Let’s Remember: Louis Riel, 1844-1885

Louis Riel was born on October 22, 1844, one hundred and seventy five years ago today.  On November 16, 1885, he was hanged after a farcical show trial with incompetent defence lawyers.  Riel is an example of what happens when an ethnic minority stands up against a government willing to use violence to either subjugate or eliminate people (see also: NODAPL, Ipperwash Crisis of 1995).
Riel’s story is a complex one, both hero and villain.  To many Metis and First Nations people, he stood up against prime minister John A. McDonald’s nationalism (A for alcoholic).  To the French, he was a victim of anti-catholic sectarianism and anti-French attitudes in Ontario.  To others, he would be described today as freedom fighter or terrorist, depending on your point of view.
Riel fought the Red River Rebellion against the Canadian government, wanting Manitoba’s independence from both Canada and the US (contrary to Ottawa’s claims of the Metis wanting to join the US).  McDonald used Riel’s execution of Thomas Scott as a pretext for military invasion of Manitoba and the show trial against Riel. Like some Indigenous peoples in other countries, the Metis suffered and were marginalized until they were no longer a recognizable group, assimilated into the Canadian populace.
There is a LOT more to the history than that.  I don’t have the time or expertise to tell it fully.

A related oddity for you: Thee Headcoatees (not a typo) were a garage-punk band from England.  In 1992, they released the song “Louis Riel”, a rewrite of the song, “Louie Louie”, incorporating events from Riel’s life.  Have a listen.

The Polls Closed: A tolerable result

First past the post sucks, but we can live with a minority government.  Depending on how the undeclared ridings go, there could be two possible coalition governments: Lib/NDP or Lib/BQ.  Keeping the Clowns out and the Liberals under control is tolerable.

The Bloc Quebecois are separatists who put Quebec first, but are reasonable on most other issues.  The downside of a large number of BQ MPs is that they might be willing to form a coalition with the Clowns if that were an option; the NDP never would.

The Parade Routes: Taipei’s Pride Parade announcements.

The organizers of the Taipei Pride Parade have announced this year’s route, with two major changes from previous years.

First, they have changed the starting point.  Almost every year, the parade starts at Ketagalan Boulevard (a large traffic circle near a park and the national government building) but that is now the ending point.  It will start this year at City Hall, using Sun Yat Sen park as a place for people to gather, and proceed to Kegatalan Blvd.  It’s not a problem in terms of physical space needed as Yixian Road by City Hall is quite wide.  But people may end up going to the wrong place if they don’t pay attention to the announcements.

Second, this year will be a single route, though most of the 5.5km route is along Zhongxiao Road, the largest east-west road in the city.  Two years ago, it was split into two routes, and last year into three.  Are they expecting a drop in attendance because marriage equality is now law?  Not bloody likely.  I hope the decision is only based on how much traffic flow was impeded.

Kegatalan is where the marriage equality protest was held two years ago.  An estimated 250,000 people showed up.

More below the fold….

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Forced Out And Paved Over: There’s nothing gentle about gentrification

Vancouver is planning to do what other cities have done, like Taipei and Seoul: tear down viaducts and create spaces for people instead of cars. Viaducts are built with a plan, and very rarely are they built on empty land.
Vancouver’s were built in the late 1960s and early 1970s under the rightwing Social Credit government (commonly known as “socreds”).  A freeway project was cancelled in 1972 both by public protest and the short lived NDP provincial government.  The Socreds were cut from the same cloth as the rightwing extremism of today, but doing it in the 1960s to 1980s.  (Pardon me for too many political posts lately.)
In order to enact their “urban renewal” plan, the Socreds had to forcibly remove the people living in the neighborhoods around False Creek.  And which neighborhoods were they?  Poor and non-white people, of course, including the African-Canadian community.  (I didn’t know that Jimi Hendrix’s grandmother lived in Vancouver.  Cool.)  Funny how urban planning just happens to be where the most vulnerable and least powerful are, and why it was designed for white people living in middle class suburbs to drive into Vancouver for work.

There are pictures of the current and proposed sites below the fold. [Read more…]

A Title Well Earned: The ‘Greatest Canadian’ was born today

Tommy Douglas was born in Scotland on October 20, 1904, 115 years ago today. He died February 24, 1986.

In 2004 he was named the Greatest Canadian ever, primarily for his founding of Saskatchewan’s socialized medicare plan that made health care affordable and save countless lives. 

CBC: The Fight for Medicare

In the early 1960s, Saskatchewan doctors reacted with anger and frustration, culminating in a bitter strike when the province tried to bring in Canada’s first universal health insurance plan.

In Saskatchewan, Premier Tommy Douglas and his socialist party, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), had been in power since 1944 and had been the first government in the country to provide hospital insurance for its citizens.


After 23 days on strike, the Saskatchewan doctors returned to work. But hostilities remained long afterwards; patients resented their doctors’ desertion and doctors continued to object to government involvement in medical care. Nevertheless, a 1965 survey found that most doctors favoured continuing the plan.

The Saskatchewan government had opened the door to universal health care. Within ten years of the Saskatchewan strike, the entire country was covered by medicare.

Many resented socialized medicine at first, but it’s part of what defines Canadians today and we’re better off for it.

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Get Out And Vote: Sixty hours until the polls close, as I write

Election Day in Canada is Monday, October 21st.  I have already sent my absentee ballot, the first time I could since 2008 after Stephen “Fred Rose” Harper stole my vote.  My ballot was a card with instructions to “write the candidate’s name” in the box given.  I used my manual typewriter because I didn’t want to be ineligible by being illegible. 

I voted to prevent Scheer stupidity, not how I wanted to vote.  In the riding I’m required to vote in, it’s a two horse race between a Clown and a Liberal, no serious third candidate to vote for.  I would rather have had a better option.

Polls taken on October 18th suggest that this will likely be a Liberal minority government with either or both the NDP and Bloc Quebecois as coalition partners.  If either happens, I can live with it.  The BQ may press the Liberals to do what’s best for Quebec (i.e. “give us $$$!!!”), but in overall national policy they would be acceptable.
Canada direly needs to get rid of this “first past the post” nonsense. A party that gets 30% of the vote (both the Liberals and Clowns in current polling) should NEVER have a majority government.  Either enact proportional representation or a “first and second choice” option.  If candidates got three points for being first choice and one for second choice (no requirement to make a second choice), and the total points decided the winner, it would be better than the current system.  The BQ (7% in the polls) may get 10-30 seats because they’re all concentrated in Quebec, but the Greens (polling at 8% nationally) will likely get no seats instead of the 25-27 seats they deserve (8 * 3.38) because their votes will be spread out.  The NDP have regional strongholds, like the BQ, so they should get a significant number of seats.

Slight Of Hand: Joaquin Phoenix is right handed

Joaquin Phoenix is right handed, as can be seen in an autograph scrum at an airportSo why did those behind the current “Joker” movie choose to make the character left handedThere are many examples over the years of the Joker being right handed, in comics, in movies, etc.  No explanation has been given, not even “he used the left to mask his handwriting”.  If he wanted to do that and write fast, he could have bought a used typewriter.  Hunt and peck typists work faster than non-ambidextrous people writing with the unnatural hand.

Over the centuries, insulting and false characterizations of left handed people have been made from “sociopaths” to “pedophiles” to “mental deficient” to “satanic”.  Being non-cishetero was also used as an insult, but (a) it no longer is, and (b) non-cishetero people are more likely to be left handed, especially those with XY chromosomes.  There are no scientific papers I can find that show any link between criminality and handedness, though attempts to link mental health to handedness (usually schizophrenia) have been repeatedly tried.

One historical but anonymous sociopath was Jack the Ripper.  Claims of left handedness have been made for decades based upon one injury and no other evidence.  One of his victims was slashed across the throat from the victim’s left side to the right(See A below. Please excuse the low-end stick figure image, but it makes the point.)  That allegation presupposes that Jack the Ripper was facing the victim, carrying a knife openly in his left hand, and she made no attempt to defend herself, turn or run as the blade struck her throat.

Or, there’s the more likely option: Jack the Ripper was right handed.  He attacked her from behind (B), and with the knife in his right hand pulled it across her throat, slashing her throat from left to right.  She had no chance to escape or defend herself.

Name And Address: October 16 is International Pronouns Day

As stated, October 16th is International Pronouns Day, a day that encourages and demands respect for all Non-Binary, Transgender and other people who face discrimination.  There is also a facebook page (#InternationalPronounsDay) and a twitter account.  From the site:

International Pronouns Day seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace.

Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people’s multiple, intersecting identities.

I’m a bit miffed because I’ve never heard of this before.  Then again, it was established in 2018.

My pronouns are She and Her.

Sadly, I am still forced to work “male”, must dress as that gender, and put up with “he” and “him” on the job.

The school’s Hallowe’en event is another matter.  I fully intend on dressing as a woman, in a costume to be revealed later.

This is what misgendering looks like, is and does:

Welcome: Taoyuan Airport prepared to greet its visitors

Taipei’s Pride Parade is the biggest in Asia with over 100,000 participants in each of the last two years, and now, marriage equality.  For obvious reasons (and as a way of thumbing its nose at the mass murdering illegitimate government on the mainland), Taiwan has placed banners all over the airport for the thousands of coming participants.  It warms the heart.

For many, this is the only parade they can take part in because they live in pseudo-“democracies”, theocratic regimes and dictatorships where they cannot even date or live openly, never mind have a parade.  In the four previous parades I attended, I saw countless flags from across Asia: Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and many others.  I should count how many this year.

There are three more pictures below the fold.

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When Censors Censor: Because they don’t want anyone to know what’s really going on

On October 9th, Middle East Monitor announced a campaign to stop facebook censoring news and writing by Palestinians.  They claimed facebook was silencing Palestinian writers and voices to please Israel, the US and others.

Yes, it is censorship, because governments are using companies to silence voices.  Facebook is willingly doing it under political pressure from Israel, the US and others.

Campaign launched to end Facebook’s attack on Palestinian content

Palestinians said the social media giant was giving in to the Israeli government’s influence to suppress the Palestinian narrative and was adopting the occupiers’ definition of what incitement is.

Journalists and activists in Palestine yesterday launched a social media campaign against Facebook’s censorship of Palestinian content.

Using the hashtag FBblocksPalestine, the drive hopes to bring to light “the threat posed by Facebook against Palestinian content, and to make it public, as well as reveal the double-standard policy of Facebook management in dealing with Israeli and Palestinian incitement on its site,” says Eyad Rifai, head of Sada Social Centre which is running the drive.

On October 11th, fascistbook proved the need for the Middle East Monitor’s campaign: fascistbook censored the Palestinian Information Centre (PIC) arabic language page (the English page is still active…for now). The news page and the accounts of its operators were all deleted without warning, explanation, or appeal. You don’t silence journalists for “security”, you silence them to prevent them from reporting the facts.

Facebook takes down page of Palestine news site

Facebook on Wednesday deleted the page of the Palestinian Information Centre (PIC) in a move, the news site says, which is part of its war on Palestinian content on social media networks.

The site’s management said Facebook provided them with no prior warning before deleting the page, which had nearly five million followers, without any justification.

They called on Facebook to reinstate the page and stop its battle against Palestinian content, saying they have contested the ban.

The Palestinian Information Centre has previously been forced to suspend posting on Facebook after the social media giant banned the accounts of some of its directors. Member of management have also seen their accounts deleted and removed.

The blocking of the PIC’s page comes as part of an extensive campaign in recent weeks that included many Palestinian social media platforms.

Germany is now as paranoid about false claims of “anti-semitism” as people were about UK libel laws.

‘You live in fear if you want to say something about Israel’

Pro-Palestine figures say Kamila Shamsie affair demonstrates how dissent is stifled in Germany when criticising Israel.

Berlin, Germany – A German jury’s decision to strip British Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie of a literary prize, because of her pro-Palestinian activism, underscores how ignoring Palestinian rights has become normalised in Germany, according to pro-Palestinian figures in the country.

On September 18, days after its initial decision, the eight-member jury of the Nelly Sachs Prize, named after the German-Jewish Nobel laureate, a poet and playwright, withdrew its $16,000 award over Shamsie’s support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed shows by winning the Nobel Peace Prize that you don’t solve international political issues with bombings, censorship or genocide. You solve it by treating people as human beings and building trust domestically and abroad, something Israel and the US have never done. It worked in Northern Ireland, too.

Face Off: Eighteen years in Asia, and I still don’t understand the concept

I have lived in multiple Asian countries over the past eighteen years, and I still don’t understand the concept of “face”.  The idea that things like losing your temper should somehow embarrass you or means you lose the argument doesn’t makes sense.  Speaking truthfully, if angry, isn’t the same as going Godwin.  Some say that westerners (I know, I need a better word for it) don’t have face, but I disagree.  Honesty, trustworthiness and reputation have their own sense of face (or at least, they used to).

Two recent events in the news highlighted this to me again.

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Sitting Out: The only thing coming out today is nationalism

Call me cynical, but I’m in full agreement with Christopher Chan:


Friday October 11 is supposed to be National Coming Out Day for anyone LGBTQIA.  But predictably, it’s still primarily about those who are white and cisnormative, primarily about gays and lesbians to the exclusion of other sexual, gender or racial minorities.

The treatment of Black Transgender women at Stonewall 2019 is proof of that.  Ellen Degeneres palling around with unconvicted war criminal George Bush and blathering about “kindness” is sickening.  Pete “the gentrifyer” Buttigieg shrugged when he was called out for failing to hire any Black cops in a city where they are 26% of the population.  Just like first wave feminists and first wave “new atheists”, they serve their own interests, blaming others for “divisiveness” while engaging in the divisiveness of segregation.

They. Are. Not. Allies.  If people are not Intersectional and supporting others in a meaningful way, if they are associating and pandering to those who foment hate, then they are of no value to me.

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I Mildly Disagree: Sometimes, sexy costumes are good, part 2

Obviously, this is the second post….

Shannon is a friend of mine who loves “Rocky Horror Picture Show”.  For the last five Hallowe’ens here in Taiwan, she has performed as Frank N. Furter in a live production.  They do it both in English and Chinese, and all of the cast are bilingual.  And she’s from Alabama.

I hate “Rocky Horror”.  I hate the sexual predation and the rape by deception.  I hate the fact that Richard O’Brien is a rabid transphobe.  I hate how the movie feeds into the “trans predator” myth and hate speech.  And I hate how many can’t or refuse to differentiate between drag and Transgender, assuming the movie in any way represents the Trans community.

My friend and I agree to disagree and respect each other.  Once she knew how I felt, she has not once “offered” that I come and see it, and I ensure that if I talk about the movie, I keep it strictly about the story, avoiding mention of her.  We want to stay friends too much to ruin it over a movie.

Commercially sold “sexy” costumes are there to provoke or provide an excuse for dressing in a way that would never be acceptable on any other night of the year.  It’s a double edged sword – people should be allowed to be sexual beings, but there will always be self-appointed judgemental types who will question why or if someone “should be wearing that?”

I said in the other post that some costumes are and should be clearly off limits, that they are offensive to some people.  When it comes to varied gender dressing (“cross dressing” isn’t an appropriate word for it), costumes come in three types:

  1. parody of the gender
  2. drag and caricature
  3. realistic and attractive

I’m not a fan of the first one, especially since most who do it are men with balloons under a shirt, bad wigs and clown makeup. I can’t speak for all men who do it, but I’ve seen a lot of misogyny in those who do.

More below the fold….

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I Mildly Disagree: Sometimes, sexy costumes are good

In response (retaliation?) to a recent post by PZ Myers about sexy costumes, a few thoughts of my own on costumes in general.  I was going to write this closer to Hallowe’en but now’s as good a time as any.

This is the first of two posts….

I love Hallowe’en. On my facebook page, I’m in the middle of “forty days and forty frights”, counting down from the anniversary of the Salem Witch Trial heights (September 22, 1692) to the big day itself.

No, I don’t believe in apparitions, boogeypersons, cthulhus, demons, elves, fairies, ghosts, haunts, imps, jinxes, krakens, leprechauns, mummies, naiads, ogres, phantoms, quetzalcoatls, reavers, spirits, trolls, undead, vampires, wendigos, x-spot markings, yetis, or zombies.  But I do believe in having fun, in poking holes at religious fervency.  As others have said, the goth kids hold the line.  Without Hallowe’en, christmas crap would start creeping earlier every year.  I saw this abomination at Costco on September 29th:

It’s good that there is strong and growing awarenes and opposition to “ethnic costumes” (read: probably racist) and unnecessarily “sexy” costumes.  But there are other costumes that should also bite the dust.

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The Ill Defined: What’s the difference between a fetish and a relic?

From where I’m standing, usually racism.  White religions worship “relics”, and non-white people worship “fetishes” and “totems”.  I say we start using the same language for all religions.

The Green family (owners of Hobby Lobby) paid $500 million to build a so-called “museum of the buybull” where they display improperly obtained christian fetishes (e.g. unauthorized archaeology of ancient sites, items obtained on the black market without provenance, etc.) and fabricated objects.  This week, they quietly removed one of them because it was – like everything else in their “museum” – a fake.

Would it have been too much effort to just call NASA and find out before paying?  You know your standards of “evidence” are poor when even Ken Ham’s “ark park” looks more credible.

Museum of the Bible quietly replaces artifact purported to be brought to the moon by NASA

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Museum of the Bible in Washington quietly replaced an artifact purported to be one of a handful of miniature Bibles that a NASA astronaut carried to the moon in 1971 after an expert questioned its authenticity.

The move follows an announcement last year that at least five of 16 Dead Sea Scroll fragments that had been on display at the museum were found to be apparent fakes.

The museum replaced the original microfilm Bible with one that was donated by an Oklahoma woman who wrote a book about the Apollo Prayer League, which arranged for Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell to carry tiny Bibles to the moon.


Steve Green, museum founder and president of Hobby Lobby, also purchased thousands of Iraqi archaeological artifacts for a reported $1.6 million, but was forced in 2018 to return them to the Iraqi government and Hobby Lobby paid a $3 million fine after authorities said they were stolen from the war-torn country and smuggled into the U.S. Museum officials have said none of those items were ever part of its collection.

The only thing that parted were fools and their money.  Not the Red Sea.