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worldwide wednesdays :: news of no interest

because it's boring week, i thought i would regale you with a few completely uninteresting things that have been happening in the world we live in. there are lots of reasons why you don't generally hear about these things through the north american media, but the most important one is that they're just boring and have no real consequence for anyone. but hey, this isn't where you come for hard news [i hope].

1. hong kong had an election :: of course, there's no reason you need to care about this unless you live in hong kong, or possibly china. who pays attention to state elections like that anyway? well, ok, it turns out china is kind of paying attention, because the election saw pro-democracy parties increase the number of seats it holds, strengthening its power to veto important pieces of legislation. however, that doesn't represent a radical shift. sure, those parties now have 30 out of 70 seats, but they had 27 before, so the increase is pretty marginal. so there's nothing even mildly curious about any of this, with the possible exception that six of the new members of the legislature are younger folk, some of whom are affiliated with the hong kong occupy movement, who don't just advocate democracy, but separatism. for some reason, china seems to take a lot of interest in the idea that their predominant financial and business hub could just decide to sever ties and ride off into the capitalist/ democratic sunset.

2. bolivia's deputy interior minister was murdered :: surely, getting beaten to death by miners is just one of the risks of being a politician in south america, right? well, maybe there's something just a little interesting in this story, because the deputy minister was actually part of the socialist government of evo morales, which came to power through a coalition of miners, coca growers and other workers, promising to reform the country so that the working class and poor could benefit from the country's resource-driven wealth. in fact, morales was part of the "pink tide", a wave of left-wing governments elected across south america, starting with the late hugo chavez. lately, the pink tide seems to have gone out, with protesters crowding the streets of caracas demanding the resignation of chavez's successor and brazil's dilma rousseff impeached and on trial for corruption and also, just possibly, for not being fast or harsh enough in the implementation of austerity measures. and if you're thinking, "sure, but clearly the murder in bolivia, if it was committed by striking miners, was due to a sentiment that morales and his government had abandoned the working man and embraced global capitalism", i have some shocking news: the miners in bolivia are striking for, among other things, reduced regulations on which private companies they can work for and a loosening of environmental regulations that are slowing the development of new mines. but i'm sure that nothing interesting will come of any of this. it's not like big business or western governments have ever meddled in the affairs of sovereign governments in central and south america in order to increase their own profits.

3. the imf made a little austerity goof :: it's not a big deal, but all that stuff where the european central bank and the international monetary fund got greece to do to prove that they could slash government services to the poor and elderly and force the increasingly squeezed middle class there while the robber barons who'd gotten rich exploiting loopholes or just cheating on taxes shrugged their shoulders and moseyed off into the sunset? yeah, turns out the imf did a report on itself and managed to come up with a failing grade. because whoever was writing the report apparently recalled their first year economics course, where they learned tearing away social programs and safeguards like jack the ripper going at a victim's intestines causes people to stop spending money, which in turn brings the economy to a screeching halt. and the report did pose a few rhetorical questions like "if you knew they couldn't pay you back, why did you keep loaning them money?" or ""what did you think was going to happen?" and of course "how did you get your job if you never passed first year economics?" this isn't really interesting, of course, because it's something we've been hearing for a long time from people the imf doesn't like to listen to, like former greek finance minister and thinking girl's man candy yanis varoufakis. since this is clearly of such little interest, the imf has decided to just forget the whole thing ever happened, kind of like it went on a drunken bender, stole and crashed a car, but it wasn't a car belonging to any of their friends, so no harm done.

so there you have it, three things that have happened recently that are totally boring to everyone. there's nothing to worry about. none of this stuff is important. 


as long as you're here, why not read more?


ok, so i've been lax about posting here. i apologise. there are reasons. i don't know if they'ree good reasons, but they include:

i've had a lot of work to do, which is nice because i'm a freelancer and things tend to slow down in the summer, so the more work i get now, the less i have to worry about later [in theory].i started watching the handmaid's tale. i was a little hesitant because i didn't actually like the novel very much; i found it heavy-handed and predictable. the series relies on the novel for about 80% of its first season plot but i nevertheless find it spellbinding. where i felt that the novel beat readers with its politics, the series does a better job of connecting with the humanity in the midst of politics. i'm dithering on starting season two because i am a serial binger and once i know damn well that starting the second season will soon consign me to the horrors of having to wait a week between episodes. i don't know if i can han…

i agree, smedley [or, smokers totally saved our planet in 1983]

so this conversation happened [via text, so i have evidence and possibly so does the canadian government and the nsa].

dom and i were trying to settle our mutual nerves about tomorrow night's conversion screening, remembering that we've made a fine little film that people should see. which is just about exactly what dom had said when i responded thusly:

me :: i agree smedley. [pauses for a moment] did you get that here?

dom :: no?

me :: the aliens who were looking at earth and then decided it wasn't worth bothering with because people smoked even though it was bad for them?
come to think of it, that might mean that smokers prevented an alien invasion in the seventies.

dom :: what ?!?!?

me :: i've had wine and very little food. [pause] but the alien thing was real. [pause.] well, real on tv.

dom :: please eat something.

of course, i was wrong. the ad in question ran in 1983. this is the part where i would triumphantly embed the ad from youtube, except that the governmen…

mental health mondays :: separate and not equal

given the ubiquitousness of racial disparities in the united states, there's no reason why we should be surprised that they exist in mental health care. unlike a lot of other areas, the people in power have acknowledged the problem for decades. but the situation isn't getting any better. 
the united states surgeon general documented the differences between white and non-white mental health care back in 2001 so we can assume that it was already a known problem at that point. two years later, a presidential commission said the same damn thing and groups like the national association for mental health seized on this to develop guidelines on how to bridge the ethnic gap. from the turn of the century through 2007, the number of papers and publications talking about the mental health care gap spiked. the issue was viewed as being on par with obesity when it came to urgent problems.

starting in 2004, researchers undertook a massive project that involved the records of nearly a quart…