Tuesday, February 24, 2009

War Eco (not part of the War series)

CAUTION: this is a dark one, you have been warned.

War is coming.

The economy is in a downturn, and there’s no sign of recovery.

I was actually hoping that all this “going green” bullshit would provide enough money opportunities to drive a new economy, but it is all asinine crap. People are going to realize that they are being manipulated into consuming the wrong solutions for money’s sake and not for the ecology's ake, and will eventually refuse to toe the line, thereby putting another nail in this economic coffin.

The standard government banking and financial solutions are still for naught. There are too many hidden agendas and power struggles, in my not so humble opinion.

Also, there’s an economist and humanist as President of the United States.

My prediction: If the economy doesn’t pick up and turn around within the next six months to a year, the President will literally be bullied and coerced into going to war.

War is immediate and fast. The war industry will quickly provide jobs and unabashed spending.

As an example, GM and Chrysler will be polled and drafted to produce vehicles and engines, etc.

The faith that people can pull together will lift spirits amid the chaos, and as such, life will return to a semblance of normalcy. Once the war is over, hope will return and the economy will spring back to a new life, as we pick up the broken pieces, and mourn our dead.

So where will this war be? And who will we be fighting?

My guess: Iran.

It will give us an excuse to stay in Iraq and wage war from there. And Iran is certainly powerful and rich enough to give us a war of proper magnitude to easily recover the economy, which Afghanistan clearly cannot.

I really hope I’m wrong about everything.

But I don’t think I am.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Kids Crisis Numbers

I published some numbers in a previous blog for children in crisis, and I've been looking for an nation-wide American equivalent since. Europe and other parts of the globe will have to fend for themselves I'm afraid. I'm not crusading here.

Here's what was given me:

A crisis line for the US (that might be similar to the Kids Help Phone):

Boys Town National Hotline 1-800-448-3000

The Boys Town National Hotline was established in 1989 and receives more than 400,000 calls every year. Trained, professional counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Callers' problems range from relationship and parental discipline issues to depression and suicide. In crisis situations, counselors assist callers and provide community resources and emergency intervention. The Hotline provides referrals to agencies throughout the United States and responds to anyone in need of assistance, with a special focus on children and families. Anyone in a crisis situation, especially children and families, can call 800.448.3000 for help anytime. Direct url about them: http://www.boystown.org/AboutUs/hotline/Pages/CrisisHotline.aspx

And again the Canadian ones, just in case:

Tel-Jeunes (French and English): 1-800-263-2266
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Different Taxes - Part 2

This is the follow-up about why “it doesn’t work” when kids report harassment.

After doing some research, that is I actually asked the questions that the reporter so miserably failed to ask, I have it on good authority that sometimes the resources actually do nothing vis-à-vis the bully. It seems that my guess from my previous blog as spot on.

In these times of de-responsibility, social lethargy or whatnot, hardly anyone but for a select few, will go to the trouble of actually fixing the aggressor. The reasons for this are many, not the least of which is that the fixer puts him or herself in the line of fire.

Now what does this line of fire look like? Perversion of responsibility!

Check it out: If one doesn’t acknowledge that there is an issue, then one doesn’t need to track it, if there is no paperwork, then no one gets saddled with not doing anything to prevent or stop the abuse. Or worse, doing something wrong. A record will be held against you!

Perversion to be sure, but the alternative sticks like shit. You can’t dodge the accusation “you knew but didn’t do anything!” Sacrilege indeed. How many times have we heard that particular cry in the media in the past, say, week? However, you can totally get away with not knowing, especially if there’s no record of any incident. At which point one can get accused of incompetence, rather minor in comparison whereby the alternative is criminal negligence.

I don’t want to paint all of the world with such a dark brush, but we all know the dictum: “cover your ass.”If anyone tells me that school board members and teachers don’t do it? I call him a bald-face liar.

Another force at work is sheer ignorance. While programs and coaching may be in place, it is with experience that one recognizes abuse. A punch is, relatively speaking, easy to see. Name calling is also something readily identifiable. But intimidation goes much further than this, and it’s the lack of awareness that makes it difficult to recognize.

Remember those workplace harassment classes and video presentations given by H.R.?

Do you remember each one of the examples and what it was about?

I didn’t think so.

I touched a word on it before with regards to school jurisdiction, but there’s also an inherent problem within the school workings itself. Teachers and principals often have their hands tied solidly behind their backs with attributing consequences for a child’s behaviour. They are extremely limited in their response. The public outcry over the past few decades has ensured that teaching professionals have no powers of punishment. Right, wrong or indifferent, the only thing a school can do is suspend a child for bad behaviour, and nothing else.

Worse still, I am told that nothing exists to provide support to the school, nor the victim for that matter, when the bully returns from suspension. Furthermore the learning-time lost during the suspension will make the badly behaving kid all that much more of a liability.

All this assumes of course compliance on the part of the troublesome child’s parent(s). They have to subscribe to the school’s disciplinary measures, otherwise it is all for naught. It comes down to accepting parental responsibility: if a parent isn’t being a parent, the child will have no reason to change his behaviour.

A case could be made that the parent may or may not believe the evidence levelled against his or her child. Indeed, false accusation is one of my own greatest irritants and a real possibility. So while the parent does need to keep a critical eye out for such things, it also behoves them to realize that their cherished little angel may still have massive behavioural and social issues. So sorry, bloodline blindness is no longer acceptable.

Finally, we get to social stigma, which encompasses the reluctance to suspend or otherwise deal with a badly behaving child in the first place in order not to victimize him or her!

A real case: a victim we’ll call Vic is being bullied in class by Bull. (Yeah, I know, not too imaginative but we'll more easily keep track of who's who!)

Vic’s parents have asked the school to move Bull into another class. But the school refuses, well aware that such a move has the potential to impart stigma upon Bull. The other kids will ask why Bull was moved! And, obviously, Bull’s parents don’t want this either, and so they refuse their child be moved.

Vic parents don’t want Vic to be moved since he has friends in the class and likes his teacher.

To this day Bull is still picking on Vic.

For the Victims: not all is lost since I also acquired some tricks of the trade in my research.

The victim should be talking to someone. He or she should very much get it out in the open, preferably to an adult in power, but also if only to friends. This allows unloading some of the frustration, and it may be enough by itself, assuming the intimidation doesn’t carry on for months on end.

The second requires gumption, some coaching and a fair amount of faith. Bullies are often cowards, and when one stands up to them, they may back down. Being assertive and walking away is potentially a good tactic on the part of the victim, and disarms the bully.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Different Taxes

A great debate is going on right now towards taxation, intimidation and harassment in schools. Case in point, a youngster by the name of David Fortin has disappeared off the face of the earth for over a week now. He was adamant about his being constantly harassed and now has apparently decided to run.

I must admit I’m a little torn about the essence of this problem. Ok, I’m a lot torn.

I’ve talked about the schoolyard bully before, albeit as an analogy to something else.

When I was a kid, in grades 5 and 6 specifically, I was subject to intimidation. Fortunately enough for me, it didn’t last altogether long and was fairly light in comparison. Not that this is an excuse. It happened again during the first two years of high-school. Then I got stocky.

I was listening to a bunch of guest speakers on Radio Canada, all learned by the looks of it. I didn’t get the entire report, so these ideas I have might have been discussed before or after I tuned in.

One interviewee spoke of being pro-active with programs, denunciation, surveillance and support to those children in need. As she was saying this, I was thinking, ok half of those are clearly reactive in nature. But I kept listening anyway.

There seems to be a lot of effort expended in listening to the youth, but not a whole lot in actually correcting the initial problem, that is misguided, or delinquent, or violent youngsters.

Ok, so technically the root-cause is that some people should not be granted the luxury of having children at all, and much less rearing them, but that’s a whole other social debate.

A woman comes on from Tel-Jeunes which is an organization allowing youngsters to reach out for help via the phone. She makes one statement that sticks. She often gets the feedback that these youngsters have talked to an adult and have brought forth the issue of taxation, but to no avail.

Essentially, reporting the problem has failed. Dare I say it, since they don’t, it’s probably made things worse in some cases, but I’m hoping the opposite.

And then, nothing.

She doesn’t say why it’s failed nor in which capacity! I am on pins and needles in my truck, just waiting for the other shoe that never comes. The troubleshooter in me is screaming for information to sink my teeth in to. I wait.

Still nothing.

This leads me to conclude that these people have no actual clue as to what’s really going on!

I wait for the next caller, but the discussion is sidetracked again. At this point I change my mind, the people on the phone may have a clue, but now I’m positively hating the reporter asking the questions.

My quick un-knowing analysis comes up with at least 3 possibilities for failure.

First, something the Tel-Jeune lady said, off-hand, that the youth may not be believed outright when reporting occurs. Ok, I can understand this. I am fairly sure that any adult involved in the school system will be extremely diligent in accepting the report and following-up on it. I don’t believe for a second there would be any slacking off on something like this, from anyone.

I can easily see, however, that given the caution required to avoid false accusations and the time it takes lead a proper investigation, the youth doing the reporting may not get the impression that anything is being done! At that age, youthful impatience is de-rigeur of course. But in this case the youngster doing the reporting is hanging his own ass out there, so immediate action, and therefore protection has to be forthwith. If it’s not, well, the youngster in question will gladly report that the system has failed him. Unfortunate, but fair enough.

The second thing that occurs to me, is that the school can protect school-grounds. Once the kid takes the city bus, he or she, is pretty much left to his/her own devices and risk.

I have learned recently that kids are no longer bussed into school, but rather have to rely on public transit, which opens a whole other can of worms!

My point is that school ground boundaries lead to jurisdictional problems when the events happen between school mates, but off school property.

The third thought, is that a bully can wait. He or she can wait a long time. So offering protection for the victim is stop-gap at best, and bullying will resume as soon as the protection is gone, or even simply out of sight.

I can then see that our victim looses faith in reporting.

Only one interviewee mentioned contact with the bully as part of any process.

So much for that!

One must now wonder if this problem has always existed, or if it is a new phenomenon.

I remember being bullied. I remember others in my school being bullied too.

But younger still, I also remember picking fights due to my diminutive stature. I did this to establish myself as someone to be reckoned with, not to be picked-on, in spite of being small. In essence, I was the bully.

Low and behold, I was reprimanded, punished, and therefore stopped picking fights. The very next year, I was picked-on and bullied for all I was worth, and of course, having learned my lesson not to go all-Rambo on anybody’s ass, I went home crying more than a few times.

My fear of being scolded for fighting far outweighed my fear of being taxed. Classic rock and hard place.

So it’s not a new problem, obviously.

My guess is there’s a lot more light shining on this issue nowadays, given the information-age we live in.

How much of this comes to light by overcompensation on the overworked parent’s part, or under-compensation on an overworked school system, knee-jerk reaction, or actual epidemic? Maybe none, maybe all.

Then I wonder about the bully, and the very same thoughts come to mind. Epidemic, or explosion of the family nucleus, same with overprotection on the parent’s part, or sheer cluelessness as happened to me, or is it really something far more sinister.

I was told of the story of a young boy being constantly harassed. Everyone at school knew about it, but given the obvious efficacy of attacks off school grounds, the school responsibility was for naught. After months of failed resolution school talking to bully’s parents, our victim’s dad makes a direct plea with the bully’s dad.

The connection becomes crystal clear: The bully’s dad, is a bully himself!

Oh shite.

Given the family’s financial situation, moving away is out of the question, and so is alternative schooling.

No amount of proactive-anything is going to solve this particular problem, now is it? See how my comment about how some people shouldn’t be allowed to raise kids comes to pass?
The pleas land upon deaf ears, furthermore, the ears in question are downright insulting.

Does the harassment stop? Good gracious no, it actually gets worse!

The school cannot do anything further, jurisdictional issues notwithstanding, using words has no effect. The police don’t have enough evidence to press actual charges, and no witnesses will come forward, all kids, all being too scared.

You can see this coming right?

Our victim’s dad now turns his pleas into outright threats.

Oddly enough, the problem is now solved.

Aw fuck.


Some Canadian numbers:
Tel-Jeunes (French and English): 1-800-263-2266
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

Or search for "youth crisis phone" in your favourite search engine.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What if? #2 - Tires

The second in a series of “what if I’m right” ideas. These are simply observations, not holy writ.

Our beloved provincial government has our best interest at heart. They look out for our safety, or do they?

Late last year, a new law came into effect with regards to installing winter tires on all cars in registered in Quebec.

In theory this is a good idea, as I believe in winter tires and have installed them on all the cars I’ve ever owned.

Just as an aside, the first cluster-fuck with the new law is that until very, very recently, the government hadn’t defined what a winter tire was exactly.

The second enraging thing is that eventually, all winter tires will actually be ice tires. I’ve owned both front-drive and rear-propulsion cars, and 4x4 S.U.V.’s of course. While ice tires certainly have value on glare ice, (be it blue or black) on a rear-drive car, they are, for all intents and purposes useless on any kind of packed or loose snow. They actually become downright dangerous in deep snow.

A rear-drive car requires a good amount of displacement tread on the ass-end to even get anywhere, and to limit fishtailing. A 4x4 can make do a little better, but not by much. So I’ve always put M+S tires on my own SUVs and rear-drive cars. They are the ideal solution. As far as ice – I elect to stay home if I can anyway. I’ve always put ice tires on the wife’s vehicles though, inasmuch as this is what she is most uncomfortable with.

However, in its awesome wisdom, the gubmint has decreed that M+S tires will no longer be lawful come 2015. I suspect there won’t be any rear-drive cars left by then, nor I surmise SUV worthy of the name, so it shouldn’t matter I guess.

Back to the law, the intent was allegedly to reduce the number of accidents on our roads, and blah, blah, since 4-season tires were over-represented in crash cases, etc.

I will make a small foray into statistics for a minute, much as I may despise doing so.

They proudly announce that 38% of crashes involved one of both vehicles shod with 4-season tires. This is the over-representation. According to the other stat below, it should really be like 10%... or so. And besides, the 38% is already debateable. What if the other half of the vehicles involved in the crashes were shod with winter tires? And how many were accidents involving out of province vehicles which would not be covered by the new law anyway? Skews that particular perspective a tad now doesn’t it?

Now then, 90% of cars were on winter tires anyway. At this point I’m thinking “why bother?” for a lousy 10%, but I’ll go along with it.

Remember what I said about the gubmint not being forthcoming as to what constitutes a winter tire? So how the hell can they come up with 90% were presumably winter-tires if they don’t know what a winter tire is? They quote stats from 2005, whereas they established the regulation in September 2008! High confidence indeed.

All this is for naught.

In the news a couple of weeks ago, I hear it. Yes, indeed I do. I hear it loud as a Concorde on take-off and clear as day.

A community of a fair size in northern Québec has significantly reduced the abrasives used on the roads this winter to the glee of councillors at this cost cutting measure.

“It won’t affect safety…” the interviewee rambles on.

I’m thinking: but of course it won’t since everybody has winter tires now!

How so very, very convenient.

What if? #1 - Mergers & Money

The first in a series of “what if I’m right” ideas. These are simply observations, not holy writ.

The previous government of Quebec (read Parti Québécois) unloaded the maintenance of roadway infrastructure to cities and towns all over the province.

This was done to cut costs at the provincial level, and move that cost towards the cities. The actual money didn’t all follow suit, and what money was downloaded was quickly dilapidated and dispersed.

No way can towns afford to support super-highways, it just ain't happening.

My first conjecture: the towns were forced-merged into larger entities thereby increasing the tax base. Economies of scale I guess. “Fusion forcée” is the word of the day, hell even in Ontario.

Is this enough? Probably not.

How can the new towns make enough money to support these new things without a substantial increase in taxes? Remember, if the taxes go up too much, people will be clamouring for reversing the mergers, and that just can't happen.

The solution is simple, yet Machiavellian. Take away the people’s right to sue the cities (re. pothole damage, etc.) This translates into potentially millions of dollars in avoided costs for the towns, and costs the provincial government NOTHING, except a vote.

Not bad really. No taxes raised, and seriously, who gives a crap about my neighbor's transmission getting ripped out from under his car? Not my problem. Besides, I drive this big ass S.U.V., so potholes are sporting.

Yes this passed as law, as is. I think I may have mentioned it before, but I connected the dots just recently, hence my second conjecture: easy money.

Now I am here to say that all this bullshit obviously didn’t work did it?

I give you: falling overpasses.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hurray Home Depot


Home Depot’s Compact Fluorescent Bulb Recycling Program Got2BeGreen