Thoughts on the ridicule of Donald Trump by the media

I thought this video was quite accurate.

First off, yes I’m Canadian, so this is simply commentary as an outsider looking in.

I’ve never been a fan of Donald Trump. That style of loud egotism doesn’t seem to do anything for me and I can’t really imagine him being anything more than self serving in his approach to governance. Meaning, likely bad for the little guy. Probably bad for the middle class. The elite classes, they’ll benefit. The always do.

Could I be wrong? Absolutely.

My biggest argument with political campaigns is there lack of content. Lack of factual information. Like, when they say “I will put in place strong environmental policies“.. give us specific examples please. Enough with the lip service and keyword phrases that are meant to make us all feel warm and fuzzy.

Now when it comes to all this ridicule of Donald Trump. It’s the same deal.

Yeah, Trump is a pretty proud guy, he’s loud, he’ll say things that get reactions out of people…. comedians seem to love poking fun at his hair.

But at the end of the day, all this is simply entertainment. There is little serious political discussion that I see. To belittle this guy is simply a media outlet jacking ratings and making more $$.

As they mention in the video, Trump’s message hits home with many and the belittling/ridiculing of candidates and politicians from the Left wing and from the Right wing media outlets only serves the purpose of those media empires. It does not enhance democracy.

Here’s the video featured on The Real News

Donald Trump and Liberal Media: The Joke’s On You

Finished reading “Unstoppable” by Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader - UnstoppableI just finished reading “Unstoppable” by Ralph Nader.

I bought this book a year ago while I was in Toronto, having a long list of books in which to read this one fell in line for some time.

Seems as though I always stock pile books for future reading…. and I’m a sucker for bargain books that interest me…

I believe I can call Mr Nader one of my “heroes” if you will. While I used to look up to rock stars almost exclusively in my youth I’ve come to admire people with ideas, ideas that actually tackle the everyday issues people all around the world face and people who work towards those putting those ideas in motion.

Ralph Nader is one of those people. Mr Nader has long worked “for people”.  The seat belt being one of the everyday standard safety features that we can thank him for.

I must say that in reading books that are in the vein of politics or current events, it’s sometimes hard to find optimism. But in this book there is some hope.

Hope that at heart, political entities of different “stripe” can find common ground. The ideas in the book highlight much opportunity in the traditional ideas that usually plagues these political entities with the “it’s us against them” mentality, instead highlighting the actual democratic principles of conversation, debate and compromise.

In today’s age it is hard to see through the clouds of partisan news reports, advertisements and social media barrage that paint most issues as a political impasse. But in reality, there can be common ground at least to those politicians who are in office to serve their constituents. As for those who serve $$$$$, they have their agenda.

Certainly a great read.

The Comeback by John Ralston Saul, a must read if you are Canadian

The Comeback: How Aboriginals Are Reclaiming Power And InfluenceJohn Ralston Saul is one of my favorite authors. I’ll get that off my chest right away.

There is a clarity in his writing and in this book he asks us to reflect a bit.

Today it’s crazy the amount of words on the internet, stories written. Sometimes these stories are written as journalism, that is to say it is always spun with a certain purpose in mind.

What I began to ask myself was what was missing. Context. History.

I grew up not very interested in history but through school I did get a basic (very basic due to my little interest) of Canadian history as well as a touch of “worldly events“.

I had always heard of aboriginal peoples, trying to renegotiate their lands. I remember the “Wikipedia – Oka Crisis” from when I was in my teenaged years. I never really knew what to make of it. Through the knowledge I had learned, I did know that the aboriginal peoples of Canada had not been treated very well but I still did lack much context.

This book is a nice step back into history (and today, history is one of my favorite subjects to read). From broken treaties, constant denials and tax payer funding of the continual court battles by our governments (past and present), one would think that the book would be a bit bleak in highlighting this history.

But it is quite hopeful.

John Ralston Saul is a visionary. I’m quite grateful that we have voices like his.

The last section of the book “Other People’s words” highlights many letters, parts of speechs and/or debates from various leaders and at different points in history.

A couple of those short chapters that really stuck out for me were Thayendanegea (Joseph Brant) to Sir Frederick Haldimand, Governor of Quebec (1783)

And The Memorial to Sir Wilfred Laurier, Premier of the Dominion of Canada, from the Chiefs fo the Shuswap, Okanagan and Couteau Tribes of British Columbian (1910)

The issues contained in this book are at the very heart of this great country.

I highly recommend it’s reading. This book also hints at something (possibly indirectly) that I’ve believed for many years.

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Perhaps someday we will be brave enough to treat all citizens as equals, to settle what needs to be settled and stop the tradition of avoidance, follow through with our long standing commitments and stop wasting tax payer dollars on never ending legal battles.

We are all humans together on this rock.

This is an important book.

Harper Government’s muzzling of Scientists : The Big Chill

We’ve likely all heard the terminology, keywords and the hastags floating around the internet. The muzzling of scientists and the continual cutting of their budgets.

I try to keep up with “current affairs” here in Canada, in the US and also internationally. Even though I do I simply can’t keep up with the amount of news out there. I mean, if I’m reading headlines and little “blurbs”, then it’s no big deal… I can keep up with a lot.

But I decided some time ago that I would try and learn about things. So instead of just hearing about some new study or international incident or even history, I will read. I’ll try to inform myself and keep an open mind.
NOTE: Keeping an open mind doesn’t necessarily mean shy away from having an opinion or coming to a conclusion. That would be close to apathy. I’m always open to being wrong. At least, I try to be.

So I read the report which was compiled based on a major survey of Government scientists. First I read the brief “Most Federal Scientists Feel They Can’t Speak Out, Even If Public Health and Safety at Risk Says New Survey“.

I was quite interested in what it had to say as I’d heard about the degradation in “transparency”. This survey was taken by 4069 out of 15398 members of  The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada who were invited to participate.

I would encourage everyone to read this document. The pdf document, linked here “The Big Chill : Silencing Public Interest Science”  is only 8 pages long, has graphic illustrations and lists the survey questions at the end.

In the results, 90% of scientists feel they cannot speak freely. That is a huge number and one that should be concerning to everyone. 50% feel health and safety has been compromised due to political interference. “Seven out of 10 federal scientists (71%) believe Canada’s ability to develop policy, law and programs based on scientific evidence has been compromised by political interference”.

Political interference.

“.. 63% of Environment Canada scientists and 62% of DFO scientists do not feel their departments incorporate the best climate change science into their policies.”

This survey was taken in 2013 and again, I encourage everyone to read it.

Her first Gymnastics competion: Emily on the Vault

Yves and Emily with her gymnastics ribbonsMy daughter had wanted to join Gymnastics for several years (along with Figure Skating) and a couple of years back I managed to finally get her into Gymnastics.

I’m always happy when she takes interest in something that keeps her physically active. She loves Gymnastics and won a couple of ribbons today at the competition, representing her school (Ecole Evangeline), which has motivated her to practice more… we are quite pleased.

 

The Lords of Creation – A great book on the history leading up to the Great Depression

The Lords Of CreationThe Lords of Creation, a book first published back in 1935 fresh after the worst economic collapse in modern times.

I saw that this book had been republished in digital format by Open Road Integrated Media under the series “Forbidden Bookshelf”. As I’m quite interested in reading history I was curious about this book and it’s series. Forbidden Bookshelf is a series of books that have been out of print on a variety of important historical topics.

So this book, quite naturally, caught my eye.

Having read a few books on the lead up to the First World War recently it was great to also read about the development of finance and some of it’s general workings in the same epoch.

There is no doubt that the economic powers of the times as with the present day economic powers yield much influence. Something that struck me was the many similarities. Today there are countless lobbyists that jostle for as much influence in policy making as they can muster. Using the mountains of $$$$ at their disposals the very rich have the lobbyists at their disposal as but 1 tool (or weapon perhaps??) to advance their agenda.

I was surprised at the mention of lobbyists and the spin of information, with references to “educating the public” just as we see happening today.

And that the times brought on a vast movement of speculation, methods of inflating stock prices to fatten pockets and profits and new business models with the sole purpose of creating new streams of $$ while creating no products or nothing of value. (I.E. solid goods, products, services…etc)

At the books end Frederick Lewis Allen asks many questions about the direction of the United States of America. If it will recover or become further indebted or gambled upon by the brokers and rulers of Wall St. Seems as though many of the same questions that Mr Allen asks then, back in 1935, I ask myself today.

In reading the book it also gave me a bit of a different perspective on “The New Deal” that I thought was a strong change by a strong leader. Though Mr Roosevelt put the working people first in his calculation for reparation of the damages done the new deal didn’t accomplish all it set forth too. And that the politicians of the times played politics and bent to special interest just as much as present times.

I’m compelled to ask, “Have we learned anything?“.

In the aftermath, there were many legislations and bills, some passed into laws and some forgotten. (Such as the Glass-Steagall legislation)

I finish the book with the overwhelming feeling and observation that I doubt we’ve learned much. How much do we know about the mistakes of our past? Back in 2008 there was a collapse that runs somewhat in parallel with our past. And there has been little done in terms of regulating how the high rolling gamblers roll.

I would like to believe that another “meltdown” is avoidable where millions loose so much of their savings and pensions because of unsound business practice and investment. But, I simply can’t believe it.

Reality is, there will likely be historic moments repeating themselves once again. Because, we’ve not really changed much.

I would recommend “The Lords of Creation” to anyone interested in reading about the history of how some of the richest dynasties came to be and lived. And also how the Wall St elite eventually cannibalized the very system that gave them great privilege.

I believe this to be an important read.

Catastrophe: A book on The Great War

CatastropheI finished reading “Catastrophe – Europe goes to war 1914” today. It took me quite a while to get through it and not because I was not interested in it’s content. I enjoyed the book. It took a bit because I didn’t give myself too much time to read in the last bit.

Having read another book on The Great War (World War 1) earlier in the year I already had some knowledge on the thinking and attitudes of the time and on the basic history of the events that took place leading into this massive conflict. But that book “The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914” primarily dealt with the years leading up to the beginning of the First World War.

This book (Catastrophe) dealt with part of the lead up but also with the first months of the conflict.

Many aspects of this part of history certainly fascinates me. How patriotism became so strong as to help those signing up to serve their respective countries in this massive conflict that they were fighting “the good fight”.

This conflict also brought in a huge shift in warfare itself with the introduction of heavy artillery, more advanced machine guns and also the beginning of the armament and tactical use of the skies on enemies.

Armies from long ago would wear more traditional uniforms but with the advancements in arms wearing traditional blue or red uniforms meant you were easy target for snipers or machine gun fire. Also, that more “romantic” or “heroic” notion of leading a charge on a horse towards your enemy meant almost certain death.

There is also mention of the “media” of the time and how papers would censor and control the information published in order to keep a control over public perception.

I’m always fascinated by history. In how we humans, who sincerely believe ourselves just and “civilised” have repeatedly, throughout history, fought countless wars. The suffering of millions is repeated. Even in today’s age. We repeat many of the same basic actions and carry a tradition of suffering to new generations of people.

If you’re interested in reading about the First World War, this book will give you a taste of the lead up and a look into the attitudes that plagued the countries involved. It also takes the reader into the first months of the war, the losses and some of the hard lessons that were learned by all the nations.

I will be looking for a book that chronicles the 4 year period of World War 1.

Inequality: We should all care to learn more about it

Inequality, it’s something I’ve always seen and thought a bit about through the years. As I’ve grown a bit older, one of my favorite pass times has become reading. Not reading mystery novels, horror novels or any of the like. Although I might inject that if you do read any such stories there is NOTHING WRONG with that.

Reading is a good thing.

I’ve developed a thirst of learning. From biographies to true crime, lot’s of history, philosophy, spiritual , the sciences and current events/political, I’ve found that there is usually as much mystery and horror as any novel could produce.

Inequality is a topic that interests me greatly. You see, I believe in equality. Not equality for any special interest group per-say. I commend groups that stand up for equality/justice etc.

Income inequality is quite an interesting subject on many levels. Obviously, because the is the disparaging gap in quality of life. One can argue that a rich man has earned his riches. That would be correct.

Where it becomes troublesome is where systems in place may in fact keep millions poorer to the benefit of the few. Where power is in the hands of the few to the detriment of the many. Where there is no equal opportunity. When opportunity becomes hereditary. Where an inherited fortune grows faster than a nation’s economy so that they have a larger portion of the nation’s wealth (in acceleration).

It’s quite conceivable that many great ideas and inventors have been stifled by this cycle.

And sometimes these systems also cannibalize themselves with non-practical practices meant to create wealth out of nothing. (Cue the dot net bubble…. and cue the economic meltdown of 2008)

This type of wealth accumulation may actually be a great harm to a nation’s economy. (Again, cue the 2008 meltdown…. and cue Argentina’s current financial troubles with the huge hedge fund hawks.)

Ever since I’ve heard of Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital in the Twenty-First century, I’ve been eager to read it. It has stirred up quite a bit of social commentary and a bit of a buzz.

Inequality affects our communities, our neighbours, businesses, health care systems, practically every aspect of our lives.

And to put things in perspective, one needs information. That’s why reading, for me, is indispensable. Without any information, it’s just my ideas and whatever marketing campaign and lobby groups message that happens to land in front of my face.

I would like to imagine a future, where my daughter has ample opportunity to live a life where her actual wealth levels aren’t slowly dropped into poverty levels. Even though numbers move, adjusted for inflation, many people are worse off then they would have been 25 years ago.

There are record profits and salaries for super managers. And a smaller portion of the pie for the rest of us.

Here’s an video discussion on Piketty’s book.

Working on Awareness

To be aware seems to me an ongoing mission.

Awareness is essential. Awareness can bring healing and can bring change. Awareness affects on a micro level and the macro level.

In my personal experience, I know that being aware about myself has been an invaluable tool. Becoming aware about how my own actions, my attitudes, my fears, my resentments were affecting my life was a necessity in the process of growing and maturing as a person. (And, I always seem to have far left to go!)

For me, this has always been work. And I’ve found that when I’ve not given myself time to reflect and think, I’ve seen in hindsight that I was in fact less aware of how things impacted me in my personal life then I had thought at the time.

One could say that is on a micro level. On a macro level, I see awareness being important when looking at many aspects of our social systems. Government, business… aspects of human relationships.

Without getting into a bunch of thoughts, an example of awareness or “unawareness”  would be that of greed and how it affects people. I know in my life, I want to be an example for my daughter and rather show generosity and empathy. We all try, in general I believe, to teach our kids principles like sharing, respect…etc. We, in general, try to teach kids that greed and selfishness are not good things.

But, to make sure I’m not being an example where she, my daughter, sees greed then I must make sure I’m not practising greed in my daily life. This means there is a constant “self searching”. There has to be, because without it, I lose sight.

Greed and selfishness can look as simple as not wanting to share your candy when you’re a kid. Or maybe not letting someone else play with your toys.

On a macro level, we can see it in large systems. Take huge corporations like AIG who gambled millions and millions of dollars in mathematical equations and theories that were “wishful thinking” at best. They “bet the farm and lost” then came calling for their bailouts, they promptly paid out many nice bonuses to people working the system…. who lost everyone’s investments…. but managed to grab even more in the bailouts.

It takes many many people working their jobs, working the system that created that mess… there are many cogs in the huge wheel. The common response is that people just do their jobs. Thick compartmentalization makes it so that no one takes responsibility, avoidance is simple. Makes it easier. Easier to be unaware of the effect that wiping out the savings and well-being has had on millions of people. Easier to ignore. Easier to take $$ without consequence.

Greed, selfishness, these things can creep in ever so slowly. Where something looks good, can look harmless and beneficial.

But greed, selfishness, these things blind us. Making us live as if we are unaware. Because after a short time, we just can’t see past what our focus is whether it’s keeping all our candy or coming up with new age complex derivatives that are bound to make us millions more. The cost may be a friendship or it may be the retirement funds of 100k people.

Awareness, for me, is one of the keys to growth and living a good life.

Quiet Time, Quality Time

Chippy the ChipmunkI got to spend some time with my daughter tonight, turned out to be a nice quiet evening. She was sick last night, really sick in fact, and today she was still recovering.

Still tired, we cuddled up on the couch tonight. At first she wanted to watch a movie on NetFlix, and while looking around she couldn’t really find anything or make up her mind. I had wanted to watch something with her that featured animals and wildlife. Something like National Geographic…

She’s always been interested in animals. The Toronto Zoo, for example, was one of the highlights of our trip to Toronto a year and a half ago.

We spent about 45 minutes watching a National Geographic film on a Lion and it’s on going struggle to survive. This lion being alone and always challenged by a large pack of laughing hyenas seemed quite strategic (so the story went).

This time together was great. She had never heard the “laughing” of hyenas and we got to talk and connect about nature. Also an important moment in deepening our relationship as father and daughter.

At the time these moments may not seem as important as, working on our taxes, cleaning the house, doing this or that… because “there will be another night”…etc. But we must not forget that when our kids ask us a question, maybe it’s time to focus on them to give an answer, when they need to talk maybe it’s time to slow down and listen…. and when they need quality alone time, maybe it’s time to slow down and focus on giving them the attention they need. (It’s about love)

I’m blessed to have such a wonderful little girl.