Friday, March 8, 2013

The Polar Bear Designation as Endangered

Disgrace for Canadians to allow the polar bear hunt
There's a tussle going on between the science behind polar bear species health and the politics of whether or not the numbers are shrinking.  And organizations that always stood for good science are being compromised with the positions they take.  For example, Greenpeace and Fish and Wildlife Service have cast the designation as 'threatened' not 'endangered' which would put the animal into a hunting under quota basis.  Experts are crawling out of the woodwork to put forth documentation to support all kinds of truths or versions of them based on who got paid what and where they get their funding from and who wants to advance an agenda. 

SunNews interviews Ford; their feet sit on bear skin

Polar bear kills are political and the iconic animal is a mere trophy for fat cat corporate Bush style rednecks.  See above.

Letter written to blog post for Terry Audla's blog to protest his arguing for the hunt on sustainable stewardship grounds.
Be honest.  You are using the polar bear for cash cow by selling hunting to disrespectful trophy use.  You are playing the political game and not the scientific one.  To you, it's important to hide behind the image of being 20th century by speaking well and being able to parlay in boardrooms while putting the face of grandmother's and poor who need traditional meat to live.  The unfortunate part is that the way of life is compromised when you sell bear parts of this iconic animal, people use the bear rugs as trophies in their corporate boardrooms, disrespect the 'lonely hunter' by shooting it with high powered weaponry.  In selling the bear this way you sully your ancestors' memory.  Theirs was a life of hardship and want and respect came from that need.  Today's Inuit have become hybrids of a tv culture where your wants are 20th century and you've forgotten that honor comes from respecting the past.  Your land is amongst the most beautiful one can imagine.  Our tv, photographs cannot capture what you can see in the skies, the aurora borealis.  Here, where I live, people shoot wild animals like coyotes on site because they're haters of the wild.  For you, to see a polar bear is magical.  Don't give away for cheap what is priceless. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

CBC News Anchors Make Our History

What makes a great news anchor questions Rick Salutin in the Star and why hasn't Peter Mansbridge lived up to the mantel?  Well, the quality of the stories for one. Journalists and anchors should have a story to tell and must have risen up the ranks as writers, correspondents, been in the places where history was being made.  And when they retire, I'd like to hear about all the behind the scenes true thoughts that they have about their careers, unvarnished Kissinger style.  What did Mansbridge really think about Conrad Black's answers?  Who did he hate as an interviewee for deceptiveness, evasiveness.

What makes stations ditch their anchors like Anne Mrovskovsy or Laura Di Batista?  People didn't like the elocution?  Too forceful or light weight.  Unable to keep up with the fast thinking required?  Was it presence that gives gravitas.  If so, then Andrew Coyne has the connections, writing ability, thinking skills to look critically and question.  Similarly Matt Galloway.  Do you remember when the TTC chair said that if buses were full then mothers with strollers could just wait for the next bus?  Galloway responded, "Do you know how ridiculous that sounds?"  Brilliant.  Natural, real and to the mark.  However much stations may want to groom the faces and voices of their station, sometimes the quirkiness of individuals are what we want.  What Canadians don't want are the plastic people of American television.  One of each flavor, but the women must be young, curvy, slim and smile a lot.

Barbara Frum was to me a staple of Canadian radio and television even though her voice was whiny and the manner of questioning somewhat predictable.  Was Carol Ott on 'As it Happens' a duplication of the Frum brand?  A voice clearly not made for radio.  But I don't want to hear inappropriate laughing at serious topics or undervaluing of stories that impact on issues  I care about.  Like foolish howling after the wolves story to make light of the plight of killing an alpha female that horrified locals.  I would expect anchors, newscasters to be people who are sensible, not products for their station, puppets moving to a script.  To be cheery irregardless of the material.

Steve Pakin was a CBC news anchor who's moved to CTV TVO and has all those qualities of being bright, producing his own material, takes part in the field and doesn't march to the tune of station ratings. be continued.

Friday, February 8, 2013

What's Wrong with Market Side Economics?

Teachers and fishermen surplus
There's a mis allignment of skilled workers and jobs in the Canadian economy that is slowing Canada's growth according to a recent Agenda episode

I say that the wrong metrics are being applied because markets should not be dictating policy else we will have economists like Benjamin Tal offering fixes for a wide range of situations that he has no right or reason or accountability to comment upon.  Yet that is where such a conversation is headed. 

  • Let's transform the school system to align demand by industry else we shall import skilled un unionized labor to do it.

  • Let's manipulate immigration so that only tar sands workers or fish packers or migrant workers are invited to come to Canada because local labor is too expensive.  Or, our Chinese companies want Mandarin speakers.
  • Let's factory produce chemical, mechanical, industrial engineers not bothering with scientists who are the apogee of today's climate change crisis management team.
  •  Teachers and fishermen are surplus.  Really?  In today's knowledge economy?  When fish from the sea is about the only fresh, un gmo'd product left to eat?    
Seriously, I can see why this one sided view of an economy driving policy is taking us down a path we have no good reason to go.  

Please take the time to make a comment on The Agenda website because Steve Pakin is one of the best interviewers on television today and the programming is excellent.  Unlike Power and Politics, a bully pulpit from my point of view, the Agenda is non biased - generally fair.  Let them know your view.

Read one comment that said there is no labor shortage in the US but that companies are using third party rejection mechanisms 

We already have witnessed the rejection of coal miners in B.C. by a Chinese owned company. 

The Mind of Winter and the Conservative Brain

Where do our most deep seated political convictions come from?  Our parents, habit, life experience, gut, influence, media messages?  Are they tainted by robocalls?  Is it our reptilian brain or rational brain that has the most sway?  Can we be fooled by images of 'presence' in candidates that portray honesty, gravitas, intelligence which suggest perfection?  And can these thoughts move us from being a deep-seated believer in the ideology of our party if the conditions are right?  

Are Canadians capable of moving from being liberal in mind and political affiliation to conservative at heart as the harper government would like to transform us to be?

The answer lies in the wisdom of the cryptic Snow Man poem an apt metaphor for what's at the heart of being Canadian.  And it isn't really an answer I can provide but rather what you take from it yourself.  Sorry, if you're disappointed.  You'll have to use your brain the get at the answers for how and why you vote.

The Snow Man

by Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
Ok, I lied.  Even though the snowman is stark, staring, intransigent, I think he's in a good place because he is what he is.  And the person who identifies with him gains some solace in knowing that there's some permanence there.  To me, politics may be a messy, dirty, unscrupulous game run by weasels who don't deserve to be there, there are some who can make it a better place. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ontario Ministry of Education Top Down Interference

The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next. 
Abraham Lincoln 

In the U.S. there is a fear of Agenda 21 which posits a globalization of common ideas and constructs that are being insinuated into school curriculum.  These ideas are in the main about sustainable development and shared common goals. UNESCO's aims are admirable at least at first, but not if it means mandating rules and methodologies to make students into corporate citizens.  The aims of schools are to foster many individual goals, not to create worker bees that will run mindlessly in consensus groups and corporate goal centred group thinkers.  That's why the corporate speak of Laurel Broten and her 'toolkit' grated on my sensibilities. 

schools are preparing students for global citizenship. We are no longer
nation states like Canada with our own values, but are being
subsumed into a harper government construct of buzzwords

So much money is being spent on standardized tests, the curriculum has manuals on how to teach, what to teach and teachers are merely deliverers.  When's the last time you heard about consequences for cheating or failing to hand in assignments on time?  Well that's all part of this 'teaching for success' strategy that seems to follow along into later years when there are not consequences for failure to do the right thing as it should be done. 

Notice how Peter Kent lets polluters break rules simply because it's expedient to do so.  It isn't fair, right or decent but it serves the 'net value' of the bottom line.  B.C. river diversions are in disarray with fish dying because hydro projects are run without the required oversights.  How does this rampant plundering relate back to education, sustainable development?  Look at all the global development that is agreed upon to develop similar mega projects run by corporations that control the agenda of governments.  Everyone seems to be on the same page, working in common consensus to vandalize for maximum profits. 

There are no outliers because it seems what was learned is a corporate consensus to conform.

curriculum is being rewritten to use corporate terms and ideas
to deliver a consensus of opinion on norms, values and attitudes.
That's what will be tested in standardized tests and what will
be rewarded in corporate citizenship in the global market.

 Let teachers teach
Published on Tuesday January 22, 2013
 Letters: Toronto Star
standardized tests cost of $30 million to $50 million per year
Re: Finland’s lessons for educators, Opinion,Jan. 22 Benjamin Gillies is right. It is disappointing that we hear so little about how our pupils fare when measured against other countries. Finland, with its policy of no competition, no top-down approach to education, and where teachers choose how to spend their time and resources as they require, is tops. Finland doesn't believe in standardized tests (at a cost of $30 million to $50 million per year). We learn that in Finland, teachers are respected “as much as the country's doctors.” Finland produces well-rounded and productive adults who don't graduate just because the bar has been lowered to make it look like students are succeeding. And Finland accomplishes all this with a poverty rate 10 per cent lower than ours, and an education system costing 13 per cent less than ours. As Albert Einstein once said, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” The lesson here? Ontario Ministry of Education, get out of the way. Stop filling teachers’ days with endless assessing and let teachers teach.
          K. Johnson, Burlington 

The above letter says what you'd hear in the staff rooms in schools.  Teachers see no benefit in the duplication of curriculum laid on from manuals that makes students into worker bees who will operate as little mindless robots seeing no wrong in a world that always did need creative thinking and problem solving by some independent thinkers willing to go rogue.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Water Levels on Georgian Bay Dangerously Low

Beausoleil Island on Georgian Bay Near Honey Harbour
Water levels on the very rock filled bottom of Georgian Bay are dropping drastically this past fall and making dock approaches hazardous if not downright impossible.

If you've ever canoed this stretch, you'll see pike and bass in the spring mating amongst the reeds.  They're so big and floppy, you can almost catch them by hand.

But if water levels continue to stay low, the breeding grounds for small fry will be all dried up and that will be the end of their spawning for the season. 

What caused the water to fall so much is the drain from the St Clair river and lake that was dug out by the U.S. army and which just pours out fresh water into the St. Lawrence and out to sea.  It wasn't until the Georgian Bay Cottager's Association hired their own engineering firm to investigate that the truth finally came out.  Compounded by dry summers, little snowfall and later winter season starts the historical levels are giving dire warnings. 

What can be done to minimize damage to fishing stock renewals is monitoring marsh levels on both sides of the lake and agreements between Canada and the U.S. to work together on the environmental health of our shared fresh water. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Visit to the Art Gallery

It was a grey early winter day and I'd decided to wander over to the art gallery for a little bit of culture and to see what intellectual stimulation there might be had from talking about art.  There was a showing of important pieces that could provoke some discussion and maybe get some new thoughts about a particularly troubling harper painting that just creeped me out. 

What do you think this is all about, your first thoughts?

It's ugly, mainly because it reminds me of the Édouard Manet (1862) Le déjeuner sur l'herbe – originally titled Le Bain and doesn't seem to have much to say but for the shock value.  I mean, there seems to be no purpose in having a naked lady except for men to stare at like she's a wishful piece of strumpet to take advantage of but they seem blase about the fact she's there like that.

Notice how both look at the person staring at the painting, that's you and me and how comfortable the setting is for them but itchy, creepy for us.

How do you put the focus of both into the context of their surroundings?  Why do you think the painter wanted to put all that detail in?  What is going on in the background?  What's the backstory?  Reminds me of  Michelangolo's The Creation of Adam (1512) by the arm placement, the sense that there's a connection between one and the other and where there's a direct relationship, a transference of power.
How have the artists conveyed the relationship between power transference? 

I'd like to hear what you think?