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Bob Broughton's Blog: Book Review: Into the Heart of Mexico: Seeing for Myself: A Political Traveler’s Memoir

The title of this book is totally appropriate. Some people who travel go to the beach, visit museums, birdwatch, or sample the local cuisine. Ginny NiCarthy, who lives in Seattle, got into traveling later on in life, and started doing a special type of “adventure travel”; visiting places that are in the news, talking with the local people, and trying to find out what’s really going on.

A particular emphasis is the victims of the “collateral damage” that you hear about in the news stories. NiCarthy makes it clear that bombing by the US is doing far more human damage (Read more…)

Bob Broughton's Blog: Book Review: Seeing for Myself: A Political Traveler’s Memoir

The title of this book is totally appropriate. Some people who travel go to the beach, visit museums, birdwatch, or sample the local cuisine. Ginny NiCarthy, who lives in Seattle, got into traveling later on in life, and started doing a special type of “adventure travel”; visiting places that are in the news, talking with the local people, and trying to find out what’s really going on.

A particular emphasis is the victims of the “collateral damage” that you hear about in the news stories. NiCarthy makes it clear that bombing by the US is doing far more human damage (Read more…)

Mind of Dan: So much for change south of the border.

Now it is just more of the same, regardless of who ultimately wins:

Lessig quits presidency bid, blames political system he wanted to change

See this for a good, succinct, explanation of the problem Lessig is trying to solve

Mind of Dan: Harper Conservatives: The anti-data party

If we are going to survive this century, we need to move away from decision-based evidence-making and truly make evidence-based decisions. Public access to publicly funded science would help ensure that the government relies on the facts, not on ideology. Science is too important to democracy to be kept in a government vault. -Elizabeth May

In this election, the most important issue facing Canada is not the economy, it isn’t deficits, and it is not conservative vs progressive values.

This election the most important issue facing Canadian voters is data. A government must govern the country as it is, and (Read more…)

Mind of Dan: The Canadian War on Science: A long, unexaggerated, devastating chronological indictment

Originally published by John Dupuis

Apr 2006. One Tonne Challenge funding stopped Apr 2006. Tories muzzle environmental scientist Mark Tushingham, told not to appear to promote his novel about climate change (More info: 1.) May 2006. Environmental Groups Call on Ambrose to Resign as Chair of International Kyoto Negotiations Oct 2006. Circumpolar ambassador job axed Oct 2006. Canadian Ambassador for the Environment (Karen Kraft Sloan) position abolished(More info: 1.) Jan 2008. Office of National Science Adviser phased out Jan 2008. Nuclear safety watchdog head fired for ‘lack of leadership’ Jan (Read more…)

Bob Broughton's Blog: Book Review: Into the Heart of Mexico: Expatriates Find Themselves Off the Beaten Path

John Scherber has lived in San Miguel de Allende since 2007. He has written 17 fiction books, and this is his third non-fiction. This book is a series of interviews of extranjeros who have settled permanently in Mexico. Scherber asked a lot of good questions, and got a lot of good answers.

At first glance, the “off the beaten path” in the title might seem misleading, unless your idea of “off the beaten path” is “outside of Puerta Vallarta, Cancun, and Cabo San Lucas”. Two of Scherber’s destinations, Mineral de Pozos and San Luis de la Paz, are only a (Read more…)

Mind of Dan: This

And when I think about it, a lot of “things I want to do” are just learning about and discussing new tools for tinkering with the chain.

Bob Broughton's Blog: Volcanos and monasteries in Puebla State

Popocatepétl as seen from Cortez Pass. Photo byJakub Hejtmánek at Czech Wikipedia.

The volcano Popocatépetl, located between Mexico City and Puebla, is currently 5,426 meters (17,802 feet) in elevation; it’s the second-highest mountain in Mexico. It erupted on May 8, 2013, and has been sending up ash frequently since January 2012. There are webcams pointed at it, and it’s often visible from planes flying in and out of the Mexico City airport. (Sometimes too visible; on July 4, 2013, 40 flights had to be canceled because there was too much ash in the air.)

I wanted to get (Read more…)

Art Threat: Petition to Save Film Heritage in Former Yugoslavia

An appeal from the international community of film scholars, cinephiles and archivists:

Dear Colleagues,

Avala Film, the former Yugoslavia’s oldest film studio – which was at the heart of Mila Turajlic’s 2010 internationally acclaimed documentary CINEMA KOMUNISTO – is to be sold by the Serbian government for the value of the terrain that the “film city” stands on. Adding to that, the entire catalogue of films produced by Avala has been included in the sale, which is scheduled for April 22nd, 2015.

As a countdown to the sale, the team behind CINEMA KOMUNISTO have started a campaign (“The final screening”) (Read more…)

Bob Broughton's Blog: A travel guide to Cuba

I made a visit to Cuba in January, 2015. I relied heavily on Lonely Planet: Cuba. This publication is a bit too friendly to the current government of Cuba, so I’m taking the trouble here to provide my version of The Real Story.

First, I did not go to Varadero or any of the all-inclusive resorts. I didn’t spend a single night in a regular hotel. This is not what the government wants. They want to transport you from the airport to one of the all-inclusives, and transport you back to the airport a week later. That way, you have (Read more…)

Bob Broughton's Blog: Interview with Cuban dissident economist Marta Beatriz Roque

Marta Beatriz Roque is the founder of the Cuban Institute of Independent Economists, and a prominent Cuban dissident who has been in and out of prison several times.

Robert Broughton: You recently had a visit from a group of Democratic U.S. Senators and Members of Congress: Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vermont), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Michigan), Sen. Dick Durbin (Illinois), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Maryland 8th), and Rep. Peter Welch (Vermont at-large). What message did you have for them?

Marta Beatriz Roque: I told the Congressmen (Senators and Representatives) that whether I agreed or not [with (Read more…)

Bob Broughton's Blog: My brief survey of Mexican food

Now that I’ve lived in Mexico for over two years, here’s some culinary discoveries I’ve made.

Coctel de camarones (shrimp cocktails): Shrimp and avocado in a spicy red sauce. I’ve learned that the difference between the good ones and the not-so-good ones is, the not-so-good ones are made with ketchup. The best ones I’ve found in Guanajuato are in the Embajadores Park (see picture). The best one I’ve found in Mexico was in the Old Town of Mazatlan.

Cerdo (pork): There’s something that they do when they cook pork that makes it melt in your mouth. (Read more…)

Mind of Dan: Bah Humbug!

Physicists who want to protect traditional Christmas realize that the only way to keep from changing Christmas is not to observe it.

(via xkcd)

That is all.

Things Are Good: So Many Blogs About Sustainability!

Site like Things Are Good which cover good news about the environment, people, and politics aren’t that rare. When we started this site nearly 10 years ago there were few options to find places that cover good news. That has since changed.

Recently the folks over at AHAALiving did a round up of just Canadian blogs covering sustainability issues.

So we get our thrift shop-sourced knickers all knotted up in the best possible way when we find a good sustainability read online. We’re always looking out for the next David Suzuki (we need so many of them), and we truly (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Sonnet 103

Alack! what poverty my Muse brings forth, So begins Shakespeare’s sonnet number 103 (I started rereading the sonnets recently because, well because it’s Shakespeare, damn it all, and what other reason would anyone need?). It’s a sentiment I well know. The impoverished Muse thing, I mean. There are three dozen pieces in draft mode I’ve […] Shutting down the blog.

Turns out a job doesn’t leave much time for blogging. And a 65-75 hour a week job makes it even tougher to fit in the time to write. Also, I find I’m writing all day, every day. So the urge to write more all night too isn’t that much of a driving force. There is, after […]

Bob Broughton's Blog: Mexico initiates major high-speed rail project

On August 16, Mexican Secretary of Communications and Transport (SCT) Gerardo Ruiz Esparza and Governor Jose Calzada Rovirosa of the State of Querétaro announced the tender for a high-speed passenger rail line between Mexico City and Querétaro, a city of one million people 218 km. northwest of Mexico City. There are five or six potential bidders, and the bids are expected in four months.

The cost of the project is estimated at $3.2 billion. The train will travel at 300 km./hour, making the travel time 58 minutes. The one-way fare is expected to be $24. Trains will run (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: FOAD #Tarsands

With the mountain of evidence piling up against dirty tarsand bitumen extraction, those who’ve sucked on the oilpatch teat too long to maintain any perspective, are desperate to save face.

Some think saving face means making fun of mine.

@saskboy New compelling evidence that saskboys goatee is a climate change denier. @JJRossi_ k I'm done now.— FWC (@welloiledgun) August 09, 2014

Federal government has spent $40 million in promoting the #oilsands: study cc @CleanEnergyCan— Vancouver Observer (@VanObserver) August 09, 2014

@saskboy @JJRossi_ @Fitzzer777 I am (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Cardiac Canada Day

[This is written August 2nd, 2014, but published July 1st, 2014, as it wasn't possible for me to write a first-hand account of this year's Canada Day.]

Canada Day started out like many other vacations spent in the city, with me volunteering an hour at a community booth. I was a bike valet from 11:00 a.m. to noon, watching peoples’ bikes for them. Soon after noon I rode off to find a few minutes of adventure before planning to return home to my girlfriend’s, where we were taking the kids over to a local park to meet another (Read more…)

Bob Broughton's Blog: My Tienanmen Square experience

The current media coverage of the 25th anniversary of the Tienanmen Square massacre has brought back some memories for me. I walked around Tienanmen Square one month after this event.

No, I do not go around looking for trouble. The trip that took me through Beijing was part of a trip that had been planned for a long time. I had been living in Oslo, Norway for three years, and wanted to return to Vancouver by traveling by rail from Oslo to Stockholm, by ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki, by rail from Helsinki to Hong Kong, then flying from Hong (Read more…)

Bob Broughton's Blog: Virginia Intermont College closes its doors

Virginia Intermont College in Bristol, VA held its final graduation ceremony in May 4, 2014. The school had been in financial trouble for a while. The beginning of the end came in 2013, when the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) terminated the school’s accreditation. Although nobody ever confused VI with Harvard, this action was not taken because of academic standards. Instead, the problem was that VI had an unsustainable economic model. What this meant was, most of the school’s revenue was coming from student tuition, and not from endowments and donations.

The SACS decision became a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Read more…)

Art Threat: Transform This: iconic Johnny Cash photo used to protest Saskatchewan university cuts

Things may soon be looking grim for many students and faculty at the University of Saskatchewan.

The Saskatoon-based institution is looking to slash up to $25 million from its operating budget. In a restructuring process the administration has branded TransformUS, the UofS is currently determining “university priorities”, after which they plan to “eliminate or reduce programs or services which rank as having lower priority”.

Many members of the university community have been vocal in their opposition to the planned cuts, arguing that the process lacks transparency and damages the traditional role of a post-secondary institution. Two open letters express (Read more…)

Art Threat: Should artists be able to pay taxes with artwork?

As income tax filing deadlines approach across North America, many Mexican artists will be counting canvases instead of pay stubs. In Mexico, a country that has lost over $870 billion to tax evasion and money laundering, hundreds of artists aren’t required to pay a dime in tax. Instead, they pay the government with artwork.

For decades the federal Mexican government has allowed artists to take part in their Pago en Especie (Payment in Kind) program, which allows them to pay their federal income taxes with their own artwork.

For artists in the program, tax math is incredibly simple. If they (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: ConCalls: No Charges Despite New Prescott #RoboCon Information

After giving some immunity to a man who either lied to me, or to Elections Canada’s investigators, Canada’s election agency has no new charges to announce against the perpetrators of 2011′s Guelph or national election fraud robocalls.

Andrew Prescott’s information fingers the already charged Michael Sona, and the exiled Ken Morgan who is living in Kuwait. Prosecutors will have to decide if he is telling them the truth, or if he was telling me the truth when he told me in an email conversation he’d asked me to share on my blog last year:

Feel free to think whatever you (Read more…)

Art Threat: Revolutionary singer banned from Egyptian arts festival

Mohamed Mohsen, an Egyptian musician who became popular during the country’s 2011 uprising, was prevented from performing at the Cairo Opera House during an arts festival this past week.

Known for his political songwriting, Mohsen says he was given the boot by representatives of the Egyptian president’s office who escorted him out of the building shortly before he was to take the stage, due to unspecified “security concerns”. Interim President Adly Mansour was in attendance, along with military chief Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

This year marked the long awaited return of the Eid el-Fan, which was introduced by President (Read more…)