Sunday 17 April 2011

double negative

or evigt/forever & altid/always (from the movies of Susanne Bier).
Up, Down, Appendices, Postscript.

It's all about symmetry & balance y'unnerstan. :-)These events are not the double negatives of the title, that comes later, down a bit. They are more like double positives!

April 22 Earth Day, Queen's Park Toronto, Noon.Good Friday, April 22 Earth Day, Queen's Park Toronto, Noon.

The only information beyond this poster (click on it for a bigger view) is on Facebook and I'm damned if I will post a link to that shit! You have to go and create a bogus email, and then a bogus account, enervating, takes a day or two just to get over it. Nevermind the flotsam & jetsam left behind which cannot be picked up or dealt with properly regardless if you have a trunk or not! (see tidy pachyderm).

It will be intersting to see if the sod on the Queen's Park lawn has stabilized yet. The last time I was there it was a quagmire. A-and there is no guarantee I will be able to get out the door either, even for this ... Alzheimer's and incipient agoraphobia ... Ai Ai Ai!

People's Assembly on Climate JusticeSilent (Not!) Saturday April 23, Third Toronto People’s Assembly on Climate Justice, 55 Gould Street, 10:00 AM.

Here in this Canada of mine, or what is left of it (spiritually speaking), there is an election coming up on May 2. For too many people, the media f'rinstance, it is dominated by parties and party leaders, none of which/whom are talking much about climate change - including especially the Green Party (I will get to them next week I hope).

Neat that they have shuffled whatever is underneath agoraphobia into a concept of space ...

The line in the sand is 2015. What will be done (or not) will be done by the government elected this time round.
Dig it!

So ... it is either roll up and die or get out there and do what you can and then
VOTE! See also here, here, here, here, here, here ...

A-and it couldn't hurt to go where you like on Easter Sunday and see about praying to the Great Cloud Dragon.

Two examples:
"Mafia Winsome is smart enough to create a world but too stupid not to live in it. ..."
       Thomas Pynchon, V Chapter Twelve, ~page 400.

... none of 'em doin' nothin' that your mama, wouldn't, disapprove.
       Bob Dylan, Under The Red Sky, 10,000 Men.
'Children of the Book' are now stuck with the www ... and there are important differences (including but not limited to):
As with Lichens and some Bryophytes, it spreads by 'death-from-behind' so things appear, and later on they often disappear again;

Introduction and propagation of persistent errors by double-helix inadequacies of various types, direct & indirect; and,

Froth floats! ... beer, septic tanks, leaves blowing in the park ...
Having no memory, or a poor one, can tend to make you focus on principles (which are less to remember).

Who knows what counts as 'heavy lifting' anymore?

Ulrich ThomsenTobey MaguireUlrich Thomsen as Major Michael & Tobey Maguire as Captain Sam, in two films: Brødre, 2004 (download here); and a 2009 American remake,
Brothers (download here). One by a Danish woman, the other by an Irish man (still nominally European but long since emigrated to k-k-Canad-ay-i-o and then Amerik-ay-i-o).

There's someone's thesis for a degree in film in this eh? Compare & contrast European and American culture as expressed through these two films: enough parallel scenes to permit at least several strong contrasts; a gazillion small differences to become points of comparison - each one revealing; metrics (and attendant possibilities for cute analytic charts) abounding.

An unusually catty remark in the Wikipedia of Susanne Bier: "In Denmark however, her films are often considered too commercial and lacking in artistic value." (?!) It brings a small perspective (for me) - that whatever relation either of these films has with any sort of historical truth is sketchy (whatever historical truth may be, call it fictional truth or human truth ... what you like). And even if they were true-as-can-be; as true, say, as H. Rider Haggard depictions of Zulus, or or or ... 50's news reports around the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya ... even if ... still, I think using them (together) to see into the underlying social imaginaries is what they are really any good for.

... beyond training in a deft vocabulary of conversational gambits covering the standard moments (and some non-standard ones) of a bourgeois life, that is.

Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.

Some say Euripides or Sophocles (~400 BC); this one is good (I like fortune over either God or gods), "Whom Fortune wishes to destroy she first makes mad," (~1 BC); or H. Rider Haggard, "Whom God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad," (Child of Storm by H. Rider Haggard (1913).

Here's some music to take us out: Spirit In The Sky, "Gotta have a friend in Jesus so you know that when you die he's gonna recommend you to the spirit in the sky."

Be well gentle reader. :-)A-and the final word is not a double negative ... just a handy, all-round spell from our Tyrone Slothrop via Thomas Pynchon.

Be well.


Ah! It is snowing! Out for a walk then, right away in case it stops.

Sumac March 24.Sumac April 2.Sumac April 15.The first Sumac seedling looks to be female. There are others coming up (as you can see by clicking on the last one to see the detail) with vaguely saw-toothed leaves and no fuzzy bits which are the males I am guessing.

They lean towards the light; though clearly mindful of gravity as well.

Laurent Gbagbo & Simone Ehivet.Simone Ehivet.Laurent Gbagbo & Simone Ehivet.Very very last ... a follow-up on Ivory Coast from Gwynne Dyer. He says, "Yet Nigeria never slid over the edge," and I have to wonder what he made of Biafra then? That, and not mentioning that Alassane Ouattara seems (to me) to be more tractable than Laurent Gbagbo, more 'with' the international sweet tooth influences, more amenable.

He says, "rampant corruption plus chronic poverty plus ethnic rivalry produce civil wars and insurgencies that last for decades," leaving out pernicious white ideologies which seem (to me) to be at least as close to the root.


1. Will the West African Curse hit Nigeria next?, Gwynne Dyer, April 15 2011.

Will the West African Curse hit Nigeria next?, Gwynne Dyer, April 15 2011.

The war in Ivory Coast is over, or so we are told. Former president Laurent Gbagbo, who clung to the presidency even though he only won 46 percent of the vote in last year’s election, has been dragged from his bunker after two weeks of battle that devastated the capital, Abidjan. President Alassane Ouattara, who got 54 percent of the votes, is in charge, and Gbagbo is under arrest, and all’s well that ends well.

Except that it didn’t end very well, did it? Indeed, it probably hasn’t ended at all. Ouattara owes a lot to the troops (the New Forces) that fought for him, and they will expect to be paid, mainly in military, police and government jobs. This will further alienate Gbagbo’s supporters (mostly Christian southerners), who already feel they have been occupied by a northern, Muslim army.

It’s not even clear that Ouattara ordered the offensive that was carried out in his name: the New Forces have about ten semi-independent commanders. It’s even odds that the victors will simply overthrow Ouattara and take power themselves in the next year or two.

The militias that fought for Ggagbo are not finished, either. It was French firepower that finally breached Gbagbo’s defences, even if New Forces soldiers made the actual arrest. And although the French were operating under the United Nations flag, everybody in Ivory Coast knows that Ouattara has been the preferred candidate of France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy for many years.

The French forces have put Ouattara in power, but now they have to withdraw rapidly. It looks bad for the former colonial power to boost an African regime into power, and the longer they stay the worse it will look. But once they are gone, Ouattara may face resurgent southern militias that are still loyal to Gbagbo.

It is the West African Curse: rampant corruption plus chronic poverty plus ethnic rivalry produce civil wars and insurgencies that last for decades and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. It happened in Sierra Leone, it happened in Liberia, and it started to happen in Guinea last year (although that country may have stopped on the brink of the pit).

For a long time people thought Ivory Coast was immune because of its far greater wealth: it was the world’s biggest cocoa producer and the economic centre of French-speaking West Africa. But the wealth never trickled down very far, and the ethnic rivalries were the same. Indeed, they were actually worse, because the country is almost evenly split between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south.

East along the coast, the Curse hasn’t struck yet. Ghana, on Ivory Coast’s eastern border, has seen a few coups, but no massacres, and it is now a flourishing democracy with a respectable growth rate. Togo and Dahomey are not so lucky, but they have had no huge massacres either. And giant Nigeria has done surprisingly well, given that it has all the ingredients of a classic West African-style disaster.

Nigeria has oil, but most of the money has been stolen by a small elite class while the majority of Nigerians remain poor. It is even more deeply divided than Ivory Coast in ethnic and religious terms. Yet Nigeria never slid over the edge.

It has had many coups, and even when “democracy” was restored the elections were shamelessly rigged. The Muslim-Christian split dominates national politics, and sometimes leads to local massacres. It is a chaotic, abrasive, almost lawless society – but also a highly successful one, with 7 percent growth and a functioning if deeply corrupt democracy. It is, in a weird way, a very stable country.

The one major threat to its stability is the fact that its elections are getting more honest. When the outcome was decided in advance, the basic north-south deal was safe: a two-term Muslim president from the north would be followed by a two-term Christian president from the south, and then back again. That way, everybody who mattered in Nigeria could count on getting their turn at the trough.

This time, however, the Muslim president died halfway through his first term, and his Christian vice-president, Goodluck Jonathan, took his place. Jonathan likes the job so much that he is running for re-election as president, which enrages the northern, Muslim elite who think it should still be their turn.

To make matters more dangerous, this time new election rules and an official who can’t be bought mean that the votes will actually be counted. Last weekend’s parliamentary elections saw the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the vehicle of both the northern and southern elites, lose ground dramatically to new opposition parties.

If Jonathan wins the presidential election this weekend (results are expected by Tuesday or Wednesday), he will face a parliament where the PDP majority is both narrow and fragile. If his leading rival Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler whose support is solely in the north, should win, Buhari would be in an even more vulnerable and isolated position. The potential for an ugly north-south, Muslim-Christian confrontation is very high.

Ivory Coast has been going down for some time, and it may not have touched bottom yet. Nigeria’s 140 million people are on the way up, but they must still go through a tricky transition, and nobody knows if they are exempt from the Curse.


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