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Gender: Male
Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
Home country: Canada
Current location: Toronto, Ontario
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 03:34 PM
Number of posts: 3,025

Journal Archives

Be wary of polls - Be wary of complacency.

So, there's lots of chatter right now about polls showing that Clinton and Trump are neck-and-neck, or that Clinton is losing if you take into account Independents and Green voters, etc... etc... etc...

Lots of people here and on progressive news sources called it months ago, that once things boiled down to two candidates, the media would do their best to build the narrative of a close race whether or not the race was anywhere near being close. So, we're seeing that happen now. Here is what I said in one of the several threads I'm seeing about this:

The media will try to create a close race even if there is none.

TYT did a little analysis on some actual polling numbers last night that show Clinton pull well ahead of Trump as his campaign begins its collapse (I hope). The teflon coating on Trump is starting to chip and the ridiculous things he's saying are starting to sully his reputation instead of gaining him more attention.

The mainstream media needs this to be a close race. They need the excitement that will bring in viewers and advertising dollars in their waning and dying industry. If the pundits don't have a conflict to talk about, they just don't get the eyeballs necessary for ad revenue for their top brass. So you can bet that if there are 10 polls that show the race isn't close, the media will talk about #11 that shows them neck-and-neck.

But please, don't take this as an indication that this is over. It's a long way to November, and lots can still happen. The RNC could be a game-changer and if the GOP finds a candidate that is even a -little- more likable than Trump, there could still be a tight race. As Cenk points out, according to polling, Trump is beating Hillary handily among white voters. Still vital for Democrats to GOTV and make sure that the numbers overwhelm the GOP.

So, there are two ways we need to be wary. On one side, watch that narrative of the close race and see where they're cherry picking their data from. As it stands right now, the average of the various polls show Clinton ahead with Trump starting to slump.

But, we also have to be wary of complacency. We can't count on Trump just tripping over his own feet or alienating a large voting bloc. He's still got loud and aggressive supporters and, as we've just seen across the pond, fear works.

From the convention to the election is the sprint, that's where the most hard work is going to take place. Dig in, folks. Get those anti-muck shields up, because there's going to be a lot of it flung from the GOP.

University of Toronto buildings shut down as police search for suspicious person (UPDATE)

Coverage here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/university-of-toronto-buildings-shut-down-as-police-search-for-suspicious-person-1.3632562

From the article:

Toronto police's emergency task force is searching buildings at the University of Toronto after receiving reports of a suspicious person on campus.

Police say that security at the university made the first report after seeing someone in a building under construction at 6 Hoskin Avenue.

Police also received another report of a person with a gun in the area, and are trying to determine whether that was a police officer or a suspicious person.

For a list of closed buildings and lock-downs: https://www.utoronto.ca/campus-status

My brother works in one of the buildings a little south of here on campus (these are up near the ROM, and he's closer down to College in the health sciences building). They're not really telling anyone on campus what's going on, just warning everyone to stay in their buildings, etc...

Stay safe out there, folks.


From BuzzFeed: https://www.buzzfeed.com/ishmaeldaro/university-of-toronto-on-lockdown-after-reports-of-suspiciou?bftwcanada&utm_term=.rwWEEe9PbR#.yt3MMaWgP3

Toronto Police told BuzzFeed Canada they received an initial call from campus security just after 9 a.m. that said a masked man was seen on campus at Trinity College.

A second call from a civilian came less than a half hour later and claimed a man with a gun was on campus. “That information was very limited and we have been unable to reconnect with them to confirm what it was they saw and to confirm the legitimacy,” a police spokesperson said.

Police emphasized that the report of a gun is “completely unconfirmed.” They said the man in question was wearing a “surgical mask.”

Police confirmed a man has been arrested and placed in a police car on campus. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said during a brief press conference that the man in custody is “under investigation for something else right now,” and would not offer additional details.

SickKids Hospital and Women’s College Hospital, which are several blocks away from the U of T campus, are also now on lockdown.

I removed "armed" from the title, as that has not been confirmed, yet.

Update 2:

Looks like TPS has given the all clear, and have reopened the campus. Everything seems to be going back to normal, and it looks as though the "armed" part may have been unwarranted.

From the updated CBC story:
Police also received another report of a person with a gun in the area, and were trying to determine whether that was a police officer or a suspicious person.

"We have not seen a picture of any firearms at this point in time," said Saunders. "There have been a few people who have said they've seen a suspicious person that fits the likeness of the photo that was shown to me."

Officers were using a picture taken by a witness as a reference. The photo did not come from security footage, although police were hoping surveillance video could "enhance it further."

"That picture did not indicate or show a firearm," said Saunders, adding that "someone else" made the comment about seeing a gun, which is why the emergency task force was called in.

One person was arrested earlier in the day, but it looks like everything's done now.

Race, Cultural Appropriation, and "Who Owns Southern Food?"

A really fascinating article (by two authors) in the Oxford American. Full article here: http://www.oxfordamerican.org/magazine/item/870-who-owns-southern-food

From the article:

An autodidact historian of African-American foodways, Twitty made his bones a couple years back with an open letter provoked by Paula Deen’s use of the word “nigger.” He served as Dixler’s primary source. He said things to her like, food “is a part of our culture that couldn’t be beaten out of us.” And, Gullah-Geechee culture is “not the community property of Charleston and Savannah, because it’s not 1864 or any year before that.” Twitty criticized Charleston chefs who are “projecting ownership and making it about them, not even considering the people who have been marginalized and exploited.” I nodded at the first two statements and wished the third had showed more nuance.

At a moment when conversations about food have become central to the American dialogue about identity, the issues Dixler and Twitty raised about authenticity and ownership and appropriation will fester if they’re not further explored. That notion was top of mind the day after the article was published, when I sat down to eat in New Orleans with Tunde Wey, a Nigerian-born chef and provocateur whom I got to know when he opened Lagos, a food stall in that city’s renovated St. Roch Market.

Our first meeting, six months prior, had gone something like this: I ordered the okra stew at Lagos. Tunde questioned whether a white boy would enjoy a bowl of that ropy stuff. I took small offense, declaring myself a citizen of the world who revels in okra slime, just as I recognize the West African roots of Southern food. Since then, Tunde has begun staging New Orleans dinner salons focused on the possibilities and burdens of blackness. At our second meeting, over dinner at Compère Lapin, a new Caribbean-inspired Creole restaurant, I learned that Tunde had read deep into recent Charleston conversations, and had some tough questions to ask me.

Inquiries about power were primary. If I bought the argument embedded in the Eater article—if I acknowledged the inequities and subjugations on which much of Southern cuisine was built, Tunde asked—was I willing to cede what whites have gained at the expense of blacks? Am I willing, now, to cede what I have gained? We settled on a scheme in which I cede half of my column for this issue. Tunde addresses the controversy and concludes with a question for me. I respond. And we split the pay.

The implication was that, if I am game to face down the realities that blacks suffer, not just historically, but today, then I must open myself to discomfort. Indeed, if I aim to understand the food and culture of the place I call home, I have to welcome discomfort. As I sat down to write this, discomfort settled in to roost alongside me, like a gator with a chicken in her sights.

It would be too easy to blame Donald Trump. Though it would not be inaccurate.

As a columnist for this magazine, I’ve observed that the true promise of writing about food lies in the opportunity to pay down debts of pleasure and sustenance to the cooks who came before us. I’ve acknowledged that, for much of our region’s history, blacks and women did much of the conceptual and physical labor in the region’s kitchens but received niggling credit.

I think of myself as a progressive. I’m proud of the subjects I’ve written about, from the race-baiting politics of Lester Maddox, the Atlanta restaurateur turned Georgia governor, to the booty-call white patronage of an Arkansas Delta barbecue joint. I suspect that if I had said any of this to Tunde, he might describe that as comparatively easy and riskless work. He might say that it’s guilt-assuaging work. And he would be right.

After the Eater article came out, I exercised my power in what seemed a becalming way. I wrote Hillary Dixler to thank her for asking good questions. I called Michael Twitty to talk about the power I believe he now possesses. I spoke with Sean Brock about the reconciling possibilities I see in the meal they plan to cook together. And, as I barreled toward New Orleans, I suggested to Tunde that the article and its fallout might serve as a text for our dinner conversation. As you have now read, I got what I asked for. What I deserved.

In the middle of all of this is the portion of the article written by Tunde Wey:

My cooking has always been political. It began as an oppositional response to foodie culture, nauseatingly self-referential and boastful. My politics were stated without vocal rancor, inherent in the sloppily plated colorful and strange dishes I served. This was my cooking before I moved to New Orleans.

When one realizes one is black in America—and subject to the political implications of that reality—then it is almost impossible for the immanent not to become conspicuous. It was in New Orleans that I moved from implicit to explicit politics. And because there is probably nothing more politically explicit than the assertion of (black) identity in the face of systemic censure, I launched a new dinner series, Exploring Blackness in America. Through these dinners I purposefully contrive dining spaces that prioritize black experiences—spaces where spicy Nigerian food is background music to lively conversations about black excellence, the erasure of the black woman, colorism, double consciousness . . . and on . . . and more.

Since I started the dinner series, a strange thing has started happening. From white perches, my opinions are being sought. Older, affluent, and privileged white folks want to know what I think about blackness and race and entrepreneurship and food. There was the early morning breakfast with a white New Orleanian power player—an understated and kind woman with more local connections than God and maybe just a little less money. Then there was the afternoon meeting with a local culinary institution. After we cut through her stadium kitchen and meandered the grounds of her restaurant to eventually find her office, she kindly gave me an hour of her time. It wasn’t even a slow day. (Her establishment doesn’t know a slow day.)

In these conversations, I felt a tipping toward me of some odd power. A tentative deference was offered in exchange for my “black” experience. My words were being elicited as a means to contextualize these folks’ white privilege and power—and maybe subconsciously to defend it. In these people, I saw scales falling away; they were struggling to understand a responsible place for their privilege vis-à-vis blackness. When their frustration finally metastasized into wisdom, they slowly corrected their postures, straightening up after formerly leaning toward me: things are changing, the obviousness was heavy.

Really a fascinating read on the relationship of black and white cultures and their interdependence in the South, and cultural appropriation through the lens of southern food and its origins.

Food is such an important part of culture. The first touchstone when someone mentions a culture is often the food. In Toronto, where I live, there are small enclaves of just about every culture you can think of. Little Italy, Koreatown, 3 Chinatowns, Little India, Little Vietnam, Jamaica town, and on and on. The first thing you'll spot in any of those neighbourhoods will be the collection of stunning little restaurants for that culture's food. But as Wey indicates in his portion of the article, modern food culture is very typically a shorthand for appropriation. Usually white chefs and restauranteurs being lauded highly for including Japanese ingredients or Indian cooking techniques.

My husband owns a restaurant, and I can tell you first hand how hard it is as a first-time restaurant owner to make it all work. We're both white, and he comes from Texas, so his major food influences are French, Creole, and Tex Mex. Having integrity in the restaurant industry is incredibly difficult (my husband's concept is locally sourced food and drink. As much as he can have sourced within Ontario comes from here, including all of our alcohol), so it's great to see these chefs bringing their own culture into a difficult pool of competition and see them succeed with their integrity.
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