Monday, January 30, 2006
Share Power - Business & Human Rights
It's an odd thing really - some of us have a need to look at what's wrong in the world (human rights abuses in this case), in order to feel connected to the world in an genuine way. For me, this often leads to anger or sadness... and then to awareness and action, even if small.
This link is to a new campaign by AI call Share Power. It's related to Business & Human Rights. If you have a chance to open it and have a look, I'd be interested in any comments on the animated introduction...
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
A Little Story on the Lighter Side
I think I need to get outside into the fresh winter air, take some deep breaths, look at the stars and realize how small and insignificant we all are... meanwhile a little story.
Years ago I was living in Khartoum, Sudan (working for the Red Cross/Red Crescent). I went for a meandering walk one afternoon - a hot, dusty, dry afternoon (like every other afternoon). As I wandered away from the Nile into a jumbled neighborhood of mud walls and small square mud homes, I was drawn up the street to what looked like a gray tent, flapping in the hot breeze just next to the hard-packed road.
When I reached it, I leaned over, pulled back the cover and peeked in (it was a cloth tarp over sticks). There looking back up at me was a tiny, wizened woman. She had few teeth in her mouth and even fewer possessions in her tent. I felt rude and backed away, until she spoke in Arabic and waved me back.
To make it a shorter story I'll tell you that she sat me on a paving stone, put her small pot on a charcoal stove and made tea for us. We sat together for a long time, sipping tea and just being... with no words (I only spoke 10 words of Arabic). I felt like I was with everyone's grandmother.
As I left, I tried to give her some Sudanese pounds, out of concern and to thank her. She waved her small hand at me in a univeral way that said, "No way! You'll just upset me if you keep waving that money at me." I went back quickly, squeezed her hand and headed off to find my way home.
Just a moment in time. Now I'm going outside...
This is a good line to draw and fight over...once enough laws have been compromised, once enough human rights have been abused and once enough Americans stop fighting for their freedom of speech, of expression and of conscience - well, the real war is over. I think we need an army of Cindy Sheehans, people who will put their bodies on the line and demand the truth.
The three phrases from Orwell's 1984 that encapsulated doublespeak:
"War is Peace"
"Freedom is Slavery"
"Ignorance is Strength"
I'm not thrilled, but I can live with it (no need to have Nerdine post Norwegian immigration information yet...)
The NDP gained a number of seats, including one in my riding and will be a good social and environmental conscience at the table. That's a good thing.
This BBC article is a pretty good summary of it all.
By the way, for my US visitors: Canada still has paper ballots, scrutineers from every party watching every step, and a manual count of the little pieces of paper in every one of the 66,000 polling stations. How very un-Floridian!
Monday, January 23, 2006
MICHAEL MOORE TALKS TO CANADIANS ON ELECTION DAY
Michael Moore is currently in production on his next movie. As an avid lover of all things Canadian, he has issued the following statement regarding Canada's upcoming election on Monday:Oh, Canada -- you're not really going to elect a Conservative majority on Monday, are you? That's a joke, right? I know you have a great sense of humor, and certainly a well-developed sense of irony, but this is no longer funny. Maybe it's a new form of Canadian irony -- reverse irony!
OK, now I get it. First, you have the courage to stand against the war in Iraq -- and then you elect a prime minister who's for it. You declare gay people have equal rights -- and then you elect a man who says they don't. You give your native peoples their own autonomy and their own territory -- and then you vote for a man who wants to cut aid to these poorest of your citizens. Wow, that is intense! Only Canadians could pull off a hat trick of humor like that. My hat's off to you.
Far be it from me as an American to suggest what you should do. You already have too many Americans telling you what to do. Well, actually, you've got just one American who keeps telling you to roll over and fetch and sit. I hope you don't feel this appeal of mine is too intrusive, but I just couldn't sit by as your friend and say nothing. Yes, I agree, the Liberals have some 'splainin' to do. And yes, one party in power for more than a decade gets a little... long. But you have a parliamentary system (I'll bet you didn't know that -- see, that's why you need Americans telling you things!). There are ways at the polls to have your voices heard other than throwing the baby out with the bath water.
These are no ordinary times, and as you go to the polls on Monday, you do so while a man running the nation to the south of you is hoping you can lend him a hand by picking Stephen Harper because he's a man who shares his world view. Do you want to help George Bush by turning Canada into his latest conquest? Is that how you want millions of us down here to see you from now on? The next notch in the cowboy belt? C'mon, where's your Canadian pride? I mean, if you're going to reduce Canada to a cheap download of Bush & Co., then at least don't surrender so easily. Can't you wait until he threatens to bomb Regina? Make him work for it, for Pete's sake.
But seriously, I know you're not going to elect a guy who should really be running for governor of Utah. Whew! I knew it! You almost had me there. Very funny. Don't do that again. God, I love you, you crazy cold wonderful neighbors to my north. Don't ever change.
(Mr. Moore is not available for interviews because he now needs to address the situation in Azerbaijan. But he could be talked into it for a couple of tickets to a Leaf's game.)
Sunday, January 22, 2006
"I wish to tell you, my Indian brothers, that the 500 year indigenous and popular campaign of resistance has not been in vain. We're taking over now over the next 500 years. We're going to put an end to injustice, to inequality."
After centuries of colonialism, racism and then modern day interference by the US and others - this is really a day to celebrate.
Speaking of Henry Kissinger - this election reminds me of my favourite bumper sticker: MY KARMA JUST RAN OVER MY DOGMA.
May first peoples around the globe find hope today.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Voting away the future... Jeez!
Auntie Willow, an American blogging buddy with a sharp librarian's ruler for those who misbehave, expressed the dilemma very well in this post... I wonder if it's too late to put her on national television?
Time of Life
I am at a time of life where my inclination or pulls are towards what we call retirement. I mean they are away from the ambitions of the marketplace and ambition and more towards freedom, focus on things that interest me, travel, reading/writing and just being with people I want to be with.
There really seem to be natural adult phases, should one live long enough to go through them. I was certainly blasting my way out into the universe in my 20's - exploring the inner and outer worlds with amazing vigour. I couldn't get enough...
In my 30's it was more measured and I seemed to be collecting learning and experiences in a way that I could use later. I sometimes felt pulled in different directions and probably had a sense of knowing that choosing some roads meant never going down others.
In my 40's I felt like a mature fruit tree. Lots of leaves, good strong roots and a regular load of apples ready to pick. It was a time of knowing with more certainty who I am (and comfortable with any uncertainty).
I'm in my 50's now and I feel more like in my 20's, except that I'm not going to sleep on the floor in Indian ashrams or on Turkish train station benches (well, I'm not opposed to hostels...) Our kids are nearing the leave-home stage and my thoughts turn to simplify, travel, explore, learn... communicate. Who knows?
Musing from a tired traveller...
Where are you on the map?
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Stewie Griffin and Osama in one clip - it's all too much
Click away here for the link.
LIVE WRITE FOR THIS WEEK
IS ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE PREVENTABLE?
It’s Alzheimer Awareness Month and 2006 marks 100 years since Dr. Alois Alzheimer identified the disease that now bears his name. The Alzheimer Society of BC is organizing events this month, including the Walk for Memories on January 22. They provide many services, such as co-coordinating nearly 100 BC support groups for caregivers and for people in the early stages of dementia. (For information - www.alzheimerbc.org )
When this disease comes up in conversation, I’m used to two different responses. The first is an uneasy humour – for example, jokes that ask about the benefits of having Alzheimer’s disease (you’re always meeting new people, you never watch re-runs on TV, you hide your own Easter eggs and so on…) The second is a reverent pause and a sense of caution or even avoidance in discussing Alzheimer’s disease. For some, it’s just too frightening or too close-to-home to easily talk about.
What is this illness - and is there anything you can do to prevent its onset? Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term for various types of brain diseases that result in memory loss, confusion, behavioural and emotional changes. It is not a part of normal aging. While there are some cognitive changes associated with simply getting older, such as slower processing of information, dementia is a disease.
Many of us will live with dementia or support a loved one who lives with dementia. Based on information provided by the Canadian Study of Health and Aging, it’s estimated that 61,000 British Columbians have dementia (41,000 women and 20,000 men).
Media stories about the latest research into Alzheimer’s disease often relate to understanding its causes or seeking improved treatment or a cure. There has been less attention paid to a new area of science that indicates there are things a person can do to reduce the likelihood of developing the illness. Elisabeth Antifeau is the Clinical Lead for Dementia for Interior Health. According to her, “There is a growing body of evidence that modifiable lifestyle risks such as smoking, excess alcohol, and inactivity are associated with increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older age.”
For example, it’s known that there is a link between dementia and cardiovascular disease. The connection between heart disease and onset of dementia means that what’s good for your heart…is also good for your brain. The not-so-good news is that if you’re an overweight couch potato, who loves to drink, smoke and eat unhealthy snacks – you’re at increased risk on both counts.
Smoking is associated with greater cognitive decline - it’s a tough addiction to break and now brain health is another reason to quit. Regular exercise can help to keep your weight and blood pressure down - both are risk factors for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. A healthy, sensible diet is good for your heart and circulation. High cholesterol is thought to lead to stroke and brain-cell damage.
Elisabeth Antifeau notes, “There’s also a connection between regularly engaging in mental and social activities as a strategy to reducing dementia. Expand your hobbies, learn new skills and continue with life-long learning. Mental exercise is valuable – reading, playing cards, chess, crosswords…all of these give your memory and thought processes a workout. It’s also useful to maintain active social networks, as social disengagement is a risk factor for cognitive decline, especially in the elderly.”
There is much more we need to know about the causes of dementia and it’s a complex subject. Do we know how to fully prevent it? No. Do we have cure? No.
However, there is enough information today to know that a healthy, active lifestyle (mentally and physically) is valuable – it’s good for your brain health and may contribute to preventing dementia.
Today she is the first woman President in the Americas (including up here and the US) - and Pinochet is under house arrest. She's also a social democrat, who leans to the left and wants to reduce the disparity between rich and poor.
Let's admit it bloggers! There is good news sometime...
How's this for a quote from a new Presidente:
"I'm agnostic...I believe in the state," Bachelet told several evangelical ministers last week. "I believe the state has an important role in guaranteeing the diversity of men and women in Chile - their different spiritualities, philosophies and ways of life."
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Maybe it's still mostly for show, but on this issue at least, Angela has shown some (metaphorical) balls.
Unfortunately they now seem to be friends ...guess we'd better stop electing Right Wing Freaks (by European and Canadian standards which are pretty left in the US).
Oh shite! Seems we might elect Angela Tony Stephen Harper here in Canada. What's wrong with us?
Thursday, January 12, 2006
I put a sign for Alex up in my snowy yard tonight- he's the New Democratic Party candidate. These are people who are not afraid to use words like liberal, socialism, redistribution, justice, national child-care, real security etc. when they talk.
Bill O'Reilly would really hate these people...
This Tagging Thing
Seven things to do before I die:
Return to India for a long visit
Write and publish a book
Try every Scotch whisky once (at least)
Visit all my childhood homes (4 down, 8 to go)
Travel to Europe with my daughter
Meet Nelson Mandala
Meet the Dalai Lama
Seven things I can’t do:
Play the trombone for anyone but me (and that's not easy)
Be interested in any sport but casual walking
Skate like a Canadian
Grow hair on top
Be tolerant of intolerant people
Cook anything much
Juggle more than one ball (literally)
Seven things that attract me to blogging:
Developing a virtual community
Avoiding work or other responsibilities
Learning to take photos (to post)
Venting, ranting and griping
Being part of a movement
Linking to others around the world
Seven things I say most often:
What the f***?
Would you guys please be quiet, I'm on a business call!
What time will you be home?
But I'm right
I don't care, I still think I'm right
Seven books that I love, in no particular order
(note: this would change regularly...)
A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
Ghost Road - Pat Barker
Due Preparations for the Plague - Jeanette Hospital Turner
River Out of Eden - Richard Dawkins
Atonement - Ian McEwan
The Wars - Timothy Findley
All The Pretty Horses - Cormac MacCarthy
Seven movies I watch again and again
The Wizard of Oz
Swiss Family Robinson
The Big Lebowski
My Dinner with Andre
Farewell to Arms (1950s version)
Now you must do it - or as we say in Canada, "Sorry, but would you mind doing this if you have time and you don't mind... sorry." Vee, Madcapmum and DA
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Sign of the week (please tell me to stop with the signs...)
Okay, the Conservatives and leader Stephen Harper have scared the shite out of most Canadians for years - they smell too much like US conservatives and have often acted out little demonstrations of bigotry, homophobia, free marketeering and alignment with US foreign policy (we'd be in Iraq, we'd be partners in Star Wars.)
So now Harper seems okay? He appears to be headed for at least a minority government. Read this article if you want an answer to the question in the heading. (There's a funny drawing too.)
Damn those Liberals for rolling in the mud! Damn the Conservatives for such good acting! Damn the Canadian voter if he/she eats it up and applauds!
I'm voting NDP myself... and I think our guy, Alex, will win (Kootenay/Boundary riding).
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
And then it was winter...
within me there lay an invincible summer."
- Albert Camus
"In the depth of winter, I finally rejoiced
that I'm going to Mexico in February."
Sunday, January 08, 2006
This may be an interesting link for everyone... and is a direct link for Canadians to sign on to a letter to Prime Minister Martin, asking him to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and other forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). This protocol puts some teeth into international inspection of detention centres. Torture is practiced in many states and the current tacit endorsement in the 'war on terror' is simply a nudge and a wink to many thugs around the world. Everthing that might put fright up their butts is a good thing - this is one of those things.
Hey, there's an election going on here - maybe Paul will listen up! I recently sent an email to all 4 local federal candidates on a similar issue - two of them responded (and not form letters either).
Okay, I'm on a sign roll...
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Photography for dummies (like me)
Angela Merkel, Germany's new Chancellor is speaking out just before meeting King George II in Washington. Good for her.
For more background on Gitmo, or to learn how you might take action on this, have a look here.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
I love a good sign
Monday, January 02, 2006
And why is it okay to go after those exposing the truth, instead of the President and those, breaking the law? Because "We're at war." I wish they would just begin to call it Warism, since it truly is this era's Communism - the bogeyman. In the name of freedom and security - let's remove freedoms, manipulate the media, stifle dissent, go to war without cause... and generally run amok. I sometimes hope there really is a business-cabal behind it all - that way I wouldn't have to consider that it might just be ignorance, arrogance, greed and plain power-hungry stupidity. Not sure which is worse.
Oh, by the way - someone does need a good spanking and it's little Georgie Bush. (It could start with the mid-term elections.)
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Hey - did you think ever think you'd get to be this old?
I don't make resolutions generally (although I left one at Vee's site) because I saw a quote I liked there...
So for 2006, how about predictions instead? I'm going to make a few and welcome you to do the same. Stick to reality - or knock yourself out and make the wildest, weirdest predictions you can.
What will 2006 bring?
- George Bush's popularity will continue to plummet, even with his vague plans for withdrawal from Iraq. Some nasty terrorist act will be intercepted or actually take place in the US, and this will scare the American people. Bush will still be unpopular because they don't trust him anymore.
- The Liberal Party will form another minority government in Canada. It will be good for the country, as we certainly don't want any of these guys actually having the freedom to do whatever they want to.
- The Pope will wear big tall hats, colourful robes and will visit many countries- why shouldn't he have a legacy too? (See his site for more info.)
- Fidel Castro will die and pass on to the great socialist paradise - his brother Raul will become President of Cuba. (I'm just guessing here, but what if I'm right? Remember, you saw it here first!) Canadian tourists will continue to be Cuba's number one group of visitors.
- It will be warm and sunny in Australia when it is dark, bleak and cold in Canada. Some Canadians will resent that. (No names mentioned...)
- Madcapmum will make soap, cheese and beautiful quilts.