sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
 There's so much I want to write about and link to lately, but of course it's June and I'm a schoolteacher, so I've just been reblogging things on Facebook. And that's no way to live. Here are some highlights of the week.

The story gripping the city is of the Toronto Life story about a pair of self-involved, clueless rich kids who bought a Parkdale rooming house, sight unseen, and were shocked that people still lived there and also that you can't hire a contractor based on the fact that he's cycling by. This is all in the context of violent purging of the poor in the Parkdale neighbourhood, most notably an asshole landlord attempting to murder a tenant for striking against deplorable conditions. Quite a lot of pixels have been spilled over this issue, but the best response was my friend Todd's GoFundMe page (you can still donate), and the Metro interview with him that followed. Great stuff, and perfect timing—the Parkdale Rent Strike has the potential to be the most successful political action since BLM-TO forced Pride to ban uniformed, armed cops from getting paid to march in a parade that celebrated the very folks they like to beat up.

The Tories have a new Head Asshole, Andrew Scheer. No one has heard of this guy, and he conveniently had a lot of his more disgusting positions wiped from the intertubes. However, the Streisand Effect is still in play, so you can totally go and read what he's about. Spoiler: It ain't good. Fortunately, he has all the charisma of a mysteriously damp toilet paper roll, so I don't think he has much of a chance against Prince Justin or whoever the NDP nominates.

Do I have a clear preference for an NDP leader? I am shocked to say that no, I do not. I actually like multiple candidates. This is weird. I would be happy if Charlie Angus, Jagmeet Singh (with some reservations), or Niki Ashton won. I tend not to put a lot of hope in electoral politics but I do like having someone I can vote for and campaign for happily rather than someone who's the lesser of three evils.

Speaking of Niki, she's preggers. Yay Niki! She announced it on Twitter, because we live in the darkest possible timeline, and minor douchecanoe Brian Lilley got upset because she did not specify that she was pregnant with a human fetus. What else might she be pregnant with? Speculation abounded. Was it an alien? A tank-human hybrid? A dinosaur? No one knew until she clarified, kinda.

The coolest thing to happen around these parts is that the Ontario Liberals—who I don't even tend to like—announced that the minimum wage would rise to $15 by 2019, along with several other good labour reforms. This is great news, though in Toronto, where the cost of living is stupidly high compared to the rest of the province, it doesn't go far enough for my liking. Almost everyone is in favour, except for this whiny fuckhead, who is such an incompetent businessman that he can't afford to pay people to work for him. He was shocked and appalled to find himself the target of a boycott, and put up an even whinier sign that was immediately mocked for obvious reasons.

I try not to ever think about Barbara Kay, but a hero at Canadaland read that pro-genocide book that she recommended so that you don't have to.

Speaking of genocide against the First Nations, guess how much Trudeau's government spent fighting against indigenous rights in court? #sunnyways #colonialismbutfromtheheartoutwards

In international news, though I hate to go there:

Ivanka Trump makes her shoes in a Chinese sweatshop (no surprise there) and three activists have been disappeared for looking into it.

Laurie Penny continues to be my internet girlfriend. Here's a scathing editorial about freezed peach.

Finally, it is extremely important that we know about whether Melania is getting, and I quote, "federally-funded side peen." Yeah, you're welcome.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (monocleyay)
David Cameron, metaphorical pigfucker, is also apparently a literal pigfucker. (Bless the British press—you won't often hear me say that—for immediately supplying the internet with lots of pictures of Cameron holding pigs.)

[An alleged eyewitness] even claimed another member of the group has photographic evidence of the alleged act.

But the individual who is said to own the picture did not respond to approaches by the authors.


Oh hey, fortunately there's video! NSFW, obviously.

Hats off to you, Britain. Your Prime Minister fucked a dead pig. You beat our crack-smoking mayor and Peegate. I now feel secure in the knowledge that nothing that happens in Canadian politics will ever live up to how fucking insane that is.



Meanwhile, lovely Corbyn, alas, is set for a reenactment of one of my other favourite British political dramas. Although apparently he's a vegetarian and so if he doesn't win the next election with the slogan, "at least we don't fuck pigs," he needs better advisors.
sabotabby: (books!)
Via [livejournal.com profile] umadoshi, a really excellent post on loving Narnia despite its flaws: How To Get Back to Narnia.

I was talking about the Narnia books with a friend the other day, and I mentioned that I loved them, present-tense, as in I re-read them every few years. It's a different kind of relationship, where I read them more to deconstruct them than to escape into them, but that's different than outright rejection.

I think Narnia might have been my first experience with Your Fave Is Problematic, a training ground for experiencing a geek culture that, while appealing, doesn't exactly like or represent my sort of person (and is even more hostile the more marginalized one is). Unlike the author, I got the religious anvil at a very early age (as in it was clear to me that the Dwarves at the end were Jews), and managed to be offended by the sexism and racism on first read, which at least in the case of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, may very well have happened before I learned to read. And yet I still somehow identified and kept coming back to them as escapism even when they were equally the source of outrage.

It's kind of how I can reconcile critique and love, and why I occasionally probably come off as too easy going and then snap into buzzkill territory on a moment's notice. Lotsa practice.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat your ballot)
I stopped doing the Rob Ford stupidity countdown because it was too much work to update (it hit the point where he was doing multiple stupid things a day, and I couldn't update quickly enough), but damn, if Hudak gets in, it'll be even worse.

This guy. He's unreal. I mean, much has been said already about how, despite a masters in economics, he fails at basic math, and also he's a puppet of the Tea Party, and oh yes, he is actually made out of some sort of plastic-type material. And his smile. He has the worst smile. You know that. But! Did you also know that he is so right-wing that even the cops don't want anything to do with him? This, after he said he'd slash 100,000 public sector jobs but spare the cops, because it's way more fun to bash teachers and EAs. Do you know how fascist you need to be for the cops to disown you? The cops liked Mussolini.

The good news is I'm less and less certain that he'll win. He creeps out other Tories, for fuck's sake.

Related: I voted in the advance polls. For the NDP, if you're curious, albeit with my nose firmly held. I like my MPP though, and I can't stomach voting Liberal regardless of how much Horwath pisses me off, and there were no actual communists or socialists in my riding to toss a protest vote at. I've haven't felt more anarchist about electoral politics in a decade. Seriously, they are all shit at the provincial level, and it's the one that affects my life the most.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
So if you've been out of school for awhile (or maybe it doesn't happen in other countries like it does in North America), you may not know that dress codes are a big thing. As soon as the weather turns, the harassment starts. Girls (and while the odd boy gets coded over a pot leaf graphic or baggy pants, it's girls 90% of the time) get sent up to the office, get phone calls home, get sent home in some cases, over what they're wearing. Teachers are ordered to scrutinize every item covering each teenage body to determine if skirts and tops are long enough, if necklines are too low, if bra straps are too prominent. For teachers like me, who have zero interest in looking at teenage bodies and were raised to be polite and look at people's faces and not their asses, it's a situation that can range from awkward to my feminist principles are in conflict with my job.

By the way, the heteronormative, cisnormative, misogynist, victim-blaming thing where administrators tell young girls that their clothing is distracting the boys happens in pretty much every school as far as I know. I don't know if they teach that in principal school or what, but it's not an aberration. You'd think, because we are supposed to teach responsibility, the emphasis would be on the boys (or, hey, maybe girls are attracted to other girls, or not everyone identifies as one or the other, and by the way to teenagers everything is distracting and it doesn't actually matter what you wear) to keep their eyes in their own heads, but it's always the slut-shaming. Always.

(If you're wondering, I don't enforce a dress code. I do tell the boys to take off their hats, because it is an obviously visible thing if an admin walks in, and also because baseball caps are fugly. And if I can see a kid's entire ass, I will tell him to pull up his pants. But I do not feel comfortable telling a girl that her bra strap shouldn't show, because I feel like my bra strap shows a lot of the time and it's no biggie.)

There have been a bunch of good articles lately about dress codes in schools, but this is my favourite thus far:

It really bothers me how schools insist that girls wear bras (this starts at, like, age 8-14 when girls start budding. Many girls and/or their moms have embarrassing stories of female teachers quietly pulling them aside, and delicately suggesting that she get a training bra), but then simultaneously decree that bra straps are inappropriate. This is like insisting all boys must wear socks, but the tops of socks sticking out of the shoes are inappropriate.  It’s just… so arbitrary.
...

It’s yet another reminder, and reinforcement, that a girl’s appearance is more important, and demands more attention, than her other, non-visible qualities. You know, qualities like intelligence, perseverance, athletic ability, tenacity, creativity, a hard work ethic… attention to those attributes seem fade away rather quickly once an inch of skin is exposed.

Instead, it teaches her to view herself in a sexualized gaze, from an outsider’s point of view. At an increasingly young age, getting dressed in the morning turns from “does teal clash with yellow?” to “is this too much shoulder? Can someone see down this shirt? Would someone be able to look up this skirt on the stairs? What happens when I sit or bend over? I should test that.”

Anyway, the whole thing is worth a read, as is the link to Impression, which is an excellent photo essay about the impressions that clothes leave on women's bodies. I'm sort of tired of the argument where I work. Weirdly, Colleague Who Shall Not Be Named, not known for his progressive views in general, actually said some of the things I was thinking at the last staff meeting, which is that the adult obsession with teenage bodies is fucking creepy.

This is our culture, though. This is how we're raising young people to think—that girls are objects to be viewed, scrutinized, judged, that boys are the ones doing the watching, and if one doesn't see the connection to more violent forms of misogyny, one isn't paying enough attention.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat your ballot)
This link, brought to my attention via [livejournal.com profile] ed_rex, is worth a read. It's a comparison between the spending patterns of ostensibly "conservative" versus "liberal"* governments that gives lie to the popular conception of thrifty conservatives and tax-and-spend liberals.

Check out those bar graphs being essentially the same. Now, granted, there is not much difference between the Liberal Party and the CCRAP Party. We're not talking about a vast, insurmountable canyon between left and right. Stephen Harper consumes more kittens and Justin Trudeau had better hair until he cut it off, but those are social differences, not economic ones. Their economic policy was more or less the same last time I checked. If your average Canadian understood the slightest thing about economics** we could stay warm during polar vortex season with the sheer heat of all the collective anger that it would generate. But. Math is hard, let's go shopping, only we can't go shopping because the minimum wage hasn't kept up with the cost of living and the only jobs available now are minimum wage retail and food service that you were told you need to go to university if you didn't want to do all your life, and if you want them, prepare to stand in line to apply along with everyone else with a Masters degree.

Anyway.

So-called moderate Canadians love to think of themselves as socially liberal and fiscally conservative, with absolutely no clue as to why they want to be fiscally conservative. (Hint: It comes down to a fundamental misunderstanding about economics wherein the model of a private family that must budget and avoid falling into debt is expanded to somehow apply to a city, or a province, or a country, or even an entire planet. But it does not actually work that way. While no one likes the idea of wasting money, thriftiness is not necessarily a virtue when one is trying to, say, maintain highway infrastructure.)

The great lie at the heart of the austerity agenda is that it works. Tighten your belt, don't buy that big screen TV, and later on you can afford to buy a nice car. It might be tolerable to cause suffering, to siphon wealth from the poorest people to the richest, if in the end everyone benefited. (Just kidding. It wouldn't. Bear with me for a second, though.) If slashing environmental regulations and corporate tax actually created jobs, though, would we not have full employment by now? Because governments have been pursuing these policies for practically my entire lifetime, and yet the unemployment rate keeps increasing. We've "recovered" from the Great Recession but the vast majority of people I know—who are among the most privileged people—are still economically precarious. And, surprise surprise, after all that, all of the wealth has still ended up at the top. It's like someone planned it this way.

Which is basically why I want to scream every time someone promotes the myth of fiscal conservatism, because it's just not true. It's just that conservative governments waste money on different things, things that don't actually benefit anyone other than their cronies. Fiscal conservatives like to think of themselves as high-minded, tough but fair, without any sort of understanding or comprehension of the violence brought about by a cut-cut-cut mentality (or the fact that, in the end, absolutely no money is saved, and wealth is just transferred along to the elites).

One of my FB friends loves mayoral candidate John Tory. Like, loves him. Makes borderline homoerotic posts about him every day. It's weird. I see nothing in John Tory to inspire any sort of passion—he's run-of-the-mill fiscal conservative who comes off as more sensible than Ford, but that doesn't say much. You can at least get passionate about Ford, even if, as in my case, it's passionate hatred. Tory's milquetoast, but the harm that such a man can do when given power, when it comes to vital social services relied upon by the most vulnerable populations, is immeasurable. And yet he appeals to moderates because moderates have never thought about why they're moderates.

When you take the food out of the mouths of poor people, you create a cycle of poverty that, as class stratification increases, becomes impossible to escape. When you cut transit, you kill cities. When you drain the lifeblood from schools and libraries, you condemn generations to ignorance. When you gut environmental, labour, and safety regulation, you trash the earth and destroy lives. This is not a moderate position, nor is it "tough but fair." It's extremist. Brutal. Today, I woke up to a story about a fire in a seniors' home in Quebec that killed 32 people. There were no sprinklers in the home, but it still passed provincial safety inspections. They were comparing this tragedy to the train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, which killed 47 people and is still under investigation. Again, cutbacks and lax regulation may have been a factor. There is actually a reason we pay taxes and have governments.

And that is the triumph of conservatism, as it's convinced most of the world (at least the bit that votes) that this constant squeeze, for no payoff for you or anyone you know, is normal. You shouldn't think about it. Be grateful if you save a few pennies in taxes, even as you earn less and spend more for everything else. There Is No Alternative.

* Scare quotes because the economic policies of every mainstream party in North America (I can't speak for other regions) is what we might have, in previous generations, considered conservative. Even the NDP's leadership, if not its rank-and-file, has swallowed the Washington Consensus Kool-Aid with the enthusiasm of a porn star in a bukkake video, despite its myriad observable failures.

** Disclaimer: Beyond having a dilettante's interest in these matters and having slogged through Volume 1 of Das Kapital, I have no background in economics.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
I'm going to just leave this article here because I think it speaks for itself and the real reason (not crack or cunnilingus remarks) that the Honourable Wife-Beater is a genuine fucking menace.

People Might Freeze To Death Because Rob Ford Won't Quit Being the Mayor Of Toronto. Excerpt:

It is amazing to me how quickly everyone I know has become used to the situation in Toronto, to the more or less total suspension of the ordinary. If you had told me last Christmas that in a year 39% of the voters of Toronto would support a crack-smoker, I simply would not have believed you. Daily life is weird.


Also, this article is mostly about other stuff, but I was wondering if Armando Iannucci (the creator of the remarkably-utopian-in-hindsight The Thick of It) had weighed in on Ford, and hey, yes he did:

Yes, that was huge over there [and in the US]. And Rob Ford's still in the job, that's the remarkable thing. You can sort of get away with stuff over there. If you're larger than life, people like you. Whereas if you're larger than life here, people think you're a nutter and the party gets rid of you.


Toronto politics are officially the most ridiculous in the industrialized world, you guys. Even Berlusconi was kicked out eventually, but the Laughable Bumblefuck continues undeterred. I suggest that the people currently shivering in the dark find something to light on fire and bring it on down to City Hall.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (commiebot)
Via [livejournal.com profile] jamie_miller: As usual, VICE has the best coverage of everything. This article is about the struggle in Greece against Golden Dawn and their cop buddies; the author spent a night with anti-fascist protestors following the murder of rapper Killah P.

The political situation in Greece is terrifying; my heart goes out to everyone there who is fighting the good fight. If anyone hears of a way to help (is it International Brigades time yet? It almost feels like it is), do let me know?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat flaming death)
In lieu of providing actual content (outrage burnout continues at pace), here's what I'm reading this morning.

I won't link anything about Syria, Egypt, or the two Canadians under arrest in Cairo, because those sorts of horrors are above my level of cope right now and there's plenty of more intelligent discussion about it elsewhere.

Rage-inducing:

• Jezebel has a good post on how not to react to Chelsea Manning's announcement that she's Chelsea Manning. I'm lucky enough to be shielded, by virtue of currently being within my little progressive bubble and having a strict policy of not reading the comments since Manning's outrageous sentencing a few days ago, but I'm aware that there's some serious stupid out there. The discrepancy between her treatment and that of rapists, murderers, and war criminals is so infuriating that I can't even begin to put it in words—add transphobia and misogyny into the mix and you have a perfect storm of asshattery.

• On a related note, here's a long read about Manning, American institutions, and the internet. (Written before her sentencing and the official announcement of her gender identity, so the article uses male pronouns.)

“Why wasn’t I consulted?” is the fundamental question of post-network democracy, and the fundamental question of the Internet, to which the state mechanisms have so far replied: “Who the hell do you think you are?”


• Locally, some more on the shooting of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim, murdered by pigs on a Toronto streetcar. One pig (not the one who tased the dying kid after he'd been shot eight times) has been charged, but make no mistake—a pig will not actually be convicted for gunning down a likely-mentally-ill person of colour. This is a concession to the massive outcry following Yatim's murder and is intended, ultimately, to absolve all of the pigs of guilt by finding this pig not guilty.

Tell me I'm wrong, people.

Quebec's proposed religious symbols ban, WTF? Though maybe the Jewish and Muslim communities there, not exactly accustomed to holding hands and singing Kumbaya, will find some common ground in opposing this bullshit. Proof that New Atheism is a continuation of White Man's Burden imperialism by other means.

Amusing:

• I'm getting some lulz out of the food poisoning at the CNE. I mean, isn't the point of eating these things to get food poisoning? The receptionist at my physio place, who is approximately my height and much thinner, apparently eats this kind of shit and announced her intention to try the Cronut despite everyone getting sick from it, and despite a job where she works with health professionals.

Happy-making:

What, you mean that community-building is actually more effective at stopping crime than putting cops and surveillance cameras everywhere? You don't say! Will you just check out this lady making community housing better for everyone:

“We go up to the crack dealers, face-to-face, and we say, ‘Hello, how are you?’ says the 56-year-old woman, who uses a wheelchair. “‘It’s a beautiful night out. I love your coat. May we sit with you?’”


Someone wrote a book just for me, apparently. Industrial music, Marx, and the Situationists. I of course immediately placed a hold on it.

Baby Nautilus!

Useful:

• The title of this article, Anti-Fascist Fitness, made me hope that there was a training regimen to get in shape in order to beat up neo-Nazis, but it's actually not so much about that as about the politics of the fitness industry and the OMGBEESITY panic.

This article, on how to be an ally to people with illness, chronic pain, and invisible disabilities, is quite a good read. I don't like the random capitalization or Tumblr SJW-style language, but the advice itself is useful and certainly would have been worth distributing to certain people *cough*co-workers*cough*. Especially the bits on being "the doctor," "the parent," and "the worshipper," all of which I've had to deal with in abundance.

Read, discuss if you find 'em interesting.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (iCom by starrypop)
I've been posting a lot of interesting stuff to FB lately because I can just click a button and withhold commentary, and let's face it, I'm lazy. Unfortunately, discussion and archiving doesn't work as well there.

So here's a link round-up:

A six-minute Fox News segment on the evils of Mr. Rogers. Yes, really.

Rob Ford fanfic exists. Yes, really.

An awesome piece about political lucha libre in California.

An article about a new documentary about the first ever punk band. Who were black and from Detroit. (And called Death.)

It's the 21st century and we can automate nearly everything—so why are we working so hard?

How to spot a Communist.

A sex manual from 1680, adorably called "The Misterie of Fucking."

And finally, the real reason for this post is that I asked people for the name of the awesome punk band that they never started. Inspired by [livejournal.com profile] jvmatucha, I made a poster based on it.

under a cut because it's huge )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
A few people have asked about FordWatch and why I've stopped posting a count of how many days it's been since the Honourable Wife-Beating, Drunk-Driving, Ass-Grabbing, Bird-Flipping, Crack-Smoking, and Possibly Drug-Dealer-Murdering Mayor has done something stupid. The answer is that I designed the graphic to display only whole numbers demarcating full days, and he can't go a single day without doing multiple things that are so stupid that it breaks my brain to even think about it. [livejournal.com profile] bcholmes still has it up on Under the Beret, but as you can see, the counter is permanently stuck at 0. Apparently someone asked her why there was space for four digits there. Heh.

So! What's going on with our fair city today? Well, a body was discovered in the Humber River in Etobicoke, but it appears to be that of a missing man who drowned rescuing his dog and not that of our still-missing video guys. The Star is now saying that Anthony Smith was not killed over the crack video but because of local drug feuds. I wouldn't rule out the possibility that said local drug feuds involve the Fords in some way, but the Star is, and it's kind of their business to go after Ford. So. The HWB and/or allies likely did not kill Smith, but with the whereabouts of the video guys still unknown, I'm not striking "potential murderer" off his list of crimes.

Link round-up from the Star:

Premier Kathleen Wynne, who had previously hinted that she might step in to save Toronto from its current chaos, actually can't do anything. Good. I respect her for trying, but it's best for everyone if she keeps this at arm's length and lets Doug Ford's connection with Tim Hudak take down her biggest opponent. (You know, not that I want Wynne to win the next provincial election—I'm still hoping for Andrea Horwath to do something impressive.)

The latest on Ford's popularity and chances of re-election. Unchanged. The interesting thing is why it's unchanged, and what this says about the various factions of the wingnut right.

I know if my job title was consistently prefaced by the terms "embattled" and "scandal-plauged," I wouldn't go courting any additional controversy and I'd be out there trying to make friends. But then, I'm not Rob Ford. So he's once again decided not to go to Pride. Heh. Again, good.

Here's an article about yesterday's (poorly organized and disappointing) demo calling for Ford's resignation. Hopefully we can build up some momentum—after I've sold and distributed more t-shirts. And here are some photos from the demo. Both [livejournal.com profile] rbowspryte and I can be seen in some sporting said t-shirts.

I think that's about it. I don't think I posted Corey Charron's new track, "Smoking Crack With Rob Ford," so in case you haven't heard it yet, here it is:

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (learn2grammar)
I'm very much on the go today (and all weekend, argh) so here are two rantlets with accompanying links that have little in common beyond being about phrases I hate.

Broken homes

In the midst of an otherwise quite good "don't pick on teachers" editorial, Peter Mansbridge says:
We send teachers children from broken homes, from abusive homes, from negligent homes. We send teachers children from homes where both parents work, or where the only parent works, or where no parent works.

Which reminds me that I don't think I've ever ranted about how much I hate the term "broken home."

I was one of those pitiable children who came from a broken home—and, as a bonus, a home in which the only parent worked. (A trifecta, even; I have some memories of coming home from school when said parent worked late, making me—at least according to the media, a "latchkey kid, raised by the television." Woe is me!) In fairness, up until I was a certain age, one could conceivably call my home "broken." I'd argue that my parents' separation and later divorce fixed that rather handily, however; my home was certainly a better place to be with a single parent than it was with a traditional nuclear family.

The divorce rate in Canada is approximately 41%, and presumably many of them have children. For the sake of argument, let's say four in ten students I teach come from families where the parents are divorced. I'd bet you anything that those four aren't the ones causing trouble. As much wailing and moaning as there is about absent fathers and such*, of the children I've taught who experience some form of abuse that I know about (i.e., Children's Aid was involved in some way), all but two experienced that abuse at the hands of a father or step-father. So—whose homes are "broken" again?

Can we have a moratorium on "broken home" and "single-parent family" being shorthand for "troubled kid"? It's sexist and heterocentric (after all, it assumes the supremacy of the nuclear family) and obscures the very real problems of high unemployment, poverty, ableism, and marginalization that are typically behind the failure of kids to thrive in school.

Creative class

Looks like this one's been dealt the death blow by the man who coined it in the first place, Richard Florida. The article has its problems (the author is way too gleeful, for one thing, though that's not surprising given what a douchenozzle Florida is), and stops well short of proposing workable solutions. But it's nice to finally see an admission of the failure of what's basically polite class warfare.

So beyond the obvious—an influx of artsy young professionals with no kids does not a thriving urban centre make—let's examine the assumptions inherent in the term itself. Are working class people not creative? Are there significant numbers of people who can earn a living through "creativity" without either being supported by their upper class parents or working as a barista at Starbucks? Is the separation of this group of people into a single city or neighbourhood a desirable outcome?

It's dumb enough that Florida said it in the first place, and even dumber that it's spawned a culture of TED Talks and institutional conferences that take the existence of something called a "creative class" as a given. I should hope that this foolishness will stop now that he's admitted it's bunk.

* This usually comes with a big helping of coded racism as well: If black fathers would only stick around, black boys wouldn't join gangs or something.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
Conservative senator Patrick Brazeau is a wife-beating racist shitbag, and it seems to have caught up with him. Read this, then read this, and then enjoy the happy memory of that time Justin Trudeau punched him out. (Note: I also enjoy the thought of Trudeau getting punched, but Brazeau is more of a scumbag. Note also that this typifies my feelings about the Liberal and Conservative parties, respectively.)

While we're on the topic of people who shouldn't be in positions of authority, the LAPD has now totally lost its shit. If I'm following the story correctly, an ex-LAPD officer went nuts and killed a bunch of people after trying to whistleblow about corruption in the department. The LAPD reacted by shooting him just kidding, shooting two completely innocent people who looked nothing like him (as in they were Asian women and he is a black dude, but, you know, driving a car that looked a bit like his).

My pension plan is evil. :( I mean, I knew that, but this is really evil.

If you need a chaser after that, here's a video of the first Hello Kitty in space.



I also like this list of 25 things you don't have to justify to anyone. I disagree with #22, though—who you vote for affects other people, and if you vote for someone who, for example, wants to take some of my human rights away, I reserve the right to judge you for it. Otherwise, though, I think it's got a message many of us need to hear right now.

In other news, the snow is really coming down, isn't it? I am really enjoying my classes this semester and I hate the thought of losing a day of teaching, but—you know, if it's a snow day and I can hang around in my pyjamas all day watching The Wire and cuddling with my cats, that's okay too.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (teh interwebs)
I am generally against microblogging but here are some links for you.

[livejournal.com profile] apperception has been posting reviews of Supernatural episodes and I asked if he'd put them all in one place so I could link to them. So he made a Twitter. Note that I still have never seen a single episode of Supernatural.

I'm not sure if I've linked to them before, but the best Tumblrs are Windows 95 Tips, Tricks, and Tweaks and Fuck Your Noguchi Coffee Table for very different reasons. Nice Guys of OKCupid would have been the best Tumblr but it bahleeted.

I also really like this post about why Tumblr sucks. Tumblrites be warned: It has a lot of words in it.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (AK Hello Kitty/springheel_jack)
The NRA says:
There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting
shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.

Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm,
Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here’s one:
it’s called Kindergarten Killers. It’s been online for 10 years. How come
my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn’t or
didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?

Then there’s the blood-soaked slasher films like "American Psycho"
and "Natural Born Killers" that are aired like propaganda loops on
"Splatterdays" and every day, and a thousand music videos that
portray life as a joke and murder as a way of life. And then they have
the nerve to call it "entertainment."


(Really? They're still blaming American Psycho and Natural Born Killers? Aren't there any newer violent movies?*)

So of course they released a target practice game for kids. Ages 12 and up. It used to be ages 4 and up, but someone decided it was tasteless, I guess.

In all fairness, you don't kill actual people in the game. And in all fairness, I see nothing particularly wrong with shooting games in general. I do see something wrong with claiming that video games are responsible for gun violence and then releasing one of your own a month later.

Incidentally, if you haven't seen it already, do check out this article about that one time that the NRA pushed for more gun control. They are kind of the worst ever to the point where I'd suspect they were performance art if they didn't have so much power over the U.S. government.

* That was rhetorical, people. You should know by now that violent movies are my favourite sort.
sabotabby: (lolmarx)
Here's a pro-tip for understanding economics: Every time you see the phrase "increasing productivity" (for example, as used in this article) you should read it as "stealing your money."

So for example:

It’s time “to modernize our post-secondary education system in a way that will make it more relevant, more flexible, and more beneficial to Ontario students,” the paper says. “It will grow our economy and, by modernizing the system and increasing its productivity, we can reduce the cost to the public.”


becomes:

It’s time “to modernize our post-secondary education system in a way that will make it more relevant, more flexible, and more beneficial to Ontario students,” the paper says. “It will grow our economy and, by modernizing the system and stealing your money, we can reduce the cost to the public.”


If you're discussing economics with someone of a reflexive right-wing bent, you can also use "stealing taxpayers' money," since the vast majority of taxpayers work for a living.

Here are a couple good articles about what productivity is, and they say it in fewer words than Marx does in Das Kapital, but it's basically the same thing. If you can make more stuff (or do more things, in a service economy like ours) in less time for the same rate of pay, you are not the one profiting. You're getting robbed. It should be obvious, but since everyone likes thinking of themselves as "productive," "modern," "efficient," and so on, it's one of those concepts often buried under business jargon.

Photobucket
And it makes Lenin facepalm.

That first article on university education is really stupid, by the way, and another example of the Ontario government's shortsightedness. I don't pick on the Ontario government nearly enough, because the federal government is evil and the municipal government is stupid and evil. The provincial government is mainly stupid, but they're the ones who affect my daily life the most.

"Growing the economy" is also a phrase that needs to go.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (march)
I am a bad, bad blogger.

Like the rest of the English-language media, I've been totally crap about blogging what's been happening in Québec, which is only the most politically significant event in the country right now. I mean, I've been re-linking to a bunch of things on Facebook, but that's not the same as getting the word out about what's been going on there, what those red squares are all about, and the massive violations of civil liberties that are taking place while the rest of Canada has a long nap.

Okay, so it all started with a student strike over tuition rates. Yes, Québec tuition rates are the lowest in the country. Entitled Boomers, forgetting all about their own advantages, say that Québec students are spoiled brats for wanting them to stay that way. I say, if your city has the lowest amount of homicides, does that mean you should raise that rate to be on par with the rest of the country? A post-secondary education is mandatory for any job above minimum wage (and increasingly required for minimum wage jobs), and tuition rates are a barrier that keeps lower-income people out. Period. Québec's low tuition rates have kept the province more egalitarian (that and universal daycare).

So it's not just any strike, but the largest in Canadian history. And it's been violent. By which I mean the cops have been gassing and shooting these kids. Several young people have lost eyes because the cops are aiming for their heads.

If that's not enough to hit all your rage buttons, the government just passed an emergency law, Bill 78, drastically restricting civil liberties, particularly around campuses. It initially defined a "riot" as a gathering of 10 or more people; that was later amended to 50, which still rules out some of your more exciting dance parties. There have been mass arrests and kettling, the same techniques that, two years after the G20 here, have been deemed illegal and immoral.

And yet the movement keeps growing. The students aren't discouraged, the protests keep getting bigger, and are drawing international support. Even—and you're going to love this one—the National Post is coming around:

“Entitlement.” We hear that word associated again and again with student protesters in Quebec. Usually, it’s preceded by the words, “sense of.”

“They think someone owes them a living,” disgruntled critics harrumph. “Wait until they get into the real world.”

Setting aside the fact that this intergenerational hectoring dates back to Socrates, let us ask: Who exactly is making the charge? Quebec has had low tuition rates for a half century. That means almost every living adult in the province, having already been afforded a plum goodie, is now wagging his finger at the first generation that will be asked to pay the tab. So who really is entitled here?


So that's why a lot of us are wearing red squares. This has become much more than disgruntled students not wanting to spend half their careers repaying a massive debt. This is about class, and wealth distribution, and equal opportunities for all.

And it's kind of amazing.

cut for video that autoplays )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (cat teacher)
(Via [livejournal.com profile] hano.)

This one hit home.

Schools are full of middle-management types. They like to take "learning walks" around the school and "quality control". They sit at the back of my class and want to know if the students have been told their "learning objectives" and if they are sat in a "seating plan". They believe that learning simply cannot take place if the students haven't been told what to do and where to sit. What you might consider real work: comprehension, creative writing, silent reading or a class questioning the teacher about the topic being studied is considered hopelessly old-fashioned and slightly abusive by my superiors. Instead they like almost anything involving power-points, scissors and glue. All work for students needs to be scaffolded. That means be done for them. The very notion of giving a student a task they might fail is considered child abuse. Every task must be completable within about ten minutes.


See, the thing is, every few years, someone up in the bureaucracy gets paid to make an incredible breakthrough in pedagogical methods, which involves shifting some jargon around and forcing everyone to incorporate it. If you play along, you are a progressive educator. If you don't, you're a reactionary, old-fashioned, stick-in-the-mud who won't evolve. What the bureaucrats don't seem to understand is the very skills we're supposed to teach children—critical thinking, creativity, logic—are not necessarily newfangled things, and they can't necessarily be scaffolded. It's not that every new development is bollocks. But most are. And the time it takes to differentiate learning that doesn't need to be differentiated is robbed from somewhere. I'm sure there are still teachers out there relying on rote learning, but probably not most. It's often the creative, young, energetic teachers who get sucked into the timewasters. The actual stick-in-the-muds remain stick-in-the-muds regardless of what jargon is in fashion.

I'd add "standardization" to this list of the ways we're failing our students, as well as neoliberal "reforms" that have cut the number of EAs, child psychologists, and other useful non-teacher professionals and downloaded their duties onto classroom teachers.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (pinko pie)
Bad: I guess this is almost funny, but check out the Honourable Wife-Beater marking World Press Freedom Day, then refusing to say anything to reporters afterwards. The Honourable Wife-Beater spoke about "violations of press freedom that occur in countries around the world, where journalists, editors, publishers are harassed, detained, attacked and killed,” without mentioning that here in Toronto, reporters are chased and threatened by the mayor.

Worse: Professional woman-haters are making a comeback in Canada, and brainwashing children into their ranks. Taxpayers pay for it, by the way.

Worst: Here's a video of cops beating a mentally ill homeless guy to death, because they're cops and they know they'll get away with it. Let's make sure they don't.

In other news, at least four student protesters in Quebec have lost eyes because police there are aiming for the kids' heads, and Maurice Sendak died, rendering the world a little less magical.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (motherfucking books)
Reading: Reading With a Vengeance is amusing me greatly. Sporking a badly written novel about BSDM that's thinly veiled Twilight fanfic? Sign me right up. I didn't realize just how wrong the book is. Holy balls, the BDSM community must be right pissed off about it.

Listening: The Bard of Montreal, a collection of Leonard Cohen covers by Canadian artists. (H/T: [livejournal.com profile] thegiantkiller.)

Watching: Fringe. Don't worry, almost done and then I'll get back to the B5 reviews. But it was just too annoying to see cryptic posts and not be able to click on them. Favourite lines: not really spoilery, but just in case )

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