Monday, January 30, 2006
Sunday, January 29, 2006
River in Winter
I wish I could claim this is a photo of my beloved Temagami River. It isn't but it could be.
Until I get a digital camera I will have to pirate pictures where I can.
This river scene is not dissimilar to parts of my river this time of year, with the ice shelf along the shore. Really cold weather will see ther fiver frozen right across or where their is current a foot wide strip in the middle will be open. With our mild Winter we have had some Winter rain and not very much snow. There is only a couple of feet on the ground. Today it is blowing and snowing. This is our "real" snow storm this year. There should be lovely drifts and refreshed snow everywhere when the snow stops and the sun comes out. Winter will have arrived!!
The Year of the Dog
Atticus , a noble Great Pyrennes dog
This wonderful looking dog, Atticus, is used as symbol of the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dog, I have lifted from a website of a wonderful Chinese Canadian family from Manitoba, with deep roots in Canada and a long memory of their heritage in China. http://home.westman.wave.ca/~hillmans/links.html
When I was a child the Chinese community in Canada was a curiosity. You went to Chinatown in Toronto or one of the other large cities to see large numbers of these Asian people. With the exception of the few Chinese families dispersed thoughout the small towns of our country where they established Chinese Restaurants, more correctly they announced they served Canadian and Chinese Cuisine. On our occasional meal outside the home we occasionally went to such a restaurant in Cooksville, Ontario. My only chance to see Chinese person up close and eat food prepared altogether differently than my mother did.
This history of Chinese in Canada has been a sad story. They have been exploited and disciminated against. This was both "de jure" with such laws that denied them the vote and that required a head tax that made it difficult to unite families in Canada, and de facto as they were denied easy access to the wider society. To their credit, the Chinese struggled to make their place in Canada through hardwork and entrepeneurship.
In recent years, times have changed. Canada is changed. Large numbers of Chinese and other Asians have come to Canada. These are often people of some education, wealth and entrepeneurial drive. They are no longer contained within Chinatown. They fill large suburbs of Toronto and Vancouver. Vancouver in fact has become an Asian Pacific city that looks West and not back to the East and its British and American early roots.
As with other ethnic and religious groups in Canada, there cultural celebrations will become familiar to all of us. Such is the case of the Chinese New Year which this year is The Year of the Dog.
People born in the year of the DOG are honest, loyal, and have a deep sense
of duty. Their intelligence and industrious nature make them good leaders in the
business world. The Dog people are usually steady workers, they can easily
become both trusted and valued members of any community. Those people born in
Dog years would make a superior industry leader, priest, educator, doctor,
writer, or scientist. Ideal Partner: Horse, Tiger Dog Years: 1910, 1922, 1934,
1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006
"Gung Hei Fat Choy" (Happy New Year) to all. Thanks, to our Chinese citizens who are continuing to enriching our Canadian culture.
Note: I encourge everyone to read the above mentioned website about the Choy family, now with a branch named Hillman!!!
Friday, January 27, 2006
Have you ever wondered if there is another place in the Universe where there is a place mankind could live when our home planet Earth is depeted?
The above artist rendering is the planet closest to us that is most like Earth. It is a planet around a red star 5 times less massive than our star, the Sun. It is 20,000 light years away. (It would take 20,000 years traveling at the speed of light to get there). While it may be the closest planet it is beyond our reach.
I am one of those who believes there are thousands of places in the Universe that does and could support life. Give the vastness of the Universe and the massive number of heavenly bodies it is a statistical probability that we are not alone in the Universe. The notion that we are unique in the Universe, a creation of "God" is nothing short of hubris on our part. The reality is that the distances are so vast the idea that we could reach them or other intelligent life could reach us is an impossibility.
In spite of other intelligent life in the Universe, we are ALONE, due to the distances involved.
There is a continuing search on for other bodies in the Universe we could inhabit. I would not bet on one being found within our reach.
The other prospect of living in a totally artifactual environment on the moon or Mars or even Earth, when exhausted, is not very appealing.
Our Planet is a precious home to Life as we know it. We need to do whatever is necessary, no matter how radical to preserve what we have. The Earth will go on in its evolution but we may not go on with it. Extinction of the most of the life forms on Earth is a real and frightening possibility.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Mankind Has Become a Parasite on the Planet
This is the only home mankind has and we are rapidly destroying it. Our grandchildren will be living in a much less beautiful and more hostile world, environmentally degraded. They will not honour us for the legacy we have left them.
Politicians cannot do much. Their world view extends only five to ten years into the future, at most, when a view of millenia is needed. The dithering over the Kyoto Accord is a good example. Our leaders pat themselves on the back for signing onto the agreement as if something for the environment has been accomplished. It is too little, too late and still no radical program of changing the way we live in the world is in place.
There are those, who should know, that believe it is already too late to repair the damage.
The Earth is About to Catch a Morbid Fever That May Last as Long as 100,000 Ye
Even the Pentagon and World Bank has warned the United States that the greatest threat to it's security is Global Warming and the environmental degradation.
World Bank, Pentagon warn: climate changing Greenpeace International
The Bush administration denies their is a problem. At a time when American leadership and know how is needed they prefer to overthrow counties around the world with the neocon ideology of Creative Destruction. If out of destruction can arise creativity, Nature will put this theory to the ultimate test.
Recently, a massive report on the environmental conditions in countries around the world, country by county has been published. Environmental Performance Index This report is a good tool to set standards for environmental improvement and to point up where the greatest problems are.
Sadly, the United State and Canada are not where they ought to be in protecting the environment. United States Ranks 28th on Environment, a New Study Says
We all have reason to despair. Our planet home is in the process of turning on us to rid itself of us who have become parasites on the Earth.
Monday, January 23, 2006
I am waiting to join a friend to go and vote in our Federal election. For me, voting is always easy as I am an ideologue. I always vote for the New Democratic Party, our mild manner social democatic institution. It used to be much more progressive than it is now. One yearns for the day when there was talk of nationalizing major industries. If a party ever emerges to the left of it I might be tempted to change my voting pattern.
Needless to say, I have never supported a winning candidate although this time might be the exception. Hope springs eternal.
It appears the people of Canada want to punish the dominant Liberal party that have been in power for 12 years. They have become arrogant and corruption has set in. People have decided they want a change. The Liberals are the most representative party in Canada. The punishment will not be too severe unlike the punishment of the Progressive Conservative Party under Kim Cambell. The dislike of Brian Muloney, the previous Prime Minister was palpable (still felt today) and the party was reduced from a majority government to having only two seats. The talk against the Liberals is, it seems) that they will be in the "penalty box" for a short time, (two years maybe) and then they will be put back in power, with a new leader. The punishment will be an embarassment to the Liberal Party and Prime Minister Martin.
It appears the Conservatives will get enough votes for a minority government. They will have to find support from among the other parties on a bill by bill basis or make a more stable alliance with the NDP (socialists) or the Bloc (separatists). Now is not that a dilemna for any self respecting conservative!!! It seem out of that choice they might choose the Bloc as some western conservatives like the emphasis on provincial rights. In another contest this marriage was made once before and the crypto-separatists turned on the Progressive Conservative. I hope they are watching their backs. The bloc is a progressive party and only serves its own Iinterest, Quebec.
My hope is that my party the NDP will do well and hold the balance of power, (or at least have some influence over the Conservative agenda.) It is even conceivable that while the Conservatives get the most seats the Liberals with the support of the NDP might retain power. This is a long shot for it would require the Bloc to do worse than expected.
Hours will tell. There is lots of speculation as to the result. Here is one thoughtful blog. http://jasoncherniak.blogspot.com/
Michael Moore anquishes over the Canadian election. http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0122-25.htm All I would say to him is that Canadian Conservatives are not to be confused with the evangelical far right in the Great Republic. Also , the sun will come up tomorrow. After a short time, the Conservatives will go down to defeat in Canada and the moderate to progressive forces in Canada will gain control again. In the mean time the whole drama is interesting to watch. Sorry, if Canada is letting you down Michael!
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Peacemakers and Peacekeepers
We continue to wait for any news of the fate of the Christian Peacemakers held captive in Iraq. The deadline has come and gone over a month ago at which time they were to be killed. Their fate has dropped off the "News".
For the small group of family and friends and others there is hope but much anxiety. The peacemakers, who worked in Iraq and shared the risks of Iraqis spend much effort to keep track of the situation of Iraqi's held prisoners. Two of the peacemakers are Canadian: Jim Loney and Singh Sooden. There are also a Britain, Norman Kemper and an American, Tom Fox. They must not be forgotten and need our efforts and prayers to see them released unharmed. One can only admire the strength of their faith and their courage to answer the call to help.
The other group of Canadians we are concerned about are the three Canadian soldiers injured in a suicide attack in Kandahar, Afghanistan where they are serving as peacekeepers. Cpl. Paul Franklin had part of one his legs blown off and the other one is so badly injured he may lose it.
By all accounts he treated himself, saving his own life, and then, as a medic, he managed to aid the other soldiers. It appears his efforts were heroic. Pte. William Salikin and Cpl. Jeffrey Bailey suffered head injuries. They are in induced comas to allow their brains to heal. They are showing some signs of improvement. Glyn Berry, the Canadian diplomat they were escorting died in the explosion on their convoy.
Both of these groups of people we have reasons to admire for their efforts on behalf of peace. As a pacifist, it is easy for me to identify with the Christian Peacemakers. I only hope they do not become martyrs to peacemaking. In any case, their witness is compelling.
I also admire the Canadian peacekeepers. Canada invented the whole idea of international peacekeeping under the Premiership of Lester Pearson. Ever since Canadian soldiers have answered their Nation's call to serve (most often under the auspices of the United Nations) to work for peace around the world. In the realpolik of the World this is a worthy enterprise that Canadian troops have been trained to do well. The risks are not always severe but the duty in Afghanistan is. It appears it will become more so. In the near future Canada is sending more troops to Kandahar province with a new mandate of "peace enforcement". No doubt there will be more casualties.
International troops are increasing in numbers and responsibilies as the US forces are being reduced in number. This support of the Afghan government will require years of commitment.
The injuries the Canadian soldiers have suffered are similar to the injuries thousand of American soldiers have suffered in Iraq. One thing that struck me is that the news in Canada has give us lots of information on these soldiers injuries and their slow improvement. Even family members have made statements along side of medical updates. At the same time little is ever disclosed in the US as to the amount and details of injuries of their soldiers. There is a effort by the US government to keep these details from the public. War is an ugly and messy affair so efforts to manage the details of suffering is an effort to keep up support for the war.
The people who ask their soldiers to serve in a dangerous situation on their behalf must demand to know the reality they face. Otherwise, the war is nothing more than an movie in our minds.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Maya Elizabeth McCleave
This is the latest member of the family. She is my third cousin: the first daughter of my second cousin Samantha and here husband Colin. She was born last October. It looks like we have another red headed girl in the family to go with my brother's two red-headed daughters. Viking blood no doubt via Ireland. She is a delight.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I have long been an admirer of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His life was an inspiration for me, solidifying my commitment to pacifism and non-violent civil disobedience.
He an his life certainly is worthy of public recognition and celebration. Unfortunately, so much of what he stood for is disregarded in our current social and political climate. it saddens me to see his life's witness co-opted by public officials, who in a different time and place would have been his worst detractors.
Dr King's contribution to civil rights in the United States will always be his greatest contribution but he was concerned for a wide range of issues that affected his community and ultimately all of us. He strongly spoke out against the Vietnam War. He was also concerned for family life, education, conservation, the rights of labour and others. These too need to be remembered for they remain a judgement on us all, who have failled to fulfill his vision and lessened our commitment to the necessary changes needed.
There are many now who did not witness his life and may not know enough about him. This has been true for a long time. I remember asking a group of black children playing on my front stoop in New Haven, Connecticut if they knew who he was. They did not. They attended the Martin Luther King Public School. Dr King had been dead for nine years then so why should they? I felt obliged to hold a small class on my step. So I hope all those grandparents out there who remember the life of Dr. King will hold a small class with their grandchildren in remembrance of this man's inspirational achievements.
He was one of the hero's of my generation, which lost so many of its hero's: the President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Che Guevera. Who are today's heroes for our youth to admire and be inspired to bring about the changes in our World?
To read and hear his famous speech "I Have a Dream", (one of the greatest speeches in the English language) go to http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/Ihaveadream.htm
Here is the lyric to a Negro Spiritual that reminds us of Dr. King.
" FREE AT LAST"
from " American Negro Songs " by J. W. Work
Free at last, free at last
I thank God I'm free at last
Free at last, free at last
I thank God I'm free at last
Way down yonder in the graveyard walk
I thank God I'm free at last
Me and my Jesus going to meet and talk
I thank God I'm free at last
On my knees when the light pass'd by
I thank God I'm free at last
Tho't my soul would rise and fly
I thank God I'm free at last
Some of these mornings, bright and fair
I thank God I'm free at last
Goin' meet King Jesus in the air
I thank God I'm free at last.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
what decade does your personality live in?
quiz brought to you by lady interference, ltd
Sunday, January 08, 2006
This picture of the hajj in Makkah I
lifted from the Blog, The Imam's Daughter
(I trust she will forgive me)
I found it really beautiful and it made me wonder as a non-Muslim what an incredible experience it must be to be in a sacred place with so many others focused on their essential religious devotion. It must be overwelming.
To read about the significance of Makkah for Islam read The Holy Mosque in Makkah. If you want to read about the experience of go on the hajj read the Imam's Daughter's blog above for her personal experience.
Every Muslim aspires to at least once in their life to make the pilgrimage to Makkah, as a devotion to Allah. Hajj It is one of the five pillars of Islam. 5 Pillars of Islam
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Post Christmas Sadness
Yesterday I took the Christmas tree down and packed away Christmas for another year. I didn't hold out for Old Christmas to pass (The day the Orthodox Christians Celebrate the birth of Jesus, as I often try to to do.
Christmas trees are full of memories of Christmases past. My tree always has the badly shaped tin foil star my son made as a young child. There is also the Blue Jay Baseball team ball for the year I was obsessed with baseball. And the origami crane of peace folded for me. (I must take the time to do that!) This year I added an item with my name and the name of my holiday house guest as a memento of this year.
We trimmed the tree together and had a lovely holiday visit. Sadly, alone again, I took the tree down. Such is life: moments of joy and hours of solitary tedium.
Here is a poem by Canada's poet laureate, Pauline Michel Parliament of Canada - The Parliamentary Poet Laureate - Home Page English version by Nigel Spencer
A birth, Merry Christmas…
Joyeux Noël, Féliz Navidad
Oh Christmas tree
whose branches hold
the memories of Christmases past
the garlands and tender words
purring with longing
and the delicious appetite for happiness
in sparkling eyes
and candles flickering in watch
on the lace table cloth
of a snowy night
My mother’s songs
flowing with my brother’s tear
sat the heart-breaking gospel sounds
Father’s moist eyes as he plays
the harmonica of his younger days
to sway his sweetheart
and all those who will follow
Generations of the wind
In the flowers
Generations of time (hours)
In heartsMy sister’s’ hopes
rise up in love’s greatest prayer
gathered in the hands of beauty
to be contemplated
and to be sung
A woman’s lullaby
to refuse all war
Must there be blood on the flowers
there be time to weigh on our fears
Must there be cries to hang on our bitterness?
surrounded by snow and cold
and who knows
a sacred instinct
with many and multicoloured voices
in the silence
Worlds suspended in peace
A sweet pause
and the wait for modern choreography
to the universal music of waves
to scatter shadows from the light
in a painting with no borders
covered in the brightest of stars
in a night of conflict
in a night of confetti
white of snows
cleansed of torments
A world so gentle
Lies in each one of us
A caress to awaken the world