Thursday, December 18, 2008

Is the Guvernator reading my blog?!


I'm pretty sure the answer is "no," Governor Schwarzenegger is not reading my blog...but check out the recent headline - Building Back: How investment in infrastructure will boost the economy.

My last post included this tidbit: "investment in infrastructure...reduces costs down the road..." Shucks, I even typed it in bold.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

California running out of money - are you kidding me?



I saw headlines like this one this morning, and I can't help but wonder how this possibly makes sense.

There are poor states in the United States. There are poorer countries in the world. I can't believe that Louisiana has had to absorb Hurricane Katrina, and New York has had to absorb the collapse of the World Trade Center, yet California - with its tourist revenues; California, with the busiest ports in the country; California, with its film and entertainment industries; California, with its property values and property taxes; California, with its high vehicle registration fees and poor public transit to offer reasonable alternatives; California, with so many rich constituents in film, music, the tech sector, shipping,...California, "the state that's untouchable like Elliot Ness" (RIP Tupac), is now threatening insolvency.

If such is the case, the entire administration must be called to account for the squandering of the billions in state revenues (almost $100 billion). There are too many poorer states struggling to and figuring out how to get by to stand by and watch the state of California cry poor.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What is "news"?


I would like to better understand this.

The morning after Canada went to the polls as the first 1st world country to stage an election in the wake of the global economic meltdown, it's front page news for BBC (today, this article was on the front page of BBC's main website), and almost invisible on most US news outlets.

The UK is across the ocean, the US is across the border. What makes front page news over there worth nary a mention on the front page of Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC? (on most of these so-called "news" sites, one must dig into their "world" sections to find an article covering the election).


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My take on the Olympics


Pretty much, I'm not a fan.


If I was king, I'd eliminate medals altogether (and not just because I'm Canadian and we don't win those things anyway).

When I was young and naive (now I'm not so young), I thought the idea of the Olympics was as an opportunity for the citizens of that little blue marble called planet Earth to come together as one and celebrate the human experience through goodwill comraderie and the shared joy of sport. But the element of "winning" and the stigma of "losing" injects a poison that all but spoils the spectacle for me.

Doping scandals, who gets caught vs who doesn't, nationalistically biased judges awarding compatriots/allies and punishing political enemies are all enough to push any spirit "brother and sisterhood" way off to the side, as we celebrate the winners and have little time for the losers except for those "feel good stories of overcoming odds to be there."

Ah, "I'm just happy to be here" - which we hate to hear in competitive sport - would be most welcomed at the Olympics. Of course, players will console themselves with that notion...when they fail to bring home hardware. And winners will "say the right thing", but the headlines speak louder. Just do an internet search for olympics and Canada and see how our national performance is being covered.

Is there merit to a medal paradigm? Sure. It may be an indication of the priority of amateur sport in a country, a barometer by which a nation can measure its support of its people's opportunity for development in sport. By this, we see that Canada has a real problem.

Is it that Canadians are just not good athletes? Nonesense. Canada has a long history of athletic acumen. But, on the world stage, something is missing, and it may be the lack of financial and social support and development in amateur sports in Canada.

Some sense of national pride, of excellence in execution, is on display when the world comes together to play. In this respect, if there's any value in medals, it is that it leaves Canada naked - we can talk all the talk we want, but when it comes down to it, we do not invest enough in our people.

For a country that is so highly taxed among 1st-world nations, we look around at the sagging health care, under-funded public transit and public schooling, and wonder where in the heck our money goes?

It certainly isn't going to our athletes.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Energy from Garbage an elegant solution to the wrong problem

On the face of it, extracting fuel from garbage seems like an excellent idea.

  • why bother consuming non-renewable resources when garbage is generated globally every day?
  • why bother talking about a garbage crisis when garbage should be in as much demand as there is demand for energy?
  • why talk about unemployment when there is so much to do collecting garbage, generating fuel from it, and then distributing it to the marketplace?

And, make no mistake, we have an insatiable demand for energy, so much so that even thinking aloud about going after oil in US coastal waters and under the Arctic Circle is not rejected outright. Quite on the contray, Big Oil is having these conversations, because the demand for energy - which we feed primarily with fossil fuels - is forecasted to continue to rise for many reasons, not the least of which is that the population of the planet continues to grow.

Why is it so difficult to see the value in putting a whole lot more effort into cleaner energy derived from renewable sources, and making conscious choices to reduce generating energy from dirty non-renewable fossil fuels? One would think that the sheer amount of renewable energy that the planet has enjoyed uninterrupted for, well, forever - sunlight, wind, geothermal and hydro - should have been sufficient for earth's inhabitants. After all, that was the only energy available up through the evolution of society, and it was good enough to build the pyramids.

Look at it again - clean renewable vs dirty non-renewable. Seems like a no-brainer, right?

The problem is that the powers that be are blinded by a sure thing - as non-renewable fossil fuel sources deplete and the supply dwindles, the price will continue to skyrocket. Any for-profit corporation whose primary obligation is to stockholders is compelled to procure this stuff, hold it in reserves as assets on the balance sheet, and pay to its stockholders handsome ROI as the price of the reserves continue to go up, taking the price of the stock up with it.

As such, there is no motivation to switch to renewable energy. Renewable means the supply is never-ending. Supply that is not going down equates to value that won't go up.

Some might ask "well, if supply is the problem, then getting more oil is good, right?" Unfortunately, not exactly. The idea of going after new sources of oil is not so they can sell it at today's prices (and allow for too much of a drop in price based on new supply in the channel); the idea appears to be to reserve it and let the price rise. It's not the sales, it's the asset value rise on the balance sheet, that's attractive.

The problem, therefore, is a conflict of interest between what's best for stock value vs what's best for planet earth and all its inhabitants. Granted, any corporation can simply say they are not responsible for the laws, and if corporate law requires that a corporation is responsible first to its shareholders from a financial point of view, then a corporation is absolved of prioritizing environment except where other laws trump. The problem is short-sightedness and a lack of vision due to greed, a corporate right before which the greatest ideas will fail without legal support.

Laws helping good ideas have shaped society for the better. Laws have prevailed to change society's views of use of tobacco, alcohol, firearms. Laws have ended slavery, child labour. Laws have forced closer equity in pay for women doing the same job as men. Laws can and do win in battles with corporations to create a better society in which to live.

There are a whole lot of great ideas waiting in the wings for legal support to have a chance to make the world a better place. And more than laws, we need strong lawmakers not to allow good idea laws to be repealed, as has occured with the offshore drilling ban being lifted.

I shudder to think what this world would look like if laws had failed in the past. I shudder even more to imagine what might happen if they fail in our near future.


Monday, March 17, 2008

#2


There has been all kinds of talk lately of the attempt from the Hillary Clinton camp to suggest a superticket would be to have Barack Obama as her running mate - even though he is leading and she is trailing in the race for the party nomination.

What I fail to understand is why I can't seem to find any discussion anywhere of what kind of ticket the Democrats might present if Clinton were Obama's running mate?

Not that I'm suggesting Obama would go along with that. Or that Clinton, for that matter, would have it. But, why is it a question that hasn't even been posited among the talking heads (as far as I've been able to find) thus far?

Nor, by any means, am I suggesting that Clinton, being a woman, could only be capable of the vice-presidency. Nor am I suggesting that Obama, being black, should be president just so we can say we got a black president. Neither of them should get the job because of their race or gender, nor should either of them be held back for same.

But the assumption that only Obama should be eligible for discussion as the #2 is, um, curious, given his leading position.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hope & the ultimate ideal


There are only the known and the unknown. In living between these two, we constantly act towards the ideal, and since we don't know the ideal can or will be achieved, we act towards the ideal in hope.

We don't know if we will have a life-long happy marriage, but we don't get married planning to be divorced. So, we marry and act through hope towards the ideal - a life-long happy marriage.

We don't know if our children will be happy, healthy and productive, but we don't have kids planning to see them incarcerated, killed, or otherwise non-productive. So, we have kids and act through hope towards the ideal - happy, healthy productive children.

We don't know if our plane will land, but we don't get on a plane planning for it to crash. So we board and act towards the ideal - a safe landing.

And so it goes. We go to restaurants and hope not to be poisoned but to enjoy a meal and good company. We go to a game, or to a show, or to work... we play a game not knowing if we will win the championship, but we play in hope towards the ideal -winning it all.

Ultimate reality for each individual is that there is life, and death. We do what we can to promote and prolong life. The ultimate ideal would be a life that does not end as, surely, we don't live in the hopes of dying, nor do we act towards death as an ideal. We live and act through hope towards as long a life as possible. The ultimate ideal would be a healthy life without end.

And so, consistent with everything else we do in life, caught between the known and the unknown, we act through hope towards the ideal. The ideal of life is life without end, and living through hope in that ideal is naturally consistent with everything else we do.

"For we are saved by hope," Paul wrote in the book of Romans, chapter 8 verse 24. Indeed, hope motivates action towards the ideal. I don't know if I will catch the bus, but if there is any hope that I might, I run perchance to realize the ideal and catch the bus.

Today, we live in the context of the known, but we are driven towards the unknown in tomorrow by hope in the ideal.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Black History Month is for everyone



Culture can be defined as the total systematic way in which a group of people interacts with its immediate environment in order to survive. Culture is based on experience, which is in the past, in history.