Saturday, February 21, 2009

Which races would you save?

I read about this on Thursday on A grade 4 teacher in New-Brunswick asked her class of francophone Acadians, in the context of a social studies exercise, to imagine they were on another planet with an anglophone, a black African, a Chinese person, and an aboriginal person. This planet is set to explode. The students were then asked which three people they would put on a rocket an save. Students were also supposed to explain why.

There was a lot of outrage over how ethical this exercise actually was and the New-Brunswick education minister is quoted as being "appalled".

Clearly the goal of the exercise was that students were supposed to be unable to make a choice and explain why. Parents seemed to think this was somehow wrong. I understand that asking 10 year olds to understand that in an exercise such as this the only correct answer is one that isn't provided by the teacher, but I think that it could have been an important stepping stone in their education if they had had the opportunity to complete the exercise and discuss it class.

After all, young minds are easily influenced by all sorts of things. Just look at how many kids you knew growing up used racial slander as a result of what they were taught by their parents or their friends, look at how many people carry these prejudices into adulthood. All this because they were never taught any different. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home free of prejudices and I was taught by my parents that it was wrong, but not everyone has that opportunity and they will go through life with a heart that is programmed to fear, despise, judge and possibly hate people who are different.

Perhaps grade 4 is a little early to try to teach existential lessons such as this one but lessons in ethics have to start sometime, why not start in grade 4? Kudos to this teacher for having the guts to try to teach these kids that racism is wrong and unacceptable. Thumbs down to the parents who complained. Two thumbs down to the education minister for not backing up this courageous teacher and stopping these kids from learning a valuable lesson.

Muchacho Enfermo

Friday, February 20, 2009

Who's gum is that?

So I was invited to go and enjoy some wine and hors d'oeuvres last night at the Mexican consulate in Montreal. I was the launch of an art show based on the migratory patterns or monarch butterflies from Montreal to Mexico, a process that takes 3 generations each way to complete.

To be fair, I didn't really practice my Spanish except for some elementary examples of how to conjugate the verbs Ser and Estar... although I was taught a valuable and somewhat mysterious lesson: Precávase de la máquina de Coca-Cola. (Beware of the Coke machine.)

The entire evening was a welcome change from my everyday political bitterness and a very welcome change from watching footage of Stephen Harper riding the coattails of President Obama in Ottawa.

The food was delicious, the chardonnay was lovely, the guests were interesting in their own "I'm an intellectual artist" sort of way and the company was excellent.

The only question left unanswered at the end of the night was:
"Who goes to the Mexican consulate and sticks chewing gum on the wall?"

This one folks is a mystery for the ages and a question that we will, perhaps, never know the answer too...

Muchacho Enfermo

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Recycled blog post...

I'm not usually one to recycle blog posts... but I'm doing it with this one. I wrote this last week for and it was also published on Ashin's blog.
Thanks Ashin for giving me the opportunity to reach more people than this little blog ever will!!!

Here it is:

Making Them Accountable

A few months ago I came across a blog by a young man named Ashin Mettacara. The man whose website you are reading this text is published. Back then I was a complacent observer, a bystander, a man horrified at the atrocities of the world from the confines of his basement living room. Now I’m angry man with a keyboard who has finally discovered citizen journalism and his highly acute sense of right and wrong. I am no in way shape or form a writer, or a journalist, or a philosopher. What I am is someone who up until very recently had lost faith in the world; I say recently because a few short months ago I discovered that there were people in the world that are worth defending and others that are worthy of opposition.

Through the website of Ashin I discovered the plight of the Burmese. Like most other Canadians who rely on mainstream media for news and information about the world, I thought the Saffron Revolution was over. I thought that the monks and the people who joined them to protest the junta had been at least semi-successful because the news no longer reported about them being beaten and arrested. Like most people, I put it out of my head and I almost completely forgot about it. Thinking about it only if someone ever brought it up and then I’d say something along the lines of “I hope they do something about that... it’s just so wrong.”

Then one day I figured out that there was no “they” and that some people, not so unlike me, were doing something about it. They were writing, blogging, reporting, at the risk of their own safety and at the risk of their families’ freedom. They were sitting in temples, in cafes and in writing from their cellular phones. The way the images of the protests in Burma over a year ago had been shot from cellular phone cameras. They were the very definition of citizen journalists. These were the people who had become the mythical “they”... They were the ones trying to help themselves, trying to broadcast their message to a world that didn’t listen or didn’t care. They were the people that I wanted to help.

Any of us can give money to amnesty international and feel great, anyone of us can have a “free Tibet” bumper sticker and think that we’re creatures of the world that care about our fellow man. Up until a few months ago I was one of those people (minus the bumper sticker). Now I know what I’m doing... I am writing almost everyday about things that happen all over the world that no moral person should rightly be able to accept. I sit at my laptop and read emails from around the world, read news and enter discussions and then I blog about it. It’s not enough though. It’s not exactly what the world needs. But at least everyday I am donating my time, I am receiving messages from those trapped behind enemy lines and I make sure that their words escape into the vast global community that is the internet.

Imagine a world where everyone living in privilege (i.e. living in the free world) donated 15 minutes per day or even per week to a cause like Burma, or any other cause. Imagine a world where every government was held accountable by everyone? Can you imagine the fear that would be driven in the heart of the corrupt, the cruel, the vile and the unjust if the billions of citizen with access to a computer suddenly stood together and called them out? As the old song says "If the kids are united they can never be divided." Ladies and gentlemen... this is the time; this is the moment to take up your keyboards and make the world accountable!

Muchacho Enfermo

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Where I blog... part 2

So for this week's installment of where I blog, I took a picture of where I sat writing yesterday's post. I was on the bus, or as my Cuban friends would call it the guagua (i just love that word), on my way back from downtown Montreal.

And it got me thinking, it doesn't really matter where I blog from as long as I'm doing it.

I live in a predominantly separatist neighborhood, so it's fair to say that most of the people on my bus were also separatists. Looking at all their faces and the way they look down everytime someone speaks something other than French inspired me to write yesterday's post. Damn the plains of Abraham.

Muchacho Enfermo

Pakistan : Hey're still on your own!

Why has Pakistan abandoned Swat? Over the last two years Pakistan made it clear that its policy concerning the goings on in the Swat province was a strategy known as “head in the sand”. Yesterday the people of Swat finally had something to cheer about: The Pakistani government and the radical groups that control swat struck a deal that would make Sharia the official rule of law in Swat.

Apparently all rejoiced at this news in Swat, the Globe and Mail reports people dancing in the streets, markets and schools reopening. Good news for all right? Especially given that the bargaining position of the residents of swat started from the very weak : “Ordinary people want peace at any cost.”

Maybe... but maybe not... What about the schools that have already burned down, what about the market where women get executed for shopping, what about the countless other atrocities? Will the Sharia help the people or help the radicals? Because as we all know the law can always be bent to serve those in power.

NATO experts now fear that Swat will become a hotbed for extremists and Taliban who want to slip in and out of Afghanistan. That means bad news for our Canadian troops. “We should all be concerned by a situation in which extremists would have a safe haven,” NATO spokesman James Appathurai said.

The people of Pakistan are worried that a deal like this will set precedence that extremists might seek to repeat in other provinces and regions of the country. The director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said “It will spread to the rest of the Frontier province (...) once it spreads to Frontier, then why not Punjab ”.

I’m no expert on the matter, far from it, but when I hear the words: deal, government, Taliban and peace in the same sentence, something just strikes me as not right.

So just to recap:
-Pakistan has made a deal with the same extremists that wanted to close girl schools and execute women for shopping. Pakistan basically struck a deal with the devil.
-NATO experts are worried
-Pakistanis are afraid that this will set precedence and force Islamabad to strike similar deals in other regions.
-And people are dancing in the street?

What it boils down to folks is this: the only ones who aren’t worried are the ones in power because Swat still belongs to them.

(I’m going to read more on this subject today and hopefully someone will post here and correct me if I’m wrong.)

Muchacho Enfermo

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

And the Separatists win... this time

As reported in the Globe and Mail the planned re-enactment of the famous French-English battles on the Plains of Abraham has been canceled due to separatist threats. It was reported that these threats included threats of violence.

The organizers of this event then chose to cancel the event to prevent harm from coming to those who may be attending the re-enactment, including the many families and small children that they believed would be in attendance.

The separatists no doubt think that this is a huge victory because they all felt that this was an insult to their french heritage.

First let's get a few things straight:

1- The French abandoned La Nouvelle France long before the plains of Abraham.
2- They left the colony to die at the hands of a far superior army.
3- It is a FRICKING HISTORICAL FACT people. It happened, you can't argue that it didn't happen. It's in history books... your kids at school are learning about this HISTORICAL FACT and what? You're going to threaten the teachers if they don't stop teaching it?
4- Grow up.

Seriously, France hasn't given a crap about Quebec in hundreds of years... Has anyone listened to what Sarcozy had to say about the separatists?

Just for the record, I am french, I am Canadian and history is history.

Let it go people, your little separatist dream of a little French utopia where the world recognizes you for something else than the intolerant people that you really are is dead.

You may have won the plains of Abraham this time, but never... EVER... again. History is on the move, and those who do not move with it will be left behind to watch it happen from a distance.

Muchacho Enfermo

Monday, February 16, 2009

Boring Home

Hot of the press!!!
Here's the book that caused so much trouble today in Havana available as a free download from rapidshare courtesy of
the file is clean, so no worries there.

Original Boring Home
Smaller File

ALSO (and these should never die)

and here

BUT if the links die I'll make new ones available to you all.

Muchacho Enfermo

A day of reckoning

Today will be a day of reckoning doe Cuban author Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo and all those attending the independent launch of his book in the infamous La Cabana prison in Havana.

He has received threats for the past 72 hours, since the launch was first announced on Friday. From emails, to phone calls to his mother... Other bloggers in Cuba reported on the emails as well as the calls. The threats range from the "I am going to kick your ass" to the much more graphic and painful.

If you read any blog originating from Cuba this morning, those attending have a distinctly somber tone, the tone of someone going to a show-down with a much better gunslinger.

Stay tuned to this blog for updates as they become available, the meeting is taking place at 3pm.

Muchacho Enfermo

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chavez is at it... again... and again...

Today is another day of voting for the people of Venezuela, in yet another attempt to extend his stronghold on the oil rich country, Chavez has called another referendum that would allow him to remain in power as long as he can win elections. As a Canadian, I can't really complain about this, because this system is exactly what we have here in Canada, but as an outside observer I can't help but think that the people of Venezuela have told him no before and he should let sleeping dogs lie. IN fact the slogan of the opposition is "No is No!"

According to Reuters Chavez has deported an independent European lawyer who was in Caracas to observe the voting process. Showing yet again that Chavez has no interest in a fair democratic process and he fears that an independent observer might expose questionable practices in the voting process.

It has also been reported that Chavez's supporters have taken to calling him "El Comandante" the name once reserved for his mentor, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. If this nickname and his having kicked out an observer aren't enough to make any sane person cringe there is also the case of his campaign fliers that list the two reasons people should vote in favor of Chavez:
"Chavez loves us and love is repaid with love."
"Chavez is incapable of doing us harm."

I'm guessing that there will be a special 6 hour episode of "Hello President" today where Chavez proves his love for his country, bad mouths the US and scares people into voting for his reform.

The larger question is: Are the people really propping up the government of this Castro doppelganger or (with the lack of independent observation) is this government being kept in power by lies and votes that never happened?

Muchacho Enfermo