Arnold Ziffel

On Pigs. The place where I cared for perhaps a dozen was a farm where school children came to learn about agriculture. After the piglets were several weeks old, I no longer remember the exact number of weeks, but they were still not big, we could no longer bring the children into the large pen because the pigs would start attacking the children. And these were varieties of pigs bred for centuries to be less aggressive.

When BBC filmed Tudor Monastery Farm they were unable to use authentic period pigs because those breeds represented too much of a risk of knocking down someone on the production and killing them.

When mucking out pigs, they are itchy creatures, they will rub up against the barrow and blithely knock it over if you do not chase them away from it. And it is not easy to persuade a pig to go somewhere else. They don’t catch on very fast.

There is a myth about pigs being clean that no doubt is just a reaction to pigs traditionally being thought of as dirty. We actually told the school children that the pigs would restrict defecation to a toilet area if given enough space. I cleaned that pen. This is a lie. It is perhaps true that there was marginally more shit in one corner. But they shit all over that large enclosure. And on the subject of waste I have never seen another animal standing in its water trough and peeing into it while drinking.

But before I personally had experience with pigs, the first time I had the ‘pigs are smart and nice’ bubble burst, I roomed for a year with a kid who’s family farmed pigs. He knew. And I will not repeat the horror stories he told me after laughing at my Arnold Ziffel misconceptions.

Righteous bosoms!

Years ago I had a very strange FB interaction with a someone who was agitated about some feminist activists in Germany getting their tits out to draw attention to their message. I had responded by saying, “everybody likes breasts,” which for him was quite annoying.

I really could not follow his argument very well at the time. Something about how the breasts should have been randomized instead of lovely and healthy and young. “It shouldn’t matter,” was something he said. Apparently the breasts were not diverse enough in some way.

And my saying that for a promotional exercise you would necessarily want nice but otherwise unremarkable breasts to grab attention but not deflect from your message really triggered him. Then he unfriended me.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that the someone was a privileged white man, an educated and affluent one who ought to have known better than to dictate to young women what they were allowed to do with their breasts.

Apparently an environmental activist got her breasts out at the Junos and successfully got media coverage that drew attention to her message. And what the comments testify to is that people are still quite keen to shit on women for choosing to do what they feel is necessary to get the public to notice.


People have been consuming alcohol for longer than their ancestors have been human. Prior to modern sanitation most people consumed only alcoholic beverages from teat to grave, because mostly water was not safe and drinking it would give you cholera sooner or later.

I knew that the rise of temperance led to cholera outbreaks in the nineteenth century, killing thousands. I did not learn until more recently that since beer and ale are good sources of calories that temperance contributed to malnutrition in the poor and vulnerable at that time. And it is likely that temperance increase mortality by starving people experiencing food insecurity as much as alcoholism did.

Yes you can do yourself harm by drinking too much, but that is true of salt, and indeed even water. And like most things, drinking is safer by a long shot than driving or riding in a car. But ffs don’t mix drinking and driving.

It is not reasonable for a public health body to state, “When it comes to alcohol consumption, there is no safe amount that does not affect health.” This is objectively false by any reasonable statistical standard.

On the other hand, temperance is a controlling behavior based in ideas of sin and the possibility of persecuting people for non-compliance. It is a terrible concept with a terrible history. So, I would rather say that, “No amount of temperance is safe.”

No amount of temperance is safe.


Today you may be outraged by the $7 billion oil and gas drilling Willow project in Alaska. Two months ago you may have been outraged by the destruction of the tiny west German village of Lützerath for coal extraction.

But if you will also oppose, or rather fail to actively support, investment in nuclear electricity generation, you are just as guilty of the perpetuation of fossil fuel extraction as any oil tycoon, or coal barron.

It is a delusion to pretend that wind and solar will end our dependence on fossil fuel. Hell, in Europe gas companies are running romantic ad campaigns depicting gas and “renewables” holding hands for the next two hundred years! Much of the funding for anti-nuclear advocacy comes from the fossil fuel industry because nuclear fusion really does have the capacity to displace fossil fuels. And those same interests pour money into groups promoting wind and solar BECAUSE they know those investments will never threaten their business.

Nuclear is the ONLY technology we have, that we can practically develop and expand that can, and will displace fossil fuel use. And if you are helping stand in the way of that, I hope you will eventually figure out that you are standing with coal, and oil and gas.


I have been overweight or obese most of my life. And growing up I did not like being tormented about it. The lesson here being that it would be better if people were not cruel and did not recreationally torment others, to make their lives worse.

But that is quite different than pretending it was fine that I was a morbidly obese child. It was not fine, and someone should have intervened. I have no doubt that that obesity and this obesity didn’t just directly interfere with my ability to enjoy life then, and now, but that there are inevitably long-term consequences to my having been a fat kid and for the most part a fat adult.

The obesity crisis in the US lead to “being overweight” during the pandemic becoming the main factor predicting worse case outcomes including death. And 1.1 million Americans have died.

There is a huge difference between not being an asshole and pretending that people struggling, or not, with being a little or a lot overweight is fine, or healthy. And while adults are entitled to make bad choices, trying to make being a fat kid, like I was, acceptable is just as creepy as if you were pretending that starving kids is ok.

We have been doing less than nothing.

It’s not a given, but you may think it would be a good idea to do something about the ongoing climate emergency. So here are two points.

One: The single largest contributing factor to climate change is that there are 8-billion of us. The biomass of just humans is 20 times that of all wild mammals combined! That is egregious overpopulation. It does not matter if we reduce our individual carbon footprint if we keep increasing our population. People will say all manner of ridiculous things but realistically, if most people are going to have a decent quality of life, then half of half this population is likely sustainable. If you want to avert this catastrophe then you need to acknowledge that a plan for reducing over-population is essential.

Two: No matter what you have heard or what you want to believe, the ONLY technology we have for electrifying on the scale necessary to depreciate fossil fuels is nuclear fission. While several other sources of electricity no doubt have a roll in our energy mix, there is no and may never be, any other low-carbon source of energy that can replace coal, oil and gas. In particular wind and solar fall short by ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE. It’s not even close. Nuclear is safe and cost effective and the technology is fully resolved. We should have seen massive investment starting in the early ‘90s. But we can’t go back, so TODAY is the best time to start.

Most of the reason we have accomplished less than nothing in dealing with this pressing crisis, which I learned about in the 1970s in grade school, is primarily that we have not gotten over these two stumbling blocks. It may already be too late to avert 2.5°C of catastrophic global warming. But if people, perhaps including you, do not pull their heads out of their asses soon, the consequences will be much much worse.

Abortion is a human right.

This is a rewrite of an earlier article. We have to keep on saying these things. It is pathetic, but necessary.

I was born late in 1963. In 1969 contraception and abortion stopped being illegal in Canada. In 1983 spousal rape became illegal in Canada.

So in the spring of 1963 when my father raped my mother the assault was perfectly legal. She had no access to contraceptives. She had little or no access to reproductive health services and certainly not an abortion. This, despite the fact that she was living in astonishing poverty with a drunken abusive rapist and already had two nearly grown daughters.

In fact, gynecological neglect contributed to decades of health problems for my mother, which significantly worsened the misery of her later years.

That being said, OHIP started in 1966 so she was more fortunate than her mother who, without birth control had a life of annual miscarriages that took a heavy toll on her health. And even so they both had it easier than my father’s mother who had an unknowable number of miscarriages as well as some-teen surviving children by a physically abusive man who once hung his heavily pregnant wife out a second story window and would try to, in my aunt Virginia’s words, “beat the French out of her.”

Antiabortionists like to frame their cause in terms of protecting babies. But blastocysts and embryos and fetuses are no more babies than babies are adults. And blastocysts and embryos and fetuses cannot be persons in fact. Such as it is, “pro-life” campaigners cannot be acting as they are to protect the unborn, because the unborn, in the sense that they are proposing, are imaginary.

No, what is actually the case is that these people, or specifically the leaders who agitate them for their own purposes, are trying to undermine women’s access to reproductive health services. And they do this opportunistically out of a cynical disregard for the safety and well-being of women because abortion is an easy topic to get ignorant people angry about and angry people can be easily manipulated.

In order to have rights at all, to have “security of their person,” women must first have access to the contraceptive and gynecological services my mum and her mum and my dad’s bruised and beaten mother suffered without. There is no way around this. If anyone can be required to be pregnant, then they have no other liberty.

Already in the US, after the entirely disgusting and disingenuous SCOTUS ruling overturning Roe, states are moving to remove women’s freedom of movement and association by making it illegal to travel out of state to get a legal abortion. Women are being left dying for hours while doctors hesitate to save them by providing a medically necessary abortion for fear of being arrested and sent to jail for years. When a women dies from medical neglect because the state prevents her from getting an abortion what part of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness is left to her?

And the reasoning behind the SCOTUS decision on Roe is not even legally valid, as was testified to by the recent Republican SCOTUS appointees before Congress during their confirmation hearings. And the same reasoning also impinges on interracial marriage decisions, same-sex marriage decisions, as well as decisions on contraception, with far reaching implications for the undermining of more rights.

Attacks on women’s access to reproductive health services are attacks on women’s health and women’s rights. Abortion bans are on the same road as contraception bans and disenfranchisement of women; as the decriminalization of spousal rape. As a return to an appalling age of suffering and abuse of which we should all be profoundly ashamed. There can be no tolerating these appalling policies. There can be no decent moral position that does not loudly condemn restrictions to women’s access to any reproductive health services.


Let me start by being super clear. I run a business. I make and sell digital artwork to customers. I charge sales tax. I have been doing mostly only this for more than 30 years. I am not an employee. I do not have any employment income.

Sometime around 2005, I think, one of my customers caused considerable consternation for many of its freelance suppliers by suddenly and unaccountably issuing T4 slips to them. Among the problems with this was the fact that that first T4 slip was thousands of dollars short. This happened because I had income from them that they had payed late, in the following year, but were for sales that belonged to the prior tax year. Not being into tax fraud, I had to report my actual income for the tax year not some random fraction of it.

So, I laboriously gathered all the information about the T4 with the wrong amount on it, provided annotated copies of my actual sales income and a cover letter explaining the mistake. I filed my taxes on paper with all this supporting material attached.

Because this was bullshit, there was considerable backlash from suppliers. So the following year, when that customer issued T4s to everyone, they came with a cover letter explaining that they were required to issue T4s to businesses they had purchased artwork from.

There are a couple of things to unpick with this.

When I called the CRA to ask how they meant for me to deal with this they confirmed that my customers were indeed required to issue T4 slips to suppliers for sales/purchases. So I asked the CRA if that meant I should have to issue T4 slips to my mechanic or grocery store. After a long “uhhhhh…” pause, I was was told, “yes.” 🤣

Of course you and I know this cannot be true. And part of the way I and other freelancers stuck with this problem knew it was not true is that only this one customer had ever issued T4s. Until quite recently no other company I have ever done work for has ever issued a T4.

And here is an interesting additional problem. Because that initial T4 was short, the missing amounts from the previous year appeared on the T4 for the following year. While at the same time, amounts that were past-due were omitted. Thus for many years, every T4 I was sent was for the wrong amount. Eventually like most people who got sent them, I just started to ignore them. Typically my customers, because I am in no sense their employee, do not have my Social Insurance Number. So, none of these T4s are associated with my Tax account anyway.

This year is super special however. I have three T4s. One from the company that first issued them. And two from companies that bought up divisions of that company. One of those T4s shows an amount of $500.00. Almost as soon as I received that T4 I also received an email from that company (2022/03/09) saying that the amount was in error and they would be emailing a replacement in a week. They have not however emailed another T4. This is especially problematic because they are a US company. I had a whole nightmare of getting set up as an approved supplier with them in 2020, where I had to play guess-what-info-they-need for tax-treaty purposes with respect to US withholding. And the thing I eventually correctly guessed, cause they would not say, is that they needed my Social Insurance Number. And because they have my SIN that wrong T4 is associated with my Tax account.

But it gets weirder. Cause not only is the $500.00 amount wrong. I didn’t have any sales income from that company in 2021. $0.00.

I have, I think, figured out how this mistake happened. In November of 2020 I had completed $150.00 worth of work for them and invoiced for it. That $150.00 was unambiguously part of my 2020 sales and I reported it as income for 2020. But they issued the check past-due for the November bill, late, in January. And have issued a T4 for that income as if it were in 2021. And to add insult to injury, they put in the wrong amount.

I can only guess what new hell will ensue when I have to explain to an inquisitive CRA agent what the hell has happened here.

Hat Head

For context here, my Salvation Army/United Church Sunday-school teaching mum would not go out, when I was a child, without covering her head. She wore a head scarf usually. Sometimes a hat. When I became an adult, she could not grasp how I could, as a man, go about in public without covering my head.

I cannot for the life of me understand what anyone’s objection is to a hijab. It is just a head scarf. Not very dissimilar to the ones my mum tied on in order to go over town. It does not obliterate a woman’s personal identity or even conceal her face. I wear a dickie balaclava outdoors in winter for strenuous activity which is essentially a pile hijab pullover.

A hijab is not a niqab or a burka. And while I object in principal to the cultural ideology behind those, I am none the less painfully aware of the futility of trying to force women not wear them if they choose to wear them.

Often lately when deciding whether to argue I weigh what advantages might come from the disadvantages of conflict. Will I get a prize? A gold star? What do people trying to ban head scarves think they are gonna win? What is the prize?


There is an argument that has been made that since we have very effective vaccines that we can end our pandemic measures. Sure, the risk of serious illness and death remains high for the unvaccinated. But hey, they made their choice.

But they didn’t make an informed choice, or probably for many of them who are in oppressive situations any choice at all. Think of kids who will get very sick, hospitalized or dead because their parents won’t get them protected. And there are people who cannot get vaccinated easily because their spouse will not allow it. Or people who will not get vaccinated themselves because they have been mislead by unscrupulous liars.

Those people didn’t conscientiously choose to suffer the inevitable toll of a society tolerating anti-vaxers. And many of them will die for that mistake.

I am fully vaccinated. It is very very unlikely that if I stopped following reasonable public health measures, which right now are mainly protecting the unvaccinated, that I would get sick, or very sick, or hospitalized, or dead. And even though I am too fat and obesity is the single greatest risk factor for negative CoViD outcomes I am probably fine.

But that does not mean that the misled or the unprotected or the controlled people who remain at risk are disposable. That some hideous western separatists think of those people as convenient pawns does not equate to me writing them off.

So, yeah, if we were all vaccinated this would be over. But we are not all vaccinated. And we lack the provincial political will to make that happen. So this is not over.