Tag Archives: must_read

We’re failing “the COVID test”

The three opinion columns below are must-reads to understand Canadians and the country we live in, as it is, today. Collectively (due to the vast majority), we are miserably failing “the COVID test.” 

Your expectations are a problem

We are not owed any particular future, and are not guaranteed more of what we’ve already had.

Matt Gurney / The Line / December 3, 2021

https://theline.substack.com/p/matt-gurney-your-expectations-are

Your expectations are a problem, my friends.

Let’s get a few caveats out of the way: I don’t mean you, personally and exclusively (though someone will undoubtedly take this as a direct insult). This is very much a comment on Canada and the Western world broadly. And I also don’t mean expectations in the sense of what you, as a person, are owed by anyone else, like an employer or a partner — aim for the stars, my friends!

But your expectations are still a problem, as are mine, in this critical and broadly shared way: our understanding of the facts on the ground, the world we live in — how we expect it to be — may be wrong, or at least increasingly outdated. And the longer it takes us to realize this, the more danger we will face.

Some version of this column has been rattling around in my skull for some time, and the overall thesis is certainly in line with much of my work over the years, where I’ve warned of the costs of our complacency, often in the area of national defence. But this one is different — it’s not about a specific problem, per se, so much as it is an attempt to understand a series of problems at their roots. It has not proven an easy one to write. The thesis — that Canadians’ fundamental expectations are increasingly out of step with the current reality — is hard to prove or even investigate. There’s no poll or survey, no collection of data sets, that will make this case.

But there is no shortage of anecdotal evidence, and it simply, on a gut level, feels right. Canadians and the citizens of other comparable countries alive today are, in the main, products of an economic, military, political and public-health winning streak that has continued unabated since the end of the Second World War.

There have been periods of time or incidents that would seem to contradict it — the U.S. lost in Vietnam, for instance, and we’ve had economic slumps and epidemics along the way. But overall, a typical Canadian and many others across the West, born after 1945 or so, has lived in an era where their country was militarily secure, economically prosperous, politically stable and nestled comfortably inside a confident, triumphant liberal-democratic international consensus.

Along the way, we have experienced medical breakthroughs that have continuously both lengthened and improved our time on this earth. Consider my late grandfather as a representative example of the progress contained in a single lifetime: in his youth, he nearly perished of an infection because antibiotics were not yet available; when he did die in his early 80s, stricken by Alzheimer’s, he had two separate forms of cancer, both of which were manageable, chronic conditions due to new drugs and laser surgeries. It’s remarkable. From near-death-from-sepsis-in-childhood to blasting tumours with light in one man’s lifespan.

This is true for all of us, in some way or another. Entire lives have been lived, and entire generations raised, during this multi-generational winning streak — and even though the benefits of it haven’t been shared equally by all our citizens (a sad understatement, alas), it’s been true enough for so many for so long that we have come to accept as normal — to expect — something that is actually quite rare. We are living in the best moment of history, in terms of our security, health and prosperity — or at least we were until early 2020. This winning streak lasted, I fear, just long enough for a critical mass of us to lose perspective on how rare and precious the last few generations have been in the West. We’ve lost the ability to realize that, maybe, we had not embarked on a brave new era of exponential human progress. Rather, perhaps we’ve taken for granted a historical fluke.

What finally brought this column forth was two incidents that, though unrelated, happened within moments of each other earlier in the week. The first was simply a chat with a friend; we were catching up on life when she mentioned that the news about Omicron had hit her hard, because it felt like yet another delay to the return to “normal.” The second was some typically overheated Twitter reaction my Line colleague Jen Gerson received when she noted — entirely correctly — that COVID-19, though devastating, wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, nor as nasty as some plagues throughout history.

Consider my friend’s dread about a delayed return to normal. I expect a return to something functionally comparable to our old normal; my own life is basically there already (with the irritating but tolerable exception of wearing of a mask in many indoor settings). But I have never taken a return to normal as a given. A functional return to a pre-pandemic normal still strikes me as the most likely outcome by a wide margin, but there are a lot of plausible scenarios where our lives remain permanently, negatively changed. This isn’t a prediction. But if you don’t at least grant the possibility that it could be otherwise, you’re kidding yourself. Your expectations of a return to the comfortable old familiar are blinding you to the reality that life can change in ways that are never undone. This has happened to people before, and there is absolutely nothing stopping it from happening to you, or all of us.

And the reaction to Jen’s tweet (which she expanded into a full column on Thursday) was awfully revealing of just how far removed from some harsh realities Canadians have become. COVID-19 might have been the worst shared global experience you’ve ever experienced. That’s true of me, too. But there’s a massive gulf between “worst thing I’ve lived through” and “the worst thing that could plausibly happen.” We don’t even need to ponder hypotheticals. Read about 1918, which, as Jen noted in her column, was vastly more deadly in terms of overall deaths — and it’s not even close.

Don’t believe me? Canada’s COVID-19 death toll is currently a bit under 30,000. We lost 50,000 to Spanish Flu, out of a population of eight million. An equally deadly pandemic this time would have killed almost a quarter million of us. That’s every COVID death, plus 200,000-some-odd more.

Consider what would have happened if COVID-19 had been even modestly more contagious or deadly, or consider my nightmare scenario: it attacked the young, the very young, not the old. This could have been so much worse. It could still become so.

This seems lost on many, including some very smart people who ought to know better. I have a very clear memory of chatting with a colleague in the summer of 2020, and mentioning that I was glad the first wave hadn’t proven worse. He was aghast — genuinely confused and shocked. “How could it be worse?” he asked. His question left me equally shocked and confused. I had to ask him if he was being serious. He was.

And many would agree with him: they can’t imagine it having been harder. To them, I say only this: if your imagination can’t conceive of anything worse than the last 20 months, and if your grasp of history is so weak that you think that the last 20 months have been some unprecedented catastrophe, that’s a comment on your imagination and historical literacy, not on the last 20 months. It’s not nice to look back on this pandemic and realize that we were lucky to dodge something worse, but if you truly think it couldn’t have been much nastier, I hope you never have the experience of being proven wrong.

Some of these failures in comprehension, understanding and imagination are on the individual level, some are on the institutional level, and I’m not sure which is the chicken and which is the egg. It’s too easy to simply blame government leaders and officials for these problems — I’m afraid that our politics, on this score, is simply downstream of our collective societal cluelessness about just how fragile and precious our way of life has become.

But here’s the rub, folks: we are not owed any particular future, and are not guaranteed more of what we’ve already had. This is not a defeatist declaration — I believe we can continue to thrive. As a father of young children, I am forced to be an optimist — I have to believe the world will be good for them. But we’re going to have to work for that world, and that starts with understanding that none of what we’ve enjoyed is the natural state of human affairs.

This will be hard for Canadians to grasp. For our entire history, we have been under the protection of the preeminent global power — we had the incredible fortune of sliding out from under the British umbrella right into the protective cover of the American one without getting hit by a single drop of rain. Basic assumptions about our physical security are hardwired into our national concept of everything — but is that concept changing? Are the Americans still a reliable ally? Can we take their own political stability for granted? We expect America to be stable and friendly — but should we? Is the Western alliance system and the “rules-based international order” we hear so much about things that actually still exist, or are they slogans?

Or take health care. The long-understood bargain in Canada has been that we’d tolerate substandard service in many areas, such as long wait times for non-essential procedures, because we had faith the system would be there for us if our lives were really on the line. Health systems across Canada have been overwhelmed by the pandemic. We now have massive backlogs of urgently necessary tests and procedures, and these delays are going to cost lives — they have already cost lives. What we expect from the health-care system, it is no longer able to consistently provide.

Take a gander at B.C. Can we expect the same weather patterns we’ve built our infrastructure around, there and elsewhere? How many of you made a big financial decision in recent years on the expectation that, after a 40-year absence, inflation would continue to remain stable and modest? And Putin isn’t going to really invade Ukraine, is he? Is he?

I could go on. The point is not to descend into panic. I’m not panicked. But I am increasingly convinced that you can explain a lot of Canadian dysfunction — the lack of “state capacity” we are increasingly hearing about — by simply understanding that we have built our government, our entire political class and a horrifying degree of our national collective psychology around a series of deeply held and extremely cheerful assumptions about the world, our safety, our prosperity, our health and the ascendancy of our values that no longer hold true. Our tools are not suited to the jobs newly at hand.

Before we can even begin to respond to these challenges, we have to perceive them, truly see them and accept their reality, and that’s going to require a process of overcoming denial that may take longer than we have.

Because we have about 75 years’ worth of “givens” we need to start interrogating anew, and asking if they still hold, and there’s going to be a massive temptation to reassure ourselves that they do, because to admit otherwise is going to compel a lot of action, a lot of spending and some long, sleepless nights. But we don’t have a choice. We need to do this. Because our expectations have become a problem that we need to start solving.

On COVID restrictions, our governments keep firing up the gaslights and shifting the goalposts

If you give the government an inch on your rights, they will go for the mile every time

Allan Richarz / CBC Opinion / December 3, 2021

https://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/opinion-covid-measures-gaslighting-shifting-goalposts-1.6268380

Listen closely and one might be able to discern the unmistakable sounds of our elected and unelected officials frantically firing up the gaslights and moving the goalposts on COVID restrictions and vaccinations.

It was a precipitous but inevitable shift from “two weeks to flatten the curve” to get the jab or lose your job, and unsurprisingly, there is still more to come.

Met the provincial vaccination targets? Great; but now it’s time for a booster. Ready for the “temporary” vaccine passport system to expire? Sorry, we need to extend it through spring; proving once again that if you give the government an inch on your rights, they will go for the mile every time.

Less than a year ago, government and public health officials touted vaccination as a panacea to end the pandemic. It’s safe, effective and will allow the country to put COVID behind us, we were told. To that end, citizens were encouraged, prodded and eventually threatened to get their shots, with holdouts demonized by politicians at all levels. Yet, in Ontario, even as the province exceeded by weeks its vaccination and case number targets of the government’s phased reopening plan, citizens were offered only breadcrumbs in return: moving up Phase 3 reopening by just a few days, with no plans at the time for a complete reopening.

Goalposts shift again

And now, with new case numbers in Ontario essentially split evenly between the unvaccinated and fully vaccinated and questions about waning vaccine efficacy, the goalposts shift again with the rollout of booster shots elsewhere in the country and calls for expanded eligibility.

One does not need to look hard to guess what the next step will be across Canada. In Israel and France, the definition of fully vaccinated was changed to include boosters; those six months out from their second dose, or first booster, are now considered unvaccinated, and their vaccine passport privileges suspended.

There is, of course, the popular rebuttal that these goalpost shifts are entirely above-board as the “science evolves.” But that exposes the flaw inherent in governments’ COVID response: for nearly two years, debate and dissent from burdensome COVID restrictions has been short-circuited with demands that citizens “trust the science“; a modern take on debate-defusing exhortations to “support our troops” during the War on Terror. Every infringement on citizens’ privacy, mobility, autonomy and conscience rights has been justified by officials in the name of the infallible technocratic might of “the science.”

But when proven wrong – or more importantly, unpopular at the polls – that formerly rock-solid science on which officials acted is simply dismissed out of hand. Policymakers, however, cannot on one hand demand unyielding adherence to science, and then down the road simply hand-wave away their previous demands on the grounds that their knowledge or political fortunes have evolved.

It is for this precise reason that checks and balances exist in governance: to prevent rule through unaccountable technocratic appeals to authority. Debate and dissent in the age of COVID, however, have become four-letter words.

Our public health officials and elected politicians should not at this point expect any benefit of the doubt. Considering that we are still taking our shoes off and binning bottles of water at airport security 20 years after 9/11, that government officials and their unelected mandarins are unwilling to cede their newfound power in an age of COVID should not come as any surprise.

Indeed, officials have shown they are not above apparent falsehoods to further their aims. Last week, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Kieran Moore justified the immunization of children between the ages of five and 11 by claiming hospitalization and case counts for that age group were increasing. Yet, according to Ontario’s own data, there had been zero hospitalizations in that age group in the past two weeks at the time of Moore’s statement.

Always another threat

As the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) once knew, “There will always be a new disease, always the threat of a new pandemic.” Accordingly, the number of boosters, or the percentage of fully-vaccinated citizens, needed for a return to normal will always be n+1. Meet one metric, and be met with two more. As the ACLU continues, “If [fear of disease] justifies the suspension of liberties and the institution of an emergency state, then freedom and the rule of law will be permanently suspended.”

Already we see public health officials priming the pump for the next goalpost shift. Even if vaccine uptake is high among five to 11-year-olds, it will still not be good enough. According to Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, toddlers under the age of four will be next to need the shots, claiming with an absolute lack of shame that – unlike all the other times we were promised an end to the pandemic – vaccinating that group will be a “turning point.”

The government, of course, will never walk back its emergency powers of its own volition. And why would they? After two years of fomenting terror and division among the population, they have cultivated a solid base of support that combines the post-9/11 see-something-say-something paranoia of a middle-class yuppie with the unctuous 1980s Moral Majority sense of superiority.

Until public opinion turns sharply against government overreach, we will continue to live in an artificially prolonged state of emergency, beholden to the whims of bureaucrats and elected officials.

After 21 months, our leaders are still flying blind through the pandemic

We find ourselves looking towards Christmas 2021, with more imperative edicts as to how we might be allowed to celebrate it

Rex Murphy / The National Post / December 3, 2021

https://nationalpost.com/opinion/rex-murphy-after-21-months-our-leaders-are-still-flying-blind-through-the-pandemic

Are governments managing COVID, or is COVID managing governments? I’m going with the latter.

It is almost a feat of memory to recall the early days of the pandemic when the call went out to tolerate restrictions for just “two weeks to flatten the curve.” When two weeks proved insufficient, the lockdowns continued.

Still, in those early days, most people were willing to take the hit, to circumscribe normal interactions, shut their businesses, leave their elderly relatives cloistered and unvisited, and comply with the harsher protocols. Hard it was, but Canadians are sensible and obliging.

Well, a couple of months swelled to several, then to a year, and now here we are 21 months later. What’s changed? More to the point: what’s improved? Well, we now have COVID passports, imperfect vaccines, a flurry of follies on when and where to wear a mask, and absolutely no idea what is next.

We find ourselves looking towards Christmas 2021, with more imperative edicts as to how we might be allowed to celebrate it: how many at the festive table, a face shield on baby Jesus in the creche and double-thick masks if plum pudding is to be served.

Every month brings a new “variant.” Are the variants limitless? Are the variants worse than the original? I sometimes wonder, when they run out of letters from the Greek alphabet, will they jump to Cyrillic? It’s hard to pronounce, but as an emphatic typography, it has the stern look our overseeing managers will appreciate.

Even the most obliging citizens continue to respect the advice of municipal, provincial and federal governments, but in private conversation rattle off doubts and frustrations about the policies and pronouncements of health and political authorities.

They don’t believe COVID is under control, or even understood in any fundamental sense, and they certainly do not believe that those in authority have a handle on it. They go along. But the going along is tepid, unconvinced, resentful and certainly not spined with any belief that the maskings and the mandates, the on and off lockdowns, and the waning vaccines are taming COVID.

I’m not speaking of those who go to protests, who reflexively resist government authority or the even more demented faction who talk to trees and expect a reply. I’m talking about average folks — mothers, clerks, taxi drivers and students — who are going along, but in a deeply subdued way.

We must ask some questions. Do our authorities really have an understanding of the problem? Or are they continuing to improvise as they go? If such is the case, governments should say so. Do not give false hope. Will any authority, in health or politics, make a definitive statement about when or how this COVID crisis will end?

What is the end game? Is there one? Will politicians declare the set of conditions that must be present for life to return to normal? What is the current projected timeline? Are we looking at another year? Two? Is this a permanent state of affairs? Is the extremely imperfect COVID “cure” worse than the disease? That is the question.

The normal rhythms of daily life are shot; commerce is desperately ailing; industries are failing; inflation is back and it will cut very deeply in the months ahead; energy supplies are in jeopardy; the supply chain is broken; the health of a multitude of citizens is not being attended to, doctors are on phone lines, surgeries delayed, emergencies rooms have turned into vast waiting halls; young people have lost out on their education; loved ones have been separated; travel is either a pain or a joke; the psychological injuries imposed by COVID regimes are not, and perhaps cannot, be measured. But they are massive and extreme.

And most emphatically: the civil liberties of citizens have been pushed aside, abandoned, violated with scarcely a whimper from parliamentarians and the news media. Our once-celebrated Charter of Rights and Freedoms is shown to be a platitudinous vapour, a shield of fog and foam, most insouciantly violated when it is most needed.

We may accede to the conditions and regulations being laid down for us. But I would ask readers these questions: Do you think our various authorities, medical and political, are competently managing COVID and have a clear plan for a return to normalcy? Do you believe that our politicians — municipal, provincial and federal — really know what they are doing?

And the last one: are you feeling better now, more confident today, than you felt two years ago, when our leaders, so solicitously, asked for your help, just for two weeks mind you, to “flatten the curve?”

 

Have an opinion on where we find ourselves in Canada today? Write and share it: chrisg.goerge@gmail.com

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

Paul Wells on Stephen Harper

Paul Wells book on Stephen Harper’s politics – The Longer I’m Prime Minister – is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the man and his modus operandi in office. Here are ten quotes extrapolated from Paul Wells’ book – but, to get an insightful glimpse into the Prime Minister, get the book – read it.

  • “You know, the longer I’m prime minister…. the longer I’m prime minister.” – Stephen Harper
  • He is a very particular fellow: fiercely intelligent, combative, secretive, intense. – Paul Wells
  • He survives politically in large part because he is uninterested in debates that are of concern only to people who live within ten kilometers of Parliament’s Peace Tower. – Paul Wells
  • The point of everything he does is to last. The surest rebuttal Harper can offer to a half century of Liberal hegemony is not to race around doing things the next Liberal could undo. The surest rebuttal is to last and not be Liberal. – Paul Wells
  • “My models aren’t Conservative prime ministers. My models are successful prime ministers.” – Stephen Harper
  • He needed to last, because most of what he wanted to do could not be done quickly. He wanted to disabuse Canadians, especially immigrants, of the expression that they would be governed Liberals. He wanted to implement deep changes… a degree at a time as if boiling a frog; and to make those changes as hard to reverse as it would be to reconstitute the frog. (This is politics as boiling a frog: if you raise the temperature a degree at a time the frog won’t notice.) – Paul Wells
  • “One of the things I’ve learned is that surprises are not generally well received by the public. So, we intend to move forward with what Canadians understand about us, and I think with what they are more and more comfortable with.” – Stephen Harper
  • “His focus, in terms of the legacy he’s trying to create, is very much on identifying what he sees as the long-term challenges and opportunities for the country. Yet his strong bias is towards arch-incrementalism. He backs away from ideas which he feels may be controversial. And that creates a lot of frustration.” – un-named Harper advisor
  • “Stephen Harper is Mackenzie King without a ouija board.” – Tom Flanagan
  • What has he accomplished? It is in the nature of Harper’s project that he would have less to show for his time in office than some of his predecessors. They saw themselves as builders; he is a skeptic and, to use the gentlest available word, an editor. – Paul Wells

In Fall 2014 Chris George attended a breakfast where Paul Wells spoke – and here is the By George Journal post on that address.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

A Sunday Retreat with Marcus Aurelius

We all should take time to reflect upon the advice of ancient Roman sage Marcus Aurelius. There is much to learn from his writings Meditations. Of his most important musings is the fact that man’s happiness in, and appreciation for life begins with self knowledge.

These particular excerpts from the earlier books of Meditations are a great launching pad in understanding the teachings of this great counsel.

       Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, sea-shores, and mountains; and thou, too, art wont to desire such things very much. But this altogether a mark of the most common sort of man, for it is in thy power whenever thou shalt choose to retire into thyself. For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is immediately in perfect tranquility; and I affirm that tranquility is nothing else than the good ordering of the mind. Constantly then give to thyself this retreat, and renew thyself; and let thy principles be brief and fundamental, which as soon as thou shalt recur to them, will be sufficient to cleanse the soul completely, and to send thee back free from all discontent with the things to which thou returnest.

       This then remains:  Remember to retire into this little territory of thy own, and above all do not distract or strain thyself, but be free, and look at things as a man, as a human being, as a citizen, as a mortal. But among the things readiest to thy hand to which thou shalt turn, let there be these, which are two. One is that things do not touch the soul, for they are external and remain immovable; but our perturbations come only from the opinion which is within. The other is that all things which thou seest change immediately and will no longer be; and constantly bear in mind how many of these changes thou hast already witnessed. The universe is transformation: life is opinion.

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Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

Hockey is Canada’s game

In their best-selling book Home Game, writer Roy MacGregor and goaltender great Ken Dryden comment on the bonds of our quintessentially Canadian game. It’s a superb introspective of what is central in our Nation’s pysche!

 

Here are a few snippets from the introduction and the book’s first chapter entitled, “The Common Passon”:  

 

“Hockey is part of life in Canada. Thousands play it. Millions follow it, and millions more surely try their best to ignore it altogether…. Hockey is pat sport and recreation, part entertainment, part business, part-community builder, social connector, and fantasy-maker….

“It is is Canada’s game. It may also be Canada’s national theatre. On its frozen stage, each night the stuff of life is played out: ambition, hope, pride, fear, love and friendship, the fight for honour for city, team, each other, and themselves. The puck flips one way, bounces another, and the players set out to control and direct it. It takes them where they never planned to go. It tests them. And in struggling to get it back, with the millions who watch it in the arena or by television, the players find out who they really are. Like the bear pits in Shakespeare’s time, we attend hockey games as our national theatre. It is a place where the monumental themes of Canadian life are played out – English and French, East and West, Canada and the U.S., Canada and the world, the timeless tensions of commerce and culture, our struggle to survive and civilize winter….

“Hockey makes Canada feel more Canadian.”

 

Home Game is a must-read book for anyone wanting to understand the inextricable links between Canadians and our National game. 

 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Ken Dryden’s masterpiece: “The Game”

Since the holidays I had the pleasure of re-reading one of the very finest books ever written about the game of hockey – The Game, written back in 1983 by the storied Montreal Canadian’s goaltender Ken Dryden.

 

The subtitle to this book is A Thoughtful and Provocative Look at a Life in Hockey – and, page after page, with each commentary and detailed description, this book is both insightful and informative!

 

It is a must-read for any avid hockey fan and a book recommended to anyone trying to grasp the significance of this sport to the boys and men (and many girls and women!) of this country.

 

To give one example of the depth of insight imparted, here is Dryden’s explanation of how hockey is a transition game, not a possession game.

 

Possession was what they [the Russians in 1972] were supposed to be about: passing, team play, always search for the open man, regrouping to start again if their possession seemed threatened. But a puck cannot be physically carried up the ice like a football; and a hockey player is not protected from physical battering as a basketball player is. He can be overpowered, the puck can be wrested from his stick by one or two or more opponents, with little recourse except to pass it on to someone else soon harassed the same way. A possession game is hyperbole. The puck changes teams more than 6 times a minute, more than 120 times a period, more than 400 times a game, and little can be done to prevent it. And when it is not changing possession, the puck is often out of possession, fought after, in no one’s control. It is sustained possession only on power plays. There is possession involving several seconds at other times only when a team regroups to its own zone to set up a play. If possession is team style, it will be frustrated. Worse, if it is attempted, it will make a game cautious and predictable.

 

Instead, hockey is a transition game, offense to defense, defense to offense, one team to another. Hundreds of tiny fragments of action, some leading somewhere, most going nowhere. Only one thing is clear. A fragmented game must be played in fragments. Grand designs do not work. Offenses regrouping, setting up, meet defenses which have done the same, and lose. But before offense turns to defense, or defense to offense, there is a moment of disequilibrium when a defense is vulnerable, when a game’s sudden, unexpected swings can be turned to advantage. It is what you do at this moment, when possession changes, that makes the difference. How fast you can set up. How fast you strike. What instant patterns you can create. How you can turn simple advantage into something permanent…

 

The Game is a provocative book and an exciting read — and deserves to be read and re-read every few years! 

 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

8 Things Every Person Should Do Before 8 A.M.

Benjamin Hardy has nailed what might be every productive person’s perfect morning routine.

 

He states that although life is busy, You are the designer of your destiny. You are responsible.

You get to decide. You must decide — because if you don’t, someone else will. Indecision is a bad decision.

 

Hardy has provided his insights into a short morning routine that has the potential to quickly change your life.

Wake up

Get in the zone

Get moving

Put the right food in your body

Get ready

Get inspired

Get perspective

Do something to move you forward

 

Here is a Readers Digest version of his thoughts…

 

  1. Get A Healthy 7+ Hours of Sleep

Getting a healthy amount of sleep is linked to:

  • Increased memory
  • Longer life
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Increased creativity
  • Increased attention and focus
  • Decreased fat and increased muscle mass with exercise
  • Lower stress
  • Decreased dependence on stimulants like caffeine
  • Decreased risk of getting into accidents
  • Decreased risk of depression
  • And tons more… google it.

 

  1. Prayer and Meditation to Facilitate Clarity and Abundance

After waking from a healthy and restful sleep session, prayer and meditation are crucial for orienting yourself toward the positive. What you focus on expands… Prayer and meditation facilitate intense gratitude for all that you have. Gratitude is having an abundance mindset. When you think abundantly, the world is your oyster. There is limitless opportunity and possibility for you.

 

  1. Hard Physical Activity

If you want to be among the healthy, happy, and productive people in the world, get in the habit of regular exercise.

 

  1. Consume 30 Grams of Protein

Protein-rich foods keep you full longer than other foods because they take longer to leave the stomach. Also, protein keeps blood-sugar levels steady, which prevents spikes in hunger. So, eat at least 40% of your breakfast calories as protein.

  • Do it with two or three whole eggs (each egg has about 6g protein)
  • If you don’t like eggs, use something like turkey bacon, organic pork bacon or sausage, or cottage cheese
  • Or, you could always do a protein shake with water
  • For people who avoid dairy, meat, and eggs, there are several plant-based proteins. Legumes, greens, nuts, and seeds all are rich in protein.

 

  1. Take A Cold Shower

Cold water immersion radically facilitates physical and mental wellness.When practiced regularly, it provides long-lasting changes to your body’s immune, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems that improve the quality of your life. It can also increase weight-loss because it boosts your metabolism.

 

  1. Listen to/Read Uplifting Content

Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning. It is common for the world’s most successful people to read at least one book per week. They are constantly learning. Taking even 15–30 minutes every morning to read uplifting and instructive information changes you. It puts you in the zone to perform at your highest.

 

  1. Review Your Life Vision

Your goals should be written down — short term and long term. Taking just a few minutes to read your life vision puts your day into perspective. If you read your long term goals every day you will think about them every day. If you think about them every day, and spend your days working toward them, they’ll manifest.

 

  1. Do At Least One Thing Towards Long-Term Goals

So your mantra becomes: The worst comes first. Do that thing you’ve been needing to do. Then do it again tomorrow. If you take just one step toward you big goals every day, you’ll realize those goals weren’t really far away.

 

By George recommends that you read the whole of this great Benjamin Hardy column – right here:

https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/2280-8-things-every-person-should-do-before-8-a-m

 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

10 Lessons on Life shared by Billionaires

Forbes Magazine catalogues priceless words of wisdom and Forbes staff Keren Blankfeld has done a very great job in compiling a must-read list of life observations in her piece: Billionaires To Graduates: All-Time Best Advice From Their Commencement Speeches

The following list is the top 10 lessons successful business people have shared in commencement speeches to graduating classes:

 

  1. Life is short.

“As you graduate, can you ask yourselves to live as if you had eleven days left? I don’t mean blow everything off and party all the time— although tonight is an exception. I mean live with the understanding of how precious every single day would be. How precious every day actually is.” – Sheryl Sandberg, UC Berkeley 2016

 

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs, Stanford 2005

 

“Always remember that the moments we have with friends and family, the chances we have to do things that might make a big difference in the world, or even to make a small difference to someone you love — all those wonderful chances that life gives us, life also takes away. It can happen fast, and a whole lot sooner than you think.” – Larry Page, University of Michigan 2009

 

  1. Be present.

“Being present is smarter, funnier and undeniably more attractive. When you’re right here, right now, you notice things. You notice the nuance and expressions of the people around you. You notice the things that might make you a new friend or get you hired or even give you a chance of hooking up. You notice today and how wonderful it is. You noticed the people around you might not be as lucky as you are and the people who work their asses off to make sure you succeed.” – Chris Sacca, University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management 2011

 

  1. Be bold and take risks.

“I will hazard a prediction. When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.” – Jeff Bezos, Princeton University 2010

 

  1. Embrace failure and learn from it.

“It doesn’t matter how far you might rise…. If you’re constantly pushing yourself higher, higher the law of averages not to mention the Myth of Icarus predicts that you will at some point fall. And when you do I want you to know this, remember this: there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.” – Oprah Winfrey, Harvard University 2013

 

“I have always believed and I have taught my children and grandchildren that great success is not built on success. It is built on failure, frustration and sometimes even calamity.” – Sumner Redstone, Northwestern University 2002

 

  1. Be of service: make the world better.

“In the course of your lives, without any plan on your part, you’ll come to see suffering that will break your heart. When it happens, and it will, don’t turn away from it; turn toward it. That is the moment when change is born.” – Melinda Gates, Stanford 2014

 

  1. Use your imagination.

“Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.” – J.K. Rowling, Harvard University 2008 (former billionaire)

 

  1. When a great dream shows up, follow it.

“I dreamed of doing it and finally I achieved it and that is when I came to realize that fantasizing, projecting yourself into a successful situation is the most powerful means there is of achieving personal goals.” – Leonard Lauder, Connecticut College 1989

 

“Overall, I know it seems like the world is crumbling out there, but it is actually a great time in your life to get a little crazy, follow your curiosity, and be ambitious about it. Don’t give up on your dreams. The world needs you all!” – Larry Page, University of Michigan 2009

 

  1. Be flexible.

“You don’t need a grand plan. Whatever plan you do have is probably going to change 100 times before you’re 30. And you don’t need to be an expert in something to try it.” – Michael Bloomberg, University of North Carolina 2012

 

  1. Work hard and be irrepressible.

“Irrepressible is kind of tenacious, but with optimism. You just have it in you. You keep going and going. You could say, isn’t that the same as passion. It’s not. Passion is the ability to get excited about something. Irrepressibility and tenacity is about the ability to stay with it.” – Steve Ballmer, University of Southern California 2011

 

“It is the hard days — the times that challenge you to your very core — that will determine who you are.You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.” – Sheryl Sandberg, UC Berkeley 2016

 

  1. Don’t let money drive you.

“The truth is, I’ve never cared for money. I realize that sounds strange coming from a billionaire, and I recognize that many people do work for money, but I would wager that those who become extremely successful are more strongly motivated by the desire to achieve, by a commitment to excellence and by an obsessive drive to win.” – Sumner Redstone, Northwestern University 2002

 

Read the full Forbes article here:  Billionaires To Graduates: All-Time Best Advice From Their Commencement Speeches

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Borowitz on a Friday morning!

Andy Borowitz is a New York Times best-selling author and a comedian who writes in The Borowitz Report in The New Yorker. These two priceless Borowitz columns first appeared in The New Yorker

 

Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans

Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.

 

The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.

 

“These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.”

 

More worryingly, Logsdon said, “As facts have multiplied, their defenses against those facts have only grown more powerful.”

 

While scientists have no clear understanding of the mechanisms that prevent the fact-resistant humans from absorbing data, they theorize that the strain may have developed the ability to intercept and discard information en route from the auditory nerve to the brain. “The normal functions of human consciousness have been completely nullified,” Logsdon said.

 

While reaffirming the gloomy assessments of the study, Logsdon held out hope that the threat of fact-resistant humans could be mitigated in the future. “Our research is very preliminary, but it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen,” he said.

 

 

Many in Nation Tired of Explaining Things to Idiots

Many Americans are tired of explaining things to idiots, particularly when the things in question are so painfully obvious, a new poll indicates.

 

According to the poll, conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, while millions have been vexed for some time by their failure to explain incredibly basic information to dolts, that frustration has now reached a breaking point.

 

Of the many obvious things that people are sick and tired of trying to get through the skulls of stupid people, the fact that climate change will cause catastrophic habitat destruction and devastating extinctions tops the list, with a majority saying that they will no longer bother trying to explain this to cretins.

 

Coming in a close second, statistical proof that gun control has reduced gun deaths in countries around the world is something that a significant number of those polled have given up attempting to break down for morons.

 

Finally, a majority said that trying to make idiots understand why a flag that symbolizes bigotry and hatred has no business flying over a state capitol only makes the person attempting to explain this want to put his or her fist through a wall.

 

In a result that suggests a dismal future for the practice of explaining things to idiots, an overwhelming number of those polled said that they were considering abandoning such attempts altogether, with a broad majority agreeing with the statement, “This country is exhausting.”

 

And that should get you through Friday with a smile!

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

News from the Hill

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The Hill Timeswww.hilltimes.com – is the authoritative news voice and a must-read for all things happening on Parliament Hill. This week the paper has begun a bi-weekly publishing schedule, delivered on Mondays and Wednesdays.

 

It is always an informative read! For example, here are 10 interesting facts about the current state of affairs in Ottawa gleaned from the paper’s last few editions.

 

  • Of the Syrian refugees that Canada has welcomed, only 15 percent of them actually came from refugee camps.
  • The House of Commons sat only 9 days in March and will sit only 10 days in April. Related:  in 6 months of Government, the Liberals have introduced only 12 legislative bills.
  • Prevalent HT budget analysis is summed up in front page headlines: “Trudeau’s big government spending budget reflects his view of Canadian federalism”
  • Federal public service unions not satisfied with federal budget:  wants commitment to new hiring spree
  • Canada is seeking a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council by promising to take command of the UN military force in Haiti.
  • Rail safety, transit funding and drone regulations are the top transportation items in Parliamentary circles at the moment.
  • Vancouver Centre MP Hedy Fry has become the longest serving female MP in Canadian Parliamentary history. She first won her seat in the 1993 election defeating then PM Kim Campbell.
  • The NDP has dropped to 12 percent support of the decided vote, while the Liberals have grown to 46 percent. The Conservatives are at 30 percent, near their election night support.
  • The Conservative Party has set new membership fees at $25 and has its own Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai criticizing it as “an elitist party.”
  • The Canadian Association of Prawn Producers have a new advocacy campaign launched on a website: StrongShrimp.ca and the Canadian Urban Transit Association has a new campaign at website: Lets-Move.ca

 

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. (He’s also a political junkie that loves to play in the shadow of the peace tower.) Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

Kaufmann on a life of intensity

running-feet_2Walter Kaufmann believed that there is an urgency in life and expressing oneself or, at least, there should be. The full significance of this urgency is captured is the following excerpt:

 

     Let people who do not know what to do with themselves in this life, but fritter away their time hope for eternal life. If one lives intensely, the time comes when sleep seems bliss. If one loves intensely, the time comes when death seems bliss… The life I want is a life I could not endure in eternity. It is a life of love and intensity, suffering and creation… As one deserves a good night’s sleep, one also deserves to die. Why should I hope to wake again? To do what I have not done in the time I’ve had? All of us have so much more time than we use well… Lives are spoiled and made rotten by the sense that death is distant and irrelevant… But it makes for a better life if one has a rendezvous with death… There is nothing morbid about thinking and speaking of death. Those who disparage honesty do not know its joy.

– from The Faith of a Heretic, by Walter Kaufmann.

 

In his book Socrates Café, Chris Phillips describes the impact this passage had on his life quest.

 

     Kaufmann’s words made me realize not how short and precious life is, but how unbearably long and meaningless much of my life had seemed to me. And they made me realize how inexcusable it was for me to have allowed my life to take on such soporific dimensions by abandoning my search for meaning.

 

Chris Phillips is an American writer and modern day philosopher, author of the best-sellers Socrates Café and Six Questions of Socrates. For anyone wishing to dive deep into the questions of being and self-expression, these provocative books are a #must_read

 

Walter Kaufmann (1921 – 1980) is a German philosopher, primarily known for his scholarly works of Friedrich Nietzsche and Goethe’s Faust.

 

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Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

7 Harsh Realities to Face Today

By George recently read an advice column for millennials which can easily apply to most people today who find themselves hiding comfortably within the herd mentality of political correctness. Tyler Durden wrote 7 Harsh Realities Of Life Millennials Need To Understand. His lead taunted the youth of today:

It’s time millennials understood these 7 harsh realities of life so we don’t end up with a generation of gutless adult babies running the show.

However, his advice can be instructive for many Canadians and By George offers this excerpt from the original column to prompt a re-think of all those things many now take for granted or are accepting as truth.

 

1. Your Feelings Are Largely Irrelevant

Given feelings are entirely subjective in nature, it’s completely unreasonable to demand everyone tip-toe around you to prevent yours from being hurt. The reality is that people will offend you and hurt your feelings, and they won’t stop to mop up your tears because they shouldn’t have to. Learning to accept criticism, alternative viewpoints, and even outright insults will make you happier in the long run than routinely playing the victim card.

 

2. You Cannot Be Whatever You Want To Be

This is a comforting lie parents have started telling their children to boost their morale in school. Unfortunately, millennials are now convinced it’s true,

 

3. Gender Studies Is A Waste Of Money

While some millennials taking useless degrees will claim they’re beneficial for teaching or research positions, the reality is that they just put themselves several thousands dollars in debt to learn how to be a professional victim.

 

4. If You Live In America, You’re Already In The 1%

 

5. You Don’t Have A Right To It Just Because You Exist

Just because you’re here and breathing doesn’t mean society owes you anything. Like the billions of people who lived before you, working hard is a better guarantor of wealth and the ability to comfortably take care of yourself than begging society or the government to do it for you.

 

6. You DO Have The Right To Live As You Please — But Not To Demand People Accept It

You don’t have the right to demand people keep their opinions about your lifestyle to themselves, especially if you’re open and public about it. I have as much of a right to comment on the way you live your life as you do to actually live it. Your feelings are not a protected right, but my speech is.

 

7. The Only Safe Space Is Your Home

No matter where you go in life, someone will be there to offend you. Maybe it’s a joke you overheard on vacation, a spat at the office, or a difference of opinion with someone in line at the grocery store. Inevitably, someone will offend you and your values. If you cannot handle that without losing control of your emotions and reverting back to your “safe space” away from the harmful words of others, then you’re best to just stay put at home.

 

Read Tyler Durden’s full column in Zero Hedge news.

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer or experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Writers Pick Top-10 Books of All Time

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The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books is a readers’ collection of dream lists.

It is the ultimate guide to the world’s greatest books – as picked by writers such as Norman Mailer, Annie Proulx, Stephen King, Jonathan Franzen, Claire Messud, Margaret Drabble, Michael Chabon and Peter Carey. The Top Ten includes summaries of 544 books-each of which is considered to be among the ten greatest books ever written by at least one leading writer. You can get this treasure from Amazon (where else?!)

Here are three intriguing lists from that book.

 

TOP TEN WORKS OF THE 20TH CENTURY

  1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
  4. Ulysses by James Joyce
  5. Dubliners by James Joyce
  6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  7. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  8. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  9. The complete stories of Flannery O’Connor
  10. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

 

TOP TEN WORKS OF THE 19th CENTURY

  1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  5. The stories of Anton Chekhov
  6. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  7. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  8. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  9. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  10. Emma by Jane Austen

 

TOP TEN AUTHORS BY NUMBER OF BOOKS SELECTED

  1. William Shakespeare — 11
  2. William Faulkner — 6
  3. Henry James — 6
  4. Jane Austen — 5
  5. Charles Dickens — 5
  6. Fyodor Dostoevsky — 5
  7. Ernest Hemingway — 5
  8. Franz Kafka — 5
  9. (tie) James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Vladimir Nabokov, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf — 4

 

Read more about this book at Brian Pickings.

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What ISIS Really Wants

Here is a must-read magazine feature by Graeme Wood, which appeared in the March 2015 issue of The Atlantic.

What ISIS Really Wants

The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.

Here are 10 key excerpts, as selected by By George, that are remarkably insightful.

  • The Islamic State “rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.”
  • The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy…. it looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.
  • The Islamic State requires territory to remain legitimate, and a top-down structure to rule it. (Its bureaucracy is divided into civil and military arms, and its territory into provinces.)
  • The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic… the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam. Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it.
  • …the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”
  • Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks. Muslim “apostates” are the most common victims.
  • Islamic State operates as policies of mercy rather than of brutality. He told me the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies—a holy order to scare the shit out of them with beheadings and crucifixions and enslavement of women and children, because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict.
  • One way to un-cast the Islamic State’s spell over its adherents would be to overpower it militarily and occupy the parts of Syria and Iraq now under caliphate rule. Al Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding.
  • Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it, through air strikes and proxy warfare, appears the best of bad military options….with every month that it fails to expand, it resembles less the conquering state of the Prophet Muhammad than yet another Middle Eastern government failing to bring prosperity to its people.
  • the Islamic State is likely to be its own undoing. No country is its ally, and its ideology ensures that this will remain the case. The land it controls, while expansive, is mostly uninhabited and poor. As it stagnates or slowly shrinks, its claim that it is the engine of God’s will and the agent of apocalypse will weaken, and fewer believers will arrive. And as more reports of misery within it leak out, radical Islamist movements elsewhere will be discredited…

 

Read the full article here: What ISIS Really Wants

Hat’s off to the wise fool

Roger von Oech is an author, inventor, and consultant on stimulating creativity in business. His blog http://blog.creativethink.com/ featured an intriguing post: “Think Like a Wise Fool.”

Von Oech writes:

Carrying the strategy of “looking at things differently” to extremes brings us to the realm of the Wise Fool, the being for whom everyday ways of understanding have little meaning.

It’s the wise fool’s job to extol the trivial, trifle with the exalted, and parody the common perception of a situation. In doing so, the fool makes us conscious of the habits we take for granted and rarely question. A good fool needs to be part actor and part poet, part philosopher and part psychologist.

And throughout history, the wise fool has been consulted by Egyptian pharaohs and Babylonian kings, Chinese emperors, Greeks tyrants, and Hopi Indian chiefs.

Here’s what a wise fool can accomplish by making us re-look and re-think our work:

  • reverse our standard assumptions
  • notes things that other people overlook
  • be irreverent
  • be cryptic
  • be absurd
  • challenge viewpoints by taking the contrary position

von Oech concludes his post by pointing out: “The great benefit of the wise fool’s antics and observations is that they stimulate our thinking. They jolt us in the same way that a splash of cold water awakens us when we are drowsy.”

By George recommends this post and the blog for those who wish to place assumptions in question and refocus their thinking.

A view of America

US_Flag_BacklitNeil Macdonald is the senior Washington correspondent for CBC News and this week he announced he is leaving the American beat and “coming home.” Macdonald began his Washington post in 1988 and has served more than 25 years south of the border covering Congress and the affairs of the Nation.

In an editorial piece Macdonald produced for CBC News, he makes poignant observations about the differences between Canada and U.S., our politicians and bureaucracies. As he packs his bags, Neil Macdonald provides us with a glimpse of what he admires most in the United States. Here are excerpts from his editorial:

Accountability. It’s a favourite word for politicians everywhere these days, but in this country it actually means something.

Freedom of information in America is a defined public right, not a silly concept to be circumvented or ignored by smug officials and politicians.

Presidents and congressional leaders hold regular news conferences. They never stop answering questions.

Politicians here routinely disclose personal finances (imagine that?).

Call a U.S. government department, and you’ll probably find an official who’s liable to call back with real information.… Ottawa’s default setting is secret, as I’ve discovered on the odd occasion I’ve had to call across the border for information.

“Doing the right thing” – I have no other phrase to explain it, but it is a powerful motive in the American public mind.

Democracy – There is more of it in America. A lot more.

Americans work harder, give more to charity — far more — than Canadians, and there is a touching reverence here for public service.

To view his editorial in full (a recommended read!), click:
Farewell, America, Canada could learn a few things from you

Frankl: Man’s Search for Meaning

Viktor_Frankl2Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl is a must-read.

Here’s Amazon’s description of what has become a modern day classic:

     Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl’s theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (“meaning”)-holds that our primary drive in life is… the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

Frankl chronicles his experiences, which leads him to discover the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most brutal ones, and thus, a reason to continue living. His theory of logotherapy is based on an existential analysis focusing on Kierkegaard’s “will to meaning” as opposed to the Nietzschean doctrine of “will to power” of Freud’s arguments relating to “will to pleasure.” Rather than power or pleasure, logotherapy is founded upon the belief that it is the striving to find a meaning in one’s life that is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans.

It’s an account that make you pause and put down that $5 double-creamed cappuccino latte.

Here are 15 memorable quotes from Man’s Search for Meaning

  • Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
  • When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
  • Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.
  • Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become the next moment. By the same token, every human being has the freedom to change at any instant.
  • So live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!
  • For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best.
  • For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.
  • Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him.
  • It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.
  • Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.
  • Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.
  • Man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life.
  • It is not freedom from conditions, but it is freedom to take a stand toward the conditions.
  • Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.
  • Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.

(ed. Photo credit: file is licensed under the Creative Commons Atrribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license. Attribution: Prof. Dr. Franz Vesely)

Paul Wells on Canadian Politics

141206 (2)This past weekend I was at a breakfast gathering of politically engaged folks, who had the pleasure of hearing guest speaker Paul Wells, Maclean’s political editor. Canadians will know Paul for the insight he espouses in his Maclean’s blog – Inkless Wells

 

In his Saturday morning address, Paul spoke of experiences related to his coverage of Canadian and American politics. His accounts were captivating and were peppered with funny sidebar comments and personal reflections. One interesting item Paul shared was his four rules of Canadian politics. He has written before on these rules, and he mentioned he often refers back to them in his work. For the record, here they are…

 

Paul Wells 4 Rules of Canadian Politics

1: For any given situation, Canadian politics will tend toward the least exciting possible outcome.
2: If everyone in Ottawa knows something, it’s not true.
3. The candidate in the best mood wins.
4. The guy who auditions for the role of opposition leader will get the job.

 

Here is an important footnote. Paul Wells has a book currently on the best-sellers charts. His book, The Longer I’m Prime Minister, is his accounting of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s hold on power and his strategic prowess in advancing a conservative agenda.

 

The Longer I’m Prime Minister is on my Christmas gift list for a few of my friends. After hearing Paul speak, I have a renewed admiration for his wit and adept examination of our ever-changing political landscape.

The (factual) record of Pierre Trudeau

The Truth about Trudeau by Bob Plamondon is one of those books that is destined to redefine the manner Canadian historians and writers pen biographical accounts. This is a book that makes an unchallengeable case on the record of a Prime Minister, wholly contrary to the prevalent narrative of our country’s liberal, chattering-class. Bob Plamondon’s mastery over government statistics and economic facts, his skills accumulating and researching government policies and outcomes of the period, and his laser-like abilities to parse a truth from the many legendary tales of the man – all of this makes his study of the Trudeau years in power a must read.

Here are some of the highlights (lowlights?) of Pierre Trudeau’s tenure in office as recorded in The Truth about Trudeau.  

  • The accumulated deficit rose tenfold, from $19.4 billion to $194.4 billion, or from 25.5 percent of GDP to 43.2 percent. Total annual federal spending was $12.9 billion in 1968 and $109.2 billion in 1984, leaping from 17 percent of GDP to 24.2 percent. This fueled inflation in Canada, to an average of 15 percent while Trudeau was in office – the worst inflation rate among developed nations.
  • The Trudeau Government purposefully undermined our traditional alliances with Britain and the U.S.; pointlessly annoyed our major trading partners; and, of his own independent accord, Trudeau befriended communist dictators and regimes that were devoid of Canadian interests. His cavalier approach to foreign affairs resulted in multiple failed Canadian initiatives on the world stage: his North-South, Third Option, and world peace initiatives all failed.
  • Trudeau’s misleading Quebecers and repatriating the constitution without Quebec’s consent created a difficult and lasting rift between Quebec and TROC. It also sowed the seeds of mistrust that born PQs’ rise to power and the creation of Bloc Quebecois.  
  • The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was not the jewel in the crown of a repatriated constitution, but rather a tool that has been used to Americanize our constitutional structure by making our culture more litigious and enabling judicial activism.   
  • And much more is recounted: the gutting of the military, effectively leaving the country defenseless; the implementation of a National Energy Program that was disastrous for western Canada’s economy and a lasting source of resentment; and, the social-minded, state-intervention approach to Canadian business that challenged free enterprise and destroyed private sector confidence – leading to greater inflation and unemployment rates of 11.2 percent in 1984 (it was 4.5 percent in 1968).

Click through Bob Plamondon’s website to know more about the author and click to Amazon where you can order a copy of this must-read!

Great read: The End of Growth

One of my best reads this summer was Jeff Rubin’s book The End of Growth. This chief-economist-turn-author asks, “What will be the impact on world economies of triple-digit oil prices?” His analysis of governments and financial institutions, and his argument about economic growth and competing global agendas are not only informative, but very insightful.

Here are two paragraphs of facts that help make some remarkable arguments in the book. On oil pricing…

     Global oil consumption in 2000 was roughly 76 million barrels a day, with Brent crude averaging $28.50 a barrel; the world’s annual oil bill was $791 billion. Skip ahead to 2010. World consumption was up to 87 million barrels a day,  with Brent crude averaging $79.50 a barrel. The combination of higher prices and more demand had quadrupled the annual fuel bill to $2.5 trillion. Only a year later, Brent crude was averaging more than $100 a barrel. That price increase alone added more than $500 billion to what the world spends each year to keep the wheels turning.

     The extra money didn’t fall from the sky. The cost is footed by the world’s major oil-consuming economies, and the cash is shipped into the outstretched arms of oil-exporting nations like Saudi Arabia, Russia and Canada. (page 51)

On the world’s population…

     The United Nations estimates that the world’s 7-billionth person was born on October 31, 2011, most likely in Ultar Pradesh, the poorest and most populated state in India. According to the UN, the child is unlikely to have access to electricity or in-door plumbing and has only a 60 percent chance of attaining literacy. Over-all, the UN estimates the 2.5 billion people in the world lack basic sanitation.

     The UN’s forecast for the global population to reach 10 billion this century leaves you wondering how the planet will support another 3 billion bodies. What will be left of the earth’s remaining forests, jungles, oceans, rivers and wildlife? Even if we sacrifice the environment entirely, what kind of quality of life can the world’s 10-billionth person expect? (pages 222-223)

Jeff Rubin’s conjectures are a great read.  For further information about this book, see an interview with the author on the arguments within The End of Growth.   Read the reviews of the book: here, here and here.

Top-5 Favourites of our Favourite: Ernest Hemingway

A portrait of Ernest Hemingway hangs on our office walls and HE is ever-present as I tap away at the keyboard. Hemingway is a personal favourite – and inspiration – always has been.

Now it’s been 50 years since his untimely death. With this passing of time, on January 1st here in Canada, all of this great master’s works lose their copyright and enter into the public domain.  

To mark this occasion, we offer our top-5 favourite books – and through this year will share some of the most remarkable passages from these five masterpieces.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

A Farewell to Arms

The Old Man and the Sea

The Sun Also Rises

Death in the Afternoon 

 To read more of the genius of Ernest Hemingway, we direct you to our top three sources on the Net:

  1. http://www.hemingwaysociety.org/
  2. http://www.lostgeneration.com/hrc.htm
  3. http://www.ernest.hemingway.com/

Enjoy the read!