Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Paywall for All?

Sunday, September 6th, 2020

It looks as though the news media people who are trying to collect from Facebook, Google, et al for using their output are going to regret it. Having government involved could cost them far more than they have gained. We have to face the fact that governments are better at collecting money for their efforts than the rest of us.

And media people need to face the fact that what is one person’s garbage can be another person’s treasure. Databases, archives and collections have been gathered on computers from many years before the standardization of the World Wide Web. And for every verifiable fact there are probably two or three times the dubious data.

It is the source of the information that matters. I expect that within reasonable time we will have algorithms that will measure the validity of the data for us. In the meantime, we will just put our trust in the paywalls, we can afford.

Or contrarily, we can put our trust in the sources, our enemies hate. My favourite non-North American source is the Economist. CNN in the U.S. and the Toronto Star in Canada. I am probably showing my age by staying mainly with print media.

I once wasted some time on Twitter because my grandson suggested it. Frankly, I could not see the point.

I recently spent three weeks in the hospital with nothing better to do than watch CBC News Channel. For the life of me, I could not believe I put myself through that experience.

But pick your poison. The government is soon going to get into the act and I think we will all regret it.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Doing it the old-fashioned way…

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

In taking over the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada in the 1970s, we did it the old-fashioned way: We cared. There was no involvement for government. There was no need to institutionalize a voice for the charitable sector across government. And, if anyone thought to ask, we could have told them what a dumb idea it was to give one charity money to give out money to other charities to create short-term jobs.

One of the first moves I made as head of the MS Society was to sit down with the chief medical officer of health for Canada and ask a lot of questions. I remember my last question. I asked if there was anything I could do for him? He said keep asking questions.

At the time the basic research into MS was equalled by the government. We were both spending about $180,000. per year on multiple sclerosis-related research. The society’s fund-raisers had already raised the $180,000 for the next year and were coasting.  At least they did until they were told it looked like we would need at least $5 million.

What we had done was bring together all the top neurological disease research specialists in Canada at a Quebec resort. They were asked how much they would need if they could get serious about MS research. They saw $5 million as the going in guess. In three years, we were up to $15,000,000.

The next chore was to light a fire under the society across Canada. We built up the society where we were already strong. We reformed the weak links. We built new divisions. Cancer and Heart were the leaders in the charity sweepstakes but MS soon joined them.

And we did it without the expertise of the policy framework needed today. Opportunity was the challenge. Those who see the opportunity are the ones to get it done.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

 

Please do not label me.

Monday, July 13th, 2020

While this is not about me, I admit that I do not like being labelled by people who do not know me. It matters not what my racial origin might be. It has no matter how my skin colour might be described. I am not racist. And I am becoming more and more annoyed with those who claim that our society is systemically racist.

I am starting to wonder just who might be the racists here? I can only speak for myself. I was not brought up in a household that defined people by the colour of their skin or their choice of deity. Discovering racism and tribalism as a young person came as a surprise.

And the racism that existed when I was young was open and crude. Few people give vent to their racism today. As a writer, I pay special attention to gender issues, words with racial connotation. Criticism of an individual only deals with actions or words, not their race, religion, sex or sexual orientation.

But I keep hearing from so-called spokespersons for racial groups and I do not like what I am hearing.

We are told, for example, that our Royal Canadian Mounted Police are systemically racist. That is a stupid statement from people who do not seem to understand the meaning of the word ‘systemic.’ The RCMP has more important tasks. I also believe that any words or actions that are determined to be racist from a member should be immediate grounds for dismissal from the force.

If we go back to those times when humans defined each other by their race, we will be the poorer for it. When you define everyone by their race and their actions as racist or not racist, you are falling into the trap of being racist yourself. Is not the very name of the Canadian Black Lives Matter organization racist?

We Canadians have a marvelous advantage. Ours is a land of opportunity for all. The more we live harmoniously with each other, the more we can accomplish. Our country should be a beacon to humanity that says ‘Look at what people from all parts of the world can achieve by working together.’

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

 

Black thoughts on a hot day.

Thursday, July 9th, 2020

This pandemic is not over until I get to shoot craps at a local casino. Our backlog of celebrations of lives lost to us is daunting. And I have no idea how the air-conditioning can handle another day of over 30°C.  Besides, the local liquor stores are out of my favourite wines.

The best suggestion for a commentary was a series of pictures sent by a reader. He visited a park in Lithuania some time ago and he found it was where the Lithuanians parked the statues of defrocked heroes.

The idea seemed to be that history teachers could bring their students to the park to learn about their country’s cast-aside heroes. It struck me as a pleasant outing to visit with Lenin, Stalin and that ilk. Maybe Canadians have some park space for some of our rejected heroes.

I don’t suppose that the Americans will have any statues of Donald Trump any time soon. Imagine finding space beside the other four presidents on Mount Rushmore for him!

It reminds me of the statue of King Edward VII at Queen’s Park in Toronto. The statue was brought to Toronto when rejected by the government of India. Everyone agrees that it is a very fine horse that what’s-his-name is riding. It is like some of the statues of General Robert E. Lee in the American south. They often put him on a well-crafted horse. The South might not rise again but we will always have a liking for fine horses.

The Japanese have a better answer to this problem of fallen heroes. I was once given a tour around the beautiful grounds of the imperial palace in Tokyo. We came across a statue of a very formidable Samurai warrior and I asked the guide what the characters on the plaque under the statue meant. She said she did not have a clue as the characters were in the old Japanese language, before they adopted the Chinese Kanji. It was just another fine piece of the sculptor’s art.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Why are they putting down our country?

Saturday, July 4th, 2020

We do not need to read this crap. The other day the Toronto Star ran an opinion piece headlined: As an Afro-Indigenous woman being Canadian means living in a nation built on my ancestors’ stolen lands by my ancestors’ slave labour. And why are we putting up with this silly bullshit?

Did the early Europeans coming to what is now Canada displace the aboriginal tribes they found here? Nobody needed to steal aboriginal land. There was plenty for all. Besides, most aboriginals in this area were nomadic. Canada is still sparsely settled today. We have lots of land for many more.

Slavery had nothing to do with building Canada. Slavery was abolished throughout the then British Empire in 1834.  There were estimated to be maybe 4000 slaves in what is now Canada at that time. About two-thirds of those slaves were North American aboriginals. The aboriginal slaves were part of the booty collected by warring aboriginal tribes. Never having owned a slave, I do not have to apologize for those in the past who did.

Could you imagine an American continent that never attracted European settlers? My ancestors came here to escape the potato famines of Ireland, the crushing class system of the British Isles and the constant wars of Europe. And I am sure a few horse thieves came with them.

But I am not going to apologize for our ancestors’ mistakes. Some of the stupid things they did were actually well meant. Residential schools for our aboriginal population was a really bad idea promoted by some well-meaning people.

I recognize that some of the treatment of our aboriginal population could have been avaricious, mean and cruel. I still do not refer to them as indigenous (meaning ‘from here’) because their ancestors came here more than 15,000 years ago. My only responsibility is to be sure I deal fairly with others without consideration of skin color, when their ancestors came to this continent or what language they speak. I would also like it if they continue to deal fairly with me.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

‘Today I don’t feel like doing anything.’

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

That Bruno Mars song about being lazy is silly but seems to fit the ennui I am feeling about writing something today. We are all tired of the pandemic and tired of writing about it. At the same time, I am surprised at our foreign affairs people in Ottawa thinking they were going to win the open security council seat.

My problem is that I ration these commentaries. I only write one a day. A lot of blog writers routinely write four or five blogs in a day. Frankly, I would rather read the North American edition of the Economist. Those people have something to say.

But at the same time, I might write about our Canadian economy. We need to remember that poor Bill Morneau as finance minister in Ottawa needs all the help he can get.

And I am tired of writing about that ass Trump in Washington. I would rather go watch a rerun of that wonderful old movie ‘Mr. Smith goes to Washington.’  I simply cannot believe that Trump will go through with one of his idiot rallies in Tulsa, Oklahoma this weekend. I would not wish covid-19 on anybody but those Trump supporters do seem eager to drink their Kool-Aid.

There is no question that there are lots of things to write about. I will try to come up with something interesting tomorrow. See you then.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

The rumours of our demise…

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

It is good to be home. After months of quasi isolation, it is still a place of comfort during this pandemic. Being taken by ambulance to the hospital last week was a wake-up call.

No, it was not covid-19. I knew that as soon as the hospital staff stopped wearing all that hazmat gear coming into my room.

But I am home now and ready to continue my string of acerbic commentaries about our political world. There is much left to be said.

Maybe I will have something for you tomorrow.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Needed but not essential.

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

We are talking about hockey here. And yes, I confess, I am one of those long-forgotten Toronto Maple Leaf fans. I remember as a youngster I walked by that sainted temple built by Conn Smythe at Carlton and Church on the way to and from school. I remember celebrating with green seats when I first took my young son to a Leaf’s game. Because of the miracle of television, he could quickly tell me how each of my favourite players were doing. He recently turned 50 and he has still never seen the buds win a Stanley!

I admit, I was not overly hopeful for that fresh young team with which the Leafs opened the season last year. They just looked good and the wife and I enjoyed watching the occasional CBC Saturday night game—until the world stopped turning for a pandemic.

You would think we would be dancing around celebrating the announcement of a series of quasi-playoffs over the summer. Well, we aren’t. Frankly, we are stunned by the greed of the owners.

It is easier to understand the greed of premier Jason Kenney in Alberta, who wants his province to be a hub of play for this farce. Kenney has already written to Justin Trudeau asking (or demanding?) that the NHL be declared “essential” so that there would be no delays in bringing players back and forth across the border.

I guess the league will offer some payment to the players for the games but this is all raw greed on the part of the NHL owners. Nobody I know would be eager to run a tag day for those vultures.

This entire scheme is nothing more than a desperate attempt to rescue some of the television revenue that the league has come to enjoy. You can also imagine the sports channel chiefs salivating at the thought of some decent revenue during this pandemic.

I think we can boil this all down to two words we would like to offer to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman: Get stuffed.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

In the war of the sexes, we are all losers.

Saturday, May 30th, 2020

How do we hate this pandemic? Let us count the ways.

Looking at the pictures of what was going on at Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto last weekend gave you a smile and a frown. It was a young crowd, doing what young people do. It was natural and understandable and counter to all the restrictions of the pandemic.

But I thought the complaints on television by Toronto mayor John Tory were asinine. What properly run city would unlock the public park and keep the washrooms barred?

And Ontario premier Doug Ford looked just as ridiculous complaining about the lack of social distancing. What else was he expecting after two months of lock-down. Say what you like about all those crappy social media programs, they will never replace the pleasure of a warm and interested body next to yours.

Despite the blue-stocking attitude of our politicians and the continuing efforts to repress our society by ignorant clerics, this pandemic is going to explode at some point. Humans have sexual urges for a reason and we need to have outlets.

It was shocking to see recently that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had declared that the pathetic involuntary celibate “incel” movement is a form of ideological terrorism. It makes you wonder just what countries CSIS believes might be targeting us with other forms of mental illness?

When it comes to the war of the sexes, we are our own worst enemy. Maybe after the pandemic is past we can wrest prostitution from the hands of the bikers and drug dealers and properly protect women who want to offer their services to men who might otherwise be without this outlet.

We used to have debutante balls to introduce young people who were arriving at the marriage market age. We also have neighbourhood parties to introduce bored housewives to equally bored husbands. Maybe we need to have parties properly labelled just to introduce people who are interested in some hot sweaty sex.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Toronto Star: A legacy forsaken.

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

Friday evening dinner in my household as a child was often fish and chips, wrapped in pages of newsprint torn from the Toronto Star, to keep your dinner warm. In that sense, I grew up with the Toronto Star. I was probably still too young when conservative premier Leslie Frost blocked the terms of the will of publisher Joseph Atkinson that tried to turn the newspaper over to his charitable foundation. It ended up costing the five families involved $25.5 million to buy their own newspaper. It was the highest price ever paid at the time for a broadsheet newspaper.

I liked the new boss at the Star, Beland Honderich. He was not only a smart newspaper man but he was an astute businessman. He was very much a liberal but he was smart enough to create his own version of a Chinese wall in what he wanted for the party and what he wanted for his readers. He brought in a new era of expansion and growth in the venerable paper. It is my impression that his son John, who inherited the position in 1994, really did not understand where his father might have been heading.

While constantly buying out competition from around the province and as well as other publishing properties, there was a push into digital properties to gain more knowledge into developing better news websites. And this seems to be where the Star is still stuck today.

I have tested different ways of reading the news over breakfast and I must admit that I still prefer the foldable broadsheet. It is not that I am some sort of dinosaur that cannot make the change. I just get tired of wiping marmalade off my computer tablet.

It was also an awkward situation when I launched a lawsuit against one of the Star’s digital acquisitions to attempt to protect my right to a share of that acquisition. I thought it was rather dismissive of the Star to bankrupt their own acquisition rather than negotiate a settlement. They also lost out when lower level editors were enthusiastic about articles I offered the paper—then, there was nothing. Holding grudges is bad for business.

I am glad to see that there will be new owners. These are times for making changes.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me