Friday, December 9, 2016

The Walrus' latest attempt to 'build bridges' between 'culturally divergent groups' leaves much to be desired

Apparently perturbed by all of the division and misunderstanding that the North American commentariat have decided exists between folks like academics and the 'common people', The Walrus -- that venerated Canadian progressive magazine -- has decided that Canada needs to do some bridge building!

How to accomplish this?

Well, it seems the Walrus wants to do a reality TV style knockoff  "odd couple" and pair up opposites to chat, break bread, and so on. A kind of Come Dine With Me, only with deep and meaningful conversation one presumes.

Hence, on The Walrus' Facebook page we find the following:

Yes, indeed, The Walrus "is seeking a conservative, rural, religiously observant mainline Christian, middle-aged male" (who is also highly likely to be white) -- or in other words a caricature of what is assumed to be a Canadian Trump supporter --  "to engage in sustained and candid discourse with a liberal, urban, atheistic college professor and self-described hipster", another caricature of a Trump opponent.

Given that the goal is allegedly to "build bridges between...culturally divergent groups within Canadian society" I guess we should assume that the professor would reflect Canada's diversity and be a person-of-colour or a woman, right? 

Guess again! The "liberal, urban, atheistic college professor" is apparently a white male professor at Concordia. (As I determined by tracking down a public Facebook posting they made.) 

I am sure that the professor's intentions are very good but, to be clear, The Walrus' editors apparently want two men -- one of whom is known to be white and the other who is to be a "conservative, rural, religiously observant mainline Christian, middle-aged male" -- to represent the "politically and culturally divergent groups" of Canada in an exercise in national bridge building discourse. 

In 2016.

Because, of course, what Canada really needs is a rapprochement between Christian conservative and liberal men. These voices are clearly not being heard enough. 

Afterwards, perhaps they can movingly tell the nation how they really aren't so different after all. Or maybe they are different? Or maybe who cares?

The Walrus needs to seriously reevaluate this idea because as it stands, even if just a gimmick or quasi-satire, this is a pretty exclusionary attempt to allegedly be inclusive and "build bridges". 

The Walrus might want to consider adding a few more divergent voices to the discussion if they want it taken seriously. 

 See also: Introducing the Calgary Police Service's "Diversity Unit" -- led by four middle-aged white guys!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Christie Blatchford hits new low with joke piece about alleged evil 'political correctness' that apparently happened somewhere

Oh the humanity!

In case you missed it, that always reliable journalist Christie Blatchford wrote a piece in the National Post yesterday that purports to show the just how evil and egregious the forces of political correctness and liberalism have become in schools.

It seems, according to Blatchford's article, "A teacher at a posh private school in British Columbia was fired last month after making an innocuous comment about abortion to his Grade 12 law class."

Supposedly this all happened after he said during a class as an example:
“I find abortion to be wrong,” he said, as another illustration of this gap, “but the law is often different from our personal opinions.”
That was it, the teacher said. “It was just a quick exemplar, nothing more. And we moved on.”
But far from "moving on" apparently an unidentified female student said she was "triggered" by his comments and this led to a serious of terrible and nefarious doings by school administrators that resulted in the poor fellow being railroaded and tossed out of a job.

"“Such is the cost of a small misstep in a crushingly politically correct world,” he said sorrowfully."


According to Blatchford:
What happened to the teacher over the ensuing few days sounds like something out of the Cultural Revolution in Mao’s China, where people were subjected to what were known as ideological struggle sessions, forced to “confess” to various imagined sins before large crowds, and roundly denounced.
That is pretty amazing hyperbole.

If you really want to find out what allegedly happened next, you can, of course read the article.

But you might also first want to ask, what school?

Or, what teacher?

Or, what student?

Because nowhere, at any point, anywhere in this article are any of them identified.

The title really should have been "Unidentified teacher allegedly fired from unidentified school after unverified alleged accusations from an unidentified student".

While the use of anonymous sources (and the source here apparently requested anonymity) in journalism is a time honoured tradition important to democracy, the revelations that flow from this are normally aimed at known and named institutions or public figures in power.

Watergate may have come from the (at the time) anonymous "Deep Throat" but everyone knew what and who it was about.

Here it is not just the 'source' that is anonymous but the supposed instigating student as well as the school. This, of course, allows Blatchford to give only one side of the story, entirely as related by the 'source', without having to either seek comment from the school or student (and she makes no indication at all that she tried) or having to face any consequences if his version of what happened turns out to be balderdash for all anyone knows.

Blatchford then blows this alleged incident up as some kind of outrageous example of creeping totalitarianism that has broader implications. This despite the facts listed above and that she herself admits in the first paragraph that this is also a "posh" private school that can, therefore, set whatever rules it wants (even if the story the man tells is accurate, which we have zero way of knowing) meaning it would really only be an indication of what happens at this school. And what happens at this school is presumably what the well-to-do parents dishing out the alleged $30,000 a year tuition to send their kids there want.

It has no implications at all, even if true -- and really who can say given the lack of any actually identified 'perpetrators' -- for any school anywhere else at all.

But again, we have no way of discerning if anything here is real unless at least the school is given a chance to respond. Or the student if they want to allow themselves to be identified.

And conveniently the whole alleged story can be told with far fewer legal implications by telling it this way.

Neat trick that.

Here is the thing, if the source is anonymous and you won't name the school or seek to get their side and the student's side of the story you are publishing his account and opinion of what allegedly happened and not a news story. Blatchford has written a piece where there is no accountability at all for the accusations he is allegedly making against some alleged school with an alleged student who all allegedly did what he claims they did.



This is not journalism and this piece should never have been run.

But while not very journalistic, I suppose it is clever when your "article" has a pretty overt agenda.

And a very reactionary one at that.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Art of Resistance: Sketches of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front 1964 - 1965 Part I

In 1967 Liberation Publishing House -- which was the publishing house of the South Vietnamese National Liberation Front -- put out a remarkable series of folders that contained sketches drawn by artists who were on the front line of the fight to liberate South Vietnam.

Called "South Vietnam Land and People" these amazing portraits of resistance run from drawings of sites that had been bombed by the Americans, to liberated villages, to individual guerrilla fighters. All were originally done in pen or crayon and date from 1964 or 1965 (with one exception from 1966).

While there are sketches from several artists, the most, by far, are by a remarkable artist Huynh Phuong Dong. Dong, happily, survived the war and died at the age of 88 in 2015. He is regarded in Vietnam as one of the greatest creators of what is called 'Liberation Art'.

These folders were accompanied by a brief but very moving leaflet that speaks of the terrible brutality and barbarity of the war and the spirit of resistance.

In this first of two parts showing some of the sketches they are divided by artist and are accompanied by their title/subject.

(Click on images to enlarge)

Artist: Nguyen Van Kinh

In an Underground Shelter

Artist: Co Tan Long Chau

Rehearsal In an Underground Shelter

Ba Hong, A Pace-Setter for Carrying Supplies
for the Liberation Armed Forces

Artist: Le Hong Hai

After a US Raid 1966

Artist: Thai Ha

Cartridges Seized From the Enemy

A Young Soldier

A Partisan


Peasants' Grain Contribution to the Armed Forces

A Liaison Agent

A Young Guerrilla

Summing Up a Political Struggle

In a Communications-Tunnel

Drawing Lessons From a Political Struggle

Artist: Huynh Phuong Dong

A Village Scene

On the Mekong River

Checking the Enemy's Advance

Mrs. Ngau, An Experienced NFL Cadre

At Thanh-Thoi Village (Ben-Tre)

A View of Ben-Tre

Mr. Chanh, A Liaison Agent

A Woman Guerrilla of Cu-Chi

Nhi-Bina Marketplace After Liberation

A Resistance Fighter

A Boat

Nguyen Thi Nghe, A Responsible Cadre at Tan Phu-Dong

Preparing Breakfast in the Forest

After a US Air Raid

A Victim of US Bombing

Thom After Liberation

Thom (Ben-Tre) in the Liberated Zone

Nhu-Tao Marketplace

An-Thanh Village After US Bombing

Linh-Phung Village After US Bombing

An Evening Class in a Liberated Village

A Bridge Destroyed by Guerrillas

Barges Hidden Under a Grove

Mrs. Nam, A Canteen Keeper

A Guerrilla

A Bomb Crater at Linh-Phung School

A Guerrilla

Monday, December 5, 2016

Ham Banana Rolls with Cheese Sauce. Fancy!

Looking for a fancy dish for your next dinner party that I guarantee you your guests have never had before and won't see coming?

If so, nothing will deliver like bananas wrapped in ham and drenched in cheese sauce.

They will be talking about this one for months I promise!

A combination of flavours no one will forget anytime soon.

If, for some unknown reason, your guests decide to stick around and stay over, be sure to greet them in the morning with a plate of pan-fried ham, eggs and, of course, more banana. 


Finally, as an added bonus, cast your eyes on this delightful bit of presentation. Pineapple and banana is, in fact, a great combination, but since we eat with our eyes first...

See also: Fruit and Shrimp Hawaiian -- Quick and...ummm...Delicious!

See also: Tuna Almondine: Behold the greatness!