Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

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.

Progressive Proselytizing: How much should graduate students be paid?

Being a graduate student is in some sense in the middle of two extremes: being a student primarily benefiting oneself and being a paid worker benefiting society. Before graduate studies, one is an undergraduate where nobody would expect to be paid to be an undergraduate. After graduate studies, one is (hopefully) going to be paid a paid a sum commensurate with the skill the knowledge accrued during graduate studies and be doing work that, by and large, can be said to “benefit society”. During graduate studies, however  it is somewhere in between. Graduate students are both benefiting themselves by increasing their future potential (Read more…)

cmkl: Canada’s public sector keeps private sector pain at bay: Michael Babad in the Globe

Okay, that’s my take on his headline. Unlike him, I am morally and contractually bound not to repeat the enemy’s framing. At least in a headline. But apart from that Babad’s commentary in the Globe today is just about right. It’s a critique of a CFIB study complaining about how much harder life is for … Continue reading Canada’s public sector keeps private sector pain at bay: Michael Babad in the Globe →

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Saskatchewan Needs a Real Change of Destination

Greg is making a good point in his latest column, but I had to throw in a Green campaign slogan into the title in good fun. The bottom line really is that the Sask Party is propping up the dying fossil fuels industry, while calls to divest from it are coming from around the world. There’s no stopping this change (for the better).

While the Saskatchewan Party remains bent on thinking small, any reasonable look at the world around us suggests it’s long past time for a big change in direction. And if if this year’s budget again fails (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Premier Wall Takes Potshot at First Nations Leaders’ Pay #skpoli

.@TDellerCBC I'd have to agree with the FSIN leader that @PremierBradWall took a pot shot at leaders' pay, rather than offering to help.

— John Klein (@JohnKleinRegina) March 4, 2015

The Premier said:

“It underscores the need for leadership at the local level, including — and let’s be clear — including on the part of chiefs and council,” he said.

“We also saw a report on the fact that chiefs and council in this province and right across the country get paid, as they should, for their services and some of them get paid a lot. You know, (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: How Marx Presaged Today’s Canada

“The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country,” wrote Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels, in 1848, in the Communist Manifesto. I came across this paragraph in Prof. David Harvey‘s book, A Companion to Marx’s Capital, recently and the quote from the Communist […]

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: And Now, For the TFSA Switch!

Following up my blog post of 4 years ago about Harper’s tax break for the wealthy are stories on CBC and elsewhere regarding the TFSA folly. The increase benefits only ~39% of Canadians who’ve managed to open such a savings account.

“Harper pledges to double tax-free savings limits – but not till deficit is beat” And you have to give him credit, he’s going to be right. Because he won’t be in office when the deficit is beat, a Conservative government doesn’t know how to go out of deficit (history shows they only go into them).

“TFSA limit could (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Fossil fuel era drawing to a close…except in Canada

Adrian Wyld/CP

The following is the sequel to an earlier story by Will Dubitsky on the growing green economy and Canada’s failure to take advantage of it.

In the first part of this story, I discussed how Canadian and Quebec leaders are largely ignoring the potential of high job creation, high growth green sectors, while China, Europe and the US show real leadership in this space. Here, I will dig deeper into the policies and organizations that are foolishly banking on the Canadian resource-based economy as the key to economic development. While President Obama sits poised to veto the Keystone XL pipeline, signalling the (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Christy Clark’s LNG-fueled Fudge-it Budget…and the enabling NDP

Premier Christy Clark made big election promises about managing BC’s economy (CP)

Welcome to Ruritania! Where is Peter Sellers when we need him?

We now have a legislature pretending to act like big kids do, leaders acting as if they really are in charge, a government out of control, and an opposition dedicated more to supporting the government than to raising issues.

Through the looking glass: Clark’s surreal throne speech

The Throne Speech was really quite funny when you think of it. The more LNG companies withdraw their undertaking, the more money we make. The fewer the LNG plants (Read more…)

Susan on the Soapbox: Prentice Takes a Pay Cut and You Should Too. Um, What???

“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” – Anatole France

“Burden-sharing”

When Mr Prentice announced the 5% cut in MLA pay he sanctimoniously declared: “The term I’ve used is ‘burden-sharing’…no one can ask the taxpayers of this province to shoulder responsibility that those of us in government aren’t prepared to do first and foremost.”*

Ahhh…the principle of “majestic equality”.

Journalist & Novelist Anatole France

When Anatole France used the term he was being ironic; when Mr Prentice used (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Canada sued the most over trade deals, environmental protections

Prime Minister Stephen Harper with then-Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao upon FIPA signing in 2012

In 1997, Canada restricted import and transfer of the gasoline additive MMT because it was a suspected neurotoxin that had already been banned in Europe. Ethyl Corp., the U.S. multinational that supplied the chemical, sued the government for $350 million under the North American Free Trade Agreement and won! Canada was forced to repeal the ban, apologize to the company and pay an out-of-court settlement of US$13 million.

Designed to protect corporations

The free trade agreement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico was (Read more…)