Windows 10 Shits the Bed

I got a fun Christmas present from Microsoft. Yesterday, my 3 year experiment of once more running Windows ended with a whimper. I opened my laptop to find it frozen, something that seems to happen when an update arrives in the night from Microsoft. I went through the usual hard power down and power up, and the boot stuck at the Dell logo screen with a spinner.

After three tries to boot, the Dell BIOS gave up and offered to reinstall Windows. Thankfully, the BIOS was able to let me back up the latest files on my system. After 3 hours, it had saved my documents and pictures to my thumb drive. Unfortunately, any music and video I hadn’t backed up would be lost. It then successfully reinstalled Windows 10. Kudos to Dell for getting this right.

Restoring the backup of my files was surprisingly hard to do. Finally, I stumbled on the restore program, which was actually on the thumb drive. Once the files were restored, I backed them up to my Western Digital wdmycloud NAS, then downloaded Linux Mint. This time, I’m going with the Ubuntu edition, though I’m sticking with the Cinnamon window manager. Installing Linux on the Dell Inspirion was a pain in the ass, but I’m writing this post in Firefox running on my “new” Linux laptop.

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Review of “Archenemy”

C * *

Archenemy is a low budget superhero film with a twist: the “hero”, Max Fist (Joe Manganiello), is a homeless alcoholic who claims that he was transported to our dimension while saving his own city, Chromium, from his archenemy, Cleo. He is befriended by a wanna be reporter, Hamster. When Hamster’s sister, Indigo, is caught by her criminal boss stealing from him, Max saves her and Hamster.

Manganiello does a good job playing Max Fist. He seems to sincerely believe his own story, but there are hints that he may be a paranoid schizophrenic. Most of the film walks the line between Max’s fantasy world and reality. In the third act, the two collide and Hamster is confronted with the fact that Max truly believes his own story.

Max’s memories of Chromium are shown in very simple animation, doubtless due to budgetary constraints. Unlike Sucker Punch, which had a huge budget for Babydoll’s fantasy world, but failed to deliver, I found Archenemy worked for me, though the third act was the weakest. This film won’t win any awards, but I enjoyed it.

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The World Economic Forum Pushes Immunity Passports

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he speaks during a panel “The Canadian Opportunity” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

On December 11, 2020, the CBC published an article titled Can employers make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory? The law isn’t clear. The subtitle makes it clear this is an article about the authoritarian agenda: “With vaccines set to arrive within days, talk has turned to mandatory immunization and ‘vaccine passports”. Let’s see what CBC’s own parliamentary correspondent’s point of view is.

So far, most premiers have ruled out compelling all citizens to get a shot. Based on recent polling, a sizeable minority of Canadians — up to 18 per cent of those surveyed — have said they will refuse to be vaccinated and provinces aren’t spoiling for a fight during a mass immunization campaign.

Since all people have a right to bodily autonomy, it is well they do not attempt forced vaccination. I’m fairly pro-vaccine–I got a flu shot this year–but if the state tried to force me to take a new vaccine, I would be less likely to do so. If the vaccine can’t stand on its merits, as the flu vaccine does, and the state feels impelled to force me to take it, it makes me suspicious that there are dangerous side effects.

But in the absence of a provincial decree, some employers are now seeking legal opinions on whether they can demand that staff and customers be vaccinated before allowing them to enter their workplaces.

Unless a company is violating its employment contracts, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be allowed to require staff to take the vaccine. Anyone who doesn’t agree can simply walk away. The same is certainly true of customers. If a business doesn’t want my business for any reason, I will look for an another who does.

Neena Gupta, a labour lawyer at Gowlings in Waterloo, Ont., said a provincial medical officer of health or a local public health authority could implement a vaccine mandate, similar to what is already in place for masks in many jurisdictions. “That takes the responsibility away from every individual employer having to fight this out with their employees or with their workers, and puts the responsibility for a public health measure where it belongs, which is on public health,” she said.

No, it doesn’t. Employers are responsible for their relationships with their employees. I don’t care if my company forces me to get what is currently still an experimental vaccine with the backing of the state or not. While this may help defend companies from legal complaints by employees, it will do nothing to prevent people from looking elsewhere.

The authorities could then allow accommodations for people who, for whatever reason, can’t get a shot, or for those who refuse vaccination on religious or moral grounds. “Those people will have to be accommodated because there’s an absolute right of accommodation under the human rights code,” Gupta said.

If I can simply refuse vaccination on moral grounds, the state can’t force me to take the vaccine. If I was told I had to take it unless I morally objected, I’d be sorely tempted to object on principle.

Gupta said provinces might impose a different set of more stringent requirements for employees working in sensitive sectors, such as long-term care homes or retirement residences, or other health-care settings where infections have been much more common during the pandemic. Gupta said Canadian courts have upheld past vaccine and mask mandates for health care workers, but the case law is inconsistent.

Makes sense, but as long as the vaccine has not been approved for general use and I were a health worker, I’d still be cautious about being vaccinated.

In 2013, a B.C. arbitrator allowed a provincial policy that requires health care workers in that province to be vaccinated or to wear face masks during flu season. The arbitrator called the policy “a valid exercise of the employer’s management rights.” But in a similar case in Ontario in 2002, arbitrators overruled a mandatory flu vaccine policy, citing the employer’s failure to secure an order from the provincial medical officer of health as justification.

Seems like a technicality in the Ontario case, but I would have thought the employer would have wanted such an order to indemnify themselves against any claims of side effects by employees.

In Ontario, the Occupational Health and Safety Act stipulates that employers have an obligation to get rid of known hazards in the workplace and protect employees from work-related illness or injury. To that end, employers often take precautions to limit the spread of infectious diseases in the workplace. A vaccine requirement for workers outside a health care setting, however, has not yet been tested in a Canadian court.

Providing free vaccination for all who want it in the office is a perk. Requiring everyone get it is another thing altogether.

Ontario’s Immunization of School Pupils Act could serve as a template. The province requires students to be vaccinated against certain diseases, with some exceptions. Ontario and New Brunswick require immunization for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps and rubella for all students, while Manitoba requires a measles vaccination.

These are all established as safe, effective, and free of long term side effects.

With the employment question largely unsettled, some private companies are pushing ahead with plans to demand that customers provide proof of vaccination before entering their businesses.

And people will be able to walk away. Will theaters, who are desperate to reopen, really insist that customers produce proof, and risk having them turn around, go home, and watch the film on a streaming service? Will concerts, who’s audience’s often skew towards young people, really add this new barrier to entry? Maybe.

Dr. Kumanan Wilson, a researcher in public health innovation at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, said he thinks some sort of national “vaccine passport” that would make it easy for individuals to prove to a store manager or staff member — through a smartphone app — that they’ve gotten the COVID-19 shot is inevitable for certain sectors.

Who would want this? Who would shop anywhere that required this? Stores should already be concerned that people are already conditioned to shop online. Making it harder for their customers to return seems foolish.

Since the early days of the pandemic, he has been calling for a national effort to arm Canadians with digital proof that shows whether they have the ability to transmit COVID-19. He said there’s a distinction between proof of immunization and mandatory immunization.

Instead of the state violating everyone’s bodily autonomy, they would force “voluntary” vaccination by creating a new underclass if everyone was forced to carry such a “passport”.

“This isn’t a novel concept. We already have proof of immunization needed for a variety of uses,” Wilson told CBC News, pointing to school vaccine mandates and international restrictions on travellers entering countries where yellow fever is endemic.

International travel is voluntarily. Fortunately, since children are among the least susceptible to Covid-19, they’ll probably be among the last to get the vaccine, giving us more time to catch long term side effects like the increased incidence of narcolepsy in school children given Pfizer’s H1N1 vaccine, which was not rushed to market.

He said he doesn’t want to see some sort of “wild, wild west” climate where individual businesses develop their own systems for proof of immunization. Instead, he said, he wants the provinces and territories to take the lead in developing a database to track vaccination status.

Whenever the state starts putting us on lists, we should be concerned.

That information could then be made available for download in a digital wallet. He said governments are best placed to “mitigate the ethical and legal concerns” that could arise from such a program.

There is no chance that the corporatists and useful idiots in government will be willing or able to mitigate my ethical concerns if they are given such an instrument of potential oppression.

Wilson is working with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to develop something called the “CommonPass,” a way for travelers to confirm their COVID status without revealing detailed health information.

The very same World Economic Forum whose slogan “build back better” was parroted by Trudeau, Biden, Johnson, and others. And yet the media smears any who point this out as “conspiracy theorists”.

Air Canada and WestJet have not staked out positions on the matter, but Australia’s Qantas Airlines has said passengers will need proof of immunization for international flights once vaccines are readily available.

I would rather not travel to Australia than give any of my health information to the WEF. If Air Canada and WestJet get on board with the WEF, they will make the nearby Bellingham airport and the US airlines a more attractive alternative.

Wilson said it’s likely mass gathering events, such as concerts and professional sports competitions, also will require some sort of proof of immunization before allowing tens of thousands of people to congregate in one place with the virus still rampant.

I will simply avoid these things until the vaccine has been out for long enough to reduce the number of cases. Once the virus is no longer “rampant”, I doubt that people will be willing to submit.

Heavy-handed measures are needed to help us get to that better place. It’s not like our liberties aren’t already restricted. – Dr. Kumanan Wilson

“Let them pass that law and they’ll have you in chains with a number burned into your forehead.” — Magneto

Ticketmaster, the largest seller of tickets for concerts and events, has said there is “absolutely no requirement from Ticketmaster mandating vaccines/testing for future events,” but it is exploring new safety features that event organizers might decide to employ once events begin again. Those features could include a way for digital tickets to be linked to vaccine status, negative test results and health declarations.

Any band that would require proof of vaccination is not a band I want to see. Can you be punk and at the same time be so bought into the establishment? Good music is almost always counter cultural. Sheep who want to see Taylor Swift might need to prove their immunity, but I doubt the next great band will be playing at venues that require it.

I am not one to believe in conspiracy theories, but since watching the video Connecting the Dots: The Great Reset & The Fourth Industrial Revolution, I’ve got to say that the amount of influence the World Economic Forum has had on media and our governments is frightening. I highly recommend that people avoid anything to do with this group. The fact that our governments are parroting WEF propaganda should concern everyone.

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NYT Gaslights, Denies the Facts About The Great Reset

The New York Times are gas-lighting: The baseless ‘Great Reset’ conspiracy theory rises again. The Great Reset is no conspiracy theory. The World Economic Forum, the UN, and many world leaders are pushing “build back better”, the message that the coronavirus crisis should be used as an excuse to remake the world. Just search for “the great reset”, and you will find:

A baseless conspiracy theory about the coronavirus has found new life as cases surge once again.

If a simple search can find articles that mention in their titles the radical plan of world leaders to build a better world post Covid-19, it’s hardly baseless.

On Monday morning, the phrase “The Great Reset” trended with nearly 80,000 tweets, with most of the posts coming from familiar far-right internet personalities. The conspiracy alleges that a cabal of elites has long planned for the pandemic so that they could use it to impose their global economic control on the masses. In some versions of the unfounded rumor, it is only President Trump who is thwarting this plan and keeping the scheme at bay.

Far right? Tim Poole is not far right. There is a cabal of elites (the Davos forum) that have long planned to use a pandemic to implement radical changes to the global economy. Trump did push back against World Health Organization propaganda and withdraw from the Paris Accord, which are both elements of the World Economic Forum’s agenda.

The narrative first took root in late May, when Prince Charles and Klaus Schwab, the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, announced plans to convene world leaders and discuss climate change and how to rebuild an economy damaged by the pandemic. The meeting was branded as a “Great Reset,” and the false rumors about the tight-knit group of elites manipulating the global economy took off.

If you simply go to the world economic forum’s web site (second link found in the search), you quickly find the following description:

To achieve a better outcome, the world must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions. Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. In short, we need a “Great Reset” of capitalism.

And what is this “great reset of capitalism”? It is a call for authoritarian Marxist world government. It’s right there, stated plainly on the WEF website.

Then, over the weekend and into Monday morning, a video of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada speaking from a United Nations meeting in September gained millions of views online. In the video, Mr. Trudeau referred to a “great reset” and also happened to utter the words “build back better,” which conspiracists saw as a tie-in to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. — who had used the phrase as a campaign slogan.

The exact same phrase–Build Back Better–has been used by Boris Johnson and many other world leaders. The idea that this is simply coincidence is hard to believe.

Soon, far-right internet commentators with records of spreading misinformation posted about the conspiracy, collecting tens of thousands of likes and shares on Facebook and Twitter. The posters included Paul Joseph Watson, a former contributor to Infowars, and Steven Crowder, who has falsely asserted that coronavirus death tolls are inflated.

Spreading misinformation like this NYT article is? Coronavirus death tolls are inflated somewhat, because anyone who dies after a positive test is counted as having died from virus.

Joan Donovan, the research director at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center, said it is “maddening” to see the same networks of influencers traffic in recycled conspiracies and get in the way of delivering accurate information to the public. “What is true is that Covid is on the rise in the U.S. because of poor leadership and the lack of a nationally coordinated response,” Ms. Donovan said.

What does the fact that the second wave of the coronavirus is real have to do with whether or not The Great Reset is real?

Twitter said the tweets about the conspiracy did not violate its rules, and that “The Great Reset” was no longer trending.

The Great Reset is not a conspiracy theory. Twitter is garbage, but I applaud them for ignoring calls to censor from the likes of the lying New York Times.

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Patenting and Profiting from the Corona Virus Vaccine

Labour fanboy Owen Jones, writing in the Guardian, opines that The Covid vaccine will benefit humanity – we should all own the patent. I agree, but disagree with much of his reasoning as to why.

The Pfizer/BioNTech experimental vaccine itself uses a spike protein technology reportedly developed by the US government: without the state, this vaccine would probably not have been developed so speedily. While nearly 10,000 human lives are lost across the world each day to the pandemic, Pfizer’s CEO cashing in on the vaccine news by selling $5.6m in shares should cause more than discomfort.

Why? They have developed something the world wants. Why wouldn’t that cause investors to want to buy their shares?

“Essentially, pharmaceutical companies are global monopolies, which are given the right to charge whatever the market is willing to tolerate for the new medicines they produce,” says Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now, which is calling for patents on the Pfizer vaccine to be suspended. Patents award them exclusive rights to make and sell their drugs for 20 years, preventing the supply of cheaper, generic versions.

I am in complete agreement. The patent system no longer serves its purpose, which was to protect inventors. It has become a tool for corporate warfare, only available to and wielded by large companies.

Here is a sector not driven by curing illness but rather by shareholder profits: for example, recent research found that revenue from soaring insulin prices has been splashed on shareholders rather than research and development. When startup companies spring up developing innovative new drugs, big pharma buys them up and even shuts down the development of such novel treatments in order to stifle competition.

It’s fine for a company to shut down their own projects. It’s fine for companies to buy other companies. Insulin prices aren’t high because insulin is difficult for another company to produce and sell more cheaply. Here is a rare occasion where I agree with a socialist policy: having a public health care option, and making sure that the public health system is legally required to buy the cheapest drugs, can prevent the kind of collusion between big pharma and the health care providers that drives up prices in the US. That’s why insulin is far cheaper in Canada.

Take two particularly horrifying examples of this broken pharmaceutical industry. While millions of Africans were dying in the HIV/Aids pandemic, big pharma attempted to block cash-strapped governments importing cheaper versions of life-saving drugs.

If drug companies were actually competing, governments could (and should) simply ban anyone who tried to strong arm them from selling their products in country. Again, the patent system is used as a weapon to prevent competition.

Here’s another: the rise of infections resistant to antibiotics is an emergency perhaps even comparable to the climate crisis. Yet pharmaceutical companies have failed to invest in developing new drugs – shockingly, there has been no new class of antibiotic developed for nearly four decades – because it simply isn’t profitable. This colossal failure led the government’s former “superbug tsar” Jim O’Neill to suggest nationalised drug companies might be the only answer.

Pharmaceutical companies are under no obligation to spend their money on things that aren’t profitable. I’m open to publicly funding research in the area, but such research tends to be wasteful.

“We need to respond to Covid with cooperation, solidarity, and equity,” Diarmaid McDonald of Just Treatment, which is campaigning against secret deals between government and big pharma on any vaccines, tells me. “But the big-pharma model is the antithesis of this: it’s about closed business models, which are focused on competitive efforts done in isolation not to provide the best outcomes to all, but the highest possible profits to the company.”

We don’t need cooperation, solidarity, or equity. We need an effective vaccine as soon as possible. I agree cooperation could speed things up, but the profit motive is better able to do so.

In response to the early-2000s pandemic caused by Sars – also a coronavirus – governments committed to increasing investment in research, helping to develop promising vaccine candidates, which could have been used against Covid-19. But pharmaceutical companies abandoned the research. Why? Because it was unlikely to be immediately profitable. It gets worse: major pharmaceutical companies blocked an EU proposal in 2017 to fast-track vaccines for pathogens such as coronavirus.

Companies are under no obligation to spend their money and tie up their people based on government commitments. Government is notorious for prioritizing the wrong things. Only 774 people died worldwide from SARS. Pharmaceutical companies rightly saw this as wasted opportunity cost. If the EU wanted to research vaccines for future corona viruses, they should have done so in their universities.

Here’s some basic common sense. Last month, the Indian and South African governments asked the World Trade Organization to give countries the power to neither grant nor enforce patents linked to Covid-19 drugs and vaccines until global immunity is achieved. This week, they were backed up by leading UN human rights experts who called on governments to ensure universal access to a vaccine. Such proposals are being blocked.

I agree with the Indians and the South Africans that anybody should be able to reverse engineer and produce the vaccine. A company has no obligation to offer universal access to its products.

A small number of rich countries have struck deals for more than a billion doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, leaving less than a quarter of what is planned to be produced for the rest of the world.

This is how capitalism works. Pfizer has something we want (the vaccine), and we have something they want (money). Why would Pfizer not agree to sell to someone who put up the money in a deal? They can then borrow capital against that promise, so the deal itself is valuable.

The race to find a coronavirus treatment has one major obstacle: big pharma.

Bullshit. Pfizer isn’t getting in anyone else’s way, and they are leading the way.

Rather than being a PR triumph for big pharma, coronavirus should serve as a reminder of the disastrous consequences of leaving a life-saving industry in the hands of a profiteering monopoly. Britain has it better than most countries: the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has considerable leverage over pharmaceutical companies by being able to judge whether their drugs are value for money for the NHS. But, while the US pays on average nearly four times more for drugs than other countries, everybody is being ripped off.

The profit motive is what drives innovation. Patents get in the way of innovation, and are the major cause of high drug costs in countries like Canada and the UK that have public health care. Don’t throw the baby (innovation) out with the bathwater (patents).

A pharmaceutical industry that has long made exorbitant profits by free-riding on public-sector research has been granted its most lucrative money-spinner yet. So yes, rejoice that a vaccine may well be coming, but don’t give kudos to a pharmaceutical industry that is as dysfunctional as it is morally bankrupt.

The purpose of publicly funded research is to make progress in science in areas that don’t have immediate application. This science then forms the bedrock on which new innovation is founded. If companies are merely taking research done on the public dime and patenting it, governments should put a stop to it. If they use university research as a basis for their own innovations, then that public money was well spent. That is the purpose of basic research.

One need only look to Merck, which found a cure for river blindness in 1987 and paid to have the cure distributed in Africa, to see that there are still people in industry who care about more than just money. Get rid of patents and other obstacles to true competition. These are what makes the industry dysfunctional.

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Is Freedom of Association Dangerous?

I’m going to comment on the article The Dangerous Rise Of Men Who Won’t Date “Woke” Women, published in January on REFINERY29 by Vicky Spratt. I’d say refusing to date woke woman was is entirely appropriate, if you don’t want want to date woke women. This is called freedom of association. So what’s the danger?

White man of the moment, Laurence Fox … told a BAME audience member that Meghan Markle has not been on the receiving end of racism before subsequently appearing on the cover of The Sunday Times to tell the world that he does not “date woke women” and then displaying an appalling understanding of history by calling the inclusion of a Sikh soldier in Sam Mendes’ film 1917 “incongruous”.

Markle is married to one of the English royal family. It’s hard to see how she could be much more privileged. Fox apologized for his error regarding the Sikh’s participation in world war I. At worst, that makes him ignorant.

Laurence Fox … does not date “woke” women who he believes are being taught that they are “victims”, irrespective of whether they are right or not. And he also doesn’t believe in white privilege, irrespective of the fact that he works in a painfully undiverse industry, was privately educated and comes from a wealthy acting family which is nothing short of a dynasty.

Feminists do indeed teach that all women are victims of the patriarchy, whether they are or not. White privilege theory is bullshit. There are plenty of homeless people who are white. There is plenty of diversity on British TV. The populace of the UK is much less diverse than one would imagine by watching the BBC.

Fox is denying racism and sexism, irrespective of whether or not they exist. It’s nothing short of gaslighting. It’s all very Donald Trump.

No, he is denying that they exist for all who claim that they do. Even if he were wrong, sincere claims that are wrong are not gaslighting, they are merely incorrect. When Trump is wrong, there is often a kernel of truth (like the fact that 80% of migrant latinas were raped on their journey to the American border) behind what he says. He is often being hyperbolic, though I suppose this could be considered gaslighting.

I could go over all the things he’s said; I could use data to prove how wrong he is.

Could you? Then why don’t you?

There’s nothing funny about the things Fox is saying. It’s dangerous. He is just one very privileged man, and as a result of said privilege, has been given a platform. And he has used that platform to legitimise a bigger backlash against diversity and progress which is unfolding every single day in less public corners of the internet.

People have a right to freedom of expression. If you think freedom of expression is dangerous, that makes you dangerous.

Not wanting to date “woke” women, far from being laughable, is actually one of the more insidious aspects of it. Spend an afternoon on any major dating app and you’ll come across (generally white) men saying openly sexist and misogynistic things. They might say “no psychos” or that they “fucking hate big eyebrows” in their bios. And, by and large, they also tend to hold extremely right-wing views and see themselves as victims of liberal thinking.

So what’s the problem? Just don’t swipe right.

In fact, as I was writing this, a dear friend sent me a screenshot of a guy she’s just matched with who describes Jordan B Peterson as his “dream dinner guest”. Yes, the same Jordan B Peterson who thinks that white privilege is a “Marxist lie” and wants millennials to drop their obsession with “social justice”.  

White privilege is a cultural Marxist lie. Millennials should drop their obsession with equality of outcome and identity politics, both of which are part of that cancerous ideology. 

I, meanwhile, recently had to block someone who after matching with me launched into a vile rant about how women are “evil”, “only want sex” and treat men as though they are “disposable”. When I asked him if he hated women he replied that he had “only moderate disdain” for us before asking me whether I didn’t want to date him because I’m actually “pretty rough”. 

I put money on you eliciting that response by being insufferable.

Hostility towards feminism is feeding directly into far-right movements online.

Smearing anti-feminsts as “far right” not only makes you look like an idiot, it has made the slur meaningless. After Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin, and Carl Benjamin, who are all fairly centrist, are called out as the apostles of Hitler, no one with a brain is going to listen to those who cry “Nazi”.

All of this, of course, speaks not only to the presence of the very active online communities of anti-feminist incels but to the prevalence of the hideous and incorrect ideas they promote.

Most anti-feminists who have any audience are not incels. Peterson and Benjamin are married to woman, Ruben to a man. Smearing anyone who is anti-feminist as an incel makes you look like an idiot.

It doesn’t take magical thinking to see how men are radicalised by anti-feminism. As the saying goes: “When you’re used to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

What a great example of projection.

Hope Not Hate … found that a third of young British people today believe that feminism is marginalising or demonising men and warned that these beliefs were a “slip road” to other far-right ideas.

It is a fact that men are being marginalized. Far fewer than 50% of those entering college are men. They are also being demonized by feminists claims of male privilege due to a massive patriarchal conspiracy. If realizing that feminists truly hate men is a slip road to far-right ideas, maybe feminists should stop attacking men with slogans like #killallmen.

This isn’t just speculation. We know that the number of far-right referrals to the British government’s deradicalisation scheme Prevent has dramatically increased recently. In the year from 2017/18 they jumped by 36%, while referrals for Islamism actually decreased by 14%.

What are the actual numbers of each? How are decisions to refer made? Are the people making them ideologically neutral?

Right now, Laurence Fox … is legitimising hatred and division.

Hatred and division is being caused by feminists. Fox is merely pointing it out. If you dispute his claims, bring a real argument.

And yet he cannot be completely unaware of the role he plays; he … turned up wearing a pro-Donald Trump MAGA (Make America Great Again) cap.

Doing something controversial while promoting a record is pretty much par for the course.

Playing devil’s advocate by wandering the streets in a MAGA cap to provoke “hipsters” can quickly turn into something more sinister. The far right itself can be difficult to pin down because it isn’t exactly a coherent global movement with a concrete set of ideas.

It seems like the “far right” is simply anything you disagree with. The fact that it’s impossible to pin down is fairly convenient. You can just point to anyone and scream Nazi, and they will do what you want.

It was 8chan that hosted the manifestos of three mass shooters who killed scores of people last year: the El Paso shooter (who left 20 people dead and many more wounded only a couple of weeks ago), the Poway shooter (who opened fire at a synagogue in California last April) and the Christchurch shooter (who killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand last March).

Yes, 8chan hosts very edgy content that mainstream sites will not. This doesn’t make them far right. They are free speech extremists. Unless you are saying that free speech is far right, that is.

Susan Faludi wrote about the link between violence, anger and anti-feminism prophetically in her book Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women back in 1991.

Faludi was a feminist. Of course she smears anti-femists.

For men like Fox, who feel they have been wronged somehow, that they are missing out on opportunities because, for once in history, they are being given to other people, women and people of colour become the enemy. 

Feminists and communists are the enemies of freedom, not women and people of colour.

You can see it in the abuse and threats received by women MPs and in the wildly different treatment of Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton. While Middleton, who generally keeps herself to herself and says little, has become a pinup heroine for traditionalists, Markle, who has spoken openly about sexism and racism, trying to use her platform for good, has been – quite literally – driven out of the country, condemned for being an outspoken snowflake. 

All MPs receive abuse. Any privileged member of the royal family who attempts to act as the representative of the common man deserves to be roasted, much as Prince Charles is when he lectures us on the environment from the deck of his luxury yacht.

It’s important not to trivialise this anti-woke, anti-women backlash. In the end, it’s only by paying attention to it that we can understand it and do something about it. 

Except that you’ve shown that you completely misunderstand it. When someone tells you they find you oppressive, trying to force them to shut up is not going to make them find you less oppressive. To misquote Princess Leia, the more you tighten your grip, the more anti-feminsts will slip through your fingers.

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A Libertarian Perspective on Covid-19

There is a vast spectrum of opinion on Covid-19 and the SARS2 corona virus. One end believes that governments should declare martial law and forcefully lock down their people, in the extreme, extending such lock-downs indefinitely to prevent climate change. At the other end, there are those who believe the entire thing is a hoax, designed to enable a vast globalist conspiracy to take over the world. Naturally, the correct view lies somewhere in between.

I’m going to talk about the pros and cons of the anti-globalists first.

It is certain that there are those who seek to use Covid-19 to further their globalist agenda. These people do indeed have real power and influence. How far this extends is unclear. Allegations that the international monetary fund (IMF) has demanded authoritarian lock-downs be imposed as a condition for relief don’t seem unbelievable to me. Especially in China, and to a lesser extent in Europe, the authoritarians wield real power.

On the other hand, the anti-globalists are understating the severity of Covid-19. While it is true that case numbers are higher now due to expanded testing, deaths are climbing. Certainly there are deaths attributed to Covid-19 that are not due to it, but no metric is perfect. The idea that you should ignore a phenomenon because its measurement is imprecise is foolish. Also, one should never attribute to a conspiracy anything that can be put down to mere incompetence.

Next, the pros and cons of the authoritarians view.

Centralized control works very effectively when the central authority is doing the right thing. Both China and Australia have been unarguably successful when it comes to slowing the spread of the SARS2 corona virus. Governing by majority opinion is very ineffective. The majority tend to vote in their short term interests, leading to massive problems (like debt) in the future.

Authoritarians are also very effective at doing harm when the central authority does the wrong thing. Over and over, authoritarian governments have shown that they can’t predict the outcomes of their actions. Millions starved to death due to the communist government of the Soviet Union. When new powers are given to a central government during an emergency (like the new powers after 9/11), they are rarely rescinded when the emergency is over. Power always leads to corruption.

So what would a sane, rational approach look like?

What limits should there be on government power? The government has no right to prevent people from doing things that are legal and do no harm. Does opening your restaurant do harm? No, assuming you are not forcing people to enter. Covid-19 is not like food safety, where a customer has no way to access their risk of food poisoning. Any adult should be capable of determining the level of risk they are putting themselves in by going into a restaurant.

If everyone engages in risky behaviour, the virus will spread, eventually to the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, who are at high risk of developing Covid-19. Those who care for them have a responsibility to keep the vulnerable as safe as possible. This responsibility extends to all people to a degree. The government should issue recommendations to guide people to engage in safe behaviour. The government does not have a right to break the charter and use force to curtail people’s rights. There are stupid people who will do stupid things. The government cannot prevent this.

I recommend you assess risk and don’t do anything stupid. Since March, I haven’t been to the office (it’s closed), taken transit, gone to a movie theatre, or travelled out of my area. I have been to restaurants and taken several short trips to a resort hotel that’s nearby. Until recently, I haven’t worn a mask, since I’ve done very little that might expose me to the corona virus. Recently, as the number of cases has increased and my wife has gone back to work, I sometimes wear one, though I think there’s still little risk that I will spread the virus.

The corona virus is more dangerous than the flu. This year, for the first time in a while, I got a flu shot, mainly so that I don’t have to worry as much about going to hospital and catching the corona virus. In the eighties, I had a very bad flu and pneumonia, which took weeks of convalescence and months to fully recover from. When the corona virus vaccine is approved, I will watch carefully as the first wave of people, medical staff and the elderly, are inoculated. Assuming they fare well, when the vaccine is offered to the wider public, I intend to get it.

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BC Provincial Leaders Debate – Part 3

Previous: Part 2

The Cast

John Horgin: Leader of the New Democratic Party
Andrew Wilkinson: Leader of the Liberals
Sonia Furstenau: Leader of the Greens
Shachi Kurl: The moderator

Kurl

Do you believe that reconciliation with first nations requires a province to fully consider indigenous opposition to resource developments in their territories even if it means the project will never be built?

Furstenau

[Non answer.]

Wilkinson

Natural resource projects get reconciled by negotiation. Sometimes conflicts arise because of linear projects that go through many different territories. The right place to resolve those is in the courts.

Horgin

I agree with Mr. Wilkinson.

Kurl

Mr. Horgan, the Site C dam project is billions of dollars over budget. BC hydro has reported serious structural issues with construction and has offered no clear fix. Will you go ahead with this project?

Horgin

Four billion dollars was already spent and we felt that taxpayers shouldn’t absorb that when we could have clean green energy into the future so we proceeded with the project. New challenges have come forward. We’ve appointed an individual to look at the economics and the engineering and report back to government. When we see that report, we’ll make a decision.

Kurl

Your government allowed the continued export of raw logs, the ongoing construction of the trans mountain pipeline, LNG (liquid natural gas) and again Site C. Why would a voter who puts climate issues first ever support the NDP?

Horgin

The Kinder Morgan [trans mountain pipeline] project is not a project that we supported. We went all the way to the supreme court to try and block it. The federal government intervened, bought the project and is proceeding with it. LNG is something I’ve always supported. LNG Canada in Kitimat is going to create thousands and thousands of jobs.

Kurl

Ms. Furstenau, you’ve promised a carbon neutral province by 2045. You’ve said you’ll end oil and gas subsidies and put the money into retraining workers for employment in a green economy. What do you say to people who are worried about being left behind?

Furstenau

Propping up an industry with taxpayer money–LNG Canada got six billion dollars to keep it afloat because it can’t make it on its own–makes no sense. Site C is [being built] to provide subsidized electricity to fracking.

Kurl

Your caucus supposed the NDP moving forward on big fossil fuel projects. Did the Greens abandon their principles in pursuit of power?

Furstenau

We voted against the LNG tax bill 14 times. It was the Lliberals that collaborated with the NDP to pass that bil.

Kurl

Mr. Wilkinson, the BC Liberals made history by implementing a carbon tax. If elected what will you do with a currently scheduled 10 percent increase to this tax?

Wilkinson

It’s been plateaued when the federal government got involved because the carbon tax has to be in synchronization with the federal carbon program. It will move ahead incrementally in concert with the federal government.

Kurl

You have said that you would stop those who are protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline, but section two of the Canadian charter of rights guarantees freedom of expression and association. How then do you propose to stop these protests?

Wilkinson

These disputes have to be resolved in the courts, not by blocking railroad tracks, not by blocking the West Coast Express leaving 5000 people stranded so they can’t get home for dinner and pick up their kids from day care. Protest is completely legitimate within reasonable limits. It’s got to be respectful.

Horgin

[BC has] the most progressive climate action plan in North America. Mr. Wilkinson, what can you say to British Columbians. Would you pick up where Sonia and I left off?

Wilkinson

Greenhouse gases have gone up regularly each year under the NDP. The clean BC plan doesn’t even have funding allocated to it for 25 percent of the targets. British Columbia should … electrify our transportation.

Horgin

Do we need charging stations around BC? Yes. We do. We have more than any other jurisdiction in North America.

[Fact Check: According to BC Hydro, BC has about 1000 stations. California has 5000. That said, per capita, looks like we beat every American state.]

We’re funding more spaces in our universities for science, math, engineering, and technology so that we can have our younger people unlock the challenges of the future. You drove up tuition fees; you did away with grants for kids going to school .

Furstenau

Under your government the logging of old growth [forest] continued at the same rate as it did under the previous government. How do you answer the people who recognize the importance of protecting old growth?

Horgin

You were very supportive of the report on how we could manage old growth. It will result in the deferment of [the logging of] 353000 hectares of old growth forest into the future.

Furstenau

That plan is in place because we pushed for action on old growth.

Horgin

We put in place experts to come back and tell us where we should go and we’re implementing that plan.

Furstenau

Four out of five regions in British Columbia are logging old growth unsustainably.

Wilkinson

Sonia, your party made John Horgan premier. He broke his deal with you three weeks ago. He broke his own law on fixed election dates. Can john horgan be trusted?

Furstenau

[Non answer]

Wilkinson

[Rant’s about Horgin]

Furstenau

[Still fails to address the question]

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BC Provincial Leaders Debate – Part 2

Previous: Part 1

The Cast

John Horgin: Leader of the New Democratic Party
Andrew Wilkinson: Leader of the Liberals
Sonia Furstenau: Leader of the Greens
Shachi Kurl: The moderator

Kurl

Mr Horgin, according to Statistics Canada, British Columbians in more than one in seven BC households continue to live in a place that is considered unsuitable inadequate or unaffordable. What other tools do you have to help and support people struggling with housing affordability in this province?

Horgin

We’re building not-for-profit housing. We’re focusing on co-ops again. We’re making sure that renters get a bit of a break. We give homeowner grants to people who are fortunate to own a home.

Kurl

One of your signature promises, ten dollar a day day care, child care advocates say so far [that] the vast majority of eligible families are not able to access this benefit. Your own timeline called for ten dollar a day child care province wide by 2027. Can you still deliver on this?

Horgin

I’m confident that we can. Our colleagues in the legislature would not support that. [Note: The NDP are in a coalition with the Greens]. We put in place pilots. We put in place a fee reduction That’s why we’re putting it in front of British Columbians again.

Kurl

The BC Greens are promising a free care for children younger than three and free early childhood education for three and four-year-olds. How do you propose to pay for these programs?

Furstenau

Just to set the record clear, of course we worked with [the NDP] to bring child care care and early childhood education. [So one of these leaders is lying].

Our plan for early childhood education is to roll it into our public education system so that every parent of a three and four year old knows that they have that 25 hours of early childhood education. We include that into the cost of our public education. We’ve put over a hundred million towards this. [No answer on where the hundred million comes from.]

Kurl

Another key promise of yours is to implement a four-day work week. In a minority government, would you insist that a governing partner move forward with this promise? Is it a deal breaker?

Furstenau

The promise isn’t to implement a four-day workweek.

Kurl

Mr. Wilkinson to you now you’ve promised to privatize ICBC [our socialist insurance beureau]. Look at the rates in Alberta. Private car insurance for some drivers is skyrocketing. How are you going to ensure that your plans to privatize auto insurance will bring down rates for everyone including young drivers?

Wilkinson

What we’re talking about is competition: keeping the ICBC no fault model and allowing other insurers to offer their products in competition. Why would you not allow competition and see if they can come out with a better price? Young people have seen their [ICBC] rates go through the roof from fifteen hundred dollars to seven thousand dollars under the NDP.

Kurl

During your party’s last term the average cost of a new home in Metro Vancouver increased 50 percent. According to Dr. Peter German’s report, the role of dirty money laundered through provincially regulated casinos was a part of the problem. If elected will you commit to continuing the money laundering inquiry?

Wilkinson

Of course. Under the NDP this last year alone condo prices are up another 10 in Vancouver. Condo insurance is up anywhere from 40 to 400 percent under the NDP.

Furstenau

Andrew you’re proposing a massive cut tax cut to the PST. How can you justify that?

Wilkinson

A quarter of businesses may close within a year and half of our families expect someone to be unemployed in the next year. If we drop the PST to zero for a year, businesses will reinvest. Things will go on sale. People will buy equipment; they will go out shopping and they will enjoy their lives right here in BC because it has to be spent in BC to get the tax break.

Furstenau

You can’t really identify outcomes that would come from that PST cut. We need to invest in services. We need to invest in infrastructure. Taking that six or seven billion dollar hole in revenue can really undermine government’s ability. In addition, your platform which seems to have a pretty massive deficit attached to it.

Wilkinson

Governments can borrow money very cheaply these days. We need to build infrastructure to create employment, investment that the BC business council said was one of their highest priorities when they advised John Horgin in the summer time [to] cut the PST in half for two years.

Furstenau

We’ve seen the results in the early 2000s when there was a 25 percent tax cut across the board. We saw cuts in services.

Wilkinson

There will be no cuts to government services under a Liberal government.

Coming back to housing, condominium prices have gone up by ten percent in the last year in Vancouver. House prices are up five percent, condo insurance up as much as four hundred percent. Mr. Horgin, you promised affordable housing.

Horgin

You promised to eliminate the speculation tax so the speculators that used to support the BC liberals can get back to the good old days the wild west of driving up costs. The speculation tax has meant that 11000 condominiums that were vacant are now being populated by renters. That’s bringing down costs for regular people. If you give back the one point 115 million dollars [raised by the speculation tax, you] will have no money to build housing.

Wilkinson

Rents in Metro Vancouver [are] up two thousand dollars per year since your government took office. The cost of housing is the highest it’s ever been while incomes are actually going down. The rent vacancy rate is still the same as it was when you took office.

Horgin

Sonia you sided with the Liberals and did not support us doing away with tolls in the lower mainland. You blocked a hydro bill this summer that would have brought down hydro rates for people and you do not support our Covid benefit of a thousand dollars. If we’re not going to help people with affordability in a pandemic when would we?

Furstenau

The Covid benefit of a thousand dollars you brought out as a campaign promise, not something that was ever in the legislature. We saw an uptick in traffic after those tolls were taken off and you used it as an excuse to go ahead with Site C [a hydro project] because of the deficit that it created in the budget.

Horgin

We eliminated the tolls and that took pressure off other congestion points in the lower mainland and allowed people to use modern infrastructure that they shouldn’t have to pay for, just like other infrastructure in British Columbia. It’s built for all of us it should be out of our tax base. Short-term solutions for people who are struggling [are] of course what we need to do–especially in a pandemic–and driving down hydro rates is a way to do that.

Furstenau

You’re undermining the resiliency and the local energy production of first nations.

Horgin

We focussed on core competency at hydro and bringing costs down for people. Every project by indigenous people, we are moving on.

Next: Part 3

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BC Provincial Leaders Debate – Part 1

The hour a half long BC party leaders debate for the upcoming 2020 BC provincial election took place between incumbent Premier John Horgin of the New Democratic Party (our socialists), Andrew Wilkinson of the Liberals (who in BC are actually a center right party, by our standards), and Sonia Furstenau of the Greens, moderated by Shachi Kurl of Angus Reid, a Canadian polling company. Go watch the video for full context. Here’s my edit of the transcript, removing all of the political bullshit.

Kurl

Mr. Wilkinson, why is it time for change in government?

Wilkinson

Half of British Columbia households expect someone to lose their job this year. Another third can’t pay their bills. [We will get] rid of the provincial sales tax for a full year and then reduce [it] to three percent the second year, providing a bridging finance program for our tourism and hospitality industries and also making sure that small businesses can survive.

Kurl

That is projected to be a 10 billion dollar bite out of provincial coffers. How are you going to make up the lost revenue?

Wilkinson

It’s time to accept there are going to be deficits all around the western world and we’ve got to take the chance to borrow money at very low interest rates. [We must] invest in our people to make sure they can survive economically for the next year or so. We expect there’ll be deficits, but we can get back to a balanced budget within about five years of a [SARS 2 coronavirus] vaccine becoming available.

Kurl

Mr. Horgan, … you broke your agreement on fixed election dates. Why should voters trust you again?

Horgan

I believe … we should ask British Columbians what they think and where they want to go. I believe it’s the right time to do that. [Great non-answer!]

Kurl

We have been … in a pandemic for seven months but you did not share the details of your 1.5 billion dollar economic recovery plan with British Columbians until days before calling this election. Why did you wait?

Horgan

I think we did it right. We got the right balance. [Another great non-answer!]

Kurl

Ms. Furstenau, BC’s economic recovery is in part driven by large fossil fuel projects such as LNG [liquid natural gas] and trans-mountain [pipeline] projects that many of your supporters oppose. Will you support these projects to protect the jobs that they provide?

Furstenau

The last thing that we need from governments is to be doubling down on investing and propping up and subsidizing to the tune of six billion dollars this industry that puts our future, our lands, and our children at peril. We [should] invest into a clean energy future that will create jobs and opportunities in every part of this province.

Kurl

Your party platform calls for an unprecedented transformation to a carbon neutral economy in 25 years. That is a massive change and you’re calling for the work to begin immediately. There are so many BC sectors including small business and tourism that are struggling to survive a pandemic right now. Is this the right time for this work to begin?

Furstenau

It’s not a matter of making a choice. Every investment needs to ensure that it addresses the needs right now and builds the future we owe to our children.

Kurl

More than 150 British Colombians have died of Covid-19 while living in long-term care. Their deaths revealed many vulnerabilities in the way this province looks after its aged including the role of private for-profit facilities. Is there a place for private for-profit care in the care of our seniors?

Furstenau

We are proposing … that [for] any private for-profit care home that is getting getting government funding, we know exactly how they’re spending that money that there is complete transparency and accountability. We need to move to a not-for-profit care home system.

Wilkinson

It’s time to put forward a tax credit system that supports seniors living in the right place–usually their own home to start with. The comfort and security of their home is the safest place to be during a pandemic. [We want] them [to be] able to get a credit for home care, housekeeping services, or house repairs so that [they] can live in dignity as long as they want to in their own home and then move into a properly regulated care facility with the standards of care that I expect.

Horgan

There’s a place for for-profit care. When we came to government, nine in ten care homes in British Columbia did not have the staff to meet the basic minimum standards. We put in place a single site rule so that workers who were struggling to make ends meet by working in multiple locations would focus on just one. We stopped contract flipping, … making sure that we were not having for-profit companies flipping contracts, driving down wages and forcing people to work in more facilities. We’re going to hire 7 000 to care for our seniors.

Wilkinson

One quarter of the businesses in British Columbia expect to close forever within 12 months. There was an emergency relief package that all three parties voted in support of but this election has blocked it. John, why would you block that package?

Horgan

That package is out right now Andrew. The relief on GST or PST for businesses that are investing in machinery and equipment to retain workers is going out the door in the middle of September the tax credit for those businesses also went out the door. The programs for small businesses have criteria, they’re in place, and the grant applications are in play. Public servants, not politicians will make the decision and those dollars will flow as quickly as possible.

Wilkinson

You dragged it out until three days before the election because you thought it would serve your interests. How can we trust you to look after our small businesses and our issues in British Columbia when you did this for purely self-serving reasons so that you could have an election to try to secure your employment for the next four years? What about the 150000 people working in tourism who have no revenue this year? They looked for relief now and you blocked it by saying you’d have a consultation process.

Horgan

Of the six billion dollars between budgets that we approved three and a half billion of it went out the door in March. The last bit was in consultation with British Columbians and businesses who wanted to know where to go. The tourism sector said give us an advisory committee. We put it in place and they’ll decide where that money is spent. Relief on GST or PST for businesses that are investing in machinery and equipment to retain workers is going out the door in the middle of September the tax credit for those businesses also went out the door. The programs for small businesses have criteria, they’re in place, and the grant applications are in play. Public servants, not politicians will make the decision and those dollars will flow as quickly as possible.

Wilkinson

The advisory committee … put out their reports in July and you stalled and stalled and now those tourism operators have nothing until next year because you chose to leave them out in the breeze.

Horgan

The BC Liberals put a big hole in the budget in 2001 by giving tax breaks to the wealthiest, firing 10000 people. Was that the right choice?

Wilkinson

In 2001 the health budget was eight billion dollars. It’s now 23 billion dollars. That growth happened under the Liberals. We built 14 hospitals. In their 13 years in office out of the last 30 the NDP have built no hospitals at all.

Horgan

You fired 10 000 people, largely women, to give a tax break to the wealthiest people in BC.

Wilkinson

This is your recurring theme of creating this division among British Colombians. Calling names and talking about things that happened 17 years ago will not help us.

Horgan

The consequences of your decisions were profound and tragic for seniors who found themselves in a pandemic without sufficient people to help them. and others who were going from place to place to place to make ends meet.

Wilkinson

You’ve said the South Surrey hospital would open multiple times; nothing ever happened.

Furstenau

John, you’ve thrown us into this unnecessary election. You’ve put people into a place of unease at a time when we’re facing this global pandemic and you’re campaigning in different ridings indicating that infrastructure that you have promised could be at risk with the outcome of this election.

Horgan

I did so because I believe … British Columbians [need] to hear from myself, Sonia, and Andrew on what [our visions are] for British Columbia. How are [we] going to solve the challenges we face because of Covid-19? We didn’t think about it in February when we tabled our balanced budget.

Furstenau

You’re willing to break your word. You’re willing to break agreements and you’re willing to break legislation that you yourself passed in the legislature in order to… seek that power and that majority that you still want.

Next: Part 2

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