Money my motivator, my mouth my money maker

Did you know that the first television program was a newsletter? They even kept the first part of newsletter to describe that kind of show. They call it “the newsman”, and you can find it on almost every television in the world at some point in the day. Just another way that newsletters have changed the world. Here is one, for you, in your inbox. Hello.

Calgary is a bit too disconnected from what we make. Expensive commercial fuck-ups might be the only way to remind us.

Up on the hill, on 14th Street at 16th Avenue NW, where the Trans-Canada Highway forms the horizon above Hillhurst, there’s a weird tangle. A series of road compromises form a compass, and at the corners lie every part of the urban complexion. Southwest, a bunch of houses and condo on a precarious ledge looking at a million-dollar view of downtown. Dotted with infills and post-war bungalows, legacy driveways peek out onto the north-south artery to cause panic sweats when cars enter traffic. Northwest, a brand new rental apartment complex for the kids on the southeast corner attending the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. Recently expanded and covered in RGB lighting like a dork battlestation running a Ducky Shine. The northeast corner has enough food and booze to serve the lot.

Due west, a fuck-up. The mall used to have a gas station and, like all gas stations, it leaked into the ground. Whoops. Every time this happens Calgary goes through the same cycle - denial, proof, apology, resolve to clean it up, and delay. Sometimes it’s a small outfit that has an outsize liability it can’t deal with. This time, Sears and Suncor share the liability to clean up one of the most valuable and central areas of the city. It’s hard to get Calgarians up in arms about anything, but when petro-carbons are snaking their way into God knows where from nearby messes, something close to a blush hits their face. This time, anyway. The last big one was in Bowness before the rich people moved in post-flood. This one is in a place I drive by every day!

Flip the context to a farm near Caroline, though, and those same people could give a shit. Yeah there was a well there and yeah it leaked everywhere and heck, that company went out of business, then the company that bought that company went out of business, so now the clean-up falls to the province but, oh gosh, I don’t want my taxes to deal with it! Leave it. Who cares. It’s a field near Caroline. Nothing there but the odd Nazi and a farmer.

I don’t entirely blame John Q. Calgarian, but I think about the headquarters executives living in our city often. His house was in Bel Aire or Pump Hill, Britannia if he was a scallywag-come-lately, but the idea of a major industrial outfit operating within city limits was intolerable. Add a pliant city council and oodles of physical elbow room and, boom, that landfill is way in the southeast where nobody will ever live, same with that power plant, and same with all the refining capacity. Put it in Edmonton. Only the help lives there.

What if the city was like Sarnia, where an air-raid siren fires often telling people to shelter in place, lest the gas get em’? What if a coal fired gas plant was closer than Hanna? For a closer comparison, what if our city crept ever closer to something like Edmonton’s Refinery Row? What if we could walk from our favourite donut shop to a hulking refinery in a shorter time than it takes for our coffee to cool like in Regina? The choices and power that kept these odour-creating eyesores away from “The Beauty on the Bow” have detached us from human impact of our economic output. No wonder we can’t wrap ourselves around our responsibility for equatorial peoples about to bake alive due to climate change. If we can’t smell it, who dealt it?

This a rich notion, industry-free Calgary, I know. I can go to a restaurant for a $50 lunch entree and be at a hat factory with a two minute walk. Two more minutes and I’m between two breweries. Another ten minutes? The malt factory that probably supplies those breweries. A couple minutes after that, I’m at a metal scrapyard. Calgary has no shortage of light-to-heavy industrial production. Standen’s is in city limits. They make bombs, I’m told, though not in this city. They make bombs and artillery and mortars and all sorts of things for Canadian Forces and all manner of American fighting man. You can find them here, right inside Cowtown limits. Be a part of that energy.

But I’m talking oil. Texas tea. Black gold. The wispy, watery stuff that floats the thick, glutinous shit through the pipes, and all manner of black and tan between. Pipes run up and down, left and right through the city. 14th Street has taken forever to fix up because of all the pipe using it like a highway. Highway Two (it will be a cold day in hell before I give directions to anyone on any Queen) ferries trucks and tanks to and fro all day, every day. But inside city limits, nada. No refinery to speak of. The dank armpit of oil production is nowhere to be seen.

What if it were more visible? Not Husky in the skyline, but Husky in the water line. If someone in Elbow Park held a barbecue lighter to their bathroom sink and it ignited, would Calgarians be moved to act, or vote in different ways? If the pipelines were forced above the ground and we cohabitated with a toxic spaghetti of explosive tubes, would creditors get paid out before insolvent firms cleaned up their mess? I want to think so, but the hit to shareholder value and long-term EBITDA makes me wonder.

-Clinton Hallahan

🎤Local pod pals profiled in periodical.

👨‍🦳Nothing to see here, just a monied group of white dudes with weird levels of access to your elected officials giving secret presentations in members only clubs for oil and gas executives. Nothing out of the ordinary.

👁‍🗨One party gives you zeroes, the other party asks for a benevolent handout. If only there was some quasi-legal action that got the goods? Ah but who could know of such a thing.

👩‍🌾The provincial government isn’t paying their taxes in High River and they are POLITELY MAD ABOUT IT.

🌌You can’t do environmental crimes if nobody catches you.

🤹🏽‍♀️Justin thought he was getting a deal, but it turns out that shiny new car was sold by Danny DeVito in Matilda.

🧐Calgary cop probably going to jail for trying to live out the plots of both Bad Lieutenant movies simultaneously.


🏰The Canadian Press keeps beating the drum that giving people weirdly small homes after they come home from almost dying in the desert on a lie is a sensible policy and not a weird, small bandage over the giant sieves that are housing, veteran, and mental health policy.

🧸The Calgary Police Service spends Valentine’s Day adding insult to injury to the most marginalized people in the city, using a giant bullhorn to mock them with faux love letters. It was pretty fucking gross!

🧇If your minister for community and social services talks like she’s never met a poor person, let alone has been poor or partaken of the services she administers…you might have a problem.

🤮Jason is helping the Albertans suffering the most: car insurers.

🎑The tide is turning against carbon-based energy. Luckily our province has a diverse, robust economy that can weather storms that would waylay a lesser jurisdiction that was wholly dependent on a single sector.

💃Cenovus made $113 million in profit last quarter. They recently received the better part of a billion dollars of your tax money as a treat and laid off over 500 of your fellow Albertans. We wish them well and no arson whatsoever.

🤰🏻Sure, there isn’t as many doctors in rural areas, and the work in such areas is typically more dangerous, but the reason why emergency rooms outside urban centres are more busy on average JUST HAS to be immigrants! Of course! Thank you, the CBC.

🦧Kenney family reunion ends in chaos, tragedy.

🧉The energy information war room propaganda…thing was absolutely On One again and…whatever just read this. Christ.

🦿Non-union contractor brutalized into leg amputation in Red Deer, but at least he can deliver booze now.

🎯Northern RCMP detachment urges citizens to form angry, armed mob in the face of budget shortfalls and roiling economic anxiety uninformed by class consciousness.

🎭Speaking of the RCMP, this elite unit of law enforcement professionals can’t tell the difference between being drunk and almost dying of a stroke! Love them Mounties.

🦀What can you say about the whole Wet’suwet’en shitshow - everything happens so much all the time. RCMP took down barricades, and so did white supremacists. The media reports the RCMP want to withdraw but downplay the conditions (give up lol). Everyone knew this was coming but did nothing and will do nothing. The lib section of the band is getting a ton of airtime now. Cons want to do a racism because of it, in addition to previous attempts to do a super-racism.

🗿On the one hand, the National Post recognizing colonialism as a negative force is a big step forward! But you can’t get it all right on the first try.

🥱Pembina went and rented a police department in Oregon? Seems like a normal thing.

🦺Captured judiciary delivers fine to Unifor.

🥜Cineplex always whips the boot of monopoly around and everyone in the film industry knows it. Corrine Lea, noted west coast badass, has had enough.

😕CN is blaming previously announced layoffs on pipeline protests because they are messy bitches who live for drama.

👺The military (haystack) is having trouble finding Nazis (also hay) in their ranks after one (needle) got arrested for doing Nazi things in America.

🐍Don’t talk to cops in Northern Canada. In fact, just don’t talk to cops.

🤑Area landlord shocked his offspring started acting like landlords.

🪓If you are more than 100km from a major city in Canada you are at risk of being abandoned by your government and left to fend for yourself for basic needs and protection from ancient diseases.

💀Saudi Arabia, our partners in peace and guns, continue to jail a blogger for blogging, because they have the thick skins usually attributed to hereditary royalty. His Canadian wife hasn’t heard from him in over a month.

🧶Noted good document boy and probable rapist Julian Assange is swinging for the fences with his latest legal gambit.

🧊Heavy oil bans will be supported by Canada in the Arctic, a guideline that will last about twelve seconds after the Northwest Passage thaws.

💣Fox News guests are allowed to deliver disinformation for governments on air, says…Fox News.

🙌 The media is dogshit at talking about land rights and land defenders. Protip: these assholes are “white supremacists”.

🐸Matt Furie had to watch his creation become the fodder of Nazis and dorks. He’s not happy about it.

👏Kickstarter kick starts historic union drive, kicking Kickstarter, for a start.

🃏Good Beach Boy Brian Wilson wants you to boycott his shitty bandmates who hang out with Donnie J and support the murder of endangered animals.

🖕Philanthropy just isn’t worth the effort anymore.

🙅‍♀️The word is spreading - Canada is fake.

🙀Bloomberg bad.

🍀RIP Anne Kingston. You were mostly pretty good, a high bar for Canadian pundits.

✍️New Westminster bylaw banning renoviction survives first round of court challenges.

📉Some weird-ass podcast had a great interview about public ownership with Linda McQuaig.

🎧Sturgill Simpson was on Trillbillies! Neat!

🔇Means.TV is doing a cool documentary on big-ass rodents that ARE NOT the cool, chill capybara.

🎚️Unpacking the News (a podcast you should listen to) talks to the guys behind Passage (a journal you should subscribe to) and introduces a new Canadian history podcast about socialism (which you should subscribe to).

🥌A fundraiser in Calgary for Wet'suwet'en will be held tomorrow, February 21, at McHugh House. Details on Facebook.

🛶Multiple protests for Wet’suwet’en will take place February 27-29. Find your location and more info on Facebook.

A Quick Note: if you want us to include an article or a petition or a link to an event or just a really funny joke, drop us a quick line at albertaadvantagepod [at] gmail [dot] com. We make no promises, but many hands make light work, and we’d love to hear from you! If you want to send us in the mail, grab those stamps and send tributes/cake/not anthrax to Alberta Advantage Podcast, PO Box 52167 Edmonton Trail, Calgary, AB, T2E 8K9.
Our editor is Clinton Hallahan.

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Solidarity's gonna give a lot less than it'll take

Police brutality? Check. Gutting hospitals? Check. Mega racists? Check. Suppressing the strike? Check check. Kafka? Czech. This newsletter has it all, folks, and we’re glad you’re here for it because, honestly, if you weren’t we would have thrown our bodies into a volcano like some sort of ancient virgin offered up for grain and potency. Okay, let’s hit it harder than a Saskatchewan premier hits a bottle before driving.

The language of freedom under neoliberalism is a tricky thing. It's now known as the freedom to buy and sell in the marketplace, unencumbered by state interference or regulation. It's a negative freedom, a freedom from the state. But it is also a rhetorical freedom. The captains of industry don’t seem to mind too much when the state enacts environmental policies that green-light pollution, jails protesters, purchases pipelines, and creates tax loopholes. They see these as welcome state interventions.

Where then is this realm of freedom? Well, you certainly won’t find it anywhere in Alberta’s educational system, if Kenney’s UCP has anything to say about it. Government announcements over the last since their election have made it clear that Jason Kenney envisions a state with a watchful eye. They aim to measure, discipline, test, and guide Albertans, from first grade through university. Every adult grown in Alberta will be shaped through eighteen (or more) years of careful work. Alberta’s children must be taught how to be free.

Let me explain. Alberta’s Blue-Ribbon MacKinnon Report — tasked with finding cuts but never looking at revenues — declared in September that education funding ought to be tied to performance and “strategic outcomes.” Alberta’s education minister recently announced a recommendation that Alberta’s students be subject to standardized testing through grades 1 through grade 5. Provincial Achievement Tests are already in place for students in grade 6 and grade 9, and then of course diploma exams in grade 12. On top of this, Alberta’s advanced education minister recently announced that post-secondary funding will also be tied to performance outcomes. This means that universities, colleges, and their students must focus on meeting their key performance indicators, lest they be brow-beaten by a bean-counting manager and their future careers imperiled.

What's being set up for us is a wonderful system where everyone will have to concentrate on The Test that occurs that year, which will determine the entirety of their future. You better hope that little Jackson or Sophia don’t pee their pants or get roughed up in the schoolyard that day, because it might ruin their entire career track. And if they happen to be late bloomers, or have experienced trauma, or have a disability? Well, you should have paid for a tutor. Oh, you’re part of half of Canadians that probably can’t afford it? Turns out that this system is actually an elaborate plot designed to favour students whose parents can afford a tutor — in other words, to replicate our existing class system.

The broader social, political, and environmental context is worth considering here. With our financial and political systems already buckling under pressure, unprecedented income inequality and looming climate change will need people that can think through complex, intertwined and multifaceted problems. That’s why it makes total sense that we’re training an entire population to concentrate on how best to fill out a multiple-choice bubble sheet for twenty straight years. It’s great practice for marking an “X” alongside whatever name is next to “Conservative” on the ballot.

Besides, it’s not like anyone tried this before and watched it fail. George W. Bush introduced standardized testing through the No Child Left Behind Act (when he wasn’t busy killing people in forever-wars), and the pressure to “teach to the test” became so great that it created a widespread test-cheating scandal. It also helped widen existing inequalities. Fraud is an important growth industry in Alberta, so it makes sense we’d want to incentivize it.

Folks, this isn’t going to get better unless we push for something different. The world Jason Kenney wants to create is one where we are all competing with one another for very scarce resources: jobs, access to education, healthcare, housing, or any number of essential ingredients for existing as a human being. Constant worry about how to get through the next week is a great distraction which prevents us from thinking about and fighting for the world we actually want.

“Freedom to” —positive freedom, in other words— is also a kind of freedom we can build and achieve. We have a medical system that you can pretty much count on to put you back together if something happens (notable exceptions include your teeth, eyes, and medication). We could build an education system that equips us to help build the world we want: one that is truly democratic, one where we can rely on to care for one another, one that might afford us the option of trying something new, of failing, of learning. Rather than send our children through a high-stakes conveyor belt to riches or ruin, maybe we can let them experience a little bit of freedom.

-Joël Laforest

💸Calgary city council is asking the province to let them more easily raise funds to give it to their billionaire criminal (parody) friends in the hockey business (satire) who probably abduct the homeless to do weird experiments (parody).

🔨A federal Conservative donor and Harper appointed judge told Unifor to let the wheels of commerce roll over their livelihoods.

👿Yeah cool you can’t do conversion therapy in Calgary, whoop de doo, I’ll just step over here into Airdrie or something where I can brutalize gay teens to my heart’s content.

🏴Manlet Kenney got a lil’ treat so he didn’t bark at his master today.

💰I don’t get the safe injection site logic. If you are going to pour money into enriching your friends in the rehab business, why would you want to kill addicts that could funnel more money into them? And why would you spend so little money on it? A bigger fraction of your dumb propaganda wing would have gone a long way to purchase pleasures for your poverty profiteer pals. Someone should see if any of that money is going to the pockets of Brother Kenney, who ran treatment centres of a sort (by treatment I mean torture over sexuality).

🚱Toxic process water being released into waterways has never backfired ever in the history of human industrial activity. Nope, never, not even once, nope.

🤑For the purposes of Alberta politics, I present a translation guide: “savings” is Tory for “dead people”, “efficiencies” is code for “lay-offs”, “trimming the fat” means “grandma should have had a better job in her youth”, “nurse” means “abnormal NDP plant”, and “doctor” still actually just means doctor, actually.

🤝Municipal governments will do exactly whatever they want, any time they want, always. If you think your input means anything to them you’re a sap.

🤬Nobody wants to live here because it’s hard to start a life in a pit of lava where the people in charge want you to go just die already.

🤲If your boss just up and changed your payday without notice it would probably fuck you up for months. Enmax would be at you for your failed pre-authorized payment, late fees would accrue, overdraft, the works. Your government did that to the most vulnerable people in the province this month.

👺Similarly, if you didn’t pay your rent you’d get your ass evicted. But if you’re an oil company? Nothing happens. I bet a lot of their equipment is flammable. Just saying.

🗳️It costs less than $500 Canadian dollars to subscribe to a service that allows you to have more than 200 users in an iOS app beta, and that money would also enable things like end-to-end encryption and other fancy usability features. These Silicon Valley dickheads didn’t do that and that’s what we in the (newsletter) biz call “willful and pointed ignorance at the behest of a powerful sponsor”, probably. That’s okay, it’s just setting the tone for a democratic bellwether with international import, not a big deal, save the bucks.

🙎Damn it’s almost like people don’t like a product that kills billions. Touchy, much.

🔱If you see a truck with a “Molon Labe” sticker on it, run.

😱If you want to fuck over some kids and their education, at least have the courage to put your name on your bullshit.

💡Neoliberalism depends on slavery of some kind, so if you get rid of one you have to invent some others.

😕The surveillance state has an opt-out clause, apparently?

🔥Lebanon is on fire (literally).

🎖️Standing up for your rights? Have skin that isn’t the proper alabaster hue? Oh you best believe the Other Military is coming for your ass. Good job, Canada.

🥯Canada has no Bernie Sanders because Canada has no Brooklyn (with apologies to New Westminster) and only a Brooklyn Jew could kick so much ass.

🤢Nobody wants your shitty pipeline, Justin.

🌽Noted regional comrade Jeremy Appel got way under the skin of the Minister of Education, but she insists she is not mad at all.

📰The Guardian has stopped accepting advertising from fossil fuel companies.

📉Don’t buy a cloud connected camera doorbell for the love of Christ, say Nima and Adam.

🎧Breht is extremely On One on this episode of RevLeft and it kicks ass.

🔇We should super have a general strike, say the good folks at The Progress Report.

✊Our provincial Dummycrats (trademark, don’t steal that) will be in Grande Prairie for a party where they will, I dunno, play with the blood of the innocent while trading Steely Dan records or something. You should go protest them on February 10 if you live in those unseemly latitudes. Prairie is a word I will never spell right on the first try. I am a horrible wheat socialist.

👊The Women’s Centre is hosting a talk on a just transition to a green economy on February 19. It’s free and open only to woman-identifying people.

🤛Get on a bus in Edmonton on February 12 with some cool (and attractive) people, stop in Red Deer to pick up more hotties, get to Calgary and canvass the city for comrades against cuts to our health system. Sound good? Get on the bus, comrade.

🤜TransCanada Tower is going to host a Yintah protection protest on February 10 in Calgary. Details here on Facebook.

⚔️The United Nurses of Alberta are leading protests against austerity on February 13. Locals will be present at multiple locations in Alberta. More details in this tweet and on Facebook.

A Quick Note: if you want us to include an article or a petition or a link to an event or just a really funny joke, drop us a quick line at albertaadvantagepod [at] gmail [dot] com. We make no promises, but many hands make light work, and we’d love to hear from you! If you want to send us in the mail, grab those stamps and send tributes/cake/not anthrax to Alberta Advantage Podcast, PO Box 52167 Edmonton Trail, Calgary, AB, T2E 8K9.
This newsletter contains writing by Kate Jacobson. Our editor is Clinton Hallahan.

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Pinky swear that you won't go changing

The year in Hell continues apace, and we’re here to be the pinprick of light in the long, pulsating (moist?) tunnel to doom that is the Kenney administration. To aid you in your time of need, we now have a voicemail box for you to voice your thoughts to us orally and aurally. Oh, really! Similarly, we need you to aid us in our time of need and do this very short survey to help us help you more gooder. I don’t want to overpromise but there might be prizes for doing so. Smash those buttons with your index finger, whether to click some Logitech rodent or smudge a screen with your Dorito claw. We’ll love you either way.

Kevin Smith ran through Alberta last week. Not everybody was impressed. Most indie bands will skip Medicine Hat, but not this multi-millionaire filmmaker with a boatload of awards in his cabinet. They're dusty by now, but still. I thought that was kind of cool, him pointing to dots on the map and deciding to screen his new movie wherever will have him. As he posted incredulous videos of the Hat's urban deer to his Instagram story, I was thinking about his career as a filmmaker. As a stylist he has his niche, enough for Razzie nominations, but also inducted into the National Film Registry. As a man, a study in commercial conflict; he has fans enough to float his projects financially, but detractors enough to make sure he stays irrelevant in his late career. Like how The Simpson's made Arby's punchline with a single gag, a single photograph of him at a gas station - rotund, draped in ill-fitting fabrics - made him the face of internet fatphobia. These are the perspectives his life and career that are well-known. But what, I thought, about Kevin Smith: icon of working-class film and late-capitalism? Is Smith as accidental a Marxist as he is a movie star?

Smith started his career in suburban New Jersey, born into post-Springsteen working class bona fides. He flitted from hobby to McJob and back before staring across the Lower Bay at NYU Film Academy. He dismissed NYU as it was too expensive and responded instead to and ad for Vancouver Film School, imagining the Lower Mainland to be just north of Amherst. He was thinking of Vermont, his mother corrected.

Then a rejection of the neo-liberal script. Once they tell you how to point a camera and edit, why would you need a piece of paper telling others you know how to do it? He dropped out of film school and became a proto-boomerang child. This was decades before millenials would know that crushing sense of failure en masse. Drawing the proper line between the comrades of Generation X all the way of Zoomers of today, he got the gig between gigs and manned a convenience store counter. All day he stared at the financial and crony capitalist gates standing between him and his desired career. (It's funny, and this isn't a new observation, but his more respected contemporary /friend Quentin Tarantino would have a similar view, though the Pulp Fiction director was only working in a video store while Smith's Quick Stop in Middletown was only 50% VHS and Beta tapes).

Wracked with career and financial shame, what did he do? He got writing. Did he dump his words for free to some pre-9/11 Bleacher Report or SB Nation? Did he apply for some sort of consolation grant from a government that hated art and artists? No, he pawned his possessions and maxed out his credit cards, guaranteeing his first film would be financed by the same vampire conglomerates that conspired to keep him in wage slavery. He added insult to that injury by documenting that wage slavery with their own dollars. He didn't even have enough money for colour film stock and opted instead for monochrome to will his film into being. He didn't make his first films about some foreign criminality or mob violence either. Why write about fictional rakes stealing from banks and turning on each other? All he knew was a crushing grind to make rent, so that's what he wrote.

In 1994, Clerks captured a psychology that is relevant today, 25 years later. Capitalism requires me to take this shit job and capitalism shames me for having this shit job. I can be happy at this shit job, but those moments of happiness reflect a lack of ambition. Creating a community can make me feel important and satisfied, but capitalist success requires disconnection, competition, and migration. The core of the late-10's socialist resurgence are all there a quarter century ago, in stark black and white. He sold the movie at Sundance to a serial rapist and signed a contract written with a Uniball. He asked to keep the rights two dumbest characters, one played by himself, so they could be his Detective John Munch, a constant across properties. They said they only wanted the rights to the characters inside the store, not the ones that hung around outside. One stupid request would make him millions over the next decade.

Flying high on an Independent Spirit award and critical acclaim, Smith collaborated with future stars like Jason Lee, Ben Affleck, and Shannen Doherty to make Mallrats. The spirit of his first film continued with a new movie about how a capitalist cast-off fills his days. Lee fornicates, plays video games, and lives with his mom. He spends his days justifying a life with no cubicles and no shirtsleeves - all tropes we bathe in today. Smith's characters wanders around a consumer purgatory and laments that growing up means becoming people with low morals. They hang on to adolescence by their fingernails as poverty and social exclusion demand they pull strips of flesh out of society to survive. Fuck that, they respond, I'm going to the cookie stand.

Smith and Tarantino would run into the same apocalyptic critical reception with their 1995-1997 outings. Both reacted the same way. Chastened over the maturity of Jackie Brown, the latter retreated to the idiosyncrasies that made his career in Pulp Fiction. If Elmore Leonard didn't do it for you, here are some blood geysers. Smith, lambasted over Mallrats, doubled down on the Sundance flavours that sold. Two directors, two very different filmographies, both corralled back to their commercially safe roots. Smith abandoned the strain of poverty conscious farce he created and was pushed forcefully toward a document of yuppie sexuality called Chasing Amy.

That said, it was his new reality and he was documenting it. Perhaps his life took the turn most traveled by young Marxists and was subsumed by the bourgeoisie. But for a brief moment he heralded a new class of bottom-up filmmaking that threatened to become common before being beat down again by Hollywood studios. Independent movies ballooned in cost (and then tanked again when camera tech exploded) as suits invaded the festivals. His kind of cottage filmmaking would be supplanted by the further professionalization of the art form in North America. Filmmakers would be lauded for following his path outside of the United States but another Kevin Smith never really arrived domestically - the indie star. A sequel to his first film, Clerks II, would come to grips with the forces that kept his former class downtrodden, but had lost all the revolutionary spark of the first. The plot instead revolves around windfall cash and becoming a landlord.

Smith morphed into a self-styled creator of live-action cartoons and would travel behind those films as a kind of circus master, pumping up his career with speaking events delivered at an outrageous rate. Those speaking tours would take on an motivational tone by accident. He would describe, into infinity, the risks he had to take and the luck it required to make filmmaking his career. Thousands of fans would walk away galvanized while, at the same time, knowing the market that forced his actions had become dozens of times meaner and more crowded. Smith, if not an accidental Marxist, at least shows us the last gasp of upward mobility in entertainment. The princeling spawn of Hollywood name-namers line their pockets alongside their sex pest peers. The region still sets the cultural tone of the planet, but who without a trust fund can take part? We can look back at Clerks and be wistful.

-Clinton Hallahan

🛢️Oil and gas companies figured that if they withheld their taxes they probably wouldn’t get in trouble. They were right! We tracked down a former MLA protesting this bullshit who is now on tax strike himself until the oil fucks pay their bills.

✊Remember when landlords bullied their tenants into marching on Calgary city hall when a property tax hike was incoming, and then when they came out with direct relief they hiked their rent anyway? Baby, let’s do it again!

🧹When a corporation does half of a billion dollars worth of damage to an area, maybe we should be able to compel a clean-up. Just thinking out loud here.

🦞The key function of the AER has always been to be so overworked that industry runs essentially unchecked, with the regulator acting as a kind of archive of submitted documents they can dump on the desk of a judge if and when a release of note begets a light slap on the fiscal wrist. To that end, they’re gutting the place.

👶Okay, so, you have kids. Natural human thing to do. But you live in an area that is dominated by driving cars, and also having to work full-time to live. One plus is that there is compulsory, public education that takes care of your kids for most of the workday, and even gets them there. Now all the sudden, because people are scared of numbers next to the word “debt” in macroeconomics for some stupid reason, that childcare and child transportation situation erodes to the threshold of wondering if it’s worth being less productive and working less, lest your kids need expensive whatever to get where they need to be to allow you to work because if you don’t work you die. Sounds like fuckin’ freedom, hell yeah.

💸And you should especially fuck with people if they have kids and are poor.

🚒Throw this article about good-ass Alberta firefighters in the face of every UCP dickshit every day when wildfire blazes out of control in Northern Alberta all summer.

🤥Conrad Black, a man who spent time in prison for fraud, thinks that Alberta is the victim of a jihad.

⚔️Watching the RCMP try to nail the UCP is like watching Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather fight - they’re both deserving of injury so you’re rooting for the pain.

💊The provincial government doesn’t see drug users as people or citizens or Albertans so it’s very easy for them to leave them to die.

🚜Rural crime will probably send you to jail for longer soon, even though the problem is way, way overstated as you can see in their own data. I swear to god we as a society would kiss the bare ass of any farmer if they asked.

🌊Turns out that fracking is causing a little damage to, uh, structures preventing people from dying.

🛩️Who could have predicted, besides everyone, that Obama-era drone strike policies would enable worse psychos to do worse damage?

🤢Coronavirus made the leap from China to the United States, putting North America on notice for a pandemic. Worth remembering that one of the first things the new Trump administration did was deliver severe cuts to the CDC, so much so that leaders there were panicked about US readiness to fight outbreaks domestically.

🎞️The neo-liberal takeover of Chinese cinema has major impacts on North American culture factories chasing Chinese audiences and dollars.

📷The idea that tech CEOs are utopians or leftists of any stripe is hilarious. They’re all disgusting Strossian/Gibsonian info-fascists who will IBM us all straight into the camps.

🏠New York is filled with homeless people and people-less homes.

🛃Qatar seems poised to do a little less slavery. I have no joke here I just want World Cup fans to always think about the slavery that enabled fun soccer shit during the next one held there. Be ashamed.

🏞️U.S. government bravely stands up to the oppressive forces of swamps and rivers.

🚨4 in 10 Americans would have to borrow to cover a $1000 emergency. Most will never retire.

💪Our beautiful boys at Progress Alberta are going to sue the fuck out of the government to get them to step off their leftist nuts. Godspeed, all of you.

👍Online harassment causes people serious damage, including depression, suicide, financial ruin, and more. Drew Brown thought one notable east coast bully should get some name credit to some of his harassment.

🤷Housing cost is at the core of most of the problems in the United States, says hardcore leftist propaganda house, uh, The Economist.

💻The Globe and Mail has a great feature on how the German government is trying to defang the vampire of big tech.

Don’t have sex with a climate change denier.

🖖A firm salute to our Venezuelan comrades that have turned the CIA-backed usurper of their government into a lame travelling roadshow of vapidity and failure.

📉The psychology of capitalism, on Revolutionary Left Radio.

🎧Imperial Oil brings a Canadian flavour to climate change cover-up, on The Progress Report.

🔇Peter MacKay is lurking, be vigilant. From the excellent Christo Aivalis.

🎚️Is Srsly Wrong seriously wrong about convenience? Click here, listener, and reward my bad writing.

🏴AUPE is doing a series of rallies around Alberta, including one on January 29 in Calgary at Harley Hotchkiss Gardens. For more information click here.

A Quick Note: if you want us to include an article or a petition or a link to an event or just a really funny joke, drop us a quick line at albertaadvantagepod [at] gmail [dot] com. We make no promises, but many hands make light work, and we’d love to hear from you! .
This newsletter contains writing by Kate Jacobson. Our editor is Clinton Hallahan.

Support us on Patreon

This pencil has a nice feel to it

Consumerist holidays DONE, tryptophan naps COMPLETED, plans for revolution RESUMING, hey everybody it’s a newsletter. Every once in awhile someone comes along with a newsletter so good, so indispensable, and so inspiring that it’s doomed to save humanity from it’s own collective self-destruction. I think I am the person to save the world with this newsletter, and I’m glad you’ve allowed me the privilege to privilege you with the first joke I think of when reading the news for another decade. I think it will really benefit you. Now, on an unrelated note, here’s some words about Elon Musk.

A couple of weeks ago I had a tweet go viral.

As anyone who has had a piece of content become popular on Twitter can tell you, the experience was a mixed bag. The seemingly endless stream of likes and retweets is thrilling at first, but that thrill quickly gives way to a rising horror elicited by the sheer mass of people looking at your dumb post. Few things make you more self-conscious than 200,000 pairs of eyes. 

Then, of course, comes the harassment. Now I want to make it clear that, as a white man, I am essentially navigating a version of the internet that’s permanently on the “Can I Play, Daddy?” difficulty from Wolfenstein — my online experience will always be easier and less filled with hostility than those of women and people of colour. But I still received my fair share of harassment from my viral tweet, all from one of the internet’s most toxic and hateful cults of personality. No, I’m not talking about Pete Buttigieg supporters. I’m talking about people who have pledged their lives in the service of their god emperor, Elon Musk. 

Obviously, they were not particularly pleased that I called the Tesla Cybertruck “stupid.” But worse in the eyes of Musk fans was my implication that visions of the future set out by companies like Tesla work to constrain our collective imagination and distract us from much more achievable, equitable alternatives (a topic that has already been written about here).

The Musk fanboys wouldn’t let this perceived injustice stand. As the tweet reached a larger and larger audience, I began to receive dozens of replies and direct message requests from very eager, very angry young men. While I attempted to earnestly engage with the first few people to reach out to me, I quickly realized these were not people looking for an honest intellectual discussion. Instead, they mostly wanted to berate me for not showing sufficient deference to a man that owns some companies.

So what’s going on here? Part of this ferocious response can probably be explained by the fact that people on the internet (including some of your favourite podcasters) are generally combative and hostile to those they disagree with due to the distance and anonymity provided by social media. Part of the response can also be explained through the law of large numbers — thousands of people saw that truck tweet, so it’s only reasonable that some of those people would be assholes. But that still doesn’t convincingly explain why dozens upon dozens of people seemed personally insulted by my opinion of Tesla, and it certainly doesn’t explain why this exact same phenomenon has happened to other people in similar situations.

To properly explain how such a hostile and proactive cult of personality arose around a corny tech mogul, we must look at Elon Musk himself — and more specifically, the space within our collective imagination he has carefully hollowed out for himself. From his tweets, to his public statements, to even the branding of his companies, Musk has styled himself as a wealthy, eccentric, singular genius who is working to single-handedly save the world from its most intractable problems. Corporate media and his adoring fans have been all too eager to help propagate this image, showering Musk and his projects with positive press and thousands of godawful memes.

In reality, Musk is a far cry from the heroic genius he portrays himself to be. He is a spoiled scion of a South African mining dynasty that made his fortune through investing in PayPal alongside fellow vampire Peter Thiel. Musk now serves as a glorified Lyle Langley for his many hare-brained companies, conning billions of dollars in public money from all levels of government by promising to deliver on fantastical, theoretical solutions to problems that could easily be solved through conventional means. Meanwhile, Musk continues to personally receive credit for everything his bullied and frightened employees actually manage to pull off, all while he makes posts so terrible they have landed him in legal trouble multiple times. He is hardly an aspirational figure.

But Musk does not exist in a cultural vacuum. We live in a world facing massive, civilization ending problems  — climate change, growing income inequality, ongoing colonial violence, to name a few — that no one in charge seems capable or even willing to do anything about. Even worse, decades of neoliberal ideology has misled people into believing that individual consumer choices are an effective way to make political change. They’re not.

Considering this state of affairs, it’s no surprise that these last few decades have also seen the rise of superhero narratives. These are stories in which there are always simple, direct answers to massive, world ending problems, and thus serve as a sort of escapism from our complex and rapidly deteriorating reality. However, collective action is almost never the solution. Instead, the world is repeatedly saved by charming, talented, and wealthy individuals. 

Whether it was intentional or not, Musk has fashioned his public identity into a reflection of those super-powered individuals, specifically characters like Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne that use their wealth, intelligence and libertarianism to selflessly advance human society. As a result, many people now treat Musk as if he, in fact, is a superhero — a magical individual that they are convinced will usher in a new era of human civilization single-handed. 

For many of Musk’s fans this is no way an exaggeration. Take, for example, the Elon Musk fan in this Verge story who says “learning about Tesla was literally the only thing that kept [her] getting out of bed every day” after she was hospitalized following a suicide attempt. Or this fucking nightmare of a Kickstarter, that literally casts Elon Musk as a superhero fighting against alien-like oil executives. For many people, Musk is the answer that they’ve been waiting for.

Except that he isn’t. Musk and billionaire wankers like him like him are not the way forward, and only serve as a distraction from real potential solutions to our biggest problems. His Randian cult of personality only serves to reinforce what Mark Fisher called ‘capitalist realism’ — the widespread conception that there is no imaginable alternative to capitalism. This limitation of the imagination is what leads to people believing some pretty wacky stuff, such as the notion that the wealthy are looking out for all of our best interests, or that buying certain products will halt global climate change. 

Most nefariously, Musk moonlighting as a real-life Tony Stark provides a type of hope — one that allows average people to check out of the world’s problems, content to allow the superheroic genius of Elon Musk to solve everything. All his acolytes have to do to feel like they’re saving the world is to buy the right kind of car and defend Musk’s honour online — their Rick and Morty loving lord and saviour has promised to take care of the rest. In this way, Tesla die-hards aren’t much different than fans of Toms shoes or Patagonia clothing. It’s comforting to feel like you are doing your part by supporting a brand, especially since supporting brands has become increasingly integral to the way we perceive our identities and the identities of others.

While a real life superhero that could solve our many problems with some technological wizardry does sound nice, the hope provided by Elon Musk is a false hope. A false hope that Musk actively courts through his many brands, project proposals, and television cameos. As socialists who understand that any true hope for our world necessitates an end to capitalism, we have to work to stamp that shit out pronto. The only way to fight for a real future is together, as a collective force, not by hoping the latest in a long line of capitalist con men actually means what he says

Luckily, things aren’t all bad. As Ernst Bloch would say, ideology is Janus-faced — while it does manipulate us by hiding the material economic relationships underpinning society, it also contains elements of possible utopias that people unconsciously latch onto. In this case, Musk’s cult of hopeful (if hostile) young followers shows a real desire for a better future, one in which we have found a solution to climate change, reinvested in our crumbling infrastructure, and began seriously exploring the stars. Unfortunately for his fans, Musk’s path won’t ever take us to that future. It’s up to us to show them a path that will. 

-Sean Willett

🏴DOAP Team is arguably the best shit Calgary has to offer so of course morons tried to kill it and forced average citizens to do above average shit to save it.

🤷‍♀️Jason Kenney lost his fight to keep a carbon tax out of Alberta and is a giant failure toddler who should be mocked for the rest of his life.

🏧Workers are being put at risk to protect ATMs. They should be only kept outside so when one gets stolen - technically owned by private companies and the money inside safely insured - the people least benefiting from their presence aren’t in danger during their theft.

🎭Next time you go see a play (lol you won’t) take a look at all the Calgary oil companies that sponsor that company and try to imagine art in this city existing without carbon money.

Plotting rural crime on a map really puts into perspective how much political oxygen is wasted on a pretty rare occurrence.

🚜The Calgary bedroom community of Brooks is totally screwed and robots are to blame.

💪Beloved local family has reputation destroyed by shithead faildaughter who didn’t make payroll. If you don’t make payroll, especially in December, you are a piece of shit. Full stop. If your company is going out of business, chances are the writing is on the wall well in advance. Prioritize paying your people, not running out the thread as long as possible then locking doors. Be a decent human, for fuck sakes.

⚡Alberta is installing superchargers for electric cars with provincial and federal subsidies but has no incentives for the purchasing of these vehicles so this is a handout to rich people. Weird and rare!

🥺People who actually own land are evicting some people who don’t own the land but are trying to develop it. Simple transaction in 90% of the planet but this is Canada Time, baby and here we do it with max fuckery.

📹Google is finding out that being fucking evil is pretty profitable so they’re doing that more and more. You love to see it after we gave them permission to know everything about us forever.

🤷‍♀️When a reasonable landlord is a hero, your society might be worth killing.

👴🏻Reelecting Donald Trump would probably be pretty negative overall for the planet and supporting Joe Biden by calling him “electable” is an unacceptable collaboration with Trump because Trump would fucking stomp him in the General.

🥫A guy who was given a shitty gift by his employer is now unemployed for calling it shitty in public.

🌏Australia beta tests future fire response by Canada. Eventually this country will be too big and it will become too costly to address climate change impacts and we will just let that motherfucker burn. It will be bad! We’re only at the start and we almost spend a half billion per year on responses. That’s a bit more than the budget for the Ontario Ministry of Parks and Conservation. That shit will be logarithmic and unsustainable real quick. RBC is also predicting that the Canadian economy will be PRIMARILY impacted by climate change over the next few decades. Seems like something to look into!

🤲Neoliberalism killed a ton of Russians but its true legacy is keeping them in poverty in droves. Ignore the hopeful tone of the article regarding Putin.

🚄Canadian transit is such garbage that when Mercedes pulls their tiny cars out of cities we all have to sit back and reconnoiter how fucked we are.

🗺️Nazis ruin everything they touch, even things designed to be so horrible they could never be ruined. They also can’t look up addresses for shit.

📰Canadian media and the advertising duopoly are so fucked that you can buy the most historically relevant alt-weekly in the third largest metro in a G8 country for less than a single family detached in most of said bronze metro.

🪕Private equity makes everyone sound like a Bond villain, whether they’re buying all the art in the world or killing Zellers.

✈️It looks like maybe hopefully sort of we avoided a full-scale shooting war with Iran which is good for many reasons but not exclusively but importantly that it would put an ice pick into the skull of the planet. EDIT: lol just kidding they’re gonna Tonkin it hard.

🎸The former CEO of Nissan should be going to jail but because he is super rich he gets smuggled out of the country with orchestra gear. Can’t make this shit up.

🏠Finland solves homelessness by not being idiots and using common sense.

👮A cop got fired (!!) after doing something stupid (!!!). The most comrade thing you can do as a cop is get fired or fire cops, should you have firing authority. Coming in second is becoming a cop and then just stealing productivity, which also rules. Also, if you see a worker slacking off at work and you narc, you’re a cop and should be fired (from a trebuchet).

🎖️Troop worship is a death cult.

🤷‍♀️Turns out raising the minimum wage has a huge impact on people not killing themselves. So weird!

🍞The solution to world hunger turns out to be a severe yeast injection.

🎅Index funds now own $10 trillion worth of shit and that sound you heard was Hilferding screaming with joy.

📉Behind The Bastards profiles one of the most profligate capitalist grifters of our collective lifetimes.

🎧The P.O.D. Kast profiles Toxicity by System of a Down, without which I would have never have heard about CIA drug money or the Armenian genocide as a kid.

🔇Canadian treasure Don Hughes talks some Iran on You Can’t Win.

🎚️Out of Left Field took a look back at ten years of leftism in Canada and abroad.

🏴Rallies are taking place tomorrow, January 10, in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en standing up against Coastal GasLink’s (CGL) liquified natural gas (LNG) pipeline. Locations and details here for Edmonton and here for Calgary.

✊A rally against war with Iran will take place in Calgary on January 25 in front of City Hall starting at noon.

A Quick Note: if you want us to include an article or a petition or a link to an event or just a really funny joke, drop us a quick line at albertaadvantagepod [at] gmail [dot] com. We make no promises, but many hands make light work, and we’d love to hear from you! .
This newsletter contains writing by Kate Jacobson. Our editor is Clinton Hallahan.

Support us on Patreon

Happy New Year, comrades

Happy New Year to one and all. If you subscribe to this newsletter you are already our preferred people, homo superior, so we just wanted to reach out and say - things are bad and getting worse, but at least we’re all at the last party together trying to plan the next one.

Keep an eye on our podcast feed for a fantastic interview hitting your platform of choice imminently and another episode a little less imminently.

The newsletter will start again next week because I had tough night last night going to bed at 11:45 PM and trying to kiss my wife at midnight with my night guard in and my lip balm slathered. I am sexier than any Baldwin or Affleck.

As a bonus, here are some things we’re working on for 2020:

  • Marx and barks - puppers, doggos, and eating the rich as kibble

  • How to toast perfect marshmallows on the burning boreal forests of northern Alberta

  • Anthrax fossil betting pool (death toll?)

  • Beating hypertension with the Trump diet of burgers and fascism

  • All new Kino Lefter recap podcast

  • Boris Yeltsin takedown pod with musical guests Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

  • A Twitch livestream of my nightstand book stack collecting dust and also a toothpick I keep there and use too long

  • Clinton makes Pickle Rick a Trot icon with some truly wretched argumentation

  • Using the Pythagorean theorem to confirm the height of Jason Kenney

  • Birds??

  • Cirrhosis of the liver at the ANDP convention

  • And more!

Thanks for being here, and congratulations on being more attractive than your friends.

-Clinton Hallahan, editor

Support us on Patreon

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