Category Archives: Canada

Think space: crystal ball gazing

I have been interested to see that two of The Atlantic Monthly’s writers – James Fallows and Andrew Sullivan – both cite a blog by a Canadian, Robert Paterson of Prince Edward Island (PEI), this month. In particular they refer to this entry.

  • That there is no soft landing. We are not in a recession. We are not even in a depression. We are at the end of an era. The Tipping Point is of course the financial collapse. The Vast Ponzi Scheme of our financial world – with the vast sums in the Derivative Market and the Credit Bubble all in effect lost – cannot be saved. There is not enough money in the national accounts to pull this back.
  • The search for efficiency and the urge to consume has set us all up like a row of dominoes – there is no buffer, no resiliency. As one problem rises it causes another. As one solution is tried it drives another problem. We all pull back and the consumer economy stalls. The auto industry and credit firms feeds the media (40% of conventional advertising). Papers and TV and Radio networks, many subject to LBO’s will have to fail as per the Tribune. Every sector will be laying people off. Sales of all things fall off a cliff – driving more business failures and layoffs. Cities and states that depend on sales tax and property tax and the credit markets can rely on none of these. So they too will have to lay off millions – thus making all the problems worse. National governments will be asked to save us all and of course cannot. As States and Cities get squeezed and cannot borrow, they will too lay off millions – teachers, firemen police. No one will be safe…
  • The world food system is exceptionally connected and tightly coupled. High fertilizer prices in 2008 will drive a food shortage in 2009. Inventories of grain are already low. The collapse of commerce and credit may risk food supplies in 2009. The 2008 rice problem was a harbinger for what is to come…
  • Coupling – the issue is that with everything so fragile – even broken – that problems that we could have stood up too become major or even overwhelming.
  • The problem is our mindset – the Newtonian Machine view of reality. It has outlived its value and become its dark side. We have given up all our power to it and those who control it could not help themselves from looting it…
  • That the leadership model is no longer the dominant hero but the ego-less servant…

James Fallows notes:

This is very close to what I was trying to explain three and a half years ago in my "Countdown to a Meltdown" imagined-history article in the Atlantic. The way that everything really is connected — I recently saw a school in southern China that will be in trouble because its donors are losing money through the Madoff fraud in New York  — and that no one has "any buffer, any resiliency" is something we’ve known in theory but are only now comprehending in its daily, cascading reality. It’s worth looking at the summary for similarly uplifting thoughts. 

“Countdown to a Meltdown” (2005) makes interesting reading today. It is subtitled January 20, 2016, Master Strategy Memo: Subject: The Coming Year—and Beyond.

In retrospect, the ugly end is so obvious and inevitable. Why didn’t people see it at the time? The same clearly applies to what happened in 2009. Economists had laid out the sequence of causes and effects in a "hard landing," and it worked just as they said it would.

Happy New Year!

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Posted by on December 27, 2008 in America, blogging, Canada, current affairs, generational change, globalisation/corporations, other blogs, USA


Death of Free Internet? And other cautionary tales on "free enterprise" and lying more generally…

Death of Free Internet is Imminent – Canada Will Become Test Case « Dandelion Salad is one of the posts that have hit the top at WordPress at the moment, and I can see why. Is it inevitable, or will the open source spirit that sustains projects like WordPress at the moment find work-arounds? I did appreciate this bit:

…The free transfer of information, uncensored, unlimited and untainted, still seems to be a dream when you think about it. Whatever field that is mentioned- education, commerce, government, news, entertainment, politics and countless other areas- have been radically affected by the introduction of the Internet. And mostly, it’s good news, except when poor judgements are made and people are taken advantage of. Scrutiny and oversight are needed, especially where children are involved.

However, when there are potential profits open to a corporation, the needs of society don’t count…

At present, the world condemns China because that country restricts certain websites. “They are undemocratic; they are removing people’s freedom; they don’t respect individual rights; they are censoring information,” are some of the comments we hear. But what Bell Canada and Telus have planned for Canadians is much worse than that. They are planning the death of the Internet (free) as we know it, and I expect they’ll be hardly a whimper from Canadians…

That should be “there’ll be” of course… And some may see more than a bit of the conspiracy theorist in the entry, but contemplate what it says nonetheless.

Another cautionary tale emerged over several months in the Sydney Morning Herald — as pointed out there today, and acknowledged by the ABC, but the amazing example of the ugly face of capitalism they had revealed was beautifully summarised on last night’s Four Corners:


Go and weep!

After which came an excellent Media Watch dealing with the media excess on World Youth Day — wonderful as that event proved to be beyond all the hype — and the reactionary excess of The Usual Suspects. The story on that follows:

mw21.7 wee aus editorial e

Again, do take the trouble to investigate.

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Posted by on July 22, 2008 in Australia, awful warnings, British, Canada, climate change, culture wars, current affairs, environment, globalisation/corporations, right wing politics, TV, weirdness, www


Relevance of Canada’s Apology to Australia’s

I could well relate to the feelings Canadians must have experienced as they witnesses the Apology to their Native Peoples, video posted in the VodPod on the right. The Toronto Globe and Mail reports: ‘We are sorry’.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had yet to utter a single word of Canada’s apology to former Indian residential schools students when the cheering began. Native drumming and shouts turned into loud, simultaneous clapping. Raw emotion bursting for an apology decades overdue. There were many smiles.
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Posted by on June 13, 2008 in Brendan Nelson, Canada, current affairs, events, human rights, humanity, Indigenous Australians, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, pluralism, Political, politics, Reconciliation


Following "Racism No Way": on Aussies, Skips, Anglos and other creatures of our imagination…

This is not the promised entry on how to teach the White Australia Policy to Year 10, but it is a contribution. It could even be a source of related reference material in approaching the topic in a way that does justice both to facing the unpleasantness squarely but without self-righteousness or ahistorical moral judgement — without the special pleading that people like Keith Windschuttle indulge in to prove, no pun intended, that black is white after all. (See for example Windschuttle’s essay Why Australia is not a racist country.)

I want to draw your attention not to a historian but to a writer — one some would argue is Australia’s greatest living writer: David Malouf.

In 2003 The Quarterly Essay (an excellent publication born out of informed resistance to Howardite orthodoxy but by no means blindly ideological) published Malouf’s extraordinarily perceptive and off-centre contribution to the debate about Australia and Australian values: Made in England: Australia’s English Heritage; the following issue had responses by Phillip Knightley (disappointingly perfunctory in this case), Morag Fraser, Larissa Behrendt, Alan Atkinson, James Curran, Sara Wills, and Gerard Windsor. Together these furnish a goldmine of thoughts. I found Malouf’s essay totally resonant with my own experience of Australia, even if one or two of the criticisms made by a few of the responders are well made. Most of the responders, including Aboriginal writer Behrendt, essentially confirmed the accuracy of Malouf’s deeply subjective but also deeply true reading of Australian life.

Sorry, none of these is online, but you can order back copies or go to a library. I recommend you do.

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Books and Writing – 25/04/2004: Douglas Glover

A couple of weeks ago Ken Watson lent me Douglas Glover, Elle (2004). What an amazing novel!
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Posted by on February 2, 2006 in book reviews, Canada, Fiction, friends, History, Top read, writers


HNN – HuntingtonNews.Net: The Crazyladies of Pearl Street

This is a very well-written memoir, only marginally a novel, by the hitherto mysterious Trevanian, author of thrillers such as The Eiger Sanction.
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Posted by on January 29, 2006 in America, book reviews, British, Canada, culture wars, Fiction, generational change, History, Top read, writers


Trevanian – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Crazyladies of Pearl Street (2005) is the next Surry Hills Library book on my agenda, clearly a more literary work than Island of Tears. I note the author recently died. There are some moving tributes on his website, a unique feature of which is an optional set of cybernotes on the book I am about to read.

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Posted by on January 27, 2006 in America, book reviews, British, Canada, Fiction, Top read, writers


Our Citizens, Governments, and Corporations


“Governments only ever do the right thing to the extent that they are browbeaten and shamed into it by their citizens. If citizens sit back and accept that governments can’t or won’t behave responsibly and ethically, then governments can pursue money and power shamelessly.

If, however, citizens refuse to be ignored and marginalized, then governments sometimes respond decently. This has happened from time to time, for example in 1970, when the overwhelming support of the public prodded the federal government into introducing public health care over the hysterical opposition of doctors’ associations and insurance companies.

It also happened in the 1840s when a bunch of poor farmers forced the Crown to make public education a core principle of the British North America act, against the will of the aristocrats who believed that educating farmers was a waste of money.

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Posted by on October 5, 2005 in America, Australia and Australian, Canada, culture wars, current affairs, education, globalisation/corporations, human rights, industrial relations, Political, right wing politics