The Fine for Driving While Black with Expired Tabs? Death … by Yet Another Panicked Cop. — Wry Wing Politics

Every time I hear about another shooting like the one that killed Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center Sunday afternoon I remember that Philando Castile was stopped by cops at least 46 times … before one of them panicked and killed him. 932 more words

The Fine for Driving While Black with Expired Tabs? Death … by Yet Another Panicked Cop. — Wry Wing Politics

Diner Conversations: Mike Doughty’s “Skittish” — The Ebert Test

I’m a great one for the low-key affair. For the DIY gem, the lo-fi find. For the kind of record that crackles with the handmade energy of a diner conversation with an old friend. One of those long and winding conversations that leave you invigorated and a little embarrassed, because maybe you laughed a little […]

Diner Conversations: Mike Doughty’s “Skittish” — The Ebert Test

Let’s Quarantine Together… Then What?! —

The dilemma this generation is going through. But is it rational? The pandemic has been the cause for many relationships falling apart. Whether that’s because it’s highlighted pre-existing issues, or whether you looked at your other half one day and thought, “Lord almighty, what was I thinking?!”. Throw co-habiting into the mix, can spell disaster! […]

Let’s Quarantine Together… Then What?! —

The View from Up North

ATTICD – The View from Up North

We watched yesterday January 6, 2021 in horror, along with our American neighbors, as fascists, nazis, and confederate wannabes climbed up the walls of the Capitol in a terrifying display of what can only be described as an attempt to overthrow the US government by US citizens.

I grew up hearing about the elephant and the mouse.  In geography class this was a reference to Canada living right beside the USA.  The US has consistently been ten times as big as Canada population-wise, though smaller geographically.  This has made for a constant consciousness that our country exists independently because we don’t have much that the US wants.  We exist as a quiet, cold neighbor that tries to stay on good terms and not draw too much attention our way.  While we provide a steady stream of physicians who can make more money in the US, nurses who can get jobs more easily in nicer weather and comedians who can’t get enough work in Canada, most of are happy to live where we do. 

We are always conscious of what is going on down south and how it might affect us.  While we remain polite, we have been changed by the past four years.  We also found out that people we thought we knew are racists and survivalists and fascists.  We have had to face up to our own systemic racism.  Our mutual funds have benefited enormously from US stock market profiteers.  We have watched in disbelief as COVID deaths have reached a tragically unnecessary level for our US neighbors, which can only be compared to war losses, hoping that our government finds a polite way to keep the border closed.

We too are glued to all-day news networks, aghast at the things we heard for the last four years.  We too held our breaths over the election hoping that this time the pollsters didn’t have their heads up their asses the way they did in 2016, hoping that the wave of Trump-supporting COVID denying in-person voters didn’t carry the electoral college again. 

Even though the democrats won the presidency, the specter of fascism still fills us with dread.  Scenes of angry republicans illogically calling for a stop to the vote counting, even though the numbers for Trump were not there from the beginning, makes us scared and anxious.  A few weeks ago Trump announced a $22 Billion deal for a railway from Alaska to Alberta – which made me wonder first – is he hoping to annex Alberta which has a hate-relationship with eastern politicians and second – why is Alaska part of the US? I mean, it’s right up there next to the Yukon and above British Columbia, how did the US get up there and grab that one piece of land?  I know, gold.  But they had to skip through an entire province to get there, not an easy route through the Rockies?  And why didn’t they just take BC while they were at it.  I mean we have that great geological divide that runs all the way up the west side of the continent. 

I digress.  Things have always seeped in to Canada from the US  – slaves looking for freedom, pacifists looking for freedom; red vines; Netflix shows that we can’t get on our own service; cable TV; CNN.   We watched, as the rest of the world watched, as the votes were counted.  We waited for that number 253-213 to change, day after day, fearful that Trumpism would violently wrench the votes away.  Even now, with Trump still in the Whitehouse not conceding and his supporters not being met with martial law as the BLM supporters were, the specter of a shadow government in exile is not implausible:  how did Trump manage to do all the things he did?  Because he had support – in the government, in the party.  Those people are all still there, and were staunchly still supporting his denial of the elections results as recently as 12 hours ago despite the rampage that their supporters, in turn, had carried out.    Because 48% of the American public thinks that what Trump says is true and factual.

Here above the 49th parallel, we don’t understand a political system that not only allows but structurally requires that kind of division.  We have at least four parties representing us, and when we are not happy with the two leading parties, we can vote for the others who will not likely win but can be deciders when parliament votes.  Our parties are constantly changing their names and refining their platforms; often representatives “cross the floor” – a dramatic day on “the hill” Canadian style – taking their supporters with them in the next election.  This business of being one or the other isn’t so important.  Yes some people always vote conservative, but centre and left of it have choices. There is a political spectrum that reflects change, personal situations, and beliefs, rather than one end or the other.  It is messier, but a truer democratic process, IMO, which allows pressure to be vented before the people can get so worked up that hate and violence are the political process of choice.  It also means that the people whose choice is violence are on the fringe where they belong, not part of a majority.

Of course Canadians have also had violent historical periods, but we watched with the world yesterday with despair as the global emblem for democracy was torn apart by people who probably thought they were fighting for it.  As the Mouse lying next door, we worry more than the rest of the world that the Elephant will notice us and decide that it is time to move over, squashing us in the process.

Republicans Own This Insurrection — Profesorbaker’s Worldwide Bilingual Blog

Republicans Own This Insurrection: Trump-Incited Mob Storms Capitol Responsibility for the storming of the Capitol extends well beyond Trump. Source: The Atlantic by Peter Wehner Contributing writer at The Atlantic and senior fellow at EPPC OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP / Getty The scene that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol yesterday—an insurrection in all of its […]

Republicans Own This Insurrection — Profesorbaker’s Worldwide Bilingual Blog

Had the party controlled their president from the beginning, as was expected, this would not be happening. But it seems like they really liked what Trump was saying and doing all along. The prominent support of a leader with clear fascist intentions could only result in violence – though unexpectedly from their own side. The last opportunity to stop this was for McConnell to accept the election results early, but he did not. Instead he supported Trump’s irrational efforts to prove the alternative fact of his re-election. It is that phrase – alternative fact – that has lead a great many people to believe that just because someone says something is true means it is a fact. Trump’s public statement of love for these people is beyond words.

We Are the World – and we don’t know what the words mean

The other day I almost lost my mind over a traffic ticket.

I will not to go into the mundane details of what I realize is a ridiculously common experience. I could write a whole post on how it made me feel, but suffice to say that the last time I was beamed down by a traffic cop was about 40 years ago. I stayed calm during the immediately stressful – what felt like a a cave-person threat level seven – experience. I reminded myself that at least I didn’t have to worry too much about being shot, that I just had to be concerned about being sexually harassed, belittled, and having an unmasked stranger’s face pushed next to mine through the car window to mansplain my payment options like I wouldn’t be able to read the pretty pink form for myself.

What followed was an unexpected Ingmar Berman dive into the worst part of my psyche that I don’t often encounter. My family and emotional background is decently privileged (not Ivanka Trump privileged, but you know what I mean), so I was unprepared for how quickly I spun down, especially since it was in front of my adult kid who has their own mental health challenges and doesn’t need to see me in my dark place. Enough about me.

Before my descent into the spin cycle, I had talked with two clients earlier in the day who volunteered that they were not able to keep up with their usual routines – opening mail, doing laundry, finishing projects started earlier in COVID. I was troubled by this. After all, for the most part we are learning to live in a politically unstable environment of potentially fatal disease that can hit anyone, aren’t we?

I had also watched the first segment of Coastal Elites, in which Bette Midler as a nice New York lady rages about how she doesn’t want to be so angry, but if she stops being angry, she will be tired and give up.

Although Coastal Elites is being critiqued for being too, mmm, elite, the weariness and emotional black hole that the character describes is accurate, if self-indulgent. We don’t know how to feel, and yet there are so many feelings. Because the feelings that we can’t identify are too much, we end up tired and unable to keep up with our daily lives. We are one unexpected incident away from hopelessness.

We knew that the pandemic would change things, that life as we knew it would not return, that our post World War decades of mowed lawns and household appliances would not mean as much in the future. What we did not expect was that our lives would become what they have been for very long so many other parts of the world – a daily struggle for supplies and safety; an overhang of fear that someone we know will die before their time; a not unrealistic paranoia about danger everywhere. Among our many privileges has been the one of not having to live with perpetual crisis and threat of personal safety.

I wish I could say that this is not the case in Canada where we have a reputation for being polite, but we have our proportionate number of COVID deniers and Confederacy supporters and their compilation of right wing beliefs adding to the growing insecurity of our daily life; yes, actual Confederacy Supporters™ who are Canadian and like their American counter-parts don’t know that they lost the war.

We have mass shootings and police brutality, and most of us live within an hour’s drive from the American-Canadian border which is supposed to be closed but citizens of both countries are crossing. Trump wants to annex one of our provinces with the promise of a $22 Billion railway. While it is not our constitutional right to bear arms, there are still plenty of gun toting right-wingers here, so synagogues, mosques, casinos, protests and restaurants are no safer here. And of course, we have COVID.

We the People of Privilege have had our eyes opened to what the rest of the world experiences every single day – authoritarianism, land disputes, fascist secret police – and when we come face to face with these realities we are challenged to know how to feel. Where we used to be able to enjoy rock stars singing our guilt away to meaningless words, we now struggle to feel something that most of us have never really had to rely on – hope. Unlike most of the rest of the world, we have lived a happy-go-lucky existence where excess-consumerism has been our biggest worry – is it OK to get another MEC jacket? Yes because we will use it for healthy outdoor activities. How about that SMEG toaster? It’s expensive but the holidays are coming!

At a socially distanced COVID pool party before the second wave hit, (yes you heard me correctly, and no I am not repeating myself) someone talked about former travels in Vietnam. They were out looking for a restaurant they had seen just the night before but couldn’t find it. It was daytime and things looked different, but they knew they were in the same location and the restaurant was not. Finally a local told them that during the day it was a tourist shop, and changed to a restaurant for the evening.

Running two business from the same location, whether it’s the same owner or two owners sharing a space, in a challenging economic and political climate – now that seems like hope to me. Beyond hard work and having to feed people and trying to get ahead, it takes hope to keep on keeping on. We don’t have that right now, because we don’t know how to do it. We’ve never had to.

It is new to us to hope for things that matter and are not to be taken for granted – daily health, safety, shelter – and that has made us angry and tired. I think we need to recognize that what we should hope for is different than it has ever been. In my world without daily threat, I hoped that my retirement fund would do reasonably well, that I would stay out of debt, that my Amazon order would come early, that this season’s pants would fit again.

I looked up the lyrics to “We are the World” and was dumbfounded by how dumb they are. Incomplete thoughts, bad grammer, poorly thought-out concepts – “it’s time to lend a hand to life” – what was that supposed to mean? “There’s a choice we’re making/We’re saving our own lives.” The whole song is very indicative of how little understanding we have had of the plight of people in other parts of the world, who live every day with uncertainty of their health and safety; how we have no idea what hope is or how important it is when just living to tomorrow is a challenge.

We have to actively hoist our hope standard up to things like: I hope my child/spouse/friend doesn’t have COVID; I hope that I can still pay for my home a year from now; I hope that young people can work and have homes that are not tents in a parking lot; I hope that people of colour will not have to keep fighting for things they shouldn’t have to fight for; hope that future elections don’t bring out the worst; hope that future elections continue to be; hope that there are no new wars even when we know there always will be. Without learning how to hope in real time, our lives will be a wasteland of resentment, fear, and inertia. We have to learn from the rest of The World how to keep living and hoping for a better time.

But start small, so you’re not overwhelmed with the bigness of living today, and remember that most of the world has been living this way all along. Be happy that your encounter with law enforcement was brief and … brief. Be hopeful that those two officers met their daily quota and won’t be pursuing an indigenous teenager later with tragic results.

Word Press – hah – what is it good for?

Almost every working day, when I sit down at my computer, before I start “working”, I check in with WordPress.

I don’t know how to Tweet or what to do with Instantgram as my brother called it, but I like seeing what people are thinking on WordPress.  There are a few posts I really go for – the ones where writers take a chance and say hard things, things that you don’t get on televised news from journalists still trying to look professional if not unbiased.  I can be choosy about what I read and only read writers who I know are on the same part of the political spectrum that I am.  Facebook can be a nightmare that way, when you find out your first cousin posts a Confederate slogan on their feed, and they’re not even American.

Since my last post in July I have tried to write three different posts and felt two of them are so first-world whiny in light of the state of the world that they don’t need to be published, and the first is the one I am still struggling with on the subject of racism.

How do we keep going?  I go to write something on the morning that six people were shot in Toronto and I can’t find the words.  Kenosha press briefings made my eyes water like I was breathing in ammonia.  I watched as several men in masks struggled to find non-inflamatory language – “the best words” – to keep blame off law enforcement for both the shooting of Jacob Blake and the militia lovefest that followed.  I watched a couple of days later when John Oliver featured the head of the Sheriff’s Department, one of the masked men, ranting at an earlier  news conference about crime in Kenosha, saying “these people … should be locked up … so they can’t have children,” a public assertion that hasn’t been made since the early 1900’s when men in wigs argued about Darwinism.  And I can’t find the words.

I started this blog so I could share my ironic advice on all things human and animal but find that my relatively many years of living and working have not prepared me for the world we are living in. While I continue to struggle to find my voice in this stranglehold of pandemic and facism and violence that characterizes our daily life now, there are places where others have not their voice.

So I find moments on WordPress that help, sometimes where I don’t expect it. posted a thoughtful piece about social media influencers being paid by the government to promote fundraising for healthcare, a well-written piece that brought my attention to a relevant issue that is not part of the usual news stream.  It also reminded me that while there are people out there who feel justified in randomly killing people, there are also people out there who are still shocked and outraged by bad moral behavoir.

Obviously, like any social media platform, my feed is curated to what I like to see: I bumbled into a post about something that some people call “pseudo feminism” that had me wanting to run back to a time when discovering this kind of thinking would have been a bad date and not a frightening Hand Maid’s essay that has forever burned the thoughts of someone I will never meet into my brain.  But for someone who is not particularly social media oriented. I am glad to have found people “out there” that have something to say that I haven’t thought of yet.  Hopefully I can find the inspiration and courage to put out again the things I do think of.

You Think You Have Something to Cry About?

I’ve been trying to work up a piece on anti-racism and having a difficult time getting it to where I think it should be – not about white people, not well-intentioned but poorly informed, something that might speak to everyone without being either puerile or patronizing.

I’ve been working on it for so many weeks that the whole subject is taking a back seat to COVID numbers and US threats against other nations and their own citizens.  Once again marginalized people’s voices are drowned out by the incompetence of the people oppressing them.  You think you have problems?  We will just make bigger problems so you look selfish.

I hope that the protests and the attention drawn to a worse problem than disease and war doesn’t go away.  Disease can be dealt with more easily and quickly than racism.  War is the provenance of people [men] who think that taking something away from someone else will make them feel bigger about themselves – like racism, but an act of government that could be voted away more easily than racism.

I hope that we don’t forget the names of people who have died at the hands of the people hired to protect them, that change to our police services is made by our elected officials even when the protests fade out, that we have all asked ourselves the question: “What is it that police do anyway?” That we stop ourselves before we dial 9-1-1, and ask, is a crime being committed or does someone need help?  Should I be calling family services instead?  Or a mental health association?

I wish that we could all realize that lives are more important than property, that the war on drugs kills more people than drugs do, that not all poor people are criminals and not all criminals are poor, that opinions posted on social media are not the same as facts, that crimes should be investigated before people are arrested, and that medical professionals and firefighter don’t carry guns.

In the meantime, I have become aware of how many POC live in my city, something I didn’t really notice before.  I stop myself from interacting with them in a self-serving and inappropriate way – going up and saying stuff like “I’m on your side” or “I’m sorry about everything”, or smiling in what I think is a friendly way but realize probably looks patronizing or just demented.  I try to just be normal and still aware.  They are usually at a bus stop or walking while I drive by, making me feel privileged even though my car is 20 years old.  It would be really weird to offer them a ride.  Because of where I live, I know that most of them are new to the country and hope that their experience here is better than acceptable, that they find parity and tolerance and maybe even opportunity.  I know from personal observation of someone close to me that they will have many obstacles that white people never experience.  I wish that was not how it is.  And I have made this about myself and how I feel about racism – dang.

Back to that other post – still don’t know how to get it right.