Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Law Society of Ontario Flirts with Despotism

Trinity Western University in British Columbia requires students to abide by the rules of normal marriage, that is between a man and a woman. Because it disagrees with this rule, the Law Society of Ontario refuses accreditation to graduates of TWU law school. The Supreme Court of Canada agrees with the Law Society.

The only worthy intelligence to emerge from this contorted decision of the court comes from one of the dissenting judges who stated that law societies should concern themselves with legal training and, by implication, not intrude into social matters unrelated to law. This, especially against a private institution not subject  to outside influence such as the execrably misapplied Charter of Rights.

This same Supreme Court said that "for better or for worse, tolerance of divergent beliefs is a hallmark or a democratic society." That was in 2001. The weather vane atop the Supreme Court building recently caught a different breeze. A majority of the judges turned with the change of wind.

By expanding its authority into non-legal matters, the Law Society of Ontario has entered the early stage of despotism. Under the influence of special interest activists, it has extended its power into a matter beyond the scope of legal education. It has appointed itself arbiter of matters beyond its mandate.

What's next? Control of political opinion? Recently, that same Law Society of Ontario demanded all its members sign up for its version of social values. We have entered the era when silence may result in loss of licence to practice law, or send you to jail for refusing to use certain pronouns, or exclusion of participation in a summer student aid program. The Supreme Court of Canada is complicit in this malaise, this nascent despotism.

Our human rights system has broken down, abused by feel-good rights tribunal officers, self-appointed rights enforcers in the legal system, and special-interest activists.

No institution can demand respect. It gets such respect its actions warrant.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Steven Pinker and the Enlightenment

Seven years ago, Steven Pinker produced the The Better Angels of Our Nature. Somewhere in the book's 800 pages, the Harvard professor cited the Genesis story of Adam and Eve as if it were actual history, as if Cain killed twenty-five per cent of the world population when he murdered Abel. On this biblical tale he based the claim that violence in the world has decreased. No war ever killed off that percentage of the population. Therefore the world is getting better.

The title of his next equally weighty tome bears the exhortation, Enlightenment Now: The case for reason, science, humanism, and progress. The publicity blurb tells us that presented data demonstrates that wonderful things are happening throughout the word "because of the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and science." 

Pinker seems unaware that the so-called Enlightenment of the 18th century led directly to the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. Influenced by reason and science, thousands were dragged to the guillotine in Paris, thousands more across France. Yet others were shot, drowned, or  burned to death in their homes and churches. The revolutionaries reasoned that science would end social evil, that it would cleanse society and create to a Republic of Virtue. In that spasm of unreason, the terrorists performed rituals to the Goddess of Reason.

Is that the temple in which Harvard Professor Steven Pinker would have us worship?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Steven Pinker and Funny Numbers

Harvard professor Steven Pinker opens his 800-page door-stopper, The better angels of our nature: why violence has decreased, with mind-boggling historical revisionism.

As if it were actual history, Pinker cites the story of Adam and Eve where Cain killed his brother Abel. He writes, "With a world population of exactly four, that works out to a homicide rate of 25 percent, which is about a thousand times higher than the equivalent rates in Western countries today."

He continues in this mind-boggling vein through the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, up to the present applying curious interpretations to selective history. Pinker exposes his non-historical credentials in describing certain events as "forgotten violence," revealing his belief that, as he did not previously know it, it must have been forgotten.

Deeming it hard evidence, Pinker uses such examples as 1940s body-building Charles Atlas ads which advocate physical revenge on a bully. Whereas today, the emphasis is on muscle building for peaceful purposes. Has he not seen an Arnold Schwarzenegger film?

He mentions recent war memorials which no longer honour military leaders but the fallen in battle. These monuments were built by supposedly civilized nations which annually spend billions of dollars  in arms production.

Pinker takes the number of people killed in a war and compares it to the then population of the world. Remember Cain and Abel? With increased population throughout history, the percentage number lowers, even though millions more are killed.

The possible reason for his conclusions about violence is that his history of benevolence begins sometime in the 1980s. Even then, the atrocitologist (that's a real title) Matthew White "estimates that around 180 million deaths can be blamed on all of these human causes put together [war, genocide, purges etc.]. That still amounts to only 3 percent of the deaths of the 20th century."  To Pinker, that's better than the one death that took 25 percent of the then world population.

Two examples.In the 1994 Rwanda civil war 75 per cent of the Tutsi population was massacred. The total count was one million killed in a population of 7 million. As that amounted to only 14 per cent, does Pinker deem that an improvement over the single death in Genesis? During the Cambodian atrocities by Pol Pot, 1.5 million Cambodians were slaughtered of a population of 7.5 million, about one-quarter of the population. Where does that leave Professor Pinker?

*   *   *  

"Our Twentieth Century has proved to be more cruel that preceding centuries, and the first fifty years have not erased all its horrors."  Alexandr Solzhenitsyn.

"The worst century there has ever been." Isaiah Berlin.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Ontario's sell-off of people's power

Merrill Denison wrote the biography of Adam Beck, founder of Ontario Hydro, titled The People’s Power.

The monument to Sir Adam Beck looks out on the intersection of Queen Street West and University Avenue, downtown Toronto.

Ontario Premier Elizabeth Wynne has sold off to private interests 53 per cent of Ontario Hydro.

I suggest a sequel book titled The People’s Loss of Power.

I suggest 53 per cent of the monument be shrouded in purple.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Law Society of Ontario vs reality

The Law Society of Upper Canada, soon to self-resurrect as the Law Society of Ontario, is the trade association of Ontario's 50,000 lawyers and 8,000 para-legals.

The Society's latest gambit is to require its members (officially licencees) "to adopt and to abide by a statement of principles acknowledging their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, and in their behaviour towards colleagues, employees, clients and the public. And they must do so annually.

That's serious adopting and abiding, and beyond the Society's regulatory authority.

The Society's president explains that it's all about countering racism within the profession and towards the general public.

The hornet's nest has been disturbed. Some licencees claim the statement infringes on their constitutional rights. A member of the Society's board is advocating exemption for conscientious objectors. Another licencee objects to being forced to adopt and promote someone else's "political ideology" as indeed it is.

The naiveté in this feel-good measure is the belief that law can stop racism. At best it may limit its overt expression. Partial solution rests with education. Even then. racism will continue to exist in one form or another.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The wealthy and others

Feed people's hopes, but give them only just enough to keep them from despair. -- Fransesco Guiucciardini. keep hope alive, but never satisfied. --  Baltasar Gracian, A Truthtelling Manual.

 Do not refuse a poor man a livelihood nor tantalize the needy.
-- Ecclesiasticus.

I saw the many work for small wages which kept them always on the borderline of want for the few who made huge profits. -- Emma Goldman 1934.

A poor man does well so long as he keeps from ambition.

Monday, January 29, 2018

An honour to sign a death warrant?

A former sports doctor has been sentenced to multiple decades in prison for molesting more than 150 girls and young women. The Michigan judge said to the accused, "It is my honour and privilege to sentence you." She continued to berate the perpetrator in an over-wrought condemnation: "I have just signed your death warrant."

My objection? The judge's unnecessary words lacked quality.

From Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (part 2, chapter 42): "Abuse not by word him whom thou hast to punish in deed, for the pain of punishment is enough for the unfortunate without the addition of thine objurgations."

To punish someone, however heinous the crime, is a duty, hardly an honour and a privilege.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Internment Camps

During the two world wars, many Canadians were placed in internment camps. These people were immigrants from countries then at war with Canada. Although many of them had become citizens, they were perceived by the government of the day as posing a threat to our war effort. 
Today, these people, or their descendants, claim that the government's action was based on prejudiced policies directed at certain minorities. They are demanding apologies and compensation. There seems to be a great deal of ignorance as to what really happened in those dark days of the wars.

In an Immigration Law class I at Seneca College in the 1990s, the professor, a lawyer and an immigrant from Africa, asked the class, “Why is it that only visible minorities were placed in internment camps?”  In reply to what he believed was a rhetorical question, I informed him that more than visible minorities were interned, that many Caucasians, Germans and Italians for example, also lost their freedom for the duration of the war.  I got my worst mark from him in an otherwise “Outstanding” report.

 Let's examine a small piece of a personal record -- my late father's memoirs. My parents, German-speaking Austrians, had come to Canada in the 1920s. Aside from the usual expressions of prejudice and bigotry experienced by foreigners in any country, there were no problems. It was never clear to me if my parents were disliked because they were central Europeans who talked funny, or because they were Catholic, or because during the Great Depression they bought a shiny new Plymouth and two rooming houses in lower-class Toronto. Or was it because they made their own wine, a matter that provoked police investigation? No matter, World War Two was upon us.
Investigators from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police visited the working places of foreign-born people (even if they had become Canadian citizens as did my parents). In the case of my father, this was the slaughter house of Canada Parkers in Toronto's west end. They questioned his boss, fellow employees, and possibly others. This incident became one of my mother's favourite jokes. The inspector asked the boss if my father ever talked about politics. "Politics?" the boss replied. "He never talks to anybody about anything." (He later recounted this story to my father.)

The Mounted Police came to our home, fingerprinted my father, and questioned him. As a seven-year old, I was always excited by the mounties. And here they were in our dining room, but not in uniform. “Do you have guns,” I asked hopefully. They replied no. They asked if my father if he belonged to any clubs. "All I could say was that I was a member of the Catholic Church at Dundas and McCaul," my father wrote in his memoirs. They never returned.

[In 2016, a terrible thought came to mind. At the time of the visit hanging somewhere in our home, possibly in the dining room, was a small oil painting of my grandfather’s house in Stadl-Paura, Austria. My parents had received it before postal service to Austria was closed in 1939. On the reverse, several relatives extended greetings. One of them wrote “mit treudeutschen gruss,” translated “with really German greetings.”  It was dated February 1938. Germany annexed Austria the following month. This greeting could have been interpreted as pro-German, making my father an enemy, and having him interned. Stranger things happened in those days of high tension.] 

Besides being a quiet-spoken person, my father, like most immigrants of the time, had come to Canada to escape the political turmoil of Europe, not to spread it. We never witnessed any “systemic” government prejudice, as some would have it, directed at us or other members of our extended family, all of whom were investigated, none of whom was interned. In fact, my Austrian-born Uncle Richard Reininger was given special status because his machine shop was engaged in war work.

On the other hand, a number of acquaintances express pro-Nazi opinions, some rather vehemently. "The government investigated all Germans and Austrians," my father's memoirs continue. "My neighbour across the road on George Street got picked up by the Mounted Police at two a.m. He was a member of an illegal club. He was kept in a camp until the war was over."

This was the Gembe family, with whose son Karl, I often played. My father added the poignant observation, "His wife could not understand why they didn't pick me up." The mother and three children, Hilda, Karl and Elfrieda, survive by renting rooms. Hilda was old enough to work. (I have a vague memory of Karl sporting a swastika on his sleeve, sometime before the war.)

Mr. Gembe was part of about 800 Germans interned during the war. They were sent into the northern bush to carve out the national parks we now enjoy. He spent his spare time building beautiful model sailing ships which he sent home.

The other German family up the street did not fare so well. The husband operated a car repair shop out of a garage. He got shipped away one night. Without his income, the wife and one small girl just moved away. We never learned what happened to them.

These people were quickly segregated from the general population, and placed in internment camps. Unfortunately, this meant great hardship to their families. But their internment was a justified exercise in national security. Not because of who they were, but because of what they did were these people viewed as security risks. That made them a legitimate target of suspicion. If investigation indicated a danger to the war effort, internment rightly followed.

Examination of the official record may well produce examples of rash governmental behaviour. But before any further compensation or apology is considered, there should be an impartial review of the evidence. Let's see what really happened. Judging the facts in the context of the time will, I believe, justify much of what occurred.

War propaganda and afterwards

"The evil that men do lives after them." When Shakespeare put those words in the mouth of one of the assassins of Julius Caesar, he was speaking for all generations. In one way or another, the evil we have been taught lives in each of us. I admit, some of it lives in me, however subconsciously.

In my defence, let me take you back to the dark, desperate days of the Second World War. This impressionable young boy living in downtown Toronto hears nothing but bad news. Every one on the street agrees it's all the fault of the Germans and the Japanese.  Nazi Germany is rapidly taking over much of continental Europe.  They are in Africa. England is about to be invaded.

Following their attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese are advancing in China and southeast Asia. Australia is next to fall. We hear that a Japanese ship destroyed a lighthouse on Vancouver Island. Other Japanese invade Alaska. Canadian soldiers, only a few years older than myself, are being killed in places no one on the street had ever heard of, like Hong Kong. My school atlas tells us where it is.

With my central European background, I knew what Germans looked like. And a German family lived across the street. They looked like us. But the Japanese were a different story. I had never seen one in my life. They were from a different world.

Because of the war, a war started by the German and Japanese, food is rationed: meat, butter, sugar, tea, coffee, gasoline, car tires, alcohol. People talk about the black market. I see it as a very dark place where the rich can buy all the food and gasoline they want. The other black I hear about is blackout. When the sirens go off, men wearing white helmets with the letters A.R.P. across the front walk the streets, telling us to turn off all our lights.

We are getting ready to be bombed by the Germans or the Japanese. I wasn't sure which enemy would get here first. I did not like the idea of my home getting destroyed. My 16-year-old friends must register with the government, to get them ready to join the military. 

The tide slowly turns. Street talk is about air raids on the Germans. This pleases me because I feel it's better we bomb them than they bomb us. Because I don't know them. And they started it. The relentless propaganda gets me and all my friends to loathe the Germans and the Japanese.

The Japanese, I am taught to despise absolutely. I am told, and I believe, they could commit every atrocity they are accused of: torture, killing unarmed soldiers, forced labour by prisoners, starvation, execution and sex slaves. 

This anti-Japanese sentiment lingers so strongly in my mind that, one day some forty-five years later, as I enter a downtown department store, I stop cold. I stare wide-eyed at the enlarged Japanese face smiling down at me from the many banners scattered throughout the main floor. I am looking at the face of Alfred Sung, a Canadian fashion designer of Oriental descent. His products are being featured by the store. 

But what fills memory's eye is the smiling face I vividly remember from many anti-Japanese propaganda films, comic books and magazines. It's the face of that pilot machine-gunning innocent civilians fleeing the invading Japanese army. It is the face of that Japanese officer about to torture a prisoner. It is the face my generation was taught to hate.

War propaganda also taught us to hate the face of the blond German soldier, the one whose mouth wears a perpetual sneer, one who even in defeat flaunted a false sense of superiority.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The good news is two-fold. I like to think that all of my generation knows it was brainwashed. And that life's experience has taught us how to deal with it, and to accept everyone equally. The other good news is that just as young minds can be taught hate, they can be taught love and caring and understanding. Let us pray that is what we, allies and enemies, pass to the next generation.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Toronto's Identity Politics

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.  Martin Luther King Jr.

Before Toronto expanded to its present boundaries, the city's motto, created by the city's first mayor, extolled the virtues of Industry, Integrity, Intelligence. These civic ideals stood us in good stead since our founding in 1834.

To appease every enclave of the enlarged city, every activist and political-correctness enforcer, every identity group or community, our motto was changed in 1998 to Diversity Our Strength.

Rather than celebrate mutually shared aspirations, such as the common good, our new motto invites us to observe what separates us racially, ethnically, sexually, politically, and financially. The city fell into the trap of identity politics with its hint of victimhood. Diversity is a condition, a fact, not a goal.

The old motto encouraged a citizen to say, "Here I am. How can I help?" The new motto, "Here, Toronto, are my rights and my demands. What can you for for me and  my particular cause?" Each minority group clamours for its own representation and share of the budget, its own agenda, all leading to fragmentation of civic purpose, quotas and negativity. This guarantees we will not have our best people in positions of influence and authority, just an average of mediocrity.

An example of this will soon play out when the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal finds the Peel District School Board guilty of "systemic racism" -- a new addition to the ever-expanding Utopian lexicon.

The Tribunal will base its foregone decision on the fact that, while close to thirty per cent of Peel Region residents are South Asian, only two per cent of region school principals are from that part of the world. This feel-good presumption of racism is based on the attitude that lack of evidence constitutes proof.

The Tribunal's finding of "systemic racism" will be based on the feeling that public services must be delivered by people who reflect the colour, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual condition and residency of the citizens served.

Is it "systemic racism" that white people are not proportionally represented on the Raptors basketball team? Or that Blacks, Asians and others are not proportionally represented on the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Inherent in this Utopian bias is the error that all are qualified to serve, to teach and to deliver government services. If the social and political views of my elected or appointed officials are more or less similar to mine, I do not care if he/she is a polka-dotted Brobdingnagian or a striped Luggnaggian.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A court explains minute differences

A man, reaching for a water bottle,  drove his car "some 20 metres" over a bike lane and onto a sidewalk killing a pedestrian in East Toronto.  He was charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death. The Ontario judge set him free explaining, "We cannot hold drivers to a standard of ideal decision-making when making split-second decisions." He found the defendant had made an "imprudent but reflexive decision."

Thus the court differentiates between a split-second decision and a reflexive decision.

Following the reasoning of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2008, the judge acknowledged that taking his eyes off the road was a "departure from what a reasonable prudent driver" would do in the situation, but it was not "a marked departure" from that standard.

Thus the court differentiates between a reasonable departure and a marked departure.

The learned judge went on to explain the difference. The provable period of inattention by the driver was between 0.74 and 1.18 seconds.  The court allowed that this "minuscule period of inattention" qualifies as a "momentary lapse of attention" and therefore not criminal.

Thus the court differentiates between "a minuscule period of inattention" and "a momentary lapse of attention."

How thin can our courts slice legal baloney?

In all this, the trial court accepted the uncorroborated statements of the defendant. He may have been doing something else besides, or in addition to, reaching for a water bottle.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Police That Couldn't Shoot Straight

[Seven updates follow]

On February 3, 2012, Michael Eligon, a mentally troubled man fled Toronto East General Hospital wielding scissors in each hand. On the street, eight to ten Toronto police officers surrounded him. The distance between Eligon and the police narrowed from nine to two or three metres, a witness said.

According to reports, one of the officers fired three shots in quick succession. The first shot hit a garbage can. The second bullet went through a porch window. The third shot  hit the victim's shoulder, that is, a near miss. He dropped to the ground. The police pounced on him. He died soon after.

A later report said he died of a shot in the chest. The officer in question claimed that the baton or pepper spray were not viable options. With about a dozen officers similarly armed surrounding the victim, we question why.

This incident gives rise to wondering what type of weapons training police receive. Police are trained to shoot straight at the centre of the chest, not at a nearby garbage can or house. Are front-line police required to up-date regularly their weapons skills? Should eight to ten physically fit, fully armed officers be able to disarm a lone man wielding non-projectile "weapons" without killing him?

One witness said that the officers kicked the downed man in order to clear away the scissors. Did that cause his death?

Toronto Police Chief Blair said that the police followed "sound, well-established practices and procedures." The Special Investigations Unit cleared the officer of wrongdoing. No mention of the officers who did the kicking. No mention of the stray bullets. Is Blair's "practices and procedures" the problem?

A November 2012 report tells of a Durham Region policeman facing a teenager wielding an imitation handgun. The officer shouted several warnings. The young man pointed his weapon at the officer who fired eight times. Two bullets hit the teen in the upper body. It is not reported where the other six bullets became lodged.

A few months later comes a report of the New York City police who shot and killed a man just after he had killed a former co-worker.  The disturbing part of the report, besides the two deaths, is that nine passers-by near the Empire State Building were also wounded.  Some or all were injured by police gunfire. This is not surprising the report concludes for in 2008 the accuracy rate for New York City officers firing in the line of duty was 34 per cent.

March 20, 2015
In a take-down of a knife-wielding man, Marc Ekamba-Boekwa, three Peel Regional Police fired 19 bullets in quick succession at the assailant standing eight feet away. Eleven struck the target killing him. Another hit one of the officers. Yet another bullet lodged in the back of a neighbour, Suzan Zreik (in 2016 suing for $21 million), preparing dinner in her kitchen.  No mention of the resting place of the other six bullets. As usual, reports of police mischief remain secret or noticeably incomplete.

One questions the quality of weapons training that resulted in six shots missing a target eight feet away. It's reasonable to presume most of the bullets that did hit the target were fired after the assailant was on the ground. Or are we to believe it required 11 shots to down him? The news release (but not the full report) of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) makes no mention of these concerns.

Yet again police training both in weapons and pacification, if any, are called into question.

June 3, 2017
Twelve Toronto police officers confronted on the street a man with a history of mental illness holding a pellet gun. Three officers discharged their weapons killing Devon LaFleur.  He was hit by eight bullets, no report on how many went astray. The SIU report make no mention why the police did not use Tasers or rubber bullets. Nor did the report make mention of the commendable restraint of the other nine officers who did not shoot. Or did they all shoot and missed?

May 14, 2016
A Toronto police constable stopped a car he deemed suspicious and ordered the driver out. According to conflicting evidence, he exited the car and brandished a knife. At a distance one can reasonably suppose of less than a car length, the constable fired seven shots, three killing the driver. To be questioned is why at that close range four shots missed. We await the results of the coroner's inquest and possible further investigation, this decade hopefully.

July 23, 2016
A North Miami policeman shot and wounded an unarmed man as he lay on the sidewalk, arms outstretched, shouting he did not have a weapon. The policeman fired three shots. One hit the victim in the leg. That's a thirty per cent accuracy rate.

August 11, 2016
Punta Gorda, Florida. In a demonstration, a police officer accidentally shot and killed a community volunteer. The event was a role-playing scenario illustrating the split-second decisions an officer must make about firing. What live ammunition was doing at a demonstration has not been explained. Zero per cent accuracy.

October 14, 2016
An inquest into the shooting of John Caleb Ross by York Regional Police in April 2014 disclosed that the two fatal shots were fired by one police officer after the victim refused to drop a toy gun made to look like a real weapon. A second officer fired his shotgun and missed the victim. The question again arises: A trained police officer armed with a shotgun, in sight of his target, fires and misses? Again police weapons training is in question.

October 31, 2017
The New York terror attack of this day ended with the shooting of a terrorist by a officer of the NYPD.  According to the NY Times, the officer fired nine shot at the perpetrator, one of which hit the target. A five-year police veteran misses eight time out of nine. Aside from concern about where the stray bullets may have lodged, the incident raises concern about the officer's training.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Not Enough Time to Cook?

 It is estimated that cave people worked less than 20 hours a week to produce life's essentials. In 1930, economist John Manyard Keynes believed that, due to increased productivity, his grandchildren would likely have to work only 15 hours a week. In 1968, Mechanix Illustrated predicted: "People will have more time for leisure activities in the year 2008. The average work week is about four hours."

Here we are in 2017, at hand the greatest time-savings devices ever known. For most the work week is longer and more stressful. Technology has not delivered the promised dividend of time. It has increased the burden of living. Its benefits have flowed to the already rich.

This perceived shortage of time has given rise to a previously unthinkable e-commerce business. For a fee, someone will buy, measure, cut, chill, box and ship every ingredient for a meal to your door. According to a purveyor of this service, "There's not enough time in modern lives to receipt-collect or grocery-shop." (New York Times, March 31, 2013)

With an array of push-button devices at our command, why is there "not enough time"? Why has technology not improved our lives to the point where we can stop after four hours of work? As Shakespeare has observed, the fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Water, water, everywhere. So is hokum

Aren't we a sophisticated bunch?

About the time of the First World War, people purchased sealed bottles. Manufacturers convinced them that opening the bottles during the night would ensure of a supply of fresh air. Yes, people paid for bottles of air.

During the time when many African nations were on the verge of independence, a new product appeared -- The Independence Box. People were told that the boxes contained all the wonders of independence: freedom, security, success, comfort, but on condition it be not opened until independence was realized. For sure, by then the vendor was gone.

Today, many people pay for bottles of water they can acquire next to free from a faucet in their kitchens. Dansani, the top-selling bottled water in the U.S. is municipal tap water. Aquafine is sourced from the local water supply.

Need we be reminded of the words attributed to B.T. Barnum? "There's a sucker born every minute."

What may be next expect?  One of today's modern aggravations is noise. Given that some people willingly pay for air that is free, water that is next to free, soon they will pay for silence. Cartons of bottled silence will soon appear in supermarkets. Whenever people want quiet, they need only open the bottle and enjoy the emerging silence.

*  *  *
Evian, amid great fanfare, announced the opening of a carbon-neutral factory in France.  So now, they will charge more for a product that costs to produce.  The same report cites the Global Footprint Network, "It is environmentally absurd to sell bottled water when tap water is cheaper, better and far less energy intensive."  They might have added that tap water requires no plastic bottles many of which foul our waterways and add to recycling costs.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Animal rights and wrongs

No reasonable person condones gratuitous cruelty to animals. Surely the line is drawn when one attempts to equate animals and humans?  

A media report of February 9, 2016, told of placard-waving protesters demanding justice for an maltreated dog. This, based on the belief that "the mind of a dog is roughly equivalent to that of a child of two or three years of age."  

Such loathsome comparisons are the work of Peter Singer. The Princeton professor claims that highly aware animals, such as the chimp, are owed more respect and protection than mentally-challenged humans. 

One of Singer's followers proclaims, "We are seeking to break the species barrier." There is no barrier, just a measureless chasm between humans and animals, no matter what tricks the animal can perform or how debased the human behaviour. 

Animals are deserving of limited protection with no equivalence to humans at any age or in any condition.

Peter Singer's heart must be broken today. 

To the professor's chagrin, a New York appeals court recently ruled that chimpanzees do not have legal rights. The court rejected the contention that chimps are worthy of a writ of habeas corpus, as animal activists demanded.

There is no legal precedent for the animals to be considered people, the court ruled. They do not have the capacity to be held legally accountable for their actions.  

Sorry, Professor Singer, common sense occasionally holds sway.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Human Rights. How Much for Hurt Feelings?

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal have done it again. They have forced a landlord to pay compensation to a tenant for hurt feelings, real or imagined.

In showing a rental unit to prospective tenants, the landlord did not remove his shoes. According to the complainant, that violated his Muslim practice. The victim also claimed the landlord violated his prayer space. Pray tell, how else might a prospective tenant be shown the apartment without entering the prayer space, actually the bedroom? Neither of these complaints has a religious basis. They are cultural or traditional practices in certain parts of the Muslim world.

Too bad, Tribunal Vice-Chair Jo-Anne Pickel wrote in her 38-page (yes 38 pages) judgement. You hurt his feelings, pay the guy $12,000.

Which raises another question. How was the penalty arrived at? Was it related to what the Vice-Chair had for breakfast that morning? Would the award be even more ridiculous had a stranger parked in her reserved spot?

Human rights tribunals are feel-good outfits. So, if you can concoct a vaguely plausible complaint, go there. It cost nothing. They supply a lawyer. The taxpayer foots the bill. Complaints are accepted face value. The accused must prove innocence. In the end you get a bag of money. The place is a cash cow.

Death by Doctor

In "Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell takes merited jabs at the use (and abuse) of the English language. He wrote, "Pretentious diction [lends] an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgements."

We see an example of the "air of scientific impartiality" in the matter of euthanasia. Regardless of one's position in this issue, clear, honest language is called for. The terms "mercy killing" and "death with dignity" have been replaced by "assisted suicide." The language is abused.

The death is not suicide, nothing to assist. The medical person occasions the death by lethal injection. The process is more accurately described as "death by doctor" or more graphically, "killing by doctor." Some may wish to consider the process dignified.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Evolution, a logical view

A superior being cannot "descend" from an inferior being.  Humans could not have descended from monkeys or apes or any other form of lower species.
The popular diagram of evolution shows an object emerging from a primordial ooze. Succeeding stages in this process depict a series of species each "descending" from its predecessor.

A more logical model of evolution shows humanity present ab initio. The force that ultimately produced us as we are today carried us through our stages of growth, always there, always human.

There may be a common source of all life. Each of the lesser species developed to the maximum of its particular characteristic. That's where they remain today. The human species, on its unique journey, thrust up and beyond all other forms of life.

Monday, January 2, 2017


We are in an era of observable discontent. Former times, if not good, were tolerable, causing most of us to ignore the signs of protest. The power base of late mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, consisted of voters who felt left out of the good municipal life. He became mayor with almost half the votes cast, more than 383,000. The system was not working for them, the former suburbs.

In Great Britain, discontent moved 17 million to vote to leave the European Union. Few guessed 62 million Americans would cast ballots for Donald Trump, the ultimate candidate of discontent.

It may be argued these results were a good thing. They alerted us a revolution may be brewing, unless changes were made.

We like to believe we live in a society blessed with equality before the law, opportunity for all to achieve financial comfort, and freedom of expression. None of these is true.

Reasonable access to the legal system is a financial impossibility. Economic benefits go to a minority. Diversity of opinion is snuffed out when all political parties present the same policies. The media censors the whole truth, publishing only what suits their agendas. They no longer observe and report, but seek to direct public opinion.

We no longer vote for what we want, but for what we despise least.


Monday, December 26, 2016

Drug Dealing by the Government

While the federal government pimps for marijuana interests, the provincial government claims it simply cannot live off the avails of  drug dealing.  The Ontario Attorney General claims: "The revenues that are going to be raised (from marijuana taxes) most likely are going to be reinvested back in ensuring that we are protecting youth and the vulnerable."

It's a poor investment if all profit goes to rectify damage caused by the original action.

In fact, our money-addicted Ontario government will receive millions in revenue.  It is telling us that, on one hand, drugs do harm, while the other hand grasps the money.  The harm to our "youth and the vulnerable" is collateral damage.  Why did Premier Kathleen Wynne not voice objection to its legalization?

The  millions in revenue will be used to assuage the catastrophic effects of legalization.  Many of those dying each day from drug overdose began their downward odyssey with marijuana.

Another reason to legalize a drug about which science admittedly does not know the full effect.  How many tobacco company lobbyists have paid for access to the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau? Over the years, the government has spent millions of dollars to discourage smoking. We now have it legitimizing the re-appearance of discredited tobacco interests and their prospect of financial gain beyond the dreams of avarice.

It required but a few years for the computer industry to be controlled by a handful of conglomerates. So too, tobacco interests will inevitably control the "party drug" trade. After all, they did finance those early protests. To what extent are they financing existing operations?

All the while, government revenue will continue "protecting youth and the vulnerable" and pay for their rehabilitation.  Another example of privatizing profit while socializing the problem.  These costs should be charged directly against corporate profits, and not as a deductible expense.

Where is the outcry in the media against this mischief?  Are they quiet in anticipation of bolstering sagging revenues from the promotion of the non-smoking uses of this drug?  How else to explain the publicity showered on this looming menace?  We regularly see in newspapers and on television screens acne covered youngsters trying to look mature blowing smoke into the cameras or chewing on drug-laced cookies, all the while making tough-guy statements to the compliant media.

Thank you, Justin Trudeau and Kathleen Wynne.  Future addicts and their families will sing your praise.