Links of the Month: June 2024

cartoon by Michael Leunig from his fans’ FB page

If you’re looking for The Truth, you won’t find it here. Just opinions. Stated or implied by what is included in the links below, and perhaps more importantly what is excluded. Probably most of these opinions are contrary to mainstream western thought, and even outside the current Overton window.

I have no choice in any of this. My opinions are entirely the result of nearly 73 years of cultural conditioning, on top of my body’s biological, “intuitive” conditioning. Same as yours. It is highly unlikely that these links, or any responses to them, will alter anyone’s conditioned opinions on any of the subjects they address.

But I guess if you’re going to spend a bit of time reading people’s opinions on things, you could do worse than read mine. Though I’m biased, of course.


chart from Copernicus/C3S, the European monitor of climate change

chart from Scripps/NOAA May 2024

And here is the news: Twelve straight months of record hot land and sea temperatures. Accelerating collapse of Antarctic ice sheets. Endless excuses, blame, denial, pushback, wringing of hands. New drop-in-the-bucket technologies, untenable promises. Zero substantive political progress. Global economy falling off the precipice, starting in the Global South. Zero reduction in fossil fuel production and consumption. You know, the usual. Details near the back of your favourite news publications.


from the memebrary; the library in question is in Shreveport LA USA

The summer of burning it all down: An inspiring rant from Lyz Lenz. Excerpt:

You can tell women are shattering by the amount of effort politicians and pundits are putting into forcing them back together. They’re trying to legislate what constitutes a woman. They want women to get marriedThey want to end no-fault divorce. And to force pregnant women to stay with their husbands…. This is not a summer of pretending things are fine. Of going back to normal. This is the summer of calling this shit out. Of saying it’s not okay. Of standing up for ourselves. Of nuking our lives. Of breaking them down. Of letting go. Of refusing to hold it all together… This is the summer of breaking. Of burning. Of shouting and yelling and divesting. Letting it all go. What we are letting go of is the bad relationships, the bad jobs, the bad year, and the patriarchy.

… and a Lyz Lenz encore: If you liked the above, you’ll probably also enjoy her heart-warming, ribald interview with Gynnis MacNicol, author of I’m Mostly Here to Enjoy Myself about “fucking around France” and being an “untethered” woman.

Citizens’ Assemblies, downsized: A number of groups are using Citizen Solutions, a small-scale version of Citizens’ Assemblies, to try to improve understanding and craft recommendations for action that cut through polarized partisan beliefs.

Seeing the whole sky: A European space telescope goes Hubble and Webb one better.

How war tests hate speech laws: An excellent analysis by the Tyee’s Jen St. Denis of what happens when hate speech laws run up against the right to angry protest against atrocities.

A portrayal of homelessness: A homeless Vancouver artist, An Dong, draws portraits of fellow homeless people at a local shelter.

The US CFPB fights back against corporate malpractice: Cory Doctorow describes the astonishing successes of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, an anti-corporate-corruption agency established at the initiative of Elizabeth Warren.

A diet for humans and the planet: Yet another thorough study showing the enormous benefits both to human health and the environment, from a balanced whole-plant-based diet.

The art, not the science, of great conversations: A Wired article falsely describes the skill of being a great conversationalist as a ‘science’, which it is not. But it is an art, and the article re-summarizes lots of things that we forget when we get wrapped up in a one-to-one chat on important issues, including:

  • the importance of acknowledging that you appreciate the thinking and feelings behind what has just been said, before racing ahead to present other ways of seeing it
  • the importance of just listening instead of thinking about your reply, and briefly paraphrasing to demonstrate that you were listening and paying attention (rather than just nodding and saying ‘uh huh’)
  • the value of asking questions that prompt the other person to elaborate on what was just said, rather than taking the conversation on a tangent
  • the value of questions that (appropriately and politely) invite the other person to talk about what’s important to them, rather than “small talk”, such as the 36 questions
  • the power of that cruelest and most manipulative of social tools, the story
  • the sad truth of literary critic Rebecca West’s admonition about conversations: “There is no such thing as conversation. It is an illusion. There are intersecting monologues, that is all.”


old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon from Bill Watterson; this comic never gets stale

More terrifying than a racist, misogynistic Trump screed: Read this (short) interview by Time Magazine of Genocide Joe, and then think about what might happen if this man, clearly in the very advanced stages of senile dementia, has his finger on the nuclear button for another four years. Yep, the “strongest alliance in all of America”, we have that for sure. Take that, Putin, I mean Xi, whatever…

US Congressman confesses Reps take instruction on Israel policy directly from their individually assigned AIPAC ‘handlers’: Right from the horse’s mouth. Video and transcript of an interview of Rep, Thomas Massie by Tucker Carlson. (video is also available here) Thanks to Caitlin Johnstone for the link.

Imperialism, Militarism & Fascism: Short takes:

Propaganda, Censorship, Misinformation and Disinformation: Short takes:

Corpocracy & Unregulated Capitalism: Short takes:

Administrative Mismanagement & Incompetence: Short takes:


Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller, May 11, 2024

Sounds Like Steel: A delightful, thoughtful, fast-paced (one-hour), heart-warming and insightful documentary about the history and social importance of Steel Band (pan) music. If you want to hear some award-winning performances, check out the Trinidad Panorama 2023 Junior champions Tropical Angel Harps, and the UK Panorama 2023 champions Ebony Steel Band.

A real-life Bambi and Thumper meeting: Definitely cute overload. This and the next link are from Hank & John.

Learn about the little-known and very strange deep-sea anglerfish: Both the basic writeup and the reader comments are priceless.

Not really the news (satirical fake headlines from the Onion and its Canadian counterpart the Beaverton:

  • “WestJet announces SuperUltraBasic fare where customers just stay home and give them money”
  • “‘New York Times’ invents entirely new numerical system to avoid reporting Gazan death toll”
  • “Columbia University gives students option to finish classes from prison”

Make your own music: Lazy person’s tool for composing your own beats. Very simple, clever app. A couple of my ‘works’: Time to Get Up, and Light Up the Border.


from the memebrary; lots more examples here

From Albert Einstein, from Why Socialism, written in 1949 (thanks to Caitlin Johnstone for the link):

The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

From theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, who is reading Einstein’s unpublished notebooks in the original German, on Einstein’s “other” Theory of Everything:

It’s concerning that scientists have not pursued Einstein’s [prematurely discarded] ‘other theory of everything’, the idea that matter is really just made of spacetime, curved in a particular way.

From Cory Doctorow, on how we are manipulated by stories:

Yes, writing is lying. Storytelling is genuinely weird. A storyteller who has successfully captured the audience has done so by convincing their hindbrains to care about the tribulations of imaginary people. These are people whose suffering, by definition, does not matter. Imaginary things didn’t happen, so they can’t matter. The deaths of Romeo and Juliet were less tragic than the death of the yogurt you had for breakfast. That yogurt was alive and now it’s dead, whereas R&J never lived, never died, and don’t matter.

Hijacking a stranger’s empathic response is intrinsically adversarial. While storytelling is a benign activity, its underlying mechanic is extremely dangerous. Getting us to care about things that don’t matter is how novels and movies work, but it’s also how cults and cons work, [making] liberal use of the hack of leaving blank spots for the mark to fill in… And always leaving them wanting more.

Two recent comments from reddit threads on city vs country living:

In the city, people ignore sirens and pay attention to gunshot sounds. In the country, people ignore the sound of gunfire and pay attention to the sound of sirens.

If you need to have a home to afford to retire, and most young people will never own a home, how do we expect this to play out?

From Gore Vidal, on the State of the Union (1975).  Thanks to Indrajit Samarajiva for this and the following link:

There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt — until recently … and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties.

From the current president of Colombia, Gustavo Pedro, on the Euro-American Empire:

The European Union, the United Kingdom and above all the United States—they all support dropping bombs on people because they want to teach a lesson to the entirety of humanity. They are telling us: look at our military power. What happens to Palestine can happen to any of you if you dare to make changes without our permission.

From PS Pirro:      LONG VIEW

The world in which your grandchildren’s grandchildren
run through the house on the first day it snows
will come and it will be like nothing you imagine
for you cannot imagine it, not now, not today,
not in this life when you are grieving the world as it is
and cannot fathom the world as it one day will be
alive in its new and confounding way, a world in which
your grandchildren’s grandchildren will no more
look back in longing on the bygone age of industry
than you look back and long for the age of slave ships
and digging potatoes from the dryland.

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6 Responses to Links of the Month: June 2024

  1. Vera says:

    Lots of good stuff, Dave! I always look forward to your links. Adore the -le insight! :-)

    On the other hand, I am surprised you are promoting the MAID program that is well down the slippery slope, as far as I can see. Your headline, “preventing her from accessing doctor-approved MAID, 27-year-old Calgary woman in unbearable pain is left with no option but to starve herself to death (thanks, Trudeau and Poilievre)” is — I am left uncomfortably feeling — misinformation. Perusing the info out there, what I have gathered so far is that this is a young woman with long standing mental health issues. She is otherwise (physically) healthy.

    There are political forces in Canada who push the slippery slope, and have recently reclassified (some?) mental health problems as “irredeemable” (how the heck would anybody apart from God know that!?) after previously denying that this would eventually happen. I am wondering if she isn’t being used by those forces for political ends. Because starving isn’t her “only option” — all she has to do is walk out on the street and buy a few doses of fentanyl. But that would not garner all the publicity and court involvement and so on.

    Please note the egregious use of weasely euphemisms like “receiving MAID” instead of killing (putting her to sleep?!). Geez.

    Killing young people for being depressed, that is sinking deep. And doctors in Canada going to patient beds, telling them maybe they should kill themselves by proxy, heh, it’s so much easier… :-0

    What do you think, fellow pollardites?

  2. Dave Pollard says:

    A group of Canadian senators, many of whom have or had relatives who were unable to obtain MAID — which requires complicated medical approvals which can only be given under very strict circumstances — have had to watch helplessly as those relatives died slow, agonizing deaths. Deaths we would never have put a suffering pet through, but because of religious zealots, humans have to suffer from state restrictions that render doctors’ compassionate remedies illegal. Only these senators’ relentless efforts got MAID in its current restricted form introduced in Canada, and Poilievre has declared he will eliminate MAID entirely if elected next year, while Trudeau has blocked expansion of the program even though the courts have ruled doing so contravenes the Canadian Bill of Rights. Mental illness does not qualify, so the Calgary woman, although not ‘going public’ about it, clearly had extreme physical suffering in order for the doctors to approve it.

    I am likely to die, in a decade or so, of Alzheimers, as my father did. Despite my advanced directive, I will not qualify for MAID even if the symptoms, like my father’s, include hallucinations and terrors that have me screaming endlessly, strapped down to a hospital gurney, completely deranged, possibly for years on end. I can only hope to be sane enough to do what this woman in Calgary is doing, and stop eating and drinking to bring an end to my nightmare.

    This is not doctors “killing people”, Vera. This is a question of the basic human right to a life of dignity with autonomy over one’s own body. And if you think street fentanyl is a simple means of committing suicide, you might want to have a chat with some of the people who use it every day, whose bodies and lives have been destroyed, but who go on living for years until the toxins in the poisoned drug supply (which our governments refuse, on the same moralistic, religious grounds they oppose MAID, to tackle by humane means) finally end their misery.

    There was a time, before the religious zealots and politicians started interfering in the medical system, when doctors just did what was necessary to relieve patients’ extreme suffering. They just knew, from experience, and from knowing how they would feel in the same circumstances. They had quiet conversations with the family of the sufferer, laying out the options, and then did what was agreed was best. Now they are no longer able to do that. The state tells you you must live in agony (physical and/or mental) because this is apparently God’s will. Expletives deleted.

  3. Joe Clarkson says:

    Biden’s interview is typical of an oral conversation transcribed to written form. It’s why every interview is described as being “lightly edited” for clarity. Time uses that term, but it’s clear that little editing was done (except for the interviewer).

    And as someone who presumably knows what “advanced dementia” is like, I am surprised that you characterize Biden’s interview that way. A person with advanced dementia usually can’t speak at all. If either Biden, or Trump, have the beginnings of dementia, it would be extremely early in the process for either of them, so your hyperbole about Biden’s mental state is unseemly.

    In any case, an undemented Trump would be far worse for the world than a severely demented Biden.

    I do concur completely with your views on MAID. That so many humans are forced to go through extreme suffering to just to exclude what would be very rare cases of inappropriate euthanasia has always been a mystery to me.

  4. Vera says:

    “In any case, an undemented Trump would be far worse for the world than a severely demented Biden.

    What color is the sky in your world, Joe? Gadzooks. The man who started no wars against the man who did, and is trying to provoke a nuclear war with Russia, as we speak.

    I am thinking… when people can’t recognize the dementia in one candidate and bloviating narcissism in the other, we are truly forked.

    As for MAID, jeez. When they told me to go home and talk to the hospice, many years ago, the last thing I needed was people in white coats offering to off me quicker. I fought back instead. I did call the Hemlock Society (they are called something else now) and bought the book Final Exit. In my preferred world, we do not give the government power to do what we can do ourselves. Since, they so often misuse it. Takes 300mg of hydrocodone to go peacefully to sleep, and never wake up. That’s what Doc Kevorkian used to use. Some people prefer helium. Of course, a habitual opiate user (legal or illegal) will need more depending on their use. No access to opiates? Poppy tea works as well.

    In the old days, such things were resolved within the family, as Dave says. I see no reason why they can’t be so resolved today. Isn’t the state bloated and power-mad enough?!

  5. Vera says:

    Postscript: I am against suicide, and the info I have gathered (above) is for people who are laboring their last. I am not against hastening the death that’s already tapped a person on the shoulder, and do not see it as suicide. And those who promote the killing of young people who are miserable, may the harm you do rebound on you multiplied! When Holland killed that 15 year old who was depressed, several years ago, I drew my line.

    Dave, please note that M.V. was refused. Of her two doctors, one of them refused to sign. That tells me there is something fishy there. So they went doctor shopping…

  6. Sivavash Abdulrahimi says:

    Those satirical headlines were really something!

Comments are closed.