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the pundit is in

i always do love to comment on recent canadian political developments. i don't think that there's any great mystery as to my general political stand, and those who know me have heard me get into specifics on many occasions.

but these latest developments sort of have me divided. of course, i'm pleased to see the ndp get a toehold (it's not big enough to be a foothold) in quebec. the victory has nothing to do, of course, with the party and everything to do with the fact that thmoas mulcair was a charismatic and effective municipal politician for years. however, you could certainly see a quiet endorsement of federal leader jack layton's emphasis on making gains in urban areas (recruiting successful municipal politicians being part of that strategy).

what divides me is that i'm sort of overcome with waves of sympathy for stephane dion. unlike any liberal party leader in my lifetime (since trudeau had become cynical by the time i was around to remember him), i like dion. well, i don't know him, but from what i've seen, he's a very intelligent and decent person (leaving aside which of his policies you agree or disagree with). i dislike the fact that his awkwardness in front of the press (which i understand to be a refreshing lack of concern with his public image) and his refusal to be the only public face of the party (which i would interpret as the ability to delegate) is constantly derided. it seems uncomfortably like he is not being accepted because he fails to fulfill the expectations of a national politician. not something that makes me hopeful for the future, i must say.

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Mulclair is mostly known in Quebec as a provincial minister, and a loved one too, for his fairly tough stand on the environment, which may very well have cost him his position in the party. I'd say good for the NDP for finally understanding that you can succeed by getting some "celebrities" in the party, instead of just well-meaning, but politically inexperienced folks. Thats a lesson that the Tories had to learn, and capitalized on with success.
As far as Dion... He did very credibly as an environment minister, but I dont know what I can say about his leadership abilities. Part of the problem might be a lack of political presence of the party itself as the problem. He may have to bide his time (which he may very well be doing) until the Tories do an inevitable mistake (as the old Tories did, and as they are certain to be doing, with the yahoos they've got in the party), but that may take some time, as Harper is more shrewed than I certainly gave him credit for. He seems able to ride that steep cliff between his party's wishes and what will fly in the country. Frighteningly, he has the same power base as the Nazis did (not that I'm calling them Nazis mind you) in that their supporters are the conservative middle class and the regions, who have more personal concerns than metropolitan areas, who have to deal with population density, poverty, tax limitations and so on. From the grievances I've heard, its the same as we hear on the provincial level: "why should we pay for them?" Its fine for them to enjoy the products of the cities, but don't ask them to pay for it...

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jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

mental health mondays :: employee of the month

one of the things that makes mental health difficult to manage is that it can be difficult to tell which are the symptoms and which are the root causes of a disorder. another is that sometimes the symptoms can disguise themselves as things we normally value. both of those things collided for me reading this piece in the atlantic, which deals with the possibility that work addiction may be a coping mechanism employed by people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

the idea isn't particularly farfetched; after all, 52% of men and 28% of women with ptsd will at some time in their lives meet the clinical criteria for addiction. and ptsd is often first identified through habits linked to displaced anxiety. and what gets linked to anxiety more than a demanding job? but drawing the line between the two isn't quite as easy as it looks.

work addiction isn't accepted as an addiction disorder in the way that alcoholism and drug addiction are. that makes it a little difficult to talk …

mental health mondays :: the dangers of diagnosing

when you take a look at any reputable online source of information about mental health, it comes with a warning that anything you read on the site should not be considered a substitute for evaluation by a medical professional. so why are so many people jumping on the bandwagon to diagnose donald trump?

it's not uncommon for people to make glib judgments about the mental health of others, because we think that we understand what disorders entail. when i was working in offices, i noticed a lot of this: an immature and garrulous employee being labeled and partially excused because others were certain he had adhd, or a moody and indecisive boss dismissed as bipolar. [as you can imagine, that one struck me as particularly ignorant and, since i was the audience, ironic.] but in the case of trump, even professionals are weighing in on the subject. no fewer than twenty-seven psychiatrists have collaborated on a book called the dangerous case of donald trump. up to now, it's been unde…