Oblivious in Dubai: Part 16

Have you already read Oblivious in Dubai: Part 1 – 15?
If not, start HERE!

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The creature I was to become was only in its infancy; a newborn lamb entering the pasture; a blessed butterfly emerging from a violent chrysalis.

My final months in-theater had been spent discussing life with the men of the region in which I was living; the land of Pashtuns; men who became the best friends I had ever known.

Zabi, Jalil, Najeeb, Nissar, Haji. You knew me at a very pivotal period in my development as an adult member of our species. Much like members of my own family; you saw me for who I was. We spoke honestly of our lives and experiences while we spent our days together in the office by ECP3.

Nissar – Remember that time that the pickup truck of Afghan National Police guys showed up? I remember your story of watching the Battle of Kandahar from your rooftop as if a fireworks show. My apologies for not trying harder to get food for your pigeons.

Najeeb – I hang our picture in my home but it’s never been published – as promised, my friend. The fear in your eyes as you posed for the picture has haunted me. I hope you are safe and your family is well.

Jalil – Thank you for the kind gift before I left. It remains the foremost comfortable outfit I own. You taught me of my own naivety. I remember the day that we met and I asked you if you were from Kandahar. You said you were Russian and maintained that guise until I had the nerve to call your bullshit. You have a calmness and self-control that only the best and most disciplined types of people are capable of developing. You are wise beyond me, my friend. I pray you are well. Our friendship is among the most shaping of my life experiences.  By spending those weeks with us, Jalil, you completely repainted the rose-tinted-lenses from which I viewed the world.

Haji – Thank you for trying to teach me Pashto. I hope that your family is well. I am glad we always had Nissar to translate for us. Your story of your miracle daughter and the advice of your Imam in her coming is still fresh in my mind. Be well, my friend.

Zabi – I am glad that you are safe. I searched for a long time before we found each other on Facebook. The hours and days and weeks that we had to form our friendship have never left my heart. The day I found that you were safe in Canada was a day that I shed a tear of joy. We must meet again. Your picture hangs beside pictures of my brothers on a wall chronicling my life; as does Jalil’s.

There was another group of Afghans whose names elude me; only because there were so many of them. They gave me a name. I keep that name on my arm. Once in a while I hear someone sounding it out as if it were Arabic; I always smile.

Not far from my mind or from my heart are the Afghan teenagers who gave me my name.

I hope that I had as much of an impact on you as you had on me. May we meet again in this life or in the next.

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PART 17

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My Name:

name

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Fear and Loathing at Stephen’s House – Part 8: La Fin

This is the end.

It’s over.

A blood-soaked country stands elated to crown it’s new figurehead.


OPEN LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU


November 4, 2015


Mr. Prime Minister,

Ensure that you do all of the things you’d said you’d do. Show me I was wrong.

Create jobs. Legalize pot. End the war. Protect the Indigenous.

When you legalize pot; ensure you’re not creating a monopoly. Ensure that you’re creating good, well paying jobs in a market akin to wineries.

When you end the war; be clear of your intentions and your timeline.

When you ensure Indigenous peoples in Canada are treated fairly; ensure that the underlying social issues plaguing communities are addressed. You are not allowed to just slap a band-aid on this one.

Part of me worries that you’re just part of the old-guard; the revolving door in Ottawa.

A bigger part of me believes I should have voted for you.

Not because I believe in your platform more than I believed in Tom’s; but because he’s part of the old-guard too.

You’re different. Maybe.

Prove to us that you are.

Fix our country.

We need it.

Sincerely,

J.G. Oblivious
Nukes of Knowledge, Contributing Editor

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Vive la Revolution

Fear and Loathing at Stephen’s House – Part 7: The Final Stretch

Here we are.

It’s almost time.

Today, October nineteenth, is the day we take our country back.

Discuss the election with those close to you. Make sure they’re voting.

Make sure they know about the new voter ID rules. Make sure they have a drive to their polling station. Make sure you do.

Check all the boxes.

Dot all the I’s.

Cross all the T’s.

This is it.

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Make sure you do everything you can to not only oust the Conservatives – but to utterly destroy Stephen Harper’s party; his candidates; and his confidence in himself as a man. We not only want to oust them; we want to leave a beaten and battered Conservative party with as few members as possible whimpering in the darkest corners of Parliament.

I, J.G. Oblivious, your loyal commentator – desire an NDP Government.

I also realize that the majority of my comrades are taken by the Liberal party’s campaigning and promises of legalized marijuana. There are a significant number of traditional Conservative voters who have turned Red as well.

It matters not.

Just vote.

Vote for the party you feel represents your values.

If it’s a close race in your riding and the Conservatives may take the seat – vote for the candidate most likely to oust the Conservative.

As much as the parties would have you not believe it; vote splitting is real.

Go and do likewise, gents.

Faithfully yours,

J. G. Oblivious


PART 8


‘I’m Weird’ by Jakintza Ilustración

I’m weird.

I’m in bed legitimately holding back tears because record, book, and video stores aren’t a thing anymore. Not because of weird nostalgia… not entirely. It’s because I miss the idea that a person could love an art form and open a business just sharing what they liked with the world.

Now everyone is a video store guy or music freak on social media, but you’re just sharing it with friends, not finding new ones through the experience of sharing your interests AND EARNING A LIVING AT IT. You say concerts… well, I say Po-dunk Alabama.

Lots of people live where acts don’t tour and if they do a lot of kids can’t afford tickets. I’ve never met one fucking friend hanging out in my iTunes app. You used to be able to play a tour of crappie clubs and do signings at the record store the day before and after and leave a stack of tapes and CDs behind.

If you were cool to the clerk they’d even hang your unknown self’s poster in the window and put your music right next to the register… “have you heard of…” that’s how you sell music and videos.

I don’t care if 347 other people who bought what I bought also bought this other thing. I want to know WHY they liked it and talk about it. I’m so frustrated. God damn it. I’m sorry for the old man rant and thankfully we still have a few places in business here in LA, but we’re LA and it’s all kind of jaded in its own way about it. I’m not into buying comics, but God damn do I buy something every time I’m in melt down because comic stores are kind of the last hold out of the way that everyone used to buy their entertainment. I’m damn proud that comic book shops have held their ground against the digital content retail monopoly system. They’re better for it and we should all be ashamed that we let it happen.

The average person can’t make their life’s work out of selling the art they’re passionate about and that means indie artists lose a huge resource in discoverability. It’s a lose / lose that’s strangling artists who work outside of the mainstream. To further that point we broke the value of media. We broke it and cant fix it. Because there are makers and sellers in the world we screwed up.

By removing the ability for a fan to participate in media strickly as a seller we’ve devalued our product. Now they just see Apple or Amazon, not the indie artists who upload their work to them.

They don’t feel like they’re screwing us with torrenting, they feel like they’re screwing the man and the man screwed artists by telling us to screw our biggest fans by just uploading our content to reach “everyone”.

It was a lie.

The audience doesnt exist at scale without huge marketing spends or having built that grass roots community. Without that network of engaged fans benefitting from our success as our “silent partners” local retailers they have no incentive to advocate for us by convincing people to buy our stuff. It’s a real mess.

End of gripe.

Fear and Loathing at Stephen’s House – Part 6: The TPP & The CBC

Our National Public Broadcaster – The CBC – is threatened by the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation may cost more than a billion dollars a year in taxpayer money; but so what?

Documents revealed by WikiLeaks detail a proposed plan to require state-owned enterprises (or SOEs) to operate for profit. Canadian SOEs include the CBC and Canada Post. You may ask,

“What’s the problem with profit?”

That’s a valid question.

Why would we invest in an organization that can’t draw a profit?

The answer is that it is necessary for a country to have at least one unbiased voice that represents them over the airwaves that will guarantee objectivity and quality in reporting – free of commercial and political influence.

As a public enterprise – CBC should not be bought and sold and used as a medium to smear logo feces all over everything they broadcast (See CTV purchased by BELL Media).

Many of our writers are in Atlantic Canada. The writer writing this piece watches CTV’s “Breakfast Television” every morning while he crunches his bacon. He watches CTV2 because it’s one of only 3 channels he gets through the coax cable plugged into his television set. Why does he only get 3 channels? He studied marketing. After that first year of business school; he cut the cord halfway through his program.

No more cable TV.

Now it’s Netflix, YouTube, Crackle, and CBC Radio.

Ninety a month to the cable company for a solid internet connection. Get it upgraded to a faster package.

No need for TV. Media’s changed.

He couldn’t watch any media on any platform without having his eyes and ears overwhelmed with product placement and advertising.

Now when he watches CTV’s “Breakfast Television” – all he can see are the McCafe cups not-so-subtly facing the camera.

Our CBC should not be for sale!

If one wants to increase viewership at the CBC – provide every Canadian access to all things CBC and fund the shit out of it.

Who remembers Street Cents? Maybe this Wikipedia article will jog your memory.

Viewership will go up. I promise.

What else does the leaked document reveal?

It implies that any private corporation that can prove that the CBC or Canada Post (through subsidization by the Canadian Government) caused them any loss of revenue – can sue the Canadian Government!

By existing; they are guilty.

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As a young man, long before I was a cord-cutter, I would sit in our cabin on the Atlantic shoreline and listen to CBC radio while I had beers with my friends. No cable. No inter-web. Just Randy’s Vinyl Tap and Saturday Night Blues.

Do you really think it’s appropriate to take this iconic Canadian institution for granted and inundate it with commercial poppycock?

They may take some pauses between segments; but they take breaks to promote other CBC shows. They most certainly do not showcase the latest sale at whichever fast food restaurant is sponsoring this segment.

Nor should they. That’s the point.

What about Spark or The Next Chapter? What about The Current? What about As It Happens?

What about The National and the Fifth Estate?

For God’s sake; what about The Debaters!?

What about my weekly, unbiased listen to what’s up in Canadian Francophone music on A Prospos every Saturday from 6-7PM on CBC Radio One in Halifax.

French-Canadian rock music kicks ass. Rock music written in the French language kicks ass. One of our contributors, The Reverend, is a French-Canadian musician.

These shows are part of our country.

Would the following Fifth Estate documentary ever get produced if corporations were dictating programming? What about worrying about being sued by a company that produces candy? Assuming the secret documents released by WikiLeaks are accurate; could the CBC survive in court with Nestlé or HERSHEY’S if either entity felt they lost revenue as a result of the following documentary?

We don’t live in the United States. Let’s stop making up reasons to sue one another.

Long live the CBC and Canada Post.

Vive la révolution.

VOTE!

Click here make sure you are allowed to VOTE!

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PART 7
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Fear and Loathing at Stephen’s House – Part 5: Why not Justin?

Justin Trudeau brings the same disconnected leadership that Stephen Harper embodied.

He may look like us. He may appear to be one of us. He is not one of us.

Justin Trudeau was born a millionaire.

How can someone who has always known luxury and convenience speak for the average Canadian?

Sure – he says he’ll legalize pot. Pot legalization is really a non-issue this election. Every party except the Conservative party support some form of ending prohibition.

In Part 4, I talked about what we need in a leader. We need not a leader that manufactures sound-bites on the issues we care about; but a leader that understands the positions on which he stands.

We need a leader who believes what they say and says what they believe. We need a leader that can defend their positions with vigor and truth.

We certainly do not need a leader that only knows how to say that which was scripted for them by their public relations specialists.

Trudeau has not proven that he has a plan to address issues that affect the majority of Canadians; he’s proven that he’s been able to spit out the Liberal Party’s key phrases when discussing an issue.

The same bastards that ran the country twenty years ago fill the ranks of the Conservative and Liberal parties; entitled bureaucrats with sexy pensions. It’s not only time to break the cycle. It’s time to obliterate the cycle and completely re-write the rules to the game.

There are only two candidates that can speak eloquently and honestly about the issues that affect Canadians. Those candidates are Elizabeth May and Thomas Mulcair.

That’s it.

A vote for Trudeau is a vote for Harper.

May and Mulcair can both defend their party platforms with facts and experience. They both represent things not seen in Canadian politics for a very long time.

They both represent change.

They both represent opposition to the way the Liberals and Conservatives have done things for decades.

They both represent an opportunity to inject new ideas into the Canadian political landscape.

The only way those opportunities can be realized is if you vote.

Equally important is to vote strategically.

The only way to appropriately vote strategically and achieve a measurable shift in the status-quo is to elect a strong stable majority NDP government.

What we’ve been doing for the past few decades is not working.

Period.

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PART 6

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Fear and Loathing at Stephen’s House – Part 4: Selling Out Our Natural Resources

Who owns our natural resources?

Does our country own them?

Do the individual provinces own them?

Do our citizens own them?

Do the corporations who buy or lease the land on which they are found own them?

If you’re not sure of the answer – which scenario seems to be most appropriate?

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Lets use oil as our first example.

Canada produces 3.6 Million barrels of oil per day (or 1.314 billion barrels per year). This equates to about 37 barrels of oil per year per Canadian citizen.

By contrast, the United States produces around 9.4 Million barrels of oil per day (or 3.431 billion barrels per year). We did the math, and in the United States, this comes to around 11 barrels of oil per year per American citizen.

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Why do these numbers matter? They matter, because I believe that our country (and all that it contains) belong to all of us.

Why does American gasoline cost less than gasoline purchased in Canada?

Sure… ‘world markets’.

In what world is selling out our country in the form of pissing away our natural resources a good idea? By allowing multinational oil companies to enjoy the profits while Canadian citizens endure the high-cost of heating oil, gasoline, and diesel – we’re allowing our economy and Harper’s oligarchy to prolong our dependence on fossil fuels and curb any advancement toward the greener technologies that we all need.

When new technologies reach the consuming public – the cost of those goods goes down as they are more widely adopted. Personal computers are a prime example – as they became more widely available, the tech improved and the cost went down. The same thing will happen with green technology. We could operate on micro-grids. We could all run self-sustaining households. But large corporations (with the aid of oligarchies around the world) prevent that from happening.

Stephen Harper sold out our country. Supported by the omnipresent public-service oligarchy operating in the shadows; the good things that the Harper administration has done for this country will never outweigh the bad things that his arrogant system of governance has done to destroy our nation.

Our nation; and in essence our world; needs leaders that tell the truth. We need leaders that answer questions; instead of dodging them. We need leaders that are more concerned with engineering a blueprint for the next century than continuing to play partisan politics in the arena of public opinion to cement a legacy of manufactured sound-bites for future generations to suckle on.

RESOURCES

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PART 5

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