#54 – The Quadriptych of Death, Part Three: On Suicide

I first encountered the great French sociologist Émile Durkheim in my second year of undergrad. I was immediately gripped by his explanation of industrial society and the sense of loneliness it creates in man. But it is another of Durkheim’s intellectual triumphs, the categorization of types of suicidal impulse that we’re going to be working with today. The reason for this is simple: comparison of suicide rates across countries, as my research has found, is practically impossible. Indeed, it’s one of those meaningless numbers that this series is supposed to be combatting. So instead of trying to compare Canada’s dispositions to end it all, let’s instead try to look into why Canadians and which Canadians tend to off themselves. The data on this one is…yeah, you probably already know the drill.

In terms of where Canadians commit suicide, we need only look North. Nunavut is the capital of suicide in Canada, with the issue getting to a point that in 2007 40% of coroner investigations in the territory pointed to suicide as a cause of death. The issue is so extreme that even Pravda has felt the need to call for a state of emergency over the matter. It’s not like Nunavut has a bevy of coroners; bearing witness to children as young as 13 deciding that life isn’t worth living can’t be good for the mental health of the coroner. And it’s not like people have stopped trying since 2007 – attempts are up as recently as 2016, with the victims largely being under 30 years old.

While Nunavut is the worst of the worst (literally) there are other instances of high rates of suicide that we can look at. There is of course the legendary Attawapiskat, where a state of emergency was declared after waves of attempted suicide cases would swamp local medical infrastructure. Prince Selfie, in one of his most egregious acts of inhumanity to date, promised help and has yet to deliver a timetable for the deployment of that help. This co-opting of Indigenous issues for political profit was probably the greatest collective national gaslighting to ever transpire. This place is literally crazy-making, and cakers have been in the business for decades now.

Back to Durkheim now. Émile found that he could explain the rationale behind suicide attempts with one of four schema. The first is egoistic suicide, which stems from a lack of sense of community. Without the social ties that keep us grounded, we develop a depression and a sense of hopelessness that eventually claims us. The second is altruistic suicide, where the suicide is the result of being so overwhelmed by social demands that we kill ourselves in the name of the greater social good. Think martyrdom in the Christian sense and you’ve got the right idea. The third is anomic suicide, which I think the Wikipedia article does a better job explaining that I can.

“It is the product of moral deregulation and a lack of definition of legitimate aspirations through a restraining social ethic, which could impose meaning and order on the individual conscience. This is symptomatic of a failure of economic development and division of labour…People do not know where they fit in within their societies. Durkheim explains that this is a state of moral disorder where people do not know the limits on their desires and are constantly in a state of disappointment.”

Thanks, Wikibro.

Finally, we come to fatalistic suicide, where life is so restrictive and brutal that death is a better option. Prison camps, oppressive dictatorships, slave labor – that’s the kind of “restrictive” we’re on about here.

Looking at these and evaluating the economic and social condition of areas known for high suicide rates in Canada, we can argue a strong case for the very real consequences of the feelings of detachment, disappointment, economic failure, and stagnation that Canada pretends to do anything about before going back to staring at socks and being smug about bullshit.

I’d be lying if I said living in Canada hasn’t gotten me down some bad paths in my life. If you’re struggling here too, know that you aren’t alone. Work on making yourself the best you can be and make an escape plan. You don’t have to stay here. You deserve better.

(S) Pictured: a place you could be in that is not Canada
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#53 – The Quadriptych of Death, Part Two: Dirty Cradle, Living Grave

Way, way, way the fuck back in post #10 I mentioned the obnoxious tendency towards blaming parts of the country for failures of the whole country. It’s an annoying-ass trait that certainly contributes to Canada’s no-can’t-do attitude, but the other side of the coin hides some lethal disparities. Cakers love to point to the high life expectancy of Canadians as a good thing, even though I personally cannot imagine why anyone would want to live longer here. We’re going to talk about the disparity in Canadian life expectancy, and then we’re going to mention some statistics about the sad consequences of that much-vaunted life expectancy figure. Expect a lot of unhappy stories about nursing homes, folks.

(S) Because this is a sad state of affairs, here are some feel-better bunnies

Statscan can’t provide a decent answer because apparently digital infrastructure from the 1990s is totally appropriate for a national data collection service, but the average I’m getting here is that a newborn baby in Canada will, on average, make it to 81.8 years old before cacking it. Unless, of course, you are a male Inuit – in that case, you get to live to be 64 years old, a number which is actually in line with the average in fucking Ethiopia. Non-Inuit Indigenous males have the incredible honor of living to age 74, which is about as long a life as one could expect in that Mecca of longevity, El Salvador.  Frankly, any kind of comparison to Ethiopia in terms of raw numbers kind of does my work for me. But here’s the typical caker reaction: blame the blue guys, disregard the fact that Liberal regimes have existed since the 1960s, which is where life expectancies for some are still mired. Did I mention that Indigenous in Alberta are actually losing ground on life expectancy? Because that’s a good sign, right? Ignore the details, highlight the big number!

And here’s where that bit about post #10 comes back. When anyone has a totally minor problem with the fact that a country that calls itself developed boasts life expectancies on par with a country that fought a several-decade long civil war, the usual apologisms about it being hard to take care of people comes up. You’d think that we’d be good at provision of care in distant places by now, but that would assume that cakers gave a shit about anything more than blaming underclasses for their systemic woes.

Here’s the next rub: do you even want to live that long in Canada? In a country with nearly six million elderly people, 750,000 suffered abuse in 2015. For those keeping score at home, that means you have a one-in-eight shot of ending your life in Canada as a punching bag or a glorified bank account. Far worse, you become a victim of caker business preying on the last pensions that will ever exist in this sham of a country. How bad does it get? How about wrapping people in fucking garbage bags so they don’t make a mess of their bed? Or you could be like Arthur Ross, who died a “13th century death” with a stage-four ulcer. Oh yeah, and that wouldn’t be the last time bedsores killed someone under the care of caker business.

To be honest, I’m going to keep my powder dry (because nursing homes will absolutely be under the gun later on. But I think I’ve made the point I wanted to. Even if you can get old here, the prospect of living between a failed healthcare system, a built environment designed to eventually force you into isolation as your ability to drive a car fades, and the possibility of being abused and neglected as you slowly die under the aegis of the worst kinds of caker businesses doesn’t exactly leave you with high hopes as to the quality of those years. If it sucks to live a long time, why do we celebrate the life expectancy rate?

#51 – Canadian Storytime, Part Two: Glassy Narrows, Rotten Soul

The Grassy Meadows disgrace features all of those hallmarks that we so love when talking caker stories. We’ve got the hideous exponents of caker business practices. There are Indigenous people left to rot as a result of critical failings of imperial governance. There are ludicrous falsification gymnastics as the cakers in charge of Ontario continue to obfuscate and hide from the fact that caker business has once again utterly shit the bed. And of course comes with that “awful ever after” ending that caps off any good caker story. For four decades now, the province of Ontario has known about the dangers of mercury poisoning at Grassy Narrows – and done precisely dick all about it. Valiantly passing the buck and ignoring the very real, very disturbing effects of mercury poisoning done by Soviet-style dumping practices, the spectacular failure of the peoples of Grassy Narrows is certainly worth its place in the pantheon of caker malice.

Asubpeeschoseewagong is a community of Ojibwe people inhabiting lands in Northwestern Ontario, near the subhuman storage containment “community” of Dryden. Wabasemoong, which I immediately loved because they call themselves “independent nations”, is also in Northwestern Ontario near to the Manitoba border. Both had the misfortune of having to deal with cakers, particularly the caker businessmen who ran the Dryden Chemical Company and the Dryden Pulp and Paper Company. Because fuck caring about the environment and because especially fuck foresight, the Dryden branch of Caker Business, Inc. dumped mercury-laden waste products directly into the Wasbigoon-English River. Not only that, workers at sites in the area recall dumping barrels of mercury in plastic-lined pits. And not even government orders to stop Dryden Chemical from dumping shit into the river stopped Dryden Chemical from dumping shit into the river until 1976, when they went the way of all caker businesses and folded like a cheap lawn chair.

(S) Totally worth nuking a river for!

In and of itself, this is a Soviet mess worthy of a post. But what makes this a True Canadian Story is the horrific human cost of this nonsense. And as usual, the worst victimization is left to the Indigenous. Enter Minamata Disease, a lovely condition caused by organic mercury contamination. Among the amazing side-effects include polydactyly, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and neurological defects, because it’s just not Canada without some birth defects and brain damage! Oh, and the fish from the river aren’t edible, which is a problem given that food is fucking expensive and the local economy was based on sport fishing and is now defunct. Oh, and did I mention that there still isn’t a local treatment center for the effects of Minamata Disease at Grassy Narrows? Because there isn’t! It’s okay though – only 90% of the population suffers from Minamata.

But don’t you worry, my friends! This gets even worse! Somehow! See, here’s the thing – we’re going to start the story of government intervention (or lack thereof) in this shit shortly after Ontario “demanded” that Dryden’s toxic plants stop dumping slag into a fucking river. In order to save caker business in 1979, the Ontario government agreed to take on the costs of monitoring the toxic waste site. After letting caker business off the hook Ontario immediately led the charge against Soviet-style industrial practices by doing jackshit all for decades! As late as 2015 the Ontario Liberal Party refused to commit to cleaning up the goddamn mess. Prince Selfie also waded into the fray, doing his level best to fulfill his promises to Indigenous peoples by immediately passing the buck back to the Ontario government, which promptly leapt into action by ignoring an existing report on the matter for another year. Just for shits and giggles! It’s not like this is fixabl…oh. It is? And we’ve had to tell this to Queen’s Park more than once?

Fuck me, this country is a sluggish pile of donkey dicks slathered in PVA shit-glue.

#48 – Sports and Weather, Part Four: the Unspeaking Maw (of Mediocrity)

For a long time as a young child I wondered why my mind associated great food experiences with leaving Canada. The best meals of my life have had what I’ll call gravity to them. That is, the food was not the whole scope of the experience. I once ate at an underground wine bar in Copenhagen with an actual fireplace; the juxtaposition between the wintery outdoors and the warm, inviting space of the restaurant where my parents and I could relax, talk, eat some amazing seafood, and finally warm up is a large part of why I remember the meal at all. I recall mornings at Dennys off of some Interstate, drinking unending slugs of coffee and eating frankly damaging amounts of middling breakfast food while we planned the routes we would be taking to get to this city or that town and mocked one another as adolescents do. The joy of these memories has little to do with the food. It was the ambience, the conversation, the sense of what the Dutch call gezelligheid – that’s the stuff of good memories.

In Cakerstan food culture hits so many wrong notes that it makes those precious places where conversation is even possible all the more exceptional.  And I do have to say that Canada does have amazing food experiences here and there. The problem is that Canada does all that it can to create and normalize canned, blasé, eating spaces with consequently dead interiors and dull conversation. The bulk of Canada’s food scene is samey and discourages long conversation and the kind of quiet calm that allow for all of those ancillary components which make dining out so special.

Here’s a good one – why is it that seemingly every remotely cheap bar in any English Canadian city feels the need to practically wallpaper their interior with televisions and blast loud-ass music into the place? I get that turning a profit is important and that restaurants in particular are known for dying on their feet, but could you not blatantly suggest to me while I’m eating with friends that you tolerate my presence only insofar as I spend money? Why is the whole experience tuned towards squeezing money from me, and why would I want to go to a place where I feel as though I’m being fleeced?

For the middle-class fancy in none of us there is Canada’s disturbingly large chain restaurant scene. These massive boring bundles of boxes and microwaves and uncomfortably tight uniforms for servers are raking in nearly 66% of the eating-out budget amongst cakers. And once again only the Quebecois deign to give a shit about their own culture, taking nearly half of their meals to local places. I get that there’s a place for fast-food and microwave box restaurants, but the pervasiveness and completeness of their annexation of Canada’s culinary culture is a strong tell as to how mediocre food here really is. Oh, and did I mention that these profiteering box restaurants have horrendous sanitation records? Better hope those flecks are peppercorns, Martha!

(S) We can’t even name our own shit-chains after ourselves. Talk about inferiority complex!

At the core of this problem, I think, is what I alluded to earlier. Eating out in Canada means that you are victim to caker business, which in turn overwhelmingly stresses the screwing of the consumer and the maximisation of profit over all else, even to the point of destroying the raison d’etre of your establishment. Instead of looking to legacy, pride, the simple enjoyment of a job well done, or any kind of positive virtue Canadians accept and almost pride themselves on being fiscal sponges, splashed into and out of dull, constructed spaces designed to wring them and throw them away as quickly as possible. This obviously does Canada’s culinary scene, with all of its enormous potential a fat lot of no good.

#46 – Tim Horton’s Brown Sludge Water™, Part Four: the Timitentiary

One of the least pleasant places in the world to be is at a Tim Hortons “café”. Who wouldn’t want to sit staring into a void of parking, listening to underpaid workers attempting to negotiate temporary peace with knuckle-dragging shitbiscuit customers who don’t seem to understand that the milk and cream are poured automatically and pre-portioned (which means that no, the workers weren’t “trying to cheat me” out of milk, which is a refrain I hear far too often). The scope of the unpleasantness is vast and has myriad entrepots for blame. Some blame certainly goes to Tim’s stubborn adhesion to Canada’s equally-uncritical relationship with personal motorcars, which ensures that the outside world looks hideous and uninviting. Metal furnishings tinted with varying shades of shit-brown provide an uncomfortable allusion to shit, which when considering the quality of Tim’s products is not an association that they should be wanting to make. Uncomfortable chairs, ugly designs, bad urban form, and cakers as far as the eye can see. This sounds like my version of hell.

The horror of the physical experience of a Tim Horton’s begins before you even get inside. Cakers and their insane reliance on both driving and drinking a substance that needs to be plied with an unyielding quantity of fat and sugar in order to be palatable combine to create legendarily-stupid traffic snarls. Of course, the lack of planning and foresight incumbent to Canada don’t help in this regard, as moronic cakers are inclined to simply queue in their cars like cud-chewing morons when confronted with delay rather than considering whether they could go, y’know, literally anywhere else. Cakers are so in love with bad coffee and driving metal boxes that they regularly break traffic laws across Canada. Here’s Terrace, B.C. being retarded. The oilheaded buffoons of Fort McMurray are apparently of the opinion that roadways are akin to drive-through lineups. The mysteries of getting out of your car and walking into the Timitentiary are too much for cakers – from coast to coast, these morons can’t manage to grasp the incredible power that is fucking getting out of the car and walking. And we wonder why Canada is obese as fuck?

After crossing the vehicular Rubicon and daring to go inside the Tim’s you could almost be excused for huddling in your car and causing traffic snarls rather than going inside. When even the head office operates like a prison you just know that the front-facing experience is going to suck. Indeed, the average Tim Hortons has the aesthetic and feel of a waiting room in a substandard caker prison. A fixation on price-cutting and skeleton-staffing throughout the factory caker-feed industry means that the place is likely utterly disgusting. And check out these incredibly-comfortable looking chairs:

(S) Void within, void without.

And just to show how ubiquitous this horror is, here’s another picture of the inside of a Tim Horton’s:

(S) Yup, that sure is some boring shit. Note the “view”.

People congregate in these places not because they are desirable places to be but because they are in many situations the only places remaining for cakers and their victims to sit and converse. Somewhere in these ugly-ass, one-size-fits-all walls there is a tragic sentiment – that somehow, Canadians gradually permitted the degradation of space to such a degree that sterile veneers and dirty floors supported by plastic donuts and wretched coffee have become the most common gathering places.

But at least those people who do go inside as opposed to wasting even more space in their vehicles than they would simply as people. Where cakers take to declaring the cultural force of Tim Hortons as a national marker of identity I take it as a sad testament to the fact that cakers claim to love places that are so abhorrent that so many of them avoid the entire place by sitting in their fucking cars. In either case the logic of the prison wins out – utilitarian slop and generic places for those who come in, and isolation for those who opt for the drive-through. Outside or in, there are few places as rotten by design as the average Tim Hortons.

 

#35 – The Cult(ure) of Hockey, Part Four: What Injuries?

Fairly recently, the NFL had a bad moment of PR when it was revealed by Congressional report that the League had attempted to influence studies of concussions caused by playing major-league football. What really stuck with me about the whole disaster was an idle thought – what would Cakerstan think about an investigation into the injuries caused by major-league hockey? To answer that question, we need only turn to Don Cherry, a man who once called people critical of rampant fighting in the NHL “nerds“.

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(S) The man on the left is taken seriously by English Canadians. I am not kidding.

With St. Cherry’s Divine and Final Word on the matter of fighting (which is completely tangential to the point of hockey, which appears to be scoring more goals than the other team), it seems that Canada has decided to not give a shit about brain trauma in hockey. This is a small problem because, well, Canada has this thing about drilling young children into the hockey (cult)ure. Said children are getting smoked on the ice and experiencing head injuries, which in classic Canadian fashion they are told to hide from others.

Hockey, it is important to repeat, is a fundamentally reactionary activity in English Canada. It hearkens back to (badly distorted) images of Canada’s past, when brown people could be actively sneered at, winters were “real” winters with literal mile-high snowbanks, cigarettes were practically mandatory, and seatbelts were a socialist plot. The reaction to Rogers adding MuchMusic host and obnoxious #engagedyouth George Stroumboulopoulos to the Hockey Night in Canada ecosystem was fucking nuclear. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that kind of conservative method of cultural preservation, I start taking issue with it when the call to preservation expressly masks known problems and cruelties. As was the case with the NFL, the NHL has a serious head injury problem. But unlike the American people, Canadians are happy to hide from that fact amongst the reactionary reeds.

Let’s be perfectly frank here – the NHL absolutely has a head injury problem. Its coaches and players won’t even use the right terminology when discussing the problem, but as we’ve learned here before pretending that problems don’t exist shockingly doesn’t magic them away. People have had their lives ruined because of their time in the NHL, and the teams as late as 2016 still try to withhold information about head trauma that relevant authorities might need to, oh, I don’t know, save that person from a life of disability and pain. The NHL has even eaten several lawsuits over the matter. The linkages, despite what commissioner Gary Bettman would have you believe, are perfectly clear – fixation on hockeymans means a greater chance of having little Timmy’s grey matter coming out of the game less intact than the average Canadian flag flying today.

torn_frayed
(S) This is your brain on Canada, folks

The trauma and savagery of the major-league version of hockeymans is transmitted down to the minors, too. Almost half of the brain injuries experienced by young athletes in Canada are caused by hockey. And what has the response from Canada been? Well, caker parents and caker coaches, their heads addled with star-struck visions of vicariously living through their children and proteges, are still pressuring their children into ridiculous training regimens. In the process, a shit ton of caker businesses are taking huge sums from parents who can’t really afford them. Hockey parents are perhaps the worst subset of caker, to the point where even other cakers have agreed that the hockey moms of the world need mandatory training so as to be halfway decent people. The whole thing is a festering ball of Canadiana, a way to separate cakers from their money by using their own insecurities, sense of patriotism, and children against them.

Yes, hockey enrollment is down in Canada. But that’s likely because of cost, not because Canadians have somehow figured out that children and head trauma go together as well as Canada and civilization. Oh, and if the hockey squire does in fact make it, guess what? They’re treated like shit by Hockey Canada, which was actually created by the federal government in 1968. Say what you will about Americans and football – at least they had the good sense to use their federal governmental powers to demand better of major sporting leagues instead of creating yet another avenue of unfairness for those pressured into a dangerous sport whose physical harms are shouted down and ignored by reactionary cakers like Don Cherry.

#34 – Sports and Weather, Part Three: Forecasted Obsolescence

For being a country that incessantly bitches about the stuff, Canada sure fucking sucks at predicting bad weather. This comes to be a small problem when dealing with extractive industry, which frequently involves doing shit outside and which therefore typically needs a bit of a heads-up when shit is about to hit the proverbial fan. It’s a right shame then that Canada not only is home to an obsolete patchwork of equipment for forecasting but also frequently ends up shitting the bed by either failing or being late about providing information about extreme weather. And as per usual for caker country the response is to shrug at a problem for decades before decrying how hard it is to do basic shit.

A good place to start with this is a piece that I found from 2003 which references chaos, underfunding, and “literal rust out” as a sampling of problems affecting Canada’s meteorological infrastructure. An amazing example of this method of forecasting-by-fuck-it-whatever can be found at Mould Bay weather station, a long-standing and strategic asset near the Northwest Passage that was simply left to rot in 1997. Even more fun facts about that one – of the $8 million budget to decommission the place (which was nearly-new when it was abandoned) as of 2008, only $700,000 can actually be traced.

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(S) Even the fucking sign looks mouldy.

And it’s not like things got any better. This is a charming little report from 2012 which features such reassurances as “obsolete” radar stations and notes that available systems aren’t life-cycle managed. That’s a fancy way of saying that nobody’s keeping track of when that shit should be replaced and the only way we know that shit’s fucked is when shit gets fucked. Enter West Sea Otter, a vital offshore weather forecasting system that was down for seven months in 2014. When the place being forecasted on experiences hurricane-force winds you’d think fixing it might be a priority. Oh, and for those counting at home this is at least 10 years of chronic government inability to perform basic meteorological tasks.

But don’t for a second think that the fun stops there! Remember those non life-cycle managed radar systems? Yeah, those have gone down for months too! Here’s the story of the radar system out of Bethune, Saskatchewan, which kept going down during major weather events in the summer of 2015 and even prompted the MP for the area to call for an investigation. Which was probably the right call, seeing as Environment Canada fucking forgot to report on a tornado. Also in 2015 the radar station at Strathmore, Alberta went down shortly before a hailstorm came through. Not like anybody needs to know about that, right? And we can’t leave out Canada’s glorious telecommunications system, which is apparently the cause of this radar station failing to transmit information before and during a tornado touchdown in Taber, Alberta.

Even when they do modernize bad infrastructure Environment Canada manages to fuck up, as happened when the newly-retrofitted station at Exeter, Ontario still couldn’t convince the government to warn people in a timely manner about a tornado in Southern Ontario. It seems that the country can’t maintain a coherent standard for forecasting, which is in line with the 2012 report I cited above. Before anyone blames human error, Canada’s automated weather forecasting stations apparently also suck. A CBC report from 2010, citing the unfindable report titled “Degradation in Environment Canada’s Network, Quality Control and Data Storage Practices: A Call to Repair the Damage” notes that in a single month there are hundreds of cases of missing data and false reports from automated stations.

We’re supposedly getting new radar systems now, years after we were warned that the system was obsolete and years again after said system has demonstrated how shitty it is over and over again. We’ll see if Canada can do a proper fucking forecast after this, but here I’m seeing a 90% chance of scattered bullshit turning into a wave of complacent laziness in a few more years. One key piece of evidence for my forecast? There was no announcement for the new systems.