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Working in Ontario…a slippery slope

December 9, 2012 Leave a comment

For those of you following the state of unions and labour in Ontario, it seems (to this blogger) that the rights and abilities of labourers are constantly being attacked by the government.  Legislation is used to force workers back to work and remove their abilities to strike.

The teachers union right now is embroiled in a contract dispute with the (former) McGuinty government.  Particulars aside, the government passed frightening Legislation in the form of Bill 115 which removed the ability of the union to bargain for their own contract, and pre-emptively barred strike action.  Any strike action by teachers will result in their being immediately forced back to work.

Isn’t it a democratic right to withhold work? Is it not akin to our right to protest peacefully?

Yes strikes affect people.  That is the point.  The whole idea of striking is to create an inconvenience and thus a statement about the conditions and working environment.  Such decisions are not made easily, and the willingness of workers to give up those days wages are a testament to the importance of the issue, especially in these tough economic times.

This Toronto Star article highlights some of the issues that underpin the Teacher’s plight.

Last year CP Rail workers went on strike.  Workers picketed for about a week (9 days if I recall correctly) before being legislated back to work.

Even more upsetting, the Air Canda pilots and baggage handlers found themselves in a position of being locked out of work and then legislated back to work.  This pre-emptive action is quite disturbing.  How can you possibly lock out a worker and then force them back to work?  In the same vein, how could you lock the door on an employee, not letting them enter the building, and then accuse them of being late?

The ability for workers to affect the economy with work action IS the point.  Protecting the almighty Economy with legislation forcing workers back to work is quite disturbing to this lay person.  Surely arguments can be made in favour of keeping people at work, but as a pattern and a new norm this trend is disturbing–a slippery slope in the rights of workers in Ontario.

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Cycling and social movements in Toronto – A monologue that wants to be a discourse…

May 29, 2009 3 comments

**Author: Terry–Originally posted on Mourningbell.com*


As a avid cyclist in Toronto, and someone who has done his fair share of reading of social movement theory etc. I’m wrestling with something. Why am I so not interested in the types of advocacy/rides that are being held in our city? Is it that they’re being framed incorrectly? Is it that they’re coming on the heels of more heated public road blockades? I just feel so very disconnected. Maybe its because I don’t have my beard anymore or because I don’t live downtown and ride a fixie, or maybe its because I am young enough and confident enough to ride where I want (always have) unhindered by the spatial confines of our car based infrastructure; or maybe its just the feelings of futility that come with working within a political system run on short term 4 year plan…

If anyone has a hypothesis I’d welcome some input. I just feel that our movements aren’t hitting the mark (FOR ME). Why should I want to participate in Critical Mass, the World Naked Bike Ride (despite my affinity for not wearing a shirt), or Cruiser Rides and Island picnics?

I know the importance of solidarity and galvanizing the cyclists, I know the potential for change that can come through living it…the old Ghandian maxim of “be the change you want.” I’m starting to think that either a) My sense of individualism engendered by our society has effected the way I bike or b) that while groups claim to be pluralistic they are perhaps not as inclusive as they may think.

My theory right now, is that I’ve sublimated all of the wonderful governmentalities our society has foisted upon us yet, I love riding my bike. The two seemingly disconnected trajectories have come together to make unlikely bedfellows. A cyclist who loves the power, speed, freedom, and yes carbon fiber (a representation of post Enlightnment’s progress of course) and even care for the environment. Yet at the same time I remain lacerated from my fellow humans/cyclists (Think Aloysha in the Brothers Karamazov).

Or is this an inevitable result of a machine that has gotten too strong? Movements failed in Mexico City and Abbie Hoffman offed himself…Or am I just too yellow? Afraid of new things? Suburban?

Not to mention of course the potential to meet a great girl at those events yet I’m terribly disinterested in being part of “that” group.

Again, help me with my dilemma.  Vive le discourse!

Categories: Musings, Toronto

Zeus

January 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Zeus. (From MySpace)

**Author: Mandeep–Originally posted on Mourningbell.com*


Live. Local. avaiLable.

Zeus is a Toronto band recently assembled and quite talented. Their MySpace page highlights some of their work, as it does many bands. What is particularly interesting on this page is the live feed that you can get of their jam space–video and sound.  Just tuning in I was treated to an impromptu jam that sounded simply fantastic.  Seems like the future of music….and perhaps voyeurism.  But think if you could catch live feeds of the Beatles working out their songs?

Categories: EnterTAINTment, Music, Toronto

Horatio and the Self-fulfilling Prophecy

December 5, 2008 3 comments

Science has gone quite a long way in furthering our understanding of the world around us. It seems incredible that the bulk of human scientific knowledge has been discovered in the last 200 or so years. It wasn’t until 1824 that Sadi Carnot formalised the laws regarding the nature of conservation and transformation of energy in the world—Thermodynamics. Such scientific understandings alone do not seem to cover all the complex goings on of the universe, at least not yet. As Hamlet so wisely said “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy.”

Laws that govern the scientific universe are said to be immutable. Such understandings include:

  • All matter is made from the same building blocks: atoms bound together by an electromagnetic force.
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It may however change forms, as electricity flowing into a light bulb soon becomes light and heat.
  • Consequent to the previous law, the amount of energy in the universe is finite. It can only be altered and reallocated.

These basic tenets of science, and I do not pretend to possess any great knowledge of science, raise some very innocent and incredibly difficult questions. First, if we are all made of the same building blocks, what accounts for the vast variety of substances in existence? What force is it that keeps one type of matter distinct from other forms of matter? How is it that some substances are so incredibly hard and durable and others so pliable and soft when at the most basic level both consist of atoms. Truthfully, I am unaware of whether there exists an explanation for the atomic organisation of matter. And I am also aware that such a line of questioning is rather esoteric and likely has little impact upon our daily lives. What our discussion means is that fundamentally everything in the world is cut from the same cloth. We, and everything we know, is made up of atoms.

Oh dear! Oh dear! I'm going to be too late

Albeit a big one, the next step involves the application of quantum physics and an understanding about infinite possibilities. Applied to our lives specifically, theories given voice in such videos as What The Bl**p Do We Know? and The Secret seem to point to a common understanding of the universe around us. Moreover, there seems to be at least some scientific rationale to such seemingly far out theories. The seemingly common theme of said videos is that basically we are far more responsible for the creation of the world around us than any of us truly realise.

These recent waves in popular thinking that have been surfacing suggest that on a day-to-day level, we create our own paths. We carve these paths through the world with our minds, creating the circumstances and the events to follow. An experiment cited in What the Bl**p Do We Know? was conducted by a Japanese scientist, Masaru Emoto. He studied water molecules from various places to compare their shapes and appearance. The effects of blessings, music, names, and emotions were also photographed by microscope. Examples may be viewed here.

By visualizing, in some sense, what we want to achieve we are helping to create that outcome. Suppose for a moment that such activities were in fact the means by which reality was manufactured. Suppose that each of us could help to shape our futures by envisioning them as we desire. Professional athletes have been using techniques of visualization for years to improve results shooting free throws, for example. Even if the universe did not bend to our desires, if the theories postulated by new age thinkers held no water whatsoever, visualizing our lives in a positive way couldn’t hurt, could it? Positive thinking may have a far greater impact on the course of our lives then anyone previously realised. Conversely, a view informed by bitterness, insecurity, or entitlement may be equally toxic. Perhaps each of us are in fact self-fulfilling prophecies. The Secret stated “Energy flows where Attention goes.” The attitude that we exude, the direction of our focus is what ultimately charts our course.

Food for Thought.

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