Whose agenda are you devoted to?

I have never seen George Monbiot’s bettered as career advice, though it will not lead to an easy life. For instance:

What the corporate or institutional world wants you to do is the opposite of what you want to do. It wants a reliable tool, someone who can think, but not for herself: who can think instead for the institution. You can do what you believe only if that belief happens to coincide with the aims of the corporation, not just once, but consistently, across the years

Also:

How many times have I heard students about to start work for a corporation claim that they will spend just two or three years earning the money they need, then leave and pursue the career of their choice? How many times have I caught up with those people several years later, to discover that they have acquired a lifestyle, a car and a mortgage to match their salary, and that their initial ideals have faded to the haziest of memories, which they now dismiss as a post-adolescent fantasy? How many times have I watched free people give up their freedom?

What he cheers for and takes satisfaction from is inspiring too:

Most countries have a number of small alternative papers and broadcasters, run voluntarily by people making their living by other means: part time jobs, grants or social security. These are, on the whole, people of tremendous courage and determination, who have placed their beliefs ahead of their comforts. To work with them can be a privilege and inspiration, for the simple reason that they – and, by implication, you – are free while others are not. All the money, all the prestige in the world will never make up for the loss of your freedom.

Autonomy, not authority, is the only way to escape the many traps of the status quo.

May Boeve ‘stepping back’ at 350.org

A few years after Bill McKibben, May Boeve is also ‘stepping back’ from the climate change activist group 350.org.

The first three items on her list of accomplishments are all things I saw firsthand. The global divestment movement was a focus of my activist efforts from 2012–16 and then for my PhD research. Keystone XL resistance is a big part of what drew my interest to 350.org after 2011. In some ways, the 2014 People’s Climate March was the high point for Toronto350.org.

I can’t say I am optimistic about the present state of climate organizing. Activists are distracted by all sorts of issues and have little focus on actually abolishing and replacing fossil fuels, or on building a large and influential political coalition. Meanwhile, in mainstream politics, the way things are going is characterized by incomprehension about what is happening and ineffectual efforts to recapture what people feel entitled to, without comprehending that the world that made those things possible no longer exists. Humanity has never been in greater danger.

Related:

Twelve years of commercial photography

At the suggestion of a musician friend, since 2011 I have had an accountant to keep track of all my commercial photography paperwork and prepare my taxes. I just send invoices for every gig I do, and receipts for expenses like lens rentals.

Unfortunately, this year he retired and I have not been able to find a similar alternative, so I am left trying to figure this out myself.

It occurred to me that I have literally never added up the total for how much my photography business has made. This is prior to all expenses and taxes:

All told, gross revenues have been $20,268.75. I have had between 18 (2016) and 0 (2021) gigs per year.

PhDs and job prospects in history

Previously I wrote about Bret Devereaux’s important and informative post: So You Want To Go To Grad School (in the Academic Humanities)?

Today I came across another strong summation of the dismal prospects for those considering PhDs in the ‘social sciences’ and humanities: Why You Should Not Get a History PhD (And How to Apply for One Anyway)

For decades the relentless message from parents, schools, and governments has been that higher levels of education will almost certainly mean more money, a place in the middle class, and long-term financial security. As the number of people with advanced degrees and the sizes of programs producing them has exploded, that trajctory is now seldom possible. And for people who do complete a PhD and then get a good job which does not require it, it’s likely they got the job because of the skills they already had and despite the PhD, instead of the other way around.

Peter Russell tributes

In January, my friend and mentor Peter Russell died. His son Alex invited me to give remarks at his funeral reception: Remarks at the funeral of Peter Russell

Yesterday, I spoke at Innis College’s memorial event: Remarks about Peter Russell at Innis College

Related:

Canada’s origin in fraud

Over the next few years, as I got to know the Dene better, I learned about how emissaries of the Canadian government had first entered the Dene lands and the conditions under which they negotiated Treaty Eight in 1899 as the queen’s representatives and Treaty Eleven as the king’s representatives in 1921. These treaties had about as much to do with the queen or king as they did with your great grandma or grandpa. The mission of the Canadian treaty party in 1899 was to secure a safe shortcut for Canadians on their way to the Klondike goldfields, and in 1921 to prepare access for the oil industry to the petroleum discovered at Norman Wells, a way down the Mackenzie River.

These treaties, like the other numbered treaties before and between them, were designed to gain access for settler industries to resources in areas that had been Indigenous nations’ homelands for centuries and in which Native peoples were still by far the dominant if not the only population…

Sovereignty is not mentioned in these treaties, nor is the queen or king referred to as sovereign. But the text of the treaties, written in Ottawa, in English, in advance of “negotiations” and not translated into the Native people’s language, contained some killer language. In return from some up-front money and small annual payments of a few dollars to every man, woman, and child, flags, medals, suits for the chiefs, sometimes fishnets and farming equipment, plus some small parcels of their former homeland to be assigned to them by the queen or king as “reserves,” the Native owners are purported “to cede, release, surrender and yield up” all rights and priveleges to all of their territory. This language is in all the numbered treaties. It is what the lawyers call “boilerplate.” At the so-called treaty negotiations, the Crown’s representatives did not use those killer words at all. Instead, the Indigenous signatories (who may have lacked authorization to sign anything on behalf of their nation) were assured that they would have access to their traditional hunting grounds as long as the sun rises and the rivers flow.

When you read the treaty texts and think about the actual treaty process, the most apt word that comes to mind in answering the Dene’s question about how the Queen got sovereignty over them is surely trickery. And that is a polite way of answering the question. Fraud is closer to what actually occurred. The First Nations had not been conquered, and while there was a strong interest in establishing a peaceful relationship and getting some tangible benefits, no Native people was so desperate that it would knowingly sign away its rights and make itself totally dependent on the largesse of the white man.

Russell, Peter. H. Sovereignty: The Biography of a Claim. University of Toronto Press, 2021. p. 4-5 (italics in original)

How should we feel about Canada now, if we acknowledge that its origins were fundamentally illegitimate?

In practical terms, does sovereignty mean anything other than armed control over a population?