What does Social Capital look like?
I like this visual from Elearnspace
Dave has put together an excellent perspective of what is at stake with our electoral system.
He also warns us of the reality that the Harper/Bloc potential coalition is a marriage of convenience. Both the Cons and the Bloc stand for the dismantling of Canada. The first past the post system gives them a good chance of forming an effective alliance in the house of commons. What will Harper give to the Bloc and what will the Bloc give to Harper? A pact that has Canada as its price?
What are the values of the two parties in question?
On the one hand a neo-con view of "It's the rich and smart who run the show and we must make life easy for them. Everyone else is a drag on the country. If we only had low taxes for the elite, everything would be great. We need to return to traditional values = women in their place = gays in the closet = we all go to church. Business is the model for everything. Our natural allies are the Americans"
On the other hand a tribal ethnocentric view of "It is Canada that has its foot on our neck. If we were free of it, we could do much better. So let's make Canada pay and pay. We don't want any form of ethnic diversity = we want a pure Quebec country = no Indians. no Haitians, no Anglos. Our natural allies are the Americans."
The final irony is of course that the Liberals have done such a poor job.
What do those of us who still value Canada do?
"But the most powerful technology driving the obesity epidemic is television. "The best single behavioral predictor of obesity in children and adults is the amount of television viewing," says the School of Public Health's Gortmaker. "The relationship is nearly as strong as what you see between smoking and lung cancer. Everybody thinks it's because TV watching is sedentary, you're just sitting there for hours—but that's only about one-third of the effect. Our guesstimate is that two-thirds is the effect of advertising in changing what you eat." Willett asserts, "You can't expect three- and four-year-olds to make decisions about the long-term consequences of their food choices. But every year they are subjected to intensive and increasingly polished messages promoting foods that are almost entirely junk." (Furthermore, in some future year when the Internet merges with broadband cable TV, advertisers will be able to target their messages far more precisely. "It won't be just to kids," Gortmaker says. "It'll be to your kid.")
Within our laissez-faire system of food supply, the food vendors' actions aren't illegal, or even inherently immoral. "The food industry's major objective is to get us to intake more food," says Gortmaker. "And the TV industry's objective is to get us to watch more television, to be sedentary. Advertising is the action that keeps them both successful. So you've got two huge industries being successful at what they are supposed to do: creating more intake and less activity. And since larger people require more food energy just to sustain themselves, the food industry is growing a larger market for itself."
That industry spends billions of dollars on research, says Willett. "They have carefully researched the exact levels of sweetness and saltiness that will make every food as attractive as possible," he explains. "Each company is putting out its bait, trying to make it more attractive than its competitors. Food industry science is getting better, more refined, and more powerful as we go along. They do good science—they don't throw their money down the drain. What we spend on nutrition education is only in the tens of millions of dollars annually. There's a huge imbalance, and it tips more and more in favor of the food industry every year. Food executives like to say, 'Just educate the consumer—when they create the demand for healthier food, we'll supply it!' That's a bit disingenuous when you consider that they are already spending billions to 'educate' consumers."
More follows - but please read the full article.
Hope is running Kiddy Kitchen again this July.
This is a week long day camp where your son and daughter can play with food and learn how to cook. In addition Will and Jarrod (Good Basic) have built a wonderful website for the camp. All the attendees of the camp will get their own weblog. So your child will learn how to blog as well.
The Beta testers are meeting Monday to tell Will and Jarrod what they need to do to improve the site. Do you have a child who would like to learn how to blog and cook? Melissa a chef at 42nd Street will be our guest chef guru as well.
Beta test is at 5pm on Monday May 31 and is free. We will be at the Barn. Directions on the link.
Please go to Hope's site for more info and how to contact us.
Hope's whole approach is that our children can do so much more than we think if they are encouraged in a safe and fun environment. Food is a core part of the human life and most children are excluded from learning how to cook. Children can cook and cook well if they have fun learning and this is what Hope provides. The internet is also something that any child can use and now with blogging find a voice. Here is how Hope describes her brother's experience with the release that came with his expertise.
Children always ground me. They are honest and direct. Therefore I feel that it is vital to expose them to tools and facilities that will help them develop their imagination and initiative.
I always remember my brother when he discovered the computer at age 7. It just made sense to him. He had found that adults, school and 'grown up' circumstances did not always seem logical. "Why?" He would ask. "Just because I said so" was often the response.
I fit right into the system and plodded along happily accepting the way things were; that was my personality.
For James, computers offered a world that he could contribute to regardless of his age, size and vocabulary.
James still spends a great deal of time on the computer. His work primarily comes from his imagination and wonderful sense of humor. He actually gets paid to do what he adores!!!!
Check out his website
Hope to see you
Friends of mine have lost their dog last week and a coyote killed their lady goose leaving their gander desolate (they mate for life). Another friend told me of her friend's fatal cancer diagnosis. I continue to sit in a death watch over Best Start and see years of work being destroyed. So what can we say to console each other when faced with losses like these?
Then by chance today I entered Jon Husband's new weblog and found this poem
by Naomi Shihab Nye
"Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken will stare out the
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the
Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you
must know sorrow
as the other deepest thing. You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day
to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend."
Chris Corrigan reminded us in a comment that it was not enough to merely vote every 4 years and think that we participate in a democracy - he reminded us that we have to act. I have been thinking about what he said and have gone back to a book that he introduced me to called the Unconquerable World by Jonathan Schell.
Schell's prime thesis is that power has shifted from the sword and from the corporate apparatus to moral power exerted by the speaking of truth and the building of new structures that serve in the community. This is how I see politics today - not participating in a broken system that cannot address what we all need but to beginning to work locally to build better alternatives where I live.
Here are some of Schell's words that I find so moving. I
"In the hands of the Eastern European activists, the idea of civil society underwent further development. It was turned into a rival, almost an alternative to government. Their new rule of thumb was to act not against the government but for society and then to defend their accomplishments."
"Living in truth - directly doing in your immediate surroundings what you think needs doing, saying what you think is true and needs saying, acting in a way you think people should act - is a form of protest"
"In all three of the Eastern European movements, the strategy was to bypass the government and tackle problems directly"
"Once the unravelling of the single indivisible fabric of totalitarianism begins, the rapidity of the disintegration could be startling. In Havel's prophetic words "everything appears in another light and the whole crust seems to be made of a tissue on the point of tearing and disintegrating uncontrollably"
" Havel had reflected on the potential for developing power by founding new associations and organizations. The natural step for an individual already trying to live in truth in his individual life, he advised in 1978, was to work with others to found..."parallel structures". These could be expected to rise first.... in the realm of culture, where a "second culture"... might develop.... The step beyond this would be the creation of a "second polis"
"In both movements (India and Eastern Europe), we find a conviction that the prime human obligation is to act fearlessly and publicly in accordance with one's beliefs; that one should withdraw cooperation from destructive institutions; that this should be done without violence..; that means more importantly that crimes shouldn't be committed today for the sake of a better world tomorrow; that violence brutalizes the user as well as the victim; that the value of action lies in the direct benefit that it brings society; that action is best aimed first at one's immediate surroundings, and only later at more distant goals; that winning state power, if necessary at all is a secondary goal; that freedom "begins with myself" .. is oriented to love of truth, and only then discovers what it hates and must oppose; and that state power not only should but actually does depend on the consent of the governed"
The Economist has provided an excellent analysis that reminds us that Saudi Arabia remains the pivot and that it is so vulnerable and hence so are we?
We as a society stand on top of a pinnacle of potential crisis with great falls at every edge. Energy, the end of our food system, water shortages etc but our election is all about who will bribe us the most with our own money.
Here is the key part of their argument if you do not have access:
How would the world oil market react to such a blow? The world is clearly better equipped to handle a supply shock than it was during the turbulent 1970s. For a start, the rich world is much less energy intensive. Unlike three decades ago, OECD countries now maintain large “strategic reserves” of petroleum, and co-ordinate the release of these during emergencies through the International Energy Agency (IEA). The rise of energy futures markets over the past two decades also offers some scope for the world to deal better with short-term price shocks.
Even so, there is good reason to worry. The unprecedented prospect of Saudi Arabia under attack from within exposes the vulnerabilities of the world's two chief forms of insurance against oil shocks: IEA stocks and Saudi swing capacity.
Strategic petroleum stocks (which are stored in such places as salt domes in Louisiana) cannot be drawn down all at once. If a loss of Saudi output is anything like as long-lived as Mr Baer fears, or if other Middle Eastern output is also lost at the same time, then strategic stocks may prove inadequate. Prices will soar, and the market will return to equilibrium only through painful cuts in consumption and accompanying losses in economic output and welfare.
The more troubling revelation surrounds Saudi swing capacity. There is the obvious point, of course, that this particular insurance policy will not be worth very much if there is a serious supply crisis inside the kingdom. However, even if the horror scenarios never happen, the global spare-capacity crunch is still alarming.
Amy Jaffe of the Baker Institute, at America's Rice University in Texas, observes that in 1985 OPEC maintained about 15m bpd of spare capacity—about one-quarter of world demand at that time. In 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, OPEC still had about 5.5m bpd of spare capacity (about 8% of world demand). That, argues Ms Jaffe, meant that the cartel could easily and quickly expand output to absorb several disruptions at once.
That is simply no longer true. Today's fast-shrinking spare capacity of about 2m bpd is less than 3% of demand—and it is entirely in Saudi hands. And yet, “normal” threats to supply that fall far short of doomsday terrorist scenarios remain. Venezuela and Nigeria both face political tests in coming weeks that could cripple oil exports. The coalition in Iraq is due to hand over power to local authorities at the end of June, and terrorist attacks are possible. Whether the Saudis can handle the consequences of all this is entirely unclear.
And yet somehow they must. There is little chance that the Saudis will be dislodged as swing producer anytime soon, even by a resurgent Iraq. One reason is cost: the Saudis sit atop the cheapest reserves in the world. Another is the fact that Saudi oil remains in state hands. Aramco does not have to justify to shareholders the billions it wastes on idle fields—a luxury that privatised Russian firms and western oil majors do not enjoy. Even if Iraqi oil remains in state hands, as appears likely, a cash-starved independent Iraqi government could not justify developing fields that will remain idle
It is now news that the consortium that runs the formal coverage of the election has refused to allow the Green Party to join the debates on TV.
It is now news that the Green Party have a case - they have a small grip on the electoral process. I suspect that the "System" sees them as irrelevant. The "System" also sees TV as essential.
It is maybe the task of the informal journalistic world, Bloggers, to make the irrelevancy issues and the need for the formal TV system go away. So what can we do? Peter has arranged a meeting on Monday at 84 Fitzroy to meet Will McFadden, the Charlottetown Candidate.