Sorry.

Sorry, again, for being political.  I intended to get this blog back to its sunnier ways.

But dammit:

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Children killed by gas today, April 4, 2017

These are the people who Trump wants to ban from seeking refuge in the US.  If you don’t support the Syrian refugees, you support THIS.

 

Dammit it all.

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Boundaries Real and Imagined

The Canada/ U.S. border is the longest in the world between two countries, stretching some 8000 kilometres across some pretty challenging terrain. There are only 100 or so manned border checkpoints with customs officials;  the rest of the border is unmanned with only a concrete boundary marker to tell you which country you’re in–and sometimes, not even that.

Take the Haskell Library for example. It sits smack dab on the  Canada/U.S. border and has two separate entrances and addresses:  one American, and one Canadian.  The interior, however, is shared: a black line designates the border. The towns which straddle the library share the same water, sewer, and emergency systems, and there are at least three streets which criss-cross into the other country’s territory.

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Haskell Library.  Right side of black line is Canada.

 

Most border crossings, however, are rural and unmanned, like this one:

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The no touching zone

And along the 8000 kilometre border is the euphemistically named “no- touching zone”.  The no-touching zone is a 20-foot stretch of land which separates each country, cut out by hardy individuals in the early 1900’s as part of the International Boundary Commission.

Since the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States,  Canada has experienced an unprecedented increase in immigrants–most of whom were born in one of the seven countries on the ban list–crossing the unmanned border points into Canada.  Their refugee claims denied in the  U.S. and fearing deportation, these immigrants risk life and limb, walking for days in unbelievable winter conditions, toward the Canadian border. With spring around the corner, Canada anticipates those numbers increasing.

There’s a sad irony in looking at this man-made land boundary carved out almost 100 years ago:  a global “no-touch” zone has emerged. Countries around the world are standing at an ideological impasse with the Trump administration, resisting the relentless onslaught of divisiveness, xenophobia, and geopolitical exceptionalism. And in the middle of the chaos are millions of displaced people who are not a risk to anyone; people like you or I who simply want a better life for themselves and a safe place to raise their children.  As a civilization, we never seem to be able to learn from our past, and, in the words of George Santayana, we are forever doomed to repeat it.

I hope the world can get their act together before we end up in a real-life Orwellian nightmare.  In the meantime,  I take solace in the kindly face of this officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  For now, it seems to be all we have.

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Mounties assisting a family of refugees crossing into Manitoba, Canada

 

Four. More. Years.

It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.”
― Joseph Heller, Catch 22

Well they’ve gone and done it.  Donald Trump is now POTUS while the vast majority of Americans–over three million over Trump–voted for Hillary Clinton.

To mark this day (not to celebrate it; important distinction here), I bring you the following.

God—or whatever entity you reach to— Bless America.

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Fuck Face Von Clownstick

Congratulations, America.   You elected a xenophobic, narcissistic con artist. No-one predicted his win, but win he did.

Throughout this election, journalists and pundits have been editorializing about him, trying to make sense of how someone so supremely unqualified to be president could have such mass appeal. Their theories about the economy and voter anger, however, sorely missed the mark.  Those issues–and even his peculiar spin on them– didn’t distinguish him from the other GOP candidates or the Democratic nominee.

No, the issue that set him apart from everyone else was, quite simply, an ugly truth: In this post-9/11 world, his campaign nudged a tiger: a deeply festering xenophobia, an intractable racism, that was waiting for the opportunity to pounce.  And I’m angry at you for letting this happen.  Or maybe, as a Canadian, I’m afraid that this will happen to us someday.

So now it’s over.  You have four years of him, and you and I and everyone else must endure the fallout of his legacy.

Until then, good luck with President FuckFace Von Clownstick.   We’ll be watching.

Maybe you CAN go home again

You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood …back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory. ~Thomas Wolfe

In January I wrote about selling my house and moving into an apartment. I currently live in a small community that’s great for homeowners but lousy for apartment renters. The nice ones are overpriced and/0r not pet-friendly, and the rest are dumps.  I came to the conclusion that, after 20+ years of living in the same place,  it’s time to go. The question is, where to move to.

And therein lies the rub.  After much soul-searching and endless weighing of pros and cons, I decided I want to move back to Windsor, my place of birth.  In the eyes of some, moving back to Windsor is the dumbest thing anyone could do. In the eyes of die-hard Windsorites, they wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Windsor’s reputation as a tough, gritty city is well-earned.  Bordering Detroit and to some extent sharing its blue-collar automotive economy, Windsor is still recovering from the economic downturn of 2008.

Rum-running illegal booze between Windsor and Detroit.

Rum-running illegal booze between Windsor and Detroit.

In the early days, Windsor was the site of illegal rum-running between the two cities.  The Detroit River was the primary means of  transport, with the booze either boated across in the warmer months or driven across in the winter.

 

This common enterprise (illegal as it was) foreshadowed the long and close relationship which still exists between the two cities.  When Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor assisted in the escape of the 11 Iranian hostages in 1979, a huge billboard was erected in Detroit, facing Windsor, just to say thanks. (As an aside, no-one should believe the fairytale that is Argo.)

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From a grateful USA to Canada.

Windsor and Detroit also celebrate their respective national holiday (Canada Day and Independence Day)  by co-sponsoring the International Freedom Festival, which culminates in one of the most spectacular firework displays in North America.

One of the most famous firework displays in North America

Firework display, International Freedom Festival

This is starting to sound like a travelogue.  I guess that’s what happens when you take a trip down memory lane.  I will always have a soft spot  in my heart for Windsor.  Sorry Thomas–maybe you can go home again.

Dieppe Gardens, Windsor.

Dieppe Gardens, Windsor, facing the Renaissance Centre in Detroit.