Funny, I always thought that I’d get so much more done. Whenever I felt like I just couldn’t keep up with all of the richness and offerings of modern life, I’d mutter to myself…
“If only time would stop – just for a day or two – and let me catch up on all of this watching, reading, and writing!”
So here it is, and guess what I’ve been doing? Lying on my bed, watching YouTube, playing games on the tablet, and spending quality time with the cats. Between naps.
I have 24 library books here to be read and used for the three major projects I’m working on, but I’ve not opened one of them. Instead I’m storming through my stack of paperback novels, the pulpier the better. Occasionally I feel guilty about not working on those weighty projects, but then I tell myself that I just can’t possibly start yet, not without that one other book that was on its way before the library so abruptly closed.
I keep busy, no question. And I spend a lot of time wondering if I’m sneezing because of allergies, or because of the coronavirus.
I’ve also been doing daily stealth assaults on my local big box grocery stores. I’ll go very early, hoping to run in and out again without any physical contact. From the beginning, I’ve assumed our isolation could get well beyond two or three weeks, and have foraged accordingly. The shelves are full, you can’t squeeze one more item into the freezer, and I think I’m even good on fresh produce, at least for a while. I’m the daughter of a prepper – I was born knowing how to stockpile the essentials.
Which is a good thing, because on my last foray to FreshCo, there was nary an egg to be found, nor a bag of pasta representing. Panic in aisle 3.
(In my own defense – I HAD to do the shopping. If I left the hunter gathering up to the hubby, we’d be trying to divvy up a package of sliced processed cheese, a jar of peanut butter, and a loaf of raisin bread.)
Anyway, I think I’m good. I think we can now pass another couple of weeks without having to resort to UberEats or the like. Based on how the stock market plunged last week, not sure if we could afford UberEats anyway.
For all that, for all of the inconvenience, for all of the upset and the crippling uncertainty of our futures, we’re actually doing pretty good, compared to others. Sure, I’m missing a library book or two that I really wanted to read, but luckily, I wasn’t in the middle of some government tug of war over my income or a missing passport. I’m not dependent on any addictive substances. I’m not waiting for some obscure medication to arrive from some far-off land. Heck, I’m not even waiting on anything from Amazon right now!
Although we worry about our families, and our friends who are vulnerable, we’re stocked up, we’re relatively healthy, we’ve got each other and our cats, and life could be a heck of a lot worse … and is, for many, all over the world.
At this point, all we’re really being asked to do is to stay home and not spread a disease. The Greatest Generation stormed a beach in Normandy – we’re being asked to Netflix and chill.
This is our chance to be unsung heroes, by just staying home and not actively harming other people. We’ve got this.
I worry about those who rely on convening in groups to deal with mental and health issues. So many people who are struggling to survive without drugs or drink, or who are depending on other people sharing helpful words and kindness are suddenly being thrown into close quarters, confronting their demons by themselves under highly unusual circumstances.
However, there’s a bright side. For once, this enforced solitude and curtailment of our usual mad rush through the days is allowing us to actually have time to do some things that we might just brush over normally. We’ve got more time to listen, and to think. We also have the option to be the ‘helper’ in our world; some have been offering to help those who can’t leave their house. Others have been sharing their creative output.
It turns out that musicians, artists, and creatives are far more important that was previously thought
This is a great time for those who have something entertaining to share to get their work out before a larger and more receptive audience than usual. We’ve got a lot of time on our hands. And look! There are people writing poetry, short stories and novels, and sharing their work for free or a minimal price! There are musicians giving free house concerts on Facebook! Sure, there will always be meanies who choose profiteering over sharing, but the good people who just want to be a part of a bigger community far outnumber the bad guys.
The government is also really trying to do it’s best to try and help every citizen survive, even as we shelter in place. Beyond that, some companies are going beyond the minimum, in an effort to soothe the pain.
The United Nations declared internet access a basic human right in 2016, saying that all people must be able to access the internet freely. All well and good in principle, but far too many people can’t afford full internet access in Canada, which has one of the highest cost structures in the world. The good news is, nearly all Canadian internet service providers are suspending data caps and allowing freer wi-fi on their home internet plans right now. And Rogers has made all of its cable channels free to watch.
In both Canada and the US, the government is preparing to spend trillions to keep the economy going. There are plans to ensure a temporary form of Basic Income for all taxpaying Canadians – a good first step in addressing some of our country’s inequalities. The most vulnerable need to be protected. We need to stop the shutoffs of electricity, water, internet that some predatory institutions may attempt. Mostly, we need to spend this money – the nation’s money – on infrastructure and in helping our people survive.
But they’re also talking about using billions and even trillions to prop up businesses that might be best left to fail. The hotel business, cruise lines, airlines, gambling, – these are not necessities, they are extravagances.
I worry that we will follow the ragged script left over from 2008, and once again patch up the buggy whip companies that have survived only by bailouts. People should be demanding that this money be spent on healthier, greener choices. If not now, when?
Times change. People change. Even those who continue to say that humans are not responsible for climate change must have seen what has been happening to the planet since we got out of Nature’s way. Cleaner air and water happen when we’re not inserting ourselves into the natural world, with our needs and our garbage.
Yeah, when it’s all over, we could all be in clover, as Van the Man once said. All we have to do is spend our time and our “Blue Money” wisely.
It will be worth all of the pain if we can come out of this crisis a better planet.
At the end of the Montgomery bus boycott, Martin Luther King Jr famously paraphrased the words of Theodore Parker, American transcendentalist and pastor, when he stated,
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
There are many days when only that aspiration keeps me going. Some days, I’ll find myself wondering if that’s a light up ahead, or just the headlights of an oncoming train …. but after this week, for a number of reasons, I’m liking the odds that it is truly a light.
Three things happened this week to make me think that there might be some hope, and that, maybe – just maybe! we ARE gonna be okay. Maybe that arc really is moving in the right direction.
The first event was long in coming, but something I’d been rooting for; the investigation into Trump’s misdeeds has morphed into an inquiry. Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end of a shockingly corrupt and criminal abuse of power by America’s POTUS.
The way an impeachment works is regulated at the federal level, under the American Constitution. First the Congress investigates, and then, based on their findings, the House of Representatives must pass, by a simple majority of those present and voting, articles of impeachment. Those articles will be the formal allegation or allegations of what are considered to be ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’
According to the Harvard Law Review“The majority
view is that a president can legally be impeached for ‘intentional, evil deeds’
that ‘drastically subvert the Constitution and involve an unforgivable abuse of
the presidency’ — even if those deeds didn’t violate any criminal laws.”
So we’re in phase two now, prior to, hopefully, phase three, wherein the Senate will be called upon to try the accused. Many have said that the Senate will likely fail to actually impeach Trump, but there is some hope that these investigations, and the live television transmittal of the honourable men and women testifying to Trump’s misdeeds/crimes, at home and abroad, will sway the American voters, and by extension, the Republican Senators who are in danger of losing re-election in 2020 if they continue to align with trump.
One big hope is that the Dems get their way, and voting is done by anonymous, secret ballot. If that were to happen, it’s guesstimated that at least 30 Republicans would vote with the Dems, thus ensuring impeachment.
Meanwhile, the POTUS is flailing as the truth emerges about his endeavour to tempt the new President of Ukraine,Volodymyr Zelensky, into corruption. He dangled Congressionally approved military aid for the Ukraine, that would shore up the embattled nation in their war with Russia .. if Zelensky would just grant trump ‘one favour’ …
“When Mr. Zelensky said Ukraine was almost ready to purchase American
Javelin anti-tank missiles so it could better repel armored assaults by
Russian-supported fighters, Mr. Trump pounced.
would like you to do us a favor though,” Mr. Trump responded, beginning a
series of pointed requests. The president pressed Mr. Zelensky to use the help
of Attorney General William P. Barr in opening an investigation of a company
involved in the beginnings of the F.B.I. inquiry of Russia’s 2016 election interference. He also
wanted a corruption investigation connected to former Vice President Joseph R.
Biden Jr., a Democratic rival.
Both held the potential to benefit Mr.
Trump politically. And in case Mr. Zelensky needed reminding, Mr. Trump was
quick to point out that “the United States has been very, very good to Ukraine.”
Mr. Trump’s suggestion that American
law enforcement be directly involved and in contact with Ukraine’s government
marks the first evidence that the president personally sought to harness the
power of the United States government to further a political
investigation.” (from the New York Times, Sept 25/2019)
Actually, trump wanted THREE favours …
from Vice’s coverage of the memo,
1. He asked Zelensky to “look into” Joe Biden
2. He asked Zelensky to speak to Rudy Giuliani and Bill Barr , while insinuating that Giuliani had the real information on corruption in the Ukraine, and smearing the American Ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, saying, “The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that.”
3. He oddly asked Zelensky to investigate Crowdstrike
“I would like you to find
out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you
have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that
went on, the whole situation,” Trump continued.
In a nutshell, trump sought to impel Zelensky, a new president, swept in on an anti-corruption platform, to agree to commit corruption in order to receive monies that had already been pledged to Ukraine, by the American Congress. Trump had NO right to a say in the over $400 million due to Ukraine, yet he behaved as though it were his personal money, bribe money to be used to get what he wanted … a public, foreign investigation into the son of his main opponent in the 2020 election..
“Ambassador Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump
is a businessman,” Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, told House
investigators. “When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who
owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before
signing the check.”
Except that this was not a business transaction, it was a diplomatic, Congressionally approved, transaction, Zelensky owed trump nothing, and it wasn’t trump’s own money. But since trump couldn’t take a cut of the millions, he took the opportunity to attempt to blackmail Zelensky, a move that would seem to be straight out of the Putin Playbook for “how to use kompromat to tie another country’s president to you in perpetuity.” (with at least one chapter on how to best preserve sheets used for golden showers by wannabe presidents.)
There can be NO logical explanation or excuse that makes what trump asked of Zelensky anything other than an attempt at bribery, potential blackmail, an attempt to elevate a conspiracy theory that excuses Russia’s role in election meddling by placing Ukraine in that role, and a gross abuse of power, despite how many frantic and hysterical tweets he vomits up on Twitter.
Hopefully the Republicans will soon see that their desperate attempts to
smear those who have the courage to testify is backfiring upon them. Or maybe
they’re still too terrified of the ‘wrath of trump’ to realize that everyone
around trump eventually winds up under the bus, no matter how good they are at
The second event – la deuxième étoile ! – that heralded a sea change to our society happened, not when Don Cherry said,
“You people love, that come here, whatever it is, you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that,”
No, it happened when Rogers/Sportsnet
caved to the flood of callers who demanded that Cherry be summarily dismissed. That’s
the Free Market that so many extol; in this case, it worked against
those who have pedestaled their hero and that notion. The market/shareholders
spoke, and Don Cherry, still refusing to apologize, fell.
Don ‘Sour ‘Grapes’ Cherry is
85, worth $14 million, makes $800K a year, and is still a miserable cuss. He plays to the mob, and relishes any chance
to punch down at his targets.
Political correctness aside, Cherry was spewing hate and spreading misinformation on Hockey Night in Canada. That’s not free speech, it’s hate speech. As a public figure, and on a platform that reaches millions, his commentary targeted people already vulnerable, because Don Cherry and his fans feel free to look down upon people of colour, and of those who aren’t ‘pur laine’, Canadians.
And whether he liked it or not, he had a signed contract that prohibits
certain forms of speech.
This kind of xenophobia and bigotry is unCanadian, even when it comes
from a man who was once honoured by being ranked at number 7 in the 2004 CBC
miniseries, The Greatest Canadian.
Cherry should have cleared the ice before it all turned into a gongshow.
Event three – and one that, I’m gonna guess, huge portions of this column’s readers missed entirely, happened on Wednesday night, on a double episode of Survivor – Island of the Idols. Survivor got #MeToo-ed.
From the very first episode
of Survivor:Borneo, in the summer of 2000, the reality series has
spoken to a huge swath of Middle American viewers. In that first season, crusty
Rudy Boesch, a 72 year old retired Navy Seal, and still the
oldest contestant to ever play the game, kept a stiff upper lip as Richard
Hatch, openly gay, and flagrantly arrogant, spent many hours parading
around naked in an attempt to rattle the other players. Rudy and Richard became
good friends over the course of the game, and when Rudy died recently, Hatch
was one of the many mourners to pay him tribute. The Rudy/Richard friendship
influenced how many viewers felt about people who, on the surface, appeared
completely unlike themselves. The viewers learned that appearances and even
long held opinions, could be deceiving.
During these 39 seasons, viewers have learned a great deal about opinions, prejudices, and why it’s foolhardy to have preconceived ideas about any other person. Viewers have seen the game, with it’s motto of “Outwit. Outplay. Outlast,” change with the times, even as the definition of what constitutes normalcy, equality, and ‘fair play’ changes as American society itself changes.
In 2003, contestant Jon
Dalton told what host/producer Jeff Probst would call “the
greatest lie in Survivor history” when he concocted a scheme to
manipulate his fellow players by saying that his grandmother had died. She had
not. Although ‘Johnny FairPlay’ entered Survivor history, he didn’t win
the series, and his name became synonymous with UNfair play in the game.
In 2013, bread baking Mormon mama Dawn Meehan had not the slightest qualms about voting off her best buddy Brenda Lowe, despite Brenda having salvaged Dawn’s dignity by finding the missing false teeth Dawn had lost in a pond. It’s a game, and anything that gets you further in the game is by definition ‘within the rules.’ How you live with yourself afterwards is your problem.; if you win, you’ll have a lot of fans, and a million dollars to keep your warm.
In 2019, we are once again revisiting the idea of what exactly constitutes ‘fair play’ in the contest.
As the two tribes merged,
contestant Kellee Kim, a 29 year-old Harvard grad and MBA student,
realized that she’d once again have to deal with contestant Dan Spito, a
48 year-old LA talent manager who had a little ‘issue’ with his physicality
when female players were near. Kellee had briefly dealt with him at the
beginning of the game, and told him in no uncertain terms that she did not like
or want him to touch her. Dan seemed to accept that, and fate sent the two
players off in different directions for the first half of the season.
But since the two teams had
merged and converged in one small area of the island, Dan’s hands were at it
again, tiptoeing through the ladies. And Kellee was not at all happy with his
presumption that her body and hair, as
well as that of other female contestants, were fair game.
the merge feast last night…. I feel someone wiggling my toes, and I’m like, I
wonder who it could be? And it’s him.” said contestant Missy
“It’s inappropriate touching. I’m not an object.”
In one of the segments,
Kellee tearfully told team mate Janet that she found Dan’s attentions
upsetting. Janet hadn’t really noticed that Kellee and several of the other
young women were being targeted. But she
was ready to help, if she could.
But as Kellee told the camera, “It’s super upsetting, because you can’t do anything about it. There are always consequences for standing up. It happens in real life, in work settings, in school … and you can’t say anything because it will affect your upward trajectory, it’s gonna affect how people look at you.”
The show’s producer, in an
unprecedented move, broke the fourth wall, saying, “You know, if there are issues to the point where
things need to happen, come to me and I will make sure that stops. ‘Cause
that’s…I don’t want anyone feeling uncomfortable.”
A title card then appeared on screen, which read,“The following morning the producers met with all the players, both as a group and individually. They were cautioned about personal boundaries and reminded that producers are available to them at all times. Based on the outcome of those discussions, the game continued. In addition, producers met privately with Dan, at which time he was issued a warning for his behavior. Producers continue to monitor the situation.”
If that had been the end of the situation, as usually happens in our society, it would have been just another day in misogyny. But what happened next was a REAL lesson for Middle America; two of the other female players, Elizabeth and Molly, decided to use this moment to hatch a plan that would smear Dan while saving themselves, by making Dan and Kellee targets for elimination. Worse still, they abused the trust and faith of Janet to do so, knowing that Janet would see it as her place, as an older, mother figure, to do whatever it might take to help the girls.
In truth, neither Elizabeth nor Molly actually felt unsafe or uncomfortable around Dan. If anything, they thought he and his wandering hands were a non-issue, easily ignored.
Inevitably, #MeToo came up squarely against game strategy, and it was Kellee who was voted ‘off the island’ while Janet was left to understand that the other girls had willfully played upon her better nature to further their own game, at Kellee (and Janet’s) expense.
At a later tribal council, the women tried to defend their actions by calling it ‘game play,’ while a male player, Aaron, refused to believe that it had happened, because, “if it had, I would have known.”
Jamal tried to explain why Aaron was wrong, saying,
“This whole idea that you would have known about it – that’s exactly
what happens in the real world, guys. When a woman brings up a charge, and
people want to negate whether or not it’s legitimate, they say, well if it was
such a big issue, then she would have brought it up last year, two years ago,
three years ago. We are not entitled to ‘know’ things just because we’re men,
or just because we’re in power. “
As Kellee had said, “There are always consequences for standing up. ” For his pains, and his insight, Jamal was the next to leave the game.
As Jeff Probst later said, “Survivor is a
microcosm for our real world. Situations just like this one are playing out in
offices and bars and colleges across the country and the world. “
And that is, of course, sadly true.
However, it was the enormous backlash against the two female players, for their
deceit, and their ugly manipulation of Janet’s protective nature, that raged
mightily across social media on Thursday
morning that really gave me hope. Is it possible – can it really be – that
sometimes the right people will actually be punished for making the lives of
others miserable, just because they can?
This is the week that #MeToo came to reality TV, big time, and Middle America got to see how it works, from all sides and angles. Anyone that watched the double episode play out is now in possession of all the information they need to make life better for 51% of society (that’s women, by the way.)
The question is, will they? Can they be bothered? Or is life a whole lot easier when we just toss off the island those people who are only asking to be treated like people instead of objects?
I will continue to hope that the light at the end of the tunnel really is dawn breaking somewhere.