Putting lipstick on a pig: A Commonwealth Games update

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the Halifax bid for the Commonwealth Games, but that’s not to say nothing is happening. No, it’s just getting started.

The Halifax Council is holding its budget for the 2014 Commonwealth Games bid close to its chest until Thursday. Last night, council unanimously approved the unreleased number, which council has said in the past it hopes to be in the $1.5-million region. It’s doubtless they’d like to put a little distance between the announcement of this number and the announcement that the city has posted a deficit on the year.

Meanwhile, Fred MacGillivray, head of the committee, flew business class to Qatar to spank the monkey on the municiple tit watch the Asian Games. Naturally, seeing how athletic events are held in the desert half-way around the world is of critical importance to HRM and its bid. Or something. All I can say is that it is a good thing for HRM that they have upgraded their propery assessment program so that now I get reassessed every year – someone’s gotta pay for this shit, and it might as well be me. Any chance of a reach-around, Fred?

I just can’t wait til the real bills start rolling in!

Does Sheila Fraser do municiple work?

Meanwhile, Halifax’s downtown gets more and more violent. At least now the mayor appears to have noticed. It took the murder of a US sailor to prompt Him to get off His ass and at least discuss hiring more cops. I don’t think I’m being too cynical when I suggest that the murder of locals is given a pass because it doesn’t make CNN, and making CNN for murdering visitors just ain’t good for the bid, is it Peter? Not as good as, say, slagging your competition for the very same thing?


I’m so Food Insecure I Could Eat a Horse

In my wide-ranging and often random travels through the world of the Internet, I came across a great story from the Santa Clarita Valley (California) Signal. A little article on the uses of Doublespeak.
The Dubya think-tank, in its incredibly finite wisdom, has eliminated hunger in America. Before you run out and cry, “Miniature American Flags For Everyone!”, let me clarify : they’ve eliminated the word hunger from the government vocabulary. Now, instead of going to bed hungry, millions of Americans will be going to bed ‘food insecure’. As if that makes it (pardon the pun or whatever) more palatable.

It’s like I’ve discovered a new religion, and Georges Orwell and Carlin are the prophets. Can anyone with a modicum of intelligence actually believe that by changing how it is referred to that a problem will somehow seem better? It’s an insult to the dignity of those whose reality includes an empty stomach and a bleak future.

That’s the insidious part of Doublespeak, and it’s conjoined twin, Doublethink. By limiting or changing how things are expressed, you can limit how things are perceived, and how they are understood. If those who oppose your ideas aren’t progressive enough or politically correct enough, it makes us better than them, doesn’t it? That’s a tactic that may work if you limit opposition by making the opposite pole seem unreasonable or dangerous. One of the best rhetorical tricks ever was the labeling of the Anti-Abortion movement (which it is, no question) as Pro-Life…Which makes your opponent Pro-Death, or worse, Anti-Life. How can you support that?

How can you not want to War on Terror if the alternative is Making Terror Welcome with Milk and Cookies and Perhaps a Pair of Comfortable Slippers and a Pillow for its Terrory Head?

Language, by its nature, defines understanding. Limiting language limits understanding and reduces the freedom to interpret, which limits reasoning, which leads to accepting the word of authority about What’s Best For Us. Questioning authority has never been more crucial to our survival as a species, and the movement is afoot to head that off at the pass. The easier it is for them to define reality as they see fit, the more they can make the unpleasant aspects of that reality disappear, and make the familar threatening.

We, each of us with the power to reason and question, is fighting the war on terror. The people creating the terror are not in some far-off land, however. They are right here, where we elected them to be.


Selling Our Souls, one Dollar at a Time….

Odd – one would think that an organization named the National Science Teachers Association would be more than happy to receive an offer of 50,000 free DVD’s of Al Gore’s documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. But apparently not – whatever reason would they have to turn down educational resources(something most teachers of my acquantence aren’t exactly overly burdened with)? Oh wait, maybe this might explain it.

Accepting the DVDs, they wrote, would place “unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters.” One of those supporters, it turns out, is the Exxon Mobil Corp.

That’s the same Exxon Mobil that for more than a decade has done everything possible to muddle public understanding of global warming and stifle any serious effort to solve it. It has run ads in leading newspapers (including this one) questioning the role of manmade emissions in global warming, and financed the work of a small band of scientific skeptics who have tried to challenge the consensus that heat-trapping pollution is drastically altering our atmosphere. The company spends millions to support groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute that aggressively pressure lawmakers to oppose emission limits.

But Wait! There’s more;

And Exxon Mobil isn’t the only one getting in on the action. Through textbooks, classroom posters and teacher seminars, the oil industry, the coal industry and other corporate interests are exploiting shortfalls in education funding by using a small slice of their record profits to buy themselves a classroom soapbox.

NSTA’s list of corporate donors also includes Shell Oil and the American Petroleum Institute (API), which funds NSTA’s Web site on the science of energy. There, students can find a section called “Running on Oil” and read a page that touts the industry’s environmental track record — citing improvements mostly attributable to laws that the companies fought tooth and nail, by the way — but makes only vague references to spills or pollution. NSTA has distributed a video produced by API called “You Can’t Be Cool Without Fuel,” a shameless pitch for oil dependence.

Along with propaganda challenging global warming from Exxon Mobil, the curricular offerings included lessons on forestry provided by Weyerhaeuser and International Paper, Borowski says, and the benefits of genetic engineering courtesy of biotech giant Monsanto.

Maybe the NSTA should change their name – the American Association of Classroom Whores, mayhaps


Testosterone diplomacy

It is important to remember that when you send troops into a foreign country, the soldiers you send become your diplomats – the face that represents your nation and interests. Here is an interesting little clip of how American “diplomats” are conducting themselves in Iraq. Not grotesque, but disturbing.

h/t to Tom Tomorrow



This past week I sort of faded from the blogosphere and kind of fell out of touch with news in general. No single excuse – just busy. In any case, I come back to the real world to find that Stephen Harper has proposed a motion to “recognize the Quebecois as a nation”, which then sailed through Parliament without anyone actually defining either of the words “Quebecois” or “nation”.

To rephrase last night’s motion:

We recognize people we can’t identify as something we can’t define.

Is anyone else as worried as I am about what this could lead to when lawyers get hold of it?


Expressing a desire for peace…

Is apparently a crime in some municipalities in the United States. Well, at least by certain Homeowner’s Associations. First off, I can’t understand how displaying a sign of peace as part of a Christmas decoration is a bad thing. And secondly, when they state that displaying a peace sign is offensive “when our country is at war”, they will have to prove to me that their country is actually at war. Yes, the US military is at war – and 2.5 of their members are dying every day, but there is no way in hell that the nation is at war. Save for a few magnetic “we support the troops” bumper decals for their SUV’s and a few poor people dying for Haliburton’s profit margin, the nation is not at war. Hell, they are even getting tax cuts, that’s how seriously they are at war.

No, the US is not at war and this is just another example of the self-imposed totalitarianism writ large across the soul of the United States. Well done, George, well done Dick.