The Roundup for June 2-8, 2018 Edition

A New Light by Christopher Parsons

It’s one day after the 2018 Ontario provincial election. The winning party ran on a semi-platform that is designed to actively undermine the province’s climate change reforms, dismisses the importance of raising the minimum wage, and is actively hostile to efforts to improve sexual education. In the stead of these values, the party asserted they would reduce the cost of beer, reduce taxes, reduce energy costs, and otherwise work to promote ‘business friendly’ policies. The ways in which these values and objectives would be reached were never explained in a rigorous and methodical way: people voted for values and out of anger at the former governing party.

On days like today, it’s easy for progressives to get upset, angry, and/or depressed. But such emotions are reflections of our own dark and often unproductive states of mind. While a government can significantly affect the policy landscape, damage can be undone and most harms repaired or remediated. Instead of falling into dark states of mind, we are in a time when it is essential to evaluate where we can contribute to our societies and advance the values that we think with enhance our lives, and the lives of those around and affected by us. To promote a more progressive society we might actively promote, support, and elevate the roles of persons of colour, indigenous persons, and women in our communities so that they are better situated to accomplish their personal and professional goals. We might volunteer for causes that are important for progressive politics. We might even actively work to support a political candidate or party that didn’t accomplish the results we wanted.

In effect, it’s during times of change that it makes the most sense to get actively involved in our world, to influence the persons and organizations we’re involved with, and seek to effect change that extends and supports civil rights protections and equality amongst all people. Now is not the time for getting angry, per se, nor the time to lay down and wait for the next four years. No, if anything, today is just like yesterday, and is just like tomorrow should be: it’s a day to actively work towards improving the communities we find ourselves within so as to ensure that all persons enjoy equal rights and are able to thrive in their personal and professional lives.


I absolutely am floored by the reality that Anthony Bourdain killed himself in a hotel room. I’ve watched him from afar for many years, as so many have, and I’ve always appreciated the vigour and honesty that he projected in his public life. His frank discussions about troubled pasts and the difficulties people face everywhere around the world, and how North American and European activities endanger the lives and wellbeing of persons everywhere else in the world, were and remain important assertions and lessons. But rather than remembering him most for his travels I think I’ll remember him for the positions he unwaveringly took in the face of bad actions. His essay on #metoo struck me as particularly powerful, and specifically the paragraph where he wrote:

In these current circumstances, one must pick a side. I stand unhesitatingly and unwaveringly with the women. Not out of virtue, or integrity, or high moral outrage — as much as I’d like to say so — but because late in life, I met one extraordinary woman with a particularly awful story to tell, who introduced me to other extraordinary women with equally awful stories. I am grateful to them for their courage, and inspired by them. That doesn’t make me any more enlightened than any other man who has begun listening and paying attention. It does makes me, I hope, slightly less stupid.

This was the kind of language and public assertion that needs to be made. Bourdain himself was a deeply flawed individual, and he at least presented the image of someone who was trying to work through those flaws and present them as things that can overcome in the course of life. However, while those facets might be worn down over time they were unlikely to ever be entirely eliminated. Rather than showcasing himself as having overcome his past he, instead, presented himself as a man involved in an ongoing narrative, without a clear conclusion, but with an intent to rectify and avoid the sins of his past. There are far worse narratives to carry us through our lives.


Inspiring Quotation of the Week

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

  • Jack Layton

Great Photography Shots

These aerial shots of Buddhist temples in Myanmar by Dimitar Karanikolov are stunning.

Music I’m Digging

Max Richter-Sleep (Remixes)

Art I Want

Di•a•graph•i•a by Sarah Hulsey

 

Neat Podcast Episodes

Good Reads for the Week

Cool Things

Link

‘It feels like theft’: Ontario wineries frustrated by government obstacles

‘It feels like theft’: Ontario wineries frustrated by government obstacles:

The LCBO is a major cash cow for the much-indebted Ontario government. Last year, it returned $1.9 billion in dividends to provincial coffers – on top of the approximately $280 million in HST it makes off the sales. It’s not hard to see how it makes that much. When a consumer buys a bottle of alcohol, the LCBO takes:

  • 52 per cent of the cost of wine
  • 59 per cent of the cost of spirits
  • 39 per cent of the cost of beer

An LCBO spokeswoman says those markups fund Ontario’s social programs as well as the LCBO’s operating costs.

I’m not opposed to the LCBO’s existence but that is a lot of markup on a bottle of wine.

Quote

The tax increase comes as airlines face increased volatility in jet-fuel prices because of the crisis in Iraq, and as they continue to adjust to the decline in the value of the Canadian dollar, which has also hit airlines because the price of fuel is measured in U.S. dollars.

Setting aside whether it’s even a good idea to raise this particular tax – I have some doubts – if you replaced ‘decline’ with ‘increase’ in the quotation it would mirror previous complaints from airlines about raising taxes in the 90s through to today.

Link

Queen’s Park backs slowly away from transit-dedicated tax hikes

Toronto desperately needs serious leadership on the transit file, and soon: the condo boom is going to bring even more cars on the streets, and that’s going to aggravate already horrible congestion. If Toronto wants to state that it’s a world city then it needs to have the services you’d expect of such a city. And decent public transit is high on the ‘expected services’ list.

Quote

You should get out of town”, the man said.

And so began the journey that resulted in my path intersecting with Matthew Duncan’s path. And thence to these reasons, with a slight detour through territory that might have confused Lewis Carroll.

I suppose that I should clarify that there was no menace in the man’s directive to me to get out of town. He was a friend and a colleague in two careers. His suggestion had been that he and I should change positions for a fortnight, giving him exposure to the realities of the northern reaches of Toronto, while I would enjoy a similar change of environment in the more sylvan environs of Niagara Region. I might even see a few plays in the evenings, he pointed out.

And thus I came to meet Mr. Duncan.

At heart, Mr. Duncan’s case was unremarkable. A minor alleged Highway Traffic Act offence led to a police-citizen interaction in the parking lot of Mr. Duncan’s apartment building in the wee hours of the morning. A request that Mr. Duncan produce his licence led to an alleged refusal, which led to an attempt to arrest him, which led to a struggle, which was captured on a very poor quality video taken on a mobile phone, at the end of which Mr. Duncan found himself being placed under arrest for allegedly assaulting a police officer. Nothing unusual in all that. The bread and butter of provincial court.

Of course, I hadn’t counted on the freemen on the land.

Seriously: this is an absolutely hilarious provincial court decision. Worth skimming (at least!) for the laughs.