Tag Archives: democracy

Win a signed copy of my new favourite coffee table book!

UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations goes to Paul Le Tourneau who was randomly selected as the winner of a signed copy of Banned on the Hill!

Banned on the Hill

While reading and absorbing James’ essays, I was reminded of the term infotainment, which Jon Stewart used to describe the likes of Fox News. Infotainment also aptly describe The Daily Show but with a different sentiment. Instead of being a news show designed to entertain for the sake of ratings, The Daily Show is a comedy show that also happens to inform—Banned on the Hill does the same. James sees art as a way to deliver the truth yet leave room for personal interpretation and opportunity to decide for one’s self:

“The wonderful opportunity we, as visual artists, have is to help people understand complex issues by presenting information in ways that people can better absorb it.”

In her essay What is Harper afraid of?, James includes the above image to help people “remember and really feel the scale of the tankers navigating the skinny channels in B.C.” By juxtaposing information from a graph against a familiar scene, James makes the numbers real. The reader now imagines a tanker standing on end in the middle of NYC and the data come alive.

To the skeptics, please note that she’s not exaggerating. This size comparison is a point of pride for the American Petroleum Institute and it is in fact plainly graphed on page 5 of its promotional material. Continue reading


Book Review: Banned on the Hill by Franke James

How to catch the eye of friends who ignore our climate plight?

Put this on your coffee table, even your kids will pick it up:

What would you do if you discovered you were blacklisted by your own government for speaking up on climate change and the tar sands? In Banned on the Hill, artist and author Franke James, tells how she first discovered she was being censored by the Canadian government — and how she fought back.

It’s an inspiring story that shows how creativity, crowd-funding and investigative digging can work together to shine a bright light on a government that is more interested in message control than a citizen’s democratic right to free expression. Through eight visual essays, James traces her personal journey as an active citizen discovering the power of speaking out. Interviewed in the Guardian UK newspaper James said that she hoped the book would serve as a how-to guide to other activists hoping to take on the Harper administration, especially with humour. “It’s kind of like a judo flip, meaning that you can actually flip someone who is much bigger than you.”

In Banned on the Hill, Franke James assembles her funny yet factual visual essays on her observations, evidence, and experience as an everyday Canadian who is losing her identity: Canada the free-thinker; Canada the conscientious; Canada the conservationist.

Not only does James express the sense of helplessness felt by so many Canadians fighting to protect treasured natural landscapes and resources, she also exposes the Harper Government’s flagrant censorship of public employees (elected Ministers included) and publicly funded scientists, along with apparently one of Canada’s most obvious national security threats: artists.

Where words fail, James’ art fills in the emotion and visceral sense of the current identity shift in what it means to be Canadian under Harper’s Conservatives. Canada’s reputation as a world leader in clean air and water is giving way to a reputation of a nation that trades clean water for dirty oil and blacklists anyone who objects.

“The Canadian government has clamped down on scientists who tell the truth about the tarsands—and it’s tried to shut up artists too. Happily, Franke James is indefatigable!” ~ BILL MCKIBBEN, Founder, 350.org

“Whether deflating ethical oil or unraveling our access to information system, Franke James defends Canada’s natural capital with provocative imagery and tough questions. Banned on the Hill may be the planet’s most enjoyable how-to-write-to-your-elected official guide, and it reveals that the Harper regime can’t bully every foe into submission.”
ERIC RUMBLE, Editor-in-chief, Alternatives Journal

On behalf of Canadians left speechless by the Harper Government, Franke James says it all, despite being Banned on the Hill.

Check back for your chance to win a signed copy of Banned on the Hill!

Or, if you can’t wait, get your own copy at Amazon.


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Neutral technology is exactly the problem

This is dedicated to my former students. In case I didn’t quite make clear my message about technology being good, bad, or neutral, let me sum up…

Google Images: Technology
Philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, and even some savvy technologists (engineers included), have long debated the neutrality of technology: Is it inherently good or is it inherently evil?  Even as I am writing this, an article just appeared in my inbox asking “Is The Digital World Hurting Us Or Making Things Easier?

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Merry Propaganda!

Well, it’s that time of year and the political flyers are fluttering in, yet again. Mine reads something like: “Contact me anytime because I’m YOUR representative.”

Canada's Parliament lit up for the Holidays

Thanks Andrew Saxton, I have contacted you several times, through several means, yet
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Prime Minister Changes his Name

Breaking News:

Citing the need to make communication about his character and intentions more efficient, Canada’s Prime Minister has announced he is changing his name to:

Prime Minister Hijack

Omnibus Budget Debate Debacle


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