2020-09-11

Snap BC election right now? A real leader would say "no"

Posted to FaceBook, by me, via greenparty.ca:

It's Mr. Horgan's option. That's the way parliamentary democracy works.

But this is not the time. Despite the foolish result FPTP delivered in the last election, it's been reasonably stable and is only preventing things widely opposed by most of the voters from occurring. Maybe FPTP would deliver a majority to Mr. Horgan if he were to call an election, but maybe it wouldn't.

Run out your term, Mr. Horgan. Introduce sensible electoral reform, like my own "Regionalized Proportionality", so that future governments look more like the will of the people, where politicians MUST collaborate, co-operate, and submit to mutual accountability -- rather than the Manichean roulette wheel which is the only kind of electoral world that I have ever known in BC.

Then and only then call an election. That's what a real leader would do.

2020-06-29

Can Justin be anti-Racist?

This morning, I sent the following to my Liberal member of parliament. Do you know who your MP is? Are they also a member of the same party? Maybe this is a letter you can forward to them.

E-mail from constituents matter. Many e-mails from many constituents matter more. Many thoughtful e-mails (I tried to be so) even when forwarded with few edits matter still more. We. can. influence. That's what responsible citizenship is about. Look up your Liberal MP's e-mail address at parl.gc.ca and fire it off, too, okay?

Hi <name of your Liberal MP>

<I'm quoting something someone posted on FB but I feel strongly this way, too.> <For what it's worth, my status with regard to First Nations Membership is ... >

I'm calling on your leader, our Prime Minister, to repudiate, disavow and do actual things to reverse the policy embodied in something his father said.

Recently, someone posted on Facebook one of those annoying graphics-with-texts in them. I call them annoying because it means you can't copy/paste the text somewhere else in order to interact with it. But that's okay. I'll type it in here.

The. Rt. Hon. Pierre Elliott Trudeau said, "If you no longer speak your language and no longer practice your culture, then you have no right to demand aboriginal rights from us, because you are assimilated with the ruling power."

The graphic has a split face, on the right is Pierre Trudeau's face, on the left, his son, Justin's.

This would be a good moment for our current prime minister to quote his father explicitly, to disavow and apologize for the statement -- not just as a statement of his father but as of one made by his predecessor in the office he holds -- and pledge now, and act promptly to undo the structures established by the cabinet department whose animus (despite its several-times renaming, rebranding) has often been that echoed by the one time Deputy Minister, Duncan Campbell Scott: "I want to get rid of the Indian problem ... Our object is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada who has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question and no Indian Department." Even if that kind of policy was meant kindly (I'll allow that he may have thought it was so far as he was concerned, but I'm inclined to doubt it, and it hasn't worked out that way, ever), it's racist and offensive and a piece of our past that must be actively turned away from if only to lend a shred of credibility (and a very tiny shred at that) to our self-congratulation in looking across the border to the south (and their looking across the border to us), to say that on race we're at least not as messed up as they are.

For starters piles of First Nations communities have not had clean water much longer than Flint, Michigan has suffered under that lash.

"Not a racist" was never good enough, and now we all know why. It's time for even the Canadian Government to start turning towards striving to become anti-racist.

Sincerely,


<your name>

Are you going to?

2020-06-05

Peter MacKay wants my vote, eh?

My Facebook feed has been lit up recently with ads from Peter MacKay. It's been a long time since I voted Conservative but I thought, "okay, I'll tell you what it would take to get my vote". So I went to his web-site, to the contact page, and asked him some questions. With the current unrest to the south -- and the prissy-pure reputation we're enjoying now (falsely), you know where I started, don't you? And then I got going.

At the bottom, I promised to post it here, and to post any something-deeper-than-press-release response I get from his people.

So, Peter...

How serious an anti-racist are you? Do you pledge to bring clean water to the numerous reservation-Flints across Canada regardless of cost? Do you pledge to correct the historic rates of over-incarceration of non-white and/or indigenous folks? (those, for starters; what about these other issues...)

Will you bring back the progressive taxation system that Brian Mulroney dismantled, so that adequate social programs can be fully funded without question? Will you remove contribution limits from payroll deductions to CPP/QPP and EI and keep those funds within those systems? (only the first reliable way to fund the kind of retirement that my parents' generation could count on and that is fundamentally threatened for me and for my kids. If you do that, don't stop there, but that's a good first step.)

Will you amend the Canada Health Act to compel the provinces to include basic vision and dental care in all their provincial plans? ("basic" here includes checkups, cleanings, fillings, root canals and caps -- together with public-health accountability so that those costs don't go crazy - braces maybe, too, where the current state is beyond a certain point)

Will you increase Canada's commitment to combat global warming by bringing in even more aggressive measures than the carbon tax, by slashing subsidies to Big Oil and instead fund fusion, solar, wind and non-weaponizable fission (LFTR, for instance) sources of energy? Will you compel oil companies and their successors to clean up their garbage, their leftover wells that they have abandoned with no budget in place for their decommissioning?

Will you help Alberta manage the political pain of finally adopting a provincial sales tax so that their budget is not so dependent on oil revenues and/or return the revenues unconstitutionally seized from them through the National Energy Program (while also, still, slashing the subsidies given to the oil companies as suggested above)?

Will you actively close down and mandate the clean up of non-closed-system salmon farming on the west coast?

Will you bring in real electoral reform, at the least bringing proportional representation blocks to individual large metro areas (i.e. all metro areas larger in population than Calgary or so) whose fragmentation into small ridings means that many voices (like mine) are never, ever heard at the ballot box? Failing that, will you at least bring back public funding of elections based on popular vote that Your Predecessor, Mr. Harper removed from me (stealing the last echoes of my voice)?

I thought not. I guess you know whether you can count on my vote then.

Go ahead, Peter, surprise me. I know the bigots whose votes you need in order to get nominated won't go along with these ideas but if I don't Say All the Things! nobody will ever hear them.

2020-05-03

I was looking for a way to express the following C-language macro, as found in a #ifdef __USE_GNU section of #include <unistd.h> in modern C++
# define TEMP_FAILURE_RETRY(expression) \
  (__extension__                                                              \
    ({ long int __result;                                                     \
       do __result = (long int) (expression);                                 \
       while (__result == -1L && errno == EINTR);                             \
       __result; }))
#endif
and it wasn't exactly easy to find the pieces to get that done by googling (Nor was it particularly easy to get blogger to display this article correctly!). I did eventually find it and present it here for reference by my future-self, in a template function I called uninterrupted. Instead of
return TEMP_FAILURE_RETRY(read(sockFd, buf, len, flags));
you would write
return uninterrupted(read, sockFd, buf, len, flags);
The glue that gets it done looks like this:
template< class F, class... Args >
inline auto uninterrupted(F&& f, Args&&...args) ->
    decltype(std::forward<F>(f)(std::forward<Args>(args)...))
{
    decltype(std::forward<F>(f)(std::forward<Args>(args)...)) rc;
    do
    {
        rc = std::forward<F>(f)(std::forward<Args>(args)...);
    }
    while(rc == static_cast<decltype(rc)>(-1) && errno == EINTR);
    return rc;
}
It's type-safe. It's easy to use. It's concise. And a modern compiler will optimize it down to assembler that's as tight or more so, as what C could produce with the macro that inspired it. And you don't have to worry about getting all the trailing back-slashes right when you write it!

If that's "too geeky for you", fine... just keep moving.

2020-04-11

They still serve who only...

Once upon a time, John Milton wrote a sonnet.

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."

This month, I wrote a "parody" if you will but an appreciative one, that attempted to honour in the remembrance, in the transposition from his circumstances to my own. I share the result with you here:

When I consider how my days are spent,
My troubles not like Milton's hamp'ring scourge,
To be effective in my Master's work
Has ever been my strongest deepest urge.

Yet my commitments mitigate against
Fulfillment (on the surface) of my calls
And trivialities extend to fill
My times -- this my own "ash heap" me appalls.

No more than in the blinded poet's day
Does Papa dole rewards out from effect.
His plans rest not on this or that task done.
His goal, it seems: our natures to perfect.

Will my life's fruit show earlier or late?
Still even they serve now who stand and wait.

2020-03-28

Yo Wash Yo Hands...

Yesterday, at the end of a news broadcast, the announcer gave the following PSA, which I found moving, so I share it with you all. The "wash our hands of all this" was an acknowledgment that much of what had been reported involved different people in painful situations:

"And this word of advice in protecting the whole community:

"It is so critical that in order not to wash our hands of all of this we simply wash our hands.

"When you see somebody, and you're afraid to step away 'cause you don't want them to feel like you are afraid of them, don't think of them as the vector of disease. Think of yourself as possibly one who could infect others, because we can't know at this point.

"Step away.
Be at a safe distance to make the whole community safe.

"And when you wash your hands, to understand why this is so important: it's just simple water and soap -- I know for many it is not even possible to get that water -- but if you have access and soap, soap is critical.

"It is the most important weapon because the corona virus, corona is the crown on the virus which is a lipid, and the soap cuts through that.

"Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.

"You know how you see doctors on TV shows washing their hands and then putting their arms up? This is the way to do it.

"You sing happy birthday twice if you want to but you've gotta scrub those hands.
You've gotta interlace your fingers and scrub.
Scrub your fingertips, you know that touches, oh, everything from buttons to elevator buttons, everything else.
Wash the back and the front of your hands.

"You're doing it for yourself.
You're doing it for your family.
You're doing it for the whole community
to stop community spread.
We have to keep each other safe in this very dire time of this pandemic."

(me back again): so go on you all, pretend to be doctors and yo wash yo hands!

(shout out to Group 1 Crew for the noise in my head around the title, lifted from their "Clap Ya Hands")

2020-03-26

The Bill of Goods

mostly written by my brother, Ray Klassen at thepilgrimagecontinues.blogspot.com. A few additional points of my own added.)

In the 80's most of us Christians were duped by the political puppets of the aspiring super-rich who sold us a bill of goods as part of a covert class war that they have ultimately won. Amazingly this bill of goods is still out there being touted by any number of people who after all these years, still see each entry on this intellectual invoice as obvious and axiomatic, standing by the same liars who promoted it in the first place. I say 'liars' because there is ample evidence that many of these talking points were known to be false by the people that originated them. That we bought into their ideas amounts to a swindle and a con game, and makes one wonder when reparations will be possible. It's been on my mind recently to itemize these ideas and provide some refutation of each. I recognize that my refutation will not be enough for many to simply about face on any of them as each are exploiting a deeply ingrained part of our cultural outlook, such that when what relate what I have now found to be true, many will simply read, and angrily dismiss. But that is the way of such things. So here, in not any particular order, the conservative bill of goods:

1. Small government is better than big government. Not true. We need adequate government. When reducing government in size is an end in itself, regulatory measures are put at risk. These regulatory measures, ideally, are there largely to limit the ability of corporate interests to endanger the public in any number of ways. These are not "job killing regulations". They are "life-and-health saving regulations." An undersized government lacks the appropriate power to inspect and enforce regulations. Frustration over weak, bad, or even nonsensical regulations (government is a human institution) is not a justification for wantonly slashing government size. Achieving an under-regulated, under-enforced "small government" can only advantage the rich and give them a free hand to increase their advantage.

2. Government salaries as well funded support for the less able constitutes waste. Related to point one in that the focus is misdirected onto the money that it takes to fund even adequate government and likewise not true. Government waste as a whipping boy is a huge talking point of those who wish us to vote in such a way as to limit their tax bill. As long as we are focused on that, we remain unaware of the obscene amount of wealth that is being removed to stay into the bank accounts of those who have promoting this. Even worse is the vilifying of the needy, who need the support of government to live, judging them by a standard which requires them to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. "if only they would just get a job," or some such. Exploitation of this natural judgmentalism in our culture is par for the course. But there is again ample evidence that when support is made available, that many of the less fortunate are able to get far enough ahead as to be self-sufficient. But even if they are not, as humans and citizens of our country it's right to always give them that chance.

3. Tax cuts are good for everybody. (related lies: trickle down economics, "rising tide lifts all boats") Manifestly not true. Tax cuts are a measure that only marginally benefits the low and middle wage earner and egregiously over-benefits the top earning brackets. What tax cuts do is produce a downward spiral supported by points one and two whereby government is now underfunded and we demand that it become leaner and certainly meaner. People that were supported in some way lose their support because that is now labelled 'waste.' This deplorable state is even legitimized with a semi-virtuous sounding name, that is, austerity. But austerity is really not the enforced necessary poverty it appears to be. What it is is when those who are advantaged by wealth are allowed to increase their advantage utilizing government, which should have been in place to defend us against them but has now become their weapon.

4. Labour unions are evil, are all about greed, etc. etc. Very wrong. Most of the labour laws that benefit us today, limiting work weeks to ensure that families can have a life together outside drudgery, adequate wages, extended health plans come to us via union bargaining and since they came to us, have been steadily chiselled away again by big business. Parallel to that has been a successful propaganda campaign to vilify the unions and tar them with any number of charges. Okay. its a fact is that the unions haven't been pure. Organized crime has had its grubby paws on some unions. But the current wage differential between labourer and brass is yet another indication that the class war being waged by the super-rich against the rest of us is going very well for them. We would be wise not to invoke Paul's advice to slaves (a gross misapplication) or other authoritarian claptrap when a union votes to strike. After the current covid-19 crisis is over, I guarantee the nurses will want a better deal, for instance and they will deserve it.

5. Free enterprise. Yes. Just the phrase itself is questionable. Money is based on, wait for it, money. This is something that we've learning about as society recently. It's called privilege. If you start with any sort of advantage you can increase your advantage. If you start with a disadvantage, you will likely not transcend it but probably end with a greater disadvantage. The ableist myth propagated by the idea of Free Enterprise is that anyone, through hard work and God-given smarts, can start any business and get ahead. I think it's an example of the true Scotsman fallacy (look it up) because as soon as you would limit that 'anyone' and demonstrate that many cannot and have indeed failed utterly, the proponent will, by circular reasoning claim that they simply didn't work hard enough. And while Christians argue amongst themselves in this manner, Big Enterprise happily continues to tell its success stories in this rubric pointing to themselves as proof that "free" enterprise works. But until the government levels the playing field through progressive taxation, redistributing the advantage, we would be wiser to refer to this idea rather as privileged enterprise.

6. We must enshrine Christian morality in law. Here's the one where the super-rich (such a moral group) lead us along by the nose. They know our hot-button issues -- our nostalgia for the way things were when "evils" by the score were invisible because they were underground. Drugs, abortion, Feminism, LGBT, etc.: The super-rich know that if they can get us riled up about these issues, we are distracted from their depredations.They know that if they can package up promises to bring back the past along with all of their other dastardly schemes, we'll vote for them.  Secondly each of these categories represent people whom the donor class want to silence. The war on drugs for example is evidentially a creation of the Nixon Republicans to silence the hippy and black left.  Outlawing abortion does nothing to help children live. The evidence is out there. Countries with liberal abortion laws have fewer abortions because co-incidentally they also have in place what actually helps children live, which is social support for the mothers of said children. But that eats into the profits treasured by the super rich. In the case of LGBT, it's not so much a political silencing but more of a divide and conquer tactic. While we waste our time wishing that this segment didn't exist thinking 'if only we could ban them through legislation,' we are distracted from finding the real culprit.

7. Capitalism is Christian. False. No governmental system is Christian. But capitalism more than any system has few friends in the pages of scripture. Where do I start? Try the book of James. Condemns in no uncertain terms the oppression of the rich and the obsequious toadying of the rich by the church. Look at the Jubilee economic system (maybe never really tried -- we don't know) presented in Leviticus. Every fifty years, a reset. A limiting, balancing factor par excellence. Look at all the prophet's words against oppression by the rich on the poor. Oh, but you say, that's not against capitalism, that's against oppression by the wealthy. Let's have a wake up call, if you please. Wealth is oppression. If I have, it means that someone else doesn't have. If I have more, then someone else has less. Sounds terrible, but this thing has a scale. Here in the middle class, the oppression factor is maybe not as egregious. But when we realize that half of the world's wealth is owned by 1% of its population, the oppression is extreme.

The wealth gained this way represents legalized tax evasion. Legalized through swindling the Christian white middle class vote through this bill of goods in the 1980's. We voted this way (tax cuts!) thinking it would do us good. but little gain has come our way and our ranks, which should have been swelled by many others entering the middle class as wages went up instead of down have been depleted and we are losing power to what are now not merely the wealthy but oligarchs, people who can and do outright buy political power to ever increase their hold on society. Democracy is dying. The legalized tax evasion has other dimensions too. The rich have access to tools the poor do not. Holding companies, offshore accounts, stocks, etc. etc. represent an upward spiral accessed through privilege. It's a thing crying out for a societal limiting factor. (something Judeo-Christian maybe, like the Jubilee year?) But no, we've eviscerated government so that they haven't the resources to control this. Maybe it's time to wake up.

Thus far my brother. I added a few more articles of my own.

8. The best way to run a health care system is at a profit. Yeah right. Just ask New York and California how constant cost-cutting is benefiting them today. An empty bed may not be a source of revenue, but it's a source of resiliency, something that a health care system needs at times like these. And for Canadians yearning for a private system, if the public system isn't working well enough, the answer isn't a private system, it's more funding -- with oversight, of course! to prevent waste and boon-doggling -- for the public system. And that funding needs to be generous enough to support something like the potential maximum need, even if you need to raise taxes on the richest to support it.

9: The right to keep and arm bears (not that one, nitwit, the other one: The right to keep and bear arms). "Clocks don't bring tomorrow, knives don't bring good news" as a Canadian singer once wrote, and a gun in the home is a bigger threat to its inhabitants than it is to any miscreant that might come around to bother you. Only someone with lawless intentions needs a machine gun, a semi-automatic or large clips.

And I can only echo and magnify the call to wake up. The current system is messed up in so many ways and we are complicit in the damage that has been done. Accepting these as a priori truths, never to be questioned has brought us to this pass and it's time to question all of them because all of them are lies; and lies or not, they are at odds with what it means to be a Christian in a society where the citizens are responsible to take part in government, the responsibility that falls to us with those freedoms that we love to be thankful for.