Thursday, January 10, 2008

2007 Detritus, Part 2

Apparently a number of the major newspapers spent the holidays putting their 2007 articles behind firewalls, so there are a number of items in my file that I just can't get at anymore. Here's what I could salvage:

February 20th - Milton Crosswalks

One item that passed pretty much unnoticed this spring was a decision by Milton Town Council to do away with all but one pedestrian crosswalk in town.

The line that made my jaw drop was this one:
Mayor Gord Krantz voiced support for removing the crossovers, noting every time traffic has to stop it creates gridlock and pollution.

I see. So, our Lord High Mayor figures the best way to decrease pollution is to discourage pedestrians.

I actually took the trouble to check the original committee report, and my reading of it is that they recommended looking into replacing the yellow light, push button crosswalks with pedestrian activated red lights. But that would involve spending money. More than the $150,000 they spent ripping out the existing crosswalks, that is.

September 22nd - Tom Flannagan

This was the day that Harper's Brain finally stepped out from the shadows and shared with us all his Ten Commandments of Conservative Campaigning. I especially liked Number 4:
4. Incrementalism

Conservatives must be willing to make progress in small, practical steps. Sweeping visions have a place in intellectual discussion, but they are toxic in practical politics.

Incrementalism is the twin of moderation. Small conservative reforms are less likely to scare voters than grand conservative schemes, particularly in Canada, where conservatism is not yet the dominant public philosophy. In any case, incrementalism is intrinsically the right approach for a conservative party.

And lo, we were nauseated.

October 5th - The One Cent Solution

Intellectual property gone mad:
Mint wants $48,000 for use of penny pic

The City of Toronto says the Royal Canadian Mint wants almost $48,000 in compensation after the city used the image of a penny in a prominent ad campaign, without proper authorization.

The ads, seen throughout the city in bus shelters and TTC vehicles as well as on buttons and bumper stickers, feature a blown-up picture of the penny. The ads are part of Mayor David Miller's push for one out of every six cents of GST revenue to be returned to the municipality where it was collected.

October - Random Thoughts on Food

I live in Ontario, and the other day I noticed that the Loblaw's Supercentre had garlic from China, and onions from Peru. Peru! I know it's been a terribly dry summer here, but the local and organic growers at the weekly Milton Farmer's Market didn't seem to have any trouble stocking local garlic and onions.

The fact that it's apparently still cheaper for Loblaw's to ship produce from half way around the world than pay local farmers a decent price just serves to illustrate how exploitive agribusiness is in the developing world.

Unfortunately I don't live in BC, so my options for fresh local produce are about to narrow to nearly zero. I am seriously considering building a greenhouse.

(and on that note, here's a link to the Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry from March talking about big agribusiness and rural poverty in Alberta.)

October 15th - Health Care Myths Debunked

Here's a link to a point by point evisceration of a fake email making the rounds that purported to be from a Canadian complaining about our health care.

Great for those parties where you find yourself in a screaming argument with one of those Americans who still thinks public health care is a Communist plot.

October 26th - Rick Salutin Is My Home Boy

More pearls from the far left office at the Globe & Mail, this time on the rising dollar and the retailization of Canada. A taste:
Peter Mansbridge furrows his brow but doesn't wonder why a country without workers who make anything has to pay higher markups on iPods than America does. We're on the way back to producing only what we always did: unprocessed resources like oil, wheat and wood. But the knowledge purveyors prefer to focus on the cost of Levis, obscuring rather than exploring any connection between making and buying.

What will an all-retail economy look like, when that day arrives? My stretch of College Street in Toronto is pretty much restaurants and caf├ęs, rarely broken by even a futon store or 7-Eleven. Can a society survive by serving each other lattes?

Seriously, how is it this guy works for the GLOBE?!

November - Random Thoughts on History

I have become convinced that there is no such thing as a definitive history of the world, or even of a particular period or event. Every historian, no matter how objective they may, will always have a particular point of view. No one can simultaneously encompass all the sociological, economic, political, religious and other causes and effects that weave together to represent a single event or sequence of events.

That’s not a bad thing.

December 11th - Why So Many Poor People Are Obese

Admit it - you've wondered.

This article in Newsweek entitled "Living in Junk Food Country" provides an illuminating analysis that brings into focus a whole host of problems including urban sprawl, corporate hegemony, and the psychological effects of 'food insecurity'.

And what was that I was saying about the grocery store situation in Milton?

December 22nd - Food Banks in Crisis

I found this post in DailyKos particularly disturbing. Apparently food banks in the U.S. have experienced a 50% - 100% increase in demand over the past year. The author quotes articles from over a dozen cities from Georgia to Connecticut describing the same situation, then offers this:
Hunger relief organizations are reporting that a "perfect storm" of circumstances is keeping them from meeting demand for food ... at the same time demand is surging.

The perfect storm?

Rising food prices.
Rising fuel prices.
Stagnant and declining wages.

Funny, that.

Meanwhile ...

Economic reporting on cable news mostly consists of scantily clad damsels screaming from the floor of the New York stock exchange about how "valuations remain strong," followed by news anchors with empty expressions on their faces, asking, "Why don't Americans understand how good this economy is for them?"

I think that we are all getting the idea that something has gone wrong here. What kind of country can't afford to feed its own citizens? A failed country. And what if that country is one of the richest in the world?

I think the theme for this year's blogging might just be... food.

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