Friday, March 31, 2023

Trump and the scales of justice

Donald Trump is not invincible.  He does not have super powers.  The long arm of the law has finally caught up with him.  The indictment of the ex-president is a victory for democracy and the rule of law.  No man or woman, no king, queen, president or prime minister is above the law.  Only dictators and authoritarians place themselves above the law.  In a true democracy, the law applies to everyone.  Everyone is entitled to a fair trial and a day in court, and Donald Trump will certainly have his day in court.  

Trump is no longer president.  He is a former president, a citizen of the United States.  If Trump were still the sitting president, he would still be subject to the law.  If as the U.S. Declaration of Independence states, "all men are created equal," then even a sitting president should be charged with a criminal offense.  

There are Republicans and right-wing zealots who argue that the charges against Trump have been politically motivated.  The evidence shows that this is not true.  The judicial authorities have gone out of their way to be fair to Donald Trump.  They have given him more leeway than any Ordinary Joe would have gotten.  It's time for the former American president to accept responsibility for his actions.  It's time for him to be held accountable.  

Trump will continue to scream and shout that he is the victim of a witch hunt.  He may attempt to incite violence.  What matters most, however, is that democracy is served.  Trump will complain about how unfairly he has been treated.  Poor baby!  The important thing is that he is held accountable.  That's what's needed for democracy to survive in America.

On a personal note, I have argued that the day of reckoning was coming for Trump.  Some friends and acquaintances though it would never happen, that he would continue to evade justice.  I strongly. disagreed,  Trump's indictment was certainly a long time coming.  Thank goodness the day has arrived.

- Joanne

Thursday, March 30, 2023

The name Karen has been unfairly tainted

Karen originated as a Danish name.  It is the Danish short form of Katherine, deriving from the Greek word Aikaterine, which is believed to mean "pure."  It became popular in the English-speaking world after the 1930s.  In more recent years, Karen has become a pejorative term for a woman whose behaviour is rude and demanding, especially a privileged white woman.  This meme has become increasingly prevalent in everyday conversation.  It is frequently used in the media,

What is the origin of the use of "Karen" as a pejorative?  Some point the finger at American stand-up comedian Dane Cook because of his 2007 comedy sketch "The Friend Nobody Likes," in which he named that friend "Karen."  Others suggest that it may have originated from the 2004 teenage comedy Mean Girls,.  A character in the film, played by Amanda Seyfried is reprimanded for asking her friend Cady, played by Lindssay Lohan, how can she "be from Africa if she's white?"

My name is not Karen, nor is Karen the name of anyone in my immediate family.  However, I do feel that every woman with that name has been tarnished with the same brush.  The stigma of entitlement has been attached to all women named Karen.  If it were my moniker, I would feel a great injustice for three main reasons.  Firstly, there is no concrete evidence that women named Karen are more racist and privileged than other women?  Secondly, women of all ethnic and racial backgrounds have been named Karen.  There are, of course, Black women named Karen.  How do they feel about being lumped with privileged white women?

Thirdly, I must also point out that there is a sexist aspect to the meme "Karen."  Why is it that women named Karen are tagged with being privileged and demanding?  Do you know any men named Karen?  Are there not men of entitlement?  What is the point of singling out a particular female name such as Karen?  A "Karen" is supposedly the kind of woman who demands to speak to the manager.  Really?  Don't any men demand to speak to the manager?  

Let me be clear.  I am not defending anyone of any race or gender who behaves in a privileged manner.  I just don't think that the name Karen should be labelled in such a way.  It is mean-spirited  and patently unfair.  

A great deal of money is being made off of the "Karen" meme.  There are stickers and poster for sale about the so-called "Karens."  There is even a book by Brad Gosse entitled Meet The Karens: They're Angry and They Demand Attention.

Some may accuse me of being too sensitive, but  stereotypes attached to specific names hurt.  That's why I encourage all women named Karen to be proud of your name.  Don't let an insidious meme get to you.  By the way, I urge any readers named Karen to let me know how you feel about how your name is being used as a meme for a privileged white women.  

- Joanne

Monday, March 27, 2023

My heartfelt warning to America

"There is no federal law prohibiting CURRENT presidents from criminal prosecution. Yet House Republicans want to pass a law prohibiting FORMER presidents — regular citizens — from criminal prosecution. I assume they will call it what it is: the Protect Donald Trump Act."

- Daniel Goldman, U.S. House of Representatives, 10th Congressional District, New York, Democrat

This is a cry from the heart from a deeply concerned Canadian. I am profoundly disturbed by the political landscape in the country next door to mine.  If, God help us all, Donald Trump should become president of the United States again, we will witness the end of democracy in the "land of the free and the home of the brave."  Democracy can be fragile and it must be nurtured.  Sadly, Trump and his spineless Republican colleagues are chipping away at the pillars of democracy every day.  The rise of the far right in the United States has spilled into Canada.  A case in point is the so called "Freedom Convoy" protest in Ottawa that brought that city to a standstill.

What is wrong with America?  What has happened to civility?  Why have mass shootings became a common occurrence in the United States?  How can people claim to be free when they don't feel safe anywhere?  What has happened to American democracy?  Why hasn't a man like  Donald Trump been banned from public office?  Trump behaves like a mob boss.  He is vengeful, mean-spirited and cruel.  His behaviour is erratic and I believe that he is fundamentally unstable and sociopathic.  He incites violence and his most loyal supporters are racist and ant-Semitic.

How can Donald Trump claim that he does not support violence when his actions prove otherwise?  With a possible indictment pending, the Republican former president has ramped up his rhetoric, warning that "potential death & destruction" would accompany any indictment.  He also posted a photograph of himself holding a baseball bat beside a photo of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat.  Trump referred to Bragg, Manhattan's first Back D.A., as an "animal."  This was too much even for the New York Post, a conservative tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch.  The Post published an editorial denouncing Trump.

Trump won the election of 2016, due to the unfair and outdated Electoral College system in the United States.  The Republican Party will not allow the system to be changed.  Its only path to power is via Electoral College and by gerrymandering electoral maps.  Instead of becoming more inclusive,  the party of Abraham Lincoln, has become a party led primarily by white males.  It has not adjusted to the rapidly changing demographics of America.  Instead of making itself more attractive and relevant to Blacks, Latinos, Asians, immigrants and women, it has embraced a far right agenda.  It endavours to suppress votes, rather than encourage participation in the democratic process.

The Republican Party is no longer the Grand Old Party.  It is the  party of right wing extremists, gun lovers, hate mongers and Q-Anon conspiracy believers.  The face of the party now belongs to the likes of Trump supporters Josh Hawley, Margorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan, Lauren Boebart and Paul Gosar.  If Ike Eisenhower were alive today, he wouldn't recognize his own party.  He'd be appalled.  These are not traditional conservatives.  They are far right MAGA Republicans.  By the way, "Make America Great Again" is a Trumps dog whistle for "Make America White Again".  Exactly when did America lose its greatness?

In 2016, Hillary Clinton officially won the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million.  Yet, the will of almost 2.9 million Americans was cast aside due to the Electoral College.  Still, Hillary Clinton conceded defeat and did not claim the presidency.  She did not yell and scream, "Stop the Steal." 

Trump is clearly an authoritarian.  He admires Vladimir Putin of Russia, Jim Jong-un of North Korea and Xi Jinping of China.  They are his heroes and they are all brutal dictators.  He aspires to be like them.  He would love to stand before a military parade as a great authoritarian.  The only thing standing in his way, should he become president again, is the United States Constitution.  Authoritarians and dictators can certainly find ways to get around constitutional law.

Donald Trump is the first American president who declined to peacefully hand over the reigns of power after losing an election to Joe Biden.  The peaceful transfer of power after an election is a cornerstone of democracy.  On January 6, 2021, Trump followers stormed Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.  I saw the images with my own ideas.  The picture that Tucker Carlson paints of the angry mob to his Fox News viewers is patently false and deceptive.  I saw what happened with my own eyes, as did countless others.  I am sane and clear-thinking.  That mob was out for blood and they would have killed former Vice President Mike Pence if they had been able to get their hands on him.  Donald Trump could have stopped the insurrection, but he chose not to.  In fact, he hoped it would succeed in preventing the certification of Joe Biden as president.

How can people of faith, particularly Evangelicals and Catholics, support a man whose behaviour is so un-Christian?  His gods are money and power.  He has lied and cheated his whole life.  "What's new about that?" you may say ask "Don't most politicians lie and cheat?"  Yes, many do.  However, Trump has taken lying and cheating to a new level. He makes Richard Nixon seem like a boy scout.  His transgressions are far more serious than Nixon's.  Yet, Nixon was forced to resign.  Meanwhile, Trump is running for president again.

Check out these facts.:

* Just before the 2016 election, Trump bragged about groping women. He dismissed it as "locker room talk."  

* Trump has branded Putin and Xi as "very smart people/"

* During the first 2020 presidential debate, Trump did not condemn white supremacy when do so.  He told the Proud Boys, a far-right hate group, to "stand back and stand by."  Of course, the Proud Boys considered those words an endorsement of them.

* Trump is the first American president to be indicted twice.  He is facing four criminal investigations: 

The Stormy Daniels hush money investigations (Manhattan District Attorney's Office).

The Georgia 2020 election interference investigation (Fulton County District Attorney's Office)

A pair of investigations into Trump's actions around January 6th and his mishandling of classified documents (the U.S. Department of Justices).

Ah, but poor Donald!  He never does anything wrong.  He never makes a mistake and he never loses.  He is always the victim.  His enemies (not opponents) are out to get him.  He can't get a break from all those "witch hunts."

Fox News is responsible for feeding its viewers a steady diet of lies and false narratives.  The network tells its watchers exactly what they want to hear.  Regardless of Donald Trump's actions, his deluded and brainwashed base will never change  Their support of Trump is not based on facts or on truth.  It is based on emotion.  It is based on fear.  They are afraid of losing their power and influence to non0wwhites and immigrants.

Trump's adherents would kill for him, even though he would throw them under a bus if it would save his own skin.  Their Dear Leader once said that he could murder someone on Fifth Avenue and his supporters would still stand by him.  How true!  That is why I appeal to all conservatives who respect the rule of law to oppose Trump's candidacy for president in the 2024 election.  

In a democracy, country should come before party.  Loyalty should be to country, not to one man such as Donald Trump.  No one is above the law, be that person a president, a prime minister, a king or a queen.  The scales of justice apply to all, including one Donald J. Trump.  For the sake of justice, for the sake of democracy, this disgraced former president must be held accountable before the law. To many, he may seem invincible.  But he is not.  Soon or later, the law will catch up with him.  

- Joanne

Friday, March 24, 2023

The link between mental health and homelessness

Earlier this week, I had lunch with some friends and acquaintances at a local restaurant.  The subject of homelessness came up during a conversation about some of the issues facing the city of Toronto as the June 26th byelection for mayor draws closer.  Two of my lunch companions immediately slammed the homeless. They claimed that the homeless preferred to be without shelter, that they chose to live that way.  I begged to differ and I tried to point out to them that most are not homeless by choice, but by circumstance,  Unfortunately, my companions had bought into a false narrative about the homeless.

I do not dispute that many homeless people prefer living on the street rather than in a shelter.  They can't stomach the conditions in a shelter and the lack of privacy.  However, the majority do not wish to live in abject poverty.  Who really enjoys being hungry?  Who really enjoys freezing outside in cold winter weather or in a sweltering during a summer heat wave?  People become homeless for a variety of reasons.  Every homeless person has a different story.  So, why are they all lumped together.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada estimates that between 25 percent and 50 percent of homeless people in Canada suffer from mental illness.  Out of those with severe mental illness, up to 70 percent struggle with substance abuse. Sadly, those with mental illness experience homelessness for longer periods of time and have less contact with family and friends.  

With the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the high cost of food and rent, is it any wonder that homelessness is so prevalent, especially among the mentally ill?  In the city of Toronto, where I live, there have been calls to declare homelessness a public health crisis.  The Ontario Human Rights Commission has expressed concern about the "significant lack of cold weather services in Toronto." 

South of the border, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that 20 to 25 percent of homeless population of the United States suffer rom some form of severe mental illness.  The National Coalition for the Homeless has found that 38 percent of the homeless are dependent on alcohol and 26 percent are dependent on chemical substances.  Addiction is frequently the result of homelessness.  Mental illness, alcohol and drug addiction are not crimes or moral failings.  They are illnesses.  They are diseases.

Although little more than one percent of the U.S. population suffers from schizophrenia, the estimates go as high as high as 20 percent of the homeless population.  There is definitely a correlation between schizophrenia and homeless, especially since many, for a number of reasons, do not take anti-psychotic medication.

Dealing with mental illness is deeply personal for me as I have a close family member who suffers from mental illness.  He is unable to work and is often filled with anxiety.  If it weren't for the support of his family, he would probably be homeless and living on the street.  Not every mentally ill person is fortunate enough to have the support of a family.  Not every mentally ill person has access to medical care.  Many youths end up on the street to escape an abusive home life.

More and better services and safe, affordable housing are needed for the mentally ill.  A clearer  understanding of the nature and causes of homelessness is urgently required.  Our society must deal with the link between mental illness and homelessness.

- Joanne

Saturday, March 18, 2023

The Pebble Art of Erzsébet {Elizabeth) Furman

I am very impressed by the "pebble art" of  Erzsébet {Elizabeth) Furman. That is why I wish to share it with Number 16 readers. It is so beautiful that I want others to enjoy the work of this talented Hungarian artist. Check out her Facebook page. (20+) Kavicsművészet, Kavicsképek - Pebble Art by Erzsébet Furmen | Facebook

Elizabeth Furman combines art with storytelling.  To enjoy more of her work, click on the following link.

An Artist Turns Pebbles Into Works of Art That Seem to Have Stories Behind Them (25 Pics) / Bright Side

- Joanne

Friday, March 3, 2023

Language Corner: What does the prefix "ortho" mean?


What does the prefix "ortho" mean?

The prefix ortho is derived from the Greek word orthos, meaning "right, true, straight, upright."

Examples include:

Orthodontics (noun): The branch of dentistry concerned with the treatment of irregularities of the teeth or jaws.

Orthondontic (adjective): Serving to correct or straighten the teeth.  

Orthodontist (noun): An orthodontics specialist.  A dentists who is qualified to treat irregularities of the teeth or jaws.  The orthodontist informed you that you needed braces.

Orthopedics (noun):  The branch of medicine dealing with the correction of deformities of bones or muscles.

Orthopedic (adjective) is derived from the Greek roots ortho and pedo, meaning child.  The word was coined by French physician Nicolas Andry do Bois Regard (also known as Nicholas Andry), a professor of medicine at the University of Paris.  Originally the term meant the correcting of bones or muscles of a child.  

Orthotic (nonun): An artificial support or brace for the limbs or spine, especially a supportive device inserted into a shoe, most commonly to stabilize the foot, correct alignment and provide cushioning

Orthodoxy (noun) is derived from the Greek term orthodoxia, meaning righteous/correct opinion.  It is the adherence to strict or accepted creeds, especially with regards to religious beliefs.  Hence, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church or Orthodox Judaism.

Orthodox (adjective): Of a person or their views, especially religious or political ones, or other beliefs or practices} conforming to what is conventionally or traditionally accepted as right, true, established and approved

- Joanne