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Ontario’s Court Challenges

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It’s pretty clear that Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s months-old Conservative government is going to lose court cases repeatedly. It recently lost against Tesla Motors re leaving the company’s sales out of the gradual phase-out of electric-car rebates, the cessation of which was a bad enough idea already. This morning, it lost against the City of Toronto re attempting to drastically reduce the number of municipal election wards, given that campaigning was already under way and that rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would be affected in various ways.

The right-wing government will probably also lose in the class-action lawsuit currently underway re the basic income pilot it recently cancelled, despite saying during the provincial election campaign that it would let it play out. I expect disability and welfare recipients and their case workers to create further, successful challenges, once the government rolls out its new, “sustainable” approach in November. The changes to come are likely to be devastating for the province’s most vulnerable citizens: those who can’t work and/or can’t find work.

The new, Conservative government is already turning out to be quite useless, which the 60% of us who voted for the other parties’ candidates knew it would be. Fortunately, the fact that it has a majority of seats at Queen’s Park may not even matter, if its attempted legislation keeps getting overturned in court.

“Deep Digital” Writing & Reading

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/25/skim-reading-new-normal-maryanne-wolf?CMP=fb_gu

This article begs the question as to what “skim writing” might entail. Academic research and writing seem like an awful lot of trouble, given that it takes a long time to produce with almost no-one encountering it after all that. Also, Malcolm Gladwell and others are just going to reorganize selected parts of it, anyhow. Why not skip the middle man? Why shouldn’t we try to get to “deep digital” parallels to writing and reading?

Music Sales

The Eagles’ 1976 album Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 (with 38 million copies sold) has once again supplanted Michael Jackson’s 1982 album Thriller (with 33 million copies sold) as the top-selling album of all time, at least in the US. Who cares?

Amanda Petrusich, in her New Yorker article about the situation, accomplishes very little other than to reveal she finds that the Jackson album “provokes” (without once specifying how or why), whereas the Eagles’ greatest hits collection “placates” (though also somehow imbuing “dread” and/or a “swirling beige inertia”).

Given the existence of Hardcore Punk, Death Metal, New Age, Smooth Jazz, and various other musical genres not explored by Michael Jackson or by the Eagles, I find it extremely difficult to consider either of those artists to be particularly provocative or placating. Also, none of this takes into account the fact that both artists uniquely arrived at their mainstream pop successes by merging other styles. The Eagles combined singer-songwriter and country-rock approaches into a kind of rock super-group aesthetic (and certainly with rather less “major chord ubiquity” after 1975), whereas Jackson combined R&B, urban/dance pop, and rock elements into a compelling amalgam.

Do any of the details about music sales actually matter, though, when tens of millions of people now listen to most of the music they encounter–and frequently without buying anything–on such streaming services such as Spotify and YouTube? Probably not. Could music writers please get around to discussing music in more useful ways? Same answer, unfortunately.

Big Moose Vacation

We had another lovely visit to Vicky’s family’s cottage at Big Moose Lake in the Adirondacks in Upstate New York from August 2-14. The vacation included kayaking, a little hiking, swimming, hanging out with ducks, loons, and llamas (!); playing fetch with Dougal, board games (which are some of Gareth’s favourite things), souvenir shopping, barbecues, ice cream, pizza and wings, mini golf, reading, visitors from Utica and Vermont, Emma playing piano at the nearby chapel, and more!

Speaking of the Big Moose Community Chapel, at their annual Bazaar they played recordings of Gordon Lightfoot songs as a warm-up, so I decided maybe we should be allowed to call Adirondack Chairs “Muskoka Chairs” after all!

 

 

 

 

Con Air: The 2018 Ontario Election

UPDATED on June 18th, 2018: Under the forthcoming “Progressive” Conservative majority government in Ontario, taxes will basically only be saved by corporations and rich people, the salaries of the CEO and board of directors of now-non-public Hydro One will somehow be magically adjusted (instead of returning the agency to public hands and actually fixing it), and Doug Ford’s first-promised measure as Premier–getting rid of the cap-and-trade environmental measures–pretty much guarantees that the province will end up instead having an actual carbon tax assessed upon it by the federal government. Those are just for starters.

It will not take very long for the Conservative government to find that, in order to save the money it vaguely has in mind, it will also have to make drastic cuts to health, education, infrastructure, other social services, and so on. No “little guy” will benefit from any of that. Research also shows that the PCs, despite their presumed status as financially prudent, seem to have had the worst fiscal/deficit projections from among the three main parties (NDP, Liberal, PC). In addition, Doug Ford is a millionaire businessman who took over a company from his father, did not run the business very well, is intolerant and inelegant, has said and done numerous stupid things, has associated with questionable people (most of whom support him), and has no political experience (at this level). Does that sound familiar? It should!

The PCs got 60% of the seats (76 of 124) with only 40% of the votes, which just provides yet another example that some kind of fairer, run-off or proportional, voting system needs to be implemented in this province and this country. The NDP will now form the official opposition (with 40 seats), and the incumbent Liberals have now lost official party status (with only seven seats). On the other hand, the Green Party of Ontario elected its party leader as its first MPP.

Arrested Development – Season 4 Remix

The Season 4 Remix (2018) of Arrested Development stretches the fifteen original, overlapping, character-based episodes (2013) out to twenty-two. It’s so repetitive that it keeps repeating things repeatedly and repeats them all repetitively with no end of the repetition in sight. Given the multiple points of view already present in the originally-released Season 4, they could have just as easily edited it down to eleven episodes, instead of adding more repetition to come up with twenty-two. I get that 22-episode seasons is the industry standard for syndication, etc., but even the cast members are not happy about their work being extended in such a way. It also just seems like an ill-advised ploy to promote the show in advance of the upcoming Season 5 (2018). The whole thing feels like George Sr.’s Steamboat Willie-ing of the purported US-Mexican border wall.