Thursday, 26 May 2016

Lifestyle Disadvantages

Yesterday a Pakistani transgender activist known as Alesha died after being shot eight times.  The hospital to which she had been admitted effectively denied her appropriate care by shuttling her between male and female wards, and the doctors made light of the situation by offering their phone numbers to Alesha's friends and demanding sex.

How long will it be before people are treated as human beings instead of being ridiculed and discriminated against due to their looks, beliefs, choices, or identity?

At this rate, I probably won't see that happen in my lifetime.

I consider myself an "ally": I am straight/agnostic but I have friends who are gay, lesbian, transfan, Christian, Muslim, vegetarian... the list goes on.  I respect them for living their lives the way they see fit (even if I happen to disapprove of said lifestyle) as long as they don't try to impose it on me or use it as an excuse to hurt others.

Every time I hear news of someone being harrassed due to their skin colour or denied services because they don't speak French, it infuriates me.  We all deserve better.

The mess in the United States with a racist, misogynistic, hatemongering buffoon poised to become a political leader speaks volumes about how lacking the educational system is and how far we need to go to fix it.

This quagmire of non-inclusiveness is not what our forefathers fought and died for to protect.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Jingle Jangle

A recent article in our local newspaper noted that Bill Backer, the author of the 1971 Coca-Cola jingle "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" died earlier this month.  The groundbreaking "Hilltop" commercial was one of the first jingles that I remember seeing on TV and it certainly influenced my liking for the soft drink.

Nowadays I don't pay commercials much attention because I find them more of an annoyance.  Often they're bland or even stupid.  Not to mention they appear in greater numbers and frequency than they once did.  A show in an hour-long slot used to be timed at 49 to 52 minutes minus the commercials.  Now most shows clock in at 42 to 45 minutes.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, there were so many jingles that stuck in my mind because they were catchy or just plain brilliant.  Here are a few of my favourites.

6. The World Looks Mighty Good to Me (1977)

I am not a fan of the Tootsie Roll candy but this ad produced by Teletactics of New York City struck me as being cute and highly effective.

5. Fairground I'm So Excited (1991)

Several adverts for the Cadbury Crunchie candy bar were created by Aardman Animations, the wizards behind Wallace and Gromit.  This particular one was aired in the UK but there were at least two aired in North America.  Oddly, while the commercial didn't get me to like the candy bar, it put the Pointer Sisters among my favourite singers.

4. They're Playing My Song (1982)

This commercial actually helped inspire my love of baking.  The actor playing Robin Hood wasn't hard on the eyes either.  To this day I prefer to use Robin Hood flour when I can.

3. A New Toy Every Day (1982)

Most people I know played with this as a kid, or know the pain of stepping barefooted on a brick.

2. Tweet Tweet Twiddle Twiddle (1983)

There were two versions of the Nabisco Brands commercial for this popular candy but I preferred the first one.

1. I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (1971)

I enjoyed both the "Hilltop" version and the one where the chorus held candles in the shape of a Christmas tree.  The ad was considered one of the most expensive of its time to produce, but it paid off in a big way. As a teenager I taught myself how to play it on the piano.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Employment and Middle Age

This is the time of year when many companies are looking to fill their ranks for temporary or summer employment.  I'm seeing so many job ads that blatantly state "To be eligible for this position, you must be between 15 and 30 years of age" or "Applicants must be a current or recently graduated student".

My question is: What's so special about them?  It's hardly fair or ethical to offer jobs to a certain age range and exclude everyone else who might be qualified.  Even if it happens to be mowing the grass in a park, there are many who are willing to do that because they need the experience, the money, or both.

There's no denying that younger people do have higher stamina for manual labour, or their skills in a certain field are sharp if they've been studying it recently.  However in many cases they lack the wisdom to deal appropriately with the people around them.  Being in an actual workplace is not the same as playing a video game simulation.

I've been to multiple job interviews where the question "How is your knowledge of such-and-such" comes up.  My truthful answer is that my knowledge might be limited or rusty but I'm willing to learn in order to bring that knowledge up to snuff.  Unfortunately that's not the answer that recruiters are looking for; they want people who already know everything about said subject.  That way the company won't have to waste time training or wait until the person gets the appropriate education.

What it comes down to is the old "need the job to get experience but need experience to get the job".  Sometimes it doesn't matter what age the applicant is.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Uncivil Rights

Cross posted from author David Gerrold's feed with permission.
If I want to call Donald Trump an ass, a thin-skinned vulgarian, a pompous fraud, a phony -- I can provide evidence to justify this opinion.
And if I want to call his supporters idiots -- well, that's because there isn't a word denoting someone with a lower ability to process information.
Trump's supporters are the problem. They're the enablers. These are people who are so rooted in fear and anger that they will vote against their own best interests.
A Trump presidency will do so much damage to the nation, so much damage to the working class, to the middle class, that we could end up in an economic trough that would make the Great Depression look like a visit to Disneyland.
But when I say things like this -- the tone police drop in to talk to me about civility.
Are you kidding me?!
If you think correcting my tone and terminology is more important than defending the United States of America from an orange demagogue, YOU'RE THE PROBLEM.
Donald Trump has insulted women, immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, the disabled, transgender people, and even his own supporters.
This man waived his right to civility a long time ago. And the people who have supported him, who have enabled this half-vast demagoguery -- they are not without responsibility in the matter either.
The behavior of the Trump followers -- the violence that they have committed at rallies and on their own -- that too disqualifies them from any expectation of respect or civility from those they have declared the enemy.
If you want respect, you have to bring it -- and that's the one thing that has been singularly lacking from this blustering buffoonish fraud -- and even less so from the intellectually-disabled who have pushed him into prominence.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Conflicting Interests

Normally I try to keep the South Of The Border politics out of my blog, but given that the results of the upcoming election will have a very large effect on Canada as a whole, I decided that this was worth posting.

This morning an interesting debate surfaced on my newsfeed concerning what the 2016 U.S. election is really about.  Some say it's not who becomes President, but the bankers and the Supreme Court who are truly the winners in this whole game.  Here I quote from a very long exchange, which describes the situation quite well:

"People are furious at bankers because like any good demagogue Sanders has needed a scapegoat.  You notice that Sanders says nothing about A) how he had a chance as member of the House Banking Committee to stand up against the Commodities Futures Modernization Act (CFMA) and did not.  B) how it was the CFMA and not the repeal of Glass-Steagal that caused the need for Wall Street Bailouts.  C) how not only have the bailouts been paid back, but they were paid back with interest so that the American taxpayer turned a profit on the bailouts.  Sorry... This election IS MOSTLY ABOUT THE SUPREME COURT."

"If we are not out there talking to poor white voters about their suffering, you'd better believe someone else will be.  Tell the folks who got left behind by the Clinton economy, the Bush economy, and the Obama economy that the most important issue in this election is the Supreme Court.  Or tell some 20 year old who's going to be living on a planet that is openly hostile to human life by the time he's 60 that the Supreme Court is the most essential issue of 2016."

"People are furious with bankers because *they broke the economy in 2008 and took peoples houses, often committing outright fraud.*  They have not forgotten what happened to them or their friends during the crash.  People are furious with bankers because they got a whole lot of laws written for them that do things like forbid people to discharge student loan debt through bankruptcy."

"People are furious in general because they not only can't afford to buy houses, but are on the edge of homelessness.  They're only one illness, one job loss away from bankruptcy.  They're furious because they can't afford college without becoming indentured for life by debt. They're furious because they have no retirement and are terrified."

"I understand the economy probably better than most since I studied economics in college.  [Sanders] may be capitalizing on this discontent but it's real, and yes he should have voted against that monstrosity that was the CFMA and I agree with you about Glass-Steagal.  Trump is not quite a fascist but he's very close, and every time he says we should kick out all undocumented immigrants, especially Mexicans, and not let any Muslims into the U.S. and build a wall on the Mexican border, his followers erupt in cheers.  He's proposing to completely eliminate Obamacare and let insurance companies refuse to cover pre-existing conditions and charge sick people more.  That was an actually released policy statement.  Just today he proposed getting U.S. creditors to renegotiate the national debt and accept less than they are owed.  He has no clue what this would do to the price of the dollar or the disaster that would be unleashed, not only on the U.S. economy but worldwide.  For God's sake, he's talked about using nukes in the Middle East.  I'm very worried about the Supreme Court but people need to take their blinkers off and realize that it's also about stopping the rise of an authoritarian populist movement just this side of fascism."

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Following Disasters

I was looking out my window this morning at the blue sky and thinking about how so many people in the world are only seeing orange and black in their sky today; be it from wildfires, pollution, or bombardment.

Over the past few centuries we humans have done so much to this world, and not all of it for the better.  We have dug up its soil, cut down its trees, and dirtied its waters in the name of supposedly making the place more comfortable for ourselves.  We fight with each other constantly over resources and land, destroying much in the process.

Now the world appears to be saying "Enough!"

It's a relief to know that so far no lives have been lost in Alberta, but unfortunately that can't be said for other places that are burning.  And once the fires have been controlled or have burned themselves out, the question remains: what to do next?

Many people will say to rebuild, of course.  But where would they rebuild?  And where will the money that will be required to rebuild come from?  I often wonder if rebuilding in the same place after a disaster is worth it, because it's a only matter of time before another similar disaster strikes and causes the same damage if not more than the previous one.

People who live in zones that are prone to calamity live with that risk all the time.  They're either very brave or very foolish.  Perhaps both, or perhaps they have no choice.  One thing is for certain: we need to find a balance between self-preservation and the vagaries of this planet of ours.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Price of Spectacle

Violence has long been a spectator sport.  The Romans had their gladitorial matches.  In medieval Europe, executions were often public.  Today's supposedly more enlightened crowds gather in stadiums to witness competitions involving a ball or a puck - and sometimes a brawl.  Movies are filled with explosions and destruction.

We're addicted to it.

Which is one reason why, a young woman in Ohio filmed her friend being raped and broadcast it online, giggling the entire time and not even trying to help as her screaming friend was pinned to the floor.  The video picked up hundreds of "likes" before one shocked viewer finally called emergency services.

The woman's statement to the court was that she was "filming to preserve evidence, not to embarrass or to shame anybody".

Liar, liar, pants on fire.

Like so many other people who witness terrible events and do nothing, she has trouble with the concept of how actions (or inactions) can have harmful consequences.  The easy fame of social media, however brief, can dehumanize someone to the point where they can't make rational decisions.  For example, how many hundreds of comments have there been goading a troubled person to suicide, or encouraging a malcontent to shoot up a public place?

We need to find ways to stop this.  But like any addiction, it's hard to break.

As for the aforementioned young woman, she is facing a very long jail term for being complicit in the crime.  She deserves whatever she gets.