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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? 

the Meaning of Life

Posted on November 16, 2019 at 6:03 PM Comments comments (20)
I am reading a little book written by Viktor E. Frankl and first published in 1959 (Beacon Press). Small it may be, but it packs a big punch.

Dr. Viktor E. Frankl was living in Austria when Nazi Germany persecuted Jews and conquered some of Europe. He was a Jew who became a psychiatrist after experiencing the horrors of the Auschwitz prison camp. He reflects on people's responses to extreme suffering, exploring his own experience as a case in point. Endeavouring to find something positive in one of the worst kinds of experiences, he contemplates how a person may be able to rise above severe suffering by discovering meaning.

Dr. Frankl had already begun his career by the second World War, developing a concept of a practice he labeled "logotherapy." He possessed the manuscript and research materials at the time of his capture and detention. 

He could have escaped the Jewish "holocaust" by accepting a visa to emigrate, but he did not want to abandon his parents. That is the first lesson he takes. He got caught up in the terror because of a feeling of love and a sense of filial duty. 

Somehow, Dr. Frankl was not chosen to be executed and tossed into the mass graves once he got to the prison camp. He describes how the Nazi officers used to select prisoners for extermination at random much of the time or as a reaction to some gesture, facial demeanor or word displayed by a captive filing by.

The author does not leave the dreadful conditions of the camps to our imagination so we can avoid exposure to the brutally honest details and guess what kind of suffering the survivors endured. To be precise about how he defines harsh suffering and to lay bear the facts, he details the daily life at the camp excruciatingly. The reader must be prepared for this blunt and jolting reality check.

Dr. Frankl, like some of his prison mates, felt grateful for having survived one day, then another, and another, while others found the conditions too difficult to endure. He along with others noticed, with gratitude, that lack of hygienic care such as teeth brushing, and arduous sleeping arrangements in which nine men were crammed together on one mattress to be chewed on by vermin, they coped better than expected.

Another factor this author highlights, one which many writers pass over, I think, is the competition for survival among inmates. Some prisoners chose aggression against their mates as a tactic of survival, so they complied with the Nazi overseers' orders to strike, humiliate and deprive their peers. They were dubbed the "Capos."

I have heard of Jews among the merchant and business classes living in the USA or other countries who ignored the plight of their compatriots or fellow Jews languishing at the bloody hands of the Nazis. Some refused outright to give aid or make efforts to rescue them, not wishing to disturb their comfortable life and prosperity. I believe that history has figured that more non-Jews than Jews were involved in rescuing Jews in Nazi-held or Nazi-ally held territories.

I digress.

Dr. Frankl quotes Nietzsche. This is interesting since many readers have found Nietzsche to hold fascist views on many questions. Anyway, he cites this: "He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how." The typical response to abject suffering is to lose courage and hope, claims Frankl. A person with such a negative outlook gives up and perishes sooner or decides to join in the terror and, vengeful, lash out at people and life.

Observing the responses of the prisoners around him and his own response, Dr. Frankl came up with a definition of meaning. To him, it is the tasks that daily life requires. Seeing what has to be done to exist, the person who adopts this outlook takes on the responsibility of living. By contrast, the apathetic among them believed he could expect nothing, so he would not give anything himself.

Avoiding apathy is not easy in extreme circumstances ill-health and fatigue caused by poor nutrition and lack of sleep, for example, fogs the brain, dulls the senses and retards body motion. Therefore, it is the assertive mentality that can hang on, maintain control and stay active and in touch with the necessity of living that has the best potential.

We can thus see that Frankl is both an existentialist and a materialist. This bases his philosophy in science. Life is less an abstraction than concrete action and sensations of the body, which exists in motion in the context of things around him.

Bolivia chaos

Posted on November 12, 2019 at 11:22 AM Comments comments (10)
The coup in Bolivia: Five lessons
THE Bolivian tragedy eloquently offers us lessons that our peoples and popular social and political forces must learn and record in our consciousness forever.

THE Bolivian tragedy eloquently offers us lessons that our peoples and popular social and political forces must learn and record in our consciousness forever.Here is a brief list, as events develop, a prelude to a more detailed analysis in the future.

First: No matter how well the economy is managed in an exemplary fashion, as the Evo government did - with growth, redistribution, investment all assured, and all macro and microeconomic indicators improved - the right wing and imperialism will never accept a government that does not serve their interests.

Second: Manuals published by various agencies in the United States, and their spokespeople disguised as academics or journalists, must be studied, so we recognize signs of an offensive in time.These writings invariably highlight the need to destroy the reputation of popular leaders, with accusations of misappropriation, corruption, dictatorial behavior, and ignorance, which in the specialized jargon is known as character assassination. This task is entrusted to social communicators, self-proclaimed “independent journalists,” who given their quasi-monopoly control of the media drill such defamations into the brains of the population, accompanied, as seen in this case, by hateful comments directed toward native peoples and the poor in general.

Third: Once the aforementioned has begun, next come right wing political leaders and economic elites demanding "a change," an end to Evo's "dictatorship," who, as the unpresentable Vargas Llosa wrote a few days ago, is a "demagogue who wants to eternalize his term in power.”I suppose he is toasting with champagne in Madrid, watching coverage of the fascist hordes looting, burning, chaining journalists to posts, cutting a female mayor’s hair and covering her with red paint, destroying result reports from the last election, fulfilling the mandates of Don Mario, freeing Bolivia from an evil demagogue.I mention this case because Vargas has been, and is, the immoral standard bearer of this vile attack, a horrendous crime that has crucified a popular leadership, destroyed democracy, and established a reign of terror run by hired gangs, to punish a worthy people who have the audacity to seek freedom.

Fourth: "Security forces" now enter the scene. In this case we are talking about institutions controlled by numerous military and civilian agencies of the United States government.These professionals train the local forces, arm them, conduct joint exercises and educate them politically. I had the opportunity to verify this when, on Evo’s invitation, I presented a course on anti-imperialism for high ranking officers in the nation’s three armed forces.On this occasion, I was horrified by the degree of penetration, among these individuals, of the most reactionary U.S. slogans, inherited from the Cold War era, and by the open irritation they felt given the fact that the country had an indigenous President.What these "security forces" did was to withdraw from the scene and leave the field open for the uncontrolled action of fascist hordes - like those in Ukraine, in Libya, in Iraq, in Syria - to overthrow leaders who annoyed the empire - or attempt to do so, in the last case - and thus intimidate the population, activists, and government figures themselves.In other words, a new socio-political phenomenon: a military coup “by default,” letting reactionary gangs, recruited and financed by the right, impose their rule. Once terror reigns, and the government is defenseless, the outcome is inevitable.

Fifth: Bolivia’s security and public order should never have been entrusted to institutions such as the police and the Army, colonized by imperialism and its lackeys in the national right wing.When the offensive against Evo was launched, a policy of appeasement and not responding to the provocations of fascists was chosen.This served to embolden the right wingers and increase their confidence. First, they demanded a recount; then, cried fraud and called for new elections; finally insisting on elections without Evo - as in Brazil, without Lula.At last, Evo's resignation. Given his refusal to accept the blackmail, terror was sowed with the complicity of police and the military, forcing Evo to resign. By the book, straight from the book. Will we learn these lessons? (From the author's blog)

Armistice Day

Posted on November 10, 2019 at 9:58 AM Comments comments (10)
Statement of Commission 4 of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS) for Armistice Day, November 11, 2019


Over 100 years since the conclusion of World War One, and war is still a constant, major problem for humanity. The International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS; ilps.info) supports the just struggles of the peoples for national liberation, genuine democracy and a decent standard of living. We condemn militarization, bigotry and wars of aggression and counter-revolution. We oppose military intervention aimed at destroying social progress, popular democracy and societies that reject the global monopoly-capitalist system in favour of social and economic arrangements that benefit the people. We oppose occupation and domination. We call for the universal non-proliferation of nuclear and all weapons of mass destruction. In sum, we choose life. We support peace with social justice. We firmly reject the propaganda of aggression to achieve human rights and a “way of life”, as was used to justify wholesale terror and destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
The ILPS calls for the respect of and return to peace processes in cases of internal conflict. Demands of the people for social justice must be addressed, such as demands for land reform, political and economic reforms, and legal or compensatory justice for the people. If those demands are ignored, the people have reason to wage their struggle, even armed struggle, for such conflicts are matters of survival. Rights and standards acknowledged and set internationally must be honoured. Neither people facing repressive and inhumane states can be expected to lay down their arms and abandon their struggles, nor oppressed nations under domination, unless social justice is respected and put on the table for honest negotiation. We call for ceasefires and resumption or initiation of peace talks in the Philippines, Colombia, Palestine, the Ukraine, Syria, Turkey and the Kashmir.

States and factions committing offenses such as invasion, genocide and “ethnic cleansing”, extrajudicial killings and detentions, deprivation of their citizens, and obstruction to democratic processes must be confronted and dealt with according to international norms and law. Sovereignty must be respected. States plotting and ganging up against another state or interfering and intervening against a peaceful, non-threatening state, (which is done largely for profit, control and political bias) should also be confronted and treated in the name of social and legal justice. The ILPS thus stands against the meddling and disruptive practices against countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia and North Korea. It thoroughly opposes the occupation of Palestine. We also oppose the implementation of economic tactics to crush enemy states and peoples’ movements as they punish the people with deprivation. The ILPS thus condemns the US blockades against Cuba and North Korea, as well as the economic measures against Venezuela and Iran. Plans to invade as a so-called solution to conflicts are totally unacceptable, so we also oppose the militarization and war exercises around North Korea, Venezuela, the Ukraine, the Persian Gulf, the Caribbean and anywhere else.

World War One was a clash of old empires, including the British Empire, in which there was no sane reason for engaging millions of young people and unleashing widespread destruction of civilians and civilizations. Four empires fell by the end of WW1: the Russian Tsarist Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Prussian Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire; it was the desertion of Russian soldiers and, eventually, the Russian Revolution that were the main factors for peace. Competing states sent millions of soldiers to wholesale slaughter. Just as Tsarist Russia had deployed masses of soldiers to satisfy a pact with Serbia, the British Empire intentionally mobilized divisions of men from its colonies, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, to stage futile battles such as Gallipoli, Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele.
New empires asserted themselves after WW1. Born out of the redivision of European states, industrializing Germany under the Nazi fascists attempted to build a new empire but was crushed by the dedication of myriads of men and women. Imperialist Japan, meanwhile, tried to make the most of the conflict in Europe to expand its territories and resources by invading more countries in East Asia, which forced a military response on the part of the US. The US had been creating its own empire establishing colonies in the Pacific and Caribbean regions, though it had held back for much of the two World Wars. However, vulture-like interests, especially profiteers in the US, drooled over the benefits they could enjoy from war and the destruction of Europe: chemical and arms corporations grew, and the US poised itself to reap the rewards and come out on top. Just as the Nazis were doing, the US also exploited the opportunity to develop arms, most notably the nuclear bomb. History has concluded that the release of nuclear bombs over Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan was not justified, intended rather as an experimentation and a display of might and conquest. The US thus asserted its role as a ruling empire of the world.
It is the US empire, which supports and defends the global elite, the global moguls of finance capital, that is the main factor for war today. This is the “way of life” that it declares it stands for. The kind of freedom it desires is market freedom, at any cost to the peoples of the world. It has been a factor in stirring up aggressive, anti-West Islamists who are trying hard to establish an Islamist empire in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions today. The US plays both sides in the conflicts with the Islamist movements, supporting some terrorists, for example in Libya and Syria so as to crush political and market obstacles, while gunning after others, such as the fundamentalist regime of Iran, so as to open up markets and spheres of influence. ILPS opposes all terror.

The ILPS understands that conflict is inherent in the imperialist economic system, which is rife with contradictions: inter-imperialist rivalries, class, nation, corporate competition, and so on. It thrives on violence and social division, seeking market niches, cheap resources, cheap labour, technological innovations, expropriations… In short, it is an exploiting and plundering system. Also, it imposes itself as far and as wide as possible by force. Arms are both a means and an industry.
Let us observe, educate and organize according to this reality, this scenario of social injustice and crimes against humanity and the planet. Let us not celebrate the imperialist violence. Let us not glorify war for domination and profit. Let us raise our voices together in calling and mobilizing for just peace!
All out to say, “No to NATO” from December 1 to 3, the time of the NATO summit in London, UK. Denounce all crimes against humanity and defend life and human rights on International Human Rights Day on December 10. Say, “No Taxes for War” on April 15. March for land, life and just peace on Earth Day, April 22. March on May Day, May 1.
US, Hands off Venezuela, Syria, Cuba, Iran, North Korea!                              Support the just causes of the peoples! 
Resume the peace talks regarding the Philippines, Palestine, and Colombia, now!            Israel, out of Palestine!
Universal nuclear non-proliferation now!             No to NATO!                      Not a single person used for war again!
ILPS Commission 4 opposes wars of aggression and aggression, and weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons.
Actions:   No to NATO Summit! Dec. 1-3       Tax Day, April 15  / Earth Day April 22
International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS)                     http://Ilps.info


Posted on July 22, 2019 at 4:27 PM Comments comments (69)
Summer--a period of growth. Growth is strong here, this summer. Following a densely flowering spring due to a balance of rain and warm sunny periods, we are into the idyllic weather typical of this region in late July. Life is surging! I feel terrific!

Summer is the half-way point of the year, a time to take stock. I therefore ask two questions to help me assess my growth so far this year: "What new experiences have I had?" and "How well am I living up to my stated goals for the year?"

First, what's new? Here is my tally.

-I saw a live production of the comedy, "Taming of the Shrew" for the first time. It was also my first time attending a matinee performance at the local Shakespeare-in-the-park program.

-I attended the 6th International Assembly of the ILPS (International League of People's Struggles), which was the biggest such assembly ever. Also, it expanded its sectors, adding 3 more causes.

-I have taken on a new international role in the cause for peace.

-I did a vacation lodgings swap for the first time in my life, and, overall, it was successful. I certainly enjoyed my traded lodgings abroad!

-I visited two cities in Europe which I'd never explored before.

-I learned some choral songs.

-I started work at a new teaching location and I have had new private students.

-I am working on a new book project, which may generate income later.

-I have read several books this year, both fiction and non-fiction.

Now, how well am I achieving my goals, short and longer term?

-Regarding my plans for this year, all of the above are germane. Also, I am on track with respect to work especially self-employment, and finances. My income is better than expected, actually, this year. Additionally, my goals for personal health are being pursued, as I am keeping up my fitness. I am even losing weight more gradually. Socially, I have not found a steady partner and am not even dating, but I am content, anyway, and at peace with myself. I am maintaining friendships and family relations. Politically, I am active and taking on more responsibilities as planned, especially with my pledge to work for peace.

-With respect to my 5-year vision, I am generally on track on most points: health, housing, finances, relationships, work, retirement planning and activism. About finances, I continue to generate income through self-employment as well as some employment. Work is steady. Having cashed in some savings packages at the end of last year, I have re-organized and re-invested those funds. I could be saving more funds, but I opted to go ahead to achieve certain travel goals instead, since the opportunity had arisen. I plan to sell the small investment property soon, and put cash from it into my savings accounts, which is one task on the 5-year agenda. Though I am not receiving pension benefits yet, I am starting to benefit from seniors' programs. Another aspect is to expand my writing experience, which I am doing by taking on the non-fiction book project. The project is going well. I took an old manuscript, checked it over and organized the sections and written many inserts. I don't have prospects for new writing projects, but I am sure something will pop up. About housing, particularly for beginning my retirement, I have secured a place for now with a subsidy and am keeping an eye out for an even better situation. As for activism, I have been seeking new experiences and different roles, which are being realized. I am continuing to do political writing and am managing two blogs and a group page. About travel, I have ticked off a couple of items on my to-do list earlier than expected after returning to France and Italy this summer. I completed the goal of vacationing in Mexico for the first time just before 2019 launched.

spin on July 4

Posted on July 17, 2019 at 11:22 PM Comments comments (177)

Keep Australia Out of U.S. wars – Time for Australia’s independence from U.S.A.

On Thursday evening 4 July, America’s Independence Day, 80 people attended a lively public forum in Melbourne calling on the Australian government to keep Australia out of U.S. wars and declaring that it is time for Australia to be independent of the U.S.A. 

The meeting, organised by IPAN-Victoria, heard from 3 engaging and informative speakers who drew on the impacts of U.S. bases, marines and political influence on Australia's sovereignty.

Fiona McCandless, member of IPAN and unionist, spoke on the disastrous impact on people and the environment in countries hosting foreign military bases.  Examples she gave included Maralinga in South Australia and Okinawa in Japan.  

“When we let foreign military onto our lands, we lose our sovereignty. Through the examples of Okinawa's current American military bases and Australia's past British nuclear testing in Maralinga, Emu Field, and Montebello Islands, it is apparent that the occupied country is not made aware of what is occurring on their land. The biggest sufferer in these military arrangements is the indigenous people, who are disregarded not only by the foreign occupier, but by their own country's government..We must not let our lands and our people be used by foreign military - get US bases off our shores”

Vince Scappatura, who has recently published a book “ The U.S. lobby and Australian Defence Policy”, spoke on the insidious influence of the pro-U.S. lobby on Australian military, intelligence and foreign policies in the context of U.S.-China contention.

Richard Tanter, Research Fellow with the Nautilus Institute and a long time researcher and expert on Pine Gap, spoke on U.S. military bases in Australia and the integration and interoperability of Australia’s military and foreign policies with the U.S.

Questions and Answers and lively comments followed, with the meeting unanimously passing the 3 resolutions below.
Petitions calling on the government to terminate the “Force Posture Agreement” were signed and the discussion continued on the approaching IPAN National Conference in Darwin 2-4 August.

July 4 Resolutions endorsed at IPAN national meetings.

 1.    Resolution on Marines in Darwin

We call on the Australian Parliament to terminate the ‘Force Posture Agreement’, between the Australian and USA governments, under which 2,500 US marines are stationed in Darwin. We are convinced that the ongoing presence of US marines on Australian territory is not in the interest of Australian people and our region and will lead us into more disastrous U.S. wars.

2.    Resolution on Iran

We strongly urge the Australian government not to support the U.S. war plans on Iran.  War on Iran will result in many deaths and severe suffering for the people of Iran and bring the world closer to a nuclear war.

3.   Resolution on Independent and Peaceful Australian Foreign Policy

This meeting supports Australia embracing a truly Independent Foreign Policy that upholds Australia’s independence, respects the sovereignty of all countries and promotes peaceful resolution of global conflicts.  This will be the Australian people’s contribution to making the world more peaceful and just.  We support Australia’s independence from all big power interests.


Posted on July 14, 2019 at 3:14 PM Comments comments (167)
I am starting a thread on the theme of renewal. Renaming is one way I am finally able to defeat the raining bots that have blocked my postings.

Regardless of this problem posting entries, I am moving on.

I have just returned from vacation. A holiday is an escape from regular life to renew one's energy and perspective. I have indeed returned renewed.

I began a journey to an international meeting where I reconnected with long time friends and made new friends. What brings us together is our shared concern from the biggest problem of the world. We try to get informed ourselves, share information, build our activists' network and engage in common actions to put forward different views and work towards change. This reunion, which takes place very few years, was larger and longer than ever. The quality of participation and presentation is rising. We had important and deep discussions and pledged more joint actions. Newcomers observed and joined us. In sum, this event was a renewal of relationships and thinking. I was exhausted, especially because we did it on a small budget without luxuries. We slept on bunkbeds in dormitories and ate simple, cheap food.

Then I traveled. It is a good way to escape work, worries and routine. Having arranged a vacation housing swap, I stayed in a luxurious apartment for a week while those residents stayed in my not-so-luxurious place. There, it was very comfortable and restful, despite soaring temperatures. Also, the city, being new to me, was an interesting and beautiful place to explore.

After a week in that place, I continued my journey. In the next segment, I retraced a path I had taken as a back-packing youth. This part of the trip served as a good reflection on how my life has unfolded since that first voyage, and it was review of beautiful places that had inspired my young mind. It was good to know that one could set out on an adventure late in life and be just as enthused, inspired and fascinated. Commercialization and tourism have spoiled some places, in my opinion, but it was good to see places that were very meaning to me as well as the history of Europe.

I came home feeling stronger and more confident. I felt accomplished by having successfully taken that journey and carried out all my plans in each stage of it.


Posted on July 14, 2019 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (93)
I attended a seminar on cyber hacking and sabotage. The speaker is a computer programmer. She explained that cyber attacks are bombardments of bots that overwhelm a page to impede its operation. This is why a targeted web page cannot be found sometimes. It can be why data does not get saved.

I believe this blog has been attacked and that is why I have hardly been able to post anything all year. I think the reason is the political content. 

I am working to try to thwart these attacks.

just peace -Misconduct

Posted on May 27, 2019 at 11:59 AM Comments comments (39)
Make sure you are not falsely accused of misconduct by an employer. Misconduct is willful attacks on the company, management or co-workers. It could be deliberate damage of the employer's property or that of co-workers, sabotage of operations, making pejorative comments about co-workers, the company or its service/ products. It could be using violent language or physical violence or threats of violence at the workplace or at work-related activities. It could also be repeated insubordination, which is refusal to carry out normal, agreed-upon work duties or specific instructions about tasks that properly fall under your job responsibilities. 

Sometimes, competency issues get confused with misconduct. That is to say that mistakes or omissions in carrying out work may be mistakenly labeled misconduct. Incompetency would be repeated, proven mistakes of regular duties. It would not be legitimate to declare incompetency in the case of occasional or common errors, or circumstances such as fatigue and distractions and environmental issues (air quality, etc.) that increase the probability of errors. A person could be released from a contract or employment if there are consistent competency issues. However, the employer would have to discuss the mistakes and take measures to correct them with the employee's cooperation and efforts before a dismissal could take place.

Even in the case of real misconduct, there would have to be meetings to discuss the problem and warnings, giving the employee a chance to improve their behaviour or resolve a situation such as antagonism or conflict at work.

Do not accept a claim of either misconduct or incompetency if it seems to be invalid. Question the claim and do not engage in discussions of misconduct or incompetency if it appears obviously invalid, for doing so can incriminate yourself.

Just Peace-Earth Day msg

Posted on April 25, 2019 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (14)
So sorry for not posting since January. There has been a technical problem, which I have passed on to my service provider, Vistaprint.ca. It seems to be a problem accessing the blog on my site through certain browsers. At last I am able to post once again. I'll catch up!

Since late January, I have been involved in a peace effort to prevent a war with or military intervention into Venezuela owing to US and right-wing schemes to demean, misrepresent, wreck and overtake the current Bolivarian government of President Maduro.

-Venezuela Peace and Solidarity Committee of Vancouver



The Venezuela Peace and Solidarity Committee of Vancouver (VPSC) joins in celebrating the achievements of the working class and workers organizations in their struggles for their rights and better working conditions leading to a better world. We support the gains in workplace health and safety though we join in expressing sorrow for workers who have become ill and died due to unhealthy and unsafe workplaces, as we commiserate regarding the activists who have passed or been persecuted in their struggles to defend life and the rights and wellbeing of the people and nature. We also salute the achievements of the politically conscious and environmental protection organizations that are contributing to sustainable production that does not squander nature’s resources or abuse people and who are working hard to defend life, hopefully towards a better future for humankind and the ecosystems.


The main objective of VPSC is to defend the achievements of the Venezuelan people, oppose interference and interventions that harm that country. We promote peace in the region. We are building solidarity against the efforts of a ring of foreign powers led by the US to destabilize Venezuelan society, disable its independence and wreck its achievements so as to build up arrangements for plundering and exploiting the land and its people that benefit the few. These states are making military preparations to step in should these strategies fail.


In this regard, we object to the deliberate actions of the Canadian government to play a role in thwarting the peoples’ movements, assisting the interference and participating in sanctions and militarization against Venezuela.


As well as opposing the socialist direction of the Bolivarian government of Venezuela, Venezuelan oil and its revenues are of great interest to multinational corporations and the politicians that kowtow to them. While many countries in Europe and North America are rich enough and developed enough to manage their own resources better, make the transition from dependency on fossil fuels to clean, safe and renewable energy supplies, and support ventures in new kinds of technological enterprises, they are reluctant to do so because of greed and the mammoth profits made from the outmoded industrial model and its reliance on socially and environmentally dangerous and destructive energy sources such as fossil fuels and nuclear power, and wasteful and exploitative practices. Ironically, elements among them have gone so far as to repeatedly sabotage the hydroelectric network in Venezuela, which causes serious difficulties for the people. They implement sanctions which deny the state revenues to carry out its services and functions and deny trade, which have put Venezuela in an economic crisis. The US has pretended to offer aid as a way to intervene, when it could offer real assistance. Meanwhile, masses of its own citizens and residents suffer because of unemployment and underemployment, limited access to health care, xenophobia, insufficient social supports, pollution and chaos.


The Trudeau government has clearly shown its preference and enthusiasm for expanding fossil fuel industries, accumulation and distribution, for example. It is allowing multinationals to continue to exploit and control the peoples in Canada and the wealth of resources Canada has. This government has not truly and fully embraced decisions on measures to counter global warming. Indeed, it is clearly hostile to change and many of the people working hard to find a better way. It is hostile to Bolivarian Venezuela and the Venezuelan people’s advances.


Working people and people of conscience must unite and engage in solidarity for each other’s causes. We must look for points of unity among us and build a movement against exploitation and plunder of the people and the Earth so that we can save the planet and humanity. The situation is crying out for unity in action for a better way.


Achievements such as the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela must be defended. The Venezuela conflict is pivotal for the future of humankind. Not only will the outcome impact the nations of Latin America, it will impact the status of democratic relations and living and working conditions everywhere. Furthermore, the lawlessness and aggressive attitude and actions of the imperialist powers must be confronted.



Long live international solidarity!

Hands off Venezuela!

No to foreign interference and interventions!

No military threats and solutions!

Just peace!



@peace.vancouver                                         Facebook: Vancouver Peace and Solidarity Committee of Vancouver



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


15 January 2020