I’ve just been reading books and watching films lately. I’ll write again soon. But check out this passage from The Obsolescence of Man by Gunther Anders, first published in 1956: *** The mere fact that I had no car and therefore could be caught… . . . → Read More: A Puff of Absurdity: On Desires and Commodities
Miscellaneous material to start your week.
- Andrew Jackson discusses a few of the choices the Trudeau Libs need to get right in order to actually set Canada on a more progressive fiscal path: Progressives who worry about growing income inequality will note two key features of the new government’s tax plans. First, the plan is not quite as redistributive as it looks at first sight since it leaves out below-average income workers. Second, the net effect is not to expand the federal income tax base.
True, the Liberal platform talks of examining some loopholes, such as the favourable taxation of (Read more…)
Can children be existentialists? What I’m asking isn’t so much whether or not it’s possible, but should we allow it? If I dare to claim to define some central ideas here, the part about living authentically and embracing the freedom that comes with taking responsibility for all our choices with no excuses, that side of it is, I believe, pretty useful for everyone. But what about the darker edges of the philosophy? Life is objectively meaningless, and, since being unceremoniously dropped here, we’re each of us alone in our quest to find meaning for ourselves. Things don’t all (Read more…)
You wrote about the education system ruining your health because you started having panic attacks when you realized your future would be based on a set of criteria created by exam boards. You think young people are feeling pressure that shouldn’t be imposed on anyone. You ask,
“How can we justify putting the health of children on the line for an exam board’s definition of achievement? The most important achievement a person should aim for is being comfortable in their skin, safe in the knowledge they can live their life and define success on their own terms.”
You feel (Read more…)
This and that for your Tuesday reading.
- John Thornhill talks to Mariana Mazzucato about the importance of public investment in fostering economic growth – along with the need for the public to benefit as a result: As Mazzucato explains it, the traditional way of framing the debate about wealth creation is to picture the private sector as a magnificent lion caged by the public sector. Remove the bars, and the lion roams and roars. In fact, she argues, private sector companies are rarely lions; far more often they are kittens. Managers tend to be more concerned with cutting costs, (Read more…)
I wrote about this two years ago, and coming across this site on autism stories inspired me to revisit why labels can sometimes be helpful. Sort of. Here’s the relevant part of my previous post:
“But here’s another part of the problem: if a student in my class acts differently, and I explain to the class he has Aspergers, then people are generally okay with his behaviour. It’s okay once there’s a label on it. But why can’t we just say, “Hey, that kid says random non-sequiturs all the time. Cool.”? Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if (Read more…)
My daughter is worried about it. She just turned 11. She’s been sick from the heat a couple times because she wears jeans everywhere. It’s a problem. I told a friend my concerns, and he advised me to ban the internet. But all she looks at on there is Heartland shows and facts about horses. When he drops by he sometimes announces, in a celebratory manner, how much weight his sister or mom lost recently, and when he stayed with us a while, I used to have a “no calorie counting at the dinner table rule.” He doesn’t think (Read more…)
Assorted content to start your week.
- Paul Rosenberg documents how Bernie Sanders is tapping into widespread public desire and support for more socially progressive policies: Sanders is right to think that Scandanavian socialism would be popular here in the U.S., if only people knew more about it. And he’s right to make spreading that awareness a goal of his campaign. In fact, on a wide range of issue specifics Sanders lines up with strong majorities of public opinion—and has for decades.
You can get a strong sense of this from the results of the “Big Ideas” poll (Read more…)
Professor Edward Schlosser wrote an interesting piece in Vox about, in part, the power his students have to call the shots these days. I can attest that it’s at best, defeating, and at worst, absolutely terrifying.
First of all, to clarify, my students are typically a delight, but the current system is fostering behaviours that are a serious concern.
I have had some students, 15-19, insist that we have to do something fun on their birthdays. When I rejected their proposals, it might take several days of arguing at the start of each class before I can convince them it’s (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Michel Husson and Stephanie Treillet write that reduced work hours could do wonders for the quality of life for both workers who currently have jobs, and those seeking them: The question is not so much if working hours will decrease, but how. The reduction can be general, with or without retention of monthly salary and compensatory hires; it can be targeted (precarity and part-time); or it can be extreme (unemployment).
Working-time reduction, collective and enforced by law, is an alternative to the expansion of part-time. Both fundamentally contradict each other.
There is a close link (Read more…)
I am surrounded by boxes, both packed and empty. This week I am changing units within my housing co-op, moving house for the first time since 1992. When I re-located to this building 23 years ago I thought, with good reason, that my death was imminent; that I would be here a short time before […]
This and that for your Saturday reading.
- Keith Banting and John Myles note that income inequality should be a major theme in Canada’s federal election. And Karl Nerenberg points out that voters will have every reason to vote for their values, rather than having any reason to buy failed strategic voting arguments.
- PressProgress charts the devastating effect of precarious employment in Canada. And Wayne Lewchuk writes about the precarity penalty, and the need for public policy to catch up to the reality facing workers: Uncertain future employment prospects can increase anxiety at home. Lack of benefits can (Read more…)
A recent article in the National Post suggests that exams are passé. Joseph Brean writes,
Psychologists have a quip about IQ tests — the only thing they measure is your ability to do IQ tests. They are not, as they purport to be, an objective measure of intelligence, like the air temperature of a room. Rather, they are variable, and vulnerable to luck and circumstance, like the score of a hockey game. Exams are the same. They are cruel in their way, in their pose as objective measures of a student’s worth.
The article suggests that since exams are stressful, (Read more…)
This and that for your Tuesday reading.
- Michal Rozworski reminds us that while a shift toward precarious work may represent an unwanted change from the few decades where labour prospered along with business, it’s all too familiar from a historical perspective: (P)recarity is what it means to have nothing to sell but your labour power, to use Marx’s turn of phrase. Taken in this sense, precarity is wide-spread: today, the bottom 40% of Canadians today own a measly 2% of national wealth and the bottom 60% own just over 10%. The fact of owning relative peanuts gives precarity an (Read more…)
Mental health is important for everybody and painting it can be challenging for many people. As with most preventive practises it’s wise to invest in it. The benefits of keeping society in good mental health is a benefit for everybody.
Where relevant statistics have been available, a huge trove of data has been collected over the past 15 years on how these mental health issues translate into healthcare costs and disability claims expenses. While nations that don’t really recognize or provide for mental health issues don’t have to deal with the aforementioned costs, the data also consistently shows that mental (Read more…)
Connecting back to my last post, today is a big day for online, hashtag activism: #BellLetsTalk day. For every tweet tagged with the hashtag, Bell will donate 5 cents towards mental health services.
It’s a good cause to raise awareness and start discussions towards mental health, but it is take a critical eye towards what is also a giant PR campaign for a huge teleco. I don’t discourage people from tweeting with the hashtag, but I also encourage people to find and share some people with critical views on it, and make sure that we talk about mental health (Read more…)
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – Evelyn Beatrice Hall
I’m not so sure I agree with Ms. Hall’s famously misattributed line. People say some truly cruel things, and I’m not convinced we should have a right to be publicly malicious. As always, I say too many things in one crazy long post instead of breaking it up into many separate issues, but I tend to see issues too interconnected to separate. So there it is.
Let’s begin by contemplating on some different scenarios: some fictitious (Read more…)
I’ve been watching lots of movies and thinking about this bit from Aristotle:
“But we get the virtues by having first performed the energies, as is the case also in all the other arts; for those things which we must do after having learnt them we learn to do by doing them; as, for example, by building houses men become builders, and by playing on the harp, harp-players; thus, also, by doing just actions we become just, by performing temperate actions, temperate, and by performing brave actions we become brave. Moreover, that which happens in all states bears testimony to (Read more…)
I’m going to tell you about something I did yesterday that gave me an idea. It’s a simple one, nothing to change the world, but because it’s simple I hope it’s one you’ll consider. Yesterday I found a pair of gloves in a coat I haven’t worn since last winter. Like I suspect most men, […]
Gap’s ‘Remembrance Day deal’ not appropriate, Toronto veteran says ‘The point is not to exploit and profit from this day,’ says Cpl. Chuck Krangle
CBC News Posted: Nov 10, 2014 11:10 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 11, 2014 10:57 AM ET
Have to agree with Cpl. Krangle, it is beyond inappropriate to exploit Memorial Day with yet another phony holiday ‘sale’ and shows no respect for our veterans, living and dead..
Then again, no ‘sale’ on any public holiday advertised as such is truly appropriate..but you hear little if any criticism of it..Still the media is happy (Read more…)
Here, asking what we can do to make sure that individuals who seek help for their mental health and addictions issues through the criminal justice system find more support than Michael Zehaf-Bibeau did – both for their own well-being, and for the safety of the Canadian public.
For further reading…- CBC reported on Zehaf-Bibeau’s interaction with the criminal justice system. And again, Ian Mulgrew also weighed in on the failure to offer any help to somebody who was crying out for it. – Karl Nerenberg writes that the Cons’ expected response to last week’s shootings – consisting of (Read more…)
Years ago, in the house of a queer friend from Atlantic Canada, I joked about Jian Ghomeshi and how he rudely and aggressively hit on her once. She laughed, I laughed, we laughed. She was queer – I thought he was queer. It was comedic gold. I didn’t think anything about it, and I sort of thought it was one of those “flaws” that celebrities have. I didn’t think twice about it.
I lived in Toronto. Used to joke with female friends about going and seeing George Strombolopolous’ show, because he was kind of funny. And I was from Vancouver, so seeing (Read more…)