Posts from our progressive community

things i heard at the library: an occasional series: #21

we move to canada - Sun, 05/15/2016 - 07:00
Visibly anxious and upset customer: Can you please help me? Something is wrong with this computer!

I go over to take a look. The public computer is still starting up, and Internet Explorer (sadly, the default browser) is slowly opening.

Me (pointing to the Chrome icon on the taskbar): Let's try this browser instead. You'll find it's better than Internet Explorer.

Visibly anxious customer: No! I can't! I have to use the internet!

Me: I understand. This is also the internet. It's a different browser - a different tool for accessing the internet. Most people find it works better.

I help her open Chrome, and show her where to start, and return to the information desk. A few minutes later...

VAC: I can't use this computer! It's broken! I can't use this computer!

Me: All right, you're free to use any available computer. Why don't you log in to this one?

I stick around while she gets started, then return to the information desk. Fortunately, she is only steps away.

VAC: Can you help me?! Something is wrong! This isn't working! Can you help me?!

Me: What are you trying to do?

VAC: I always go to and I see my paystub. It's not working!

Me: Right now you're at, which is a public website, where people can buy products from Sears. The site where you see your paystub must have more to it. Perhaps slash... something?

VAC: No! No!! I go to and see my paystub! I do it all the time! It is!

Me: Here we are at It's a website for shopping at Sears. There must be more to the address than that.

VAC: No! Look! Here it is on this paper! Look! My-dot-Sears-dot-CA.

Me: So what you need is Let's do that.

We do. The site she is expecting loads.

Me: Do you know how to log in here?

VAC: Yes, of course I do! I do it all the time! Go away! Go away!

Me: Uh... ok. I'm at the desk if you need me.

rest in power, daniel berrigan and michael ratner

we move to canada - Sun, 05/15/2016 - 06:00
The world lost two great fighters for peace and justice this past week.

Daniel Berrigan was a lifelong peace activist, a man who was ready and willing to put his body and soul on the line. He was a writer, a thinker, a pacifist, an idealist, a pragmatist, and a priest.

Berrigan was also a leader, someone who, early on, helped make visible the connections between racism, poverty, war, and capitalism. He became a leading figure in the peace movement during the Vietnam War. Naturally, he was on the FBI's "most wanted" list and served time in prison.

Later in his life, Berrigan founded the Plowshares Movement, which used daring acts of civil disobedience to draw a spotlight on the US's nuclear arsenal.

Here are two pieces from The New Yorker celebrating Berrigan.
James Carroll remembers his "dangerous friend".

Eric Schlosser remembers how "a handful of a handful of pacifists and nuns exposed the vulnerability of America’s nuclear-weapons sites": Break-In at Y-12.Following in the giant footsteps of Dorothy Day, Berrigan's life and work demonstrates that religion can be a positive force for social change.

Michael Ratner's life and work also defies stereotype: he was a lawyer who spent his entire career defending the scorned, the falsely accused, the scapegoated. He was a trailblazer who pioneered the use of the law to champion human rights. Long ago, when I contemplated going to law school, I dreamt of Michael Ratner as my role model.

Democracy Now! devoted an entire program to the celebration of Ratner's life and work.
The trailblazing human rights attorney Michael Ratner has died at the age of 72. For over four decades, Michael Ratner defended, investigated and spoke up for victims of human rights abuses across the world. He served as the longtime head of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Attorney David Cole told The New York Times, "Under his leadership, the center grew from a small but scrappy civil rights organization into one of the leading human rights organizations in the world. He sued some of the most powerful people in the world on behalf of some of the least powerful."

In 2002, the center brought the first case against the George W. Bush administration for the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantánamo. The Supreme Court eventually sided with the center in a landmark 2008 decision when it struck down the law that stripped Guantánamo prisoners of their habeas corpus rights. Ratner began working on Guantánamo in the 1990s, when he fought the first Bush administration’s use of the military base to house Haitian refugees.I can't begin to do justice to either of these men, but I didn't want their deaths to go unnoticed on this blog. Their passing saddens me and their lives inspire me.

hooray for tala

we move to canada - Sun, 05/15/2016 - 05:00
Tala is doing great! Of course she was exhausted and a bit wobbly when she came home, but now she's well rested and back to herself. And she looks a whole lot better without a disgusting, oozing tumour sticking out of her side! More importantly, there's a 75% chance the cancer won't come back.

Look how thick her fur is! The doc said this will take a long time to grow back.

She doesn't need the Cone of Silence* this time, but the surgeon recommended she wear a t-shirt to keep protect the incision site. Tala accepts it with grace.

*  I much prefer the vintage TV reference to the what most people seem to call it, the Cone of Shame. The surgery clinic calls it an E-collar, which makes me think both of some sort of digital device, and of E. coli.

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and the Little Canadians

Montreal Simon - Sun, 05/15/2016 - 04:51

I couldn't properly explain why I was so disgusted by the way the monstrous Cons went after Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, for simply admitting she was feeling overwhelmed, and asking for help.

And why I was so bothered by the way so many other Canadians piled on.

It was the bullying of course, and the casual cruelty, and the women hate. And the indecent glee of her tormentors.

But there was something else that really bothered me, and I think that Neil Macdonald explains it very well.
Read more »

It Takes More Than Rhyme To Make Poetry

Northern Reflections - Sun, 05/15/2016 - 03:25

There are some ghostly similarities, Michael Winship writes, between the American election of 1968 and this year's election. 1968 was the year that Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. It was the year there were riots in the streets of Chicago during the Democratic convention. And it marked the ascension of Richard Nixon at the Republican convention. It was also the year that George Wallace ran as a third party candidate.

New York Times columnist Russell Baker described Wallace's campaign:

Wallace’s crude animal reaction to the complexities of American society found a sympathetic hearing that summer among millions baffled by the speed at which the future was hurtling upon them and frustrated by their individual impotence against the tyranny of vast computerized organizations spreading through American life. With his snake-oil miracle cures, Wallace satisfied a deep public yearning to be deluded with promises of easy solutions.

Wallace's daughter recently pulled no punches when she compared Donald Trump to her father:

George Wallace’s own daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, recently told National Public Radio that both men have played to our basest instincts. “Trump and my father say out loud what people are thinking but don’t have the courage to say,” she said. “They both were able to adopt the notion that fear and hate are the two greatest motivators of voters that feel alienated from government.”
Winship reminds his readers of Mark Twain's notion of history. " History," Twain wrote, "doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

However, it takes more than rhyme to make poetry.



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