Stupid is as Stupid Does

Thank  you, Forrest Gump!

The Prime Minister of Canada, his Foreign Minister and an ignorant and obscure backbencher, reading from the same script this week basically accused the NDP of being Nazi sympathizers: The NDP voted against sending troops to fight in the Second World War. Therefore, given that fact, the NDP are anti-Canadian and are Nazi sympathizers.  God bless Canada, and God bless our men and women in uniform, and may the NDP, who are now equal to us in the national polls, burn in hell.

The problem is – none of that is true. Yes, sadly Canada, our PM, our FM, and some obscure BB have no knowledge whatsoever of world history – failed the class!  Stupid is as stupid does, but I just never expected that level of stupidity to come out of the mouths of Stephen Harper, the Prime Sinister of his Canada,  John Baird, the smug half moon smiling Mike Harris leftover currently the pit bull of the CRAP of Canada, and Scott Armstrong, who from the distant seats of the backbenches must have been overjoyed at picking up the same extreme right-wing Republican consultant’s point sheet and just couldn’t contain himself from speaking out.  Peter MacKay, our Defense Minister, who is still recovering from his accounting error, said nothing on camera. But what if we had put an audio bug in the war room…

Here is a word for word, straight from my imagination, script of how the planning session would have gone.

*****

H: I need a military patriotism angle – you know, all that heart soaring fist pumping stuff about our men and women in uniform – by the way, how much did we reduce the veteran’s benefits by?

Mc: A lot, Master.

H: A lot. You idiot! A lot is what that traitor Kevin found you hid from the public.

Mc: (whimper)

H: No, we need something really inflammatory to distract the public from all this Robocall, OAS, Fisheries Act, muzzled scientists, pipeline, fighter jet stuff – I’m thinking of extending the mission in Afghanistan and I need to get the public off the fighter jet news.

Mc : C’mon, it was only a $10 billion dollar accounting error! At least I didn’t stay at the Savoy!

H: Shut up – between your accounting errors and your helicopter rides, you are a backbencher in waiting. I don’t care if you betrayed your promise to David Orchard to never let the Progressive Conservative Party be contaminated by the Reform Alliance Party – you were paid your pieces of sliver and you are mine now!

B: I know what to do, Master. I will howl at the Opposition and they will tremble in fear and be silent.

H: No! You will maintain that same smug inane smile you have projected ever since we won a majority, and repeat whatever my office tells you to say, no matter how ridiculous.

B: Arrrghhh.

H: Wait, I’ve got it!

B: Arrgrhhhh.

H: We will accuse the NDP of being Nazi sympathizers and voting against sending Canadian troops to war in 1812.

Mc: Wait, Master, the NDP weren’t formed as a party until fifteen years after World War II ended. And only one person voted against sending troops to Europe in that war,  and he was a pacifist minister. And Canada didn’t exist until 1867, so the War of 1812 …

H: Shut up, you Benjamin Arnold … if I say it’s true, it’s true!  I’ll come up with it first in the House.  If I say it, the 40% of Canadians who voted for us will believe it’s true. I haven’t let climate change  science stop us and I certainly won’t let history stop us!  What do you say, John?

B: Arrghhhhh.

H: So, crybaby boy, now that you’ve sold out your old party and betrayed all your ethics for a cushy Minister’s job and pension, what do you think of my divisive plan?

Mc: Well actually, I though we were trying to unite the country….

H: You are such a freaking idiot.  We are trying to separate Alberta and BC from the rest of Canada! Have you not read my speeches over the last fifteen years.

Mc: But you look so sincere and gentle on television lately.

H: It’s all part of the spin. Canadians are stupid. If I project an image of calm leadership, they’ll believe it. Of course, it does takes my media team a long time to edit my digital footage to make me look good.  God I love special effects – we could sell ice to the Inuit – come to think of it, we’ll have to if it keeps warming up like this. Hmmm – not in the budget – OK we can take it out of the Attiwapiskat funds. How do like that idea, John?

B: Arrghhhhh.

H: Good dog!  Now, Peter, just sit down and shut up and look downtrodden when it comes to Question Period today, Remember, just like Tony did when they tried to grill him about the $50 million we slipped into his riding for the G20 – now that was really good work, John.

B: Arrghhhhh.

H: OK boys, off to distract the public once again and give the media something new to chase. Hey, who’s that back there?

Mc: That’s Scott, he’s a back…

H: Shut up, just give him a copy of our cheat sheet and we’re good to go.

Lights fade, music picks up, the drama begins.

*****

Ah, art imitating life…

Skid Crease, Caledon

posted by William Gates-Crease

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The Joy of Teaching

The last two days have been full of joy and sorrow. Yesterday, was my last day at the Kortright Centre for Conservation in Woodbridge, Ontario.  Taking a medical leave of absence to get my systems balanced. But yesterday and today I had the kind of experience of which every teacher dreams.  

On Thursday, at Kortright, I had the class from heaven. A group of fabulous Grade Seven students with a dynamic young teacher who bonded with me immediately. It was truly love at first sight, and you knew right away you were going to have the kind of day where nothing could go wrong and it was all going to get better and better as the day went on.

From fire making, to roasting marshmallows, to making up our own "Hunger Games" contest in the forest, to "Singing in the Rain",  to doing the challenge of the "land skis", to playing predator prey games, to finding owl pellets and meeting the birds of prey, to chirping like the frogs and toads of a spring pond, and to hide and seek from your teacher in the bush – an AWESOME day.  The kind of class you want to hold on to forever. To Our Lady of Mercy Separate School in the Dufferin-Peel Separate School Board, thank you.  You made my last day at work a joy and a memory I will NEVER forget.

Then today, at my youngest son's school, I was invited to take part in a Career Day presentation on "Outdoor and Environmental Education – how to become a Kortright  Conservation Centre Interpreter."  I had four workshops in a row, and an amazing lunch by the multi-talented Allan Drive Middle School staff. But it was the students and teachers who were the best part of the day. Respectful and very interested grade 6,7,& 8 students and their staff came to learn that to change the world, you have to first learn First Aid and CPR skills so you can view every person you meet as someone you can assist, that you become a lifesaver;  swim, ski/board, canoe, kayak, climb, and get all your certification, and spend time in natural settings so you begin to understand and celebrate this miracle of life that is all around us.

The most silent moments were when Ithey looked at the global poster and reflected on the fact that they were part of 7 billion people, and life was pretty good for them, put not so good for children their age in Sudan. That everyone wanted a slice of the pie, and water, and a little love, self respect and shelter, and some time to play.  That not a single child in this world ever wanted their village bombed or their sister raped or their uncle shot, So why do we as adults keep visiting all of our -isms upon our children.  Time to let children create their futures without all of our baggage.  Got that Israel and Palestine?

The last class presentation of the day was like my class from Thursday at Kortright.  Bright, full of fun, full of life, enthusiastic students – we had a great time just telling stories about life. So, a big thank you to Allan Drive Middle School, and Mr. Ward, and his phenomenal staff.  And to Trevor, the big blonde grade eight boy with the sunshine smile who gave me my Girl Guide cookies – I love you man!  And I am so happy my son goes to this school.

To the students of Jo-Jo's class at Our Lady of Mercy, and the students I taught at Allan Drive Middle School – you are the best of the best and there is hope for the future.  Take this gift of education and life in our Canada (not Stephen Harper's Canada) and show us your best. To your hands we throw the torch –  let it burn brightly!

Skid Crease, Caledon

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Administratium Alert

New Chemical Element Discovered

by William DeBuvitz

The heaviest element known to science was recently discovered by investigators at a major U.S. research university. The element, tentatively named administratium, has no protons or electrons and thus has an atomic number of 0. However, it does have one neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons and 111 assistant vice neutrons, which gives it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons.
Since it has no electrons, administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically as it impedes every reaction it comes in contact with. According to the discoverers, a minute amount of administratium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would have normally occurred in less than a second.

Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three years, at which time it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which assistant neutrons, vice neutrons and assistant vice neutrons exchange places. Some studies have shown that the atomic mass actually increases after each reorganization.

Research at other laboratories indicates that administratium occurs naturally in the atmosphere. It tends to concentrate at certain points such as government agencies, large corporations, and universities. It can usually be found in the newest, best appointed, and best maintained buildings.

Scientists point out that administratium is known to be toxic at any level of concentration and can easily destroy any productive reaction where it is allowed to accumulate. Attempts are being made to determine how administratium can be controlled to prevent irreversible damage, but results to date are not promising.

*****

OK – yes, it's a joke, unless you have worked with management contaminated by administratium. 

It is relatively easy to detect the presence of administratium in the people with whom you work. It produces an anal blockage that incapacitates the ability to think. There is no known cure. If you confront an administrator who is infected, you will suffer the wrath of Zeus. Better to back away, keep your eyes cast to the ground and feign submission. 

Administratium works in strange and unusual ways. often infecting decisions that can damage the host organization beyond repair.  Often the only cure is to move to another organization that has not been contaminated. Remember, the price of freedom is constant vigilance, and an open mind.

Skid Crease, Caledon

p.s. This bit of humor was written in April 1988 and appeared in the January 1989 issue of The Physics Teacher. I first used it at the launch of  my Global Perspectives: the Periwinkle Project Conference, Mono Cliffs, in February 1989. Eighty administrators were in the audience and, to their credit, they laughed and understood and got out of the way of the Project. William DeBuvitz is a physics professor at Middlesex County College in Edison, New Jersey (USA). He retired in June of 2000. 

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Thank you, Alberta

This is an homage to a province I love, where my wife and I were married under the majesty of the Three Sisters in Canmore, where my Best Man makes his home in Calgary, where I got to celebrate the glory of the cattle culture at the Calgary Stampede, where I first got to watch a golden eagle soar underneath me from a peak in Waterton Lakes, heading south without a passport.  For all the degradation that  the oil industry has foisted on Alberta, remember this is also the province of the Flames and not just the traded away Oilers.  

Witness the recent municipal elections where Calgary gets a forward thinking Muslim Mayor, and Toronto goes backward with Boss Hogg and his bother looking in the rear view mirror.

Alison Redford, I love you. Your thank you speech to your supporters, and your speech to Canada that declared uniquivocally, I love you Alberta; I love you Canada, that was perfect.  Now THAT is national unity. The wild rose had too many thorns in this election campaign.

Who could live,  mythologically and realistically, in a country without  our Alberta cowboys, our Quebec Coureurs de Bois, our Maritime fishermen, our Prairie sodbusters, our BC foresters.  And before that who could live in a Canada where we forgot that this country was ihhabited ten thousand years ago by our Asian ancestors – Japanese sea otter hunters, Siberian whalers who made small inroads on the west coast islands long before the Bering ice-bridge hunters crossed into the new world.  The first Canadians were Asian.  Full circle on immigration in British Columbia. And what of the "navies" and the "coolies", thank you, Gordon Lightfoot for reminding us, who t really took the railway coast to coast.

So, Alberta, in choosing diversity and unity over homophobia and racism, you have sent a beacon of hope to the rest of this marvellous country – wake up, Canada!  Get your heads out of the potash Saskatchewan; congratulate Alberta, Ontario, and proclaim long and loud the impact of accererated climate change on the Arctic.  We are Canadian!

Alison Redford, you have shown us the way whether you wear a Flames or a Canadiens jersey.  It is the spirit of a country, coast to coast, with one citizen code that says simply "Speak Right, Act Right." You have won a victory for the inclusive kind of progressive conservatism that blessed the reigns of Peter Lougheed in Alberta and Bill Davis in Ontario. May the Spirit That Loves Life watch over Alberta, and may Canada learn a lesson in how to honour the Centre.

Skid Crease, Caledon

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Speaking Truth to Power

At Woodbridge College today, students were introduced to the realities of environmental issues and political literacy.  They were made aware of the state of environmental legislation, or lack thereof, In Canada, and the new retroactive powers of the Prime Minister to veto, retroactively, environmental reviews that he deemed to be detrimental to the "economic security" of Alberta, and by extension Canada.

They were taught to get information that was peer reviewed, by practising scientists in their field of expertise, and currently published in reputable journals. They were taught to triple check their sources and learned that The Fraser Institute and Sun Media were the last places to go to get valid information.

They learned to balance information from reputable environmental foundations like the Suzuki Foundation and The Pembina Institute, with business oriented organizations like the well respected C.D. Howe Institute. They were taught how to separate the junk science sponsored by extreme right wing organizations sponsored by the oil, chemical, and agricultural industry against the legitimate science of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the muzzled scientists of Environment Canada.

They were also taught how to write a letter to their municipal, provincial, and federal representatives. No one had a clue that they could send a letter to the Prime Minister without a stamp – a national right! Business letter, proper address, positive opening, views expressed clearly and with respect, and with a response or action required. The website, How to write a letter to an MP, by Citizens for Public Justice, provided an excellent resource for informed students. Julian Fantino MP, Conservative Reform Alliance Party, will be getting some interesting letters.

Mail may be sent, postage free, to your federal Member of Paliament at:

House of Commons, Parllament Buildings, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0A6

For more personal letters, also try their constituency offices, available at <www.parl.gc.ca/MembersOfParliament>

They would love to hear from you.  This is, after all, still a democracy….but remember our history lesson, and how quickly The Night of the Long Knives changed a democracy into a dictatorship.

For Woodbridge students your provincial rep is Greg Sorbera MPP, Liberal, who can be reached at Rm. 241, North Wing, Legislative Building, Toronto, ON  M7A 1A4

Municipal rep for Ward 2 in Vaughan (that's Woodbridge College) is Councillor Tony Carella (your Mayor is Maurizio Bevilacqua), Tony can be reached by e-mail at <tony.carella@vaughan.ca>

Let them all know what you think.  You are about to inherit the 21st Century.

Skid Crease, Caledon

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