the_siobhan: (shock and awe)
I have so many issues with our current government, but I have to point out when they do something right. This is a fucking amazing story.

From Chechnya to Canada: The Secret Escape For Young Gay Men.

And my workplace recently announced a big donation to Rainbow Railroad, so good on them too.
the_siobhan: (NaDruWriNi)
At one of our previous laptops&beers sessions somebody asked the room, "Do any of you have any opinions about Earth Day?"

Hoo boy, do I have opinons about Earth Day.

The first year it went international, Axel & I took part. We turned off our lights, lit some candles, sat around in our creepy living room with the plastic hanging off the bricks because we had no walls, drank a bottle of wine and talked. And it was nice, a little break in the middle of a hectic life.

The next day there were tons of news articles about how many people had taken part. How so many major cities, mine included, had seen major energy use dips. The number of people who participated put the event on the map in a big way. I let myself feel a tiny shred of hope, the sneaking suspicion that maybe we weren't totlaly fucked. Not because an hour of low energy use means squat - it doesn't. But if that many people had demonstrated that climate change was important to them, it couldn't help but be a flag to government and business that hello, WE GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THIS SIT UP AND PAY ATTENTION DAMN YOU. MAKE. A. FUCKING. CHANGE,

Ten years later I no longer participate.

Ten years later, my workplace - which has investments in the oil sands - puts an planet earth logo on their intranet site and encourages their employees to celebrate Earth Day by going for a walk during our lunch break.

Businesses all over town promise to dim their lights for an hour. Immediately after, of course, they go back to being fully lit up all night and causing bird genocide all summer long.

Earth Day is now a performance by marketing companies and PR hacks for the benefit of companies who want to convince people to give them their business becasue "they care". And I no longer bother to participate.




Drink List: A bunch of beers, four maybe? Plus a very strong g&t.
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
I have now heard about three separate petitions asking Trudeau to rescind or revise the Safe Third Country Agreement. (The Canadian refugee process requires refugees to apply at the country they land in first, if it's listed in the act. The USA is one of those countries.)

On the Parliament petitions site, here.

One is sponsored by the Broadbent Institute here.

And one sponsored by No One Is Illegal here.

I sent an email to Trudeau and cc'd my MP asking them to repeal or revise the act and offer haven to stranded people being denied entry to the US. Somebody mentioned including the Minister of Immigration in that email chain, I didn't do that but maybe I'll send him a separate email when I get home from work tonight. (He might be sympathetic, since he is 1) Muslim 2) a former refugee and 3) born in one of the countries on the ban list. So he probably is banned from entering the US right now himself.) I've heard that calling is better than email, so if I can gather together the spoons at some point this week I'll do that too.

I also went through the list of companies at grabyourwallet.org and notified the ones that I have accounts with that I won't be buying anything from them until they stop doing business with the Trump family.

If I come across anything else I'll post it here. Feel free to add to the list, and share it around.
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
I am so so so sorry.
the_siobhan: (Mistgeburt)
Way back when I got my Irish passport I told Axel that I was doing it in case England left the EU. I was mostly joking at the time.

Work is bouncing. Apparently voting to pooch the economy of an entire country will drive stock market activity, how about that? It's so busy they're ordering in lunch so they can ask people to stay on the phone.

I've already seen Scottish politicians talking about another referendum and the Sinn Fein has helpfully suggested to Northern Ireland that they might consider the same. It would be pretty wild if this is what it took to finally unite NI with the Republic.

So far this is my pick for best tweet of the day.

Meanwhile India is just blown away that you can get England to leave by voting.
the_siobhan: (What Would Jaques Cousteau Do?)
So now I know why they tell you not to fly when you have a cold. I can't say I recommend the experience.

cut for pics )

I'm really glad to got to go, it was fascinating stuff if a little depressing. We found a number of memorials in town from the Irish immigrants thanking Québec for taking them in in their hour of need. There is also a sizable population of Québécois with Irish names because their ancestors were orphans taken in by local families. (Our former PM Brian Mulroney as an example.)

And as our tour guide pointed out, it really puts into persepective the measly 25,000 Syrians refugees Canada is taking in.

word salsa

Feb. 8th, 2016 11:42 am
the_siobhan: (goatse)
Am still sniffly and tired and can't seem to catch a full breath. But I'm back to work and mostly walking around.

Man, were colds this brutal when I was a kid, or was I just too distracted by all the other shit I hated about my life to notice how terrible I felt?

***************


Somebody who lives in one of the slumlord apartment buildings behind my house had an actual Nazi flag hanging from the balcony yesterday. Who the fuck does that? A couple of my neighbours called the cops but I have no idea if they actually did anything about it.

There was an article in the Torontist last week about the history of Toronto's Chinatown neighbourhoods. Some of the hand-wringing over Asian immigration is depressingly reminiscent to the current gnashing of teeth in the comment section of every article ever about Syrian refugees. At one point the Province passed an actual law against white women working in Chinese laundromats lest they be sold into white slavery. Seriously.

The more things change, the more they stay the same I guess.

***************


There are two grocery stores right by my work, in the heart of the downtown business & condo district. I don't normally shop there because they are ridiculously expensive, but occasionally we will run out of something so I'll pop in on my lunch hour. And they are so weird. Tiny little things squished between the food court and the luggage shops, they manage to have a massive section of organic vegetables and imported cheeses and an extensive hot ready-to-eat food counter. And almost nothing else that I associate with grocery stores. Like on different occasions I have gone in there looking for pasta sauce or dish soap or freezer bags, and nope. Very odd.

***************



Something to get pissed about when Yet Another streetcar has passed me by too packed to get on. The first plan for a downtown relief line was in 1910.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0e/A_1910_subway_plan_for_Toronto_-a.jpg
the_siobhan: (Brighter Blessed Than Thee)
I mentioned a while ago looking for places to donate goods to Syrian refugees, and somebody requested that if I find one I should link to it. Just today Torontoist has article about the East End Pop-Up Shop for Syrian Refugees. It's also a local hub for refugees who want to connect with other people from home, for sponsors who want to share resources and for volunteers who want to help out in other ways.

And for all that crap that is too old or beat up to give to a family, but makes a nice satisfying crunch when you hit it - there's always the Rage Room.
the_siobhan: (What would Jean Chretien Do?)
Your new government will have a record number of MPs who are indigenous or of indigenous descent.

All will be forgiven if you appoint one of them to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and give them some actual authority.

signed,
A Second-Class Citizen with opinions on who are the Third-Class Citizens around here
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
OH. MY. GOD!



Serving the Prime Minister

Canada's sexy new Prime Minister Dustin Waterhole has swept to power - but what's going on in the back offices?

I thought I had a pretty good deal going. I was a young guy fresh out of school, and I had landed a job at the headquarters of the Leaf Party. But as we suddenly took power in an election, I was suddenly running the back offices and assisting the new Prime Minister, the young and handsome Dustin Waterhole. It turns out that serving the Prime Minister means more than just pushing paper...but, I mean, he does have nice hair.

DUSTIN. WATERHOLE.
the_siobhan: (save hockey)
In Canada we technically have three major parties. In practice we have two major parties (PC and Liberal) and our small loud socialist self-appointed conscience of the government (NDP). The NDP had been doing pretty well for itself the last few rounds, to the point where they had a real shot at being the power.

But because it's a first-past-the-post system (aka, winner take all) if you really really really have to get rid of the guy from one of the major parties - most people figure they have to vote for the other major party. It's a perception the Liberals have always encouraged, because they benefit from it. As they did yesterday.

I lost my MP, who was a brilliant dedicated man who was very good at his job. I'm pretty unhappy about that. A lot of other really good people lost their seats. (Peggy Nash, Dan Harris - and seriously, how far has the Liberal party fallen that they would even consider letting a fascist racist like Bill Blair represent them?)

But at least Harper *spit* is gone. We can rebuild from that.
the_siobhan: (wormtooth)
I will not log into Facebook just to get into an argument.
I will not log into Facebook just to get into an argument.
I will not log into Facebook just to get into an argument.
I will not log into Facebook just to get into an argument.
I will not log into Facebook just to get into an argument.
I will not log into Facebook just to get into an argument.
I will not log into Facebook just to get into an argument.
I will not log into Facebook just to get into an argument.
the_siobhan: (dinosaur)
Honestly, the best part about following Canadian politics right now is watching Thomas Mulcair try to say "trickle-down economics" with a straight face.
the_siobhan: (Dufferin station)
Today's commute was an utter crapfest. I was coming in from D's place in the east end of town so I had to take the subway instead of my usual bus[1]. Six trains went by, all so full that there was no space to squeeze more than a single body into each open door.

At that point I went to the opposite platform and took a train going the wrong way until I got to a station far enough from the core that I could finally switch to one going the direction I wanted.

This is such bullshit. We needed a downtown relief line 20 fucking years ago. But taxes are bad, right?




[1] The bus that D calls "the honey badger". Because it just doesn't give a fuck.
the_siobhan: (This is my boomstick)
This is interesting news for the ex-pat Americans on my f-list.

http://globalnews.ca/news/1505591/ontario-women-sue-ottawa-over-compliance-with-new-u-s-banking-law/

Canada has violated the charter rights of nearly a million Canadians by agreeing to share their financial details with authorities in the United States, two Ontario women allege in a new lawsuit.
the_siobhan: (psychochicken)
There's provincial election happening shortly, and along with elections come the inevitable polling calls. It's usually pretty easy to tell from the wording of the questions being asked which party is paying for any given survey. Politicians ain't subtle.

So I'm pretty sure yesterday's call was sponsored by the provincial Tories.

The word "dickweed" may have been said.
the_siobhan: (BOOM)
Gah. Can't comment on half of the LJ posts today, because I get some of them give me a pop-up saying my workplace is "considering" a block because the URL has been identified as web blogging site.

That's banks for you. Finger on the pulse, etc.

Anyway.

There was a discussion on a friend's FB recently about her upcoming marriage, and how while she is looking forward to the wedding and to being married to her partner, the prospect of being called "husband and wife" really skeeves her out.

I get that. Hoo boy, do I get that.

There have been a couple of times that I have talked to Axel about how I occasionally wished that we hadn't gotten married. Not because I regret marrying him (I don't), or because it wasn't fun (it was), but because of all the assumptions that other people put on our relationship because of it. Those grate on my nerves big time.

But you want to know what really drives me spare? It's when people change my name.

The absolute worst people for doing that seem to be contractors. I can't tell you how many times I have had to tell workmen, "That is not my name." We hire all our contractors through a central agency, and even though I set up the account and both our names are on it, they insist on calling me up and asking for "Mrs Johnston".

The last fucking straw was when I hired some guys to redo the floor in my sister's condo. They never spoke to Axel. They never met Axel. All arrangements were made by me. They had my contact info. My name was on the cheque I gave them. And when they finished the job they dropped the key off in the condo office in an envelope - labelled with Axel's last name. The office freaked out and wouldn't give back the fucking key without a copy of the ownership.

That was over a week ago and I am still ready to just about fucking skin somebody every time I think about it. It just might end up being the next person who calls me "Mrs Johnston".
the_siobhan: (BOOM)
I've been watching Sleepy Hollow with BC lately. I like it. It's a very silly show with a ridiculous over-the-top premise and lots of over-acting, and the scenes where Crane is confronted with just how much of a fish-out-of-water he is in the 21st Century are cute and funny. And holy shit, a show that not only has multiple POC in major roles, but where the lead characters can be emotionally close and not have romantic designs on each other? How often does that happen?

spoilers for The Golem episode )

So you know, episode ends, I blow my nose, we talk about the show a bit, then we talk about other things, etc. I didn't even mention to BC that it bothered me, because it didn't really. It's like a reflex these days.

Then I logged into the computer for five minutes before bed. And looked at Facebook.

Big. Mistake.

My cousin posted some stupid image macro that he was sharing from some Catholic group. It was just the word "abortion" with the b and r scribbled over so that it read "adoption". And of course, the text "share if you agree".

My head caught fire.

I wanted to be able to point out that the two are completely different things; that adoption doesn't make a woman not pregnant if she doesn't want to be pregnant.

I wanted to point out that adoption does not solve the problem of ectopic pregnancies, deep vein thrombosis, gestational diabetes or any of the other fifty fucking billion things that can go wrong, or the pain, exhaustion, edema, hemeroids, acid reflux, expense, doctor's appointments, stitches or any of the other hundred fucking billion things that are a normal part of even a healthy pregancy and that maybe the woman doesn't want to be forced to deal with all this crap.

I wanted to point out that he was sharing an image from an organization that is willing to let women die rather than give them medical care when they are pregnant. That wants to force women to go through all the shit that I went through against their will.

I wanted to point out that as a man, he has a lot of fucking nerve telling women what they should do.

Instead all I could manage was two profanity-ridden screeds that were full of typos because my hands were shaking so badly. I deleted both of them before posting, finally just commenting, "No", then going back and deleting it and unfriending him. The whole time my brain was shrieking "How dare you! HOW FUCKING DARE YOU!"

It took me hours to calm down. It felt even the air I was exhaling was hot. If I actually had the power to reach through the computer and murder somebody, I would have a shit-load of explaining to do to my dad's family today.

So uh, apparently I still do have some "stuff" around this topic.

Just maybe not the stuff I thought I had.
the_siobhan: (Dufferin station)
I've had this sitting in draft for months. I'm so slack it's not funny. It's a continuation of [personal profile] wild_irises asking me to talk about Rob Ford.


Item One: A story is reported in the paper in which a City Counsellor is requesting increased funding in order to expand a program for city kids that is proving to be very successful. Ford repeatedly derides her for wasting taxpayer money. She finally snaps and tells him to "shut his fucking mouth". She later apologized for swearing, saying that she and others had worked really hard on this program and it was doing so many good things for the children involved that she just got really upset when he called it a waste of money.

The commenters on the article rant about "tax and spend liberals".

Item Two: Somebody writes an article about how the Ford-mandated spending cuts were responsable for a back-log in a trimming city trees. Those untrimmed branches came down during the ice storm and hundreds of thousands of people ended up being without power for up to a week. The last estimate I saw of how much it's going to cost to clean up all the damage hovers around $75 $106 million[1]. The author of the article points out that by saving money on maintenance, Ford doubtlessly contributed to the damage and the resulting cost of the clean-up.

Commenters tell the writer he's an idiot for thinking that Ford could possibly have any control over an act of God like the ice storm and that liberals just want to throw money around like it grows on trees.

Item Three: Waaay back when Mike Harris was the Premier of Ontario and instituting his slash-and-burn policy on public services I read an irate letter to the editor in the local paper. The writer was pissed because his WheelTrans[2] service had been cut. In the letter, he explained that he had voted for Harris because he wanted Harris to cut taxes and he agreed with service cuts - but he hadn't meant for the services he needed to get cut.

I think of that letter a lot whenever I read anything about Ford Nation.

Every time we have an election there is always some candidate who claims that we pay too much property tax[3] and they will reduce taxes without cutting services. I always toss their flyers in the recycling bin and tell people I won't vote for any politician who can't do math. I'm being facetious of course, I know perfectly well that they don't think they can lower taxes, they're just pandering. I also don't vote for politicians who insult my intelligence so whatever.

Ford did that, claiming that he was going to cut waste. There is no waste of course, so instead he's doing things like cutting tree-pruning on city owned land and fuck the consequences to all the people sitting in the cold and dark in 40-below weather. But instead of learning from that, the same people in "Ford Nation" are getting ready to vote for him again. And after watching them in action I finally got it[4]. Waste isn't spending money on things we don't need. Waste is spending money on things I don't need.

I don't have kids so I shouldn't have to pay for schools. I own a car so I don't want to pay for the TTC. Cancel mental health outreach programs and harm reduction programs and after school programs, the jails will clean up the mess. Why spend money on maintaining parks, I have a perfectly good backyard. Sell the lots to developers and make the city some money.

Oddly, spending hundreds of thousands on ripping out bicycle lanes doesn't seem to come in for the same level of criticism. Go figure.

The thing is it would be really easy to just dismiss his supporters as hateful - and yeah, there is plenty of anger in there - but I think some of it is genuine desperation. Wages are stagnant. The job market is shrinking. The Tories keep making it harder and harder to get unemployment benefits. Canada came through the bank crash in comparatively good shape[5], but thanks to the feds our economy has been getting worse every year since. The price of housing in this city is through the fucking roof. People are feeling stretched and politicians play on that by telling them that the big chunk of money that gets added to their mortgage is getting frittered away on wine & cigarettes in homeless shelters[6].

The thing is that right-wing politicans have somehow managed to convince people that tax money is wasted. They point at all the things that cost them money on a day to day basis, and tell people that they would have more money for those things if they got to keep the tax portion. In reality, getting rid of taxes just means moving the costs directly onto the user, which always ends up being more expensive because the cost is split up among a smaller base of people. If you won't pay for taxes that fix roads then you have to replace the shocks on your car more often, etc. So people can afford even less while they watch their expenses balloon. And the conservatives point at the tax bill and say, "See if you just didn't have to pay that you would have more money..."

This is not specifically a Ford problem and it seems to have infected every level of government. And I'm not sure how to even start addressing it. Ford is, however, a great example of what happens when people honestly believe that government doesn't do anything and politicians spend their time taking baths in swimming pools full of cash. It doesn't matter that Ford is incompetent, has no idea what he's talking about half the time and contradicts himself the other half. It's not like he needs to knowledge or understanding or even a grasp of reality to do his job. It's why none of his supporters care that his staff cannot find him on a regular basis when he is supposed to be in his office.

Whenever Ford speaks publicly he says that he saved the city money. That's all Ford Nation cares about. They don't even care about the part where everybody else keeps pointing out that his statements are just not true. I wish there was more focus on how bad he is at his job, and less on his hobbies but I'm not even sure that would make any difference to the people who vote for him.


[1]Which Ford has said he's going to ask the Province to pay for. Because the cleanup money shouldn't come from the taxpayers. I swear I am not making this up.

[2]WheelTrans is a program that provided public transit to people who cannot travel via standard means, usually due to requiring a wheelchair or some other mobility-assistance device. Massively underfunded. Go figure.

[3]I've been hearing this since long before I became a homeowner. First time I actually got a municipal tax bill I was genuinely shocked at how little I was paying for all the bitching and moaning people do about it.

[4]I never claimed to be quick.

[5]Thanks to Paul Martin's government for putting regulations in place that restricted how extended Canadian banks are allowed to be - regulations that Harper lobbied against at the time. Of course Harper later took credit for the fact that Canada was one of the countries least impacted by the bank failures.

[6]True story. There is a program at one of the men's shelters for clients who are pretty much at their end of their lives, but are so heavily addicted they would not stay at the shelter if they couldn't get an alcohol allowance. Providing them a small dose of wine a day keeps them out of an infinitely more expensive street-exposure-emergency services-extensive hospitalization-back on the street cycle and lets them finish out their lives in some dignity. Ford has campaigned to cut this program every single time the budget comes up for review, even though it's supporters point out that it would cost the city more to have cart the poor fuckers back to the hospital multiple times every winter.
the_siobhan: (Dufferin station)
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