Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Turn Of The Screw

Glen Murray was pinned down in Queen`s Park yesterday over whether snow is being cleared from highways fast enough. And when he was, he was careful to say two things:

1) The problem of snow being cleared isn`t a problem- it`s opposition small potatoes
2) The real problem is global warming, which is big and important and complicated and which the Liberal government is focused on fighting, so please don`t distract us with this nonsense.

Note that Murray made no attempt to say he was changing the way highways were being cleared to take global warming into account. Because that would be solving the problem. And Glen Murray really, really doesn't want the problem to be solved so that he can keep using it as an excuse.

It took a very long time before I was able to isolate this pattern, but it's one of the undeniable hallmarks of blame defection by progressives. Perhaps one of the most incredible things I discovered while researching the Liberals last year was a seemingly innocuous four-word comment by Jean Chretien made, in regards to Preston Manning.

That quote was, "We need this guy."

Think about that for a second. Jean Chretien, the mightiest Liberal PM in living memory, he of the three straight majorities, needed Preston Manning and the Reform Party.

Why? Why would Chretien say something like that? Why couldn't he go all out and declare war on Manning and his knuckle dragging form of Tea Party conservatism?

Because when Manning or one of his MP's said something ridiculous about abortion, it took the heat off the Liberals. Suddenly, all everyone wants to talk about is abortion and how the scary Conservatives would gut it if given the chance.

This is the enduring image of Stockwell Day. Nothing Stockwell Day will ever do, or anything he ever did, will erase the above image. That's how he's always going to be remembered; as the guy who rode a jet ski.

Why? Why overlook his tenure as a fairly successful cabinet minister in the Harper government?

Because we don't want Stockwell Day, successful cabinet minister who learned from his mistakes. We want Stockwell Day, tone-deaf, out-of-touch, fundamentalist goofball.

And we want to praise Chretien for successfully defending women's wombs against Mr. Jet Ski up there.

We know the silly looking guy on the jet-ski isn't going to gut abortion. But we'd rather fool ourselves into thinking abortion rights are so tenuous in this country that any old gang of conservative yahoos can and will rip them to shreds given the chance. We would rather pretend he's an actual threat, so that when someone yanks out a Barney the Dinosaur doll on TV and blows the guy on the jet ski's credibility (credibility??) to smithereens, we can all pretend it's a blow struck to defend progress.

This is how singularities get formed. We know the Liberals are corrupt shiftless liars who are bankrupting us, but we need- we have to have- that excuse to vote for them. That way, the corrput shiftless liars can continue to be corrupt shiftless liars.

Yeah, maybe there's corruption in Quebec. But rooting out corruption means the people running the show over there need to take a hit or two. If they declare it's English bigotry at work, nobody needs to take a hit. Except the anglais, and they don't count.

You can tell by the way that the people against whom allegations of misspending are being leveled always insist that there is no wrongdoing. No money is being misspent. No Liberals are to blame for ORNGE- it's all conservatives. There are no overpaid teachers.

(There are no structural problems in the PCPO *cough cough*)

The problem (i.e. the deficit) is a phantom one, conjured up by malevolent entities. The actual problem is way, way more serious, and we need to do everything we can to focus on it to the exclusion of anything else.

This is how things end up not changing.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Singularity

In physics, a singularity is a location where the ways in which you measure data everywhere else don't apply. A black hole is a singularity. Trying to understand what goes on in a black hole using conventional logic will not work.

When we look at things like the Idle No More movement and red squares in Quebec and Ontario's ballooning deficit, we say things like, "I don't understand. Where's all the money going?"

We don't understand what's going on because we're trying to apply conventional logic. People ask for money; we give money; people are happy. Racism is bad; we decide as a society that racism is bad; people are happy. That's conventional logic.

Nobody in physics really understands how singularities work. That's because they're not dealing with people. When it comes to singularities that involve people, here's my theory:

Once upon a time, there were a group of people who were happy and undisturbed, and then, suddenly, Something Bad Happened. Now no matter what they do, they can't be happy anymore because things aren't the way they were anymore.

You can do everything in your power to fix the problem, but because you can't restore things back to the way they were before, the problem remains.

Quebec, as viewed by people within Quebec who have a grievance with English Canada, is, and was, the model society on which every other society should be built. Everything would be fine if we Anglos would just stop screwing it up. The transfer payments don't enter into it. Sure, they're nice, but lack of money isn't the real problem. The rest of Canada is the real problem. That's why in this model society of Quebec, Italian restaurants that have the word "pasta" on their menu constitute a huge problem and threat.

We can try to be nice, and we can try to understand the wrongs of the past that they feel so deeply, and we can send excruciating amounts of money, but it's all a drop in the bucket. It doesn't put things back to the way it was before the Plains of Abraham.

So it is with privileged people trying to understand the underclass, or white people trying to come to grips with the Idle No More movement, or the 1% and the 99%. You're just not going to penetrate that singularity, and you're going to be blamed for causing it, even though you personally may have nothing to do with it.

Here in Ontario, we still haven't moved on from the golden years of Bill Davis. That's why we idolize the man. Oh, for the halcyon days of Ontairy Airy Airy Oh, where the lions laid down with the lambs and elected officials came together to solve problems. This Godly person, who never let the hustle and bustle and tumult of managing Canada's economic engine disturb his famous calm in the slightest. Since those glory days, we've experimented with every fashion of government, from Bob Rae to Mike Harris, trying to recapture the magic to no avail. The best we can come up with is the lesser lord, Dalton McGuinty, who tried to duplicate Davis' comeback-from-a-minority stunt, but sadly failed. The singularity remains impenetrable.

Trying to point out that the glory days are over and that we've got a problem that needs looking at, as the Ontario PC's have been trying to do, gets you written up in the Toronto Star by Martin Regg Cohn for not putting your heads together with the people who caused the mess in the first place. Don't trouble Ontarians with talk of deficits and power plants and position papers that would change things, says Regg Cohn. And he has no reason to say any different.

For it was just a few short weeks ago that Kathleen Wynne, with her message of sunny positivity and co-operation, became Premier of Ontario, and Sandra Pupatello, with her hard-nosed talk of bringing the opposition to its knees and her own policy positions for how she'd transform Ontario, fell short. As much as Liberals were aching to crush their enemies and see them driven before them and hear the lamentation of their women, and as much as they- incredibly- were also concerned enough about the deficit to let Pupatello take the reins, it was the presence of Hazel McCallion- another of these living reminders of Ontario's storied past- in Wynne's camp, and the desire to put social progress ahead of deficit reduction, that set in motion the chain of deals that saw Wynne elevated to the highest seat in the province.

Sandra Pupatello found, to her chagrin, that in the end nobody really wants the hard way. They want the easy way. All her force and fierceness crumbled before the singularity, into which no light can penetrate.

I haven't forgotten my old friend the War Room Boss, who for so long struck down his enemies, and the enemies of Dalton's government, from within that singularity produced by the identification of Dalton with Davis and the Way It Used To Be. And when I heard about his shocked look -so different from that calm expression I've seen up close-  on that fateful Saturday when the judgement came down, and his subsequent comparison of the OLP to "the Titanic"- I felt a pang. I did.

As these and others- Bentley, Duncan, Bartolucci, and Dalton himself, along with a whole host of staffers and sycophants whose names do not deserve mention- look for another such singularity within which to situate themselves (I hear Trudeau's hiring), we, like Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, pine for the past as the mansion decays around us. So sad.

I had a dream one night that the zombie apocalypse was upon us and, before humanity succumbed entirely, they created an alternate reality game simulating the future that the undead could play. The things that were once people could somehow still remember how to log in. Whoever won the game would find the cure to the plague turning humans into monsters, but the closer you got to winning the game, the harder it became. I remember being a zombie in the real world, and being a player in the game world, but how you won was not clear during my dream. When I awoke, the meaning was obvious.

To bring about a new singularity- the technological explosion in which the illusions of the past disappear- we have to unlock the future somehow.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Enter The Matrix

It's getting close to the Oscars, and I mentioned Avatar a few posts ago. You all remember Avatar, right? That enormous cash cow with the big blue aliens and the over-the-top environmental message from a few years ago? The one that took in huge amounts of money from stunned moviegoers as it hammered home the message that consumerism and exploitation is evil?

Or am I describing any one of the thousands of movies Hollywood churns out year after year where the little guy takes on the greedy corporation that puts profits before people and wins?

There is a clear and categorical difference between those on the left and those on the right, not just about economics or social issues, but regarding the nature of reality itself.

We think that governments and other people telling us what to think is bad because people are smart enough to make their own decisions.

They think the "reality" we perceive is created by people with too much power- advertisers, corporations, and the like- and they are so good at it that people like us can't even tell that we're being manipulated. Against this backdrop, things like culture and upbringing and peer groups and stuff like that is water under the bridge. It's ALL corporations. Governments, of course, are useless in fighting corporations because corporations have too much money.

I would argue that corporations seek government protection because they know governments have absolute power and corporations don't, but this argument doesn't get you very far for some reason.

Now, I'm not the biggest fan of corporations myself. I believe that corporations should be kept away from government at all costs. I think critically about messages I receive from advertising and TV. I believe that basic assumptions about power should be questioned. But I simply do not believe that we are living in The Matrix where corporations dictate what we think without us even being aware of it. And because I don't, I'm just another cog in the invisible corporate infrastructure.

Now that you understand that this is how leftists see reality, it's a lot less cool, isn't it? 

When Avatar was an ass-kicking action film with pretty colours, people loved it. When it became a preachy sermon about man's duty to his fellow man (or alien, as it were), people got bored. They realized that whoever directed this sludge thought they were smarter than the people watching it. That the film's creators had realized some higher truth about the nature of reality and that it was their duty to inform all of us peons that we had been lied to since birth.

FYI: If you go to see a movie and it contains some actor making an overwrought speech packed with big words about how corporations are bad, that's because the person writing or directing the film considers themselves to have an exalted understanding of what humanity is really about. They have literally freed their minds from The Matrix and they want to free your mind too (whether you want to have it freed or not). You paid twenty bucks for a movie ticket and the pleasure of having your mind expanded beyond your narrow self-interest that keeps the corporate slavemasters on top.

And that's why Avatar lost the Oscar for Best Picture that year to The Hurt Locker- a film that presented a much more nuanced picture of war, focused on character development instead of weird looking people making pompous speeches on the nature of reality, and treated its audience like intelligent people by shutting the hell up and letting them draw their own conclusions. 

Incidentally, the people who made The Matrix- the Wachkowskis- still haven't figured out that people go to movies to be entertained, not to hear leftist wargle bargle about the interconnectedness of people and the duty we have to rise up against evil corporations. I went and saw their latest, "Cloud Atlas", a few weeks ago. I won't spoil it for you, but there is a point in the film where a character provides all of humanity with the (explicitly religious, at least in the film's world) revelation that, "Our lives are not our own; from womb to tomb we are bound to others." Meanwhile, the bad people in the movie are fond of saying, "The weak are meat and the strong do eat." Real subtle, Wachowskis.

Hollywood has to understand that we'll free our minds when we're damn well ready, or not at all.