Julian Assange-Author?

Julian Assange proves some information is still worth paying for – The Globe and Mail.

The Globe and Mail’s editor sees this book deal of Julian Assange as evidence that books still matter, and that people will still pay money for them. It seems to me that this is evidence that notoriety matters, and people are paying for the glimpse into a celebrity’s life, not for the writing.

I write fiction, the daunting task of facing the blank page, whether it’s on the computer or waiting on a desk with accompanying pencil(and eraser), dredging up images and characters from fragments in the brain. Writing non-fiction, or as this book will be, a memoir, requires a different set of skills, but skill it needs, and time, and research, if the facts are to be presented.

Mr. Assange never finished university, studying maths and physics while he was there. I couldn’t find any reference to written work, either fiction or non-fiction although he is called a journalist on Wikipedia.

A 1.7 million book deal for a guy whose claim to fame is cracking computers and releasing information in a lump. The book is supposed to be an autobiography, but perhaps they’re providing him with a ghost-writer. I wonder if the ghost writer’s name will be on the cover, in the spirit of reveal all.

G20 police action

Many voices are calling for a public, not police inquiry into the police action in Toronto at the G20. The latest is Tabitha Southey writing in the Globe and Mail yesterday.


There are comments to her article, including one from a chap who seems to think that we live in a police state where citizens can be arbitrarily ordered off the street by police. He seems to be confusing, as another reader pointed out, the police with the law. In one of Rex Stout’s novels, a policeman is demanding entry to Nero Wolfe’s house. “Open up, in the name of the law,” he demands. the character Archie Goodwin answers mildly, “As you Know, it’s the law that keeps you out.” It’s the law that allows protest that is peaceful.

I watched the protest on Sunday night of the G20 from beginning to end. I watched demonstarters and journalists, dog-walkers and cameramen being encircled, held for “processing’ and bussed off to ..?where? Unlike the day before, I saw no one in black masks( the sight of which enrages me); I saw no vandalism. I admit that for a while the people did occupy the center of an intersection as they were prevented from going forward with their march. I understand they were told three times to move. Apparently this is a magic number after which the police can move in with their circle of armed men.

Ms Southey says she was terrified. I can believe it. I, sitting in my safe living room at more than 100 kilometres away, was shocked and appalled. If the police and the politicians who set the rules have an explanation for the people of this country, let’s hear it. If they knew there were violent individuals, armed and dangerous, in the crowd, show us the evidence. Bring them to court.

Ms. Southey also reports individual policemen mocking the psychiatric patients who had come out onto the street. (I’m not sure how people on the street were being identifies as psychiatric patients. I don’t imagine they were wearing signs.)  Can anything have been more frightening to a disturbed mind than the sight of large men, dressed in black, with helmets and truncheons and guns, harassing and mocking? there appears to be a need for training on many levels.

Who were the police on the streets? Were they Toronto police, OPP(as those on the ground were reporting) members of police forces from other cities? Were they angry because of their experience with the Black Bloc the day before? Ms. Southey reports that they seemed to be spoiling for a fight.

For an another point of view, read Christie Blatchford in the same edition of the Globe and Mail at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/self-anointed-g20-journalists-should-get-real/article1627346/

In her article, most of which has to to with the journalists behaviour, she mentions that police were picking people up for a breach of the police or for a breach of the peace that hadn’t yet taken place. She says this is under the old common law. I believe that the rights and freedoms under the constitution supersede that.

It all took place on a sunny afternoon, in Toronto. Only nature, a severe thunderstorm, seemed to intervene and bring an end to all of it.

And now the funding cuts.

Women’s groups decry Tory funding cuts – The Globe and Mail.

Eleven women’s groups have had their funding cut in the last two weeks , plus three more who are  silent  for fear of further repercussions, according to this article in the Globe and Mail today. All these cuts were then followed by Senator Ruth’s advice to “shut the fuck up”. The Globe in its editorial supported the notion that there are other ways to support women’s health besides focussing on the reproductive issues.

They just don’t seem to get it. All the other measures don’t matter if a woman is burdened by a pregnancy every year. The body just wears out. Reproductive choice is the starting point, the foundation for women’s health. Not much worry about heart disease if you die in childbirth.

The Globe makes the valid point that there are other conversations worth having. Are we only allowed one at a time? And does the Tory caucus decide which conversations we can have when, and only the ones that don’t offend them?

Wealthy people don’t savour the little things in life – The Globe and Mail

Wealthy people don’t savour the little things in life – The Globe and Mail.
This article reports on a two part study which is to appear in Psychological Science. This is the flagship journal of the Association for Psychological Science, so the articles are, I presume, peer reviewed. I was left with questions such as how to measure awe, or joy. These are some of the emotions they claim are reduced in those who have money, or think about money(not necessarily the same people). The second part of the study had observers decide how much an individual was savouring a piece of chocolate by how long it took the individual to devour it, and how much the person appeared to enjoy it; this after seeing a picture of money. Somehow it doesn’t sound very scientific to me, but someone gave them a grant to discover, I suppose, whether money can buy happiness.
The Own the Podium people certainly seem to think that money can buy medals. For a country with a base of thirty million or so people, competing against countries with three hundred million, I think the Canadian athletes are doing very well. They needed better training facilities and better coaches and a great many other things that I have no knowledge about, in order to improve and compete. And they are! However, training and coaching can only go so far. It comes down to muscle length and strength and talent and drive and genetics. These are not for sale.
Some countries identify children as potential athletes, almost in the cradle and train them all their young lives. Even this is no guarantee of success on the day, in the five seconds or five minutes or five hours it takes for an event.
It can’t be predicted on a spreadsheet. The mysterious backers who donated to the effort may be disappointed in the return on their investment, if they only count the medals. Perhaps they are the individuals the psychologists should study.

Ten rules for writing fiction | Books | guardian.co.uk

A member of my writing group, the Internet Writing Workshop, posted a link to this article in the Guardian: collected lists from authors such as Margaret Atwood and Stephen King – their personal rules for writing. One rule is on all the lists – write and then write some more. Write, revise, write, make it as well. I must say I always get a kick out of Margaret Atwood’s. I like her advice to take a pencil on the plane as pens leak. Take two, she says, one may break. A link to her blog is to the right.
Another piece of advice, not in these lists, is to do something “writerly” if you come to a blank spot: look for an agent; write your blog; read about writing; read about grammar; read.

The Globe and Mail reports this morning that the G20 meeting is coming to Toronto in June. Much wailing about the disruption to the city, to commerce, to the life of the people who live and work downtown. It’s only for two days, people. The city has that much disruption from marathons for this cause, and parades for that.
The potential violence is another matter. Earlier this week I blogged about the Black Bloc, the criminals in facemasks allowed to march with legitimate protestors and commit random acts of destruction. I don’t understand why, if it is reasonable to assume that a person wearing a mask in a bank is about to commit a criminal act and should be arrested, or at least called to account, the same individual in the midst of a crowd of similarly dressed people – the Black Bloc – which has a history of random violence, should not. And no, I don’t think hiding one’s face with the clear intention of creating terror and avoiding responsibility for criminal acts is a civil right.

A Serial Killer?

Tire tracks led police to Williams – The Globe and Mail.
This article reads like a story outline for Criminal Minds, including a behavioural analyst from the OPP. The headline says that tiretracks in the snow led to the Colonel being a suspect, so perhaps I mean CSI.
I hope that this is not a horrendous mistake, of the sort we have seen too many times in this country. Names like Morin and Marshall and Truscotte come to mind. If the Colonel is guilty, the question becomes, how did the military miss such a degree of pathology? The top brass thought he was great. What did the men and women, especially the women, think of him? And if there were complaints, who buried them? And if he is guilty, what about other countries where he was posted, and unexplained murders or assaults there? It could get deeper and uglier and much sadder.

A hands-free world for workers on the road – The Globe and Mail

A hands-free world for workers on the road – The Globe and Mail.
So the guys whose cars are their offices are frustrated because of the new rules. What’s interesting in this article in the Globe and Mail, is that some businesses have put stringent rules in place to prevent employees from working en route. Productivity is rising, and employees have reduced the time spent on electronic devices while in the car on their personal time.
When did the car become an office? Was it the invention of the Blackberry, or the first “car phone” wired in, and connected to a mobile operator sometime in the seventies. And what were all these people doing while hurtling along at 100km plus – sending e-mails, faxing, consulting with clients? Take a person who manages other people’s money. Out of the office, travelling to meet one client, talking to three or four others on the way, faxing off documents on his way home, he seems not to need an office or an assistant with all the attendant costs. But how secure are you in the advice you’re getting from someone who can’t even take the hour he’s in the car to listen to music, or the news, or just to think. I hope its my account he’s remembering, not someone else’s.
Or the real estate broker, making the big deals by the side of the road-itinerant, ungrounded and insecure.
Or, and I’ve been here, answering a call from the hospital and trying to sort out complex medical data and give advice, all while controlling a dangerous machine in the midst of other dangerous machines.
I think we need to return to a more civil way of life, with business conducted in offices, giving the man in the story in the Globe, and the rest of us, a few minutes to think and reflect on our way to appointments, and perhaps arrive alive.

New rules ‘a big, big hit’ to Canadian magazines – The Globe and Mail

New rules ‘a big, big hit’ to Canadian magazines – The Globe and Mail.

The Globe and Mail reported this morning on the new rules for small magazines in this country. Small means fewer than 5000 circulation. That criterion leaves only Macleans, Chatelaine, and perhaps one or two others. Oh,and those, mostly from the west, such as The Western Producer, which specifically target the farming population. No other niche in our culture is important to the Tories. In fact, judging by their approach to anything cultural or historical, if the book or magazine or film or painting or photograph or music doesn’t involve business, it isn’t of any importance what so ever.
This present legislation recognizes the needs of only the farmers, and western farmers at that. I imagine the polls show that they are Tory supporters.
What’s next? Are only those museums devoted to the history of the Hereford, or wheat, or oil going to get support?
And one last thing. The final decision on who gets funding rests with the Minister and his decisions are irrevocable. No wonder Harper thinks we don’t need Parliament. He’s turning our government from a democracy into a quasi monarchy, with himself as king, giving his ministers total power and leaving us with no recourse. He’s started with the arts. Where will it end?