To say it looks dodgy is an understatement

A second Boeing whistleblower has suddenly died “after a struggle with a sudden, fast-spreading infection.” Bit of a coincidence, don’t you think?

Whistleblower Josh Dean of Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems has died (Seattle Times)

Saying Goodbye

My 14 year old dog Judi has recently crossed the rainbow bridge.

Judi was 5 when she came into my life in 2012. She was my first dog, my first pet really. I had spent quite a bit of time in the two years prior researching dog breeds and I knew that I wanted a boston terrier, and then something happened that made me decide to “pull the trigger” on this, so to speak — I suffered a third degree burn while out for the Labor Day long weekend and had to spend almost two weeks in the burns ward. I found the experience particularly trying because once you’re let into the burns ward you really can’t leave until your skin graft is in place, due to the chance of infection. A third-degree burn basically causes a hole in your skin that just lets any pathogens in.

Once I left I figured that I should get a dog now, or forget about the whole thing. I spent a lot of time on Kijiji (it’s like craigslist for Canadians) looking at adoptable dogs. I didn’t want a puppy, I wanted to adopt a grown dog, which I felt was the best approach for someone with no experience. Somehow I knew that I wanted a girl, but didn’t really know why. But when I saw Judi’s ad I didn’t think twice and made arrangements with her current owner to pick her up that same day. The ad said free but the lady called me back and said that was an error and that getting Judi would cost me $200. That’s a bit of a joke given how much dogs cost nowadays.

So I drive over and pick up my little dog. She clearly hadn’t been there that long. The lady said that Judi and her other dog, a toy poodle, weren’t getting along — probably because, as I figured out soon after, both dogs were intact females probably used for breeding. Mind you, such was my inexperience that I had no idea that Judi had recently had a litter of puppies, I learned that from an employee at a pet shop. Her claws were in pretty bad shape, no one had trimmed them for quite a long time. But she wasn’t going to be neglected anymore, not now that she was with me. For about a year I became a dog dad, going on long walks all over Montreal with Judi.

Judi moved to Halifax with me in November of 2013 and became part of the merged family I formed with Lucie and Geneva, not without a few hiccups of course, but we hit our stride. Then along came Beatrice, whom Judi seemed to fear at first, but later warmed to.

Judi seemed to especially enjoy the first apartment I moved to in Halifax. It had a fairly large backyard and we liked to give her the run of it, with our rear door open so we could monitor her. She was well-liked by the other people of the building. She wasn’t so keen on other dogs; indeed her reaction to another canine was always a toss-up. Whenever I saw another dog coming towards her I took her in a different direction. You’d be surprised how often other dog owners completely disregarded this, however. I remember being in Montreal on a grassy knoll when I spotted another dog owner walking his dog, and so I was taking Judi to another place and not being even remotely subtle about it, but the guy was probably a little thick and insisted on having his dog meet mine, and Judi snapped at the poor canine. The other dog owner asked “why did he do that?” and the explanation going way over his head. Yeah guy, your dog is friendly, but my dog isn’t, and that’s why I was trying to get away. But sadly it’s a very contemporary trait of people that they just refuse to see reality even as it unfolds before them.

It’s hard to tell whether a dog is truly happy. I hope that Judi was, although as things progressed it was clear that I could no longer give her as much time as I previously could, as I now had to take care of the humans in the house. We moved to Bedford in 2015, which Judi didn’t enjoy as much. I think she enjoyed playing with the other building tenants before that, and now she was in a place that had a postage-stamp-sized yard and only the family for company. Of course she was 9 by then and slowing down a little bit but still spry and energetic.

In 2018 we moved to our current house, a place which was (and is) full of potential, but TBH hasn’t lived up to expectations. We now had a yard… 90% fenced in but not closed, so Judi never took to it much. We lived in a dog-rich neighborhood, but Judi had started developing some problems with her hearing which left her deaf about a year after we moved, so she was not as interested in walking about as she had been before, and whatever interest she had mostly disappeared after she started getting vision problems as well. By that time I was the only one in our house actually taking her outside.

About a year ago we started noticing that she had some problems with her back legs, they weren’t working right anymore. It was fairly serious arthritis. Her muscles started wasting away. Her eye problems got worse and one of her eyes was bulging and had a broken blood vessel inside; then she started having seizures periodically where she would either slip on the floor like her four legs had no strength left, or fall over to one side. Vets didn’t have any answers for her problems. I noticed that she was sleeping more and more deeply during the day. After much soul-searching and discussions we decided that it was time to stop Judi’s suffering. We had a vet from a service called Forever Loved come to our house and help Judi cross the rainbow bridge.

It was very hard on the kids, particularly Geneva. She and Judi had become particularly close. However Judi was clearly in pain and we did not want to prolong her suffering because we weren’t ready. I don’t know what it’s like to have a pet put to sleep in a vet clinic, but it seemed to us best to do it at home, in an environment Judi knew and loved.

I think I’ll always remember bringing Judi’s body to the vet’s car. Judi hated getting picked up, even when it was needed — to get up on the couch in her last weeks, for example — but she felt so much heavier now that she was no longer struggling to get away…

It has been a little over two weeks now.

All four of us miss Judi. When you spend years and years sharing your everyday with a little creature like that they’re not “just a pet”, they’re a non-human person, they’re part of the family. We all miss her in different ways, and it’s a very personal process for each of us. We like to think that in situations like this, when we have a lot of time to prepare ourselves, we will know grief when we feel it. But we delude ourselves, especially by thinking of “grief” as something objective. It is not. It is like love in the sense that it reflects both the grieved and the griever.

The grief I feel constantly since her passage is that I feel I was not taking care of her and spending time with her as much as I should have in her last couple of years. I have suffered from major depression for decades now, and in the last few years the pressure on me has just ratcheted up to the point where I’m just dead tired by the time I’ve put the kids to bed — largely because I’m also the first one up in the morning to get them to school. I remember all the times that Judi came downstairs to see me and I was sitting in front of my monitors with a thousand-yard-stare, and just had no strength to do anything. A few pets as she came by, and that’s about it. I had no idea I would miss these little visits so much, or feel so damn guilty about them.

It’s also said that all dads should have a dog because at least it ensures that someone in the house will be happy to see them when they come home. That resonated strongly enough with me that I often told Judi that when she was visibly excited to see me; I knew she was deaf and couldn’t hear a damned thing, and as a dog she wouldn’t have understood what I had said anyway, but I never got out of the habit of talking to her. Well now I don’t have that.

I also miss her in a different way. When I came to Halifax I had already seriously reduced the amount of stuff I had (I used to have way too much stuff really). Since then I have also ditched a whole lot more things I owned; I got rid of about 95% of the physical books I had retained, almost all the DVDs I had collected over the years, most of the clothes I brought with me are gone or as good as gone (by which I mean I no longer fit into them and I’m not deluded enough to think I will ever do so again). So there’s little I still have that came with me on the 2013 move. In March 2020 the timing on my car failed — just in time for the first COVID shutdown — and since then I’ve had it towed to my house and tried to fix it, but I just don’t have the time or know-how. I remember how keen I was to get my hands dirty and fix that thing… but due to other engagements I could never give it the time I needed to give it, and now it just sits besides the house like a monument to my personal failures. I always go out the side door and can’t really ignore it.

In the 18 months it’s been sitting there I’ve come to accept that much, but many a time it struck me that Judi was the last reminder of my life before I made the decision to change it to whatever it has become now. And now she’s gone, and she’s taken a part of me with her.

Finally the grief is also, in a more general way, a statement on mortality. When I took Judi for her last walkies outside I knew it was the last time we would do this and it hit me like a ton of bricks. And earlier this week when I dropped off my daughter at school I watched her walk from the car to the school’s door and the thought struck me — one day it will be the last time for that too. As far as I know no one’s seriously ill in the family but death is the one thing that is guaranteed to all. I’m far from young, far from fit, and on the inside I often find myself consumed by anxiety, depression, anger and frustration. I don’t have any illusions that I’m going to live a very long life. That’s not my current trajectory, anyway.

So, goodbye Judi. You were loved, and you’re missed more than you could imagine.

The Bin Laden Farce

Unless you’ve been living in some cave in Afghanistan for the past 10 years (harharhar) you’ve no doubt heard the news that on Sunday night Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted fugitive(tm) was caught and killed by US forces secretly working in Pakistan. Without a doubt it’s the most exciting thing that’s ever happened in the sleepy hamlet of Abbotabad, about an hour north of Islamabad, and it’s more than likely that the place will now go back to the obscurity and quiet charm that used to make it the ideal location for a world supervillain seeking to escape the attention of the world police.

Now some people will say that they’ll always remember what they were doing when they heard that news, and I do as well. I was sitting in front of my computer doing something or other, which is terribly indistinct from what I regularly do for up to 14 hours a day TBH so for me that’s not much of a marker. And of course being in Canada I found the news to be of relatively little interest as we had a national election scheduled the first day (which turned out to be pretty fucking disappointing). So I didn’t really get into the whole “bin Laden dead” thing until Monday night after having ascertained that my country was indeed going down faster than a $5 whore, largely out of hope that the news would cheer me up a bit.

Now those of you who have known me for a while will know that I was living in Hoboken, NJ on September 11th 2001, and that’s a short skip across the Hudson river to Manhattan. You may probably know that the office I worked at in that time was located in the Pavonia section of Jersey City and had a great view of the WTC. We were pretty much as close as you could get on the Jersey side. I wasn’t at the office when the planes hit the towers, however; I’ve never been an early morning guy and I was probably heading for my bus when the second plane hit the south tower. To top it off, if I’d been more aggressive with my personal contacts while looking for a job in the previous year I could have stood a fair chance of being employed *in* the WTC north tower (a former boss’s former boss worked for Cantor Fitzgerald, fortunately he was out on business on that day).

So when I heard that Navy SEALs had killed the man I felt… oddly indifferent. Truth be told, the Osama bin Laden whose death Americans were shown celebrating on TV, the bogeyman from Saudi Arabia, had already ceased existing quite some time ago. Be honest, when was the last time people talked about the guy as being terribly important? His very survival was a subject of much speculation since 2001, and for many (including myself) the guy was almost as good as dead for some time. In fact I rather cynically thought that if the Americans had waited even just a couple more years to kill the guy they’d have to start reminding their people of who the guy was. There was a time at which he seemed very keen on getting a message out, but as time went on these messages became more infrequent and seemed to undergo somewhat of a regression technologically speaking, going from videos to audio tapes. The message itself seemed to step further and further away from that of a guy who could tell 20 of his followers to get into planes and crash those planes into buildings full of people, too. I think his last one started talking about the environment. Which is pretty ballsy for a guy whose most famous attributed act was so dependent on the aviation industry. However I digress, I certainly won’t be growing wistful of any “good old days” when the guy was at his peak preaching terror war against America. It’s certainly not something that one may seriously doubt he had done, though, and no amount of mellowing out in his old age can change that.

As this week went on, I must say that I grew increasingly annoyed at the story. It wasn’t that I didn’t think the guy deserved it, but frankly I can’t stand the way the Obama administration is handling the whole thing. I’ve never seen such sloppy work from a team that one must hope is made up of the best of the best. It’s practically like they’re encouraging people to cast doubts on the story and come up with conspiracy theories.

Frankly anyone with a moderately healthy sense of skepticism would be a bit troubled. First there was the story of what happened to bin Laden’s body after he was killed — it was taken to the USS Carl Vinson, washed, given Islamic burial rites and then buried at sea. So, there’s no body. You can kind of understand why they did it, but that all seems a bit… convenient.

Then on Tuesday came revelations that did indeed directly contravene parts of the story that we all had been given on Sunday. The first was that bin Laden died in a firefight against the SEALs — well, actually he did, but that firefight was pretty one-sided because as it turns out the guy wasn’t armed in the first place. The latest word out is that the SEALs feared that he would reach for a weapon. We also found out that the woman killed in the firefight was not in fact used by bin Laden as a human shield — when that seemed to be a “fact” strongly established enough for John Brennan, the chief US counter-terrorism advisor, to affirm “living in this million-dollar-plus compound, in an area that is far away from the front, hiding behind a woman: it really speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years.” Well, it goes some way to cast aspersions on what we hear from Mr. Brennan, who himself seemed to have heard only what he wanted to hear.

But then there is video of the raid and surely photos were taken of bin Laden’s body after his death?.. and making those public would in an instant erase any possible doubt that may have arisen from the White House’s previous mishandling of the situation. Well, in a 60 Minutes interview taped today Obama has made clear his decision not to release those photos.

So we have no body, a narrative which is known to have been “enhanced” in at least two substantial ways already, and now we’ve been told that there is absolute, incontrovertible truth but it’s not going to be shown to the public.

You’ve got to be kidding. What the fuck is going on at the White House? This is absolutely bizarre. Already people are trying to fill the void by combining images of other people who’ve been shot in the head with live photos of bin Laden using Photoshop. The one I’ve seen was a pretty obvious edit which anyone could spot easily, but I’m sure more forgeries will come forward if the real pictures aren’t released. And if Obama is going to stand by his opinion that the lack of official pictures will prevent “trophy pictures” from appearing, well that’s just silly. I’m sure Fark or some other site will make a photoshop contest out of it, if they haven’t done so already. You’ll get loads of “trophy pictures” out of that… and they’ll probably be thought to be real by many people, just like the old “Bert is evil” Osama pic.

Hopefully the President will come to his senses soon. At some point he’s got to put up some solid evidence of what went on, something to redeem a narrative which has been tarnished by the people on his staff who delivered it, because otherwise the GOP will soon start casting doubts that this raid killed the guy who’s said to have been killed. Frankly this reluctance to provide that solid evidence is all too reminescent of the sort of the stonewalling which I remember from Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush. And I never felt that I could trust what Bush was saying for so much as a second. I hope that President Obama is someone credible, but at this point I’m getting too old to take it on faith.

I want to believe, but I’ve been burnt too often to do so.

The crime is plain to see on video, yet no charges will be filed

When Ian Tomlinson was walking home on April 1st 2009 during the G20 summit in London, he certainly had no idea that he was starting on the last walk of his life. Tomlinson was assaulted by a riot police officer whose identity was concealed, and died of resulting injuries. The whole thing was captured on video and police lied their asses off about it until the video emerged showing their actions. Yes, in London, in the middle of the biggest protests since the poll tax riots, police managed to find the one man who wasn’t protesting in any way, and killed him.

But of course you won’t see it expressed with the term “murder”, despite it being what it was. If you take a violent action which directly results in the death of the person you committed violence towards, it is murder. That is sound and established legal principle. Except if the act was committed by a police officer, evidently, since it is now official that no criminal charges will be filed against the officer responsible for the assault, nor will the officer be identified. This is the most transparent and self-serving cover-up I have ever seen in my nearly-forty-years-long life. Basically all the police has to do in the future in order to wash their hands of responsibility for their own conduct is to hire coroners who are incompetent, like Freddy Patel (who will thankfully be struck off the rolls shortly), and automatically that negates the possibility of charges ever being laid.

This is absolutely shameful and disgusting, and a blight on the UK.

Who could have known?

23-year old man attending a showing of the new Twilight movie dies suddenly during the film. The details are not yet in, but it does now seem plausible that perhaps he was bored to death.

Just think of the money you’ll save shopping around for funeral arrangements!

Ever wondered how much longer you have to live? Head to the Death Clock and wonder no more. I’d love to tell you more about this but according to it I’ve been dead for over three years already!