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October 2017


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[sticky entry] Some Restrictions Apply

Thursday, 1 January 2004 12:00 am
penlessej: (The Good Fight)
Some of this journal is Access Restricted.

Keeping Guard

Comment here to be added.

Lost Boy - Ruth B.

Sunday, 1 October 2017 12:14 am
penlessej: (Music)
I am in love with this song right now! Whoever wrote it clearly has as much love for Peter Pan as I do, everything about the song captures the spirit of fairytale and running from a scary reality.

Neverland is home to lost boys like me
And lost boys like me are free
Neverland is home to lost boys like me
And lost boys like me are free
A recent debate has broken out in the United States concerning black NFL players kneeling during the American national anthem which has been fuelled through comments by President Donald Trump calling for any player who disrespects the flag in such a manner to be fired by the owner of the team. This debate has several foundations namely black civil rights in the United States and, just as importantly, the sacredness of our national identity symbols. These foundations are covered very well by Lebron James and Donald Trump respectively. It raises questions concerning the nature of our national symbols and whether or not they are indeed a no-go place when it comes to the rituals and actions that are expected to surround them (removing one's hat, standing, etc). On the civil rights side of the debate, it raises questions concerning civil disobedience and political dissent in general. Stripped of all of the rhetoric, and all of the emotion what we have at the core of the debate concerning the kneeling NFL players is a debate that concerns political legitimacy and dissent. In this post I will argue that a society with a monarch, such as one's specifically with a parliamentary system, have institutionalized dissent in such a manner that it permits those societies to avoid the existential question that the US faces in the light of real political dissent.

George Orwell once remarked that what made British society unique and better than a totalitarian society was the fact that the British had a civil society. He observed during his time in the Citizen's Army that regardless of the fact that many ordinary British took issue with the fact the government had not taken effective action to protect London, they were not willing to take up arms against said government. He tied this to civil action in all forms across the country and realized that citizens had an outlet to achieve their goals, even doing it against how the government and ruling class might progress themselves, but never seeking to overthrow or undermine the state. Orwell fans like famous actor Stephen Fry take it a step further and point out that of the top ten countries consistently ranked as the best places to live have a monarchy. Fry would go on to link the civil society to the Crown which jumps the partisan government of the day. You can dissent, in a society with a monarchy, against the government of the day with all of your might and yet still be loyal to the state (or nation) through the monarch in person. You can inflict damage on the government, even overthrow it physically and yet do no harm to the physical body of the state in the monarch. You can undermine the government and the ruling class without undermining the state as a whole. That is what separates these political societies from that of the United States.

In the United States the state is vested in the Office of the President. The person of said office changing at frequencies no greater than eight years (in four year terms). The people elect this executive office separately (however not directly) from their legislative assemblies and other elected offices. The state is the President; military officer swear alliance to them, oaths of allegiance are directed at them and they are charged in the most hyper-nationalist circles as being the defender of freedom, liberty and the flag. Understanding this it makes more sense perhaps why President Trump is being so direct and aggressive when it comes to this issue. When you focus the lens on the fact that Americans are not participating in the expected ritual surrounding the national anthem and the presence of the flag (as Trump and his ilk do), you can understand how the leader of the free world is bound to find this abhorrent and why his followers would expect it from that office. I am not arguing that Trump is correct, I am merely pointing out that one is able to put themselves in his shoes and understand the position he is taking-- it is all pretty plain. The focus however can be (and should be) shifted to the dissent of black Americans in the name of civil rights and equality.

Lebron James was very clear during his press conference that for all of the players (including now the ones in the NBA) this issue is not about the flag or the national anthem. They are seriously not concerned with the ritual that is supposed to happen around the national anthem, they care about having a stage and a means to stand up for something that each and every one of them believes in. They are exercising a form of public political dissent and they are using their positions on a national stage to make their statement loud and clear. The problem is that in the United States there is no real outlet for dissent. When you fall out of line with the President of the day you are literally out of line with the state-- and all of the wrath that comes along with that more terrible of sins. In the United States they have not institutionalized dissent, in fact they view dissent as one of the most disgraceful acts that a citizen could commit. I would submit that it is perhaps a holdover from the patriotic vigor that followed the success of the north over the south during the US civil war-- however that is a topic for a whole other post.

If the United States had a monarchy, or a person in the state beyond an elected (and therefore partisan) office of the President, the dissent of black NFL players could certainly exist and yet each and every one of them could still be loyal to the state as a whole. Furthermore, static national symbols such as flags and songs would begin to have less meaning. Nothing compares to the beauty and graciousness of the personified state. Everything beyond that becomes trivial at its core because we can express the power and might of our state by adjourning a human being who is dedicated to embody the state. So there would be no need for a hot winded response from the Office of the President because the flag and the national anthem would not be held in such esteem-- and certainly would not be used for partisan gain. And kneeling during the national anthem would probably not be as effective, because it would no long be as provocative, of a statement of political dissent.

Parliamentary democracies go a step further in institutionalizing dissent and the House of Commons specifically provides a physical example of how dissent works in a society with a monarchy. Within the House of Commons there is there government which is made up of members who hold the general confidence of the House as a whole. However, among the House is also a group of people who are charged as being the Loyal Opposition. An American could wonder how such a bloody thing could exist! A bloc of elected members who are institutionalized to oppose the government and yet remain loyal to something; the state. However the formation of the House of Commons in this fashion did not come about randomly, it was the process of a long struggle that involved many terrible acts by all sorts of humans-- not unlike any sort of human development. And it certainly remains an evolution. But the history of these developments present a moral that we have these institutions and specific some that are outlets for dissent, because we have learned from tremendous events of the past.

At its core the debate in the US concerns expected norms around national symbols and because the United States does not posses any form of institutionalized dissent. And the fact that the state is invested in the office of the President and not beyond the partisan realm of politics there is no solution evident. Societies that have monarchies and have personified the state in a body beyond the partisan world allow an avenue of dissent where a person can, with all of their being, oppose the government of the day without undermining the state or nation as a whole. The US lacks this avenue, it lacks the civil society that was strongly present in the English world throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. With an avenue for legitimized dissent which is on equal footing to the institutionalized holders of power, the US would not continue to face these extreme existential questions that threaten the state and nation as a whole.

BC Per-Vote Subsidy

Thursday, 21 September 2017 08:19 am
penlessej: (The Good Fight)
I wrote more about it here on Parliament.Blog. The fact is that I do not think that casting a vote should be tied to donating any amount of money to a political party. The fact is that contributing financially to a political party is a specific form of expression that is part of the civil democratic process. By linking my vote (which has nothing to do with a desire to financially support a political party), the government is removing an aspect of my freedom of expression. As I said in the editorial, I doubt a lot of people who voted NDP or Liberal in the last BC election would translate that vote into giving $2.50 to the party. Heck the same was true in the last federal election here in Canada and I would wager for the United States during their previous Presidential Election.



A lot of people are bumbling over this about the taxation. It is estimated to cost $27-million by the end of 2022 when the per-vote subsidy would be down to $1.75/vote and the whole programme will be reviewed. I do not think that taxation piece is really the big issue here however. Premier Horgan is saying that the parties needs the measure to weather the changes in the interim, but I find that to be a weak argument especially because it means he is essentially saying that the fundraising reality in BC is that a political party can either depend in unethical big money or government handouts with no middle ground; but there is a middle ground, it is called grassroots engagement. A political party that cannot build a base to support itself financially (or otherwise) should not exist in a democracy.

Personal Motto

Monday, 18 September 2017 10:42 am
penlessej: (James Crest) you have one? What is it? What is the meaning behind it for you?

I have two:

(1) Keep Calm and Carry On: pretty much sums up my approach to life. People call me cold and calculated. But they do not know me, they just know the façade that I build up for their own safety and my own. Deep down I am a very emotional and very passionate person. I have learned to control my emotions (for the most part) and to apply reason and logic to my life. The phrase "Keep Calm and Carry On" is cliché and has earned a new sense of modern popularity after the WWII posters (that were never actually released through London) were discovered in a small bookstore a couple decades ago. For me, the phrase embodies my entire approach to controlling my passion and my emotion and apply logic. In face of being bombed, it would be a normal reaction for a passionate person to become emotional, but it is not reasonable, the reasonable person carries on and gets to safety.

(2) Per ardua - Through difficulties: this is the motto of Clan MacIntrye, the Scottish side of my family which falls along the linage of my grandmother. This is the family where the kidney disease follows, so the motto is chillingly fitting. The MacIntryres were proud people who served as hereditary pipers for the MacDonalds of Clanranald and paid regular and proper tribute to the Menzies' until rents became too unbearable in the middle of the 1800s. I have internalized this motto and I feel it is an accurate motto for the family that brings the genetic nightmare upon my family.
...I swear. And to keep you people fed in the meantime, I will admit that I very nearly almost posted the template for the 2017revival group here as a meme post. Yep, that almost just happened. But it didn't, so how much fun can you make of me really?

In other news:

- went to a Whitecaps FC game in Vancouver on Saturday all by myself. I was suppose to go with a friend I went to school with who lives in Vancouver now (and stay at her place on her couch) but she ended up getting food poisoning on Friday night and was in no shape for a game on Saturday. At first I pouted around the house and then I decided to go alone. I ate shit though, had to take the car on the ferry (both ways $72.50 a pop) and as much as I tried on Facebook, Reddit and even walking up to people who were scooping out scalpers I could not get rid of my second ticket. Oh well, more room during the game I suppose. Actually, it worked out well from my nice guy side, two young women were only able to get seats apart in the row and my spare seat was a gap between me and one of her friends, so I offered the extra seat to them.

- Sunday was moving day. I am now all moved into what is being called the cottage between me and Meganne. It was a rough day overall. Meganne was an emotional mess and became very sentimental near the end of the day. I was sad, very sad, but I had a job to do so I focused on getting it done. I also figured that my role in this emotional nightmare is to be somewhat of the anchor, so I plugged ahead and tried to make it as painless for Meganne as possible. Sleeping in new places sucks and I am finding night lights in the oddest places. It used to be an AirBnB, so that might be part of the reason why, but still, odd.

...more to come, with details and photos. I swear.

Checking In

Friday, 15 September 2017 09:00 am
penlessej: (Default)
I am still here, trust me I am still here. The round of four days of 12 hour shifts on the battle watch for the BC fires over the weekend and into Monday and Tuesday really sucked the life out of me. I also hit somewhat of a brick wall mentally this week which prompted me to reach out for support from the mental health guys here at my work.

So that is where I am right now.

This weekend I'll be heading to Vancouver for a MLS soccer game and then moving day is Sunday.

I will get more out shortly. Sorry to those friends who have I have been absent with these past few days, I just need to check out for awhile (and now I am checking in, so we're good).
I am finishing up a few online courses with the military right now for professional development. One of the courses, called Support the Institution, deals with all of the HR aspects of the military including the granting of honours and awards. Reading about the Order of Military Merit lead me down a rabbit hole of reading about entitlements when one is inducted into the OMM or the Order of Canada. Among these entitlements includes the right to add supports to your personal armorial bearing. And of course, I decided to look all of this up.

An armorial bearing is what would otherwise be known as a coat of arms or a crest. Generally, families have coat of arms, but people can have personal armorial bearings that carry elements from the familial coat of arms but also have personal touches. For example, if one is a member of the OMM, you can add supports to either side (in Canada usually stylized as caribou, deer or lions). However, one cannot simply draw up their own heraldry and call it their own-- it must be approved by the Chief Herald through the Governor General of Canada. There is an entire process here.

I told Meganne about this last night because it got me thinking and now I want my own personal armorial. It is actually something that is right up my ally to be wholly honest.

The first step is to submit a petition to the Canadian Heraldic Authority requesting a personal armorial. The Chief Herald will review the petition and make a recommendation to the Herald Chancellor that the petitioner be granted armorial bearings (coat of arms, flags, badges). A Warrant is then signed authorizing the Chief Herald to proceed in the design.

The second step is to research a concept and design proposal. This will require researching my family coat of arms and deciding on what elements I would like to incorporate into my own personal design. This process could take up to three months and involves going back and forth with the Chief Herald in order to have the design eventually be approved. Once the design is decided a written description of the proposed concept, including its elements and meaning, is drafted and sent to the petitioner for final approval.

The third step involves designing the actual bearing. An artist approved by the Canadian Heraldic Authority creates a rendering based on the written description for initial approval. Once approved, the design gets calligraphy added with the family name and motto (if desired). The calligrapher will also draft the Letters Patent which come from the Governor General and will give full force and effect to the personal armorial bearing. Both the approved design document and the draft Letters Patent are sent to the Chief Herald for registration and official approval.

Within 12 months of the bearing being approved a copy of the design and the Letters Patent is sent to the petitioner for their personal use. The Grant itself is published wholly in the Canada Gazette (the official public record of Canada) and the personal bearings are added to the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada.

So, what would my design look like. Well, obviously pending official approval, I would like to take elements from my James family crest and the MacIntrye Scottish clan badge for a personal armorial.

The James crest is a simple blue arm that is divided by a yellow chevron bearing seashells with yellow lions filling each point (not an official heraldic description obviously). The seashells apparently mean that my family participated in the Jacobite risings (which was really original name selection on our part if that was the case). And the lions apparently indicate that my family was considered to be loyal to the Crown because the heraldry officials at the time would never permit a family in bad standing to bear a symbol of the Crown.

The MacIntrye badge is simple, a hand holding a dagger surrounding by the traditional belt found in almost any Scottish clan badge. The motto of the family is "Per Ardua" which is Latin for through difficulties. You might recall that it is the MacIntrye side of my family in which the kidney disease runs, and thus the motto is chillingly accurate. Hence the reason it will become my personal motto as well.

I do not have a photo of the design yet but what I am thinking is a blue arms with the same yellow band of sea shells (because, come on, participating in a rebellion that changed the course of UK history is pretty worthy of being marked for all time) but straight along the top. So three seashells along the top of the shield under the yellow ribbon. And simply in the middle the same arm hold up the dagger as in the MacIntrye badge and the motto Per Ardua underneath. I am not a member of the OMM so I do not get any supports. I have also seen some designs of the James crest that include a helmet above it (like the pic I used for this post), I might add that too, or rather I would like to research what is an appropriate topper for a naval officer, because there is that little fact of having a commission from the Queen that should probably be added into the design somehow.

All told the cost could range from $500 - $3000 depending on artwork costs, etc. There is a flat $300 processing fee to start the process and then everything is worked out after that on a case by case basis. It is a lot of money but again, this is something that is right up my ally.

I know that I have some history buffs and experts on my f-list here. Would any of you be interested in making some cash on the side helping me research these things? I can pay in real money.
Bathroom Book

Michel Foucault, On The Government of the Living: Lectures at the College de France 1979-1980 and Oedipal Knowledge - Michel Senellart (editor)


Foreign Affairs September/October 2017 - Trump and the Allies: The View from Abroad

Evening Read

The Constitution in a Hall of Mirrors: Canada at 150 - David E. Smith

Still plugging away at the Smith book. I will have a review up shortly once I am all done on my Parliament.Blog site. Also, I picked up the Foucault book at the local library. I am not fond of Foucault and I place him on the top of a group of people who propagate a broken philosophy, but know thy enemy and all of that jazz. Plus it is interesting and takes my mind away from real life things.

Autumn Meme

Wednesday, 6 September 2017 01:38 pm
penlessej: (Greenman)
...because [personal profile] jo posted it and it looked like fun. Plus, work?

Crunchy leaves: What's your favourite noise/sound to hear? Crunchy leaves are a good sound. As is rain. During the autumn, I like the sound of the leaves blowing, the higher pitched sound it makes as they tumble about lawns and across the streets.

Misty mornings: What time do you wake up? What for? I wake up at 6 am each morning for work. On the weekends I do not set an alarm, but I am usually up by 8 am at the latest. Events, friends, guests, etc. can all impact that time obviously. For the record, I could sleep all day, but I choose not to because adult-ing.

Oversized sweaters: What sweater weather outfit are you looking forward to wearing? I like my 3/4 wool jacket that I crack out in the fall. Especially once it is cold enough to include a scarf with without looking like one is making a fashion statement.

Carved pumpkins: What holidays (popular or Pagan) are you celebrating this Autumn? I love turkey dinner, so Thanksgiving is always a big thing for me. Stuffing, cranberry sauce, squash and, of course, pumpkin pie. Yum, yum!

Ghost stories: What books are you reading, how are they? Ugh, I am reading a Foucault book right now that is a collection of his lectures on government and power in 1980. I say ugh because that man makes me very angry when I read him, and yet here I am (that reminds me, I need to do a Wednesday Reading post for this week).

Hot coffee: What's your drink this Autumn? Coffee. Always coffee.

Cold hands: Anyone to hold them? No, she left.

Spooky shadows: Any increased spiritual activity? Well Summer 2017 was pretty shitty and I am inclined to blame the solar eclipse because I do not understand it and it seems like a perfect odd event to link to the serious of odd and terrible events that have made up my summer. That is spirituality right?

Apple pie: What's cooking? (Or planned to cook?) I bought a book last week on Amazon on recipes for people with kidney disease, so I am looking forward to cracking that bad boy open and making some of that food while I am learning to live on my own again.

Scented candles: 5 favourite smells? Autumn has a smell! Either you get it or you don't. It smells like winter is coming (way before Game of Thrones people). Crisp air, doesn't carry the same smell of life that summer humid air does, and it usually has a hint of smoke from a fireplace somewhere in it. Also, if you smell for too long, it starts to bite the inside of your nose, because the air is cooler. I love that smell! Again, in my experience you either know this smell or you don't, so if you're going "what the hell is he on about," do not worry.

Hurricanes: What do you do on rainy days? I live on the edge of a rainforest in one of the rainiest parts of North America. When it rains you just keep doing your thing, otherwise you'd be stuck inside a lot. Always carry and umbrella, if you think you a need a raincoat for the day, take it, and if you are super ambitious keep rubber boots in the trunk (hiking boots in my case, because you never know when a random hike will fall into your life).

Cinnamon: What are your favourite spices? All spices. I like food that has substance and depth to the flavour.

Haunted hayrides: Do you see your friends over the Summer or do you have to wait till Autumn? I see my friends whenever I want. Summer is for camping, swimming, canoeing, hiking and golf. Autumn is wrapping up camping, great hikes in the beautiful changing forest and squeezing in a few BBQs before it is too cold to enjoy it. Oh and pumpkin spice beer. Yes pumpkin. spice. beer.

Monster masks: What's your make-up/morning routine? I am a creature of routine, so it never changes. Wake up at 6 am. Shower. Boxers and undershirt on, shave, comb hair, brush teeth, comb hair a second time. Socks. Pants. Shirt. Belt. Pour coffee into thermos, pour half cup for morning. Watch news while drinking coffee. Finish coffee. Boots. Jacket. To the car and drive to work. Takes about 40 minutes. I am usually at work for 7 am each day.

Black cat: What pets do you have/want? I am moving into a rental that does not allow pets, so no pets for now. However, Meganne and I did have two wonderful cats (one with three legs) and a dog. She is keeping all of the animals and they were all hers to begin with.

One Year at the Club

Wednesday, 6 September 2017 01:15 pm
penlessej: (Union Club)
Meganne and I were members of the Union Club of British Columbia in downtown Victoria. It is much less fancier and snooty than it sounds trust me. The place has a great restaurant and fantastic events, it was right up our alley when we were dating. I've decided to keep my membership regardless of the separation, which is simple-- it just means splitting the joint membership already in place. I was going through the statements from the past year, from August 2016 to August 2017, we spent just over $7,000 at the Club, which included our $500.00 initiation fee. Now that does not mean that we physically spent that much, we would go to the Club together often, but the big meals and events were with groups of friends. In those instances, we would chit all of the food and booze and than split the bill later with friends. It padded our account and made things really easy, plus there is something inherently unique in not exchanging any money what-so-ever at a private club.

Foyer of the Club.

The Club itself will be a ten minute walk from my rental which is awesome. And it is probably the one place in town that I do not feel like a fool eating or drinking by myself. In fact, I usually end up meeting someone when I have done that in the past. So there is that...

(Oh yeah, and I uploaded this Union Club icon for use for Union Club things. It was the front doors taken at Christmas-- hence the wreath-- and says Union Club of British Columbia in the stonework above. Very elegant in real life.)

Wild Weather

Wednesday, 6 September 2017 09:17 am
penlessej: (BrandonWater)
Another hurricane is threatening the US and Caribbean eastern seaboard today; Hurricane Irma.

You can see the predicted movement of the storm plotted in this graphic which shows many different models being projected.

All told the storm tracking can be summarized into the following storm cone. Yes, that shape that is currently devouring pretty much all of Cuba and most of southern Florida.

Thoughts and prayers to all of my Cuba/Florida friends.