Monthly Archives: August 2017

Houston


Houston and most of the Gulf Coast got whacked by Hurricane Harvey on Friday, coverage wall-to-wall of the usual reporter being lashed by rain then cut to the satellite loop of rain and wind from NOAA.  Coverage is still heavy, as the scope of the disaster unfolds.  What can we do about it?

The first thing is to not be a Monday Morning Quarterback.  With at most, 72 hours notice, there is no way to evacuate 7.3 million people from the Houston Metroplex: Where would you put them?  Realistically, the authorities had perhaps 48 hours notice that Harvey was going to be bigger than first thought.  There is always an element of SWAG (Scientific Wild-Ass Guess) when it comes to storms, intensity, paths and behaviors.

Second was the reaction of state and local authorities.  It was textbook FEMA and is as wise as one can be.  FEMA has a long history and too much experience with things like Katrina, Sandy and now Harvey.

Three, the land itself.  The tallest point in Harris County (Houston, essentially) is 125 feet above sea level.  It’s flatter than a table and the land is hard-baked.  There is no place for heavy rain to soak in, so it flash floods, running off to wherever is lower.  Pavement doesn’t help much as asphalt is not very good at absorbing water and with 7.3 million humans in the area, there is plenty of asphalt.

Four, people are coming together.  The reaction is strong and as coordinated as can be expected.  There are many deaths and incredible destruction but shelters are up, food, clothing and water is in place with more coming.  The US Army has been mobilized and are in place with more coming hourly.  The Cajun Navy rolled out of Baton Rouge, LA on Monday, bass boats, air boats and shallow draft craft all coming to help with their expertise from Katrina and last year in Louisiana intact.

There are snafus.  There will be outrages and indignation.  And there will be kindness, generosity and compassion.  America works that way when the shit hits the fan.  Nobody is asking for citizenship papers before they get admitted to a shelter and nobody is checking the voter rolls for party affiliation.  It is people helping each other.

The wisest way to help is here: The Red Cross.  Watch out for scams and door to door hustlers, as they will come up out of the sewers, so give what you can to a recognized group.

We know we slag the US from time to time, but now they need help and are showing they deserve it by coming together, like real Americans, helping each other, openly, with unity as befits the United States.

 

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History Can’t Be Rewritten II


In our previous post we noted how more enlightened societies look at their ugly, bloody history and how the wise ones use that history to teach the next generation about the mistakes that were made.

The overarching thesis is you can’t rewrite history, but you can learn from it.

Sir John A. McDonald, one of the Fathers of Confederation is currently taking a beating in Canada.   Sir John had some unpleasant things to say about First Nations peoples, circa 1885 than can only be described as murderously racist.  Does this undo his role as one of the Fathers of Confederation and make it our obligation to rename hundreds of schools and buildings?

George Washington, one of the founding Fathers of the United States, along with Thomas Jefferson were slave owners.  Does that undo their role in the founding of America and the immediate renaming of every monument, office, bridge and post office across the US?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the man who lead America through World War II, did not exactly hold the best of intentions towards Jews.  Does that undo all the things that FDR did to help defeat the Axis powers?  Do we rename towns now?

JFK was suspect as the first Catholic President of the US, people fearing that his religion would tarnish his decisions, biasing them toward some kind of weird Papal enclave, all Americans being forced to eat fish on Friday.  We’ll overlook JFK’s penchant for a lot of pussy as just Kennedy family hijinks.  Oh, wait, that’s sexist.  Quick!  Rename the airport.

In history every group has been on the wrong end of the stick.  There is the classic sign “No Jews, No Dogs, No Irish” from the history of New York City.  Or the sundown towns like Hawthorne CA, in the 1930’s that had the sign “Nigger, don’t let the sun set on YOU in Hawthorne”  (Sorry to use the N-word, but that was what was written on the sign)

Cartoons were used for propaganda in WWII.  Do we burn down Disney Land because Walt was anti-Axis?  Come on, if those weren’t racist, stereotype hate images in the various cartoons on that link above, what the hell else could you call them?

Christoper Columbus, hailed for millennia as the ‘discoverer’ of America was just some lost seafarer in search of India.  When he wound up in San Salvador, we was dead-nuts certain he was in India, therefore the folks who met the boat, were absolutely, positively, Indians.  Was Columbus an invader?  Do we rip up Columbus Circle because of history?

The list is relentless and endless.  We suspect that even our earliest hunter-gatherer ancestors posted a note inviting others from the wrong side of the river to fuck off.  That is what people did and some still do.  It doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t excuse their behavior.

What it does is force us to acknowledge is context.  The historical perspective of “Back then, this was how a lot of people thought and acted.  We don’t do that now.” is what needs to be considered.  It needs to be taught.

It needs to be taught, not in schools, or from some formal syllabus designed by committee and blessed by every affected group.  That will ensure nothing gets done.

It needs to be taught by parents.  Every day.  You teach by example.  Treat everyone with respect.

And if you don’t know the history, go learn it, so you can answer the questions when they come to you with “Daddy, why did that man call that other man a dirty (insert name of group here)?”

You might find your own biases, prejudices and beliefs change from knowledge of what went on before.

That’s why history can’t be rewritten.

 

 

 

 

 

History Can’t Be Rewritten


If there is one thing we’ve learned over time is that History Is.  It doesn’t make it good, it doesn’t make it all rosy and it doesn’t always agree with our current worldview.

Let’s talk racism for example.  Canada (more correctly British North America) started getting out of slavery in 1793 and it was formally banned in the British Empire in 1834 by London.  Canada was the last stop on the Underground Railroad and a significant black community wound up in Halifax, slaves from the US who came north through Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont into New Brunswick and eventually Nova Scotia.

We had our own Rosa Parks, Viola Desmond, who is on our $10 bill.  Technically, Rosa Parks should be called the American Viola Desmond, but we’ll let that slide, simply because we’re Canadian that way.

We have a very discouraging history.  It isn’t all rainbows and unicorns in our history of racial issues.  Chinese head taxes, Japanese internment during WWII, ghettoizing whatever ethnic group was on the shitlist for a particular year and the truly appalling way we’ve treated our First Nations people.

We’re trying to fix a lot of it and are making progress, but there is still that ugly fact that at one time or another in the history of this country we (meaning us white folks and our ancestors) did truly horrible things.  That is our history.  We cannot change it.

This is the hard part:  Don’t hide it, learn from it.  Teach it in schools adding context and explanation.  We did this.  It was wrong, it was stupid.  It is part of our history and we have to make sure we don’t do this again.

However in my lifetime, I have seen enough racism and hatred in person and on the news that I can’t tolerate it.  I won’t tolerate it.  But I’m not going to bleach out the bad parts of the Canadian cultural quilt either.  Societies that are enlightened work that way, they fix things and teach lessons from their history.

Germany, for example:  I taught several times at Kleber Kaserne, near Kaiserslautern, which, I was told, was a German military base, specifically panzers, and like all architecture of the period, had swastikas predominantly displayed on the stonework of the buildings.  After the end of the war, Germany went out of their way to make as many of these artifacts go away as quickly as possible, chiseling off the offending icons.

The schools in Germany do not shy away from their past and the horrors that resulted, adding the caution that this can happen and it did happen.  You are obligated as a student and a citizen to make sure it never happens again.

Viet Nam:  There are two monuments I was privy to see.  One was the Hanoi Hilton, now a museum and May Bay B52 south of West Lake that contains the wreckage of a B-52 shot down in December 1972.  Everyone who goes there, Vietnamese or otherwise, takes a moment to remember.  My minder from the Viet Secret Police (hello Anh, wherever you are) explained to me that children are taught that many died on both sides and war is something nobody wins.

So to Robert E. Lee and the other statuary of the US Confederacy.  There is no need to tear them down, they serve an important purpose.

The history is this:  America had a civil war, not just over state’s rights, but over the rights of some people to own other people as slaves.  A very bloody war was fought and many died needlessly.  It happened.

Now learn from it.  Teach children that it happened, what the consequences of it were, what the bloodshed solved and how America was changed because of Lincoln and Lee and Jackson and Sherman.  It was not pretty and romantic.  It was a horror.  Take them to Gettysburg or Andersonville and let them see what it looks like.

The question that has to be asked, when teaching our collective ugly, bloody, violent history is an opened ended one:

Now that you’ve see it and felt it, what are you, personally, going to do to make sure this never happens again?  Then listen to the answers.

That is what an enlightened society does.

Bannon Gone, but wait there’s more!


Steve-O Bannon, ex-Breitbart reality stylist, is now the ex-fartcatcher for President Donny John the Fucktard.  According to Breitbart he resigned last week and according to the NYT, he was given his walking papers by Donny John today.  Who cares, as long as he’s out of the White House and go drag his knuckles along Pennsylvania Ave.

But wait there’s more!

This afternoon, the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, 16 of 17 members resigned en masse to protest the President’s behavior post-Charlottesville and the unmixed messages he’s sent.  The resignation letter essential says, go fuck yourself, we’re not putting up with this shit and we be gone.  We are paraphrasing.

We would be remiss if we didn’t remind you that all it will take is one skeevy act by Kim Jong Un to crank up the Ugly Machine.  Bannon, in an interview said a few things that were not in keeping with Donny John’s worldview.  We quote:

Contrary to Trump’s threat of fire and fury, Bannon said: “There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.” Bannon went on to describe his battle inside the administration to take a harder line on China trade, and not to fall into a trap of wishful thinking in which complaints against China’s trade practices now had to take a backseat to the hope that China, as honest broker, would help restrain Kim.

Keep an eye on two things:  One: Kim Von Haircut.  Two:  The Markets, which are now taking a massive dump, down to below 15,000 on the S&P and down 35 points on the Dow.  (as of 1544 hrs EDT today).  Money doesn’t like to have a jittery, isolated, megalomaniac in charge and Bannon was the last link with something resembling a coherent worldview.  A shitty worldview, but at least a worldview.

We would also be remiss if we didn’t remind John F. Kelly. Donny John’s Chief of Staff of a few things  from a RoadDave of July 31st.  The list is short, but comprehensive.   Please note, we haven’t heard jack from the Vice-President, Mike (I can’t be near women) Pence, so keep an eye out for him too.

And, if only to add insult in fiscal injury a number of charity and business events that were scheduled to hold various shindigs at Fucktard Central, known officially as the Mar-A-Lago Knob-Shine Palace have changed their minds.  That would include the International Rd Cross Ball (not on Feb 3 2018)  The Cleveland Clinic and the American Cancer Society have all said “Sorry, we’ve booked a Ramada in Tallahassee instead”

We remember when Sarah Palin was the biggest nutbar loose in politics.  Ahh, those were the days.

 

 

Free Speech has a Responsibility


Following the Charlottesville, VA insanity, we did some thinking on the whole concept of Free Speech.

Free Speech isn’t free.  The ability to have your say comes with a responsibility, that you have to accept that other people might not agree with you, to the point of trolling you, calling you out or offering to bash you one over the head.  RoadDave is a blog and we exercise the right to Free Speech as enshrined in the Canadian Bill of Rights to express an opinion.  At the same time, we also accept that not everyone will agree with the opinion.  That is the concomitant responsibility of Free Speech.

The only caveat we place on Free Speech is that if you do disagree, then back up your opinion with facts, reproducible observations or other learned discourses that support your thesis.  This is called Intellectual Discourse.  Not agreeing means you’re thinking, considering and valuating evidence or observations made and communicated by someone else.

Some Intellectual Discourse can be binary:  If we were to say that the atomic number of molybdenum was not 42, one could easily disprove that assertion with a simple tag from Wikipedia that states that, yep, it is 42.  Our reaction would be a simple “Ooops, made a mistake, corrected it”.  We would own our mistake, then make, in this instance, modest amends for using the incorrect atomic number of molybdenum.

Other discourse can be more fraught with shades of vagueness on inconclusive evidence or analogies that stretch reality into directions that don’t necessarily exist.  Flat-Earthers, Moon-landing deniers, Elvis is alive in Kalamazoo, and other fringe groups seem to not care for evidence-based discourse.  We’ll add Chemtrails are making us all gay, JFK was an alien from another planet and you can cure all diseases with (state name of botanical or superfood) but it can’t happen because Big Pharma won’t let you.  Having the opinion that the Earth is flat is fine, but be prepared to back it up with facts and be prepared to have your facts questioned in a proper intellectual discourse.

So to Charlottesville.  If the neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville have an opinion that white pride is good and can back it up with evidence that it is good for all of America, we’re willing to listen.  Not with an open mind, but with a scientifically suspicious mind as befits proper intellectual discourse.  We won’t accept intellectual sloppiness or woolly unsubstantiated assertions and won’t let them get away with changing the subject to something parenthetical, or single-event ‘proof’ of whatever their particular opinion might be.

Does this make us racist?  We don’t believe so, as even complete assholes do have the right to free speech no matter how ugly, unacceptable, or vile it may be.  The responsibility of that right is to back up your idea with facts and let others judge your thesis on the facts.  If your facts don’t hold up, be prepared to have your thesis coated with molasses and ketchup, slow roasted at 225 degrees for 8 hours, and handed back to you on a plate.

There hangs the reason why we have no problem with free speech: Hate mongering doesn’t stand up to even the rudimentary basics of intellectual discourse.  They have no thesis, no form, no evidence and no coherent platform except hate.  It takes about nine seconds for someone listening to them to recognize that a neo-Nazi is a complete moron and what they are trying to sell is complete nonsense without form or substance, but with a semen-glazed veneer of their own masturbatory fantasies of power and potency under the flickering glare of a Wal-Mart tiki torch.

Stupid people can see through that.  Even the truly stupid can sense when the goods on offer are false.  Even with strongly held, objectionable opinions, you can disarm them with one simple, one-word question.  That magic question is the heart of all intellectual discourse and we’ll let you in on the secret, single, solitary, potent, powerful, penetrative question.

Why?

That one question forces, in fact, demands the explanation and rationale for the strongly held opinion.  It is the starting gun for intellectual discourse.  Ask Why enough times and you either get an answer, or they walk away, knowing they have failed miserably, not just in convincing you, but in convincing themselves, showing their flawed logic and misguided opinions based on rumours, fears and stupidity.  They’ll know they are assholes, deep down inside, by their own words and deeds.  That is the nastiest cut of all as it is self-inflicted.

If they don’t change their minds, then you can readily consign them to the dustheap as not worthy of your further engagement.

They will be blocked, not just on social media, but by society at large as the muttering nutter fringe who can’t express themselves in a coherent manner, offering noise and fury signifying nothing.

Perhaps that is the cruelest cut:  We.  Don’t.  Care.

 

 

Charlottesville


Unless your address is under a rock, then you’re familiar with the madness in Charlottesville, VA.  A neo-Nazi group protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee was counter-protested by an anti-fascist group.  Both groups went violent, fists, sticks and pepper spray abounded as both sides tried to stop the other.

Where things took a very bad turn was Saturday when one of the neo-Nazis decided to ram his car at a fair clip into the counter-protester group, killing one woman an injuring a dozen or so in a rather grisly video that you can find online.

Here’s our bias, up front and in the clear.  We’ve got no time for “White Nationalists” the new catchphrase for “Racists” “Bigots” and “Mental Cases”.

We also have no time for violent protest, regardless of which side you might be on. Stand your ground, yes, but no violence.  You have the right to protest, but you also have the obligation to protest peacefully.  Loudly, certainly, but not violently.  That’s the line we draw, like it or not.  As soon as you go violent, you’ve lost support.

Quiet determination to be heard was the hallmark of the Freedom Riders and those who fought segregated schools, lunch counters and buses.  Rosa Parks didn’t get on the bus wearing a helmet and carrying a shield: She carried her purse.  James Meredith carried his books into Ole Miss, yes he was surrounded by US Marshals and the National Guard, but he didn’t raise his hand to anyone.  That is the route to follow.

Here’s why:  You get more sympathy and support if you remain non-violent.  The common consensus is that Bull Connor lost it when he turned the firehoses on protesters in Birmingham.  The Republican Party lost it when they started roughing up reporters at the RNC Convention in Chicago in 1968, then outside in the street, with the Chicago police under Mayor Daley, taking the batons to anti-war protesters.  Kent State?  That horror show went on for five years after the shootings, eviscerating the whole state of Ohio.

The media will cover you from head to toe if you have been peaceful and attacked, (preferably with a few bloodied heads), as long as you don’t hit back.  When you hit back, no matter how deserving, you become another violent mob, not protesters, not voices wanting and deserving to be heard.  Let the media do your work for you.

Line the sidewalks, link arms, don’t move, but don’t hit back.  Make them come to you and make the first violent move.

 

 

DJT and KJU


Well that escalated quickly.  The two people in the world with the worst possible haircuts and hands on their respective nuclear buttons (a small subset, we know) are going toe to toe with threats of violence.  Violence that would, essentially turn the world into an ashtray.

The last time North America was this close to losing it, was around 1947-1963 when the Godless Soviets fired off their own nukes and then had the audacity to launch a satellite into orbit called Sputnik.  Gosh darn it Buford, that could a been a Atomic missile and we’d all be under that there Soviet Commie system!  Stop, drop and roll anyone?  Air Raid sirens on your school?  We do have a Geiger Counter, complete with the Civil Defense logo and yes, it does work.  We might need it if the stupidity continues.

In discussing heinous acts, we went back over history for some of the falsities that have triggered calamitous events in the planet’s history.  A few came to mind that add some perspective to the madness we’re going through now.

The Reichstag Fire February 27th, 1933 was one of the first to float up.  Short form “Communists and Jews” burned the Reichstag and through an amazing coincidence the Reichstagsbrandverordnung was issued the very next day by German President Paul Hindenburg on advice of his Chancellor, Adolph Hitler.  The Reichstag Fire Decree did away with little things like courts, evidence and the German Constitution.  It took one day for the Decree to be law.  We think they had a first draft somewhere before the fire through an amazing coincidence.

Next up was the Gleiwitz Incident on August 31st 1939.  The story was Polish saboteurs attacked a radio station in Germany,  Sender Gleiwitz, broke in to the studios, called the Germans listening a bunch of cocksuckers and then shot up the place.  The German military responded and bodies were presented to the press the next day as the Polish saboteurs who were shot trying to incite an international incident.  All bullshit, from the top to the bottom.  A few days later, somebody invaded Poland, Gleiwitz being at least one of the reasons.

The Gulf of Tonkin and the USS Maddox went down in August 1964.  Lyndon Johnson needed a good reason to step up the war in Viet Nam.  The story went that a couple of North Vietnamese Navy PT Boats fired on the USS Maddox in international waters, twelve miles off the coast of North Viet Nam.  Let’s see.  A 70 foot MTB shooting a .50 cal at a 376 foot armed and armored US Destroyer.  Sounds like an even match.  The Central Intelligence Agency basically made the whole story up.  Johnson went on television that night to decry the attack in International waters and authorized retaliation.  By August 7th the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave LBJ the permission to kick ass and take names without Congressional approval.  He did and it took until 1972 for Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger shut down that slaughter.

The Iraq War (the 2003 Collectors Edition, Director’s Cut) and Weapons Of Mass Destruction.  This one had only smallish falsehoods under Dubya.  For some reason the promised chemical, biological and nuckerler weapons that were just laying in the streets everywhere in Baghdad seemed to have magically disappeared once the ground troops rolled in.

What this tells us is when leaders go off the rails, it takes very little to light off truly appalling events.  If Kim von Haircut decided to let off something even vaguely explosive in the direction of anyone except themselves, the US has the folks and gear to reduce North Korea to an asterix in the World Atlas of 2018.

With that one small, teensy-weesie problemette:  All of us will be affected.  Everyone on this planet.

Tune up your bullshit detector, this is going to go fast.