Archive for the ‘Life’ Category
At 5:00pm on July 6th the temperature here in Southern Ontario was:
32.8°C with a 38.7°C Humidex reading.
I get my reports from the nearby University of Waterloo Weather Station. Last month, the Weather Station blog reported the past twelve months was “the warmest in the almost 100 years of recorded weather data in the region.”
Like most people, I don’t keep records like the weather station does. But as one who has lived all my life in these parts, subjectively it certainly feels much warmer than what I consider “seasonal.”
In fact, we had our first unseasonable warm spell in February. And according to the vegetation, summer started more than a month early this year, although the baby ducks in the park seem the same size they were this time last year.
This is the second winter in the last decade where I only had to shovel snow twice. Contrast that with having to climb the snow bank beside my sidewalk and shovel the pile further into the front yard because it was so high I couldn’t throw the snow over it anymore. That was in the last decade too.
I grumble and complain a lot, because my favourite seasons were always spring and fall. Not too hot, not too cold. Even when I was a kid I never much cared for extreme heat unless I could spend it swimming. (Of course one of my three worst sunburns was acquired while swimming.)
Growing up with pasty white skin in a Coppertone worshipping world, I was never a fan of sunbathing. A pasty white friend suggested I get a base tan from a tanning salon. Although it may have worked for her, all I got was heat rash.
I’m not a scientist, but in my subjective experience, the wild weather fluctuations resulting in increased weather problems ranging from ice storms to tornadoes sure lends credence to climate change theory.
The weather has been dramatically weird all over the world in recent years. The other day I was chatting with a friend in Califiornia who was horrified that our temperatures here in Canada were warmer than what they were getting in the Mojave Desert. Doesn’t seem right somehow.
The only thing to do in such extreme heat is to make sun tea.
A friend shared this list on Facebook, and at first it sounded right, but then it didn’t.
5 Simple Rules For Happiness
- Free your heart from hatred
- Free your mind from worries
- Live simply
- Give more
- Expect Less
I wish I could go along with it, but I can’t, really.
Because, you see, I did all of these things so I could stay home to raise the world’s greatest kid. And I did (and it was worth it!) But in that short time when I wasn’t paying close attention to the world, or allowing myself to worry about the things I couldn’t change, the world has gone to hell.
Although a lot of people date the problems we face now to the fall of the Twin Towers, I think we were on this path long before. The Twin Towers simply offered an excuse to suspend the rights and liberties people used to have. I think that the real problem for the west began with what should have been a good thing: the fall of the Berlin Wall and everything that went with it. That seems to have freed up our supposedly democratic western governments to cease to even pretend to serve the the people.
- Free your heart from hatred ~ YES: this is unproductive
- Free your mind from worries ~ NO: if we bury our heads in the sand, we can’t correct the problems that should worry us
- Live simply ~ YES/NO not at the expense of living fully
- Give more ~ YES: to family, friends, society, those without ~ NO: to corporations
- Expect Less ~ WRONG!
If we expect less, we will get less.
We deserve *more*
including (but not limited to:
- more clean air,
- more clean water,
- more responsible environmental stewardship,
- more government transparency, accountability and responsiveness,
- more protection of our civil rights,
- more accessible education,
- more inclusion,
- more understanding,
- more empathy,
- more privacy,
- more culture,
- more choice,
- more dignity,
- more respect
- more tolerance,
- more sharing,
- more kindness,
- more protection of society’s weakest members
If we all expect less, our government allows big corporations to continue to take more and more,
- poisoning our environment,
- tossing aside human rights, and
- bankrupting our economy.
We need to insist on MORE, because our kids are worth it.
This statue is in Victoria Park, Kitchener. I like the inscription on the plinth:
VICTORIA, QUEEN, EMPRESS
A MODEL WIFE and MOTHER
BELOVED, ADMIRED, REVERED
SHE SHALL LIVE IN THE
HEARTS OF HER PEOPLE
For Mother’s Day this year, you’ll find the legendary mother surrounded by tulips.
[You can find more photos of both the statue and the park on my Visual Laurel Tumblr blog.]
Or the sciences? I just listened to my first “Free As in Freedom” podcast which turned out to be a conversation between two free software legal eagles @bkuhn and @Kaz discussing gender inequity. I was surprised to learn that Karen Sandler feels insecure about public speaking, since this amazing woman gave one of the most powerful free software talks I’ve been privileged to see, “Free Software on Medical Devices: Unchain My Heart”
What happened to the world I grew up in?
You know, the one I’m talking about, the one that was ushering in gender equality?
As a teen I felt empowered by the classic Marlo Thomas television special “Free To Be, You and Me” My high school drama department class even mounted Free To Be You and Me as a show.
When I was a kid, my favorite team sport was soccer, and that turned out to be the sport my son wanted to participate in. He loved the game, and played for fun in the co-ed “house league” throughout his public school years. But when he was in high school, the league began segregating the younger teams according to gender. I asked why, and was told it was to make sure that girls got to play as much as the boys.
That’s a shame.
I don’t think such a policy is particularly good for either boys or girls. Some of the best soccer players my son played with were girls. As a parent watching all the games, I always saw at the beginning of each season, there were always some boys and some girls who seemed a little uncomfortable playing together. Boys wouldn’t pass to girls, for instance. And maybe some of the girls lacked the confidence to fight boy players for possession of the ball. But by the end of every season, every year, the boys and girls were working together. It was necessary if your team was going to have a shot at winning. And the one thing that the boys and girls had in common was the desire to win.
Segregating the teams by gender might make it easier for girls to play the game, but does them no favors for later. There are few career paths available to women that are devoid of men, outside of nunneries. From my perspective, the most important thing to come out of co-ed soccer was an opportunity for boys and girls to work together and discover they are all people.
Maybe if we had more of that in the places where we socialize our kids, we would have more women in politics.
When it comes to online social networks, particularly the ones seeking to bring about social justice, there certainly seem to be at least as many women fighting for change than men. Maybe more. When you look at any political party, how many of the rank and file, the volunteers, the workers, are women? So why aren’t women more involved in making policy and governance?
Capital “F” feminism
I used to consider myself a feminist, until I became disillusioned when the feminist movement seemed to be less about gender equality and more about a power reversal to seize the power that men traditionally held. So I stopped thinking of myself as a feminist, even though I think that everyone should have equal rights, regardless of gender, skin colour, sexual orientation, or planet of origin.
Every human should have equal rights, no matter what our differences. Period. Does that make me a humanist? Human, anyway. But today I’m considering gender. I realize now I was lucky to grow up in a large family where the girls and boys were treated pretty much equally, with a father who was very supportive of whatever any of us wanted to do or be.
Men and women are all people, we all make mistakes, and you can’t generalize about an entire gender. Sometimes men behave badly, but women aren’t any more perfect than men. Blaming everything that’s wrong in the world on one gender or the other doesn’t help. Blaming doesn’t generally fix anything. Clearly some of the women who have become political leaders have been terrible, just like some male political leaders. It’s even possible that women might screw up even worse that men when it comes to governing nations, maybe because of the way we have been socialized or simply because we lack experience. I don’t know.
As a woman, I’ve tended toward female medical professionals whenever a choice is possible. The wonderful Toronto Women’s College Hospital came into existence to ensure women received proper medical treatment; but the female obstetrician who worked out of WCH was more paternalistic than any male doctor I’ve ever seen. When I asked her questions – pregnancy was a new experience for me – she ordered me to stop reading and to just do as I was told. So in my third trimester I switched to a male obstetrician (and this is unheard of) to make sure I would deliver my child across the street at Mount Sinai.
Men and women are different.
Well, of course we are. People are different. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. We don’t always have the same goals, we often want different things. There are some things men seem to do better as there are some things women seem to do better. And it’s hard to know what gender differences are due to nature and which are due to nurture. But a lot of those things are from the the way we socialize our children.
Democratic government is all well and good, but in order to be truly representative, a democratic government really should come close to reflecting the populace. If you look at the Members of Parliament who are supposed to represent us at the federal level, that isn’t anywhere close to the case gender wise. Although the Canadian population is slightly more than 50 percent female, the House of Commons is barely managing 25% women. Well, 24.7 since the most recent Federal election.
What Canada actually has is a Conservative Party majority government. Yet only 17% of Conservative MPs are women. Lets look at the breakdown within each party:
In total, Canada currently has 76 (or 24.7%) women sitting in the House of Commons.
- 40 of them (or 13%) are from the NDP,
- 28 of them (or 9%) are from the Conservative Party,
- 6 of them (or 2%) are from the Liberal Party,
- 1 pf them (or 0.3%) is from the Bloc Québécois, and
- 1 of them (or 0.3%) is from the Green Party.
So although the numbers are up for women in government, only 9% are in the majority party. And of the five national political parties represented in our government, only the Green Party has a woman leader.
Canada has only had one female Prime Minister, whose term ran for mere days as she was appointed and left holding the bag for Brian Mulroney’s misguided policies. Campbell would probably have done a better job than Mulroney had she got the position at the beginning rather than the end. (Admittedly, my cat could have done a better job than Brian Mulroney…)
Fairvote Canada‘s Anita Nickerson told me that Canada has “basically been at a “glass ceiling” of 20-22% women for the past 20 years.” What changed in the last Federal election was that the “Orange Crush” bumped up our gender numbers dramatically up from 22%. The NDP commitment to gender equality has led to policies that have resulted in more female candidates, and thus more women in our government. During the last provincial election I learned that the NDP will only run a male candidate if there are no women willing to take on the riding. Yet even with this policy, it is clear that the NDP has only managed 40%.
Personally, I wouldn’t vote for any candidate based on gender. You can have good or bad candidates. My goal in voting in any election is to vote for the person I believe will do the best job, so I would certainly never vote for a woman who did not inspire my confidence.
But still, it is a problem. If women aren’t represented in our democratic government, the laws made by that government are unlikely to be in our best interests. That is a problem.
On Thursday I’m attending the screening of a documentary hosted by the Fairvote Canada Waterloo Chapter:
What: Documentary (see the trailer at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoLWSzq2v74 )
When: Thursday January 26, 7 PM
Where: Lyle S. Hallman School of Social Work Auditorium Room 301
(located behind Kitchener City Hall, across the street in the Laurier building)
Looking at the Senate for the Oh! Canada blog, I was struck by the much higher percentage of women serving on the Senate than in the House of Commons. Where we’re barely managing a quarter of our representatives in the House of Commons are women, the Senate boasts more like a third. This is a problem.
Perhaps the film will shed some light on the disproportionate lack of women representing us in Parliament.
Marlo Thomas photographed by Alan Light and shared under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) License
But this is a pretty serious FaceBook privacy breach passed on my by friend Mary, and the sooner people know the sooner they can pull their numbers.
If you’ve ever given Facebook your phone number, it is now published.
ALL PHONE NUMBERS are now on Facebook! No joke …
- Go top right of your screen -
- click on ACCOUNT then
- click Edit Friends.
- Go to the left of the screen and
- click the phone book.
Everyone’s phone number has now been published.
Please share this with your friends so they can remove their numbers when changing their personal settings.
Of course, the phone book is only published to *your* Facebook Friends…
AND every app that you’ve allowed to access your friend list now has all of their phone numbers.
This one doesn’t hit me because I never gave Facebook my phone number because I follow:
Internet Privacy Rule #1
Never Give Out Unnecessary Personal Information online.
The ONLY time you need to give out your home address or phone number is if you want someone to call you or mail something or visit.
Just because some website insists on accessing your private information does not obligate you to give it to them. If they insist, you are perfectly within your rights to lie. Give them a phony address (not the address of anyone you know). Change your birthdate, lie about your age. Yesterday I advised one of my my brothers to set up a disposable email address before divulging his real email address to someone he thought may be up to no good. And for years I’ve been telling every one I know — including my child — to lie about everything online. (Even just a postal code narrows your location down right quick.)
Think about it. I don’t have to give my identification to walk into a Canadian Tire Store, so why is it necessary online?
My computer guy advises that the best policy for Facebook is to assume that EVERY bit of information you put there will be written on a billboard for every one to see. Facebook may have privacy settings but no real privacy. Facebook lays claim to everything you put there – it belongs to them. See the movie. And realize that the movie is the sanitized glammed up version.
Online Security is spelled https
FYI: While on Facebook, look at your URL address;
if you see http: instead of https:
then you don’t have a secure session and you can be hacked.
- Go to Account|Account Settings|Account Security and
- click Change.
- Check the first setting (secure browsing)
- Re-Post for your Friends
FB defaults to the non-secure setting.
Only https offers you a secure internet connection.
Which is still not encryption.
(If you don’t want Bell using DPI to read your mail or peek in your packets with DPI, you want to go further & use encryption… which I have yet to figure out myself. I’m looking into a thing called Truecrypt.)
[Thanks Mary and Paul!]
There are a whole lot of things to be talked about arising from the tragic events of last weekend. But the thing that cut me most to the quick is the death of that little nine year old child. Probably because I’m a mother. Not so long ago my precious child was nine.
The thought of losing a child is the most terrible fear a parent has. My heart breaks for Christina Taylor Green, and I grieve with her family.
So the whole business of the funeral protest– the very idea of protesting at a funeral is incredible to me. I’ve not heard of any such thing in Canada, although it may happen here, too, for all I know.
Needless to say I was surprised and pleased when I heard Arizona passed a special law outlawing protest near funerals. That helped a little.
Yet the controversy rages still.
Many people are upset because they think it is censorship.
But it’s not. This is a private matter. Privately, parents have the right to decide what their children see, hear and read. Because it is private.
Publicly, parents do not have the power to decide this for others. That would be censorship.
Now, I do think it’s important for people to participate in society. I think it’s important for people to try and effect the changes we think will improve the world. Which is a very powerful reason why I support WikiLeaks. But WikiLeaks has a storm or protest swirling around it too, and for similar reasons.
It all boils down to one thing.
the difference between public and private
Many people say WikiLeaks is bad because it makes private things public. But I disagree.
WikiLeaks has not sought to make private things public. In fact, over and over again, WikiLeaks has indicated that they support individual privacy.
What politicians say and do in their line of work may be concealed, or secret, but they are public employees engaged in work for their government.
Governments are not human beings, they are public institutions. There can be no privacy there, because privacy is a human right.
Politicians are public servants. That makes them accountable to the public. What they do on their own time is private— as long as it does not impact on their work.
When anyone takes any job, they are accountable to their employer. If sales clerk steals from her employer, she can’t claim privacy as a shield. If a minister absconds with the church bank account, he can’t claim privacy as a shield either.
why peaceful protest?
The point of peaceful protest is to effect public change.
It is appropriate to protest bad government decisions on the steps of the government buildings, because it draws the attention of both the government and the public. Public pressure can then be applied to the issue and government (in a democracy, anyway) will listen to the citizens and act in the public good. Or in a non-democratic nation the government will arrest and carry the peaceful protesters off to jail to suppress dissent, and then perhaps the neighboring democratic countries will protest, and thus effect change.
It is appropriate to protest bad corporate policy in the street outside the business, making it difficult for employees and customers to get in or out to do business with the corporation. Since corporations are artificial constructs incapable of human ethics, they can only be influenced solely by the bottom line.
Corporations and government both operate in the public sphere, and the greater public does indeed have a stake and should have a voice in what they do. Change can sometimes be effected this way.
But a funeral is not a public thing.
Funerals may appear to be public because they occur in public venues and can travel on public thoroughfares.
But a funeral is a private thing.
A funeral is part of a private human practice that has grown up out of the universal human grief process.
Funerals exist to allow people an opportunity to cope with and live through their personal grief. The proceedings and ceremony often spread into the wider community to allow other human beings to provide their personal support. People share their personal feelings and support each other. So although a funeral may have the appearance of a public event, in reality it is a private part of the healing of the survivors.I have attended many funerals in my life. Some for aged relatives whose passing was expected, others not.
I’ve supported people I care about and attended funerals for people I didn’t know well.
Last year I attended the most difficult funeral I’ve yet had to attend. It wasn’t unexpected, but it was devastating nonetheless. I still can barely think about the loss of my older sister, Lynda, who had such a great influence on me.
This loss has scarred my soul and will never entirely heal. But the funeral helped me to wrap the personal loss in a special place in my heart, and to take comfort from friends and family and the extended community. Inclusion of the human community in the grieving process does not negate the fact that it is a private thing. The human privacy of a funeral expands to include all the humans so affected.
The only appropriate demonstration for a funeral is the demonstration of grief as part of the human healing process.
When you protest near a government, you do so to tell the government to hear your idea, and hopefully change. When you protest near a corporation you tell the people who set its policy it is on notice. But what are you protesting at a funeral?
The people attending a funeral are too enmeshed in grief to be able to hear ideas. Protest will interfere with their grieving process, and thus inflict harm on them. Which is wholly inappropriate.
The most that will be accomplished would be to make the funeral attendees forever an enemy of the ideas of the cause the protest espouses. Which is wholly ineffective. Exploiting the grief of the mourners at a funeral is, at best, in bad taste. It is certainly not a place for public protest.
Sometimes, there are important points that need to be made in public about death. Sometimes we need to publicly talk about issues and ideas surrounding a death. But still, the funeral is not the place.
No nine year old child should ever die like this.
Christina Taylor Green’s life has been ripped away from her. Her family and community will be devastated by the loss of this beautiful nine year old child. They need the opportunity to grieve in peace.
There is nothing stopping protesters from holding their own public memorial service, or rally. Then it would be an appropriate public thing.
Protesting at a private funeral can only further harm the people who are already harmed, exploiting the tragedy. Some people seek to do that. Even though it harms the public good.
Human society allows government the facility to enact laws so that it can support the public good. And sometimes it happens that governments do just that.
This is one of those times. Bravo Arizona.
The EFF is looking for nominations for Pioneer Awards which will recognize leaders on the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and innovation in the realm of information technology. I don’t know if they will make posthumous awards or not, but if they do, I hope they’ll consider my nomination for:
The very first time I saw the Electronic Frontier Foundation blue ribbon badge was on Martin Bosworth’s boztopia website (and it’s been on mine ever since). I stumbled upon Martin accidentally when I was trying to learn about usage based billing (what you call metered broadband) and just beginning to learn about internet freedom, net neutrality etc. He patiently explained things to me, a total stranger, a noob from a different country.
He wrote an article (which may or may not be lost forever since his ISP started shutting his site down before his grieving family realized it was happening) about the “digital divide.” Martin explained how metered broadband will make the gap between rich and poor even worse. Utility companies have begun to provide economic incentives to customers who pay bills online, which leaves those who can’t even afford to be online paying larger bills and being even worse off.
Martin was the 7th person I subscribed to on the Identi.ca microblogging service. Although I never met Martin in person, he certainly made an impression on me, and I believe a great many others as well. I was shocked and saddened to learn of his untimely passing at the age of 35.
I believe Martin Bosworth was both a humanitarian and an internet freedom fighter who worked hard to promote positive technical, social, economic, or cultural aspects of the Internet and the world, which is why I’m nominating him for a Pioneer Award.
I first read this in a Facebook comment made by a friend of a friend (thanks Rusty), so I googled it to see who wrote it and did in fact find it online, but no place to contact anyone about provenance. One of the big problems with copyright is trying to find who if anyone has the rights. Failing that we can allow fear of reprisal to prevent us from sharing, and wonderful words, music and art may well wind up lost forever.)
So although I’m not sure who wrote it or where to credit, I’m going to be wild and crazy and assume public domain unless or until someone tells me otherwise, at which point I would take it down. For your reading pleasure I present:
A Short History of Medicine
2000 B.C. – Here, eat this root.
1000 A.D. – That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.
1850 A.D. – That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
1940 A.D. – That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
1985 A.D. – That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.
2000 A.D. – That antibiotic doesn’t work anymore. Here eat this root. . . .
reprinted from Cave of the Word Witch
Although I have lots of great content here in the wind,
I thought I’d better let you know I’m just too overwhelmed right now to be able to get the Final
(I think) installment of the CanCon article online any time before the weekend of the 22nd of May.
Hope you get to have a better week than I do!