A Reflective Canada Day

I’m glad that many Canadians are finding Canada Day to be a reflective moment about truth and reconciliation for Indigenous peoples. Mass graves of what will probably end up being thousands of residential school children have been discovered. These children were not only stolen from their families, but considered savages and allowed to die (possibly sometimes even directly killed) by members of the Christian denominations running these schools. These things were done with the knowledge and support of various Canadian governments, and the last such school closed in 1996.

The Catholic Church was the worst offender, and it should own up to it and use its considerable financial resources to do something about it. Meanwhile, Canada should at least immediately make sure that every indigenous community has access to clean drinking water and to other things that the rest of us take for granted.

My own Swiss-American ancestors settled about two hundred years ago on part of the Haldimand Tract, land that was granted to the Haudenosaunee of the Six Nations of the Grand River, within the territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples. 60,000 acres of Block 2 in what is now the Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario area was puchased by Mennonite settlers from Pennsylvania in 1805, but the area was supposed to be granted in perpetuity to the Anishinaabe people. So, these issues have been around for a very long time.

Conference Paper – Rush’s “Hemispheres” – Progect 2021

Here’s a link to my online conference paper bio, abstract, and video for “Rush’s ‘Hemispheres’: Uniting Heard and Mind (and Progressive Rock with Heavy Metal)”. May 2021 Progect Conference, hosted by the University of Ottawa.

https://progectconference2.wixsite.com/website-5/durrell-bowman

Abstract:

If progressive rock and heavy metal sometimes appropriate ideas from classical music—instead of, say, the blues—would that be enough to explain their appeal? Of course not. If they’re often musically and lyrically “complex,” are these complexities straightforwardly more so than the underlying grooves and vocal practices of funk and hip hop? Well … no. On the other hand, even though they may not reach a particularly diverse audience, progressive rock and heavy metal actually espoused eclecticism right from the start. 

The Canadian rock band Rush (1968-2018)—one of the godfathers of progressive metal—would not have developed an eccentric, eclectic progressive/hard style without the example of musicianly progressive rock from 1969-77. However, the band’s music also relates to the influence of blues-oriented hard rock and power-oriented heavy metal from the same period. Rush’s 1978 album Hemispheres begins with its title-track, and with it the band provided its last of three album-side-length compositions. “Hemispheres” establishes a conflict between the left (thought or “reason-oriented”) and right (emotion or “feelings-oriented”) halves of the human brain. The band anthropomorphizes these according to classical/mythological references to the gods Apollo and Dionysus, respectively. 

The paper explores the large-scale design of Rush’s “Hemispheres,” including its sections, form, metrical construction (including 12/8 and 7/8), lyrical features, and tonal complexities. The latter include extended chords, inversions, cross-relations, chromaticism, modes, ambiguous progressions, and various solutions to a particular cadential figure. Among other things, Rush uses nearly identical music to equate a pair of extended lyrical frames as equally inadequate ideologically. The band then converges on additional musical and lyrical frames that themselves become a reconciliation. In this manner, Rush mythologizes the post-counterculture of needing to unite heart and mind into something new.

Vaccines and Politicians

People with certain pre-existing medical conditions are three or more times as likely as the general public to die from COVID-19 once infected. (Don’t worry: I’m not infected.) All levels of government in Canada are doing terribly at dealing with the vaccines.

I get that seniors need to be the priority after frontline health-care workers and long-term care residents. However, Pfizer and Moderna have flagrantly reneged on signed agreements for delivery schedules, and things are now being delayed by weeks or months, especially for the rest of us.

So, politicians need to do something about the unexpected changes to the vaccine roll-out. I’ve been led to believe that some of them were even trained as lawyers, but I’m now guessing they became politicians because they were actually pretty bad at it.

Follow-up: It took until April 20, 2021 to get a vaccine, which was dose 1 of AstraZeneca.

Is It Time for a Guaranteed Annual Income?

With millions of people applying for government support and millions more (like me) still earning non-living wages to provide “essential” services, it is time for Canada to have a guaranteed annual income. Give every adult $2000 a month from now on. Make it taxable, so people who already earn a lot don’t get to keep much of it. Cut the red tape. Cut the bureaucracy. Easily cover the cost by cutting the costs of having to run so many different government programs (EI, CPP, OAS, GIS, CERB, CESB, provincial welfare and disability systems, etc.).

Replacing Phoenix

I’m glad that the Canadian government is finally replacing the Phoenix pay system. On my eight-month Master of Library & Information Science co-op placement at the Parks Canada National Library in 2017, it seriously messed up my pay. They’re replacing it with something from Germany-based company SAP. However, as someone who now uses SAP’s incredibly complex main product every day at work, I have to wonder if they can really build a system that will make sense. Part of the problem with Phoenix is that the necessary training by IBM to use it correctly was simply never done. Hopefully, SAP can build something that won’t require much training and that will just work.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/phoenix-pay-system-replacement-sap-1.5488435

Meta Plow

Hilariously, these several plow-dudes plowed their way to work this morning in their snow-plow-fitted pickup trucks and then switched over to their industrial-strength snow plows.

“Meta Plow, that’s their name; that name again is Meta Plow.”

Neil Peart, RIP

I always sort of hoped that Rush’s drummer-lyricist Neil Peart and I would cross paths at some point and have an interesting conversation. We both first lived on family farms in Ontario, our fathers both worked at International Harvester dealerships, we both wrote multiple books (much of my work being about Rush’s music), we are both Canadians who lived in Los Angeles for a time, he was nicknamed “The Professor,” and I actually once was a Visiting Assistant Professor. Rush’s music is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the complexity (definitely present in the drumming), the constant stream of influences (lyrical and musical), and the work ethic were remarkable. Please consider giving a monetary gift in his memory to a cancer charity of your choice. RIP, Neil.

Flight 752

One or more individuals at the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and/or Iranian Civil Aviation Organization have committed criminal acts by shooting down (and/or allowing to be shot down) a civilian, commercial airplane full of 176 Iranians, Iranian-Canadians, and others with surface-to-air missiles. Was it done intentionally, or was it somehow a horrible mistake?

A rescue worker shows pictures of a girl that were recovered from the crash site southwest of Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. The crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 killed all 176 people on board. (Ebrahim Noroozi/The Associated Press)

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.