Archive for the ‘Ideas’ Category

What’s next for Apple?

Monday, September 7th, 2009

As the next Apple event approaches, I find myself wondering what may be be up Apple’s sleeve. Rumours point to the iPod Touch being upgraded with the same camera and video capabilities as the very successful iPhone 3G. There are also rumours of a camera being added to one or more of the iPod product lines. I think those are great ideas but I have a few more in mind. Here are some of the improvements I would like to see from Apple over the next year or so.

iPod Touch/iPhone:

increase the hard drive space up to 120 GB
add a firewire 800 connection

iPod Touch:
the addition of a microphone and the ability to record sound via an audio in minijack

Macbooks:

add SD slot

Macbook Pros:

add SD slot to 17 inch
add ExpressCard/34 slot to 13 & 15 inch models


Cloud Computing

How I understand it is that cloud computing uses the internet as a storage and computing device. In other words software programs are housed/stored on the net and people can access them from any computer and use them for word processing tasks, graphic work, building websites, etc. Then people can either save the works online and/or download them to their personal hard drives.

It would be great to see companies like Apple develop the technology even further. Imagine if iWeb, GarageBand, Logic Studio, Final Cut Studio, etc. were also available on the web through an “Apple Cloud Portal”. Apple could charge a per use, monthly or annual fee to use the software. This would expand their revenue base and give most people who have broadband internet connections direct access to some of the best software products around.

It wouldn’t stop consumers from purchasing the products from certified Apple dealers or Apple stores, if they wanted to, it would just add to the overall number of consumers who use the products and become more familiar with them. Another possible benefit would be the demand for higher connection speeds in North America (where they lag behind many of the Asian and European countries with the USA ranking 28th and Canada ranking 36th). The benefits for higher connection speeds are numerous, including better communication between companies, medical and scientific applications (transmission of data, analysis, diagnostics, less time wasted waiting for transmissions between parties, etc.

Other benefits to people using cloud computing would be the development of smaller computer devices. If all software is on the net, then fewer people will actually need large computers, all they will need is a monitor, a keyboard and a hard drive at home and their iPhone/iPod Touch to store their most recent files. Hmm, it sounds like I’ve just described the iMac minus the software…

So what do you think? Does anyone else see cloud computing as a way to clean up clutter of devices and also expand the business of software companies to people who might be curious about but have never used some more of the higher end products from Apple and other companies?

Civil Rights and Justice

Friday, July 10th, 2009

“Powerlessness and silence go together. We should use our privileged positions not as a shelter from the world’s reality, but as a platform from which to speak. A voice is a gift. It should be cherished and used.” – Margaret Atwood

By now some of you may have read or viewed a news story this week about racism and discrimination in downtown Montreal, Quebec. The case, which has been ongoing for the past six years since I filed it in June of 2003, is something personal and at times, has been hard for me to talk about. But I am going to do it now.

Before I do, I think that I should explain why I have been fighting this case for six years. I feel that I owe the people who have come before me, (my ancestors who were slaves and fought for their freedom, those who struggled to survive and defy the whip, the denigration of their existence for the profit and comfort of others) a duty to stand up for my rights as well. They survived so that others would remember what happened to them and survived because they hoped that things would get better and were willing to put themselves on the line and work to make it so.

Hope is why people fight for justice. Hope that the country and society they live in will live up to the principals of its Charters and declared moral standards, hope that the declarations of politicians at election times also have weight and strength inbetween the time they want our votes again. That is why I am still pursuing this case after six years – hope. Hope for myself and hope for Canada.

A few people I’ve met suggested that I must be special or have some deep reserve of inner strength to be able to fight and publicly stand up for my rights. While I am flattered, I am not able to take credit for all my determination and resolve. Being someone who has read a bit about historical figures and struggles of the past, I understand that all that I enjoy today is because others have come before me suffered, fought, marched, petitioned, sang, prayed for and demanded the Civil Rights for all us that are written on our Charters and Constitutions.

Every female professional owns her career to the women who were the first ones through the door and who put up with the scorn, put downs and prejudice from those who wanted to keep women from being doctors, lawyers and whatever else they wanted to be. Every female politician in Canada owes her career in part to women like Agnes Macphail, the 1st female MP elected to parliament and her courage and determination to live her life as she saw fit, not by the limits others wanted to place on it.

Black people in the Americas would still be slaves if it wasn’t for the efforts of a people in Canada, the Caribbean, England and the United States challenging the will and racist policies supported by millions of others in Europe, North America and South America, who kept telling those who demanded their place at the table of freemen to wait just a little bit longer.

In the previous century, the many of the countries of the world twice banded together to challenge and defeat tyranny in Europe and Asia during WWI and WWII. They were fighting for the rights of freedom and justice of the common man and those efforts encouraged and inspired men and women around the world to fight and work for their place as equal citizens in their own countries.

Many countries in Africa and Asia would still be colonies if it wasn’t for the efforts of the freedom fighters and the other brave people who pushed back and demanded their freedom, demanded respect and their Human Rights. From Algeria to South Africa, India to the 1980′s in Poland, millions have done much more than I am doing. That is where my resolve comes from.

For the eighteen months I was employed at Les Ailes de la Mode, I was subjected to harassment and discrimination by my supervisors and the administration of the store. I took my case to the Quebec Human Rights Commission and after six long years, they decided in my favour. The case was referred back to mediation and while I have accepted that option, I have yet to hear anything from Les Ailes de la Mode/Fairweather Group. As it takes two to negotiate, it leaves the case once again in a stalemate of sorts. The question is what happens next? And what does this case say about what is really going on in Canada?

A few days ago, there was a shocking news story about a black man who was attacked by three white men in Courtney B.C., as well as a report of discrimination in Toronto towards non-whites looking to rent apartments. Earlier this year, there were reports of White Supremacist marches in Alberta. These types of stories and incidences lead me to have serious doubts as to the political will of our leaders to defend Canadians from abuse and discrimination.

Has the tension that has engulfed most of the world for so long finally reached us or is the veiled myth of a multicultural and peaceful Canada finally being lifted, exposing the real deeds and attitudes that have long been hidden due to lack of critical self examination of Canada’s identity by governments and the media?

Have the often repeated statements that Canada is a multicultural society and was the refuge of the American slaves via the Underground Railroad, during the mid 1800′s, blinded us to the real problems of discrimination and prejudice that exist within our country?

So far, I have listened to and read three of the news reports regarding my case. While I am sincerely grateful that the various members of the media have covered the story and broadcast it, I was disappointed that in the CBC News at Six broadcast on Wednesday July 8, they translated the meaning of the word Negre to Negro. Black and white people in Quebec know that using the word Negre – while being a literal translation of the word Negro – has the same weight and hateful meaning as the word Nigger. In light of the controversy surrounding Bye Bye 2008 and the racist jokes directed at blacks and Obama by Radio-Canada, I thought that the CBC would be more sensitive. Maybe there needs to be more positive images of blacks in Canada’s media for the news editors and writers to view their role as information providers with greater care and recognition of the pain that hateful slurs and acts cause. The on-air journalist also mispronounced my name by adding an “s” to the end of it. It is a minor detail to some, but when I listened to the report, I couldn’t help thinking about how many other names he has read correctly over the past that are much more complicated than mine, yet “Wood” was not pronounced correctly, he said “Woods”.

It shouldn’t be hard for any news organization (especially one with the important, long standing legacy of the CBC) to properly report on this story. From what I have seen thus far, the Montreal Gazette got it right in terms of the basic issues of the case, based on the information they received from the press release and the interview I had with them and other journalists. I thank them for their report and encourage them to continue their attention to details when reporting other stories.

This story is a big deal to me. It is what happened to me. It is part of my life story. I was repeatedly told by various people while working for a Canadian corporation to step aside, while other, white employees were hired after me and place above me. I wasn’t paid my salary, my hours were reduced by 2/3, while the company continued to hire and place more people in the department I was working in. Six years later, I received validation from the Human Rights Commission and now the case has been sent back to mediation. I am annoyed and frustrated by the time it has taken the decision to come out however, I remain confident that the Quebec Human Rights Commission can successfully fulfill their mandate and that if Les Ailes de la Mode and their current owners, the Fairweather Group are really serious about dealing with this case, a suitable settlement can be arrived at – perhaps before the next Federal election?

I do not know where the journey of my life will lead me but what I can say is that there is no way that I am going to turn my back on my Civil Rights because it is something difficult to do or that I might be met with scorn, jeers, threats or ridicule. If our Charter stands for anything at all, if Canada is really wants to be a world leader, point its finger at other nations, criticizing them for Civil and Human Rights abuses, then our leaders better make sure that the citizens who live in Canada, receive their full protection under the Charter.

This is time of the year when the world looks to Canada during the spirit of the Montreal International Jazz Festival, other music and film festivals that occur in our city, as well as the numerous festivals across our country and soon, the upcoming Winter Olympics. The diseases of racial discrimination and colour prejudice weaken and undermine the efforts of all of those who work to bring people together to celebrate our cultural differences under the banner of our common humanity and it also diminishes the credibility of politicians who are slow to act, when citizens are denied their Civil Rights.

To those of you who think that claims or discussions of discrimination, and prejudice are over exaggerated, I would contend that very often people live with their pain, misery, frustrations and embarrassments regarding this form of abuse in silence. For those of us who live in the western world where our governments and media fill our eyes and ears with the sweet sounds and sights of freedom, liberty, opulence and lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, when people are shut out of the everyday world due to the discrimination and prejudice that violates our hard fought for Civil Rights, many people simply retreat within themselves and hide their pain with bravado and other destructive behaviours to mask the shame they have at feeling powerless. I know because at times, I felt powerless too.

For whatever reason, my spirit will not allow me to become embittered nor wallow in despair and hopelessness. I am an optimist by nature and that is also why I persist. I believe in justice and the principals in our Charter that defend the rights of every Canadian to live a life without discrimination and persecution and to seek restitution against those who would violate those rights.

Good things come to those who work for them.

What is going to carry me through this is my brain, my heart, my will, my optimism and my faith in justice. Those are the fabulous gifts that have been given to me, that have allowed me to make good and dear friends from all walks of life, have wonderful experiences, share with others and guide my heart to a place of love, hope and strength. To those who are struggling with their own doubts, those gifts are there for you to claim too. You were born stronger and more resilient than you know, embrace it, meet the challenges of life head on and you will be rewarded with a sense of self-worth and the true possibilities of life. Do not worry about stumbles and setbacks, they happen to everyone. Just focus on your life and the things you really want.

Harmony, peace and love is the natural order of life. That is why people have fought and worked to defend freedom and Civil Rights, it is the natural law of life. But we must be vigilant and make sure that our laws and actions remain consistent with our true values of equality, liberty and justice.

“We who live in fortunate lands where we have inherited good things, are prone to accept good things, are prone to accept freedom, the most important of these good things, with an indifference which is the greatest threat to its continuance.” – Lester B. Pearson

To those who have fought and paved the path before me, working for the rights of others and their own with actions, words, songs and determination: thank you for the courage your inspiring stories and efforts have given me.

Lincoln Alexander – 1st African-Canadian elected to Parliament 1968
Thurgood Marshall – Lawyer, Supreme Court Judge
Sidney Poitier – Actor
Norman Jewison – Director, Producer
Denzel Washington – Actor
Lester B. Pearson – Politician, Winner 1957 Nobel Peace Prize, 14th Prime Minister of Canada 1963-1968
Pierre Elliot Trudeau – Politician, 15th Prime Minister of Canada 1968-1979, 1980-1984
Gordon Parks – Artist, Director, Photographer
Fredrick Douglas – Activist
Martin Luther King Jr. – Activist
Rosa Parks – Activist
Gandhi – Activist
Malcolm X – Activist
Bill Cosby – Comedian
Andrew Young – Activist, Politician
Jesse Jackson – Activist
W.E.B Du Bois – Activist, Writer
Muhammad Ali – Athlete
Steven Biko – Activist
Nelson Mandela – Activist, Lawyer, 1st Black President of South Africa
NAACP – Civil Rights Organization
Berry Gordy – Founder of Motown
Duke Ellington – Musician
James Brown – Musician
Miles Davis – Musician
Richard Pryor – Comedian
Dave Chappelle – Comedian
Eddie Murphy – Comedian
Oprah – Journalist
Quincy Jones – Music Producer
Jackie Robinson – Athlete
Maya Angelou – Writer
Stevie Wonder – Musician
Bob Marley – Musician
Krishnamurti – Teacher
Spike Lee – Director, Producer
Tyler Perry – Director, Producer
Will Smith – Actor, Producer
Robin W. Winks – Writer
Robert Johnson – Founder of BET
Barack Obama – Politician, Teacher, 1st African-American President and 44th President of the United States of America
and so many others…

Below you will find the press leases on my case. I thank CRARR for helping me with this case thus far and putting the press releases together. I encourage any and all of you to read them, reflect on them and come forward to your local Human Rights Commissions with your own stories and file complaints. The best way to deal with colour prejudice, discrimination and racism is to denounce it and expose it.

Press Release: com-wood-e-07-09 winstonwood-case-summary WinstonWood Chronology

Time for solar power to take the lead

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

What is the delay with bringing solar power to the average consumer on a massive scale? We have had solar powered calculators and even watches for many years. It seems as though governments who stand to benefit the most from solar power by reduced costs thereby having more money in the budget for healthcare, education and infrastructure investments are doing almost nothing to promote its widespread adoption and usage.

The question is why?

The answer could be infrastructure.

In the case of electricity and oil there are lots of middlemen who receive government money and support from the industry to build and maintain refineries, processing plants, parts companies and all the other aspects of electric and oil companies. Ethanol has received major funding and tax breaks even though it has caused major devastation in the world by using food (corn) to fuel machines, thus causing millions of people to suffer as the price of corn rises while their standard of living decreases. That means millions of families are having a harder time putting food on the table while multi-billion dollar corporations receive money to convert food to fuel.

One of the best ways to save the planet and use the best free, renewable resource that we have available, would be to go solar.

1. Government buildings should be converted to run at least 20% of their needs on solar power.
2. Cars paid for by the government should be hybrids.
3. An incentive such as a rebate or low interest rate loan should be given to all homeowners and builders to make/purchase/renovate homes and make them solar energy friendly.

Some more stories on the issues surrounding ethanol:
globalresearch.ca
Technological Review

More stories on solar energy:
Triangle Business Journal
New Energy
UB Reporter

Thinking About the Media and Politics

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Today, I watched Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN. He opened the show with a series of comments and a discussion on the demise of the Republican Party and why that’s a bad thing for America. I found his opening statements to be bizarre and frankly nonsensical. The idea that because the USA (or any country) is a two party country that there should always be a sizable split of support between the two parties is not an intelligent proposition. It encourages stagnation and a support of the status quo, which helps no one.

The reason why support for the GOP is down is because they misled and broke the country economically, socially, militarily, financially and in other ways too. It seems to me that defending the Republican Party or suggesting that their low level of support could be potentially dangerous for the country, 100 days into the election of the Democratic Party President is completely unnecessary nor justified. It is especially insidious when it is done in the absence of stating the reason why the GOP has lost much of its support – their policies and actions.

One of the words used on the same CNN show to describe Obama’s Presidency was polarizing. How a new President with a 65% approval rating could be considered to be polarizing is simply illogical. I think that the right words should have been “President Obama retains strong or overwhelming popular support” or “continues to follow through on his remarkable rise to power, working hard to unify the country after it suffered through the end the the Bush era, which saw President Bush at historically low approval ratings and effectiveness”. That would have at least been accurate instead of the confusing language of CNN’s writers and commentators. Perhaps those who are feeling polarized are those who so frequently and happily enjoyed the short-term ego boost and brief financial gains of being associated with Bush and his GOP friends over the past eight years. Newsweek had a better assessment although with some portent to the criticisms that might be laid against the Obama administration, when the media feel the time is right to confuse the public again.

CNN was one of the broadcasters who were approached and refused to air Obama’s address to the nation during the election (the other was ABC). CNN chose to give time to McCain instead. If any of you recall, McCain was granted an “interview” with Larry King that was basically a commercial for his campaign, the same night that Obama was being broadcast on CBS and NBC. Obama had paid for the airtime on the other stations and wanted to pay CNN as well, they refused and gave time to McCain instead. Maybe the people who run CNN don’t like Obama and the Democratic Party because they disagree with their policies or for some other reason. But being contrary is not presenting an opinion, it only supports the status quo. To this date, I have not heard an single articulate, valid reason, to honestly criticize what Obama has done. The alternative is to continue with what Bush and the GOP have been doing to America and the world for the past 40 odd years (at least since 1968), which has been exposed as a great waste of time, money and human potential.

The United States has the benefit of being a situated on a vast land mass with an enormous multilingual, educated population and possessing highly developed scientific, technological, political and societal communities (made stagnant and misused due to bad policies). Under bad governance, all the things that made America great were leading to its downfall. The far reaching influence of its policies have infiltrated and influenced governments, media, financial and legal systems around the world. Which means that if the policies of the US government were flawed, or simply bad, then many other countries suffered too.

Bad policies, the misguided and wasteful Iraq invasion, a rapidly shrinking middle class and an understanding that the nation was losing its moral, intellectual and spiritual way, heavily contributed to Obama winning the Presidency and is the reason why smart, logical, humane and caring people support him. It is the right thing to do. The old rhetoric, the useless back and forth of whether to help citizens or corporations, has led the world financial communities into near total collapse. The ridiculous argument that a government that actually works for the benefit of its citizens is “socialist” = communist = dictatorial = bad = anti business is stupid and deceitful. That untenable political position can only work if Conservatives “support” businesses by giving billions of dollars away through tax breaks, subsidies and threats to corporations, while the average citizen suffers a decline in their standard of living. They are then reduced to the only viable way to keep up with the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous – fed to comfort the emotional void that exist by the ever present media – which is to live on credit cards and fast food (the great panaceas). Leaving millions to pay obscene loan rates, so credit card corporations can continue to make billions in profits, off people’s hard working, low paying lives. To appreciate that, one has only to honestly look at all the efforts that have been made to keep wages low, stifling all attempts at raising minimum wages and quashing healthcare reform by lobbyists and politicians and media in the wealthiest country in the world.

It is simply untrue that a government which carefully and intelligently regulates how businesses operate, will stifle growth and development. The only people who are advocating less regulation are the mouthpieces of the very industries which have been stagnant over the past 30 years – banking, oil, tobacco, automotive, insurance, plastics, transportation, food, broadcasting, telecommunications, media and to a minor extent the medical and scientific communities – influenced by government funding, conservative ideology and profit chasing with a few commercial products. They have done as little as possible to improve the lives of the citizens who use their services, all the while spending billions to advertise and bribe (excuse me, lobby) government officials influencing them not to implement any real policy changes which would work to ensure that while there is growth, the desire for profit does not come at the expense of the safety and security of the average person and the long term real prosperity of the nation. (Yes, this applies to Canada too!)

It is time to use common sense again. President Obama is the common sense man that this era needs. He has come out ready to work and is providing articulate, levelheaded, respectful, mature, thoughtful and optimistic leadership. The comments made by Stephen Moore on GPS that people will need to see real improvement in six months, otherwise they will start to question Obama, because Americans are impatient, are completely irresponsible. I think that they only serve to plant the seeds of illogical and irrational dissent, with no other option available other than to go back to doing things the GOP way. The world’s economy has been crippled by greed and lack of regulation over a generation. It is going to take time to fix it. It will probably take more than six months.

Give President Obama the time and see what happens. I am confident that if the members of Congress, the Senate and Judiciary put the citizens first instead of lobby groups and their personal perks of being in government, then under the calm, steady, respectful, common sense Presidency of Barack Obama, the USA will once again be a place of hope, inspiration and good governance for the world to use as an example and for its citizens, corporations, artists, innovators, scientists and powerful entrepreneurial spirit to thrive in.

Canadiana

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

The world wide web is a big place, full of lots of information about people, places and things but many people still don’t know a lot about Canada. So I thought that I would list and provide some links to some of the interesting people and events in Canada’s history and present. Enjoy.

Musicians / Bands:
Leonard Cohen, Michael Buble, Alexisonfire, The Dears, Jacksoul, Jully Black, Barenaked Ladies, K-OS, Sam Roberts, Nickleback, Nelly Furtado, Diane Krall, Oscar Peterson, Celine Dion, Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir, Avril Levine, Billy Talent, Nathaniel Dett Choir, April Wine,
Guess Who, Bryan Adams, Anne Murray, Simple Plan, Buffy Saint Marie, Luc Plamondon, Alanis Morrisette, Mario Pelchat, Oliver Jones, Paul Anka, Glenn Gould

Performers / Directors / Producers
/ Painters:
William Shatner, Christopher Plumber, Donald Sutherland, Keifer Sutherland, Jay Baruchel, Ellen Page, Gordon Pinset, Sarah Polly, Sandra Oh, Trey Anthony, Ngozi Paul, Jim Carrey, Brent Butt, Atom Egoyan, Norman Jewison, Lorne Michaels, Wayne & Shuster, Al Waxman, Dan Aykroyd, Brent Butt, Mike Myers, Nia Vardalos, La La Human Steps, Robert Bateman, Alex Coleville, Group of Seven

Companies:
Bombardier, McCain Foods, Power Corporation, Hudson’s Bay, Canadian Pacific Railway, Bank of Montreal, Simons, Eaton’s, Molson Brewing, Seagram Company Ltd, Tim Horton’s, Research In Motion (RIM), AECL (CANDU reactors)

Media / Newspapers:
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – (CBC), CanWest, Montreal Gazette, Globe and Mail, Le Devoir, National Post, Vancouver Sun, Ottawa Citizen, National Film Board – (NFB), TV show – This Hour Has Seven Days, Alliance Films, CTV, Cinar, Muse Entertainment

Writers:
Pierre Burton, Margaret Atwood, Farely Mowat, Douglas Coupland, M. G. Vassanji, Robin W. Winks, Marshall McLuhan, Peter C. Newman, Mel Hurtig

Politicians:
John A MacDonald, George Etienne Cartier, Wilfred Laurier, Pierre Trudeau, Lester B. Person, Louis St. Laurent, John Diefenbaker, Robert Borden, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, Jeanne Sauve, Jean Drapeau, Claude Ryan, Agnes MacPhail, Maurice Duplessis, Ralph Klein, Rene Levesque, Robert Bourassa, Tommy Douglas, Charles Tupper, Louis Riel, Lucien Bouchard, Mel Lastman, Brian Tobin, Ed Broadbent, Sheila Copps, Preston Manning, Hedy Fry, Louis-Joseph Papineau, Robert Baldwin, Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine

Personalities / Athletes:
Laura Secord, Roberta Bondar, Jean de Brefeuf, Huron, Private Leo Major, Romeo A. Dallaire, Donovan Bailey, Mark Tewksbury, Don Cherry, Guy Lafleur, Marie-Joseph Angelique, Rick Mercer, Adrianne Clarkson, Terry Fox, Dr. Henry Morgantaler, Dr. Norman Bethune, Samuel de Champlain, RCMP, Gordie Howe, Maurice Richard, Bobby Orr, Darryl Sittler, Chantal Petitclaire, Jacques Plante, Bob Gainey, Rick Hansen, Steve Nash, Ken Dyrden, Wayne Gretzky, Israel Asper, June Callwood, David Suzuki, Michaelle Jean, Jean Beliveau, Ed Mirvish, Edgar Bronfman, Valerie Pringle, Bruno Gerussi, Toller Cranston, Crazy Canucks (Alpine skiers), Patrick Watson, Barbara Frum, Ted Rogers, John Cabot, Jacques Cartier, Sieur de Maisoneuve Paul de Chomedey

Events / History / Canadiana:
The Quiet Revolution, Bill 101, 1970 October Crisis, Oka Crisis, 1837 Rebellion, Canada Arm, Canada-Russia ’72, 1867 Confederation, 1759 Plains of Abraham, Death of Dudley George, Underground Railroad, Expo 67, 1976 & 1988 Olympics, Quebec Referendums 1980 & 1995, Queen Charlotte Islands, Quebec Act 1774, Responsible Government, Chinese Head Tax, Slavery in Canada, Women’s Suffrage Movement

Organic wine

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

I recently had some organic wine. It was from Spain and the name of the wine was Senorio De Elda. I was impressed with the lightness of the wine. In fact, it was almost like drinking juice. If I can consume less pesticides and other weird things in my food and beverages, I am ok with that.

I enjoyed the wine so much that I am going to look for more and other brands. Senorio De Elda was light and fruity with almost no aftertaste. I am curious if the heavier wines are going to be as light in terms of fruitiness while retaining a full-bodied texture and flavour. Can’t wait to find out.

I eat a lot of organic food – breakfast organic oatmeal, organic fruit, organic bread (kamut or quinoa). Organic veggies carrots, spinach, broccoli and tofu! Also organic rice and noddles. Yes, it is more expensive but I really do notice a difference in taste, how my body digests the food and how I feel after I eat (i.e. better, more energy!).

I find organic food lighter but naturally more flavourful, so I am ok with paying the premium. I would rather spend the money on healthy food than bad food (hot dogs, red meat, lots of bad bread, soda pop). The only non-organic food products I purchase are fish and chicken.

The journey continues. This spring and summer will be very pivotal. I am looking forward to the challenge and the work I will have to put in to get what I want. Stay tuned.

abortion rights

Friday, December 12th, 2008

My thoughts on what I find to be a disturbing article I came across in Canada’s National Post, one of the nation’s two national newspapers. The article was released this week, when our parliament is shut down so that no one can discuss it in our parliament and the rest of the Canadian media has been completely silent about it.

The article supports various efforts in the United States to make abortion more difficult for women. Maurice Vellacott a MP of the Conservative Party who is in power right now sent the article to all the members in parliament. Harper doesn’t want parliament to vote on his horrible economic statement but his MP Vellacott is sending out season’s greetings to everyone with a newspaper article that supports making abortion more difficult for women.

Unfortunately it is not one lone MP expressing his point. It is the actions of a MP of a Conservative government whose sole purpose has been to spread fear and disdain throughout the country. Most people in Canada have been nervous about the Reform / Alliance / Conservative Party for precisely this reason.

Canada’s Conservative government has done no work for 6 months, Harper called a surprise election after the summer break. When the majority of MPs came back and didn’t support of his economic plans to literally bankrupt them, reduce women’s equity and do nothing else for our economy, Harper shut down our democracy and the parliament will not return before the end of January 2009. We are the only country in the western world who has done almost nothing in the past 6 months.

Now on the same day that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has an interview with the CBC, where he states that he wants to work with others and wants their ideas (because he has none of his own), the National Post prints an article that supports one of the basic (if understated) principals of the Reform / Alliance / Conservative Party, restricting Canadian women’s right to safe abortions.

It is an article that seeks to make women feel ashamed for getting abortions regardless of the circumstance and praises the more restrictive access in various regions in the United States. The National Post is the same newspaper where former Bush speechwriter David Frum regularly writes for, where he supports Bush and Harper.

It is not an innocuous article, it is part of the philosophy of a divisive, sneaky government that has reduced funding to women’s groups across Canada, canceled our National day Care program brought in by the Liberals, in favour of a cash handout, that still leaves families struggling to find adequate care for their children (our country’s future).

The fact that the rest of the media is silent about this, actually empowers and enables the Conservative Party in creating an atmosphere where the abortion rights could be attacked and reversed. I am a man, I’m not the one going to carry the baby. But it seems really evil to sneak the possibility of a restrictive law back into the mindset of a country where the issue has been pretty much decided and do it during a time of nearly unprecedented economic stress and fear.

Attacking women in Canada regarding their own bodies is cowardly, immature and a government that encourages its members to do so is only showing their true stripes as being misguided and frankly not worthy of the trust its citizens place in them to work for the good of the country.

Once again, the Conservative Party has shown that they have nothing to offer except for dividing the country and using their faulty, abusive reasoning to undermine the rights of the citizens they swore to work for.

To deny women’s right to clean, safe medical abortions would put Canada back to the days of the recent past (1940s-1970s) when many women died, ran off to “houses” to have their babies in secret and then abandon them to religious organizations (with all the problems that we are still not dealing with in terms of abuse and neglect of thousands of children over the past decades who were brought up in orphanages run by nuns, priests and religious lay people), or kept the babies and had stilted lives mired in regret and frustration, while men who also made the children left them and our society condemned the mothers as “loose women”.

There is a reason why birth control is so popular and why the revolutions of the 1960s happened: women were being put down, black people were being put down and ignorance was considered to be bliss. Respect, justice and equality are things that we should never take for granted. We must always be vigilant for there are many who seek to place limits on the freedoms of women and others, keeping them from their true potential due to their own fears and insecurities, which they want to force down on the rest of us.

If you believe in a women’s right to have a life of her own, not controlled by the whims of ideologues in government, then you have to stand up and say so. Cheering at a sports game or singing the national anthem are not the only things you can do to be patriotic. There are some serious questions to ask when huge portions of the population are in danger of losing their rights over their own bodies and the rights to make decisions in their own best interests because a few people in the media and in power in the government are testing the waters to see how watchful the population is during the holiday season.

If the National Post is advocating restricting access to abortion and is supported by the sitting government of the day, who waits until after they win the election to openly talk about it, that’s evil and cowardly and if you support the women in your lives, it is something we should all speak out against.

What do you think? Are you ready to let your sister, daughter, lose the rights the previous generation used to improve the quality of their lives? If your wife, girlfriend, business partner, friend had to quit work or school (like millions of women did before abortions were safe and legal) because they couldn’t get a legal abortion or it became much more difficult how would you deal with it?

Canada’s Right Choice (is the Coalition)

Friday, December 5th, 2008

Coalition Members,

I believe that the goals of the coalition are valid and just. Harper has violated every democratic principal we hold dear. The Conservatives must be voted out of office. It is your responsibility as the MPs of the opposition to defeat the government when they lose the confidence of parliament.

Unfortunately, the media is choosing to interview people who seem to be mostly against or neutral on the coalition. Many Canadians do not even understand how our parliament works. They think that because Harper won the election and then accuses the other parties of being socialists and selling out the country to separatists, that he might be right. It is your job to explain how parliament works to the average Canadian so that they will appreciate how difficult a decision it was to form a coalition but how necessary it was to do to defeat a minority government, who has done nothing to help the economy of Canada over the last six months.

The election has only given Harper a sense that he should rule Canada with an iron fist, like Charles the First of England, or regime leaders in countries Canadians have read about and seen on the TV news over the past 40-50 years. Harper seems to be confused as to which country he is the head of. If he can’t run a minority government, then he should be defeated and if the other parties can find enough common ground to put a coalition government together to run the country for a set period of time, then that is what should be done.

You should take out ads and list the reasons why the coalition is valid and necessary based on the situation and Canadian parliamentary rules. It is time to stop letting the biased media define your coalition and for you to do so. If you truly believe that you are on the side of common sense and what is right for Canada (as I do), then you must inform Canadians why you have taken this decision (digg.com, twitter.com, facebook.com, myspace.com or myspace.ca, party web sites, printed press, radio and TV).

Like a well oiled machine, you should work together to put a united front out and make sure that you have a solid economic plan to counter Harper’s, so that the average Canadian will see how different your visions for the country are and why Harper needs to go.

Some of us understand that a minority government whose first order of business is to prevent civil servants from striking and attempts to cripple the funding of the majority of the house right after they have benefited from that same funding, then closes parliament to avoid losing a non-confidence vote, is an illegitimate government. But honestly, many other Canadians do not understand this. They do not know that their dollars help you campaign, pay for advertising, posters and signs during by-elections and federal elections. It is just wrong. They don’t understand that once the election is over, that it is parliament that decides whether or not a minority government is competent and working in the best interests of the country.

It is your job to properly explain it. Canadians need your voices of reason to counterbalance the never ending campaign of Harper and the Conservative Party who are supported by the media in Canada (the CBC, CTV and National Post have all been pro Harper and very anti-Dion).

The Harper government called the election supposedly because he claimed that parliament did not work (to his satisfaction). The lowest voter turnout in history cost Canada over 300 million dollars to give him 22 more seats. Harper’s first order of business was not to work on the country’s economic problems but to try and rule as a King and insult the members of parliament and voters. Harper caused the problem. He still has produced no leadership on the economic difficulties that we are facing. He is simply focussed on destroying the rules of parliament, as we know them in general and the Liberal Party in particular.

If the coalition will succeed without Dion, then he has to step aside. The coalition is more important than him being leader of it. The Deputy Leader of the Liberals could take his place without any problem. Dion could still be part of the cabinet but his English language issues seem to be irritating Canadians and it is becoming a focus instead of what he is saying (of course, this could also be part of the media spin – but it has to be addressed, if everyone supports Dion, then show us that you do). Personally, I think that Dion should stay, but if there is a serious issue between the coalition working better without Dion as the interim Prime Minister for three or four months, then he needs to step aside for the good of its success and the country.

I think that Dion would be a great Prime Minister. I really do. He has a sound, responsible vision for the country and its untapped potential but the coalition needs to focus. Do not be cowardly about it. If all of you support Dion then come out as leaders and say so. If you do not, then privately negotiate a sharing of responsibilities with the Liberal Deputy Leader or ask him to step aside.

I remain an ardent supporter of the coalition and confident in the mission of the coalition to defeat the Conservative government that has lost the confidence of the house of parliament.

Regards,

P.S. The letter that Harper wrote in 1997 that explains his current efforts and philosophy.

President Obama

Friday, November 21st, 2008

History has been made and the first African American presidential candidate from a major party has won the election to become the 44th President of the United States of America. What does this mean?

“We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.” At the time those words were written, new Africans and blacks born in America were slaves, women could not vote and the native population were not even on the map. The black slaves were considered to be 3/5ths of a man.

Much of the history of North America has been about actively preventing slaves, former slaves and their descendants from participating in the American society to the detriment of the country itself. Through law and custom, African Americans have been forced under threat of (and real) humiliation, imprisonment and violence to cower in front of white people, work for them, give way and defer to them. There were always those who fought to be included in the mass that was America, to have a voice and positively contribute to their country. They fought America’s wars, raised their children, cooked their food, cared for the sick and bore the brunt of hatred that a nation that would not let go of its free, servile labor for its own profit and pleasure at the cost of its soul.

There were those whose deeds of defiance and words of eloquence sought to demonstrate that pigment was no barrier to a poet’s soul, a painter’s eye, a musician’s skill, a doctor’s touch, the inventor’s inquisitive mind, or a person’s heart to want and strive for a meaningful life. The pursuit of equality has been a goal of African Americans ever since they were brought to the land in chains.

The hope and determination that America’s former slaves have shown – to be included in the country they help to found, built and defend – has been inspiring to the world. The words and deeds of millions have shown the world that good character, intelligence, artistic skills and a sound scientific mind are not limited by the colour of one’s skin.

Obama’s victory is not just a win for African American citizens who have always been stopped at that final door to acceptance in eyes of the world. The popular media have often stated that “African leaders are corrupt!” (but nothing is said about those who are corrupting them). The African Americans who struggled to make their place in the world were always put in the same barrel as those who had not made the best choices and/or succumbed to violence and escapism to mask the terrible pain and shame they felt at being blocked from living the life they saw around them, or on the other side of the tracks.

Obama’s victory is an American triumph over their past and proof that nothing is static. Hope, change and action are things that have driven progress in the world. It is hope that pushed people to work for their own and their children’s future. To get up in the morning to protest for justice knowing that they may suffer for it. Hope and the instinctive, deep seeded knowledge that individuals working together can change their circumstances, bring about change, heal old wounds and unify behind a common purpose, is what has driven mankind.

Obama’s victory is about the average Jane, and Joe of America realizing that the country is more important than any one party. The policies of the GOP have been horrible for everyone, even investors. The military is overstretched by men who used their family’s influence to avoid military service. The economy has been broken by those who made horrible choices on investments based on fast, easy money and no accountability. The health care system is corrupt and weak after decades of lobbyists buying votes to keep Americans sick and poor, building an insurance industry that penalizes its citizens for getting sick. Innovation has fallen to perpetuate a status quo that states that less is bad, that everyone should drink more, eat more and burn fuel more than anyone else, everyday, all of the time. The auto industry is just one of the casualties of that philosophy.

Obama’s victory is a win for common sense and a real opportunity for intelligence, good policy and respect to return to US politics. Under his Presidency, the US could truly once again influence the world, not with bombs or a barrel of a gun, but with strong, thoughtful leadership. It remains to be seen how it will all work out. Obama has demonstrated by including millions of Americans in the process to support the Democrats and his campaign that there was an untapped strength of a nation which has been neglected and wants to participate in the health and wealth of their own country.

The power of optimism is that it inspires people to bring out the better parts of their nature, to improve their own lives and those of others. A person who can tap into that basic truth and help the nation focus to be strong, vibrant and helpful to its citizens is a real leader. For too long politicians have used their power to divide their country’s citizens against one another, while giving power and money to businesses at the expense of common sense and true prosperity. Obama’s win shows that the majority of people really do want to get along, live together and work together for a brighter future. They just need to be guided by a leader who wants everyone’s life to be better, not just a select few.

The USA will be the better for it. As the rhetoric calms down and the nation heals, the world might end up being safer for it too. Good luck Obama, good luck USA, we’re all pulling for you.

Well, that was fun…

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

What will Dion’s legacy be? The historically low voter turnout helped weaken the Liberal party and possibly end Dion’s career as its leader. I hope not. Dion is a good man for this country. His poise under the tremendous pressure of the past two years from Harper, Layton and the media, as well as his vision and policies, have convinced me that he would make a excellent Prime Minister.

Why did so many people stay away? I feel that the reason why so many people did not vote was due to the lack of attention on the issues by the media. They barely questioned Harper’s reason for calling the election and didn’t really challenge him when Harper and Layton tried to prevent May from participating in the debates by threatening to boycott them. The media allowed Harper to dictate the format and change the structure of the debates (which were almost a waste of time because it allowed Harper to just sit there and not speak) and they also avoided asking him the tough questions about his platform and the comments made by his MPs (Ritz’s joke and Richardson’s comments about immigrants).

CBC’s Canada Votes was a bad joke. The commentator was completely biased. It was obvious from day one that the CBC was pulling for Harper. When callers made comments that supported the Liberals, they would be cut off, the commentator would make strange comments about her life or something else to change the topic. She also spent a great deal of time laughing instead of informing the public on the issues. When a caller asked her to go to the Liberal’s web site and use the Green Shift calculator to test how easy it was, she just brushed the caller off. The CBC actually had a fortune teller on the show to predict the outcome of the election… It was really quite silly.

In fact, the bias that the media had towards Dion was apparent to me when he revealed his Green Shift plan this past summer and sat through a rough interview with “Canada’s foremost environmentalist and economist” Wendy Mesley (!?!) of the CBC, whom I found was very harsh with him. Her famous last words to Dion during the interview were “What if you’re wrong?” I thought it was strangely hostile from the CBC to be seemingly so mistrusting and critical of Dion’s green plan based on all the issues that had gone wrong with Harper’s government over the previous 2 1/2 years (lack of media contact, general belligerence towards the media, backing out of Kyoto, income trusts flip flop, canceling women’s programs, canceling the Kelowna accord, canceling the National Day Care program, no figures on the war in Afghanistan, the intrigue surrounding the Cadman affair, Mulroney, Bernier, the surplus disappearing, the Finance Minister suggesting that the province where the nation’s capitol resides, is not a good place to invest…)

CTV has been just as biased and might have cost the Liberals the election by releasing a portion of a bizarre interview question that even most English speakers did not understand. The interview was taped and Dion had trouble understanding the question. Dion asked the interviewer to redo the session and he agreed. Normally that is the end of the story, but in a purely malicious gesture, designed to mock and further humiliate the Liberal leader, the segment of the tape showing a confused Dion was released to all the media outlets in the country. I don’t know if the redo was released, so we do not know for sure, how he actually answered the question. It seemed as though the situation was created on purpose to belittle Dion. It was shameful, tabloid journalism. CTV also broadcasts the show Etalk where their official car has been the “Hummer” through much of the past season – The statement speaks volumes on how the owners of the Canadian media and the Conservative government have weakened the discussion on the issues of the environment.

Harper stopped what he was doing (did someone send his team a copy of the tape?) and had the only late evening address to the media throughout the entire 30-plus days of the campaign to mock and criticize Dion for his confusion during the interview. Normally these things are not released because everyone makes mistakes during a recorded interview. This was released over the last weekend of the campaign when the Conservatives were losing ground… Smells pretty bad from this end.

Other notes: the Economist endorsed Harper for Prime Minister and there was also weekend summit of world leaders and finance ministers. Conservative Finance Minister Flaherty attended the international meeting (after Harper had repeatedly stated throughout the campaign, that everything was fine and that we were in good financial shape) to deal with the financial crisis over the last two days of the campaign. Miraculously, the TSX had a huge gain on the day of the election. Canadians stayed home in record numbers with only 59% of eligible voters showing up to vote. The Liberals lost 19 seats from the last election and Ontario gave the Conservatives 50 seats on their way to winning a second minority government.

The day after the election, the TSX dropped hard and has continued to fall…

This was one of the most bizarre elections I have ever seen. The media spent more time attacking Dion than actually finding what Harper wanted to do for the country. The Green Shift isn’t a new tax. It’s about giving Canada new jobs, lower personal income taxes, shifting the tax we are charged on our paychecks to pollution and giving us a rebate too.

People would not have lost their jobs. Payroll taxes would have been lowered. There were plans to help Canadians modernize our homes, investments for new technologies and money for the infrastructure in our cities. The Auditor General was going provide an annual report to be sure that the Green Shift was revenue neutral, meaning that the government would not take in more money from the program than it returns to the population.

Now Harper gets another chance to destroy our health care programs, cut funding for social groups, families, give out more money to oil companies and hurt the economy with the secret war budget…

Only 21% of Canadians (35% of 59% = aprox. 21%) voted for Harper. The following is just some of his plans for Canada. I do not recall anyone in the media mentioning these issues during the campaign. What else don’t we know?

http://healthandfitness.sympatico.msn.ca/abc/News/ContentPosting.aspx?isfa=1&feedname=CP-HEALTH&showbyline=True&newsitemid=122433045

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/06/20/military-plan.html?ref=rss

To the Green and NDP supporters: Layton is 4th and May isn’t even on the chart. Hopefully her party will get at least one seat in a by-election but next time, don’t throw your votes away. It almost handed Harper a majority. Proper strategic voting (1. Voting to support the non Conservative candidate and 2. voting for the next choice after the Conservatives, in ridings where they held seats from the 2006 election) would have easily defeated the Conservatives. Canada would have had a Liberal minority, supported by the NDP and a possibly, a couple of Green seats too. It was only a matter of 20,000 to 25,000 total votes to completely reverse the results in favour of the Liberals. What happened on Tuesday was really sad for our country. We have spent so much time laughing at the USA for their choices and now we have gone and voted the same way they did over the past eight years…

Let’s hope that it only lasts for a short time (less than two years). Canada is going to go through a real test on how strong this country is. Harper wants to change the country beyond recognition into small, separate, polarized regional areas like the United States has become and it is going to take a lot of determination to stop him from doing that. Ironically, Obama might help bring Americans together on a level that hasn’t happened for many years. Canadians seem to be drifting apart into different political and social camps, due to Harper’s tactics and help from the media.

Here are some ideas to encourage a higher voter turnout: All businesses should close at 1 pm on election day. Many people work half days on Christmas Eve, even if they do not celebrate the holiday. Why not give voters a half day off, so that everyone can vote? Canadians who work in schools, hospitals and daycare facilities could vote in the advanced polls or in shifts, giving the staff 4 hours off to vote (3 hours is not enough time for many people due to traffic and commuting issues). In the case of Universities and Colleges, the students and staff could have polling stations set up in the schools or, it could just become an extra school holiday where post-secondary students would have the day off so that they could actively participate in their country’s future.

Another idea could be to make every major election (municipal, provincial, federal) day a civic holiday. Maybe that would encourage people to come out and vote. During an election, the debates should be over 5 or 6 nights (3 or 4 in English and 2 in French where the parties would have to answer questions, debate and present a platform. It would really engage viewers by giving us a chance to hear each candidate’s vision of the future and their plans for the country. The topics could include economics, education, environment, health care, social programs and crime. The moderator(s) could be leading authorities in the various topics or a single person. If we are going to have debates, then questions need to be asked to and answered by all the parties. Never again should a candidate be allowed to call an election and not release his party’s platform until after the advanced polls are closed. It made this election a total joke and a waste of time and money to the sum over 300 hundred million dollars.

Dion should not lose his job over this phony campaign!

Next time: Go out and Vote!

So what did you think about this election? What was your impression of Dion? The Green Shift? Harper’s lack of transparency and avoiding real question from anyone? Are there any Europeans who would like to comment on how a carbon tax works in any of your countries?

Here are some more sites for info on what we still have a chance to achieve together. It is up to us to build the society that we want. Dion is on the right path. Let’s help ourselves and help him too!

http://www.carbontax.org/

www.youtube.com/watch?v=5l43JHQ5cqY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMnB6V5yG1I

https://www.iema.net/news/envnews?aid=9728

http://ecoworldly.com/2008/05/01/freiburg-germanys-eco-town-flagship/

http://www.energyresearchproject.org/j/energy-videos/RK713EYYdLo.html

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2001/07/45056

http://www.solarregion.freiburg.de/solarregion/freiburg_solar_city.php