Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Education Legislation Blues

Current news reports are fawning over the proposed Education Act, meant to replace the School Act, and hailing it as "sweeping changes". I am not sure what the criteria for changes to be deemed "sweeping" are, but as far as I can tell they are pretty paltry. The new Education bill being introduced in the Alberta legislature makes some pretty big headway on granting school boards new powers and rights, but the proposed bullying legislation is nothing more than some feel-good posturing and finger - shaking.

Kids now have the responsibility to "refrain from, report and not tolerate bullying or bullying
behaviour" whether at school or not. Well, towards other students, of course. If a kid has been expelled though, he's fair game, except for behavior as otherwise prohibited by law like, you know, the usual harassment or assault laws. But since those don't sparkle as much it's okay to ignore them for a while to pretend THIS new Act will make a big deal.

Interestingly, parents are not charged with the same responsibility; only to "ensure that the parent’s conduct contributes to a caring, respectful and safe environment". The board, on top of providing a safe and caring environment to learn in, must "establish, implement and maintain a policy
respecting the board’s obligation under subsection (1)(d) to provide a caring, respectful and safe environment that (a) includes addressing bullying behaviour", but all I can think about is that terrible "Zero Tolerance" program that was in effect all through my school years (aaaand DATED). That thing did not make a lick of difference, and considering the new policy still needs to be developed, the fanfare over this bill reminds me of an old "Mission Accomplished" banner that was likely burned after its ignominious appearance. (Or Debt Free if you prefer, but that might be too depressing)

Anyway, to show they are serious about this new Act, teachers are granted the right to suspend students for failure to report bullying or bullying behavior, which is really the incentive these snot nosed kids who keep quiet for fear of having their underpants permanently wedgied into their colon, need to speak up at the risk of their own safety.
But we can protect them!
Why cant you protect them before, then? Or protect the kids originally being bullied? The result of encouraging kids to snitch is sort of like fining prostitutes, it's just going to exacerbate the problem.

Further, should a students behavior become so bad that expulsion is necessary, the board may only expel a student if they have provided an alternative education program elsewhere. The onus is on the board to accommodate the hell raiser.

No matter the hype, it seems legislation underwhelms. The real difference will be from the school's specific policies.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Non-Strategic Voting

In Canada there is a debate between two types of voters: people that vote 'with their gut' and strategic voters. Since the conservatives are the party favored to win, strategic voting is typically reserved for people voting in the fashion most likely to unseat the incumbent Tory politician. This must take into account the fact that the Liberal opposition is not always the second candidate in the race - it is occasionally NDP, Bloc, or even Green, despite the fact that they have not attained a seat. This form of voting throws its support behind any other alternative, so long as it isn't Conservative (or, theoretically, whatever 'winning party' the voter dislikes.) On the flip side, voting with one's gut relies on the voter ignoring the dynamic, and focusing on the benefit gained from any vote to support a favored party/candidate; a lot of these voters think about the dollar funding given to a party from every vote they receive, and the candidate's likeliness to stay in politics if they are not elected in one race. 

The other dynamic in voting is between supporting the candidate in your riding and supporting the party they represent - both notions that are, in reality, fraught with peril. Finding official party platforms is incredibly easy, but forming a personal relationship with a candidate is easier. Considering how easily candidates swap parties, and that they are rarely required to vote with their party, a case could be made that it is more beneficial to vote far the candidate, hoping that they support your views regardless of the party.  However voting with the party could theoretically harness the support of a group of party MP's that support your views, though they may do so less of the time.

Observing the subsequent four voting profiles reveals the imbalances:
1. Voting with your gut for your candidate can yield the greatest satisfaction. If your candidate is elected, you are guaranteed someone in the house of commons that will accurately represent you. The downside is that you may or may not see much results from that representation, subject to the full house makeup.

2. Strategically voting for the candidate means that you will most likely not NOT support the person that is elected - this is different from supporting the candidate elected. This is the most rare voting style since it is not typically the case that people hate their candidate so much that they would support ANYone else (regardless of their beliefs.) This could be a good solution, however if you have been following your MP and dislike their voting history, but suspect they may win anyway.

3. Voting with your gut for a party means, again, that you can console yourself with the dollar of support if they lose, but you may also gain the benefit of mostly supporting what will occur in the house if the party wins and, again, harnessing a 'block' of votes in the house.

4. Strategically voting for a party means that you are more likely to enjoy election day, owing to the increased likelihood that the party you dislike will be ousted, but not necessarily the subsequent four years, since the elected MPs are more likely to be split between other parties.

Typically, then, if you want to micromanage your candidate and be heavily involved with politics your best plan is to vote for a candidate with your gut instinct (this requires the large amount of trust that if you find a candidate compelling, others will too, since if your candidate fails you are S.O.L)), but if you don't want to pursue further attention to politics, preferring to 'set-up' a government you like, then let them run it, you would benefit best from strategic party voting: It is easiest to assess a party by their history, and so you can examine the ruling party, decide if you like them or not, then take a minor gamble that the next party, whoever it is, will do better, since assessing the fitness of a party to run is ridiculously difficult.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Marriage of Indiscretion and Ambition

Picture a dark alleyway. Suddenly: yelling, a scuffle, a man is grabbed off the street. In the confusion the cellphone he carries falls unheeded to the ground. A van peals off, its unwilling passenger securely gagged in the back. The alleyway is silent again. Moments later, a man in a dark trench walks over to the fallen phone, picks it up - almost as if he knew exactly where it would be - and tosses it lightly hand to hand, smiling. He turns and stalks into the darkness.

A story has recently broken (or, well re-broken, since it was originally noticed September of 2010 by Paul Courbis) that the iPhone and iPad track their movements, in the form of a hidden encrypted file detailing latitude, longitude, and timestamp. The usual tinfoil-hat-wearing crowd has risked the deadly omega waves broadcast by their monitors to post comments about the corporate big brother using their whereabouts for nefarious purposes.

Hilariously, Apple users were already warned about the data collection in their terms and conditions where they say they may collect, use, and store location information including real-time geographic information. It reassures readers that it is collected and used anonymously, but this becomes most interesting when considered in concert with  Bill C-52, which I have groused about previously, that gives police the right to demand this information. This is the other half to the puzzle piece: the collection of such information as may be useful to the police. Bill C -52 is currently stalled with the House of Commons at its first reading, but when Parliament starts up again I'll be interested in watching the votes.

There is apparently, short of turning the device off, no way to disable this feature, since it continues its activities even while the GPS is turned off. But few people wander around with their cells turned off; well, until now anyway.

True, this has not been used in court, but the system has only been in place since June 2010, when the apple iOS 4 update wheedled its way down the pipes. I would predict a glut of cases involving this file hitting the courts for a while, until people either learn to turn it off before they commit crimes, or find a way to convincingly argue that their phone was not in their possession at the time.

Personally, I'm just waiting for the day when it becomes illegal to lend out your phone or the phone requires a spit sample to operate.

For now, of course, the information will likely be used for the most noble of its original purposes: commercial marketing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Weapon of the Strong

In previous posts I have lamented the over-emphasis on pacifism in the green movement - just because we feel we can trust an entity that is purporting to do good does not mean we can turn our brains off and bask in the glory. I have long speculated that it is a desperate attempt to get back the easiest state of our lives, when we could run around like idiots and let our parents worry about the details (like pants).

(I should point out here that no matter how much I support personal responsibility I can never condone the insensitive comments by Cheryl Gallant, the Ontario MP who callously said she wished that those who made their living on the sea would take more personal responsibility and not expect to be rescued by the coast guard ... while in St. John's ...  after hearing about two previous incidents where lives were lost at sea.)

One avenue, however, that I feel could benefit from a healthy dose of pacifism is Canada's Justice system and the public's views, assessments, and expectations of it. Since learning about the traditional Native approach to justice, I have seen the lack in our own. The Native approach favored rehabilitation and understanding, rather than punishment and retribution, and emphasized a holistic approach to fulfilling the needs of the victim and the criminal, the best approach to dealing with crimes of need or desperation, the most preventable (and most guilt-inducing for observers) crimes in our time.

The attempt to 'equalize' a wrong by aggressing on the guilty party will never build the victim back up, there is so little good to be gained from watching the suffering of another and it comes at the heavy cost of our personal humanity. The living embodiment of the alternate, pacifist approach is James Loney, a playwright who was interviewed recently about his time as a captive in Baghdad. Despite the fact that their friend had been killed by their captors, after they had been released they found the strength to forgive them, fearing if they had not, the kidnappers would have been subject to torture and death at the hands of law enforcement agents. As he says, the more we see humanity in others, the less we suffer.

The most important concept he espouses, in reaction to the interviewer's observation that without the army (here symbolizing non-pacifism) he would not have been freed, is that "it's bigger than [him]". It is true, sometimes but rarely, a concept or belief is greater than our lives, and just because it does not guarantee a happy ending, does not mean their comrade wouldn't die, does not mean it is not worthwhile. There is so much energy at the intersection of beliefs, dominant and challenging, that there are occasionally casualties, but it cannot demean the value of the belief, only the strength of the old ideal's entrenchment.

My only criticism is on the expectation that the victim will be able to forgive - this is expecting too much, and we cannot build a system hinging on the offering of the hardest sentiment to give freely, it expects too much of victims. Mr. Loney describes those who practice non-violence as "shock-absorbers", and it is a valid comparison, people offering themselves to absorb the energy  of anger and retribution - to stop the cycle. But the fact remains that a new system would be built on the strength of the human heart and the depth of our compassion, rather than the strength of our hate and the depth of our anger. 

The title is from Mahatma Ghandi: "Nonviolence is the weapon of the strong".

Monday, April 18, 2011

Another Orange Revolution

I must confess, I had written the NDP off as a coalition possibility or a form of strategic voting to indicate I didn't actually like having a say in who ran the country, but after seeing their massive jump in the polls, I've had to re-evaluate them as a contender.

A few surveys recently have put them directly under the conservatives, here in translated English or available here for the unfettered French,  but despite the significant sample size of two thousand the survey is undermined by its sampling bias. The survey was conducted on the Internet which is not only unscientific but also results in a younger demographic responding, who are already shown to have a more left-wing bias, or may not even be old enough to vote at all.

A more accurate view is available here, with the most interesting development being the large hike in popularity right after the debate, which public opinion typically credits them as 'winning', inasmuch as anyone can really 'win' standing around in a room hollering at each other through scarcely-related soundbites. This site breaks it down even further but might cause information overload. 

Historically, though, this vote-teasing is nothing new for the NDP, who suffer from blue ballot syndrome as the election approaches and voters get cold feet, similar to the 2008 election where voters fawned over the NDP's performance post-debate, but left them hanging at the polls.

There is still time to solidify this lead, however, so the next few weeks should be hectic for Layton.It is interesting to note that polls havwe shown up to 70% of Canadians would support a coalition; a strategic alliance could import the legitimacy they need; but who to party with? The Bloc seems a favored choice but might not use the full benefit of their lead in Quebec - one does not get elected on Quebec alone. If they could convince green party supporters to vote NDP we might see some life without compromising their vision.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Election Resources

 Still struggling with election decisions?

Check this out: Instant platform comparison on key issues!

This also: Find political party donation information.

Care how other people are voting? Serious statistics ahead.

REALLY like statistics? Check the polls on this one.

Forgot to catch the debate? Right here.

Forget to catch le debat?  Ici.
(Want to see that in english?)

And last: This classic.

Had enough? Relax.

cute baby animals - The Love Child of Tigger and a Heffalump
see more Daily Squee

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Wildcard Weekend: Vegan Week

Mostly out of an interest that I have fostered for a while, and also because of the recent controversy, I've decided to participate in Vegan week.

The controversy that broke only this past week was over the foremost vegan publication Vegnews. The website looked into some readers' concerns that pictures on the Vegnews website depicting recipes from the site were of real meat. It turns out they was simply using stock photos, occasionally photoshopped to seem legitimate. Vegans were hurt, many felt betrayed, and a mass movement to withdraw subscriptions followed. Although the usual complaining about "over reaction" drew discussion to an online screaming match, the discussions were interesting and I found myself siding with those who were offended. compassionate vegans hate the support of the meat industry, and health vegans deserve to know what their cooking will/ should look like. 

I harvested some recipes from here, and should I get desperate my Aunt and Uncle are both vegan, so I can relax and see what comes out of this. At the very least I have some awesome coconut freezies.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Twitchell Case

This is going to be a brief, blunt post because to be frank, I hate the fact that I am writing about this scumbucket at all. During the time the trial was progressing I tried to know as little as possible about the entire thing; the whole notion disgusted me. I wish I could say I was happy that he had been sentenced to first degree murder, but considering I had hoped we would reinstate the death penalty to deal with him, it is small comfort.
Wow. Okay, heavy handed much?
A little, I suppose, but hey, at least it isn't election news. The recent scandal at Guelph, the back-and-forth of Helena Guergis, and the constant "Harper bad/Harper good" rhetoric is starting to fray my nerves. So on to the point.

Twitchell was found guilty of first degree murder and, we hope, will never see the light of day unencumbered until such time as he is decrepit. But was justice served in the right way? It is now coming to the public attention that there were pieces of evidence that were never brought to the jury's attention. When he attempted to claim that he had killed in self-defense, the victim's mother made a statement about how her son would never have become violent. Admittedly, it is hard to take a grieving mother at her word, but the reliability of a testimony should be left up to the jury - this should not have been left out. Also left out were some of Twitchell's facebook updates, made under the pseudonym "Dexter Morgan", a serial killer from a popular TV show, which stated he was pleased with how the weekend's kill went - a few days after the murder.  (Being familiar with the show I find Twitchell's interest in it especially grotesque, considering the bulk of the show deals with Dexter's strict moral code to never kill an innocent person . Ironically, Dexter would have derided what Twitchell had done). This evidence, of course, could be explained away by considering he could simply have been discussing the show, but still lends a little more evidence to the depravity of the man.

The final piece of evidence not submitted is a series of entries to his diary. The majority of which discuss the actual process of dismembering his victim, which were omitted because it was felt they were too prejudicial to allow the jury to accurately assess Twitchell's guilt. There is so much wrong with this notion, I can not even begin to discuss. The reason they are too prejudicial is because they are damning evidence, if we begin a precedent of disqualifying over-obvious evidence, we run the risk of losing other cases, cases that might not be a slam-dunk as this one was.

The other entry that was not included is one in which Twitchell describes why he thinks he is a psychopath. This evidence should have been brought up to demonstrate why Twitchell is NOT a psychopath. The tone alternates between floating loftily above the "human race" and acknowledging his position among them. Occasionally he even lies to himself - declaring he is fully capable and functional in one paragraph, then complaining how he barely gets by on menial jobs in another; describes how he never feels pity or remorse, then waxes poetic about experiencing all of life's emotions; discusses how to best mislead his wife, while putting women on a pedestal. He reminds himself to lie to his wife while preventing future slip-ups; not something a true psychopath ever forgets since lying is not a conscious act for them, it is done in the same fashion as you or I might swat at a mosquito - to achieve an end. As if all this was not compelling enough, he confesses he feels a great love for his daughter - something psychopaths are literally incapable of doing.

Even the very fact that he felt the need to sit down and write all this tripe out, in a self-aggrandizing, self-important, preposterous fashion, disqualifies him from being a genuine psychopath. They don't need reminding, or a pat on the back for how they are, they just know it, and if there's a label - whatever.

My friend, a graduate student in psychology, had a more accurate assessment for him - he is simply delusional. Maintaining delusions of grandeur, that he was some sort of mastermind, genius, or executioner, while operating on the lowest level of competence possible for living an independent existence. Given that he probably considers the resultant fame from this a "compliment" I shall speak no more on him, suffice to say this: the best revenge we can give him is to forget even his name.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Four Horsemen Appeared - Debate 2011

It can't be helped, my first thought on the debate was "Why is that not Rick Mercer?" Not that I think he would lend anything useful to the debate, but mostly because I like his face. The inaugeral question  is about how the Conservatives can justify corporate tax cuts when "ordinary people" are struggling for income. The man leading the debate states that the leaders know the rules of the debate and agree to stick to them, which is kind of hilarious considering I don't think they do, but how would we know? Much like parliament.

Harper: There are currently no corporate tax cuts in the budget, we did that years ago, but we do not plan on raising corporate taxes since it will just hurt our economy.
Duceppe: Congratulations on actually answering a citizen's question. You spent money needlessly and recklessly on the G8 summit. Can we have that report?
H: It's the Auditor General's report but, we stand by our expenditures.
D: In 2008 you didn't think there was going to be a recession, contrary to evidence. We saved Canada by ignoring your desire to cut corporate taxes. Why hasn't the forestry sector in Quebec been given as much money as the Automobile sector in Ontario?
H: In 2008 we pulled out a huge stimulus package. We are currently helping the forestry industry in Ontario; the auto industry is less interesting.
D: Was there a stimulus plan on November 14, of 2008?
H: That was a fiscal update, not the budget.
D: Lies! There was nothing about a stimulus plan.
H: It would have been good if you had supported it, but you voted it down.
D: It hung the forestry sector out to dry.
H: In Quebec, we were supporting the industry, you guys voted against it.
D: You gave NFLD/LAB money to build hydro industry, but we financed ours by ourselves, without a single penny from federal government.
H: We treat all provinces equitably, we've supported you elsewhere.
Ignatieff: Hey, let's kick this back to the real question: How can you justify $6 billion in corporate tax cuts and the G8 issue? That wasn't a 'stimulus plan', you wasted money then lied about it.
H: Again, the auditor general said that report was not reliable. We stand by our expenditure. (Ignatieff yells about how they were not approved by public officials) We are not lowering corporate taxes. If we raise their taxes they will raise prices.
L: You are approving corporate tax cuts, why are you lying? Plus, Ignatieff supported those cuts. You used to care. What changed? What day did the music die?
H: No, seriously, no tax cuts. For real, real. We're maintaining health care transfers and stuff.
D: Jim Flaherty went on record saying they had a list of programs that would be cut to reduce the deficit.
H: We don't need to cut programs. We're cool.We're going to find 5% in 'efficiency cuts'.
I: You are cutting, you have cut, you will cut. You caused the recession.
H: You picked on me, and now we have an unnecessary election. We're still doing okay. The jets really need replacing. In five years we'll spend money, then have them for twenty years. You can't promise to cancel them.
(Incomprehensible arguing at this point)
L: The billions you will spend will come from cuts to necessary programs. The policies are creating a horrible economy - we need to be more responsible.
H: We have balanced policies; remember how we are totally out of this recession?
D: "How much cost a plane?" We need proof for that. Come with facts, figures.
H: We've been clear about the plane budget. It's five years away - screw it. You can't pay for promises today by cancelling an expenditure five years away.
I: How could you favour the G8 summit when you could have done so much for programs with that money? If we raise corporate taxes to 18% we could educate everyone!
H: We can't raise the taxes, we have to grow the economy. It's a competitive tax rate. Now that we're in to corporate tax cuts, we're in it to win it. We are getting investment from this.
L: The businesses waste it though, and we have no say. Let's give money to small businesses that will do for certain what we want: Job creation.
H: We have cut rates for every business. That's why the Canadian Chamber of Commerce doesn't support any other party's tax plans.
L: Oh! They totally supported us!! Check your sources, k?

Question two from Mississauga, What is the leader's visions for Canada on the international stage? What will each of you do to resurrect our positive image on the national stage?
I: The summit sucked so bad that we were denied our security seat in the UN. Mr. Harper can't stand up for democracy or freedom.
L: The senate just blocked bill C-393. No wonder the rest of the world thinks we're douchebags. Our foreign aid budget is dead. We should be bringing our troops back from Afghanistan, but now we have 3 more years.
I: We're bringing back the combat troops; but we can't abandon the Afghani people. We've got to stay in as a training force.
L: You sound like Harper. We're focusing too much on our troops, and it's over-shadowing other concerns. I have a question for you now.
I:  So we should just ignore the sacrifices that were made?
L: We need a new approach. How can Canadians trust you when you say one thing, then do another. You supported tax cuts. Now you don't. You supported the HST. You are Mr. Harper's best friend.
I: Don't change the subject! We care deeply about Canada's foreign image.
L: So why did you freeze the Foreign aid budget?
I: I do want African aid solutions.

Harper: Obviously Afghanistan is important. We are engaged and contributing, we should be united in that belief.
D: When I see our foreign policy, I hate it - they are a strain to our Canadian history.
H: When you talk about our values, right now in Libya we have people lead by a Canadian protecting civilians from atrocities.
D: You wanted to go into Iraq.
I: You lost our seat, that was a lock and you lost it. The summit was stupid and you did it anyway. Why did you cut KAIROS funding? You shut everything down. You want too much control! You show too little respect for democracy.
H: I was just at an international meeting for foreign aid. the recession was because of the global economy, the summits helped with that, including helping the world out of debt. They are important.
L: Why are we being cited with contempt? Why are we so secretive? You are so closed off! Give us the G8 report!
H: Oh yah, I'd love to, but the Auditor General said no. (Many objections from the other leaders here) We are recovering so well, but this election might ruin it. We need to get back to work!
I: We're having an election because you hate democracy and we have no confidence in you. Minister Oda mislead the House of Commons. You lied and destroyed democracy.
H: That's simply not correct. We have independent confirmation. You guys ganged up on us. Canadians don't want this focus on squabbling, but we have it anyway.
D: When you were the opposition you said the PM should always respect the HoC, all else is immoral. So why, now that you are the Prime Minister, is it okay to mislead the House of Commons?
H: We've run the longest minority in history, we try to listen to everyone, but we're not always going to agree. Deal with it.
L: The HoC brings things up that you reject, like our climate bill. You killed it with the senate that is made up of your cronies. Why do you hate democracy?
H: We're opposed because it just sets targets with no plan. We're achieving the same ends with other , more effective policies.
L: You don't really want to stop climate change. You have buddies in the oilsands!
I: You shut down good organizations because you disagreed with them. You need to respect democracy. Our international image suffers because our domestic view on democracy is butt.
H: Our foreign aid is largely private and we aren't shutting them down. We have many that are doing good. We are making a difference,
D: *statistics* What is the explanation?
H: Are those foreign aid statistics? We haven't reduced foreign aid, we're just making it more efficient.
D: You wasted money on GM in Detroit!

Question three: Sam Diamond asks since the next government is likely to be a minority, how are you going to work with the other parties to work well and efficiently?
H: I hope it's a majority. This is stupid. We've tried to play nice.
I: Does anyone remember the contempt? Remember him shutting down the gov't twice? He just wants control! We have to rebuild our democracy now.
(There is a pause, filled with silence)
Steve: C'mon guys - stick it to each other!
H: Yah, thanks. Hey, we put in a budget, it had good stuff, and everybody liked it, but if you guys give me another minority, we'll go through more elections.
I: You haven't earned a majority. You don't trust us. You threw someone out of your meetings. You don't trust Canadians. Why are you afraid?
H: I've been everywhere, We've stayed connected to Canadians. This bickering isn't any good for Canada. We trust Canadians' judgements.
I: Nu-uh. You totally threw people out. Contempt. Shut down parliament.
H: Well you ganged up on us. Jeopardizing the economy.
I: You don't listen to parliament. Which is us, of course. You stiffed Parliament.
H: We have given you all the documents at all times. Opposition is not willing to take "yes" for an answer.
I: We aren't "bickering"; this is democracy. This is what democracy is.
Layton: Aren't these guys dumb? This is why Ottawa sucks right now. Sam's right, We should be able to work together. That can be a good thing.
H: We can work together. We have been for a while. You guys ganged up on us. We were doing fine. Also we totally had to carry Canada through the recession.
D: Well the Liberals didn't want an election so they took mercy on you. If a proposal is good, it's good. Back when Paul Martin was kicking around in 2004, if he lost confidence; Layton, you, and I had a letter for the Governor general of options other than an election. We supported you.
H: Hey, we signed a cooperation, but it wasn't a coalition. We weren't trying to replace the government; I wouldn't have done that. The Liberals won, you can't replace a winning government with a losing government. We respected that. Duceppe can't just pick the leader.
L: You were all set to be the PM. I left because I didn't want you to be.
D: I know what we did, I am the only one with no misconceptions.
L: You said there was no possibility of a coalition, Duceppe.
D: We agreed he would be the Prime Minister!
(Heated argument by all parties)
I: Coalition is out for me.
L: Oh I see, you are the only party available, eh? Well, we'll see what the Canadians want.
I: Of course, I would never presume to tell Canadians what they want. I respect everyone here, I'm just saying I don't want a coalition.
L: So why are you supporting him?
H: I'm just saying, I think if you get the seats, you get the government. Otherwise we had shadow councils deciding who runs the country.
I: Whoever gets the most votes get the chance to try for the confidence of the house.
H: Whoever gets the most seats gets the government. Not a chance to TRY for the house.
I: That's what I said!
H: Nu-uh. You think the house gets to decide with the public's recommendation.
D: You don't get a government with the most seats if don't have the confidence of the house.

H: The Tory party was not going to form a government when we lost the election in 2004 that makes no sense. We totally respect Canadians. I just really want a majority or else things are going to suck.
L: Harper could be happy with less than a majority of Canadians supporting him. There's something wrong there. We need to change our democratic system. Proportional representation. Also the senate should be abolished.
I: What really matters is if you can trust the leader. We cannot trust Harper. You haven't earned a majority because you don't respect our majority.
H: I don't believe the truth of what you are saying. We totally respect the process.
L: I gotta ask Ignatieff why he has the lowest attendance rate in parliament? If you don't show up you don't get a promotion. You missed 70% of the votes.
I: Because you don't respect the process, you haven't even earned a minority. Who is going to replace you? Liberals!

Question four From Montreal Quebec, how do you envision the global make-up of our country over the next thirty years?
D: We have to assimilate them, while respecting their differences. We are primarily French and English speaking; multi-culturalism is not a Quebec value. (He really shouldn't argue like this - we could use the same argument to assimilate Quebecois.) I'm a bloke who turned Bloc. (this is hilarious with his accent)
L: We are going to have continuing immigration because we don't have enough babies to grow our economy. Thank goodness we have a good immigration policy. Current policies don't let people bring over their families - meaning after working here, immigrants are leaving for back home.
D: Immigrants are good, but I'm tired of them being portrayed as criminals. (At this point I think he says they came from their home countries in "that kind of shit")
L: I agree, hopefully we won't have Harper. There's too much focus on the immigrant as a political/economic unit. They don't recognize credentials. We are trying to reverse that by mentoring people with someone in the field to gain the "Canadian" experience.
D: Would you agree that Quebec should be allowed to set its own immigration policies?
L: You do now, right? Yeah, that's important. That should apply.
D: What about Bill 101? That doesn't apply to transportation, telecommunications, or banks.
I: Hey, I'm an immigrant too! The key to successful immigration policy is mastery of the language. Why did the Harper government cut settlement funding? We need to focus on equality of rights.
H: We tripled settlement funding. We understand about multiculturalism, those who leave other countries want to belong to this country.
(Harper is lucky in that he can play up how awesome Canada is, get the patriot vote, and take credit.)
L: The program was inadequate, but why did you cut settlement services? Currently they arrive and there is no support.
H: We didn't. We totally tripled it.
L: Why are there so many temporary foreign workers?
H: We have people coming in with jobs, then they stay. Work helps people adjust.
I: I think if Harper had been in power when my dad was coming over we wouldn't be here.

H: Stop making cheap shots to "get points"
D: Why do you guys hate Bill 101?
H: We respect the division of powers enshrined in our constitution. Hey, talk some more about how you can't be Quebec and multi-cultural. One can retain their culture and still integrate.
D:  We don't want to create ghettos.
H: Hey! We don't make ghettos!
L: We should be keeping families together. Let's make a pact to do that together.
H: There will always be more people wanting in than we can let in.  Somebody's got to be left out.
I: We should take the politics out of immigration. It's currently "ethnic" and "Very ethnic". If we start micro targeting communities, pitting them against each other, we're going to break up a multicultural society.
H: I've made it my goal to help immigrants, and then they vote for us so Ha.

Question five, from Gibsons B.C is concerned about public safety. What are you going to do to deal with criminals and their light sentences?
I: Well, we shouldn't import failed prison policies from the U.S. Huge prisons are stupid. To be tough on crime, we have to be tough on guns. Gang violence is a huge problem. The registry is awesome. We have to learn from America's failures. Oh, and better victim's services.
D: A lot of demaggery [sic] on being tough on crime, but it is not so. "The criminal rate is declining." I agree American politics are stupid; they revolve around big guns and big prisons, but eliminating the registry is dumb. Police think so, Quebec thinks so.
I: Let's learn from Quebec's policy on offenders. I like it. There has to be consequences for actions. We need police resources, registry. Most people in our prisons haven't finished high school.
D: Mr. Harper said you won't "come back" on abortion. I worry about making abortion illegal again.
I: Oh, That's just politics of fear. You can't exploit crime victim's irrational fear. Like Harper does.
L: We've got to focus on crime prevention, like support for young people who may be tempted by "bling".
I: We need balance in this, not like Harper. Crime prevention will tip the kid towards high school rather than gang life. You can lock people up forever, but it makes people worse.
H: We're making investments in crime prevention programs. We had it in the budget, but that's stalled because you guys suck. We need to make sure the punishment fits the crime.
D: Instead of debating and getting experts, you just put everything in the same bill. You aren't even consulting people.
H: There were two bills; we've ended the practice of having offenders only serving 1/6th of their sentence before applying for parole, but you guys didn't like that.
L: "Why do we need so many more prisons when the crooks seem so happy in the senate?" but seriously, violence against woman would stop if we had more women in parliament. We're doing that. First nations and Inuit women have the worst situation. We need education, houses, clean water. We need to focus on these issues.Have I mentioned corporate taxes suck lately?
I: Please remember the Polytechnique massacre. Obviously to help women we need gun control. Harper will gut the registry, ignoring that the police use it. We don't send anyone in w/o checking the registry.
L: I don't support the registry. Stop using it to divide Canadians, we need real, effective gun control.
H: You can have gun control without the registry.  You are just harming hunters and farmers.
I: Woman don't care what type of gun it is - long, short, they're DEAD.
H: The registry doesn't work like that.

Sixth question is about health care - In the last health accord between provinces and the federal government, provinces were made responsible for wait times. What is next to improve the health care system?
L: Who do you trust? You should trust NDP. Because the NDP in a minority parliament brought forth the program. We've got to ensure ongoing funding. We can't wait, we have to hire doctors and nurses now. Fund home care and additional care, buy more beds. Harper didn't care to do anything about health care. In your budget you mentioned some rural community doctor credit, but moving them isn't a solution.
H: The 6% increase in gov't transfers to the provinces has been in every budget. We included ending the cap on medical expense income tax exemption.
L: Previous parties you've been in didn't support health care, but did support privatization. Why should we trust that you've changed?
H: I'm changed, baby, I'm a new party-man! No one should be denied health care because they can't pay
L: So, why is there so much privatization?
H: Alternative service delivery isn't privatization. We aren't going to punish provinces for new delivery methods, we just want results.
L: You aren't helping families right now.
D: Stop interfering with Quebec. That's our jurisdiction. We have to make sure they have the money but then respect the fact that they have expertise.
I: The feds have a place in health care, assuming it's within their jurisdiction. Health care shouldn't be different from province to province. Either spend on tax breaks, jets, prisons, big gifts, or health care. We've committed to a 6% increase in funding, how do we get drive and change?
H: We want to keep the economy on track, you guys cut a bunch of funding to get stuff for tax cuts.
L: Nobody wants to do anything for health care right now.
I: That's so not true, we've got a family care policy. We need more health, not necessarily more health care. Prevention is worth pound of cure.
L: That's a promise you can't keep.
I: Hey, you can't even get elected.
D: There is too much money in Ottawa if we are negotiating between bureaucrats and stuff we need. We should figure out who will give what to whom.
Steve: You all are promising a lot...can you actually deliver? (Who would say no?)
H: Of course. We are going to continue and maintain these programs.
L: It's about making choices. Harper's promising too much.
I: We'll find the money from corporations and jets.
D: Stop giving corporations money.

Layton's final: Liberals Conservatives suck. give us the chance to fight for you.
Duceppe: Quebec must become a country. But while we're tethered to you, we'll support you.
Ignatieff: Choose a government that respects democracy. Harper sucks. Family.
Harper: We're focused on the economy. We need a strong, stable, conservative majority.

Well, I'm glad that's over. It was entertaining as hell, but draining.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Portion of Thyself

 In honor of National Organ and Tissue Donor week, which runs April 18th to 25th, I figured I would draw attention to both the process of indicating a willingness to donate as well as some legislation that may help the whole process, considering the dire statistic that only 13 in a million Canadians donate.

A good site that is broken down into provinces is, which links to several other sites containing information about donations. Health link Alberta also included some "Donations for dummies" bullet points for those who wish to donate but aren't sure where it starts. For those who are too terrified after seeing the old Monty Python skit, I'm afraid you are on your own.

How can I become an organ or tissue donor?
While you are alive:
  • discuss your wishes regarding organ and tissue donation with your family and give them clear directions about what you would like to see done in the event of your death
  • sign the back of your Alberta Health Care card if you wish to be an organ and/or tissue donor
  • If you want to be a living donor, (for kidney, bone marrow or a lobe of the liver only):
  • contact your local Bone Marrow Registry or transplant program
  • find out what your blood group is
  • have your doctor do a medical check-up to ensure that you are healthy
  • make sure that you are coming forward as a donor willingly
  • be aware that the process of becoming a living donor requires about three months of testing, education and communication with your doctor(s)

 In the Alberta legislature Bill 201 is approaching it's third reading, making it mandatory to indicate your decision on organ donation on your health care card, but considering one can answer "yes", "no" or "undecided", I anticipate a large amount of people simply bothering to answer "undecided". The majority will likely answer "yes", likely, so it's still a win, and every life saved by forcing someone to answer about their organs is a win, but it still seems to defeat the purpose including an "undecided" option.

There's also some debate about which card to use, health care, should driver's license be valid, etc. but I agree with the MP's that say this is ridiculously delaying a necessary legislation.

Incidentally, deputy Government House Leader, vice-chair of the Cabinet Policy Committee on Resources and Environment, Rob Renner, went on record saying pursuant the the oil sands, that  "resource belongs to the people of Alberta, and it is Alberta that is responsible for developing that resource". It feels pretty good to have a house official stating it's our sandbox to play in.

The title is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson - "The only gift is a portion of thyself."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Silence may be Golden, but Truth is Diamond Plated

I have already made it clear that I disapprove of the Catholic school board being a publicly funded entity because it supports views I do not support, but am forced to finance anyway. Lately it seems we cannot open a paper without a new story of discrimination: The students suspended for wearing "Choice" stickers in Ontario, The students being disallowed from forming a GLBTQ awareness group (Again, Ontario), and Mrs. Hunter from Morinville who was dismissed for wanting secular education for her children (In the same board as this issue, the Greater St Albert Catholic School Board). Each time the school board would defend themselves by talking about their beliefs and their rights to act in this fashion.

Recently, however a substitute teacher who had recently undergone a sex change was fired; the official paperwork praised his skills but said his values were not in line with the school, he was directly told “gender change is not aligned with the teachings of the Church” and would bring about “confusions and complexity with students and parents as a model and witness to Catholic faith values.”

They attempted to pay him off with what has been officially considered a "generous offer", $78,000 or a one year teaching contract (There is some confusion about whether the offer was money "or" teaching, or money "and" teaching) , in exchange for his silence, but he refused. I don't mind saying I tear up a little when he speaks about refusing the money because he believed it would be selling his human rights. The precise right he is alleging violation is medical disability, physical disability and gender, since he was diagnosed with a gender identity medical condition (I like this so much better than the old phrase "gender identity disorder"). From that perspective, he has a rock solid case.

Now the board plans to wage a war of attrition. The Alberta Teacher's Association stated that since he was offered a substantial sum, he is not entitled to any financial compensation for his human rights complaint (and I thought MY union was bad...)Worse, since a "fair and reasonable" settlement was put on the table and rejected, there is speculation that the case will be dismissed. If the board genuinely believes that some cash is a fair substitute for the right of transgendered people to live and work as they choose, I don't think they should be in charge of education.

The strength of this man to continue on, turn down money and security, for the purpose of making things better for those who come after, is remarkable. After the stagnation of Bill C-389 in the senate, this is one more greatly needed step forward for GLBTQ rights. Even if this dies, we should not stop talking about it.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Tom Wolfe Approves

Although I shall shamefacedly admit I had not heard of him prior to this story breaking, it seems Alberta is in a tizzy over comments made by the Alberta Liberal candidate John Reilly. Mr. Reilly, who has previously served for over thirty years as a judge, said that he felt that mandatory sentences, specifically he was speaking in cases of sexual assault, were unnecessary and mitigated the discretion of the judge.  He made the mistake of downplaying a sexual assault which occurred at a party, saying he felt it was unnecessary for the offender to go to prison for three years.

The response has been varied, from suggesting he should be removed from election consideration to simply shrugging that "At least he's not as bad as that Forbes guy." He has since issued an apology and Ignatieff has said Reilly will continue to run in the Wild Rose district.

There are a lot of factors at play here, from the damage done to the Liberal party, already harmed for being known as 'soft on criminals', to the promotion of his career since, as they say, there is no bad publicity. One commenter on the site which held the transcript observed that the interviewer questioned Reilly's stance on sexual assault sentences by asking how Mr. Reilly would feel if it was "his daughter"; the commenter felt that the appeal to the emotion side of people was low, and noted that his own daughters hated being used as political pawns. It is true the victim needs to be considered in the justice system, probably more than they currently are, but simply holding them up as withering violets is an argumental straw man, and demeans victims by making us desensitized to the reality of their plight.

The biggest objection that I have, and I am pretty sure Mr. Reilly simply missed it because he had spent so many years making judgements, relying on his own tuition, and building a solid base of experience, is that we can not always count on the lucid, rational, sober thought of judges. People are fallible, and easily swayed by day to day events and subconscious mores. Moreover, the primary point of the minimum sentence is twofold: first, a safeguard to demonstrate what we will not tolerate in our society; second, a deterrent in our justice system to discourage people from engaging in the activity and thinking they can just 'play it off' later.

I am not sure if he should be removed from the running, but I am pretty sure that he should be made to observe many other judges holding court, preferably ones with ideals he may not agree with, before he is allowed to comment on the justice system again, especially when he hopes to further more "enlightened" solutions.

The Title refers to a quote from Tom Wolfe that "A liberal is a conservative who has been arrested"

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Clingy Girlfriend's Bill

Despite the excitement of the Slutwalk and the election, it is imperative that we remain attentive to the processes occurring in our fair province. We have been struggling recently with missing persons, the most prominent lately being the disappearance of Lyle and Marie McCann, an elderly couple whose burnt trailer was discovered a few days after their disappearance was noticed by family. In response, the Alberta legislature has proposed Bill 8, which a few defenders of the private domain have ruffled their feathers over, but has received almost no major news coverage; I assume because it just isn`t as interesting as the latest Oilers loss (Have I complained about the coverage of sports in my local papers yet?). The level of outrage has been nowhere near proportional to the incursions onto our rights that is perpetrated in this bill, so I had to dust off my Police State Panic Pants for some good, hard, freaking out. 

The bill defines a missing person as someone whose whereabouts are unknown despite reasonable effort to locate them and whose health and safety are under concern due to mental or physical capabilities. This seems perfectly reasonable, if it were not completely undone by the first clause, which allows police to consider anyone 'missing' who has not contacted someone who could reasonably expect contact. Proof positive that legislation is weirder than your imagination. I can picture some stereotypical mother in the police station, "But officer! He hasn`t phoned his mumsie in two days; he`s gotta be missing!"(Missing children are no laughing matter, but paranoid parents with capable adult children are)

Even less comfortable is the abilities that are given to officers in their pursuit of missing persons; if given a court order they have the ability to rifle through financial information, travel or employment histories, health information, phone or GPS logs, and even, if they suspect a missing person is at the location, to enter a location without invitation. Furthermore, they don't even have to justify the invasion of privacy with results, the order applies if it would assist in the investigation of the missing person. In cases where the health and safety of the person is at risk, not even the basic order requirement holds.

The media seem to be portraying this as an honourable bill that will somehow magically ensure every missing person is brought home, but the reality of the bill is too excessive for comfort. Its second reading has been delayed, and I hope this will provide enough time for people to familiarize themselves with this bill, and decide whether they want to allow this or not.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Slutwalk 2011: Taking Back the Right (to dress sexy)

Good Morning, my Darling Readers.
Have you been pissed off yet, today? Would you like some spite and vinegar to get you going this morning?
Needless to say if you don't feel like being uncomfortably angry all day, you should perhaps come back to this post when you have an hour to stew and rage.

When I had first read about a controversy where a Toronto Police Officer was being criticised for his advice to University students, I did not make a post about it, mostly because the controversy raging was something I was struggling with internally. The officer had suggested that to avoid being raped, the female students should not dress "like sluts".

On one hand, it seemed like sage advice; if I don't want to get frostbite, I dress warmly. The whole issue is about cause and effect, personal responsibility, it seemed to suggest.

But after focusing on the evidence, my own personal philosophy, and spurred by the sexist, misogynistic, disgusting comments on this website, I realized not only is this complete bullshit, but it is a 'gateway belief' to more disgusting beliefs that tend to manifest once the focus has been "properly centered" on the victim, rather than the rapist.

First off, the principle relies on the notion of "victim-blaming" whereby people think the woman could have "prevented" the rape, or that she "had it coming", ignoring the fact that only 2% of reported rapes are committed by strangers, which is, of course, what proponents of this theory think of when they think of rape: some young woman in a short skirt and low shirt walking around in high heels, when some seedy man catches sight and become so aroused that he assaults her. Not that a woman dressed attractively to go on a date where sex might even be a possibility, but when she decides it is not a possibility her date forces himself on her. The woman on Slutwalk (the response to the officer's comments - women marched in "slutty" clothes to reinforce sex-positive notions) had a saying, "A woman isn't raped because of what she is wearing, a woman is raped because a man raped her!" (True females occasionally rape, but 99% of cases are a male perpetrator)
When we focus on the victim and how they can 'prevent' rape, we encourage circumstances like the fact that a survey on date rape showed that 60% of Canadian college-aged males indicated that they would commit sexual assault if they were certain they would not get caught. (Helen Lenskyj, "An Analysis of Violence Against Women: A Manual for Educators and Administrators," Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 1992)

This leads us to the next fallacy, that rape is about sexual gratification. If one takes a little while to peruse the avenues for various sexual outlets, it becomes obvious after only a short while that there are systems in place to acquire sex or sexual gratification. What rape is about, rather than the sex that could be obtained elsewhere, is about the power trip. The control over another person. The release of the frustration that comes when men believe that woman should 'give it up' or that woman are withholding sex because the man won't say/do the right thing,  which eventually leads to the idea that the man should just 'take it'.

I won't even get started on the effects of the 'sex negative' culture we have propagated on the notion that prostitutes are "dirty", "cheap", or "less than human" that often leads men to believe they "shouldn't have to resort" to hiring a professional - this tends to lead to the notion that sexual woman are 'not worthy', that woman shouldn't want sex. People that believe woman should dress conservatively to avoid being raped tend to ignore that a woman can want sex, and dress to entice that from someone, while not wanting it from every/anyone.

Continuing this ridiculous notion, if we are to assume that rape is committed because someone is dressed sluttily (I don't think that's a word, but deal with it) we run into problems when we consider child or elder sexual assault. Not to say the elderly can't dress attractively (Another aspect of sex-negative culture is that once you hit a certain age you no longer have the 'right' to have sex or be sexually aroused), but it certainly calls into question what exactly could be considered 'provocative' when we consider all these other victims, and saying the motivation was the person's appearance can cause us to throw our hands up and wonder what the hell we should look like, then, if anything can be considered sexually attractive.

Another ideal that seems to come hand-in-hand with this set of beliefs is that woman should feel lucky, or flattered that someone wants them. (I cannot make this up) Some comments from the website particularly reflects this:
"These women say they dress like that because it makes them feel good. Crap. They dress like that so that they will be noticed.. and hoping that ‘something’ might come out of it...Oh and by looking at the picture .. honestly who would want them anyway."

"WOW!!! somebody should have been throwing dollar bills at them to but their clothes back ON. Good lord that’s a scary crowd!

" some of those women could walk down the street stark naked and be in no danger of being raped whatsoever. This is because some women are ugly cunts and not all men are rapists." 

This notion then causes us to wonder, while we dress in the morning, what is considered "slutty"; what is too low, too plunging, too tight etc. It causes woman to wonder if they should wear shorts to the gym. If men 'can't' control themselves when they see short shorts, why would the gym make a difference? Worse, this focus then leads to the 'retroactive' set of criteria for clothing; if a woman was raped, it is obvious that what she was wearing was too slutty.When we focus on this aspect, we ignore must more useful, better advice: Tell someone where you are going and with whom when on a date, don't drink or do drugs to excess without a responsible sober buddy, and trust your gut. If something doesn't feel right, get out of that situations. The only effect your clothes should have is how fast you can get away in your heels.

The final argument against this type of 'advice' is the fact that rape is tragically under-reported in Canada, and when pressed, 64% of woman stated that they felt fear and shame . If we continue to tell woman that they can prevent rape, if it ever occurs, they will be less likely to get help because they think they could have prevented it. It is strange that people could put forth this notion, but we do not automatically assume that if one's car is the victim of a hit and run, one must have parked like a douche, and thus, "had it coming".

A good website, a movement against rape that I can actually support is available here:, and it focuses on teaching men not to rape, rather than trying to teach woman not to be raped. My favorite poster is the one that says, "My strength is not for hurting so when I wasn't sure how she felt, I asked", since it reminds me of the "Yes means yes" movement.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Budgeting the Balance

I have finally figured out what the conservatives are offering this election. While other parties have offered fancy, exciting, subsidies and other programs, the Tories have put forth only hesitant, cautious programs that may or may not materialize in a few years, once they balance the books.
That, right there, is the main message of their campaign. Once more, in slow motion, for anyone who missed it: Once they balance the books.

Every program being introduced (except scrapping the long-gun registry - which I wish did not compel me as much as it did) comes with the rider that it can only happen after they balance the books. Only the conservatives can make the claim that they can balance the books, since they have the closest community with the budget and fiscal reality of our country right now, and it serves to underscore the attitude they present that they 'know what they're doing' and 'they have been in power for a while now.' If the conservative party could roll up its sleeves, I have no doubt they would be rolling right now.

Taking this tack ensures that every benefit brought up by other parties, any new programs, looks financially irresponsible because they are spending money while we are running a deficit. The hilarious benefit for this is that the stronger promise made by the other parties, the bigger the benefit for the conservatives; Especially considering some of the monetary promises being offered by the Liberals for this election. Even considering the hike in corporate tax rate, and the promise to lower the deficit to 1% of the GDP by the second year, the final bill looks daunting.

The solitary position the conservatives take (anyone who has seen the CBC voting compass should be aware how lonely the Conservative's position is - they look like the kid who farted during class photos) ensures that anyone who drifts their direction is going to be sucked into the gravity well of idealism that is the Conservative stance. Considering the recent panic over Canadian household debt, this means anyone with an predilection to 'save' is going to drift in the Conservative's direction, whether they like it or not (subconscious priming is very powerful).

All these factors add up to make a hell of a stealthily effective campaign. Except for the fighter jet issue. What the hell is with that?

The title is a quote I found online:
"After the government takes enough to balance the budget, the taxpayer has the job of budgeting the balance."
— Unknown

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Wildcard Weekend: Tell me, have you seen her?

This video, to inspire awareness about a global health hazard, has apparently been broadcast since mid-March, but despite the fact that it is being promoted by Journalists, I have seen neither hide nor hair of it.

Now that we're all sad, here's something a little happier to cheer us up: a flash mob in the Beirut Airport.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Post on the Run: Part 1

Sorry if this post seems hasty, It has been a long day already. We were awakened this morning by a brutal knocking on the door, someone really hammering in an overly authoritarian fashion, and we stumbled downstairs in housecoats and slippers to answer what we were sure was of critical importance. I assumed the worst - I am prone to fatalism - but Victor was sure it was some mundane mail issue. It was only when he noticed the cherry-blue lights outside that he began to sweat in the same way I did. I remember the officer doffed his hat slightly when we opened the door, but he didn't seem the slightest bit sorry or respectful.
"You've left your Christmas lights up, folks. I'm afraid I am authorized to give you a five hundred dollar fine for failure to remove Holiday paraphernalia before the city of Edmonton has deemed it necessary. New Christmas bylaw."
Victor and I blearily stared at each other, wondering if he was joking, before turning back to him.
"We don't really have a ladder, we just left them up from the last owners of the house and just turn them on during the season."
He didn't seem to care much, just said,
"I'm afraid that's not good enough, guys. If you are unable to remove the decorations in a timely fashion, I have the authority to take you in."
We protested but he waved over a large group of officers, and I realized they were serious. Victor and I negotiated to at least change out of our pajamas before we were arrested, and we invited the officers to relax in our newly renovated living room while we dressed.
Upstairs, we hatched a desperate plan. We grabbed the backpacks, conveniently left loaded for camping, quietly opened the window, and ditched out of the house.
We've been on the run for the greater part of the morning now, and already we've seen wanted pictures up - I look like an idiot though, little chance anyone will recognize us. Anyway, I can't disclose our location, but we wanted to let our families know we are safe, but have no intention of going down for this. Not us. Oh no.
Anyone wishing to leave us rations can leave them in the second dumpster by the T&T supermarket at West Edmonton mall until the second week of April. After that, we'll be out of state. We've got a man to see about a snow globe.