Monthly Mayhem, Again

my occasional caustic, unapologetically subjective, and very eclectic digest of all the news that gives me fits when it’s in print


Let’s take stock. How is the world doing these days?

It’s been on fire! Australia just couldn’t stop burning, nor could the west coast of Canada and the US, with entire towns wiped out, thousands evacuated, families losing everything, smoke drifting for hundreds of miles.

All part, I guess, of that super well-coordinated, world-wide fake global warming conspiracy. Marjorie Taylor-Greene upped even her own crazy factor with her assertion that the fires were caused by “space lasers controlled by the Rothschilds;” an anti-Semitic dog whistle of air-raid siren subtlety.

Imagine: Not only did they let Marjorie Taylor-Greene run for office, people voted for her.

I just wanted you to let that sink in for a moment.

So who could blame all those billionaires for wanting to take a hard pass? They quickly withdrew a couple days’ interest on some of the dollars saved by shifting their money around, keeping their workers lean and hungry, and sucking up tax breaks, built themselves rocket ships and went into orbit.

It was — touching. They were so thrilled, like little boys at Christmas, that we could not help being thrilled on their behalf.

We cried for sheer joy as we watched those way-obvious phallic symbols blast off during our unpaid coffee breaks at several of our part-time jobs, until we realized they were coming back.

So, to answer my initial question: same as usual, plus our disappointment.

How about hunger? Six hundred and ninety million people go to bed hungry every day; increasing economic prosperity smooths out the rough edges in developed countries, but has virtually no effect in the Third World. The rich get fatter and the poor, hungrier; poor children more malnourished, more stunted.

Jeff Bezos, with the increase in his income for one month, could wipe out world hunger. Does he do it? Pull the other one, it’s got a ball and chain on it!

Hunger’s been in the news in Toronto, with our food banks reporting record numbers of the newly food-insecure as a result of the pandemic. In fact, food bank use has more than doubled; there are more new customers than regulars.

“Who could have predicted this!” gasped CityNews.

How about anyone on ODSP (disability support) or OW (“Ontario Works,” Orwell-speak for welfare) with a calculator? With ODSP at around $1,400 max for a single person, which includes allowance for non-existent housing, and OW for a couple with one child at around $1,991 a month for basic needs and accommodation, it doesn’t take a Nobel laureate to crunch the numbers.

According to my calculations, let’s see, carry the one, add a decimal point… OK, got it — You’re screwed.

How can we still be waging war on the poor, in Canada, in 2021?

Doug Ford, Ontario’s conservative Premier, and scion, ever since we managed to kill off Rob, of the most brazenly corrupt dynasty of low-lifes in Canadian politics, gutted social services and education funding the minute he was elected.

Why? Because that’s what conservatives do. What solution has any conservative ever proposed to the problems of homelessness? Child poverty? Unemployment? Inequity? Name me one.

You can’t, because they don’t believe it’s their job to find solutions to social or economic problems, even though we elected them to serve the public good — all politicians, liberal or conservative, are supposed to be serving the public good, by default.

This doesn’t matter to conservatives any more. If you’re poor, you’re lazy or a loser. A welfare queen or the last rat in the race. Either way, they’re preparing for the cull.

Instead, not believing either in government or the public good, they simply take the power and govern for their own benefit, turning a term of office into their personal four-year business networking event, with public resources and free admin support, lubricated by entitlement and powered by sleaze.

Ford’s policies are directly responsible for the grind and misery of hunger, homelessness, child poverty, and desperation, during a pandemic without end, and with winter approaching, in Canada’s biggest, richest city. So I reckon Doug Ford “could have predicted” all of this.

He just doesn’t fucking care.


Onto — freedom. The world veers dangerously to the right, a big, luscious, melting democracy cake that we all left out in the rain, check; how about women’s reproductive rights? We’re in the middle of a speculative fiction novel by Margaret Atwood, with women’s baby-factories locked up in a bank vault, somewhere in Texas, for safekeeping by your neighbours (not the government, that would be overreach).

Thank god for the neighbours of Texas! The government remained surprisingly small, though, back when Rick Perry, former governor and official “Guy Who Keeps Making an Occasional Good Decision But Quickly Comes To His Senses and Starts Screaming About Illegals”, issued, in 2007, an executive order, in other words, mandated — mandated! — vaccination — vaccination! — against human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection associated with cervical and other cancers, for all girls entering sixth grade.

Don’t worry, though. The cost of the three-shot course, three hundred and fifty dollars, effectively excluded the poor — for which label you might just as well automatically substitute POC.

(Of course, it’s beyond debate that POC have disproportionately worse outcomes than white Americans in health, income, education, any metric you care to examine. The hysteria of many white Americans at the mere mention of single-payer healthcare stems not from its costs, or even really from thinking it’s “socialism.” Those are decoys. Their reaction arises from the nightmare scenario, to them, of Black Americans being treated equally, in anything, even by accident.)

Not everyone was immediately on board with Perry’s order. Public health officials worried that mandating a vaccination for HPV, with its obvious intent to encourage female promiscuity (boys, who can also contract HPV, were excluded from the mandate), might cause a backlash and non-compliance for already routine childhood vaccinations.

And we all know how silly that worry turned out to be!


How’s “cancel culture,” specifically, the canceling of Margaret Atwood? (Or, in Doug Ford-speak, “Margaret who?”) Let’s double down on Margaret Atwood, shall we?

Bless her for that elderly person’s slip-up about transgenders. Such harm Margaret Atwood has caused, I don’t know why we don’t just tear her down and replace her with a casino.

Margaret Atwood was a feminist when it really meant something, back in the times of Gloria Steinem and Ms Magazine, when it was radical even to question the status quo, when feminists were mocked by the mainstream media, derided as “bra-burners” and “women’s libbers,” with a face like that it’s no wonder she can’t get laid! Margaret was the avant-garde, on the frontlines and blazing trails.

Margaret saw the future and it’s no one’s fault but yours and mine if we crash and burn while paying attention to who gets an apology using the correct pronoun during the thirty seconds left to us as we plunge to Earth.

I challenge you to look at your past, sift through your non-best moments, for a photo, an act, a quote that can be misquoted, taken out of context, or even correctly quoted in context, that would give the people just waiting to pounce something to pounce on, and prove that you’re evil trash and never to be trusted.

Please note: This is not cancel culture. Not Margaret, nor anyone actually reprehensible, or even hensible, has been, is, or will be, canceled. Everyone and their Jack Russell has a platform, or, god help us, a podcast (aka radio shows for those too young to remember actual radio shows).

If, after considering Margaret Atwood in the context of her lifelong dedication to both feminism and her art, her eminent intelligence, and her sly, subversive good humor, you can call her the enemy, there may be no hope for us.

If she needs an ally to take her aside and have that conversation, point out her misstep, be that ally. Teach, don’t screech. Because, if we continue like this, there’ll be no one left to help you when you make an ass of yourself, an event which I sense may be just around the corner.

Coming, as it does, to all of us at some point.


Margaret may be feeling a little like the lady in Golden, British Columbia, who was awakened one night this past October by something crashing through the ceiling of her bedroom and burying itself between her pillows. It was a two-kilogram meteorite, the size of a small cabbage.

The lady, Ruth Hamilton, said she was in shock, but “grateful to be alive.” She’s hanging on to the space rock as a souvenir. And rumor has it she’s taken to sleeping in the basement.

{I just made up that bit about sleeping in the basement because it feels true. OK? That’s my journalistic promise to you: I will always own up to my total fabrications. Or, usually. It depends how much work is involved. Moving along:}

According to Peter Brown, Canada Research Chair in planetary small bodies: “The chances of experiencing a meteorite big enough to penetrate a roof and hit a bed are about one in 100 billion per year.”

So sleep easy!

Unless you’re poor in Ontario or an elderly literary icon who said something goofy about transgenders. Uh-oh! No sleepy-time for you!


Oh, yes, Earth. How’s Earth? Ontario car drivers, who we apparently elected when you conservatives scratched an “X” next to Doug Ford, are salivating at the prospects of a new billions of dollars highway, through the Green Belt, that only they, Ford, and a handful of property developers want, and that will save them thirty minutes on their drive from Mac’s Milk to Toronto General Hospital with their sign screaming, “Stop Medical Tyranny!”

Check.

Which reminds me: How’s the pandemic? Well, you see — it’s complicated.

It’s waning unless it’s waxing. The numbers are up when they’re not down and more people are getting vaccinated except they aren’t.

The anti-vaxx brigade, restless, bored, and sublime in their stupidity — and I do mean “sublime” in its true sense of filling those who experience it with awe and terror — have switched from ingesting veterinary-grade Ivermectin, just the very thing for someone who’s concerned they’re putting, you know, poison in their body, to Borax.

Borax — so someone said on Facebook or Twitter, or maybe they just scrawled it in magic marker in a local toilet stall, but someone authoritative anyway — Borax will magically (of course!) flush the vaccine from your body.

So, get vaccinated, rush home, enjoy a sparkling yet caustic Borax on the Rox afterward, and hey, presto! You’ll still be as fucktard dumb as you were before, definitely have zero cockroaches in your panties, and, in a few rare, lucky cases, you might just keel over, be rescued by our already stretched to the limits healthcare system, and finally see the light about vaccines!

I’m not gonna wish you dead. The politicians who bungled the messaging, were caught unprepared, and cared only for “the economy”, not the people who looked to them for guidance — that’s different. And that’s as far as I’m going with that one.


Well, everything’s ship shape, it seems. Just another Monday in Toronto, the city without a soul, on this frail, sick globe of luminous blue, which, Facebook assures me, is flatter than Eric Trump’s franken-forehead.

Facing reality is one of my main tasks of a Monday, after a self-indulgent weekend spent rinsing out my corona mask, opening cans of tuna, and lying in bed with my tears dribbling backwards into my earholes. So glad to get my state-of-the-world survey completed, and damned if I don’t already regret the time wasted on sad, serious boondoggles like:

Should we keep recycling now that the CBC did some investigative journalism — the old-fashioned kind where you scrummage around in a trash can and dig up some facts that no one at the Toronto Sun knew what to do with — and as a result have revealed that virtually none of those plastics we’ve been recycling for twenty years actually got recycled.

It was all a big lie! Seriously! We just sent it all to — now, no fair peeking! — that’s right: Asia! Which is the new, polite word for “mostly China.” And guess what Asia did?

They dumped it in the ocean, then blamed China, or, if you’re China, everyone else!

The fun, as the man said, never stops! Oh, my ribs!

But that’s OK. Now, when they haul a giant tuna on to the deck of a ship off the coast of Japan, it’s already covered in Saran Wrap, inside some disposable Tupperware. Handy!


OK, ready for the big guns? How are we doing with regard to — RACISM?

Well, you know. It’s — super complicated.

In Canada, we pride our selves on our ever-so-specially not-American historical being on the right side of so many things. Racism included.

Now, it’s true we had enslaved people up here. No doubt at all. But we did benefit from a rather enlightened King of England, who outlawed slavery by decree throughout his empire. Neat, eh? We became a safe haven for slaves who had escaped their “owners” and traveled north, via the Underground Railroad.

Throughout the ensuing centuries and decades, through Detroit race riots in 1968 and more riots after the savage beating of Rodney King in 1992 and more riots still after the televised murder of George Floyd in 2020, we shook our heads and tutted our tuts, and glowed with pride as we stuck the jockey figurines in our front lawns and never, until really quite recently, saw, let alone got used to, a Black friend crossing our doorstep or a Black teacher teaching us or a Black physician administering medical care.

Now, Black waiters at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club — that’s different. We always had those. It just felt, you know. Right. And super handy, because there’s hardly any Black Jews!

We never stop tut-tutting as we clutch our pearls and look southward. How — tasteless, somehow!

And our sensible gun laws, and a Constitution that dates from the 1980’s instead of the 1700’s, helps, in that we don’t expect guns as a right, and thus did not get into the habit of reaching for our automatic weapons every time we encountered a Black ten-year-old with an insufficiently respectful expression and a suspicious-looking My Little Pony knapsack.

Freed from the tiresome tasks of keeping unruly POC in their place, at least, overtly, and with an admirable restraint born of our Loyalist sympathies, we could focus our attention on the systematic genocide of our Indigenous people.

Here are some quotes from our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, giving his strategic direction:

“I have reason to believe that the agents as a whole … are doing all they can, by refusing food until the Indians are on the verge of starvation, to reduce the expense.”

“When the school is on the reserve, the child lives with his parents who are savages; he is surrounded by savages… He is simply a savage who can read and write.”

“The third clause provides that celebrating the “Potlatch” is a misdemeanour. This Indian festival is debauchery of the worst kind, and the departmental officers and all clergymen unite in affirming that it is absolutely necessary to put this practice down.”

“…..we have been pampering and coaxing the Indians; that we must take a new course, we must vindicate the position of the white man, we must teach the Indians what law is; we must not pauperise them, as they say we have been doing.”

“I have not hesitated to tell this House, again and again, that we could not always hope to maintain peace with the Indians; that the savage was still a savage, and that until he ceased to be savage, we were always in danger of a collision, in danger of war, in danger of an outbreak.”

“The executions of the Indians ought to convince the Red Man that the White Man governs.”

Well. That’s — pretty clear.

The recent discovery of mass graves of Indigenous children who died, not even documented as having died, while in the Residential School system — designed to “civilize” these “savage” children by effectively abducting them as necessary, separating siblings, and making them available for the occasional diddling-followed-by-torture by the horny-but-celibate followers of Christ who executed their mandate, and then some — has sent shockwaves, lasting entire minutes, through the collective hearts of white Canadians.

But, let’s be reasonable. We know it was bad, but that was then, and this is now. Enough is enough. Right?

We lowered the National Flag of Canada on Parliament Hill. The problem is that the First Nations of Canada will tell us, not we, them, when those flags can go full mast again.

White people are beside themselves. We desperately want to be in control of the narrative, but we can’t take control without, well, looking like the controlling racists and imperialists we are.

We want to commit the genocide, then decide how much grief is enough, how long it’s appropriate to mourn for a mother, father, sister, brother, child. We want, as usual, everything.

The leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Erin O’Toole, best expressed this view when he said, on October 4th, that he was tired of “continued hand-wringing” over the history of Residential schools.

Everything. White men decide who’s civilized, who’s deserving, and when it’s time to stop wringing your hands about the systematic genocide, as explicitly-stated public policy, of your people, your culture, your language, and your children.

The collective grief of an entire people reduced to “hand-wringing” is what we want. But this is one thing we can’t have. Because all we managed to break were bodies.

Canadians who want the flags raised again are the worst people in the world right now. And Erin O’Toole, with that flippant remark, whether calculated or just unfiltered, revealing his shocking, unapologetic racism, is the worst of the worst.


And, now, to wrap, let’s turn our attention to — Paris Hilton’s wedding!

Paris got shackled over the past few days to a man with a Pink Panther last name (“I’m Inspector Clouseau and I am come to eenspect your Reum!”) who makes his vast amounts of money doing something either unbelievable or unthinkable with vast amounts of other people’s money.

PopSugar thought she looked like she’d “stepped right out of a fairy tale” in her purpose-built, hand-embroidered Oscar de la Renta gown, a lot of the fairy tale, admittedly, consisting of the gown being white.

But she did look radiant. And I’m glad for her, I tell you.

Dear Paris Hilton:

Thanks for proving once again that having mountains of cash which you earned by waking up and blinking works miracles around making your every fairy-tale come true. I wish both of you joy as you begin your journey together.

And may the IRS tax that fucking dress right off your back.

֍

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