Thursday, January 31, 2008

Guessnocentric Learning

The Toronto School Board has decided that one way to stop young black men from shooting each other at school would be to get them all to stay in one school together and teach them an 'Afrocentric ' view of the world. And so the Board is preparing to launch its first all-black educational institution.

Not that there's anything wrong with exclusive educational institutions - the rich have had them for years. Some religious groups and organizations, too. Just look at the Army - although 2 military colleges have bitten the bullet. An all-black school might be just what's needed.

But if the bone-headed dopiness displayed by an overjoyed Director of Education is any indication, the school curriculum might be in for an interesting slant on reality. Didn't the head honcha of the Board go all deep when she gleefully reminded the media that 'eurocentric' history wasn't the only kind. Take those Spaniards who 'discovered the new world', the conquest was different from the Indians' point of view she gushed. As if the Indian point of view, if we could figure it out at a distance of 3 centuries, would change a single fact of that history. And as if any sort of school history textbook to-day would relate that story in the words of only Hernan Cortes, and not mention anything about the peoples he encountered. Bottom line, they do help kids understand what happened by looking at events from different perspectives. At the black school they might concentrate on telling the story perhaps featuring one of the Moriscos present, but once again the 'history' would be the same. Something tells me it wouldn't stop Jar-vhonn from bringing his shooter to school if he was feeling dissed, or quitting to lie-in late if his momma let him.

To be rednecked about it, letting the black kids all go to their own school might eliminate some of the racial bumpff that does on in some of the others. But next I can hear the Moslem kids starting to agitate for their schools too. A math school for Chinese, East Indian schools, Canadian Indian schools - the French already have theirs. And that should leave the polyglot Euroschools that did such a fine job of turning 'euros' into Canadians.

And what about the 'wanna-bees'? Those white kids with the baggy trouz who wantz to be bruth-ahz. Who knowz the rap and wearz da colahz? Like the M&M copyist from the Trailer Park Boys, any 'euro' who wishes may apply for the black academy. But admittance is to be determined by space availability. Now whitey will get to know what it's like at the end of the line and the back of the bus.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Lights at Night, Are Big and Bright ......

Getting to the Premier Ministre and the Ottawa fun crew.

It didn't take the Conservatives long to get 'progressive' and wind-up in a new year stink. This time about Atomic Generation and medical isotopes. It seems that sometime last year the oldest Atomic generator in Canada at Chalk River, near Ottawa, had one of two pumps on the cooling system fail.

If you're familiar with the CANDU nuclear generating design you'll know that they operate on a dual water system - heavy water is used to cool the reactor and in turn is used to heat water for steam. You'll also know it has a good safety reputation. The pump was a redundant part of the fail safe system.

One of the reasons for the safety record is, perhaps, the fact that the regulatory body looking after atomic power - the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC ), exists independent of the operator, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) a crown corporation, and, theoretically, the government. Such has been the case since Canada's atomic power systems first developed.

When apprised of the situation the NRC ordered the pump repaired. The head of the AEC ignored the work order. Until in December the NRC ordered the reactor shut down. The fur didn't start to fly until hospitals started to complain that they were running out of medical isotopes used in a variety of procedures. Chalk River is the major supplier of such isotopes.

After a quick study, and at the behest of the new head man at AECL, who also turns out to be a PC party 'bagman', the Minister of Energy overruled the NRC's safety concerns and ordered the plant back into operation. It also turns out that the whole incident last year seemed to have escaped the attention of the Minister . Being caught flat-footed, and dozing at the atomic switch, he lashed out with a good offense, at the NRC. Not for causing a problem with nuclear energy, but for causing a problem in the health system. The head of the NRC had the temerity to remind him that nuclear safety was the only task within the purview of her commission, the isotopes were the bailiwick of AECL.

Well, you shouldn't tell an uninformed minister such as this and she, consequentially, got her walking papers three days ago. The plot is just starting to bubble as nobody in the current government visits the rest room without the imprimatur of the 'Lone Ranger'. If it hadn't been for the Liberal leaders Marcel Dion and Mike Ignatieff coming back from a visit to Afghanistan with an epiphany about NATO invading Pakistan, Harper might have been beaten around the head and ears for suffering fools lightly. He still might be, after he gets finished laughing at Gunga Dion and his wanting to march on the Paks to re-take the Khyber Pass.

The isotopes are flowing again, and the pump's not repaired. If there's a blue green glow in the northern sky it might be the Aurora Borealis, or it might be a super isotope. Or it might be more Ottawa ballistics.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Boyz are Back in Town

Actually they never left. or they never grew up, or something. Juvenility is rampant in our society and I imagine that's because the notion of 'hard' work, or physical labour, in foreign to us. Academics, and indoor endeavors might hone some fine marketing skills, but they feed the little boy in all of us. That wouldn't be so bad, but men in our society, if they aren't engaged in building something, generally keep themselves busy by wrecking something.

To wit, the news.

To-day in the paper a front page story relates the experience of two former 'honchas' of the Bell Communications company who are engaged in a legal dispute over what they claim is rampant sexism at that corporation. Now these two gals weren't at the front line customer assistance level, they were the six figure income types of 'power dames'. What they claim happened is rooted in some sort of 'Peter Pan' male bondo exercises at Ma Bell. Case in point a weekend experience that had the boys explore their manly sides in some martial arts grappling. Trouble was they forgot to tell the girls, who were expected to participate, not to be wearing the standard female 'power outfit'. After facing off against each other, the girls put their foot down at facing off with the he-men. (Or rather they claimed to have hurt themselves - some coy female defensiveness.) They also claim they were shut out of office drinking sessions - God knows why they wanted to hang out with a bunch of macho drunks - and were exposed to foul language - including a "Go f**k yourself" uttered by one potty mouth at a 'meeting'. My pension fund is thinking of buying the company these sophomoric idiots are running. The gals were 'let go' with a year's salary apiece. I'll keep tabs on their lawsuit.

A second story to-day comes from the automotive sector. Depending on what you're doing, or on your mental capacity, sometimes warning signals can be overlooked or misinterpreted. And so they seem to have been by the 'boyz' who market the automobile. What other industry is so tied up in adolescent yearning? Not only do these birds get to live out a fantasy, they get paid for it. And so it doesn't come as any great surprise that, having come off one of the worst years in decades for auto sales, the mavens of marketing pull out all the stops and go 'hog' wild. Well in this case more like 'cow' wild. They rolled out the '08 - or would that be '09 - pickup trucks with a quasi rodeo of Texas cowboys, broncos and longhorn cattle. Said one cowpoke, "The cattle stay close to the trucks because that's what they get fed off."

That should be great tag line for advertising to the road warriors whose tonneau-covered monster trucks never see dust, let alone a bale of hay. You can't sell a $70 000 velour and leather pick-up to some guy who thinks it's like a rolling bordello, unless he thinks Matt Dillion would be using it to let Miss Kitty polish his pistol. The modern, fully-automated farmer might like it if had a GPS and a wireless computer hook-up - as would a Bay Street lawyer with a fondness for Australian rain gear, or an investment house heavyweight looking for a hobby farm vehicle. The old-fashioned farmer, or anybody who'd actually use a pick-up would be more concerned with price and durability. Obviously there aren't many of the latter, or the marketing boys don't have any truck with them.

So the great hope is that another 'Peter Pan' experience will turn the industry around. Somehow I don't think so because the 'Peter Pans' who should be buying, are finding themselves looking for alternative employment after doing a 'Neverland' on some bad mortgage risks and, possibly, bringing down the whole economy. But what the hell, there are still cops working.*****

A final instance of the 'Peter Pan' syndrome comes from the recently released report on violence in Toronto schools. This report was engendered after the shooting of a 13 year-old at a Toronto High School last year. The 'gun' is being blamed for all the problems relating to violence. But there are some other things - I call them the 'Peter Pan' factors that could have more to do with that. First some history. Virtually no Christmas in the ancient days, went by without the juvenile males getting a set of pistols from Santa under the tree. The Saturday afternoon oaters displayed gunfire in a series of 'wingings' and the rare dramatized dropping of an outlaw. Repeated play consisted of imaginary shootings accompanied with blood curdling sound effects and 'gotchas', but engendered no great desire to snuff a playmate. Real guns were not toys. Nowadays the gun is banned, but television, film and video game brings a steady stream slo-mo blood- drenched bullet impacts on the vile 'enemy'. Cowboys and Indians are taboo, but first-person shooters against a host of communicative protagonists are popular. Paintball pitches and sales are growing notably, they're even marketed for some of that corporate team-building noted above. Guns, if available, are only the real kind and are used to enhance the macho.

Meanwhile the 'macho' is, more increasingly common in a growing number of momma's boys and little princes who are 'protected and mollycoddled' by single moms with their own issues. By the time they grow 'nads' in the Ali G style, they're most likely well to the way to being a total loss to their Moms, mommas, babies and society in general. Well-grounded in the notion that work is for 'suckas' and that they'll get by by talking dirty and hanging with a posse. Schools are in a tough spot, trying to sell these 'boyz' something they don't want to buy and keeping them off the street while trying to stop them from doing what they want to do to everybody else. Actually trying to deal with them can 'get you into trouble', with irate, racially over-sensitive Mommies and a hierarchy that would prefer you didn't 'cause trouble' especially of the cultural mosaic kind. Teachers have to deal with it on the front line, many do it admirably and some do it by remaining uninvolved. Administrators tend to depend on the 'book' and the theoretical and are more sensitive to the politics of the issue rather than the practical. When it comes to 'boyz' and guns, both should be licensed and registered. Being caught with an unregistered gun should get a sentence at hard labour - no exceptions, like drinking and driving is supposed to be. Because shooting somebody, even by accident, is, in my opinion, worse than hitting them with a car. Guns have only one purpose, cars can be used for a number of things.

Guns and trucks and women might be immediate presentiments but the problem of 'boyz' in powerful places will remain until there's a societal change. Probably of the catastrophic kind.

***** In June GM announced it was closing its Oshawa truck plant. Poor sales. Go figure.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

And a Happy New Year

Because we don't know, or, more appropriately aren't sure about what's going to happen, new year's cogitations are usually focussed on the 'I'm gonna', rather than the 'wha' happened?'.

Resolving to do something about the 'glandular condition' that caused a massive weight gain, or intending to stop entertaining 'gennamum callers' after giving birth to your eighth bastard child, might be laudable aspirations, but a good hard look at preexisting conditions might be more sensible.

For organizations as well as people.

Police, the darlin' boys in blue, have no monopoly on foibles. The recent holiday and its spate of 'ride checks' has proved what the Liquor and Gaming commission already knew: people are drinking more. Concurrent with that, they're driving their cars. Alcohol sales and driving offenses are up!

So out of the swirling blizzard comes MADD, fresh from an embarrassing financial fiasco, their mandate again crystal clear. They're on the road to 'zero tolerance' - a wonderful old police catchphrase. A voice from the wilderness crying dulcet tones on the enforcement ear about increased policing to "prevent" drunk driving completely. That means money, and more cops and that could only be good. Why is that news so good?

Forgetting, for a mo, the plaintive cries of being short-staffed and not being able to catch all the boozed-up perps, the boys in blue now want to enforce a weather driving law! They have a law to stop drunks, a new law to stop street racers, along with all the other HTA malefactions and now they want one that will allow them to turn their throbbing corns and bunions into court proceedings.

Along with blood alcohol levels and quantum physics they're going to become expert at weather and driving conditions. Now, mind you. they're out there, or not - if they've closed the road. But trying to get a road condition report from police is no longer a provided 'service', and whatever information they might provide to the Department of Transport must be passing through some significant security clearances, considering its usual relevance to current conditions.

Julian 'they named a calendar after him' Fantino, Ontario's "top cop", may be soft-pedaling the stand-off at Caledonia (, or winding down his watch-on-the-park at Ipperwash, but he's out on the front lines with the seasonal RIDE checks. Not only that, he's crying the blues about how it takes two officers off the checkpoint to process a drunk, book him and dot those P's and Q's that shyster lawyers all too often get kicked out of court. The LAW needs some toughening IHHO.

He'd probably like something more akin to the 'automatic' 12 hour suspension the law provides for anybody drinking and driving, period - never mind being impaired. The car gets impounded - often involving towing and storage fees, you get a cab ride, or two - the second to retrieve your license from the station, on your way to the impound yard. All without any judicial hearing, charges, or a 'day in court'. Much akin to that old-time police 'kick-in-the-ass', instant payback for breaking the law. One could only imagine what Julian would like. Iraqi-style detention, anyone? PS those 'instant suspensions' were way up- more than DUI, probably to keep the manpower at the checkpoints. I wonder who did get 'charged'? The obviously drunk, or the guys with the 'bad' attitude - either way they're in for some 'serious' monetary expense.

As last year fades into the distance. The National police wish they were coming from a better place. They were chosen the most newsworthy of the past year and not for good stuff.

Two cartoons, among the many highlight their plight.

Harper and the blue ribbon boys next. 'Harpy' new year )*(!