Happy Blasphemy Day

Atheists and anyone else who supports freedom of speech and the right to satire are encouraged to be blasphemous. The day was chosen in 2009 by the Center For Inquiry because it was on this date in 2005 that satirical cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammad were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

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Insight to remain open

Insight is a unique clinic that’s located in Vancouver BC to provide a safe place for drug users. The clinic provides clean needles, monitoring and health programs for this under served community.

Insight was established as part of Vancouver’s four pillars approach to the social problems of drug use: Prevention, Treatment, Harm Reduction and Enforcement.

The program has been extended several times and is considered an important part of the reduction of the spread of AIDS, overdose related deaths and a lowering of criminal activitiy in the downtown east side. Proponents and critics disagree on the site’s impact, but no matter what the viewpoint, the clinic provides services to people who would otherwise not have access to medical services at all.

Ever since Stephen Harper and his conservative party have been in office, he has tried to shut the clinic down. He was prevented first by the Province of BC, who considers the clinic a success, then Health Canada and now the Supreme Court of BC.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday the Conservative government must grant the supervised drug injection site Insite immediate immunity from federal drug laws – and that comes with no deadline attached.

 

To force the site to close “would have been to prevent injection drug users from accessing the health services offered by Insite, threatening the health and indeed the lives of potential clients,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote in the ruling.

Harper, who, since taking office has:

  • canceled the Charter Challenge Program;
  • slashed funding to Status of Women, reducing it from 17 offices to 5,  redefined their mandate to remove “equality”, and reduced their ability to provide funding to community groups;
  • passed a law setting elections every four years, but orchestrated an annual non-confidence vote and triggered expensive and needless elections
  • appointed a young earth creationist as minister of Emergency Preparedness
  • appointed anti-science climate deniers to be in charge of approving funding proposals, unsurprisingly, resulting in no funds for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science
  • has gagged government scientists from reporting their findings in a variety of environmental and ecological programs
  • has slashed social funding to increase the budgets of police and prison construction
  • cost Canada a seat on the UN security council and Canada was one of four nations to vote against the US declaration of aboriginal rights
  • click to go to “Why Harper sucks
  • more shit Harper has done

Harper has been accused of having a secret agenda since he first ran for PM, but there’s never really been any secret about his agenda – copy America – slash social spending, slash anything that prevents or reduces harms and give the money for enforcement and punishment, and remake Canada into America 2.0.

I have to wonder, if he admires America that much, why not just move to America and live under that system instead of tearing Canada apart.

Harper has constantly expressed paranoid and concerning remarks about the public services, the judges, the very instituations of governement being against him and this lone outsider attitude is very concerning for the person in the big chair to be holding and worse, beleiving.

Harper is an example of why it is critical to not ever place morals above people.

Harper has an ideological agenda that he is seeking to impose on Canadians, whether we agree or not. His extreme control over the conservative party MPs, gagging the public service and limiting contact with the media is concerning, but hasn’t seemed to factor into Canadians really understanding that Harper is dismantling Canada for a makeover, where he claims to be putting high minded rules in that he will immediately ignore if they don’t suit his objectives.

Canada as the opposite problem that the US has.

In America, there’s a democratic president unable to accomplish much because of republican control over the houses; but he benefits from the republican field for potential presidential candidates being very thin, strident with an appeal only to a narrow section of far far right republicans – none of whom will draw voters from the centre, swing and undecideds.

In Canada, we clearly aren’t done punishing the Liberals for the excesses under Jean Cretin and blamed on Paul Martin, but we have to stop cutting off our noses, ears and fingers to spite them by giving Harper back to back minority governments with a small majority in the last outing.

But the liberals aren’t giving us candidates that demonstrate they’ve learned their lesson and are deserving to once again take the big chair, as they have done for most of Canada’s history.

Why we would pull out that big chair for someone who’s even more elitist and authoritarian and apparently drunk with power madness than anyone the Liberals ever fielded, is beyond me. But Canadians are apparently, politically kinky, and perhaps we’re punishing ourselves with Harper as PM, but it’s time to stop.

Without Jack Layton, the NDP has a serious challenge to bring the country back to Canadian values, of the social safety net, of evidence based approaches to scientific problems, of returning the country to Liberal surplus budgets and not Conservative deficit budgets.

But at least, in Vancouver, for a while, the Insight clinic will continue to provide health services to a vulnerable sector of society that the Harper government would rather see in prison than helped to return to functioning citizens.

Which is the real problem of putting moral ideas over people.

 

 

Review: Young Man with a Big Beat

My copy of Young Man with a Beat has just arrived – and despite the email notice earlier this week that the bonus 45 replica wasn’t shipped with the package, my excitement isn’t dimmed.

The box is GORGEOUS. The official label seems to have taken notice of what the bootleggers have been doing for years.

The packaging is a nostalgic trip back to when records were 12 by 12 inches and the liner notes printed large enough to be read. The design draws heavily from the first Elvis LP – Elvis Presely with the Pink and Green iconic cover that’s been duplicated by several artists such as the Clash to kd lang.

Sliding the contents out of the sleeve – and here’s my first minor quibble:

The back of the box has the full track listings and they’ve rubber cement stuck a printed glossy page with the advertising copy to it. The page flops around, so you end up having to remove it to prevent it from being torn and getting worn and torn – it would have been better to have had the sheet as loose page, which then fits nicely inside the box. While this is a very minor matter, having to carefully remove what texturally is viscous snot is an irritation.

Inside the box there are three items – the book, the folder holding 5 cds and an envelope of goodies.

The replica goodies include:

  • a ticket stub for the October 11, 1956 Cotton Bowl Stadium show, about the size of a 50 cent piece or a loonie.
  • a half glossy page for the Freddy Martin headliner with added attraction Elvis Presley
  • five card stock 8×10 black n white photos, 2 concert, 1 football, 1 playing pinball and one relaxing with a rifle.
  • a one page advertisement to order Elvis 45s
  • Correspondence from Tom Parker to RCA regarding the $5,000 Parker paid to Phillips on behalf of RCA to secure Elvis’ contract
  • Feb 5, 1956 concert poster – In Person Elvis Presley and his “Blue Mooners” with guests the Louvin Brothers, Carter Sisters and Mother Maybelle.
  • Promotional poster for the Young Man boxed set.

These are neat items and the ticket stub needs attention paid to it, being so small, it’s easy to loose. I don’t think I’d ever heard Scotty, Bill and DJ referred to as anything but the Blue Moon Boys; which is very different from Blue Mooners….

The book is LP sized and 82 pages of reprints of newspaper articles, magazine and record covers, and paperwork relating to Elvis’ management and studio sessions, along with familiar and rare photos in a month by month format so we can follow along with the King during his most eventful year.

Trivia: Elvis Presley accounted for half of all of RCA’s sales in 1956 and he was number 1 on the billboard charts for over half of the year.

While Elvis was not the first to sell a million copies of a single, he was the first artist to sell that many for back to back singles. Elvis’ sales were so unprecedented that the industry would later created the RIAA in order to certify sales for marketing purposes. Elvis has more RIAA certifications than any other artists, even though his best sales year occurred before the RIAA.

The gatefold holder for the CDs is well made and the CDs are not hindered with a centre post, so sliding them in and out is very simply and won’t result in damage to the heavy stock package. The lurid pink inside contrasts nicely with the black matte and recalls Elvis’ stage wear colours.

As for the discs, the first thing that I played was the RCA Victrola radio advertisements, which have never been released before. Elvis extolls the virtues of the Elvis Presley Autograph portable photograph players – all four speeds – and they you will recieve a number of free Elvis EP albums, depending on which model you get.

Other than the advertisement for Louisiana Southern Made donuts, Elvis did not do product endorsements. Although, RCA did do test photos of Elvis with RCA record players, the non-portable furniture sized ones – the ads never ran when the label realized that teens didn’t buy furniture sized record player or televisions sets and Elvis was not an inducement for parents.

Elvis was used to sell Elvis alone.

Onto the cds! Click here for a complete track listing.

Discs 1 & 2 contain his first and second LPs and the singles that didn’t make the albums as well as the Love Me Tender songs.

Disc 3 contains three concerts, last appearance on May 6, at the Venus Room at the Frontier Hotel, The May 16 Little Rock, Arkansas and the never before released – not even on bootleg – final Lousiana Hayride performance on December 15, 1956; which includes the only known live recording of Paralyzed.

Although the highlight of the show is the final concert’s “Don’t Be Cruel” – not just because Elvis is clearly having such fun toying with the audience, often calling out “friends, friends” because the crowd is screaming so much that they aren’t even paying attention to Elvis, but because he performs Don’t Be Cruel in the style he did Paralyzed during the Million Dollar Quartet sessions – Elvis doing Jackie Wilson doing Elvis.

Elvis mentions in that recording, that he saw an act in Vegas – Billy Ward and the Dominos, which featured Jackie Wilson at the time.

The sound quality of this set of the Vegas appearance is vastly superior to the same recording released on the gold box 50th Celebration set. And certainly a strange Elvis concert in that you can hear every note and word as the audience only politely claps to cover off their embarrassment for Elvis, who was not used to flopping in front of audiences anymore. Not even Bill Black and his antics saved this show. Vegas was just not interested in his hillybilly corn pone humour or gyrations, but, it would be soon enough.

Disc 4 is the weakest disc in the collection and includes alternative takes to six songs. A better choice would have been the first take of significant songs or any alternative track that significantly differed from the master take. At the very least, the movie versions of the Love Me Tender songs to complete the studio versions on disc 2. It also includes the complete Warwick Hotel interview from March 24.

Disc 5 features the complete TV Guide Presents Elvis, an interview with Col. Tom Parker, The Truth About Me interview in two versions and the two Victrola radio ads.

It’s surprising to realize how unguarded and sincere Elvis was with the press; who for the most part, really didn’t seem to know what to make of Elvis. Partly because he was such a polite, humble, sincere guy with middle class aspirations who seemed at odds with the on stage greasey, long haired, lanky and gyrating sex demon who drove girls to claw their faces and clothes as they screamed and carried on, just watching him.

A worthy addition to any Elvis fan’s collection and a solid entry for general music fans.

Life – a quality vs quantity matter

Baby Joseph has died.

Baby Joseph, born January 2010, was at the centre of a Canadian version of the Terri Schiavo story, except that this was about a baby – the second baby born to parents who has died of the same rare neurological disorder that had previously claimed the life of an older sibling.

The hospital made a decision to remove a breathing tube and the parents fought back – wanting the tube removed and a tracheotomy done. The hospital board’s decision was upheld, but the parents involve American right to life organizers and eventually, the baby was transferred to an American hospital for the trach proceedure.

I am all for personal sovereignty and choice, but there comes a time when the quality of the life has to factor into decisions and yes, the cost. The time, resources, medical rooms, surgeries, staff and treatment costs all have to factor into life extending decisions – especially when it’s medically clear that all efforts are doomed.

Taxpayers shouldn’t have to underwrite doomed treatments.

I wouldn’t actually have arrived at this conclusion except for a common theme that runs through these cases – remember the Texas Toddler who was born with multiple genetic defects and would have died within hours of birth if not for extreme medical intervention and after a million dollars and a year of no improvements, that hospital also withdrew treatment and life support.

“What they wanted was to let their baby die peacefully and naturally when God decides and not have that imposed by the hospital or the courts,” O’Donnell said.

If people were really happy to allow their loved one die as God intended, then they would have never been given medical treatments that extended the life beyond what the baby or person’s body could actually sustain.

Hospital intervention extends life beyond what Baby Joseph’s body could have sustained on it’s own.

He did not die naturally or peacefully, he died after months of medical intervention.

Yet, all the right to lifers claim they are wanting God’s will to prevail – which, without medical intervention death – natural death – would have occurred.

So they don’t want events to play out naturally, they want to keep their family member alive as long as humanly – but not humanely – possible.

Unnatural intervention, breathing tubes, feeding tubes, iron lungs, heart bypass.

It’s no wonder that medical costs are a leading cause of bankruptcy in the US if people are pursing every faint hope treatment.

Which, to me, has never made sense.

If these people really beleive in God and an afterlife, why should they so fear death?

Don’t they trust their god?

Han shot first.

George Lucas has changed movie making and computers but he has to stop changing Star Wars.

George, we’re sorry you couldn’t make CGI movies in 1977, Star Wars was amazing then and is loved deeply by fans who fell in love with the movies that were stunningly different from all other movie scifi of the time.

Truthfully, if anything, the movies should be shortened. Trim scenes down and get rid of the excessive “Behold, we are making an epic” acting.

Not adding more creatures, more background, it’s all a distraction from the otherwise adventure romp of fighting a galactic government. Although, it’s never clear why the government has to be fought and one person’s freedom fighter is another person’s terrorist.

In any event, I won’t be buying the new blue rays and I’ll be a rare person for it. But, as a lesbian and an atheist, I am used to being in the minority.

Still, I have to admire fans like Harmy, a 23 year-old student living in the Czech Republic, has spent most of 2011 working on his own Despecialized Editions of the original trilogy.

We’re all 6

If our personalities are fully formed by six years of age – then doesn’t that mean that the effective way to deal with everyone is as if they are an over-sized six year old?

Doesn’t it seem to explain a lot about people’s behavior?

If everyone is just large size children, seeking to achieve their own goals no matter the cost to others or the group? With the same consideration really, that a six year old gives to others,

Children are the centre of the universe they inhabit if that universe is in the western democratic nations – in other places, children are a labour pool that you divide your resources between in hopes that some will grow up and be able to take care of you if you become elderly or infirm.

Aside: I wonder if the human age of 6 is a comparable, in terms of physical/mental development and lifespan, to other mammal species age span  of when an offspring is deemed an adult member of the herd/pack. Or when a mammal mother deems the offspring capable of self-care and has a second offspring…..

Do you think that the reason we never get to leave the schoolyard and why everything we have a strong emotional reaction to can be connected back to early childhood issues is because our personalities are set by age 6?

So, after that point, we really just get bigger and think we know/understand things more nuanced

But when it comes to rubber hitting the road, crisis, issues, insecurities, fears and phobias, that we’re all really 6?

That “Growing Up” is really just a big game of pretend the world is more sophisticated than a 6 year old can relate to?

Watching adults drive and walk and behave certainly suggests that most everyone has a worldview that they are the central figure of consequence above all others, that everything is about them or because of them, that everyone else is responsible for the safety of their person and feelings except for them.

All of which is reliant on social niceties, to act as if we’re all equal until the social hierarchy asserts itself or conflict arises and someone’s view has to dominate.