Monday, September 26, 2005


David Cayley - The Rivers North of the Future: The Testament of Ivan Illich, p.223-224

Cayley: The most common way of naming the current sense of being at a watershed is as the inception of postmodernity. May I again ask how are you disposed to that way of speaking?

Illich: When I first heard it, and again and again when that word was thrown in my face, I of course thought of the struggle, the dispute, the minuet played between the antiqui et moderni in the Renaissance. It has something of deja vu about it. On the other hand, the word is usually used to reflect the widening awareness, and the deepening awareness, that the axioms, the rules taken for certain, for natural, for unquestionable during a rather long period, have, some twenty-thirty years ago, begun to give out. Therefore it reflects the awareness that something along those lines which I just exposed might be happening. But I want to be very careful not to be identified as somebody who is postmodernist, because the term has been pretty effectively appropriated by a certain type of literary criticism, extending them into anthropology and ethnology and then picked up by politicians, by movements, to indicate some kind of legitimacy which the language of the social sciences could preserve and maintain under entirely new conditions. So I don't see why I should say more than, Watch out, when you listen carefully to me, you will be angry if you are a postmodernist. Postmodernism is incredibly disembodying.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Long Road to Hell

With crude prices on the upswing and a provincial government awash in plum under collected royalties, that other brand of Armillaria is re-emerging once again within the ill-sealed woodwork of Confederation. The ASP's Mr. Hutton is also the founder of the 'Law-Abiding Unregistered Firearms Association' or LUFA (pdf) as it is known in the community.

Citing transgressions nearly a quarter of a century in age and a proudly confrontational style, this merry band of palpable republicans are out to conquer the nefarious forces of deceit and corruption - otherwise known as eastern troughies, Bytown Bandits and most preferably as 'Federalists'. Political union has been twisted by the greedy tit sucklers out east they say. The dastardly National Energy Policy being the largest smite of all. The vile NEP has indeed assumed mythical proportions and without a doubt weighs like a two-ton millstone on the separatist psyche. It is handed down amongst the disciples from generation to generation with the pomp and ceremony of Grandma's coveted Tapioca pudding. The story goes that in a selfish fit of greed and power, the behemoth that is Eastern Canada violated the very essence of Wild Rose. With this shameless act of depravity, the Federalist incursion single-handedly undermined the Province and ruined the entire economy and distinct culture. Period. (Of course, no mention of the mid-1980s international crude market collapse is included). The story concludes with an apocalyptic scene akin to the putrid heights of the Irish potato famine.

While there are absolutely no hints of the resurrection of the unspeakable from the Federal government, the mere possibility has whipped a whole new generation of politicos into one long unabridged frothy frenzy. The generation that spawned Reform and left disgusted over a watered down Alliance is on the cusp of redemption. The apocalypse is at hand, my friends. The Eastern Devil is back and the oil patch is in danger! As my colleague is apt to say, 'Hide the Gold Doubloons!'

But the oil story is shaping up to be the plague of federalism for the next quarter century. The latest in an excruciatingly long line of crisis's stretching back to severing Upper and Lower Canada in the late 1850s.

And so here we are once again. In one of the most decentralised nations on earth, another incensed minority from yet another region is outraged over yet another 'injustice' - real or otherwise. It wears on one. A thousand years from now when the history of this place is written, they'll speak of victimhood. People often wonder what it is that binds Canada together. The cult of victimhood transcends all class, religion, race and most importantly region in this country. Nothing more than 138 years of factional pissing and moaning over such abstracts as signs, derricks, waterfronts and cod. No English on the signs? Bastard Quebec. International oil market crash? God damn Feds and their NEP. Toronto falling apart? Feds are shirking responsibility. Cod runs out? Eggheads at Fisheries and Oceans of course.

Perhaps this is why we're still together. Like co-dependent junkies, if we were to split there'd be no one left to blame.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Ideology of Disaster

In light of New Orleans, I've assembled a smattering of quotations into broken Grade 6 hamburger style format:

To those who wonder why so many stayed behind when push came to water's mighty shove here, those who were trapped have a simple explanation: Their nickels and dimes and dollar bills simply didn't add up to stage a quick evacuation mission.

There were many decent, innocent people trapped in New Orleans when the deluge hit—but they were trapped alongside large numbers of people from two groups: criminals—and wards of the welfare state, people selected, over decades, for their lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness. The welfare wards were a mass of sheep—on whom the incompetent administration of New Orleans unleashed a pack of wolves.

Now imagine that federal and state income taxes, Social Security taxes, and Medicare and Medicaid taxes had been abolished 10 years ago, along with the welfare-state programs they fund. Let’s assume that each of the families at the New Orleans Superdome and the Convention Center has paid, say, $500 per year in those taxes, which I think would be a fairly low estimate. That would mean that if they had chosen to save the money, each of those families would have had a $5,000 nest egg (plus interest), a sum that would have been more than sufficient to get them out of town and into a motel room for a while before Hurricane Katrina struck.

Unlike 9/11, when the cult of victimhood was temporarily suspended in honour of the many real, actual victims under the rubble, in New Orleans everyone claimed the mantle of victim, from the incompetent mayor to the "oppressed" guys wading through the water with new DVD players under each arm.

Welfare culture is bad not just because, as in Europe, it's bankrupting the state, but because it enfeebles the citizenry, it erodes self-reliance and resourcefulness.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

L'Estrie et Environs.

Built on the foundations of waves of Loyalists, New Englanders and Irish and Scot settlers breaking virgin land, the Eastern Township population of Quebec reached a high of 58% English speaking by 1861. Centred around Sherbrooke, the local isolated population developed its own unique cultural institutions, customs and leant a father of confederation along the way.

However, since the glory days of the late 19th century, the population has faced a long, slow slide into obscurity. Lured by opportunity to other regions and mass french migration from the St. Lawrence Valley, Anglos by 2001 represented a mere 6% of the total population.

As with all minority populations across the Province, the largest decline came about in the 1970s when the Townships lost nearly 30% of its english population to migration. In a nod to the remaining Anglos, the PQiste government officially changed the Region from the Eastern Townships to L'Estrie ('Kingdom of the East') in 1981. Since then, the community has lost its hospital and the once flourishing print media has been reduced to the lonely hollowed out Sherbrooke Record.

Today, the remaining 41,000 english speakers of the townships are scattered across the region and comprised of mainly the very old and very young. Reversing the realities of only a few generations ago, the educational and economic indicators (pdf) now rank the english well below their french neighbours.

In a province obsessed with culture, the obliteration of a distinct population goes wholly unnoticed.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Justice Is Truth But Who Can You Trust To Tell The Truth?

Musings from the Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier and her faithful watchdog. Throw in a near disbarred MP and the timeless Mayor and you get a clear picture of the the state of the City of Sarnia.

The New South Africa

Are the wheels falling off Mandela's 'Rainbow Nation'?


Let me introduce Top Johnny from Montreal (choose Media and enjoy). I've been promised back stage passes and introductions to the trashy French background dancers. Pants, you're invited.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Revolution Revisited

After a summer of rest, the revolution is on again. Fellow Lanark ‘ruralite’ and former NFU staffer Helen Forsey considers the calculated partisan antics of the one:

The LLA’s proposed cure for what ails our rural communities is breath-takingly simple: strengthen the rights of property owners and ensure "full, fair and timely compensation" for any limits on those rights. Just how that is supposed to bolster farm incomes or reverse migration to the cities is a real head-scratcher, but when disenfranchised people are faced with massive and complex issues, simple solutions can look awfully tempting. All the more so if those supposed solutions come packaged as justice and empowerment - and the Lanark Landowners are very good at packaging.

Snapshots of a Drive

Temple of Rockwellian America - Cooperstown, NY

The epic Empire State Plaza - Albany, NY

Atop the Taconic Pass

Mass MOCA - North Adams, MA

Uncle Mickey's Italian 'Yard' (Complete with Tomatoes in Bathtub)
Medford, MA

The Mobile gracing Concord, NH