EDWISE 

EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT

Opposition to Kaliwa, Kanan & Laiban Dams

Today March 14 is the international day of action for rivers and against large dams. Today also marks the first week since the "Bloody Sunday" operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in CALABARZON region. Among the nine (9) individuals that were killed in the simultaneous operation are Randy Dela Cruz and Puroy Dela Cruz who are Dumagat indigenous people (IP).

     Their communities are affected by the construction of large dams in Rizal and Quezon provinces - the Kaliwa, Laiban and Kanan dams.

Puroy and Randy are also members of Dumagat Sierra Madre opposed to the ongoing Kaliwa Low Dam project which the government is implementing despite the absence of free prior informed consent (FPIC) and other requirements by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Prior to the Bloody Sunday massacre, the Dumagat communities are constantly subjected to threat, intimidation, and red-tagging due to their unwavering commitment to defend their ancestral land against large dams.

     Currently, fear and terror are haunting the communities of Dumagat in Rizal as their communities have been heavily militarized since the incident. Families and supporters of the murdered IPs are struggling to raise resources to finance the funeral needs.

     We, the Network Opposed to Kaliwa, Kanan, Laiban Dams (NOtoKKLD) appeals for continued calls for Justice for Puroy Dela Cruz and Randy Dela Cruz and for the other activists, development workers, environmental & human rights defenders that have died in the hands of AFP and PNP. An impartial, thorough, and speedy investigation should be carried to determine irregularities and prosecute authorities that have abused their power.

Financial support for this campaign is also welcome, you may use the following accounts BPI: Charmane Jay Maranan (0919233249), GCASH: PAMELLA HORNILLA (09163258140), PAYPAL: CASEYANNECRUZ

Justice for the Victims of Agent Orange

Veterans for Peace (VFP) e-news, March 23, 2021:

"Sixty years ago, the United States used approximately 19 million gallons of 15 different herbicides, including 13 million gallons of Agent Orange, over southern Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Between 2.1 and 4.8 million Vietnamese were exposed during the spraying and many more continue to be exposed through the environment. Agent Orange exposure continues to negatively affect the lives of men and women in Vietnam and in the United States."


VFP hosted a webinar on the lingering aftermath of the despicable use of agent orange by the US military since the 19602. In this powerful panel, Hoan Thi Tran and Heather Bowser talked about their personal stories as disabled children of parents who were exposed to the toxic compound agent orange. A defoliant deliberately mixed strong enough to kill people, the US said it used agent orange to clear jungles where it suspected Vietcong forces were hiding. The US Army Chemical Corps and the Flying Crews were charged with the task. It was poured over people, too. US personnel ordered to spray it in many areas succumbed to illness as did Vietnamese people. Not only did they suffer from cancers and other diseases such as Parkinson’s, their children and grandchildren suffered deformities and illnesses, too. Jonathan Moore discussed the U.S. legal cases around Agent Orange, and Tricia Euvard cited the current lawsuit in France. Susan Schnall laid out the broad health effects of Agent Orange, and Paul Cox briefly described and weighed the legislation on Agent Orange that U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee would soon introduce. This webinar also occurred in conjunction with the recent release of the powerful new film “The People Vs. Agent Orange.”


In 1960, the United Nations passed a resolution to create a treaty against chemical weapons because of discoveries of damage related to their toxins to all people, animals and plants. The use of agent orange was a violation of this treaty and international law, and as such, a war crime.


The struggle to get justice for this monolithic crime continues. Tracking the history, we can see how costly the use of agent orange has been in terms of life and dollars. The US Agent Orange Act of 2005 assigned some compensation totaling $75 billion to US military veterans. Though the US government cannot be sued, there have been lawsuits against chemical companies. Many litigation cases by US veterans and non-resident aliens have been dismissed. The US military and government claim the effects of agent orange were unexpected “collateral damage” rather than intentional harm. However, it has been shown that the level of dioxin in the mixture sold to the US military was designed to cause death.


The effects of agent orange are still being studied and learned. For instance, hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s, bladder cancer and other illnesses have been known as consequences of exposure, though not officially recognized until 2021.


Veterans and their allies persist in educating the public about the true crimes of US wars. VFP reported on one historic action in its e-news release of April 6, 2021.

"Many veterans came home from Vietnam with a mission: to tell the truth about the wartime atrocities being committed and demand an immediate end to the killing. In April 1971, a group of more than 1,000 veterans launched the Dewey Canyon III operation, a ‘limited incursion into the land of Congress.’ April 23 marked the 50th anniversary of one of the most influential anti-war actions of the era."


VFP and the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs hosted an online forum about this operation and the lessons it offers on April 23. 

Unsolved Missing Persons

I have been learning a lot about unsolved missing persons in the US, Australia and Canada in the past three weeks. My main source has been the CanAm Missing Project and the video series tagged "Missing 411" of the said project, which is run by policing expert, researcher and author David Paulides and his team. (Beware impostor videos.) See the website called canammissing.com and the CanAm Missing Project channel on Youtube. David Paulides has composed a series of books covering different regions and victim profiles as well as two feature-length documentary films. Over 1200 of these cases have been uncovered so far and the books and movies highlight many of them.


The cases that this Project examines are unexplained mysteries. Criminal causes have been excluded. Urban cases are not considered; the project looks into rural cases, many in national parks and national forests but sometimes near a village or even on the fringes of a metropolitan area. These people have simply disappeared, often without a trace. It has always happened to individuals walking alone. They can be any age, but the missing includes alpha males and females with high levels of education, such as physicists and physicians, who are usually experienced in the outdoors, well equipped and very fit. Some are seasoned hunters or active/ former military or paramilitary personnel. No case has turned up in which the victim was carrying a transponder (aka personal locator beacon) and a firearm. There are no witnesses to the disappearances; people in pairs or groups do not go missing in this way. (There is one exception, a father-daughter pair.) Most of these missing persons are of European descent, though some European visitors and local people of other ethnic origins have disappeared. (There could be a simple cultural explanation for this, in this blog writer's view. Who most likely hunts or hikes through back country?) The youngest case is age 20 months and the oldest in the mid-80s. Some of the victims have physical disabilities. Some are poorly equipped. They do not disappear directly from shelters or cars; rather, they are always on foot outdoors and usually on known trails and roads. 


Sometimes human remains are found, the bodies having been displaced from the last site seen or point of departure from companions several days, weeks, months or years after the location of discovery had been thoroughly searched by expert rescuers and searchers numerous times. There are some survivors who are found either sleeping or unconscious, especially children, but who have no memory of the lapsed time and cannot explain what happened. (The CanAm Project does not discuss alien abductions accounts, though does refer to the research into alien abduction witnesses.) Discovered living or expired, the victims are often found in or beside bodies of water or at a much higher elevation away from the known or supposed route. Their shoes have always been removed, yet their feet are clean and show no significant injuries. Bodies are usually dry and clean without signs of assault. All or much of their clothing has been removed. Of the evidence, if any, that shows up sooner or later, it is the shoes, flung here and there or set neatly in the open; other articles of clothing may turn up in strange locations, which never show any indication of animal predation--no blood, hair, lacerations and such. Autopsies have detected high levels of GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) in the bloodstream of a few of the deceased. HOW?! Most autopsy reports cannot conclude a cause of death. If a cause is cited, it may be challenged as implausible.


Another noteworthy aspect: these type of missing persons cases have been carefully mapped out. Mapping has revealed clusters of missing cases spanning over a century. There are large and small clusters in most states of the US and in the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario in Canada. Sheesh, there is a cluster pegged in a mountain area I can see from my home in the Greater Vancouver area in BC!--Seymour Mountain. A little farther away is another, Eagle Mountain Park! These are popular recreational areas in provincial parks. There are no clusters in the central North American continent where large bodies of water are few and mountains absent. There are clusters in the Blue Mountains and the outskirts of Melbourne, in the states of New South Wales and Victoria in Australia. Indigenous people ("Amerindians" in the US) have been interviewed; they recount ancient lore and contemporary stories of strange disappearances and sightings among them. There are some places they do not roam. Also, sites of the missing frequently have local names with the word "Devil" in them! How and why such names?!


State park and forests authorities likely reluctant to divulge data and opinions on the matter, the Paulides team has tracked down search and rescue, police and news documents, and interviewed 100s of associates of victims or survivors themselves. More information comes to David Paulides directly from his readers and viewers who have even more stories to share, even stories about similar situations in other countries. He believes that the parks officials are withholding information, particularly lists of the missing within park boundaries. Officials such as those at Yosemite National Park, the place with the largest cluster of missing people!, deny having any knowledge of missing people and defy the law in refusing to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests. There are indications that somebody knows something, as FBI agents have been seen at search sites for no apparent reason. 


Indeed, the whole business is shrouded with mystery and intriguing yet frightening implications. In fact, many witnesses and observers in the cluster areas have strange tales to tell: flashes and great orbs of bright lights, bone chilling howls and chatter in the darkness, bigfoot sightings, shadows, UFOs, inexplicable parting grasses and branches, the sense of being watched and odd sounds such as flute music, voices out of nowhere, the thunder of stampeding horses or cattle and loud snaps and bangs. 


David Paulides does not publicly offer any explanation. He likes to provide facts, relay what people have to say from experience and what experts say based on scientifically informed consideration. However, he does conclude that there is an obvious pattern. Therefore, everyone should be aware of the danger.


David Paulides does not recommend everyone stay home. He himself is a self-professed avid hiker and camper. He never tells anyone not to enter state parks and forests. Rather, he provides some safety tips for those desiring to continue to enjoy the outdoors away from urban life. #1 is never go alone! Don't allow yourself or any companion to be alone even for an instant! #2 is carry proper equipment, even if you plan a short day-hike: a locator beacon, a phone/ GPS gadget, a paper map, a loud whistle, a compass, first aid supplies, extra food and clothing, a waterproof lightweight blanket, a garbage bag for rain and so on, and plenty of water. (Drinking from local water sources except true springs can make you terribly ill!) He strongly recommends that those licensed to carry them and trained to use them take their weapon and extra rounds. For one thing, firearm is a loud noisemaker. However, Everything can fit into a lightweight, waterproof backpack with hip straps. Of course, there are jackets and vests with large pockets. Finally, dress for the weather and wear comfortable, protective footwear. Once you have gathered together this stuff, you will feel more secure about any eventuality and be most able to protect yourself. 


In my view, it is worth the trouble. I have been a local hiker, myself, and know that it is easy to get lost, get tired, hungry and dehydrated, or have an injury. Moreover, the weather can change suddenly and dramatically, especially in mountainous and coastal areas. I would add that hiking/ climbing and camping in the wilderness is no time to use substances including alcohol, although I know many (yahoos and city dudes) out there like to imbibe. It will just add to your risks and trouble.


Personally, I am of an age now when I avoid regular high-impact activities as my knees are already showing signs of wear. That's why I only do short hikes in urban/ urban edges settings. I do those alone as the areas are very safe and many people are around. I have belonged to hiking groups and have many wonderful memories and stories from those times. Yes, I have trekked serious mountain trails alone, but only twice. The power of the natural forces around me become too real and intimidating to venture further. I know my lack of training. I have started out on a solo trek in the coastal and Cascades Mountains (the latter a danger area, according to Paulides!) for up to an hour, never able to relax, the whole time feeling that something bad could happen. Heck, I passed over fresh bear tracks, stood on a precipice overlooking a valley with serious mountains and threatening dark clouds in the distance. I sensed all the unknowns and the millions of years of evolution which have unleashed power I cannot comprehend to either push up or tear down tall peaks, create valleys and deep lakes, etc. I must respect it all. I for one do recommend that most people stay close to home, leave the wildlife and wilderness unharmed and be with what you are raised and able to be with.


Community Celebrations

Various community and grassroots organizations have been featuring celebrations online. I have watched a few unusual but very endearing ones over the past few months. Some of them were put together by my friends and associates.


Gung Haggis Fat Choy, a play on the Lunar New Year greeting in Hong Kong Cantonese, Gung Hay Fat Choy, this annual events combines a Robbie Burns Dinner with Canadian Scottish and Chinese heritage. Robbie Burns, a romantic Scottish nationalist and poet, was born close to the time of Lunar New Year. This event promotes the truth of history and multiculturalism.  There are bag pipe players, poets, singers and speakers.https://www.facebook.com/WORDvancouver/videos/483912249435238


Cuba Solidarity Festival - Cuban cultural authorities and musicians planned an online concert to give thanks to North American Cuba solidarity activists. This concert boasts some expert jazz performers in Cuba, the US and Canada. There are a few words of solidarity, but most of this video is fantastic music.  For Cuba! For Solidarity! International Concert Against the U.S. Blockade on Cuba!

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1017433785335802


I am a member of a politically relevant and active choir based in my area. The Solidarity Notes Choir reached its 20th year of learning and singing songs for social justice and peace last year. For this occasion, we made a video to show its history and role. We are now rebuilding and rejuvenating this choir to ensure its future. Check it out! https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#trash/FMfcgxwLscxRBtflJKJxNdRxdCFBDnNz?projector=1 


Finally, here is a concert recorded at a Vancouver cafe in 2017. It features my chum's group, the South Vancouver Big Band. Very professional.

https://www.facebook.com/southvanbigband/videos/616173629357459 





New Things

We here value the big and the little, for the little may be bigger than you think. As I consider how I am doing so far this year, I therefore reflect on all new experiences and all events in my life and what I have been witnessing adjacent to my life.


Verging on feeling gloomy again and noticing my body get a little stiffer in recent weeks, I found a new exercise routine. It is a 10-minute series of 9 movements which can be expanded over a longer period. I found this set on a Youtube channel of two aging physiotherapists who provide tips to the 50+ age group. The exercises are geared for people at any fitness level and many can even be done while sitting. I am in pretty good shape for my age, having always been physically active in one way or another, so I expand on the harder elements such as the squats, push-ups and arm pulls. I like having a short yet expandable series as I find some routines get monotonous. With some brief movements that can be done any time of the day without necessarily changing clothes or showering, I am more apt to performing them most days. Of course, I get outside to roam around, often incorporating errands into the promenades, as an alternative. This winter in my region has been exceptionally rainy and dark, though, so I needed to get in motion with indoor activities. (I don't usually go for a few weeks without some pointed exercise because I start feeling too uncomfortable to tolerate the inactivity.)


I resumed library use last week. I "checked out" an e-book and downloaded it from my local library for the first time ever. I also went online to put one of its books on hold. Just picked it up this morning, which was the first time I had entered a library in close to a year!


I have been sampling e-books using my mobile device while in transit. Travel and long waits are the occasions when I am most likely to read. I had not been reading on the bus as I ride the buses so little these days.


I came across some great advice while sampling a motivational book. It is written from a "positive thinking" perspective. "Sometimes you Win, Sometimes you Learn" by John C. Maxwell is available from the Google Playbook Store for $3. Maxwell's main message is to expect more losses than wins and use losses as opportunities to learn and grow. Not an uncommon viewpoint, but he has his own way of arguing and interesting types of examples. What I wish to underscore here is his roadmap for learning. He writes a whole chapter on each place in the map.  As an educator, I see it as a philosophy for learning in an context. I quote his map here.

             Humility: the Spirit of Learning

             Reality: the Foundation of Learning

             Responsibility: the First Step of Learning

             Improvement: the Focus of Learning

             Hope: the Motivation of Learning

             Teachability: the Pathway of Learning

             Adversity: the Catalyst for Learning

             Problems: Opportunities for Learning

             Bad Experience: the Perspective for Learning

             Change: the Price of Learning

             Maturity: the Value of Learning

Pretty good. I'll let you stew on it. I have already devoted months of this blog on positive thinking as applied to aging and addressing problems; in fact, that was the premise for this blog back in the winter of 2013/14, as many of you readers know.


My skills at writing and using technologies for communication have thrived since I started this blog. I've been using iPads for teaching, for instance. I am getting better at using Vistaprint's new platform and blog entering procedures. Again, I regret the long delay in catching on and keeping up the blogging.


Speaking of teaching, I have been teaching beginner French totally online for the first time. What else is new with me? Hmm. I boiled and ate purple potatoes for the first time yesterday. Taste is similar to that of Russets. 


Speaking of food, I have been trying new seed mixes for the wild birds on my block who feed at my porch. I now have two hanging, cylindric seed feeders along with two hanging suet "cages." Lots of little birdies including some new visitors have been gobbling up my offerings. The type of bird feed in my area is limited and costly, though, so I have been experimenting with stuff off the supermarket shelves and making my own recipes. The corn meal base mixture passed. Today I provided a formula of uncooked human cereal and rice combined with chopped peanuts and sunflowers. So far, so good. It is a job keeping the greedy and messy starlings away to prevent them from spilling a lot of it and eating too much too fast.


The resident flocks of brown and black chickadees and the juncos are regulars from dawn to dusk. The local towhees, flickers, nuthatches and Eastern (Lincoln?) sparrows appear every day, too. The newest species visiting my porch are a few pairs of house finches, up to 20 siskins and a couple of delightful kinglets. 


I have come to know the species well enough to feel confident about identifying and tracking them during the formal annual bird counts. I participated in the Cornell (ornithology) Lab's annual North America, February count for the first time ever. It was a great experience! It happened to snow the weekend of the count, but I enjoyed trekking around, binoculars and notebook in had, regardless. I took a little time out on three days: first, I just observed the activity at my balcony, before walking neighbourhood streets the next day and winding up on a walk through residential areas to a small shopping plaza. A couple of extraordinary things occurred during those times. Making my return to my place near the end of my first outdoors count, the area robins returned! I found most resting together in a couple trees while a few ventured into gardens to forage through the snow. I counted about 40 robins. Another fantastic sight was the sudden arrival of around 60 Herring Gulls to the shopping centre. They were following a woman through the parking lot. I had never seen such a situation before. However, I noticed many gulls circling over the park next to the shopping centre as I passed by in a bus this morning; on my return trip an hour later, I spotted that woman taking things out of her bags and cart to feed to the gulls, all of whom were rather patiently standing around her for their bites of the goodies. My role in this national count was uplifting. I think I'll do it again. There is another national count in May.


We are two months into 2021 already. The spring equinox will soon pass us by. Better not to be impatient for the spring and the sun, but to relish time every day.


pushing democracy

I've been watching an online forum put on by some British revolutionaries. After showing a documentary on the Cuba medical system's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the forum participants have been discussing the implications for the British medical system's response to the pandemic. One key conclusion that arose from this discussion is the accusation of "social murder." The speaker who raised this concept quoted a recently published article in the British Journal of Medicine that quotes Frederick Engels (Karl Marx's close associate in building revolutionary theory and action programming). It was Engel's who first used the term "social murder", which he generally intended to mean the deliberate neglect of sectors of the population to the point where thousands of people die because of lack of intervention where and when there could have been state intervention. The speaker underlined the state's preference in choosing "the economy" over people, which of course means, in the type of economy Europe had in his day and still has now, choosing to keep profits for a privileged minority rolling in rather than rolling out medical and social assistance to the general population. The speaker referring to this term "social murder" rightly called attention to the BJM article as "very remarkable." He described the article as a scathing criticism of the NHS of the UK's lack of action to protect the whole population from COVID-19. It means scientists and physicians believe that the state and corporations are directly responsible for genocide. WOW! I think the authors, editors and the publishers of the article, and the readers that support it, are correct. Many of the forum participants engaging in the post-video viewing discussion pointed to factual circumstances that provide evidence to support the cries of "social murder." They spoke to the government's limp response at the onset of the pandemic in the UK when PM Johnson and company basically told the populace to wash their hands and be careful, but that life would be business as usual (expression deliberate by this blog's author). They also highlighted the lack of planned pandemic management and the failure to have a response ready to begin with. The underscored the extreme reluctance to close down any businesses. They spoked to the lack of quarantine support, testing and PPE distribution. In short, authorities allowed the pandemic to flourish to the point where today over 100,000 people are expiring every day, and where an extensive lockdown has been imposed as a last minute thought. They talked about overcrowded housing where the poorest live, the lack of financial support for the folks who need it the most and the absence of planning to keep children connected and involved in the classroom with special measures and in reduced classroom sizes. The forum participants revealed how many among the Brits are fuming and devastated by the existing predicament, how teachers, social workers, factory workers and others are anguished and furious. This is a condition in which, as one of the speakers suggested, where conspiracy theories and reactionary thinking can thrive, adding another dimension of danger to the mix. The situation is paralleled in the US, Canada, many European and Latin American countries, sadly. The only way forward is for people to act to take care of their communities at the grassroots level. Waiting for the government to rescue everyone never resolves things. People must push democracy from the ground up. Legal and parliamentary measures must be attempted, of course, but the most powerful and therefore important response must come directly from the majority of the working people and oppressed themselves. Discussions, exchanges of info and ideas, support group formation, political mobilization and coordination, street protests, alternative peoples' media and such must get into action. This is how basic change can and will transpire. It is how it did in Cuba, for example.

Blog

roots of oppression

Posted on June 4, 2020 at 9:33 PM Comments comments (13)
Don't wanna hear one more talk show host confess what they're just learning now about oppression against people of colour. They can be heard telling "us" (?ASSUMPTIONS!) that we have to pay more attention and be more sensitive. Making pledges to (finally) use "their platforms" (very rich and privileged) to listen to black and brown people and help making change happen. Really? They didn't know about the difficulties facing working people of colour and migrant workers before? Just had dinner and hope I can keep it down. 

Understanding racism in North America and Europe takes adopting a historical perspective to understand European colonialism. especially the master of racist doctrine, bureaucratic rule, force against "the other" and forced assimilation, British colonialism. Leaders must acknowledge this history if they are to make changes. Some have begun to here in Canada and a few other locations, such as New Zealand, but it is not enough.

I also object to racialized intepretations of events and behavior, from any angle. Racism is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it is a tool of the oppressor to keep people divided and diverted. Relations are so extensively racialized in some loci such as the USA that it is hard to propose non-race explanations. Whatever one's colour, racism is often an excuse or a cited cause for things not working out. People generally have learned it from a variety of sources. It is deeply ingrained in the consciousness. On the other hand, not recognizing the history and not seeing that age-old oppression bearing down on certain sectors because of their place of origin, language, colour and class position is damaging. Race is not real but racialization is. Racist policy and discourse are real. Socially, race is relevant even though genetically it is not. The power relations, the history of one sector beating down others so as to raise themselves up, is true. It does not just happen in the West. Forms of chauvinism, whether religion or nation-based, is a reality of any imperial system, whether monarchical or corporate, colonial or neo-colonial. 

Racism should not and cannot be addressed as a separate problem from the problem of imperialism and oppression against gender and class. There are elements actually complicit in the oppression who may have a black or brown identity but are very happy to have achieved, by hook or by crook, high status and privilege. They want to talk about their oppression as people of colour or a family history originating in Africa. Feminism poses the same problem. True, violence and discrimination cut across class and unity among the sufferers can be achieved to make certain points. All the same, a social analysis that does not see class and admit to empire will fail. 

Why hasn't more legislation to reduce police brutality against people of colour and alleviate the oppression of the most oppressed in the rich countries been realized despite the decades of abuse? If it is a systemic problem, then it cannot be solved by tweaking the law. If it is a systemic problem then it is about democracy, attaining state power and taking the reins of power to reconfigure society and its teachings.

Why to the racial tensions linger, despite all the talk, changes in law, rise of role models, sharing of knowledge...? The answer is the same in the case of women and the poor: there is a lack of (1) political knowledge and orientation and (2) organization. The people need political education informed by experience on the ground, grass roots organization and mobilization in appropriate actions designed for the time and place and means. 

We all need fundamental change to resolve many problems, racism being one, and others being exploitation of working people, inequality and poverty, plunder of indigenous lands, war and destruction of culture and heritage, etc. Systemic change takes political awareness and organization by the people for a new way.

13 things to stay positive

Posted on May 12, 2020 at 2:33 PM Comments comments (0)
Good tips for staying positive and on course in life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SzvtJMrXx0

9:252020-04-06 · 13 THINGS MENTALLY STRONG PEOPLE DON'T DO by Amy Morin 

Wild Animal Markets

Posted on April 22, 2020 at 11:20 PM Comments comments (55)
Given that the source of the COVID-19 pandemic could well be live animal markets in China, especially those selling wild animals, I have been playing a small part in discouraging wild animal markets.

There are many good reasons to close them down. First of all, numerous zoonotic diseases can easily sprout from them. In conditions of such markets are on the whole deplorable, with multiple, acutely stressed animals stacked into small cages without proper cleaning, that probability is heightened. Just do a simple "Google" to check and see images of these horrid sights yourself. 

Another thing is there typical location in the center of crowded cities where foot traffic is heavy, and passersby may frequently touch the animals and the cages, accelerating the passage of viruses from animals to humans. The vendor on duty may be holding a creature to lure customers.

In addition, the wild animals languishing in these terrible markets have probably been poached and imported clandestinely. The collectors and shippers are no doubt criminals robbing innocent creatures, even endangered ones, from prohibited areas. They steal from nature carelessly and treat the terrified beings roughly, packing them into vehicles, containers and ships or rail cars to haul them long distances. They thus enter foreign countries illegally and, of course, without proper shots and quarantine. Anything could happen in this scenario. It is to invite catastrophe as much as it is inhumane.

Finally, it is about time that human societies change their relationships with nature, both plants and animals. We need to treat them better, in an informed and kind way. People need to to conserve nature and protect life and biodiversity.

For all the above reasons, I have been commenting here and there on this topic, mostly on social media and in private conversations, to advocate against the poaching, trafficking and trading of wild animals. I have also made a Facebook page, after being shocked that no-one had done it before. 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/502759593748663/ 

I am also concerned for livestock on display in traditional street markets. The conditions and treatment of fowl, swine, etc. at these types of places need to be vastly improved in many of them. There should be more space, hygiene, care, respect and sense. They are also sources of viruses transferred from critters to people. 

Turnover

Posted on April 6, 2020 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (27)
"World Turned Upside-Down" is a modern adaptation of the 17th century protest song about the Diggers' movement for land rights. The lyrics convey the assumption that a society in which the deprived majority must provide service to the privileged majority is an upside-down world much in need of righting. 

It seems that the pandemic is shaking up the global system and turning things over. Suddenly, human needs have been made a priority and non-productive and destructive activities assigned lower priority.

The pandemic has made the lack of support for health care, food distribution, housing and income assistance obvious. The situation has abruptly forced a shift in social structures and state mandates. Suddenly, many activities have been made to stop to give these causes priority. The least productive economic activities are on pause, such as "cultural industries" from luxury travel and professional sports, to pop music, from beauty care and movie-making to fashion. Industries related to war have had to slow down, including aerospace development by corporations such as Boeing and Bombardier.

The present context is resulting in reduced air pollution as use of fossil fuel-powered vehicles has dropped to a minimum. Motor vehicle manufacturing and petroleum production, both big problems, have been undermined. While the price of gas at the pump has plummeted, to favour the average consumer, car manufacturing plants are starting to switch to the production of more useful items, such as medical gear. 

Another affect of this crisis is the recognition of the service provided by workers in certain sectors that have suffered the lowest respect until now: janitors and housekeepers, food distributors and packers, cooks and grocery store clerks, and drivers, for example. Of course, the important roles of emergency service and health care providers has been amplified. 

Social responsibility to the collective rather than individual right and privilege is taking a front seat nowadays. In this context, governments are actually working hard to govern and take care of everyone. Media has an enhanced role to supply information, rather than "conversational journalism" which has more systematically manufactured speculation and carried propaganda.

Long-time issues are glaring, such as the need to provide more support to the workers and poor in times of emergency or calamity, the need for people to consume more wisely and efficiently without depending so much on debt, building health preparedness.

Some already lucrative industries are benefiting and growing in this situation: industries such as communications technologies, medical supplies and pharmaceutical products, financing, internet shopping and food delivery industries. However, the ethos of having compassion and helping others is stronger, which they have to express. Some services and products are being volunteered and provided without charge because of this atmosphere. 

If the people remain vigilant and engaged with what is happening, raising and discussing questions, and keep intervening in state affairs and media broadcasts, they will have a chance to keep some of the positive developments from this global mobilization to address the pandemic.

COVOD coping

Posted on March 16, 2020 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (21)
I'm pretty healthy these days. You?

Allergic responses to air quality are slight; as this March here is unseasonably cold, I am fighting off chills.

I generally take measures to ward off the flu during fall/winter and April flu seasons, measures such as limiting the touching of surfaces especially my face, carrying hand gels and wearing gloves when in transit. Same now, though I am staying home more.

I am staying away from the gym, preferring to do some exercises at home. I am limiting my time on public transit and avoiding gatherings.

Authorities are today announcing shutdowns of services, from airports to libraries, and discouraging attendance at large gatherings (50 or more) as well as use of restaurants. It is spring break today, and we await announcements about status of schools following the spring break.

Fortunately, as a private tutor, I can still get work online. Thank goodness for the internet, telephone systems and cable TV!

on economic sanctions

Posted on March 4, 2020 at 11:01 PM Comments comments (6)
END GENERAL ECONOMIC SANCTIONS NOW!
Statement for Global Days against Sanctions that Harm the People

Some solidarity and social justice organizations called for a global weekend of actions from March 13 to 15. The Venezuela Peace and Solidarity Committee of Vancouver (VPSC) joins in the actions against the blanket sanctions imposed by US imperialism and its allies that mostly aim to weaken states and movements of the people that stand up to imperialist interference, plunder and exploitation. Far from securing peace, human rights and economic development, they cause shortages of daily necessities and hardship to the working people. Also, they often rob a targeted state such as Cuba, North Korea, Nicaragua and Venezuela of huge state revenues from international activities that could be employed to serve their people more.

Sanctions are causing suffering to Iranian, Venezuelan, North Korean, Nicaraguan, Cuban and other peoples. Today economic sanctions are a standardized form of economic warfare implemented by US imperialism against targeted states that stand in the way its exploitation and profits. They are part of its arsenal and are aggressive. Such sanctions are carried out despite widespread condemnation, as in the case of Cuba, for UN votes on the Cuban blockade have shown a vast majority of UN member states wish an end to the blockade. General economic sanctions punish entire populations. US sanctions on Venezuela and Nicaragua are illegal. Economic sanctions against North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and Iran are cutting off basic supplies, blocking local commerce and trade and depriving the people, which has resulted in a lowered standard and held back development.

Although some political sanctions properly decided by international bodies and appropriately implemented might justifiably curb truly repressive regimes and reduce oppression, general economic sanctions destroy societies, intended to force them into submission by foreign powers.

When are sanctions justifiable? Take Israel, for example. It is a highly militarized state illegally occupying and colonizing Palestine. It inflicts terror and horror against civilian Palestine on a regular basis with the blessings of the US and its allies including Canada, France and Britain. However, Israel clearly commits crimes against humanity on a massive scale, with impunity. 
Concerned and justice-minded people around the world, however, participate in boycotts and divestment in solidarity with the Palestinian people. This campaign targets major corporations that sell arms and supplies to the Israeli war machine. Part of this campaign is the arms embargo, which advocates a stop to sales of arms and military contracts to Israel. It has had some success. Such is a worthwhile kind of sanction. The UN could do more; it could suspend membership. Other states could maintain diplomatic distance.

There are situations crying out for action against viciously repressive regimes, such as the Duterte regime of the Philippines that has continued an all-out war on the people. It regularly unleashes terror on communities who are struggling to survive acute poverty and defending the right to life and livelihood with peace and social justice. In the pretext of fighting communism, the state national police and armed forces, with the aid of the US, carry out extrajudicial killings of civilian community leaders, labour organizers, protesters, human rights defenders and journalists. Crimes against humanity are the norm in the Philippines. Still, countries including Canada carry on business as usual, awarding aid and trading with the corrupt and bloody-minded bureaucratic-capitalist and land-owning elite. Other states could stop such business dealings and refuse to sell arms. The US could pull its troops out of the region and stop training and supplying the regime. Such would be sanctions that would help the people of the Philippines. Also, other states could cooperate by maintaining diplomatic distance, in such a way as not to harm migrant Filipino workers. Again, here is a context in which a UN measure to suspend membership would be just. It is also a context in which support for the peace talks and the peoples’ demands for land, social and political reforms should be strongly insisted.

In Venezuela, food and household supplies are plentiful in the upscale urban districts. Perhaps to take advantage of the effects of the blockade and the expectation of shortages, prices have been jacked up astronomically. Medium and small-sized businesses have not been able to access some materials for production and sale, owing to high pricing or unavailability. There may be some withholding and hoarding of goods. In poorer areas, restaurants and shops have little to offer customers. Some Venezuelans have chosen to leave the country. Regional tourism is at a standstill. Fortunately, the pro-people government, with the assistance of benefactors and genuine humanitarian agencies such as the Red Cross, has a food program to deliver rations to those in real need. As well, it is assisting communities to spearhead local, micro-farming initiatives to create self-sustaining food sources. There are strategies of sharing and self-reliance in the communes. Where necessary, charities and churches dispense hot meals to school children and families. They solicit funds from foreigners so that they can pay for food and distribute it. It is amazing that the Bolivarian government under Chavez and subsequently by Maduro has been able to proceed with providing free transportation, education and healthcare as well as constructing houses under these conditions. It has worked hard to build understanding and make special deals with friendly states, so as to restore some trade. It could do so much more for the people if the billions of dollars of funds held abroad were released, and if billions of dollars in revenues from trade were flowing normally.

The VPSC demands an end to the illegal and cruel economic measures against the Venezuelan and Nicaraguan people imposed by the US aided by its friends such as Canada. Unfreeze the Venezuela state funds withheld abroad and return them to the government of Venezuela. End the blockades against Cuba and North Korea. End the general economic sanctions against Iran. Diplomatic and select trade sanctions against real oppressors who violate the rights of the people and pose real threats. Take a stand against imperialist aggression and domination in all its forms, military or economic or otherwise. Opt for negotiations as much as possible; no military invasions or coups. Canada, stop meddling!

paranormal

Posted on January 22, 2020 at 6:28 PM Comments comments (6)
I'm a bit of an empath, an intuitive with sensitivity. In fact, my Meyers-Brigges personality test result is consistently INSJ )intuitive, introvert, sensitive, judgmental). Other readings are consistent.

I knew this before I got all those evaluations because I have seen and heard things that cannot be explained and that would be categorized as paranormal. Things like apparitions, lights, shadows, mists, bangs, sighs, objects moving on their own, dreams... They happen on and off, and in waves when I start thinking about them. I believe I have guides, though I have not identified them/ I have had some mental communication in that I have been able to ask a question silently and get a clear response soon after. The response can manifest as a physical sign. Like, when I wondered what the cold from a spirit passing through someone feels like, I soon experience a freezing cold sensation come from within my core. When I asked whether my great-great aunt, whose picture I have kept on display, might be one of those spirits hanging around me, I soon saw a likeness of her face and hair hovering above me.

I have learned to be able to close myself off from such activity. I chose not to pursue training in communicating with spirits or interpreting phenomena. I still have the sensitivity, though. If I ask whether spirits are around me, activity occurs that confirms it. When I have a specific question, I get a specific answer. For example, I received an answer after I asked who the elderly person  who had occupied my apartment some years before me was, upon noting signs of there having been an elder present here such as the steel rail mounted on the wall of the shower stall. A sharply clear image of her smiling into my eyes came to me one morning while I was emerging from sleep.

I admit I get into watching films about paranormal experiences and people who use their sensitivity skills. I like to find out what other people experience and how they interpret what they call paranormal activity or interaction with spirits.I am raising this topic because I've been binging on such films lately: TV shows and documentaries uploaded to Youtube. There's one show on the HIFI channel right now: Celebrity Ghost Stories. 

Celebrity Ghost Stories, Haunted Hospitals and the one about children learning to deal with their sensitivities are pretty good. They seem authentic, as they involve people telling others their experiences and responses. Viewers get an idea of the types of experiences happen and how normal the experiences actually are in the sense that many people have them. I don't like the paranormal investigation shows so much because they seem less authentic and beneficial. Those shows typically use a lot of weird music and sound effects over the images. Also, it is usual for the investigators to talk too much and get really excited while the editing cuts back and forth, there and there quickly. The viewer can thus not well detect what the investigators say they are detecting. The presentation is made for maximum sensational effect from nothing much. What bugs me most is that the investigators usually do not have much talent at sensing or interpreting paranormal signs. Although they frequently bring a sensitive such as a medium or clairvoyant with them, nothing is attempted to resolve the situation of an uneasy spirit. They mostly observe "residual" signs of past events, which is to say the powerful memories of a location. Rather, they just intrude and disturb. Even  the TV show called The Dead Files in which a clairvoyant (not a medium) explores a location with reported trouble, is kind of lame, although a professional crime investigator tries to find background on the location and the people who have been there to see if what the clairvoyant senses has a basis in reality. She seems to specialize in detecting negative energies. Not a medium, she may detect restless spirits being "stuck" between life and death or refusing to cross over, but she has no skill to facilitate their crossing. She recommends religious people perform ceremonies or other rituals being done to cleanse houses, which is to remove spirits from a location. She often recommends that people move away from the location! \

The paranormal detective shows are better because mediums try to find clues to serious crimes and they sometimes help cases. 

The paranormal show I like the best is The Rescue Mediums. A pair of mediums are called into a troubled location. Being mediums, their goal is to encounter then communicate with spirits in a location that need intervention to facilitate their crossing over after death into the spirit world. These women are immensely talented. The investigation is more credible. They give premonitions far away from and long before arriving at the sites of investigations, which are compared with their tour of the location later and also compared with researched historical background. It is interesting to find out who the spirits probably are. It is heart-warning to see bothered residents  and troubled spirits find relief. Occasionally, the rescue mediums collect evidence that may be used to resolve a murder or disappearance.


Emergency Preparedness

Posted on January 15, 2020 at 1:29 PM Comments comments (7)
I have been aware that it is advisable to be prepared for disaster or loss of home, but I have not done much preparation other than having some extra preserved food (for about 3 days) and candles with a lighter on hand. Everyone should be better prepared.

I feel I have been lucky so far. I live in an earthquake zone where we get trmors all the time and are awaiting the big one. Weather has been getting more extreme as I have aged into the senior category. Power outages more likely, we have been without hydroelectric power for a few hours at a time twice in the past two years. I have narrowly escaped two house fires with abode and body intact in the past three years. (I only had a house insurance policy for one of those years.)  There are a lot of good reasons to be prepared for calamity Consequently, I have finally been planning for an emergency.

Here is the Red Cross list of things to put aside in case of emergency.

Vitals:
  • Water*
  • Food (non-perishable) and manual can opener if this includes cans*
  • Special needs such as medications, baby needs, extra glasses, etc. 
  • Important family documents (i.e. copies of birth and marriage certificates,passports, licenses, wills, land deeds and insurance)*
  • A copy of your emergency plan
  • Crank or battery-operated flashlight, with extra batteries*
  • Battery-operated or crank radio
  • Extra keys, for your house and car*
  • First aid kit*
  • Extra cash 
  • Personal hygiene items*
  • Pet food and pet medication N/A
  • Cell phone with extra charger or battery pack

Others:
  • Change of clothing and footwear for each person
  • Plastic sheeting*
  • Scissors and a pocket knife*
  • Whistle
  • Hand sanitizer*
  • Pet food and pet medication N/A
  • Garbage bags and twist ties
  • Toilet paper*
  • Multi-tool or basic tools (i.e. hammer, wrench, screwdriver etc.)*
  • Duct tape
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each member of your house hold*
  • Toys, games, books, deck of cards

*What I have so far prepared.

I hadn't thought of some of the items on the RC list. Duct tape, scissors and bags good and easy to get. I could put aside a few Synthroid pills, as I must take one each day. Yeah, book and other pastime activities would be desirable if hanging around for days. I thought about packaging some underwear and socks, but a full change would be good. I should look into getting a phone charger. Cash--yeah; I usually only have $20 to $40 around, but maybe I should put aside more. I guess I could buy a whistle. First, I'll see if the first aid kit I ordered contains one.

Beyond what Red Cross recommends, I have a lighter and lighter fuel. I also plan to have electrolyte solution and mineral tablets with vitamins. (Good for a scenario of dehydration or a period of starvation.) I have a tarp and rope for shelter. 

What food? One problem is expiration of preserved food. I guess I would take note of expiration dates and give expiring food away, then replace it. I am thinking of jerky, protein/ power bars, dried fruit, canned beans, crackers, peanut butter, tins of liquid meal replacement...

Where to keep it all? I think it should be easily reachable in my living quarters. Hard to get to it if locked in storage room. It should be packed up in portable waterproof boxes or bags. Of course, there may be no chance of reaching for all this stuff, and carrying it all out at the moment disaster strikes. At least I can be assured that I'd be ready in case of a lengthy loss of utilities or physical incapacity. I'd also be equipped to help others in need.




Keeping connected

Posted on December 1, 2019 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (4)
I live alone and sometimes it seems that I am losing social contact. However, I can take stock of acquaintances and remarkable conversations I am able to engage in, if I take the time to both engage here and there in the first place, and, in the second, make note of them. We must stop and count our blessings, so to speak. I can cite a few examples of unexpected yet very pleasant exchanges I've enjoyed recently. Reflecting back, they were little gems of social life, 

Today, for example, I had conversations in the course of returning a bag of can to the recycling depot and going back home via the neighbourhood park. Being a patron of the depot over 2.5 years, I am familiar with the workers there. I was greeted warmly by a lady who listened as I explained why had so many soda and beer cans this time, which I wouldn't normally possess to turn in. I told her I had collected a lot after wind storm had blown them off porches. On the way home, I encountered a young neighbour and his dog. Though I don't see that boy much, the dog remembered me. I used to play in our apartment building lot soon after the family first got him. It is a delightful memory: the puppy playing hide and seek behind the vehicles parked in the lot. He greets me whenever a family member is taking him for a walk. Since we were in the park and the dog had the freedom to play there, he made a beeline for me as soon as he saw me and began barking and running in circles around me, evidently taunting me to chase him. I did for a while. I explained to the boy that the dog, a charming Corgi named Ibu, likely remembered our times playing hide-and-seek. He would not even fetch the ball for the boy, only for me! So marvelous that the memory of our play is so strong.

Here is an account of another chance incident. I am advertising a few extraneous items to sell so as to clear out unused things in my place. I had an immediate response to my ad for an old sewing machine. Someone came to pick up the machine on Friday morning. It turned out to be a retired mechanic who enjoys collecting and repairing old machines. It was good to know this sewing machine would have a future. It belonged to my grandmother. She, my mom and I had sewing in common, one of the few commonalities among us. There are many memories attached to her old machine, which is why I had kept it even though I had not machine-sewed for years.

I told this story to an online games partner. We occasionally chat during games.

I am friendly with some of my fellow occupants of this small apartment building. I had not chatted with my best two friends among them for several weeks until I finally caught up with Betty, a retiree who lives above my suite. After that brief and typical exchange, I visited her to offer some surplus fruit and vegetables. She in turn invited me to lunch last week since she had a two-for-one coupon. That was the first time we had gone anywhere together, though she has invited me to join her lawn bowling group.

These are just a few of the examples of unexpected yet meaningful conversations I wind up having in the course of my daily life. If I think I am getting too isolated, I can think back to them and find new occasions. The mistake would be to become withdrawn and uncommunicative in my single life.

art and mental health

Posted on November 20, 2019 at 6:17 PM Comments comments (4)
So glad I am able to post daily here. My posts were blocked for several months, probably because of some sort of hacking/ cyber-intrusion.

Topic today: art and mental health

I recently visited my former university campus to run an errand there. The visit prompted some reminiscing. One memory that comes up from time to time is my decision not to become an English major. Considering that creative writing and literature feeds mostly off emotions, I was a bit afraid of going in that direction when I was around 20. Coming from a family with some history of mental illness and guarding against becoming a victim of mental illness myself, I wanted to protect myself. Also, the stereotype of the writer or professor in deep, agonizing pain and becoming depressed or alcoholic accompanied the vision of a career in English literature. I did not want to get caught in the vortex.

It is a fact that I later encountered alcoholics and mentally unbalanced instructors and graduate students of the English department at that university in the flesh. I had returned for further study but had opted for social sciences. Employed in our TA and sessional instructor's union addressing cases of employee disputes with the university administration during that period as a grad student, I was struck by the reality that a number of my cases concerned several teaching staff members of the English department who had gotten into trouble. The context of their conflicts included mental health issues, such as depression and alcoholism. In fact, a co-worker organizing for this union who was a student and TA in the English department turned out to be alcoholic. The signs of his malady became obvious after sharing an office with him for a few months.

I still keep asking myself what the relationship is between the immersion in English literary studies, often combined with a budding career in creative writing, and the condition of an addiction or other mental health disorder. That the work in this field does involve exploring emotions and, usually, problems of humanity, often delving into tragic moments of history or family life. Many literature students and authors adopt the method of introspection. Perhaps that approach and the condition of digging through the effects and implications of tragedy puts one at risk of falling into melancholy.

Which comes first? Does the condition of mental illness including addiction tend to draw arts and humanities students into literature? Does the immersion in literature cause melancholy? Is it the institutional process and culture that makes people sick? 

Perhaps some people think that the authentic artist must be sad in the first place. It would seem to be considered a prerequisite. Many great artists have suffered acute tragic episodes in their own life--experiencing war, disappointment in love, disability, faulty parenting, crime, gender differentiation and such. Some are very well known as big drinkers, from Lowry to Hemingway, Margaret Lawrence to D. H. Laurence. Wolf was mentally ill. Some, but not all. The majority, I wonder? Has anyone done a survey of authors along this vein? 



Thinking and Doing It Positively

Household Treasures

11 January 2021

I heard an interviewee speaking over the radio talk about cherishing items in the home. It is one way to explore and enjoy surroundings without traveling, he said​I'll try it.


A lot of objects on display in my apartment are artifacts from my travels, ironically. They refresh my most poignant memories of precious and mind-opening explorations.


Sitting atop the filing cabinet next to my desk are to souvenirs from South Korea, where I worked and resided for 10 years. After such a lengthy stay, I have loads of memories prompted by numerous artifacts of my experiences in that country. These two are among the best reflections of cultural and historical particularities of South Korea. They are a framed photo of a hero central to the labour and national democratic struggles and an ornament from folk culture in the countryside of the southern part of South Korea.


Jun Tae-Il was a courageous student activist leading actions against the last dictatorship in his country. He represents the heart of the movement and the victory for democracy. He became a martyr when the police fatally shot him while he was demonstrating in the street in Seoul, the capitol. The ornament is an ceramic fertility fetish, an image of a penis from one of several such parks in the southern region where I used to live. This part of the country remained tribal longer than other parts, so folk traditions such as shamanism and superstitions have endured. Fertility monuments were erected (pun intended), of course, bring about more healthy children. The foreigner exploring such parks giggle at the sights. 


Next to the filing cabinet is a bookshelf. One of the most noticeable objects near the top of this piece of furniture is a tacky, plastic, white alarm clock. It is significant because I bought it to ensure I woke up on time on my last morning living in South Korea. I had an early flight. As a small travel alarm clock had recently failed, and I was not sure my phone alarm would wake me fully, I picked up a cheap clock at a local general store. I don't use it as its ticking is noisy, but I have not thought to give it away. It remains perched on the shelf, deprived of a battery, as a reminder of my departure from the ex-pat life and return to Canada. 


I also have items saved from two trips to Cuba, one in 2003 and one in 2019. Both trips were organized political events. The first took me there with a political choral group to meet Cuban choirs, learn some of their songs, perform with Cubans, attend the May 1st rally, meet labour associations and tour the island for two weeks. I am looking at a typical replication of a sketch of Che Gevarra which one can find easily in street markets. Our choir, supportive of the Cuban revolution, valued the Cuban revolutionary democracy, social arrangements and political principals which that image, the most famous in all the world, represents to millions of people. It inspires and gives hope. I remember strolling through the streets, visiting markets and restaurants, chatting with locals and attending all the meetings on our hectic schedule. I have other little treasures such as a ceramic, hand painted ashtray, photos of our Cuban comrades, and an African-Cuban, wooden statuette.


Above my desk hang a pair of water colour paintings in wood frames. They portray sites in southern Manitoba in the general area where my grandparents met, married and bore my mother. They feature two views of the banks of the Red River, a river highly important to Canadian history. There were battles against invading Americans launched there and a key struggle of the Métis nation. The city of Winnipeg lies nearby, which used to be the industrial hub of Canada until the Panama Canal opened up and undermined the Canadian railway system. I have only passed through Winnipeg by car. This area is not one I remember, for I have never visited it. 


On the floor near my desk lies a wicker hamper. I have mixed feelings about it, but it has been very useful, so I have kept it. You see, it belonged to my father's second wife. My father remarried this odd, older person rather quickly after my mother passed, which denied her children necessary time to adjust. I carried resentment about her, but chose to avoid them rather than say anything or show my negative feelings. As I said, it is a practical item for it holds linens and Christmas stuff and allows aeration through the woven stems.


I originally bought the filing cabinet to organize research, not academic information but information found in the course of activism and stabs at political journalism. It therefore stores records of several international and regional conferences. Though I purge it once in awhile, there are still clippings, leaflets and pamphlets. They cover issues such as Canadian mining firms abroad, human rights cases, privacy rights, student concerns and transportation. I have been replacing old articles and folders with my own writing pieces. Among them are also old, self-published newsletters addressing local and international issues, some of my published articles and unpublished poems. 




Conversational News

10 January 2021

It is so good to be able to express myself and have contact with readers through this blog again. The loss of the access to my blog along with other aspects of confinement and restrictions really affected me. There were added unsettling restrictions due to circumstances, even including access to my games when Adobe Flash Player was removed. I was feeling the mounting stress of rising COVID cases and the awareness of the damages inflicted by this disease as well as the damage inflicted by states that remain focused on helping profitable enterprises more than addressing the disease and health care and financial interventions fully and equitably. Most such as Canada are handing the responsibility of pandemic management to individuals. Very unjust!


I had been handling the conditions of the pandemic fairly well, but emotions were catching up to me in December as I personally began to feel tired and stressed. I started to feel irritable and alarmed. I looked forward to two weekends at home over Christmas and New Years, but the employer wanted me to work on the Saturdays. Saturday being the heaviest work day for me with five hours straight teaching and two hours travel, I had been wanting relief to get a chance to rest and calm down. I ended up taking the Saturday following NY Day off, which certainly helped. I am much better now.


I did not carry through with my usual practice of personal assessment and planning in December as is my habit. I was too agitated. I did not want to reflect on this past year, actually. Not then.


Anyway, there is not any change in my goals. I generally carried through with financial, livelihood, social, family, health and growth goals. However, the social and family goals were frustrated by Covid-19 rules. However, there are elder relatives with multiple health problems whose mental health was being upset by the situation, so I have been visiting with them in cafes and such. They are better now. I have also been aiding an elderly neighbour whose health, already in decline this year, was getting worse partially because of Covid-related restraints. (Her degrading sight and hearing, as well as shaking and loss of balance, caused her to stop driving permanently, and skeletal issues caused her to stop regular exercise. She is worried she will be forced to consider entering a facility while many care homes are in crisis!) My exercise regime was also compromised. The local fitness center remains open but I perceive it as risky, so I do not go there. Aside from some hiking and walking to accomplish transit and errands, I haven't been exercising much until recently. Now I do some yoga, lunging, stretching and weighted arm raises sometimes. I am prevented this week because of an inflammation (hemorrhoid caused by lengthy sitting!).


 One big factor affecting stress and anxiety levels is news reportage. State and private corporate news services, like most enterprises today, try to streamline by relying more on tech and web browsing to find news topics. There are fewer reporters and there is less extended, investigative reporting. For the past decade at least, such services have resorted to "conversational journalism." It is an adjustment to distrust of news and official authorities during a trend of democratization, I feel. However, it tends to keep popularity and viewer or reader stats in mind. Topics can be sensationalized by rehashing events and speculation. Commentators are brought in to discuss as are senior reporters, but the discussion is not very productive in that it does not lead to increased knowledge. Rather, it keeps generating more questions. Conversations often entertain unanswerable questions, particularly because there can be no resolution. They just push the topic and stimulate possible answers to stir up controversy and alarm in order to improve ratings. Pertinent information might be omitted if it actually answers a question. Once audiences abandon a thread, they turn to some other topic and start over. It is really unconscionable because of the innuendo, speculation, rumour, omission, lack of investigation, assumptions and biases.


The COVID coverage is a clear case in point. Partial information is supplied, such as a medical official's announcement that is partly based in some truth. The announcement is questioned. Opponents are recruited to present the false arguments. Sideline topics are raised to create more friction. Proper sources are ignored. Questions are recycled and spin round and round with no conclusion. The affect is understandable: alarm, anxiety, fear, stress, accusations, complaints, etc.


I follow a couple of doctors who produce daily videos to update viewers on scientific developments and explore reasoning behind government and medical decisions regarding the pandemic. I rely on Dr. John Campble and Doctor Moran. Find them on Youtube. Campbell is the most digestable, for he uses plain English, which Moran is more technical. The latter seems to be addressing people in the medical field. By following Campbell, in particular, I can see the gaps in the regional and national news reporting. I can see that they are lagging behind the news by ignoring or failing to search for reliable information.

We're Back

07 January 2021

Apologies to my followers and viewers. You have been very supportive and encouraging for many years. I might have disappointed some of you who were looking for new entries from me. 


Let me explain. VISTAPRINT changed its platform last year. When they did that, the method for making blog entries changed. I had no information from them about what to do. It simply appeared that I know longer had any blogging service. 


However, I just spoke to a VISTAPRINT rep who guided me. I can now write blog entries, as you can see.


It was a strange year all the way around. Things seemed kind of more chaotic than usual. I felt agitated and stressed last month for no definite reason. I had trouble sleeping. I felt exhausted.


My general astrology reading asserted that the pulling away of Jupiter, one of my planets and a very powerful one, from Saturn would make Sagitarians feel exhausted by the end of December. Despite the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic, it does indeed feel like I worked and accomplished a lot (activism, teaching, writing). Things are supposed to get easier for us Sagges. 


There was added stress because of the effects of the pandemic. Not only that but worse, state aggression seemed to increased around the world, causing civilian mass responses. Though I had handled it pretty well until the end of 2020, I guess it finally got to me and I started soaking up some of the stress and anxiety emitting from my region and beyond.


2021 is starting out a bit weird, too. Just look at yesterday's events. U.S. Whitehouse invasion. Solar flare sending rays that caused several storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. More lockdowns. 


I wish all my readers well. I will resume entering focused pieces when I have more time. Please stick with me. Thank you for your comments to date.


Ed Wise

TEST

15 January 2020

THIS IS A TEST OF THE NEW PLATFORM FORMAT AND BLOG ENTRY SYSTEM.