in the small town of Walkerton (Population 2,300),  and asked owner Crystal O’Connor how the business felt about Indiana’s new Act. Her reply was that she was in favour of it, noting that while anyone could eat in her family restaurant, if the business were asked to cater a gay wedding, they would not do it. It conflicted with their biblical beliefs. The question was entirely hypothetical, as the business had never been asked to cater a same-sex wedding.

The backlash was immediate. Within 24 hours, after numerous emails, phone calls, and threats from bodily harm to bomb threats, the business was closed. memories pizza

But within hours of the reportage, a GoFundMe page had appeared, with donations being sent to the family to offset their financial downfall. The page was shut down after 3 days, when donations reached over $840,000 dollars.

http://www.gofundme.com/MemoriesPizza

At the time, I thought the funding page was set up by a journalist who actually understood and empathized with the chaos that poor couple had been sucked into, based on a response to a hypothetical and malicious question by an opportunistic media. If that was the case, and based on how eagerly the public will turn on anyone for any perceived racism, sexism or other ism, I could only wish the couple well, and applaud the journalist’s actions. It’s the little guy, the Joe Public, who often winds up used and tossed aside in a ‘scandal’ such as this, and my concern was that they not be left penniless for their inadvertent martyrdom to their religious beliefs.

If only that high-minded sentiment had been true. And here’s where so many reporting on the situation have dropped the ball. As it turned out, the entire stunt was cooked up by a contributor to Glenn Beck’s website The Blaze. The contributor, Lawrence Jones, set up the page, and is also a political operative who has worked with James O’Keefe from Project Veritas as an “investigator” who has been involved with other political grandstanding in the past, including an attempt to “expose” fraud among “Obamacare Navigators” in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. the blaze indiana

Lawrence Jones did not altruistically set up the GoFundMe page to help the Pizzeria or its owners; the page was set up to create divisiveness and to establish an “us against them” mentality, pitting religious Christians and their beliefs against the 5% of the country who identify as non-heterosexual.

I learned a lot about the world, and myself, during that week. I learned that most of us who live in a technological world are hyper-aware of events in other parts of the world, over which we have little or no control. knee jerk reactionsI learned that politically inclined, social media addicts – like myself – tend to leap to conclusions, and knee-jerk into a strong left or right position. Some of those addicts will respond to those events with far too much enthusiasm, ramping up from their role of “concerned citizen” to “potential arsonist’ in the blink of an eye.

my right to discriminateWe may be brimming with good intentions, and righteous beliefs, but those beliefs have to be tempered with the knowledge that there are human beings being effected by our enthusiasm. It’s a very fine line between standing up for our own rights, and taking rights away from others.

I also learned that those of good hearts have to be constantly on the defensive against those with radical ideologies, whether religious or non-religious,  who seek to manipulate those kind hearts for their own gain, and perceived political support.

Universal-KindAnd the most interesting thing I learned along the way was that many of my friends who identify as LGBT were completely unaware of the bill, or any of the events that followed the bill’s signing. That in itself was sociologically fascinating – it would seem that the most incensed and obsessed torch bearers were not those directly effected by the bill. We who sprang into action were more concerned that those we love or care about, be they hetero or homosexual, be respected for their diversity and rights, as human beings. Human beings are not toys to be used as political playthings.

Define-PoliticsIn every society, there is a wide spectrum of beliefs. The key to an advanced and civilized society is to respect EVERY member who dwells within. Pitting citizens against each other, especially for political gain, is a dirty ploy that should not be rewarded by putting those divisive elements into power.

Canadians Mustn’t Die to Protect Harper’s Ego


Whenever I watch anything about war, be it fiction or non-fiction, featuring North Americans, or any other soldiers on the planet, I am struck by one horrible, indefensible truth.

I am long past romanticizing war. The young men … the young and the foolish and brave men, barely past their teens or just into their twenties … believe with all of their hearts that they are acting in the best interests of their tribes. quote-young-men-go-to-war-sometimes-because-they-are-have-to-sometimes-because-they-want-to-always-mitch-albom-206250

Young men, whose hearts are in the right place, but who have yet to achieve total mental maturity, take up arms against others, others that they have been told either have something their country needs, or others who have a predetermined antipathy against their country.

cheneyOld men, men that could not be drafted into service, send these babes out in to the world, armed with little knowledge, but strong prejudices, drilled into them through military exercises, and constant reminders that the most honourable thing they can do is to die for their country.

Those who survive the horror of war, at least since Vietnam, come home not to respect and a grateful nation, but to a country set on denying them timely help in recovering from physical or emotional trauma. Canada and the United States are unable to cope with the wounded from the last several skirmishes. There are veterans of foreign wars living on the streets in North America, while others battle endless bureaucracy to simply get the care they were promised would be available at the end of their military tours. Some of these veterans will kill themselves in despair, willingly or through drug usage meant to dull the pain, before they finally get to the top of the treatment line.

political hypocrisyAnd yet, come Remembrance Day, every politician will be piously doffing their metaphorical hats in respect, a respect in lip service only.

And now, this Easter weekend, Prime unseat harperMinister Stephen Harper, so terrified of losing his seat in Parliament that he will inflate one drug addled, mentally ill man’s assault on the Parliament into terrorist activity, has decided to plunge Canada into what is essentially an illegal war, unsanctioned by the United Nations, and unasked of by the Canadian citizens who will be paying the bill for yet another foreign war, and sending their sons and daughters to be slaughtered to his monumental hubris, and need for power at any cost – even that of the Canadians he was elected to serve.

“”Our last war, in Afghanistan, lasted 12 years. The kill count was 158 Canadian service men and women, one diplomat, one journalist and two civilian contractors. There are some 2,100 Afghanistan veterans trying to recover from combat and other non-battle injuries. In terms of treasure, the total bill to the country is $12 billion. This includes $8.4 billion for the mission itself and $447-million to take care of our veterans.”  http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thesundayedition/why-is-canada-at-war-the-politics-of-fear-listener-mail-school-of-gospel-the-sinking-of-the-lusitania-1.3018334/why-is-canada-at-war-michael-s-essay-1.3018363

He has no right, and no mandate, to take Canada into a war slipped through on the eve of Easter and Passover weekend. His cadre of supporters, more cowed supplicants than devoted fellow party members, voted 142 to 129 to pass this war resolution. It is a shameful, vile moment in Canada’s long history of peace keeping.

“War is the ultimate acknowledgement of collective failure. War means that we don’t know how to confront evil by any means other than killing and dying.” Michael Enright.

In generations to come, Stephen Harper’s legacy will include this decision to side with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, whose family has been slaughtering Syrians for decades and continues to do so. His reputation in the rest of the civilized world may never recover. But it is we, the Canadians, who will have to live with the shame and our shattered world image.

war is failure

Survivor : Worlds Apart – March 26, 2015 – Be Careful What You Wish For


Previously on, Survivor: After a surprise switch, Kelly was the only Blue Collar that landed up on the unimpressive new Red /Nagarote tribe with Will, Hali, Jenn, Carolyn, Max, and Shirin. The rest of the Blue Collars enjoyed a 4/3 advantage in their new Blue/Escameca tribe of Dan, Sierra, Mike, Rodney, Tyler, Joaquin and Joe. Sierra was not happy to be the only woman on the uber male team, as she disliked her former tribe mates. She hoped to connect with the three males of the former No Collar tribe.

Survivor WA MaxMax won the battle for most annoying tribe member, and became the 5th person voted out of Survivor: Worlds Apart. 13 are left – who will be voted out tonight?

Shirin is devastated to have lost Max, her closest friend and confidante. She had spent all of her time with Max, until the new players arrived on the team, and now, her efforts to woo the newbies to their side has angered her past team members. No one wants to play with her, she pouts. “Is there something wrong with me?” Shirin tells us about growing up in a rich, Orange County suburb amongst kids that were white and prettier than she. She’s going to have to do now, what she did then; deal with it, adapt, fix it.

On the Escameca beach, Rodney’s looking for a new BFF. He’s sick of Dan’s stories, and even Mike, who had been his bestie last week, has been found wanting this week for not being a big enough partier. Mike goes to church on Sunday, doesn’t drink, and doesn’t have sex. So Rodney decides to start a bromance with Joaquin. Joaquin’s good with that.

Survivor WA joaquin and rodneyWith a new bestie and ally, Rodney feels like he’s king of the world. “All the fools out there who think I’m dumb and ‘oh, he talks like an idiot’—wait till you see what I have planned for this game.”

The players greet Jeff Probst at the Reward Challenge site. This week, the teams will race up a giant tower and through a series of obstacles. At the top, they will launch sand bags, one at a time, at targets out in the field. First team to hit all six targets wins reward – a trip to a turtle sanctuary, where they’ll watch turtles migrating from the sea, back to the beach where they were born, to lay their eggs deep beneath the sand. While watching, they’ll feast on beef stew, mac & cheese, and hot chocolate. Survivors ready?

Both teams race through the beginning of the trial, but things get tense when Escameca takes a 4-2 lead. Determined to win, the Nagarote players dig deep, rally, and win the challenge!

Shirin hopes that their win and reward will help her to find a way to bond with the other players. Everyone else is just excited about eating real food with real utensils! After their feast, they take flashlights to the beach where the migration of the giant turtles occurs. Out of 120 eggs lain, only one will survive. Jenn is excited by the sight and the lesson. “It made me realize that a turtle’s chances in life are way worse than me winning Survivor. I do have a 1 in 14 chance of winning as opposed to a 1 in 100 chance of living. So that’s cool.”

When Joe, Dan and Mike head off to Escameca’s beach to fish, Joaquin approaches Sierra about forming an alliance with himself, Tyler and Rodney. She’s interested, but doesn’t trust Rodney. But if she has to work with Rodney to work with Joaquin, then so be it.

survivor WA RodneyRodney now thinks he’s got the game under his control … he can already taste the win. His first move will be for the tribe to throw the Immunity Challenge, so that they can vote Joe off the island.

Rodney sells this plan to Mike, who doesn’t think it’s a great idea; historically, throwing a challenge always backfires. But he doesn’t care about the current tribe, as his real alliance is with Kelly and some other players on the other tribe. If his team throws a few challenges, Kelly’s odds of being safe on the other side increase.

So, everyone troops off to the Immunity Challenge, which is a memory tester. There are a series of items in a specific order that two opposing players need to memorize. Once they have, they pull a lever to drop a curtain on the items, and then race back to put them in the right order before their opponent to score a point. First team to three points wins immunity, and the Immunity Idol, which to me looks like a rather dissolute Mr. Peanut ™. Survivor WA Mr Peanut

First up is Rodney vs Caroline. Caroline wins easily, especially as Rodney is a bad actor, who makes little effort in pretending to score the point. Hali wins the next point for Nagarote as well. The game continues, with Escameca coming back, bringing the score to 2/2, with Mike vs Kelly as the potential tie breaking bout.

Kelly is first to close the curtain, but Mike lingers, staring at the closed curtain. But Kelly can’t remember the order of the items. Mike purposely puts his items incorrectly, and they both have to go look at another set of items. Mike whispers to Kelly, “listen to me, I’m giving it to you. Listen to what I say.” He then proceeds to name all of the items, before they race back to solve the test.

Despite Mike continuing to give the order of the items aloud, Kelly again gets the order wrong. So it’s back to the curtain for a last try, this time with just five items. This time Mike tells Kelly, “I will call out the order, but I will switch the bottles.” The only way Mike could be any more helpful would be for him to actually place her items correctly by himself. And so this time, Kelly wins and Nagarote is safe from the night’s Tribal Council.

Once Kelly realizes that Mike threw the challenge, she’s surprised, but feels she can really trust him. She can’t wait to get back to her Blue Collar tribe, where she feels she belongs.Survivor WA mike

Mike, on the other hand, feels like, “a little something inside of me died today.” And he’s beginning to see Joaquin as a bad influence on Rodney. Rodney, meanwhile, is confident that he has everyone in his pocket – they’ll be voting Joe out that very night.

Mike lets Joe know that Tyler and Joaquin are gunning for him. Joe tried to reach out to them, but neither was interested. If Joe, Mike and Dan want to be safe, they’ve got to get Sierra on their side. The problem is, Sierra is still angry at Dan for being rude to her after Lindsey’s blindside.

But Dan’s willing to grovel if that’s what it takes to get rid of Joaquin. Sierra, as the swing vote, is now being wooed by both sides, unsure of whom to trust, but aware that she’s protected no matter how she votes.

Survivor WA tribal councilAt Tribal Council, Jeff wastes no time laying out where the tribe stands since the switch up. They have 4 Blue Collars, 2 White Collars, and one No Collar trying to work together. He asks Joe how the Blue Collars acted when they returned to the camp. Joe notes that they seemed one big happy family – on the surface. But that hid certain cracks in the group – dysfunctions, as Dan mentions. Tyler says they noticed a lot of bad blood and animosity, most of which revolved around Sierra.

Sierra agrees, adding that she was accused of being bad at challenges and around camp. She felt picked on, and Mike was the only person who stepped in and told the others to leave her alone. She’s felt more appreciated by the three new camp mates (Joe, Tyler and Joaquin) in three days than in the first days she shared with her Blue Collar mates (Mike, Rodney and Dan.)

With those cards on table, Rodney still can’t see the split in the tribe. He’s confident that everyone is behind him, and that he’s in a great position. Joe says that things may be changing, but as far as he knows, he’s on the very bottom of the structure, with no allies.

Jeff notes that the decision made tonight could be a very big one. And now, it’s time to vote. Jeff reads out the names – three votes each for both Joe and Joaquin. The deciding vote is for Joaquin, who becomes the 6th person voted out of Survivor: Worlds Apart.

Although Joaquin was the one blindsided, Rodney looks as though he’s just found a half worm in his apple. He’s furious! If this was a movie, he’d turn into the Hulk™ or Godzilla™ and destroy a city.

Jeff tells the others, “Your success in this game depends on your ability to exploit or repair those cracks day by day. “

Survivor WA JoaquinJoaquin’s exit interview: “I didn’t see it coming, you know, totally got blindsided by the four, I don’t know who. I have a good guess. I’m sure, you know, Mike was obsessed with Sierra, and I was getting too close to Sierra, I was getting too close with Rodney. They were feeling like I was pulling their tribe away from them, and they were like, you know, let’s get this guy outta here. But this is my fate, and I’m gonna take it, with a smile on my face.”

Next time on, Survivor: Rodney feels betrayed by his Blue Collar family. “The people who did me wrong today are gonna pay for that ^*^%.” But in Survivor, there’s always time for revenge. The tribes merge, which prompts Rodney to decide, “I felt extremely disrespected by this group, so – me and numbers are donezo.”

My take on this episode: Throwing a challenge is bad game strategy. Has it ever actually worked in Survivor gameplay? Kudos to Mike for realizing that he’d crossed a line when he agreed to go against his own morals.

Survivor WA JoeWhy is Joe always being targeted by his tribes? Is it his hair, his laid back attitude, his athleticism, his great smile, his team spirit? Agreed, all of these things make him a threat, but also a great person to work alongside until closer to the end of the game. For the last several seasons, the players seem to always be working the last part of the game before they’ve understood where they are in the beginning and middle.

With the merge next week, everything may change. I think that smaller alliances will spring up, working together when necessary, but ultimately dividing the tribe further. Rodney may find himself targeted from several sides. Shirin and Tyler need to make themselves more visible with the tribe to stay in the game.

Philip Morris International Is A Big Fat Bully


The sixties and seventies were great times to be young and sure of your thoughts and beliefs. I protested everything back then; it was fun, and in my arrogant, know-it-all way, it appealed to my sense of theatre. And I smokedrolly rollies, which I lit with a wooden match struck against my jean zip.

Then Life (with a capital L) intervened. Marriage, a baby, and the pursuit of a career (or two or ten) kept me sidelined from the news and politics. It was all too much trouble. I’d let my husband and his friends yammer on about the world; my girlfriends and I had fun things to talk about, and politics was not fun.

I adapted a philosophy based on something I’d heard along the way: “if little children won’t die from it, then don’t worry about it.” It made sense to me.

As a Canadian, my life had not been touched much by wars around the globe. I lived in a free and democratic society, and was free to speak my mind, and vote for whomever I thought might do a good stuff of governance.

But a few years ago, I began to realize that a lot of the things that I hadn’t worried about had gone from minor annoyances to global issues. Worse still, it seemed like my freedom, along with many other people’s, to speak their mind had become not a freedom, but a privilege, able to be snatched away at any time, by anyone who questioned my words.

And that ain’t right. And little children ARE dying from it.

Our not speaking up, our having ‘better things to do,’ is catching up with us. There are a lot of bullies out there, bullies with money and power, and there’s no limit to what they feel they must shove into their greedy maws.greedy desire

So it’s time to speak up. BUT – now it’s scary.

How scary? Well, I realized just how scary it’s become to speak up when I watched John Oliver deliver a show that focused on how Big Tobacco wages war against the laws of small countries, even going so far as to threaten to sue countries if they can’t have their way. I actually worried for John Oliver.

And that ain’t right.

So my little part of speaking out today, is sharing John Oliver’s investigative report. And I urge you to pass it on.