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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...

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

dreamspeak

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…