Archive for March, 2016

Farewell Mr. Mayor…
March 30, 2016

Two stories have been dominating Canadian news of late; the run-up to the Presidential nominations in the States and the death of Rob Ford, ex-Mayor and Councillor of the city of Toronto. Both stories have all the elements required to be main features in the likes of the National Enquirer. Most significant to me at this moment is the Rob Ford story.

It is indeed sad that one so young as Rob Ford has died at the young age of 46! No question! But please, please Canada quit making him greater that who he was in life–at best a scoundrel. That is probably the kindest thought I’ve had about Mr. Ford since his rise to fame through municipal politics and his fall from grace at the same time because of his addictions and the antics in council. But please stop with the glorify stuff that is now creating a new-age hero.

I have been taught to respect those who serve in public office. And that Rob Ford presented himself to the people of Toronto as a candidate for council and later as mayor is commendable. And, I respect Mr. Ford for taking on that mantle. Public office is never an easy chioce for anyone to make. But once in office I believe it reasonable to expect our elected officials to behave with some element of decorum. We elect our representatives to represent us in what ever court they are seeking to serve.

That is where Mr. Ford failed.  All the good deeds attributed to him don’t make up for the absolue abysmal behaviour he displayed in council chambers, in the media, and in his private/public life. I was especially dismayed the day he made inappropriate sexual comments about his wife during a media scrum. The media have come 360 degrees in their comments about Rob Ford now that he has died; quite a shift from their villification of him while he as alive.

Mostly I am saddened that such a fuss is being made of a man whose contributions to society are questionalble at best yet we take so little notice of the quiet heros who embed themselves in our lives and leave us without fanfare; often without thanks or any kind of recognition.

Abandoning Social Media…
March 14, 2016

I’ve done it! I’ve dumped my Facebook account. It has been on my mind for a long time that as a tool for connecting to those whom I care about, Facebook was not the best choice for me.

Mostly I lurked. It was a place to go to check in and see what family members were up to in their individual lives. Seldom did I interact; it was an opportunity to reassure myself that all was well with the people I care about. I didn’t comment because I really didn’t want to have to connect with anyone other than the few I chose to follow. I am developing into a modern day hermit I guess.

I’ve discovered that I really do like to be alone and private. Heh! What a strange statement for one who is currently writing a post for a Blog. My paranoia with Social Media has been developing for over the past 37 years. In 1979, I was given the opportunity to attend a science and technology symposium in Toronto that became a moment of “foreseeing the future”. I recall leaving the symposium with a friend in a state of shock at the amount of meta-data already being tracked without our being aware. And, I became afraid. It was the beginning of living into the Big Brother world of Orwell’s 1984. And I was afraid!

In 1979, personal computers had just come onto the market. Remember the Commodore PET (Personal Electronic Transactor)? It had about the same computing capabilities as the early computers used in the American Gemini space program. Prior to that I used a mainframe computer at university in 1972 keying in fortran commands on a keypunch machine. It was great fun to send a boxed love letter to my wife typed on keypunch cards in the computer lab. How far we have advanced! Sigh.

The truth is we have bought into the idea of speaking about needing privacy and keeping the government our of our private lives but have been lulled into a time and life-style that tracks everything we do, say, write in a effort to convince us through ads that we need to consume more. So we blithely download and install apps on our cell phones, tablets and computer that must have access to our contact lists, our cameras, our microphones, our call logs, our text logs, our e-mails. This we do, without thinking about or wondering why it is, that an apparent cute app that does such simple stuff as letting us do jigsaw puzzles electronically needs to know so much about us.

More and more I am thinking that living a hermetic Howard Hughes lifestyle is appealing. Think aboutit! Disconnecting from the grid. Pass up the need for a cell phone that we have allowed ourselves to be convinced that we cannot live without. No more texts and distracted driving. No more e-mails. No more reality TV! I could go back to journalling with a pen and a journal. Give up debit cards and credit cards and once again pay cash for what we can afford. Now isn’t that a frightening thought?

It may be the only way that we can once again achieve even a modicum of privacy. Watch out Google +; I’m thinking that you may be the next to go.

GRB

So, You’re Electing a President…
March 14, 2016

It seem months have gone by with Canadian news stories about the upcoming Presidential elections in the USA. The fact is we have almost as much coverage of the American electoral system as we do the Canadian system at election time.

Of course, the biggest story is of the rise of Donald Trump as possible Republican candidate for the Presidency. What a fiasco that has turned out to be! I have been waiting to hear, from Trump and any of the other candidate hopefuls, something about their hopes for the nation. What economic policies do they hope to introduce? What foreign policy will cement relationships between the US and other world nations? How will the “American Dream” be lived out under the watch of any of the candidates leadership? Sadly, if there are any policy statements in all of the rhetoric, they are lost in the fall from grace that has taken place over the last months. All I see are a bunch of boys on the playground shouting one another down and name calling.

So, here I sit in Canada, smug in the knowledge that we are somehow better than that. Thank God the process is not so complicated as in the States. OH! Wait! Canada has just come through a federal election where the Conservative Party led by Stephen Harper was soundly trounced by the Liberal Party. As memory serves, this was a long campaign, longer than ever before in the history of Canadian elections and was replete with rhetoric not dissimilar to that we are now hearing from south of the border. And suddenly I find I need to apologize to the people of the United States for my smugness.

I am sorry that you are having such a time in this election with representatives who, like many of ours in Canada, have forgotten that they are elected to serve the populace; not just the moneyed powerful, but all of us who elected them into power in the first place.

I am reminded that we, too, have our Donald Trump waiting in the wings for the Liberal Party to falter. Rumour has it that Kevin O’Leary is being touted as a possible candidate to lead the Conservatives in Canada. Take a look at the person and compare O’Leary to Trump and see how you assess that against what is currently happening win the Republican party of the US. Listen to Kevin O’Leary on CBCs “Dragon’s Den” and the language he uses when talking to his peers and to those who approach seeking financial assistance to take their dream to the market place. Count the number of times you hear O’Leary tell us the he is most interested in that which will make him wealthy. Wealthier!

To our American friends, I apologize for my smugness and in doing so thank you for reminding me that as the electorate it is our responsibility to be well informed and knowledgeable on the electoral process and about the people we charge to work for us in public office. We need to remember that not all of us are interested in doing the work of elected officials in our societies and that those who do choose to serve as elected and/or elected wannabes, deserve our respect for wanting to attempt to make a difference.  I am reminded of the number of people in the world who are not allowed to choose their leaders and weep for those of us who treat the process with too little respect.

GRB