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A Puff of Absurdity: Child Poverty Worse than During the Depression

The article is about the states, but Canada isn’t far behind.

Children growing up in poor households are likely to lag in their brain development and thereby perform poorly in schools, even if they move in better neighborhoods, a new longitudinal study on child development revealed this week. Examining hundreds of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans from a group of children growing up in poor households, researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison discovered that the regional gray matter volume in case study brains was up to 4 percent below the developmental norm for their ages.

We know it’s wrong, but (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Using Comics to Explain Complex Economics

Economix Comix is a series of comics that looks at, you guessed it, economics. Using comics is a great way to translate really complex economic ideas into something which is more relatable and understandable. Late last year the artist (and brain) behind the series of comics released a look at the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Above is one of the pages from the comic looking at the chaos of a deal the TPP really is. It’s worth a full read if you’re new to learning about the TPP and you can read it all for free here.

Economix Comix (Read more…)

A Puff of Absurdity: Celebrity Impact

So Harry Styles advises us to avoid SeaWorld if we care about dolphins, and everybody’s talking about it.  This could just be the needle that broke the camel’s back; many groups have been trying to stop the hunt of dolphins since The Cove first aired.  Or it could be, as I’ve said before, that some of our celebrities are like royalty of old, and we the peasants who will blindly follow their lead. Is there any single act that had more effect on LGBTQ rights than when Ellen came out on her sitcom? And I remember the first mention I (Read more…)

A Puff of Absurdity: So I Went to the March

I went to the Jobs, Justice, Climate march on Sunday.  It’s taken me a few days to think about what I think about it.

Klein so close at the pre-pre-rally.

I got to Queen’s Park way early and sat under a big tree to read and wait, and I happened to sit where the media were setting up, so right next to Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben.  I missed seeing David Suzuki, and I somehow didn’t recognize Jane Fonda.  But the usual crowd was there.  In the pre-rally show, they faced the media with their backs to us, which felt (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: Read my lips—it doesn’t trickle down

It has been the heart and soul of capitalist market economics since day one—the ultimate justification for an unfair society. If we ensure that the rich get richer, the benefits will trickle down through the economy benefiting all. According to a new and exhaustive study released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), if this was ever true it isn’t anymore.

The report, Causes and

The Common Sense Canadian: Canadian oil industry slashes production forecast by 1.1 million barrels/day due to price slump

Enbridge tank farm at “Refinery Row” in Sherwood Park, Alberta (Damien Gillis)

Read this June 10 Calgary Herald story by Stephen Ewart on the Canadian oil industry’s diminished projections for daily production, amidst $50 oil:

Well, there’s a quick 1.1 million barrels a day towards the no-carbon economy.

Day One of the 85-year time frame G7 leaders established this week to phase out carbon fuels by the end of the century saw Canada’s oil industry sharply lower its forecast for production growth over the next 15 years but it has more to do with economics than politics.

“The primary driver is the change to lower (Read more…)

A Puff of Absurdity: On Being an Ally

I’m not sure how to say this without being blasted, but I’ll try:  I might understand a little piece affecting Rachal Dolezal decision to present as black rather than be a white ally.

I just have one story.  It was about ten years ago.  I had just finished reading The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave Narrative and was floored by it.  I couldn’t believe I had never heard of her before.  The story is compelling, and it’s a good length to offer to high school students.  I was curious if anyone else had tried teaching it (Read more…)

A Puff of Absurdity: OITNB

I read some review somewhere of the first episode of Orange is the New Black on the weekend before I dove into a marathon session of the entire season.  It suggested that the reason people like the show is because it actually shows real relationships between real women.  The context is divorced from most viewer’s experiences, but the conversations are similar.  And we rarely see that elsewhere.

No spoilers.

Okay, sure.  It’s nice that it’s a show about women, for sure, and the dialogue is fantastic – especially between Big Boo and Pennsatucky.  But I don’t relate to it because (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Has fracking peaked?

Bloomberg graph shows cresting of production at major US shale oil plays

Read this June 9 EcoWatch story by Aanastasia Pantsias on the declining production at the big US shale oil plays.

Since fracking began its boom period in the last decade, its supporters have promoted it as the answer to all of the U.S.’s energy issues. It would free us from dependence on foreign oil, they said, thereby strengthening national security. And in fact, the U.S. has become the world’s largest exporter of fossil fuels, while prices at the gas pump have dropped steeply as fracked oil and gas (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: The Boom With the Bomb Train Boom

CBC is a funny beast now. Along with their story parroting what the latest Canadian Energy Research Initiative report says, is RBC/tarsands shill Amanda Lang staring at you from the sidebar. Also we learn about “Dollarama’s winning formula” of selling Chinese mass produced garbage to Canadians, a “retail success story”, and again with “Amanda Lang takes you inside the world of business.”

Back to the oil train story. Outpacing oil trains apparently are wheat and coal. Coal shouldn’t even be burned anymore, now that we know how deadly and damaging it is. The report makes no mention of the (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: The Inexpensive Computer Comes With Expensive Shipping Option Only

When I read about the $9 computer on Crash Bang Labs’ Facebook page, I was ready to help kick start that CHIP. But I got to the payment screen when the shipping amount came up. How much could it cost I’d thought to ship a computer smaller than a couple of AA batteries? I braced myself for an exorbitant $5. If I was American, I’d have that somewhat greedy option. No, the over-popular CHIP computer (shipping next year) comes to Canada and most of the world for $20US (19% more than CAD right now)! It’s literally twice as expensive to (Read more…)

Blevkog: Oil buck$

Playing around on the internet at lunch today, I came across a couple of interesting databases that confirm, at least visually, that we are a petro-economy. With data on the daily price of West Texas crude from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (thanks Google!) and daily foreign exchange closing data the following graph shows […]

The Common Sense Canadian: IMF study: Fossil fuel industry gets $5.3 TRILLION in public subsidies a year

A tar sands operation in Fort McMurray, Alberta (photo: Chris Krüg)

Read this shocking May 19 story from the EU Observer on a new study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which pegs subsidies to the fossil fuel sector at a whopping $5.3 Trillion USD per year.

Around 1.6 million premature deaths would be prevented annually if the world’s governments stopped subsidising fossil fuels, a study by four researchers from the International Monetary Fund found.

The most relative gains could be made in eastern Europe and Turkey, where 60 percent of the people who die as a result (Read more…)

Blevkog: “If I could increase it, I would”

These are the words of Tim Brown, CEO of Nestle Waters, responding when asked if Nestle would decrease the extraction of ground water to supply its California bottling operations. He would increase it if he could. He doesn’t see the historic California drought as anything more than an opportunity – all of those who thirst […]

Blevkog: A simple question, unanswered

If the Trans Pacific Partnership is really the biggest game on the planet, why really is it okay to negotiate it in complete secrecy? Secrecy to the point that our elected representatives, who theoretically should have our best interests at heart (heh) can’t even see the thing? Why is it that the only details we […]

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Ontario Made $226.00 on Diamond Royalty

And I thought Saskatchewan/Alberta’s oil royalties were too low. I wonder how much we make on salt, compared to Ontario.

Blevkog: It has come to this…

I have been placed in a very weird position. This week’s election results in Alberta, in which Rachel Notley handed Jim Prentice an historic electoral slapping, has made me agree, I think for the first time, with something said by Kevin O’Leary, the bloviating former CBC in-house tycoon. In his reaction to Notley’s win, which […]

Bill Longstaff: Can academics serve two masters?

The steady encroaching of the corporate sector into the decision-making processes of our societies is the greatest threat to twenty-first century democracy. This includes encroachment into academia.

This troubling development was brought to light in the recent Alberta election. The NDP proposed a two per cent increase in the corporate tax rate. Jack Mintz, an esteemed University of Calgary

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: American and Canadian Food Waste Both Staggering

Here’s a very interesting and instructive blog post about American food waste.

See Stunning Photos of What Rob Greenfield Finds After Dumpster Diving Across America http://t.co/vXbwgqi5Is pic.twitter.com/OALsW3lT0n

— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) April 30, 2015

As my last blog entry on food waste, Rob Greenfield brought the previous link to my attention. Canada’s $31,000,000,000.00/year of wasted food has to change, as does America’s “food waste fiasco“.

Everything you need to know about #FoodWaste in 11 short films. #DonateNotDump http://t.co/cKhZ10jxSx pic.twitter.com/M7qhamxvhq

— Rob Greenfield (@RobJGreenfield) April 22, 2015

Regina lost one of (Read more…)

Susan on the Soapbox: Fearmongering or Hopemongering? It’s Your Call Alberta

“I think it has deteriorated into groundless name-calling, and it’s certainly not the strategy that I would take.”—Rachel Notley reflecting on comments made by Jim Prentice and Brian Jean

To hear Jim Prentice and Brian Jean tell it, Rachel Notley’s plan to create a royalty commission and increase corporate taxes to 12% is an anti-free market experiment that will plunge Alberta into economic armageddon.

Once everyone stops hyperventilating we’ll take stock…

…okay, ready?

Impact (or lack thereof) on Big Oil

On the last day of the spring legislative session, Brian Mason tabled Bill 209 which would create a resource (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Rethinking Environmental Education Under Neoliberalism

Neoliberalism is the current way of thinking about the economic state of the world. It’s the thinking that has led to the financialization of nearly everything in the world – think about how we justify our thinking in economic terms and not other terms.

The critiques of the mind-numbing neoliberal approach to thinking are growing and the most recent issue Environmental Education Research examines how neoliberalism is changing how we teach. This is good because we need to move our way of thinking beyond an economics-only framework, the more we critique neoliberalism the better the world we can create.

“Environmental (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Saskatoon Riding the Coattails of History

Acknowledging that an important feature in Saskatoon was constructed by the government, then bragging that construction of a future valued feature (a wind turbine) was avoided by the government instead of an opportunity seized upon, is a repugnant attitude. People like Sandra are not leaving a better world for our children, and Stephen Harper’s grand-daughter.

It's Back To The Future for Harper's granddaughter! #cdnpoli @HarpersGDaughtr pic.twitter.com/9JDdd7EAWB

— Stephen Lautens (@stephenlautens) April 22, 2015

Progressive Proselytizing: Seniors are not a good reason for doubling TFSA limit

After years of being promised whenever the federal books got balanced, it looks like the next Harper budget is indeed going to double the contribution for Tax Free Savings Accounts. This policy has long been criticized – including by me – for being a policy that disproportionately provides advantages for the rich. Indeed, the number of people capable of putting aside over $10k in savings per year while working are fairly limited. Today in parliament, Finance Minister Joe Oliver has hit back against these criticisms, effectively pointing out that there is another big group of people who are already (Read more…)

Susan on the Soapbox: Jim Prentice’s Budget: The Not-So-Subtle Language of Money

“There is no fortress so strong that money cannot take it.” — Cicero

On Mar 24, 2015 Jim Prentice sent Albertans a message of such heartless cynicism that only the most naïve amongst us would fail to understand.

Money talks.

Here’s what Jim Prentice’s Budget 2015* told Albertans.

Corporations matter, you don’t

When asked why the government did not raise corporate taxes, Finance Minister Robin Campbell replied “The corporate sector is going to do their part, but we have to do our part also.”**

This is utter nonsense.

Mr Campbell looking somber

The corporate sector did its part (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Baird Gold

It's probably nothing: Foreign Minister John Baird lobbied by Barrick Gold Corp. pic.twitter.com/drIUEvtQKB

— Glen McGregor (@glen_mcgregor) March 30, 2015

It’s not easy for a long-time politician to leave public life, even if they have a golden parachute.