Saturday, 29 September 2012

Saturday Photo: Resistance Is Important

For reasons that aren't clear to me, the owners of an apartment building near us recently chopped down all the plantings around it.  Not that it was elaborately landscaped, but there were a few large rose bushes and a maple which probably cast some pleasant shadows on the lower, western apartments.  The place looks scalped and thre seems to be no move to replace what was there with anything at all.

But nature is strange and what Dylan Thomas called "the force that through the green fuse drives the flower" is strong.  Within days, these leaves sprouted from the stump of the maple.  Resistance, in the best sense of the term!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Worried about Canada's Natural Heritage? You Better Be, Or Another Reason to Back Tom Mulcair

Coming up: selling off Crown lands and Canada's National Parks?  Could be if the Harperites follow what Mitt Romney and friends plan on doing in the States, should they get elected. 

Down there Romney says he sees no reason to hold on to federal lands.  In a most interesting analysis in The New York Times, "The Geography of Nope" Timothy Egan points out that "no major-party presidential nominee has ever taken a stance as radical as Romney’s. At a wide-ranging public lands conference at the University of Colorado in Boulder earlier this month, veteran public lands users — ranchers, hikers, managers — from all facets of the political spectrum expressed astonishment that Romney had sided with his party’s most extreme fringe."

That's really too bad, but for Canadians perhaps the worst of it is the example that it would give the Stephen Harper's Conservatives.  Already  Parks Canada has been gutted, and selling off unused land could well be next. 

It is instructive, BTW, to remember that the reason why Tom Mulcair left the Quebec Liberal Party nearly a decade ago was because he couldn't countenance a plan to sell of a part of a Quebec provincial park to developers.  For the background, check out the fascinating look at Mulcair in the Sept. 19 Maclean's "Stephen Harper Has Met His Match."

I, for one, sure hope so.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Who Voted in Quebec? A Joint Le Devoir/NFB Gives Portraits of 30 of Them

A fascinating look at Quebec voters done during the recent election campaign. There are 30 of them, one for each day that Le Devoir published during the campaign.  It's an exercise that's worth doing elsewhere, it seems to me.

That's Evan to the left, who lives in Berthierville, a small town on the north shore of the St. Lawrence about 100 km from Montreal.  To access his explanation of who he would vote for, you have to guess.  I thought it would be the right of centre Coalition pour l'avenir du Québec.  My reasons were that he just looked too straight arrow and came from such a small place, that he probably would tip to the right.  But to my delight he says at the end of his little interview that he voted from the left wing Québec Solidaire!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Not Enough Services, Problems of Isolation Mean Increase in Call for Helps for Kids

The airwaves have been buzzing in Quebec about a report detailing how calls for help to Youth Protection Services have gone up dramatically in the ring of suburbs around Montreal. 

Children bear the brunt of stress in the families frequently.  It's ironic that many of the parents have chosen to move there because they think that life in the far suburbs is going to be better.  But how can you have a decent family life when both parents are working to maintain a "good life" and the social services just aren't there?  Better to stay in the city where services have already been set up, and commute times aren't so long.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Why Worry about Weighty Things When You Can Debate "Are Cats Smarter Than Dogs?"

For most of my life I've lived with either a cat or a dog, and been on good terms with both species. Over all, I must admit I like the sappiness of dogs better than the aloofness of cats, but perhaps that just is evidence of my own deficiencies. But this I find is terrific!

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Rich Get Rich and the Poor Get Poorer: Life Expectancy in the US for Less Educated Whites Drops

While Mitt Romney ruminates about the 47 per cent who don't pay taxes, The New York Times has a startling story about how life expectancy among less educated  whites has dropped in recent years.  White women with a high school diploma, the group hardest hit,  live five years less on average than they did in 1990.

"The reasons for the decline remain unclear, but researchers offered possible explanations, including a spike in prescription drug overdoses among young whites, higher rates of smoking among less educated white women, rising obesity, and a steady increase in the number of the least educated Americans who lack health insurance, " Sabrina Tavernise writes.

"The steepest declines were for white women without a high school diploma, who lost five years of life between 1990 and 2008, said S. Jay Olshansky, a public health professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the lead investigator on the study, published last month in Health Affairs. By 2008, life expectancy for black women without a high school diploma had surpassed that of white women of the same education level, the study found."

The truly troubling thing about the story is that it is not based on one study, but a handful of them, all of which found greater health problems and higher early mortality among the poor, particularly whites.  The declines  rival those found among Russian men in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, where, please note, the health care system struggled to meet the demand for care.

The story speculates that women are particularly hard hit in the US because they are the parents primarily responsible for children when child care is expensive and hard to find, and the uneducated must frequently settle for poorly-paying jobs with inflexible hours.

Watching how Elin and Emmanuel juggle their schedules to make sure the Jeanne gets good care, I can see what stresses single parents must have in the US where there is nothing like $7 a day, state-approved day care.  And yet folks like Mitt Romney doubt that the value of a safety net and deprecate the 47 per cent who don't pay income taxes (but do of course pay sales tax and, frequently, pay role taxes.)

Who took care of his kids, BTW?  But Anne had a lot of help, and certainly she didn't have to worry about how to pay for it.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Saturday Photo: End of Summer Brilliance

Today is the day of the autumnal equinox, the end of summer, the beginning of fall.  Here are two pictures taken a couple of days ago which show the billiance that this season brings.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Rick Mercer on the Next Omnibus Bill: Stephen Harper Knows Right from Wrong, But He Just Doesn't Care

Thought I might do a little something thought provoking today but didn't get very far when I fond this which says far more effectively what I was intending to say: Go Rick! I wonder what kind of heat the CBC is getting from airing his shows.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Passing of a Fine Man: Mel Charney Dies at 77

CHARNEY, Melvin. On Monday, September 17, 2012. Mourned by his wife Ann, daughter Dara, son-in-law Cameron McKenzie, grandchildren Rachel and Samuel McKenzie, brothers Morris and Israel, and their partners Carrie Gross and Christianne Charette, as well as by numerous friends and colleagues in the world of art and architecture.

Melvin Charney produced an impressive body of work combining art and architecture for more than 40 years. Mr. Charney won a number of competitions including the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights in Ottawa inaugurated in 1991. He was selected to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale both in Art and Architecture. Mr. Charney received the Prix Borduas from the government of Québec, and was appointed Chevalier of the Ordre National du Québec in 2003 for his outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the growth of Quebec culture. In 2006, he was named Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honour bestowed by the French government for individual contribution to culture. In 2009, he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters, from McGill University's Faculty of Arts.

Funeral service from Paperman & Sons, 3888 Jean Talon St. West, on Thursday, September 20, at 2:00 p.m. Burial at the Montreal Workers’ Circle Association Cemetery, de la Savane. A private reception will follow the burial at 457 Mount Stephen Ave. in Westmount.
And apropos of the illustrration, the picture part of a body of work that includes archiectural monuments, parks, photographs and marvelous drawings.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Don't Forget: Tomorrow the Oil Sands

Just a reminder that NPD Outremont is sponsoring the first in a series of film forums on hot topics tomorrow, Thursday September 20, at 7:30 p.m. in the Côte des Neiges Community Centre, 6767 Côte des Neiges Road in Montreal.

Damon Matthews, climatologist from Concordia University, and economist Isabel Galiana will comment after the film with a general discussion to follow.  Should be a thought-provoking evening. 

Admission is free, but contributions will be happily accepted.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Babies and Birthdays Today...

So no real post, at least until evening. It's Lee's birthday and I get to help out with Thomas today!!!

Monday, 17 September 2012

A Song for All Those Demonstrating against Austerity (and Maybe Those Annoyed by Anti-Islamic Films)

 Stomae is a young Belgian/Rwandan singer whose hypnotic song has been running through my head for days.  It seems perfect for the current economic situation.  And perhaps all those (perhaps orchestrated, but who knows?) protests against that stupid anti-Islamic film are motivated by the same frustration about the troubles of life.

English translation of the French words:

So lets dance
So lets dance
So lets dance

He who talks about studying, talks about working
He who talks about working, talks about money
He who talks about money, talks about spending
He who talks about spending, talks about debt
He who talks about debt, talks about the bailiff
And also about being in shit
He who talks about love, talks about children
Says until death death do us part and says divorce
He who talks about his peers, talks about mourning because problems never come alone
He who talks about a crisis, talks about a lot of people, talks about the 3th world hunger
He who talks about being tired, talks about awakening, tired from yesterday
So we party, to forget the problems

So lets dance
So lets dance
So lets dance

And you say this is the last time, because only death is worse
When you think everyone is ok and fine, nothing has happened
Ectasy spells problems or it sounds like the music
It gives you a trip and you put your head in your hands praying for it to end
But it's your body, not the heavens and you stop listening.
Then you scream harder and it won't stop

So lets sing
Lalalalalala, Lalalalalala,
So lets sing
Lalalalalala, Lalalalalala,

So lets sing
And only when it ends, we dance
So lets dance
But wait, there's more

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Saturday Photo; Where the Bee Sucks There Suck I

Sounds a bit crude, but as usual Shakespeare said it, if not first, then most interstingly:

Where the bee sucks, there suck I:
In a cowslip's bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat's back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough

The speaker is the sprite Ariel, and this photo has nothing to do with cowslips.  The bee seemed to be immobilized when I shot it yesterday morning, inspite of balmy temperatures which are supposed to be healthy for bees.

Whatever, the lovely wild sunflowers were gorgeous as this hot, dry summer finally comes to a close..

Friday, 14 September 2012

Women in Canadian Politics Approaching Parity?

There was a bit of chit-chat about Pauline Marois (left) becoming the first premier of Québec which got lost in the unfortunate shooting on election night.  That's probably why I completely missed the importance of her election in terms of gender balance in politics.

Five of Canada's ten provinces and three territories are now led by women. Eva Aariak (left) was the first, becoming premier of the territory of Nunavit in 2008.

 Kathy Dunderdale (right) was the next, becoming leader of the ruling Progressive Conservative party  in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2010, and leading the party to victory in 2011.

But   Alison Redford (left) in Alberta also won elections early 2012 while Christy Clark (right) became premier in British Columbia after winning a leadership race.

More than 50 per cent of the populatioan is female, and these accomplished women make up only 38 per cent of Canada's provincial and territorial leaders.  Nevertheless they represent a dramatic change. And there are consoeurs in waiting like
 Andrea Howarth, leader of the Ontario NDP. 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

And Himself, Himself

Photo taken by Lukas of Thomas, his break-dancing son...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

And Here He Is with His Maman

When Jeanne was born I posted a photo of her and her Mom shortly after birth, which Elin made me subsequently change for a more attractive shot.  This time I checked with Sophie and Lukas before hand:  one does learn things as one gets older.

So this is Thomas and Sophie when he was about 36 hours old.  Such a sweetie!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Lots of talk to today about 9/11, but it's high time that we turned our attention to far more important threats--to the economy because of misplaced austerity and to our very way of life through climate change.

The New York Times has a story today about the way New York, a port city from its beginnings,  is going to have to fact rising seas due to melting ice caps. All other sea coast regions are going to have to do the same.  For the great valley of the St. Lawrence, that may mean finding other sources for drinking water: the river has always been somewhat brackish at  Quebec City but that will extend further upstream.

Because Montreal gets its drinking water from the river, an old joke around here is to call  tap water being "St. Laurent frappé" or a soft drink from the river.  Might become "St. Laurent salé" soon.

Photo: ducks may find their habitat affected greatly as wetlands flood.

Coming Up: NDP Section Quebec Convention Nov. 3-4

Notice to all my NDP friends:

The NDP Section Quebec biennial convention is rapidly approaching. It
will be held the weekend of November 3-4 in Montreal.

You are invited to attend the convention as a delegate from NDP
Outremont: if you would like to do so, please let us know immediately
by e-mail. Convention fees are $65 before October 1 and $80 afterward,
but you will receive an income tax credit of 75 per cent.

In order to provide an idea of what the convention entails including
its role and ground rules, NDP Outremont will hold an information
session Saturday, September 22 at 11 a.m. (the exact location will be
sent you shortly.) Propositions of resolutions for the convention will also be
discussed at this session, and if you have ideas for your own
resolutions, they will be considered then too, if they are sent before
6 p.m. Wednesday September 19 to Macha Ejova

At the convention you will have a chance to debate the different
resolutions as well as to meet members of the NDP from all over

We will communicate with the delegates during the next weeks in order
to give them more details about the convention which promises to be
very interesting.

Don't forget to reserve the weekend of November 3-4 for the convention!


Communication team

Monday, 10 September 2012

Thomas Soderstrom Arrived Last Night...

And his maternal grandmother's head is not on blogging or politics today.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Saturday Photo: Spiders and Summer

My father used to say that big spiderwebs were a sign of oncoming fall.  I have no idea if that is true,but here is an attempt at a photo of a gorgeous web and spider that I found the other morning. 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Park(ing) Day--When Parking Spaces Become Mini-Parks--Set fpr September 21, But Why Not Just Make Transit Free Then?

I've always thought the idea of closing down part of the centre of Montreal for a carless day was rather lame way to promote less realiance on cars. While providing photo ops, it did nothing to really encourage people to use public transit or--heaven forfend!--bike or walk.

But this year there'e a new idea  afloat, coming from San Francisco where it's been in action for a few years.  It's called Park(ing) Day, and the concept is simple: don't intefere with traffic either private or public, but take up parking places by paying the tarif and then sitting down with your lawn chairs and picnic.  You get the photo ops, and don't interfere with buses or other forms  environmentally friendly transit.

Montreal has some rather arcane regulations regarding the use of metered parking places.  It seems you can't ordinarily use them for anything other than parking vehicles without special permission   which doesn't permit the gloriously guerilla aspect of the San Francisco original.  But the organizers and the city have worked out a deal where about 30 parking spaces in various neighborhoods will become mini-parks for the day.  In additon there will be activities in the Old Port.

Some politicos have criticized this, saying that not shutting down streets is a mistake, that the suggested activities don't provide much.  I disagree: Montreal traffic is so snarled because of road work, that I  think 1) adding more snarls will only increase gas consumption and 2) unnecessarily piss off a lot of people who commute by car.

To make a real impact, however, why not offer reduce-fare or even free transit for the day?

Photo: Last year's Park(ing) Day in Munich.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Words that Make Even More Sense Now

Someone who would seem to be seriously deranged tried to get to Premier-elect Pauline Maurois.  The result was one man dead and another seriously injured. 

Perhaps it is time to remember what Jack Layton said in his final letter:
"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world."

Big Surpise in Quebec: The Polls Were Wrong!

The turn out was very good--nearly 74 per cent--and the voters did their thing, making up their minds privately, and surprsing a lot of people.

As you probably already know, Pauline Maurois's PQ has enough seats to form a govenment--54--but the Liberals got 50, the CAQ, 19 and Quebec Solidaire, 2.  That certainly wasn't the result I expected Tuesday morning.  But the people, in their wisdom, have spoken.

And at least Françoise David will join Amir Khadir in Quebec City....

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

No Post Today: On the Phone, Getting out the Vote

Yeah, Quebec goes to the polls, and I'm calling folks we've pointed as be on our side.  So no post longer than this....

Monday, 3 September 2012

Outremont up for Graps Again? Québec Solidaire Could Pull An Upset

Liberals, 33 per cent; Québec Solidaire, 27 per cent and PQ, 23 per cent!

Been making phone calls for Édith Laperle, the Québec Solidaire candidate in my riding of Outremont.  The response has been very interesting: lots of people are impressed by her and the party, but are undecided how to vote because they want to get rid of the Liberals, who've held the seat forever.

Sound familiar?  It does to me, and I've been canvassing around here for an awful long time.  In 2007,  Thomas Mulcair, now NDP leader and leader of the Official Opposition in Ottawa,  took Outremont.  That federal race was the NDP's beachhead in Quebec.  Provincially, the Outremont riding is not quite the same as it is provincially, but both contains the immigrant and hip neighborhoods of Côte des Neiges and Mile-End  as well as the Outremont borough.

The same sort of voter who have now elected Mulcair three times  is looking for a party which reflects his or her values provincially that the NDP does federally.  Perhaps these people have begun to see QS as what they've been hoping for.

QS's canvassing shows Laperle doing very well, but you can never go by that.  What is really wonderful is an extrapolation from polls by the independent website released yesterday, showing the split above.  All those undecideds who were thinking of voting PQ ought to vote QS, and then we'd something very interesting.  Can you imagine a PQ minority government with five or six QS MNAs holding the balance of power?

And the Winners Are...

Congrats to Scotty in East Providence RI and Jeffrey in Las Vegas who won the Goodreads Giveaway for my book, Making Waves: The Continuing Portuguese Adventure.   Your copies will be in the mail by Wednesday.

And for those of you who'd like to read it even if you didn't win, the book is available from the various Amazons and directly from the publisher Véhicule Press 

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Saturday Photo: Fabulous, Dangerous Weather

The termperature is just about perfect today--24 C. or mid-70s F--with no humidity to factor in.  What is more, on this last weekend of the official summer, the neighborhood seems moreor less deserted as people try to stuff in one more good time before things begin in earnest.

Ths was taken at high noon in the backyard.  The grass practically glows in the sun and the shadows are deep.

What the photo doesn't show is how dry things are.  We had a little bit of rain Friday, but not much.  The forecast is for rain on Wednseday (perhaps Isaac-relatled?) and it won't be a moment too soon.