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?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

TPP Without Consent

So far Canadians are getting little information on why we should join the TPP other than the impediment that the milk marketing, poultry producers are causing.  We've seen this before with the border policy that erupted into huge threats over sovereignty, of US agents coming across the state lines to arrest Canadians under American laws. 

What countries need are not more of these agreements but protectionism and higher barriers to free trade without restrictions to create home jobs, secure wealth of our own resources for Canadians and not foreign interests, and decentralize the decision making power that is being vested in globalized corporations. 

Don't expect the wealth to be shared by the working poor.  Free Trade works well for wealthy countries and those with products in high demand or a large labor pool used under extremely oppressive conditions.  Poor countries are infiltrated with money and foreign owners who then restrict the ability to develop resources internally.  Profits rise to the few owners, capital is exported to banks and horded well out of reach of the local economy.  It's no surprise that any country suffering austerity cuts is also a partner in these deals which are made without the consent of the populace.

Buying local and knowing your food source is healthy for your family and your economy.  Have a look at the Northumberland homepage where this statistic is from: 
  • If every household spends just $10.00 a week on local products it will add $16.4 million to the local economy.
Just recently CBC's Evan Solomon debated the ramifications of food prices and the milk subsidies in The House Brian Lee Crowley, Managing Director of the MacDonald-Laurier Institute and Yves Leduc, Director of International Trade at the Dairy Farmers of Canada spoke to the supply management structure benefits and faults. No doubt the pundit Lee Crowley who just wrote the paper on the topic is being used as the factual support needed to sell a bad economic idea.  Here's what a commenter had to say:

Supply management is not a bad thing when the alternative is eliminating Canadian producers.
I like to use this analogy when the issue of competitiveness comes up: When a family of children are sitting around a table and you only have so much food to go around to each one, should the biggest kid at the table be allowed to take all he wants or should it be portioned out so everyone gets a fair share and those smaller children be allowed to thrive as well?

Milk prices may be high but so are potatoes, sometimes more than meat.  And we see nothing but U.S. produce in every Loblaws on display first because that's where they want it put.  

Support your local economy and don't be fooled by the imports that are cheap Dollarama food.  If milk should not be subsidized, then why is oil being given a free ride?


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Food Subsidies Important Compliment to Canadian Agriculture

When I shop for meat and vegetables, I look first for local, organic and home grown rather than supporting the USDA beef from feed lots or pesticide laden, enhanced products from abroad.  Remember too, that in season foods are fresher.  Buying spinach, for example, can be tricky when the source is California, where water is scarce and dirt may be on the leaves which means it's possible to get diseases from poor cleaning.  Similarly, openly displayed bean sprouts carry huge amounts of bacteria for those who eat it raw. 

But it's getting harder to get Ontario grown foods in the supermarkets, and indeed, we're being encouraged through lower prices of foreign imports to buy more out of country foods.  Wallmart is undercutting local prices and can afford to thrown away spoiled goods which green grocers cannot.  But I have a rabbit and chickens that are quite happy to get scraps; being frugal and conscious of waste, I often take day olds for volume freezing and soup bases. 

So, that's my outlook and I wish that mainstream papers would cover these views much more that simply pushing the big business interests.  Read the comments of the Star and Globe to see how we're not being served by Canadian agricultural policies.

The US agricultural sector has always been massively subsidised so this is not a problem caused by Obama but by the Mulroney government in the first place agreeing to NAFTA and allowing our agricultural products, not covered by "supply management" to be wiped out by subsidised US goods. Try finding Canadian made food products in your local supermarket. US subsidised agriculture especially corn and corn based fructose has wiped out mexican farmers , many of whom as an unintended consequence are now illegal immigrants to the US trying to make a living. Supply management makes some products more expensive for the consumer but getting rid of them will make us entirely dependednt on the US food supply and then watch prices rise.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dangers of Bill C30 Misuse by Harper's Conservative Spying

Anyone who reads the national newspapers and writes a blog or posts comments online via twitter or facebook already knows the sockpuppets, strawman sockpuppets and meatpuppets that troll your content.

Harper's bully boys have been called out as shills for overposting on any issue that doesn't back a point of view on the Con party agenda.  They work like spammers.  Check out the regularity of their posts.

click on posters name to view posting frequency.
Anyone who posts each minute is using the platform as a forum conversation to steer perception towards a view in line with their party affiliation and may be a shill.  But to be fair, in the messages to the user section, one can see that a real discussion by readers furthers the conversation.
Users post rebuttals or agreement

There are, however, abusers of the comments section who can trail your i.d. and send messages via your facebook, twitter, blog account.  The Globe's policy is not to delete comments because once posted, they become part of the public record.  Legally, they are protecting themselves before you.  So be careful not to say any slanderous comments.

One type of spam or malware is called clickjacking.  The whole interactivity of the net leaves spying, malicious endangerment of your accounts and misuse wide open.  If we had a government oversight that worked ethically, there wouldn't be a concern.  We'd feel protected.  By the Harper government spies, lies, tampers with the poll results, phones voters to lie to them.  You know what Rob Ford does to whistleblowers. The list goes on.  Now bill C30 will make it even easier to knock us down for good.

If you doubt how nefarious the gatekeeping of information can be, then check out what search giant Google has been up to by crossing the line of fairness.  Look up #search neutrality, #google bombing for example.  For Immigrants to Canada, google page rank will push results for "for profit" suppliers of fast tracking into tar sands Alberta.  For CO2 emissions for Alberta or water use, page rank will push results to Cenovus or Capp.  To avoid the industry self promotion paid for information, use Google Scholar.
look at the number of citings for verity of source

You already know how misinformation is destroying public perceptions of climate change, of tar sands, by counter strategies like climate denial and ethical oil propaganda, of NDP or Liberal policies by slander.  See astroturfing.  So in the general sense, we will lose the capability to get truth from the internet through all the noise of misinformation.  Thank goodness for the CBC for its wonderful reporting, Al Jazeera for a non western point of view, and UK Guardian for its science and environmental reporting.

For an example of lack of information on the environment, look at the UN site which would always post information about World Watch Institute.  Underfunding results in statistics not being made available.

If it wasn't for Twitter, I would never have discovered this article by Senator Tom Banks.  You must read it.

The interactivity of the internet also forces us to have to reveal issues we believe in that will be used against us by a corrupt government.  That's why bill C30 is a danger.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blackberry's Status as Leader is Being Deliberately Underplayed by Feds

A Canadian made product that has been a leader in the world for its standards of superiority in design and use is being squashed by the Conservative policies against our own businesses. Michael Geist, columnist and leading proponent of legal issues regarding the telecommunications industry in Canada points out in his article the completely wrongheaded  path towards economic success for local business that is impacting RIM.  Blackberry is a world class product, yet the press continues to squash its virtues.  Instead, the headlines read a negative bias.  Conservatives hate Canada, the environment, Canadian made goods, the workers who produce here, Ontario and success by our own hands.

Given that RIM remains profitable, it seems premature to suggest that the government can or should do much of anything to assist it. The company faces mounting criticism over its product lines and its failure to address the competitive threats from Apple Inc. and Google Inc. — business issues that lie beyond the expertise or mandate of government policy-makers.  (Geist)
Anyone who thinks that a free, unregulated economy can thrive in an unequal global marketplace is a fool.
While RIM’s current problems can’t be solved by government policy, some of its shortcomings may be a product of Canadian policy. Indeed, RIM is the quintessential Canadian technology company, reflecting the market’s strengths and weaknesses. If the government wants to avoid a Nortel repeat, part of the solution lies in addressing the problems that plague Canadian telecom policy. 
Caterpillar.  Yes, you know it.  There is an unwritten but very visible tendency to push our economy down to meet the market of corporations not placed in Canada.  Canada is open for business to plunder, to dominate.  It's easier for government to walk away from responsibilities to respond to its voters.  Corporations can lobby directly to the government, are easily satisfied with moving the agenda of WTO global interests forward.

RIM was never shy about trumpeting its perceived competitive advantages. For years, co-founder Mike Lazaridis promoted the data efficiency of RIM’s BlackBerry, while emphasizing that wireless spectrum is a finite resource. From RIM’s perspective, efficient use of data makes its devices more attractive to wireless carriers, which incur lower costs when compared with bandwidth-hogging devices such as the Apple iPhone.
Unless you buy an unlocked phone and are a nerdy geek who knows how to circumvent the phone company drain on your pocket, you'll be paying big money to run your business.  Another way in which Canadians cannot be competitive is our slavery to the telecoms.  More money for Rogers and Bell.  And by business writing it off, it's really a subsidy to those companies, just like gas expenses for business.
The emphasis on spectrum scarcity and the value of currying favour with telecom carriers is very much a product of the Canadian marketplace. Bell, Rogers, and Telus dominate our wireless market, resulting in longer consumer contracts than those found elsewhere, among the highest roaming fees in the world and expensive wireless data costs. Moreover, the government has retained foreign investment restrictions in the telecom sector long after most other developed economies dropped them, and it is years behind the United States in conducting spectrum auctions that could yield new competitors.
The deliberate crap contract plans by these big three just underline how dishonest the whole business is.  Who can cut through that constant blabbergab of nonsense, their use of voicemail, outsourcing of calls for tech support, their poor customer relations.  All these are signs of a business model that only works one way.  That they don't care because they don't have to compete.  That we are stuck with being irrelevant slaves to their product.

Buy Canadian. 
Demand an end to the CRTC cronyism to the Conservative government ownership of telecommunications.
Realize that if you feel like you're being screwed by the gov and your phone product - you are. 

twitter:  @mgeist