Idiots on the Political Spectrum

What do you picture when I say the words ‘Political Spectrum’? For most of you, it’s a line. You have the left (on the left side) and the right (on the right side). This is the image almost every media outlet, every pundit, every social media post leans toward. I’ll draw you a little picture.

spectrum

I hope this makes sense.

I’m going to tell you a story of two people I’ve been hearing a lot about lately; Rachel Notley, the premier of Alberta and leader of the Alberta NDP, and Dr. Jordan Peterson, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto. If you live in Canada and you pay attention, then you’ve probably heard about these two people.

Let’s talk about Rachel Notley. Depending which side of the graph you sit on, you think she’s either doing a good job in an unstable economy, or she’s the spawn of Satan and wants to destroy everything you hold dear. She has received death threats. People want her to lose her job. She was recently the focal point of a protest, in which the crowd shouted out “Lock her up!”, even though she has broken no laws. People who sit on the very right side of the spectrum want to destroy her, either figuratively or literally.

Let’s talk about Dr. Jordan Peterson. Depending which side of the graph you sit on, you think he’s standing up for what he believes in, or he’s the spawn of Satan and is committing hate crimes.  He has received death threats. People want him to lose his job. He’s been the focal point of a number of debates, many of which he’s drowned out by chanting and megaphones. People who sit on the very left side of the spectrum want to destroy him, either figuratively or literally.

I sincerely hope I’m using language that doesn’t make me seem elitist (apparently be elite is a bad thing) or use ideas that are triggering anyone (my blog is not a safe space). I hope the person reading this sees the similarities between the extremes of both sides.

There’s a theory in political science called the horseshoe theory, in which the two opposing sides of the spectrum have more in common with each other than those closer to the center. If you don’t remember what a horseshoe looks like, here’s another picture.

political_spectrum_horseshoe

I also hope this make sense¹

The issue right now, and in my humble opinion is the biggest issue on the planet, is our political discourse is framed with these extremes in mind. When dealing with the very ends of the spectrum, every issue is polarized. There is no middle ground. These extremist, on both sides, are the most vocal. They’re the ones spamming your feed with online petitions (I see issues from both sides), they’re the ones engaged in every argument, they’re the ones who are the problem with politics in the world.

I’m going to ask you some questions.

  • Do you find yourself constantly arguing online?
  • Do viewpoints that counter your own make you upset, angry, or otherwise emotional, ie. We need to stop all pipelines, or, people are gender-binary?
  • If someone, especially if they are in a position of power, has a viewpoint that contradicts your own, do you fantasize about their downfall or their failure?
  • Would you be offended if someone said you were on the other end of the spectrum than the one you associate with, ie. You’re a card-carrying conservative  and someone called you a left leaning thug, or, you’re a die-hard liberal and someone said you were a right-wing bigot.
  • Have you ever used the words right-wing or leftist, or any political label as an insult

If you’ve answered yes to three or more of these questions, you’re the problem. It isn’t the pipelines, the protesters at standing rock, the culture war, or taxes. These aren’t the problems, the issue is the conversation has now been dominated by those at the extremes ends of the horseshoe. And you people are idiots.

Here’s how you can stop being an idiot. Rather than looking up information to support your claim, look up information that contradicts your position. This blog was originally going to be a rant against Dr. Jordan Peterson. After I took the time to look into what he was saying, I found myself respecting his position. I don’t agree with what he says, but I can’t argue with his right to say it. The one thing I absolutely agree with him on is the fear of ideology. For Jordan, it’s a fear of left-wing ideologues turning the world into a Marxist utopia, where the able-bodied are made lame and wings of progress are clipped to give everyone equal advantages (I believe this is pretty silly). For me, it’s a fear the conversation is now dominated by the polar extremes of the spectrum. Discussions and arguments are seen as something to be won or lost, rather than having your own idea challenged to see if it holds. Combine this with a for-profit media that is more concerned with turning heads than jounalistic integrity, and you have a recipe for an uninformed polulace unable to correctly govern itself, paving the way for authoritarian figures who promise to solve the issues with ease. It’s how someone as unqualified as Trump has managed to gain the presidency.

So challenge your ideas. In my case, it led to me chaning my opinion on a subject. Now I’m less of an idiot than I was yesterday. Which should be a goal for everyone reading this.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Knowledge! Making people less idiotic since the dawn of man.

¹Image taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Political_spectrum_horseshoe_model.svg

The 45th President of the United States

Here’s the deal. I’ve written, easily, over two thousand words regarding this subject. And every time I’ve gotten to about five hundred or so words, I’ve straight up deleted everything that was there. All of it, gone. Countless hours trying to express how I felt about the election. The highest position held in civics, the president of the United States, is now held by Donald J. Trump, someone with absolutely zero experience in civics.

The first couple of posts I deleted was some sort of virtual hug garbage, letting everyone know everybody is still going to be fighting the good fight, this isn’t over, blah blah blah. Some of the other posts I wrote were a deconstruction of what went wrong with Hillary’s campaign because somehow hindsight makes Mr. Charlton a political science genius. All of what I what I wrote previously was obnoxious and/or had already been said.

To the people who were rooting for Trump; I hope your candidate succeeds in the next four years. I earnestly mean that. I can’t vote for the man, being Canadian and all, if I had the chance, though, I certainly wouldn’t have. Democracy doesn’t care about my opinion, and America voted for Trump. As he is now the leader of the world’s superpower, I hope he follows through and makes America and the world a better place.

To the people who were rooting for Clinton; I’m sorry she lost. I wanted her to win too, but to be honest, I was still angry at the Democratic party for nominating her above Bernie Sanders. If I were to have voted for Hillary, it wouldn’t have been because I thought she was a great candidate, it was because I thought Trump would be worse. A lot of people felt the same way I did,  and being the lesser of two evils is unfortunately not a solid platform to campaign on. You have to remember, Trump’s campaign was a grass roots campaign. The facts show that regular people were backing Trump’s campaign, while most of Clinton’s support came from corporate sponsors and a lot of media that worked to promote her.

Will Trump do a good job at running the country? I’ll be frank with my opinion; Probably not. He’s released his first hundred days in office, a list of some of the things he hopes to accomplish when he first arrives in office. The problem is a number of items on this list put him at odds with much of the established government in place. Being the president isn’t like being the CEO. And now that he’s in place, all the people who campaigned for him are headed home. Their job is over. For Trump, his job is beginning. The house, the senate, and the presidency might belong to the Republicans, but if the last year is any indication, then there’s a lot of internal bleeding that will take time to heal, and four years isn’t that long.

People have confused a few things about the government, democratically elected governments, at least. You see, if you live in a democratic nation, like the United Stated or Canada, then you are the government. Yes, you, sitting at your keyboard and stuffing cheetos into your gob, you’re part of the government. Unfortunately, people have forgotten that. Not only have they forgotten that, they’ve forgotten voting is literally the smallest contribution you can make to your own government. If we’re having an issue getting people out to vote in the first place, then how likely are they going to have any further involvement in their government? Out government isn’t made up of lizard men, it’s made up of people like you and me.

We pat ourselves on the backs for voting. “I did my civic duty!” It’s the bare minimum of your civic duty. Today also happens to be Rememberance day here in Canada, the day when we honor our veterans. It’s always weird to me that so many of us will pick up a weapon to fight for what we have, yet so few of us would take the time out of our lives to make even the smallest sacrifice. I’ve heard too many keyboard warriors proudly state they’d be the first in line if someone invaded out home and native land, and then proudly state they didn’t vote because they had better things to do.

I’m no different. I’m not pointing my finger at you, I’m pointing it at me. Seeing captain pussy-grab take hold of America awoke something in me, a fire that screams “Goddamnit, Mr. Charlton! You are handsome, charismatic, and pretty smart. Why aren’t you running the show?” I might have to start small, work my way up. But if Donald Trump can become president of the United States, then I can surely become the mayor of a small hamlet somewhere.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. The hamlet vision I have in my head is a lot more like a sitcom than politics. “Mr. Charlton, we need to see you immediately! There’s a problem at the Chili Cook-Off!” The episode would end up with me, drenched in delicious chili.

p.s.s. I’m hoping it’s not spicy chili. I got super hot sauce on my bathing suit area once. It was as terrible as it was hilarious.

p.s.s.s. I will now resume writing my shitty book. I will see you at the end of the month.

 

Send in the Clowns

Clowns. They’ve been popping up in the media a lot more frequently than they used to. Clowns worldwide have been scaring the shit out of regular, honest folks. This new, viral, phenomena has taken the internet by storm, with people getting together, dressing up as creepy clowns, and trying to frighten others for the lulz. To give you an idea of exactly how bad the clown problem has gotten, there’s a Wikipedia page dedicated to clown sightings for 2016. Hundreds of clowns have been sighted over the world, most notably in North America. Clowns are now being banned from schools, from workplaces, and even entire communities. When did clowns become such a menacing part of our culture? Was it the Joker, from the new Batman films? Was it Stephen King’s IT? Or maybe it’s the fact a clown is currently running for president of the United States?

trump-ugh

Scariest Clown sighting of the year

Here’s the kicker, people. I don’t actually remember a time when clowns were popular. I’ve never heard of a clown actually doing a birthday party, except in movies from the 80’s. I’ve seen clowns at the circus, but the circus is something I’ve only been to a handful of times in my life. I’ve never sought out clowns. I’ve never said to myself, “You know what, Mr. Charlton? This day needs more clowns”. In fact, the only time I can remember using the word clown is when I derisively call someone a clown.

I did some research. When I say research, what I mean is I typed ‘when was the last time clowns were funny’ into a search engine. And what I found will shock you.

Clowns have never been funny.

There’s a bizarre notion people before our time weren’t funny. I never really imagined the Romans sitting around, laughing their asses off because Julius made a snide remark to Anthony regarding his footwear, but sarcasm has been around for a while. There were also clowns, but looking through the lens of time shows us clowns were performers showcasing demon tricksters. Clowns showed both the light and dark side of humanity through pranks. What I’ve learned is clowns have been jesters, fools, and pranksters.

You ever met someone who’s a “prankster”? They’re assholes.

“It was just a prank, brah” is the calling card of these jester jerkoffs. Youtube is filled to the brim of dickheads who have confused sadism and masochism with humour. That’s what these clowns are about. The point I’m trying to make is this; clowns are greasy performers, not funny people. We used to laugh at them because they’re terrible human beings, not because they’re comedians.

Why have these clowns started popping up? We stopped laughing at them cruelly, which is the only way to laugh at clowns to keep them at bay. We’ve ignored them for too long. Clowns were ridiculed for years, derided and called out for their foolishness. This was the natural order of things. It was the way to drive the demon spirits away. In our age of extreme tolerance, we’ve forgotten that if there is one group of people who should be laughed at, it’s clowns. We, unfortunately as a society, collectively decided to take clowns seriously. We said “Maybe clowns aren’t so bad, maybe we shouldn’t be spraying them with water, hitting them with pies, or forcing them to pile in clown cars. Clowns deserve every opportunity the rest of us do.” And that’s led us down the dark path we’ve taken. A prominent clown is running for president. The media surrounding him is now a circus.

We’ve stopped laughing at clowns. I guarantee if this clown gets into office, then no one will be laughing for at least the next four years. What can you do, dear reader? If someone is acting like a clown, then make fun of them. They’re the necessary punching bag we need. Clowns serve a very important function in society, and that’s to provide the rest of us an outlet to express our rage and disgust. It allows the rest of us to get along. To not just tolerate out differences, but to celebrate them. Because is some clown is going to spray his face orange and turn democracy into a crazy fun house, then maybe they deserve to be taken down a peg.

 Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. This is going to be the last long form post I’ll be doing for the next month. November is NaNoWriMo, and every damn word needs to count! I’ll still be posting, but it’ll be more of a diary about trying to squeeze out a novel in thirty days.

 

Clinton Vs. Trump Vs. Taxes

There was a debate recently between the two presidential incumbents. Hillary Rodham-Clinton and Donald J. Trump. I haven’t actually watched the debates. What I have done, on the other hand, is read the transcripts of the debate instead. This is not only a faster way of absorbing this clash of titans, what it also does is remove any kind of charisma and showmanship from the verbal sparring match, and leaves only the words. If you want to fell smarter and fulfill the role of smug asshole in your group of friends, there’s no better way than announcing that you only read the debates.

When asked how they prepared for the debate, Hillary responded by stating she’s studied the issues facing our nation. Trump responded by telling the press that he, along with some of his friends, sat down over burgers to prepare some solid zingers. This sums up what this entire election is about. One of these people is prepared to be commander in chief, the other is prepared to host an episode of Saturday Night Live.

I wrote about both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the past. I’ll be honest, I was scathing towards Hillary and pretty light towards Donald. Both articles were written at a time where Bernie Sanders was still competing for the Democratic nomination. I’ve been doing a re-examination of why I was so harsh with Hillary and gave Donald a free pass. At first, I thought it was maybe some weird inherent sexism that might have been lying dormant in me, but I’m usually pretty self-aware of any kind of privilege I might be lugging around. It was definitely in part because I really wanted Bernie Sanders to win. But now that Hilary is the nominee, Bernie is backing Hil-Dog, and the first debate is over, I’m certain I know why I was so critical of Hillary and not with Donald. I fell like I can  criticize Hillary as a politician and an adult, whereas I can only criticize Donald as a faux  celebrity and an unruly teenager stuck in the body of a 67-year-old man.

About half way through the debate, Trump’s tax return came in the conversation. Trump hasn’t actually released his tax returns to the public yet. Nominees, for decades, have released their tax returns to the voters. This is to ensure the future president doesn’t have any conflicting interests between business and public service. The New York Times recently got a couple of pages of his 1995 tax return, and in that year Donald Trump took a financial hit of almost a billion dollars. This is incredibly significant because it would mean Trump could forgo paying taxes for over the next decade and a half. I’m not under the impression that Trump did anything illegal, but fact remains that he’s tight-lipped about his finances. In the upcoming weeks, that’s going to bode terribly for his campaign. Unless he reveals his tax return, he’ll jeopardize his presidential candidacy.

Looking back on the history of these two candidates reveals a lot about their character. Hillary Clinton spent decades working for various charitable events. When she was the first lady of Arkansas, she co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, worked with the Children’s Defense Fund, and served on the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Legal Services. Not to mention she practiced law during this entire tenure. Donald Trump, on the other hand, hasn’t spent any time doing any kind of volunteer work. He’s purportedly donated millions, but his actual time is spent being a business man. He’s a cut-throat, ruthless business mogul who specializes in real estate. That’s totally fine, but it leaves him woefully unprepared for the presidency. Because, on one hand, you have someone who’s dedicated most of their life to public service, while the other dedicated most of their life to themselves and their business ventures. .

Donald Trump, plainly put, cares about Donald Trump. That’s it. He’s not interested in public service, he’s not interested in politics, he’s interested only in what benefits Donald Trump. He’s always been that way. It’s his entire persona. I’m certain Hillary wants to be the first female president and earn a massive place in history. Her beginnings in politics were someone who championed the rights of women and children. She was someone who fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. She had to fit the mold of politics in order to accomplish her goals, as all politicians do, unfortunately.

The debates were a perfect allegory of the battle for the position  of commander in chief. You have someone who’s been preparing for a long time and has put a lot of thought into what they’re doing. The other person’s trying to win by being louder and more entertaining. It’s a contest being the class nerd and the class clown. Sure, Donald isn’t part of the mainstream political crowd. He just happens to be from the old family money, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, coke-out one percent. There’s still two more debates, though. Maybe Donald can forgo a tanning session to actually prepare this time around.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I’m now backing Hilldog.

p.s.s. To those who think Donald is better because he’s more honest and down to Earth, he’s a billionaire who spent the better part of the 80’s doing blow and lingerie models. He’s got more in common with the Wolf of Wall Street than he does with you.

 

Why the Hell Do We Have the Olympics Anyways?

Mr. Charlton’s been dumping on the Olympic games for the last couple of posts and for good reason. They’re expensive,  and the countries hosting the games can’t always afford the exorbitant cost of hosting the damn things. When the host country runs out of money, you get shoddy facilities, unsafe venues, and not enough doctors to treat people. This last point is especially true if you currently have an outbreak of something like Zika or the T-Virus.

Zombies.png

Zombies would be pretty good at the 100m dash if you had brains at the finish line. ¹

I’m not a sports guy. I have no interest in sports, no clue about sport, don’t follow sports, don’t get the whole big hoopla about the drama in professional sports. Truthfully, I’m the last person that should be commenting on sports, and certainly one of the most celebrated sporting events in the world. I shouldn’t be touching this one. But I’m gonna step out of my persona for a second, get real down to earth and share my real opinion of the Olympic games.

They’re important.

Now sports, in general, are important. I don’t agree with exactly HOW important they are in our society, but if I were to choose this world with sports and this world without, then hands down I’d have to go with a sporting world.

They’re important for kids growing up. They’ll get exercise running around, and an active lifestyle is good for developing brains. They’ll learn teamwork. And the most important life lesson they’ll learn, one that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives, is this; You can train every single day, work hard every day to achieve a dream, only to find out that someone from the next town over is better than you’ll ever be. I’m not kidding! That’s a really important lesson kids need to learn. And if they are the best, then this society will shower you with riches and fame, or at least a trip to the Olympics. Most likely  they’ll only be average, and that’s perfectly okay. They’ll still walk away knowing how to work hard to achieve something, even if it’s second place.

They’re important as an entertainment outlet. That’s what professional sports are. They’re meant to entertain people. It doesn’t entertain me, but I can’t argue with the numbers. 90% of Americans watch sports. If you’re reading this and aren’t into sports, you are in the minority. Plain and simple. Even I’ve been sucked in every now and again. Surrounded by people invested in the game at the bar, everyone biting their nails, and then the place  erupts in cheers when a goal is scored. Shucks, Mr. Charlton was cheering too! So I can’t sit here and talk about sports without at least acknowledging that people are invested in sports.

The Olympics aren’t important because it gives kids something to aspire to and then statistically fail at. They’re not important because the world needs more sports entertainment, as most people would much rather watch football then target shooting. I’m going to show you a picture that sums it up. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I need to keep my word count below 1500.

North-South-Korea-Selfie

Gymnast Selfie! ²

Mr. Charlton is going to explain to you why this picture is so goddamn important. The gymnast taking the selfie is Lee Eun-Ju of South Korea and the gymnast on the left is Hong Un Jong of North Korea. The two countries have technically been at war for the last six decades. I shouldn’t have to explain what North Korea is all about, but I’ll try to sum it up. It’s a brutal country led by a family of despots who’ve had a stranglehold on the country through a cult of personality. The Kims are thought of more as Gods then they are heads of state. The citizens of North Korea aren’t allowed to leave, except with very few exceptions. The Olympic games are one of them.

The picture sums up a very important aspect of the Olympics. That even though these two are citizens of countries that see each other as enemies, under the banner of the Olympic flag, they’re united in the spirit of healthy competition. Not with bullets or bombs, but gymnastics.

They’re another magical event happening at the Olympics, and it’s not basketball. This is the first Olympics hosting a team of refugees, athletes that have no country to call home. You know what flag they’re flying?

Olypic-Flag

Here’s a hint. It’s this one.

That flag represents humanity under one banner. It represents the spirit of putting down your guns and picking up volleyballs instead. It represents the best aspects of the human spirit. It represents community, commonality, compassion and competition, all under one goddamn flag. If you’re wondering if this competition is worth the four or five billion dollar price tag, I’ll give you my opinion. You better fucking believe it’s worth the price because that’s less than the cost of a week at war. And thankfully the only thing getting shot at the Olympics is targets.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I’m still not gonna watch, though. Just so we’re clear.

¹ Photo taken from http://retrogamersociety.com/tag/the-last-of-us/

² Photo taken from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37030696http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37030696

The High Price of the Olympic Games

The tally for the summer Olympics in Rio is going to be over four billion dollars. Four billion! While that might seem like a massive price, it’s actually a modest one. To compare it to the last Olympics held, the 2014 winter games in Sochi, Russia, it’s a drop in the bucket. The winter games held two years ago cost a staggering 51 billion dollars, so the price tag of the Rio Olympics is humble. Which would be okay if the country wasn’t in a massive recession.

The Olympics cost money. A lot of money. So much money, in fact, many countries have withdrawn their future bids, citing cost as the main reason for turning away the chance to host the games. The games require a massive amount of spending in infrastructure, investments in buildings that have little to no use past the games themselves. I was going to link a bunch of photos with cute little captions, but here’s a whole album of derelict Olympic facilities you can peruse.

That would probably be the biggest problem a lot of people have with the Olympic games; it’s really damn expensive. And the countries hosting the games don’t always have the extra cash to splurge on a three-week party that celebrates amateur sports. The issue with the Olympic games isn’t the doping scandals or the water quality or the possibility of disease breaking out, it’s the Olympic bidding has become an episode of keeping up with the Jones’.

The games, both winter and summer, promise to be the best Olympics ever. Every host city plans to have a better Olympics than the previous Olympics. The opening ceremony is getting more extravagant, the facilities are boasting better additions. How can this be fair to countries without the GDP of places like the United States or Russia or China? How the hell was a country like Brazil supposed to compete with a country like the United Kindom, which was the last place to host the summer games?

It couldn’t. If you’re wondering why you’re hearing stories of polluted water, poor facilities and issues of security, it’s because the Brazilian government bit off more than it could chew. It’s not Brazil’s fault either. The bidding started back in 2007 for these games, and then the world was rocked by the 2008 recession. Even though the country seemingly bounced back in record time, the country has slowly been dipping down again for the last several years. Slow worldwide economic growth has stunted the Brazilian markets.No one could have predicted the state of affairs in Brazil that long ago.

The International Olympic Committee, also known as the IOC, had a number of bids in place from cities all around the world. Madrid was one, Chicago was another, and there was also Tokyo in the mix. Spain hosted the summer games in 1992 in Barcelona, The US had the games recently in Atlanta, and Tokyo Japan was home to the summer games in 1964. Brazil, let alone the entire South Americas had yet to host the games. It was the perfect opportunity for Rio de Janeiro to throw their hat into the mix. Why wouldn’t the IOC have Rio host the games? They bounced back from the 2008 recession like the rubber from a rubber tree, which is indigenous to Brazil. Here, I found a graph and now I’m going to show you that the IOC wasn’t crazy for picking Rio.

Brazil-GDPMassive crash at the tail end of 2008, better than ever in six months. ¹

It’s really unfortunate that Brazil has been suffering economically for the last couple of years, but how could the games be moved? We’re talking about plans that had been laid out for almost a decade. It’s a billion dollar event the entire world has it’s eyes on. It’s a shame some of the facilities aren’t up to snuff and the country is reeling from a massive recession, but the only thing you can really do is shrug your shoulders and hope that the games go well. And so far, the games haven’t broken down into complete chaos. The last thing we need to see is the Olympic Games turning into the Hunger Games.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Man, does the Olympics have anything nice to say about itself? Tune in Wednesday!

p.s.s. I missed a couple posts. I was out camping. Yes, I absolutely hate camping, so you’ll be hearing about that soon enough.

¹ Graph taken from http://www.tradingeconomics.com/brazil/gdp-growth

 

 

 

Olympics Making Me Queasy.

Out of all the sporting events in the world, by far the most corrupt have to be the Olympic Summer games. That’s saying a lot, as sports in general are a corrupt institution to begin with. Aside from doping athletes, underground gambling rings, not to mention the outlandish and unethical practices we tolerate from players, sports have always had a dark underside to them. That’s part of the reason for their popularity, it’s the drama and the scandals and the opera of these pastimes that makes them interesting. It’s not just the sports themselves that are entertaining, it’s the struggle and the chaos revolving around the players, managers and owners that make it fun to watch. Which is why the Olympics have always been a paradox. The spirit of the games, which is to highlight amateur sports from around the globe in a friendly contest to unite the world under one banner, is notorious for some of the shadiest dealings and backroom deals on the planet.

If there was a medal for the most corrupt Olympics, Brazil might take the home the gold. In a country already rife with political strife and high rates of poverty, the idea the games should be hosted in Rio de Janeiro is going to go down as one of the largest oversights in the Olympic’s history. Numerous civil servants and workers have gone on strike. Riots and protests are met with fierce crackdowns from security forces. If there was one sentence to sum up Rio hosting the summer Olympics games, it would be this; Rio de Janeiro shouldn’t be hosting the summer Olympic games.

It’s a mess, and when the word mess is mentioned, it’s the literal meaning of the word. The bay that 1,400 will be swimming and rowing in is polluted. Polluted to the point that athletes are taking extreme measures to counter the effects of the water. They are going to be popping antibiotics like Pez, donning full suits to keep the water out of there ears and bleaching the oars. These are some of the things you would have to take precautions against when your swimming or rowing in water full of human waste.

Unfortunately, these measures don’t protect the athletes from viruses, and it’s not Zika we’re talking about. Viral levels in the water are 1.7 million times higher than what we would consider worrisome in the Western world. Put it this way; if the athletes consume a teaspoon of two of water, the likelihood that they’ll contract some sort of virus is over 90%.

That’s just the athletes. What about the massive number of tourists that are going to be descending on Rio to watch the games? What about the nearby beaches that will soon be full of foreign travelers? If you are thinking about going to the games in Rio, stock up on shots and travel insurance.

Then there’s the buzz of the Zika virus. The truth is, the games are technically taking place in Brazil’s winter, so the dangerous carrier of the Zika virus, mosquitoes, are going to be less of threat than they would be at other times. If you’re an athlete or a tourist, then you have a much higher chance of contracting the virus through sex than from mosquitoes. The Zika virus gives off few or no symptoms in most people, the symptoms being rashes, fever, joint pain and red eyes. In pregnant women, it can cause birth defects, and in a few cases it can cause paralysis. This means if you’re a tourist or an athlete that’s going to be getting pregnant in the future, the best bet is to stay away from the games altogether. Numerous athletes are already passing on the games due to the Zika virus.

Viruses are always kind of neat up close

What a cute little flipper-baby making virus!²

 

The troubling concern over the Zika virus and the other host of pathogens in the water filled with raw sewage leads us to a bigger question. Would the hospitals in Rio be able to handle the surge of patients that will undoubtedly arise from the mass influx of people entering the city? The doctors union in Rio has some choice words for the tourists heading to the games; “Don’t get sick.” Rio has been going through a healthcare crisis due to a funding shortage, and has closed several hospitals recently. Rio simply doesn’t have enough beds to take on new patients.

The games haven’t even begun and already people are avoiding it in droves. So far we’ve only touched on people getting sick, and believe me when I tell you there’s a lot more to worry about than a Bay full of shitty water.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. You know how the movies in the 1980’s had fake commercials for 5000 SPF sunscreen and full body suits to go swimming in the water? The future is here folks!

p.s.s. Apparently the junk is so think in some of the water, rats are building nests on them. I call them Ratrinas.

¹ Photo taken from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3717326/Rio-Olympics-2016-Sailing-ramp-collapses-one-week-racing-starts.html

² Photo taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Zika-chain-colored.png

³ Photo taken from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-18/rio-s-olympic-hospitals-unable-to-take-new-patients-report-says

The Republican Flatform

The big news this week in America was the Republican National Convention. If there’s one boon to the economy in Cleveland, strippers are raking it in, as Republicans are known to drop cash like crazy at strip clubs during the convention. So Trumps plan to stimulate the economy is already taking effect. Except for this poor girl.

I’d love to talk about what went down during the convention, as the hottest topic was the fact that Melania Trump’s speech was plagiarized. We’re not entirely sure who she plagiarized her speech from, as the debate rages whether it was first Lady Michelle Obama or My Little Pony’s Twilight Sparkle. I couldn’t actually make that up if I tried.

Twilight Sparkle speaks out against plagiarism.

We’ve finally gotten a look at the Republican platform, and it’s pretty vague and under whelming. Their website is still hosting the platform from 2012. Right now, the platform indicates stimulating the economy, tightening security, international trade, building a wall to deal with immigration from Mexico, and a return to the good ol’ fashioned values of the 1950’s nuclear family by having the most anti-LGBTQ platform to come from Republicans. We’ll go in order.

The republican economic platform has one of the usual tropes; lower taxes. Even of this has never worked to stimulate any economy, it’s still paraded out as the base of every conservative platform. No surprises here. Except Trump has flip flopped on this issue. At first he was going to cut taxes for everyone. Then he was going to raise taxes on the rich. He was musing to raise the minimum wage to $15 dollars across the nation. Then he’s going to let the states decide. The Republican platform doesn’t have a firm footing when it comes to wages and taxes.

What is something worth mentioning is the way the wave of self employed ‘gig workers’, like Uber drivers. While Hillary has mentioned that she’s completely against these so called entrepreneurs, the Republican platform has absolutely embraced them. Even though many civil servants have, from policy makers to mayors, have derided companies like Uber for being unsafe, unlicensed, and illegal, it’s really no surprise the republicans have embraced this unregulated new industry. The jury’s still our whether or not these new companies are actually good for the economy.

Now we get into one of the major points of the republican platform; security and safety. Even though violent crime has been falling for decades, the republican party still wants you to understand that you are not safe. Ever. Conservatives will decry crime is rampant in on streets, children are at risk, and that Satan himself is risen and is selling Meth for blowjobs. Even if this is statistically untrue. It’s always been one of my major concerns with most conservative platforms, the selling of fear in exchange for votes.

International Trade.

China.

Trump has made a point of wanting increased protectionism. He’s not a big fan of NAFTA or the TPP, and purportedly wants to create new trade deals. He’s been incredibly vocal about China, mentioning rampant piracy and intellectual property theft. His proposals so far are making a lot of nations nervous, as the world economy is already weak and the last thing it needs is Trump swaggering through and making an already poor situation worse.

Next up is the famous Trump wall. If you’re a contractor or civil engineer down south,  you’re probably salivating over the prospects of a massive wall that borders Mexico. The cost of this wall would be so absolutely staggering it could very well bankrupt the nation, especially one determined to lower taxes and take in less revenue. Even if Trump’s supporters are under the impression it might be an allegory for stricter border, the Donald is adamant it’s going to be a an actual, physical wall. If Trump is going to be elected, I’m suggesting that everyone buy shares in concrete and mortar suppliers, as that industry will explode.

Regarding the LGBTQ community, the Republicans have pretty much solidified their platform with these words; Fuck gay people. That pretty much sums up how they’re going about it.

Here’s the crazy thing. Trump doesn’t really need a platform to contend in this race The latest polls show he’s right behind Hillary after the convention. His supporters don’t care. The problem with that is if you implemented even half of what Trump is proposing, then you’d have an economic catastrophe.

Trump isn’t a politician or a leader. He’s a weasel in a suit. He wants to make America great again, but unless the Republicans shore up some better ideas, then the only thing that’s going to be great is the next depression.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. This is going to be a crazy election year.

 

Trouble in Turkey

This week has been a parade of entertainment in the Western world, as we continue to gawk at the spectacle that is the Trump candidacy. Colbert and Stewart are back in full form, Trump’s entrance song at the RNC was written by a gay man while the platform singles out the LGBTQ community, and Melaina Trump decided the best way to give a speech was to give someone else’s speech a go. Right now, everyone is having a bit of a laugh at the whole spectacle, while crossing their fingers that the next president of the most powerful nation on Earth isn’t a reality show celebrity with zero political experience.

At the same time, Turkey has declared a state of emergency.

Recently, the Turkish army staged a coup, an attempt to overthrow the government. If you understand anything about Turkish history, you’ll know this happens somewhat frequently. Turkeys military has often intervened in the governments affairs, in 1960, 1971, 1980, and a half-coup in 1997. This is somewhat to be expected, as the military in Turkey doesn’t have to answer to politicians. In the case of civil unrest, weak civilian leaders, or in a state of emergency, the military is allowed by law to step in and take control of the government, albeit temporarily. It’s written into the Turkish constitution.

There was another attempt at a coup recently, and it failed.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has declared a three month state of emergency after the failed coup, and has began a purge of civil service staff and security forces. More troubling is that any member of Academia is barred from leaving the country, and Erdogan has demanded that all the Deans of 1577 Universities resign. Understand that when a country decides to go after everyone who went to University, you know the country is in some serious trouble.

And it’s not just those who oppose Erdogan who are being targeted. A number of his closer staff have been arrested or have been given the boot. These moves are incredibly paranoid, similar to the purges of other regimes such as Russia during the Stalin years, or North Korea every time a new Leader is given the seat of power.

There’s been a lot of talk comparing it to other dictatorships, which is certainly what Turkey is looking like these days. People mention Stalin, the rise of Hilter and the Third Reich, the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot, the Chinese cultural revolution of Mao Zedung. All of these revolutions have something in common, which is an attempt to control the populace by limiting the knowledge they have access to.

Anytime a mention of science or reason getting pushed aside for a political reasons, I get a little nervous. It’s the first step in having a less educated populace. A less educated populace can be convinced to support a system that doesn’t have their best interests in mind.

The truth is, almost every government in some way wants to limit the amount of information you have access to. The former Conservative government in Canada barred environmental scientists from discussing their findings. The current Liberal government is keeping tight lips regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The battle between Hillary and Trump is the battle of two people who have absolutely no problem lying to the populace, whether it’s about classified emails or the dream of a massive wall with no hope of getting built.

If you’re a regular citizen, you might feel hopeless at the current prospects of the planet. First, I want you to know that things aren’t nearly as bad as the seem. If you’re reading this, then you probably have shoes on your feet, some food in your stomach, and most importantly an internet connection. You have the power to be informed. I don’t want you to get angry, I don’t want you to be upset. Politics already has enough passionate people, and as far as I’m concerned, the only place passion belongs is your trade, your art, and what you do in the bedroom. If you see something that makes you mad, whether it’s a meme, a news article, or a video, understand that someone worked at that to make you feel that way. They manipulated you into feeling something by not giving you all the information.

If you want to make a difference, a real difference, then stop buying into the bullshit. Stop letting your heart make decisions regarding politics. That’s what your brain is for. Start asking questions, start researching what you read, start talking about it. If you’re really worried about what’s going on in the world, start by getting the facts first. The facts are out there, you just have to wade through the bullshit.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. My entrance theme song would be silence. Man, THAT would throw people off.

The Three Amigos Bro Out

In the wake of all the world political gaffs lately, it’s nice to see some pleasantries being exchanged for once. The three leaders of the nations representing North America met yesterday, in what was dubbed the ‘Three Amigos Summit’. This meeting included Barack Obama, the President of the United States, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, and of course, our own Justin Trudeau. They took photos, shook hands, made small talk, and talked about the three nations.

Three-Amigos

‘Alright, now I want you both to spin me around’¹

They talked about a number of issues, most of the issues were things they could all agree on, relatively. First was climate change. They all want to push for 50 percent of electrical energy to come from clean sources, and they’ve set the target date for 2025, which is less than a decade away. Trade was another hot topic. As the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) is currently stalled, they are continuing to renegotiate the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), mostly to adjust for current economic instability. Border control is going to change as well, as the three countries are working on the NEXUS (I can’t actually find what this acronym stands for, or even if it is an acronym) system, which would allow frequent, low risk travellers privileges to cross the borders. A big topic was human rights, most notably towards the LGBTQ community, as well as indigenous women in all three countries.

So I’m awfully glad they sat down to have a yap over whatever they happened to be serving at Parliament Hill. Some big topics came up, Obama gave a nice speech calling Canadians his besties, I’m certain there was a couple of fist bumps and high fives, and maybe, behind the scenes, they had a couple of beers and tequila shots and lamented about how being the leader of the nation was a pretty difficult job.

Does this meeting and what they discussed actually matter, though?

One of the major problems with this meeting is that Obama is going to be leaving the White House pretty soon, and the following establishment might not agree to the same terns that Obama has. It’s hard to say what Hillary will do. She gone quiet in regards to NAFTA, a trade agreement her husband and former US President Bill Clinton championed. She’s decided against the TPP, even though she was behind it during her tenure as Secretary of State. Understanding the fact that it’s a poisonous topic at the moment, she may be turning her back on the idea due to politics, and pull a 180 if elected. Trump, on the other hand, would nullify most of the ideas laid out, especially in regards to climate change, the TPP, and the NEXUX system. All this talk might be just that. Talk.

In a world where building connections and bridges between nations would benefit everyone and make the world a smaller place, Brexit has shown us that many still want to build walls. Hell, that’s one of the reasons that Trump became so popular in the first place, and he’s suggesting a literal wall, not just a metaphoric one. Free trade is akin to a four letter word among both left and right wing demagogues. A war still rages in Mexico over a fail drug policy that’s been in affect for decades. Income inequality still rises in the United States.

Saying yes to change is difficult. It means challenging laws, it means reconfiguring systems of thought, it requires ideals to malleable, it needs research and discussion and planning. On the other hand, saying no is easy. It means there’s no need to grow, to learn, to evolve. Building a bridge is difficult, especially if you’re going to be bringing a lot of people over it. You need engineers, and planners, and lawyers, and construction experts. Building a wall is easier. You need steel and concrete and time to build a bridge that would allow a car to pass over it. If you want to stop a car with a wall, all you need to do is put some shit in front of it.

Brick_wall_close-up_view.jpg

All I had to do was put up some bricks and some mortar, and BOOM, car problem solved.²

Maybe that’s my issue with the meeting of the Three Amigos. They’re talking about how to build bridges, when the discussion that should be taking place is this; why does everyone want to start building walls?

Walls don’t work. Walls are meant to keep baddies out, and they rarely succeed. And in the process of trying to keep the baddies out, you end up stifling the flow of information. In a world where information is power, it’s strange to see everyone give that up for a sense of false security.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s.In a perfect world, they would have all taken time to have an old fashioned wrastle

¹ © Reuters/Chris Wattie

² Image taken from Wikimages