Thursday, February 26, 2009

as if things aren't bad enough

pamphleteers read today that Warner Bros are in the "early stages" of a remake of the Neverending Story: "Neverending Story arrives at new beginning" (

seriously? someone point out the nearest swamp of sadness, because we're about to throw ourselves in after Artax.

when practically every single movie that comes out is a remake, something is wrong.

when not even the Neverending Story is safe, something is even more wrong. nothing could make the Neverending Story a better movie than it already is, so why ruin it?

apparently, "the new movie will put a modern spin on the material by examining the more nuanced details of the book that were glossed over in the first feature."

there is nothing more suspicious than the phrase "put a modern spin on".

what does that even mean? does that mean that the childlike empress will be wearing something sexier? that in the remake she'll have fake boobs? because in the world of remakes that's what a "modern spin" is.

and who is going to play Atreyu? surely no one but noah hathaway could pull off playing Atreyu. how many kids had their first gender ambiguous crush on Atreyu? who could fill those moccasins?!

and what about the theme song? are they going to modernize that as well??

david horowitz vs. women's studies- - or, david horowitz accidentally validates women's studies

david horowitz, who has written such gems as Indoctrination U:The Left's War Against Academic Freedom, How to Beat the Democrats and Other Subversive Ideas, Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left, and The Race Card: White Guilt, Black Resentment, and the Assault on Truth and Justice is coming out with a new book and setting his weirdo conservative target on women's studies.

"101 most dangerous academics in america"(2006) named 101 academics that horowitz believed/believes to be anti-american and working actively to push a left wing agenda. in other words, horowitz believes that these academics are guilty of actively trying to indoctrinate students. horowitz seems to think that the humanities and social sciences are particularily suseptible to being infiltrated by these "radicals" because the professors he targets are from a wide range of humanities and social sciences: sociology, political science, african american history, history of the middle east and south asia, media studies, literature, linguistics, middle eastern studies, jewish studies, history of islam and christian-muslim relations, and feminist/women's studies.

considering who horowitz is, it's kind of an honour to be placed on his list because it means you're definitely doing something right. Some of the higher profile names on his list include bell hooks, angela davis, eve kosofsky sedgewick, priya parmar, bill ayers, and gayle rubin.

bettina teaches feminist studies at UC Santa Cruz and was placed on the list because:

"aptheker describes her teaching philosophy as a 'revolutionary praxis.' The crux of this approach, she has said, is to subvert the traditional mission of the university by breaking down the distinction between subjective and objective truth, what aptheker dubs 'breaking down dualisms.' This approach is especially relevant to women's studies, aptheker notes, because it allows her to inject a 'women-centered perspective' into the curriculum. ..."1

for anyone who has taken women's studies this doesn't seem that far out there. actually, for most people who have taken university courses or who are, you know, conscious this doesnt seem too far out there.

In his most recent book, One Party classroom, horowitz lists 150 of the "worst courses" at american universities of which approximately 59 are in women's studies or feminist studies. according to jacquelyn litt(chair of the missouri university women's studies department) horowitz doesn't believe that women's studies counts as a "legitimate academic discipline"2 and although horowitz has also written that middle eastern studies was one of the greatest threats to american higher education he describes women's studies as the newest and most imminent threat.

"many of the women's studies courses are criticized for things that -- to women's studies scholars -- aren't exceptional. For example, horowitz's criticisms of the University of Missouri program note that its mission statement embraces the idea that gender and sexuality are "fundamental categories of analysis," which Horowitz does not consider to be true. One course in the department -- "The Female Experience: Body, Identity and Culture" -- has a course description that says classes will examine "institutions in U.S. society that exert social control over women's bodies, especially the media, the legal system, and the medical professions." horowitz writes that this is an "extreme claim" and a "radical view," which shows that there is "little chance that students will be exposed to alternative perspectives."3

according to Horowitz, women's studies is "the most egregious example" of a discipline that attempts to indoctrinate students. "4

"Horowitz said that he does not rule out the possibility of academe having a women's studies program he would support. But while he cited the African-American studies programs at Harvard University and Washington University in St. Louis as "clearly scholarly departments" (praise he doesn't offer to many other programs in that field), he said he didn't know of any women's studies programs worthy of such respect."5

Apparently women's studies is flawed because it views gender as a means of analysis and that we dangerous women's studies scholars "explicitly state that [we] hope to change society"6 and that this attitude is inappropriate for and in the classroom.and that this demonstrates an attitude that is inappropriate in the classroom. people actually still believe that gender isn't a valid category of analysis? how do people even exist in the world and deny this? does he constantly walk around with not only a bucket over his head but also a big huge stick in his hand with which he batters said bucket?

he is clearly nuts. however, nutty people write books and other nutty people read them and subscribe to their ideas and values.

so the book is being refuted on something that nutty, conservative, sexist, racist assholes claim to hold dear: methods!

the research methods horowitz uses are dubious: he basically googled women's studies courses, read course web pages, reviewed syllabus and reading lists. horowitz did not attend one of the courses that he placed on his list.

in response to questions on the validity of his research he asked : "do I have to take a course on how to design a revolution to know that this course isn't going to look at books that refute the left wing?" 7

i think i speak for a lot of people when i say: you should probably take that course if you're going to write a book claiming some kind of authority on it.

interestingly, horowitz was once a marxist as well as a member of the new left in the 1960s.

in"Empire and Revolution"(1969) horowitz wrote:
"More than ever before, for humanity to live under capitalism, is to live on borrowed time."

and in a debate in 2001, he voiced the opposite:
"commodity fetishism is the key to the prosperity and efficiency of the capitalist economy and to the relative peace of capitalist states. It is what makes us work together."

talk about indoctrination..

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

this is why we don't buy bananas


aside from bananas being a sexual temptation for the other fruit in your fridge:

-Dole, Chiquita, and Del Monte account for 65-70 % of world banana exports
These companies source Latin America for their bananas because of the low production

-Reasons for these huge savings in production costs are large-scale plantations,
higher productivity (through the heavy use of agrochemicals), cheaper labour, and poor working conditions and regulations

-Within Latin America, the wages show a huge disparity; in 2001, Ecuador only
paid its workers an average of US$ 4.00/day.

-Missing from Ecuadorian banana workers wages are the benefits(housing, healthcare and education for their children), and also benefits that are protected under Ecuadorian Law, such as overtime pay, fair wages, job security, and healthcare.

-Banana cash-crop plantations require intensive land, labour, and chemical inputs
to grow.

-require large amounts of rich tropical rainforests to be slashed-and-burned. Rainforests are cut down and then burnt to release the fertile nutrients of tropical plants into the soils so large banana plantations will be successful.

-These slash-and-burn procedures affect global climates, and result in soils
that will quickly be depleted and eventually abandoned.

-These plantations require intensive human labor inputs for attention to plant de-leafing, de-suckering, and maintenance."

(via The Ecological Footprint of a Dole Banana)

show us the way because the devil tryin' to break us down...with pancakes.

mardi gras was yesterday and lent begins today for many of you kooky christians. lent is the forty day long session of fasting and prayer to prepare for Easter, and mardi gras is the equivalent of shaking one's sillies out before lent begins.

for those of you who don't know, forty days represents the number of days that j-dawg was in the desert being tempted by satan(although forty was kind of a common amount of days to have to have to wander, be tempted, or rained on in biblical texts).

for forty days you're supposed to pray, repent, and deny yourself specific things(nowadays anything will do). people give up smoking, chocolate, going to the movies, or their pony play fetish.

apparently it's important to put yourself in j-chrizzle's shoes and try to resist some goddamned temptation once in awhile.

during the early middle ages meat, eggs, and dairy were strictly forbidden. According to Thomas Aquinas they were too pleasurable to eat and eating them resulted in having too much seminal fluid.

lent gets you ready for a big week in christianity: the week the big j "died" and then was all like "hey, rock, stop blocking my tomb, i'm alive!"

however, considering every day that goes by in the next forty will bring the worldwide depression closer and closer, doesn't it seem kind of silly to start giving things up now?

soon enough we'll all be eating shoe soup and travelling on the rails with hobo sticks, but right now shouldn't we enjoy pancakes, cigarettes, beer, and surplus seminal fluid while we still can?


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

another recession cutback...

Monday, February 23, 2009

"7 Steps to a Cooler You"

stephen harper to canadian women: take one for the team!

honestly, we all saw this coming. did we expect the conservatives to drop a budget that did anything but suggest bandaid solutions? they prorogued parliament rather than take responsibility for bolstering the rapidly crumbling economy with the coalition government back in december when they had the chance.

Considering the back-to-work legislation for CUPE 3903 at YorkU (introduced and supported by the liberals and conservatives) nothing this government does will ever surprise us.

Instead of focusing on our own budget and its implications, Canadians seem transfixed on the American election afterglow and the drama of the American stimulus package. Obama-rama shouldn't be an excuse to allow our government to sneakily slip such regressive policy into a budget that they know is going to fly under the radar.

Statement from Irene Mathyssen, NDP Critic for the Status of Women

OTTAWA - The Conservative budget is totally inadequate when it comes to
funding for Status of Women and for issues that directly affect women.
Women are not considered at all in this budget. There is not a single
mention of women in the entire document.

In tough economic times it is crucial that the government invests in
protecting the most vulnerable in society. No affordable housing
programs were introduced that would target vulnerable women. Housing is
key to fighting poverty and the first step needed for many looking to
get into the workforce.

The budget contains no mention of childcare spaces. An investment in
childcare would have been an investment in the economy. No national
child care program will significantly reduce women's ability to
contribute to the labour market. The increase to the Child tax benefit
is helpful, it does not go far enough no create any new childcare

It maintains the attack on women's ability to pursue pay equity
complaints. The NDP has called repeatedly for a pay equity
commissioner to ensure that pay equity complaints are dealt with
effectively and efficiently.

The job creation programs announced are aimed at infrastructure and
construction programs which are male dominated industries. This again
leaves more women vulnerable to the effects of the economic downturn.

An expert panel will be established to consult Canadians on extending EI
to self employed workers. While this is a positive move, it will not
help those who may be impacted in the short term. With two thirds of
women not qualifying for EI, changes to the system are crucial.
Unfortunately, the Conservatives did not make any further changes to
E.I. leaving many part-time workers, and seasonal workers without any
support despite paying into the fund.

There was no attempt at incorporating gender responsive budgeting as
recommended by the June 2008 Status of Women Committee report. This was
a failed opportunity for the Conservative Government to show that it
would address issues raised and passed by the other parties in the House
of Commons.

Tax cuts have historically not benefited women. The focus on tax cuts
in this budget will only decrease the government dollars available to
invest in promoting women's equality in Canada. The tax cuts in this
budget will be of no benefit to 40% of women who fall below the lowest
income bracket. It will have minimal impact on the 38% of women who fall
in lowest tax bracket leaving the most vulnerable 68% of women receiving
little or no benefit from the tax cuts.

For more information, please contact:
Office of Irene Mathyssen, MP - Miriam Rycroft, 613-995-2901

Miriam Rycroft
Member's Assistant
Irene Mathyssen, MP
NDP Status of Women Critic
P: 613-995-2901 F: 613-943-8717
CEP 232/SCEP 232

SSHRC funds earmarked for business related degrees, or, we be fuct

Using the impending economic recession to further the master plan of making the University a factory for pumping out business people and science research for corporations? Best idea ever!
On January 27th, the Conservatives unveiled their budget, in which they have apparently decided to redefine "Social Sciences and Humanities."

In "Further Developing a Highly Skilled Workforce," the budget outline indicates that starting in 2009-2010 an additional $87.5 million (over three years) will be provided to federal granting councils. $35million (80%) will go to the NSERC (National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) and CIHR (Canadian Institute of Health Research) while $17.5 million (20%) will be allocated to SSHRC(Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council).

At first sight this seems amazing: it is the equivalent of an addition 500 doctoral scholarships which are valued at $35,000 each, as well as an additional 1,000 master's scholarships valued at $17, 500.

Whaaaaat? The Conservatives are going to throw some of that change at us humanities and social sciences students? holla!

Hold up, and read a little further before you start planning to apply and obtain a SSHRC to buy 'textbooks' or 'groceries,' and to be able to complete your PhD

"Scholarships granted by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council will be focused on business-related degrees."


What? "Business-Related"? Actually, they just mean business.

This is only the most recent in a series of steps towards the corporatization of academia-not a new process- but one which seems to have been accelerated in light of economic instability.

As though the integrity of the University hasn't suffered enough with casualization of labour across the boards, the consistent and systematic cut backs in wages and benefits for those who do the majority of the teaching within the University, and the undermining of the right to strike with the recent back-to-work legislation at York University(which redefined Teaching Assistants, Contract Faculty, and Graduate Assistants as "essential services" and forced them back to work approximately a week before the University Administration would have been obligated to give students a refund for the 85 days they were out of school - a decision that the Administration made when they decided to cancel classes during the strike rather than allowing them to proceed)

This is a huge blow to the already underfunding and highly unsupported humanities and social sciences. What's worse is that while the public and media at large felt entitled to comment on the strike situation at York University ad nauseum, this proposal to steal funding from the arts and put it into a field already flush with cash is being completely ignored.

Teachers and students who care about the quality of education they provide and about job security for those who will come after them get called down in the media as lazy and greedy, as robbing students and holding them hostage, as lucky even to have jobs in the first place.

The government is allocating funds to degrees that do not need those funds. The Conservative government is turning their backs on research that that won't line their, and their friends, pockets, and it is robbing future social sciences and humanities students.

During her acceptance of her Governor General's Award for Poetry, Jan Zwicky commented that:

"It is notable that evidence of bad judgement in the area of military expenditure produces the odd sign and shake of the head but no demand that each and every military project be explained to the disgruntled. Even more interesting is the fact that tax-supported subsidies to hugely wealthy transnational corporations rarely raise an eyebrow, even when those subsidies are used to deplete permanently our resource base or to underwrite industries we know create harmful pollution. Why are we often more critical of state support for the arts than of state support for corporate projects we know are bad for us?

...One of the reasons I think we are sometimes critical of support for the arts is that art ... can make us uncomfortably aware that economically expedient answers may not always be true....Art can challenge us in this way because, as Plato understood, it connects us as thinking beings to our bodies and emotions, and so forces us to acknowledge truths that are not easily represented in an economic calculus ...When we engage with it, we are forced to reflect on the degree of our own integrity, and in so doing, we may be led to see that we must change our lives"

Zwicky thanks Canadians for supporting the arts in general, saying that "the meaning of that support extends far beyond honour to an individual or individual work. It is, I believe, a symptom of our moral and political health. It signals our willingness to question the universal validity of rationalizations that appeal only to the bottom line, and celebrates our interest in the flourishing of individual conscience."(

Funding Humanities and Social Sciences is crucial not in spite of economic instablity but because of the kinds of economic problems we are experiencing. Developing a "highly skilled workforce" means that there is a wealth of diversity in terms of skills and it shouldn't require a narrowing of skills that are valued to those that are business-related. These kind of narrowing has not only been an integral factor in the lead up to the recession but will almost certainly contribute to its worsening.

what can you do?
sign a petition, of course:

or, if you're not lazy you could go ahead and write to the people making these decisions.

our illustrious and doughy leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Minister of Industry(The governing Council of SSHRC reports to the Parliament through the Minister of Industry)
Honourable Tony Clement

Minister of Canadian Heritage
Hon. James Moore

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff:
Industry-- Marc Garneau
Youth--Ruby Dhalla

NDP Leader Jack Layton:
Post-secondary education-- Niki Ashton

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe:
Industry-- Robert Bouchard
Youth-- Nicholas Dufour
(etudiants quebecois, ecrivez-les en francais, svp.)

President Chad Gaffield
350 Albert Street
Box 1610
Ottawa, ON
K1P 6G4

Student federations:

Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ):
Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante: executif(à)
Canadian Federation of Students:

National media such as the Globe and Mail, the National Post, Southam papers, CBC, CTV, and Global, can all be contacted via their websites.

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