Category Archives: Uncategorized

Remembering the Dead we Betrayed

Every November I listen to The Green Fields of France, but I rarely sing along because I can’t even listen to it without weeping. I weep because we have broken faith with the unquiet dead who lie under Flanders fields. Not just because we’re still sending our sons and now daughters to die in foreign lands, but because so many have died in vain. We told them they were spreading democracy, but we have failed to protect and preserve democracy here at home.

Every time a Canadian dies in battle, we have a chance to make sure he or she is the last to die in a pointless foreign entanglement to ‘increase shareholder value’ for transnational fossil fuel corporations. However, we cannot accomplish this unless and until we reclaim the power to do so, and electoral reform is the best solution to the erosion of our democracy.

To us they threw the torch from failing hands and we dropped it.  Its time to pick it up again and hold it high the next time the government tells us Electoral Reform is not a priority.

 

 

 

 

Previous Remembrance Day blog post:

Red Poppy, White Poppy. Different Colours, Same Flower

 

DriveTest Fail Rate Mystery Solved

The wide variations in pass/fail rates at DriveTest centers throughout Ontario aren’t news, but what causes those variations?  The worst fail rates are in and around Toronto where one assumes there may be worse traffic,  but there’s another significant difference in that land values are much higher.  I studied the problem after my son failed his first road test before he even got out of an incredibly small parking space and noticed the problem presented by poor parking lot design. This is a problem which can be fixed and should be remedied, but that won’t happen overnight. Meanwhile, understanding the parking lot problem may help new drivers save the time, trouble and expense of re-booking a failed road test, not to mention preventing damage to vehicles.

The parking spaces nearest the entrance to the Port Union DriveTest location in Scarborough don’t even come close to meeting the basic space requirements laid out in municipal by-laws.  Where parking spaces are too shallow and drive aisles too narrow, driving examiners are deliberately asking people to back into parking spaces that are too small to maneuver into safely, even though management has been alerted to this problem by driving instructors who bring their students for testing. The problem would be less pronounced if the spaces were wider to make up for the narrow drive aisle, but they squeezed the maximum number of spaces in by keeping to the minimal width of 2.6 metres.

The city zoning bylaw says that where the parking spots are perpendicular, the drive aisle should be at least six metres wide. The width of the drive aisle at Port Union’s DriveTest facility varies, but along this stretch it narrows from 5.5 m at the wider end to a mere 4.3 m at the its narrowest point. In addition, parking spaces in the same section are only 4.3 m deep, although the bylaw says they should be 5.6 m in length. Shortly after I took the photo below, a transport truck had a heck of a time squeezing past the SUV with the bike rack. Notice where the yellow stripes end. Where drive aisles are too narrow to allow perpendicular parking, spaces should be raked to a 45 degree angle.

If you are taking a road test at Port Union, do not park in the first few spots, or those numbered 17 through 36. Here’s a Google map image with red x’s showing the locations of the parking spots you should avoid because there is insufficient room to get in or out cleanly. If you park there, not only is it harder to park, there is a risk someone else will pull in so close beside you that you cannot get out without scraping paint, which will end your test before it begins. Fortunately, there a number of parking spaces available that have a wide enough drive aisle in front of them.

While many DriveTest facilities suffer from poor parking design, I spotted another variant at Downsview. Try to avoid using the drive aisle nearest the entrance because a lane marking there decreases safety. When traversing a parking lot, the safest place to drive is down the middle of the drive aisle because it increases visibility and also the distance between your vehicle and others’ bumpers. Insisting that drivers keep to the right increases the chance of a fender-bender, and kissing fenders will end your driving test immediately. I don’t know if examiners are faulting people for not staying in those lanes, but feel free to share your experience in the comments.

If you’re going to take your test at another center, scope out the parking area first to determine if there are problem areas to avoid. I took a tape measure to Port Union, but you can get a pretty good idea by holding a ruler to the scale at the lower right of a google map image and doing a little math. (On my monitor 1mm = .25 m, but your mileage may vary) Perhaps the lower fail rate at the East York DriveTest can be attributed to a more spacious parking area. (upper left of the photo below) At some facilities it may be impossible to find any parking spot with adequate space.

The nature of driving tests makes it necessary to have dedicated parking spaces available and these should meet some basic standards just as we should expect a roof to keep out the rain. Parking lots that fail to provide adequate space should be re-designed to meet code or rejected for use by a DriveTest facility. Municipalities may have standards that vary, but the MTO should establish minimum sizes for parking spaces and drive aisles so DriveTest facilities are consistent across the province. The Minister of Transportation is responsible for these facilities, so if your car was damaged as a result of inadequate parking space, feel free to send your concerns to the Honourable Steven Del Duca.

Given the high price of land in Toronto, the Ministry should not assume that commercial landlords provide parking spaces that meet the minimum requirements now specified in municipal by-laws. The current landlord may assume the lot meets code, but the municipality that approved the parking lot may have done so prior to the establishment of minimum space requirements.

Solving the parking problem will improve safety, reduce fail rates and long wait times and ensure new drivers are not subjected to unfair testing. Reducing a DriveTest location’s failure rate “norm” will also make it more attractive to new drivers booking road tests. The MTO should take ownership of this issue and work with Serca Canada (the company that operates the facilities on behalf of the province), their landlords and local building inspectors to redesign problem areas. In the meantime, unfair testing can be avoided by having DriveTest instructors refrain from requiring clients to park in areas without sufficient space where better options are available. This issue may similarly affect drivers in other jurisdictions as well.

If you’ve booked a road test, I hope this information helps you pass the first time. Good luck and happy trails!

 

 

 

 

Note:  I share this research freely for the public good, but if you find my work valuable enough to consider rewarding it with a wee gratuity, here’s a link:

paypal.me/solvealltheproblems

 

 

We’re All on the Same Side

Some Game of Thrones philosophy to counter those who play the polarization game in order to divide and conquer.

 

What is Fame Good For?

Last night I was celebrating a friend’s birthday downtown when Kiefer Sutherland and other cast and crew of Designated Survivor (ABC, CTV) came into the bar to blow off steam after a long shoot in the Royal York Hotel. Maybe my assumptions reflect my own introversion, but I would not feel comfortable approaching a celebrity in a public space because, in keeping with the golden rule, I wouldn’t want to be pounced on every time I went out. However, the birthday girl is considerably more outgoing than me (OK, to be fair, probably 99% of planet is more outgoing than me) so pics were taken.

Kiefer Sutherland was a great sport who not only posed with us for a group pic and wished my friend a Happy Birthday, he also, admirably, tolerated some behaviour that’s described in Cards Against Humanity and probably should have stayed in the deck. My friend dragged me over to get a pic with Kal Penn too, but I’m not sharing the whole thing here because we were in front of a planter and it looks like I was wearing orchids in my hair. I told Penn I admired his work on House, but it wasn’t until I Googled him later that I remembered why I liked him enough to tell him so and it has more to do with his activism than his acting. Penn, who also worked in the White House Office of Public Engagement under Obama, supported Sanders in the primary and this is also the guy who made a racist’s tweet backfire by using it to raise over $850,000 in a crowd-funded project called “Donating to Syrian refugees in the name of the dude who said I don’t belong in America.”

When Penn won “MasterChef Celebrity Showdown” recently, he donated the $25,000 prize money to Palestinian Refugees. Having your face on TV speaking words written by others isn’t something admirable in itself. Reputation is what other people think about you, whether they know you or not. Character is who you really are and actions speak more clearly than the cleverest words onstage. I admire Kal Penn not for his reputation, but for his character, because he’s trying to make the world a better place. This is what fame is good for. Thank you, Kal, for being a such a good sport last night. But for being a compassionate citizen of the world, thank you very, very much.

Which side are you on?

divideandconquermeme

Koch Puppet-Masters

trumpuppetmasters

This image pretty much sums up how greedy billionaires are destroying the biosphere. (If Clinton won, George Soros would have been pulling the strings, just like he’s been doing for Obama.) We can’t save the planet until enough people wake up and realize they don’t live in a democracy anymore. Hitler was absolutely evil, but everyone knew it. Charles and David Koch are cut from the same cloth, they have way more power than they should, and worse, they wield it in secret. They aren’t the only evil douchebag puppet-masters controlling government policy, but they are certainly among the most destructive.

If you want to learn more, here’s an article:
http://www.rollingstone.com/…/koch-industries-responds-to-r…

… and a documentary:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2N8y2SVerW8

Plus great site for research:
http://www.prwatch.org/topics/koch-exposed

earthrisekillingmeme

COVERT REVOLUTION 2016: CORPORATIONS VS. DEMOCRACY AND THE PLANET

chomskybusinessTHE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED. IT WILL NOT APPEAR IN MEDIA POLLING.

Evidence is emerging that there has been a quiet coup and counter coup in the United States, quite apart from the corporate coup that has already turned the former democracy into an inverted totalitarian Oligarchy.

Corporate “news” outlets lie like rugs and their election predictions cannot be trusted. This is the year that a third-party vote matters the most and can really make a difference. However, you cannot expect the media to give any indication that there is a groundswell of support for alternatives to the two-party system.

Trump is a climate denier, but Clinton has failed to speak out against fossil fuel extraction and will also allow fossil fuel companies to continue destroying the biosphere. This is why it is so important to vote for somebody, else in this election if you can do that without causing worse damage.  However, it is important to understand that if you want your vote to count, you have to consider political demographics. Where you live has an impact on whether your 3rd party vote would be wasted.

Bernie Sanders’ supporters can hope that he is appointed the nominee, in the unlikely event Clinton resigns prior to the election. Depending on where you live, writing in Bernie Sanders might take electoral college votes away from Clinton and Trump, in several states including California. However, if Sanders supporters split the vote in California, they may regret it.

The Green Party is the ONLY one to prioritize saving the biosphere and the ONLY one to stand with Standing Rock and Jill Stein has picked up a large slice of Bernie Sanders’ supporters who are angry that the Clinton camp cheated.

If you not in a swing state, you can help boost a third party over 5% in the popular vote, which gives them ballot access in 2020.  If you believe the whole game is rigged, voting for a third party is even more important because a solid showing in the popular vote now can send a message to the “duopoly” that their days are numbered.

The most important thing is to STAY AWAKE after the election, no matter who wins, and demand ANTI-CORRUPTION laws that will give the people enough power to stop corporations from destroying the planet.

Destroy the “One Ring” of Corporate Greed

awakupedia

 

I stand with Standing Rock because I recognize they are at the front line in the war to save the biosphere from greedy   corporations. People need to learn the truth about who really has the power today, and why the truth is hidden.  That is why I’m building AWAKEupedia, to build a collection of  IMPORTANT LINKS WORTH SHARING. #ILWS is a hashtag people can use to spread awareness about any issue, including DAPL.

It is important to understand that solving any of the life-or-death problems we face requires us to ACT to take our power back. Americans will not enjoy democracy again until they dismantle the corrupt two party system controlled by Oligarchs. If you are sick seeing no progress while greedy billionaires continue raping the planet to death, consider sharing and discussing these ideas with your friends and family:

  1. Giving the Senate to democrats means Bernie Sanders becomes chair of the Budget Committee.
  2. If you think climate change is a big deal, even Ron Paul thinks you should vote for the Green party
  3. Don’t buy the narrative of ‘inevitability’ the media promotes. It is a lie.
  4. Don’t get important information from corporate media sources, they spew propaganda.
  5. Don’t lose sleep about who ends up in the white house this time around, the secret government is real.
  6. The way to take democracy back is to by-pass the whole corrupt political system using ANTI-CORRUPTION ballot initiatives, starting at the municipal and state level.
  7. The way to save the biosphere is to establish ANTI-ECOCIDE laws at the local, federal and international level.

 

 

Before the Flood Needs a Sequel

earthrisekillingmemeI just watched Before the Flood on National Geographic, hoping that the filmmakers dug deep enough to get to the root of the problem. Although the film is a strong call to action, I was disappointed that it didn’t follow the story far enough to locate and identify the source of political inaction in America.  The sad truth is that corruption is so extensive, and the political institutions so compromised that voting will not fix this problem unless and until anti-corruption ballot initiatives are passed in every state and eventually in Washington to get fossil fuel money out of the political process.

One of the saddest moments of the film was scientists blaming themselves for failing to inform the public, but that failure cannot be laid at their feet. The fourth estate – the news media – has failed spectacularly, an there is little hope for improvement now that corporate ownership is more concentrated than ever. The mainstream media frames issues and shapes public opinion. Algorithms on social media and Google are manipulated to promote the same narrow view of what is possible. Noam Chomsky’s “Manufacturing Consent” exposed the Propaganda Model but having accused the media of complicity, that understanding of power was  never allowed to bubble to the surface of public consciousness in America. It is time to wake up and connect the dots between political corruption, corporate malfeasance, and media complicity. We need to lay the blame where it properly belongs. As Utah Phillips said:

The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and the people killing it have names and addresses.

This is no time for blind optimism, but fear of the future won’t help either. The time has come to get angry at the crimes fossil fuel companies commit, especially in North Dakota. We need to recognize that what is ‘legal‘ and what is ‘right’ may be very different, in a world where corporations have been allowed to write laws that members of congress often don’t even read.

Before the Flood is a great documentary, but like the Paris Accords, it doesn’t go nearly far enough. I strongly recommend that in his next film, DiCaprio focus on the obstructionist fossil fuel corporations, even if they threaten to sue. If we’re too afraid to step on the toes of the oil giants, we cannot hope to stop them from destroying the biosphere. They have too much power and they are not going to give it up voluntarily. The world would be a better place if the biggest multinationals were broken up into smaller units.

The next film I want to see will focus on the current DOJ investigation of the horrifying fact that EXXON KNEW about man-made climate change in 1981 and spent decades hiding the truth and lying about it. A crime of that magnitude should result in prison for perpetrators and the company should be liquidated.  Ecocide should be recognized as an International Crime Against Humanity under the Rome Statute and people of all nations should demand that their governments ratify the treaty. We need to fight to take back control of our governments and hold the fossil fuel giants to account. We can all begin by standing with Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline.

Climate Crisis Solution: Reclaim Democracy

earthrisekillingmemesmall

I just watched the trailer for “Before the Flood” and spotted a serious error made by one of the talking heads interviewed in Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest documentary. The interviewee says:

“Politicians will do what the people want them to do. Once the American people are convinced, the politicians will fall in line very quickly.”

This fundamental error is the reason climate change is still getting worse. Gilens and Page wrote a paper that demonstrated in 2014 that although politicians respond well to the wishes of billionaires, the average voter has “little or no independent influence” on public policy. This is a difficult fact to accept, as is the reason people have not been shouting louder about the climate crisis.

Ten years ago Al Gore tried to convince us of “The Inconvenient Truth” (2006) that climate change was the most pressing issue of our time. Gore was correct, but his ideas were attacked and marginalized by organized right-wingers. The documentary “Merchants of Doubt” (2015), based on a book of the same name, unmasks the climate deniers, but fails to appreciate the role the corporate media plays in controlling the narrative. For that you have to go back to “Manufacturing Consent” (1992), to learn how the Propaganda Model works. The consolidation of media ownership is part of an even larger problem described in “The Corporation” (2003) which makes the case that if  a corporation was a person, they would be considered a psycho.

This is the fundamental root problem of climate change. The biosphere is not under threat because you ate a hamburger this week (although it would be better if you didn’t). The problem is that the greed of billionaires is out of control. The climate scientists are not experts in the politics of power. The mainstream media produces propaganda instead of journalism. Corporations are abusing eminent domain not for public good, but for private profit because the Supreme Court condoned their behaviour. Politicians on both sides of the party divide are beholden to their major corporate donors. The average voter is learning that, worse than being ignored by  elected representatives, even if their vote is accepted, it may not even be counted at all. Once we finally realize that the root cause of climate change is a lack of democracy, the way forward becomes clear.

When a critical mass of people wakes up, our peace officers will stop acting like rent-a-cops doing dirty deeds for greedy billionaires. Anti-corruption laws, driven by grassroots action and ballot initiatives, can take government out of the hands of corporations and Wall Street banks, and restore it to the people. Electoral reform can break the corrupt two-party system and ensure that paper ballots are used to audit electronic voting machines. The debate system can be opened up so smaller parties are not unfairly marginalized. When the people take back their power they can stop greedy corporations from destroying the biosphere and solve all kinds of problems.

Every problem has a solution, most have several and you don’t have to pick just one. If you want to be part of the solution, share these ideas with your friends, family, co-workers, clients, classmates and neighbours. Don’t wait until it’s too late.