Sunday 17 February 2008

Frigid Sunrise

The cat perches on top of me while I snuggle down under the blankets, hoping to hear the weather forecast on the radio. She is anticipatory of morning rations; me: a weather forecast. She is the morning shift. My new kittie, Ollie, spent the better part of the night sleeping close by my head trying to keep warm. Despite the -15 statement on the thermometer, I like to leave the curtains open at night so best to see the sunrise. Usually the curtains help keep the warmth from our wood stove in, and the cold out.

Morning is the best part of the day. The snowmobiles are silent; the traffic stilled. Soon the birds will rise and visit the feeder to take sustenance on the frigid day. The brilliant reddy-orange on the horizon, visible through the trees, confirms the storm the Weather Network warns us about. We have no where to go today and can stay warm and dry.

Rain in Toronto, snow in North Bay, hours of freezing rain in Ottawa. We lie somewhere in between, forgotten on the newscast. I hope for snow, as Ice Storm ’98 was a difficult time with two weeks without power. Our generator lies waiting, ready to kick in when an if we lose power yet again. It seems more frequent, but it is hard to tell. This is only our second year here in Muskoka. It was one year ago yesterday that my father passed away in Long Term Care. I must work on my book today. I am making progress.

We live in the beauty of Mom and Dad's precious Muskoka home. I built the wood fire, as Dad always did faithfully at 5:30 a.m. I know when, becase whenever we visited he was up noisily building the fire come hell or high water! It is the likely source of my morning appreciation. I spent a couple of hours yesterday and the day before shovelling the snow off of the cottage roof. A fine Muskoka tradition. I could picture my dad up there doing this over the years. The cottage, built in 1962, may not have needed it but it was a little bit of sun and fresh air. My parents lived good, long lives keeping active and busy. I can do the same.

In this, likely the idling capital of the world, I hope that people can turn off their engines and show some respect for Mother Earth. We are too far 'south' for those who appreciate nature. Our citiots arrive, hellbent for a big adventure in the 'north'. They care about getting up here to have fun. The snowmobiles scare me on my walks. The noise of the machines, the smell and the disrespect for the environment and pedestrians. They haunt the town's streets; popping up around a corner. The water is frozen on small lakes, yet our shore remains open. The Ontario Snowmobile Club has unheeded warnings. We lost three men whose machines slipped off the edge of the ice into the numbing water in near-by Huntsville.

I await my morning coffee.

Friday 15 February 2008

Facebook and the legal system

It is with increasing alarm that I view the type of activities that go on in Facebook. Anyone can form a group, entertain false ideas and notions, allude to illegal activity, or defame others. From a Social Networking site for University students it has evolved into a wide-ranging forum where teenager are raging at those. In typical teenage angst, the rant and vent and disseminate information that they do not understand.

When a young person dies, or disappears, a site is created and these young people share their memories and feelings (such as the Rengel, Boudreau, and Ponte murders). This is healthy. Kids share photos and memories. Families can benefit from these sites and receive the love and the wonderful stories of what their son or daughter meant to others. Some of the photos are less than flattering and some downright revealing and the site administrators ought to be reminded of how much skin they should show of a friend.

What is not healthy on the websites are the false accusations, the gossip, the libelous actions, and the innuendos that permeate some of the sites. Those in middle school seem to be the worst at this. In righteous indignation they name those who are accused of crimes, or are taken in for questioning. They do not understand or respect the legal system in which we are presumed innocent until proven guilty. In small communities everyone knows the names of those involved and rumours spread regarding what is happening. The conversations can turn vitriolic and they recommend violent answers to the murder and demand violent retribution for those who have unfairly passed away.

I believe that these sites must not be allowed to be created: using another person’s name seems wrong. I would be horrified with some of the photos I have seen, as well as the foul language used by those posting and reaming out the killers in violent threats. Our society deems free speech a good thing, but until young adults become adults and understand respect for others they are abusing the privilege.

Monday 11 February 2008

Bleeding Hearts

Ontario Today’s story revolves around two issues that profoundly impact taxpayers. It appears that journalists are advocating for the government to continue to fund the FNTI, a university designated for aboriginal graduate and postgraduate students. I wonder if CBC is a registered lobbyist and who will be responsible for this funding? No doubt it is a great cause. There is no question that a Nation (the Native Community) should be funding a specialized university. This school is an exclusive school setting. It is a center that gears its philosophy to meet the needs ot fhte aboriginal community, its potential clients. But why should all taxpayers fund a virtually private institution? Why can the money not come from Native Nations?

Taxpayers have donor fatigue and most are not in favour of another drain on short tax dollars. The Federal government is sending out flyers asking if we would be in favour of a 5% GST, rather than the current 7%. In our family we are not. We want to pay GST, taxing consumer goods which we are able to afford, to put money towards an infrastructure that improves our quality of life: health care, education, and other initiatives which other taxpayers seem to believe we can ill afford.

The next Ontario Today next story pertained to a case before the courts today. I am not sure who might be the target audience or is CBC intends to lobby the judge making the decision. Why put on the air one side in one party’s point of law? I can understand the case having taught during my work career. The fact is that the school board’s all have a policy keeping third parties out of the school and the classroom. One year I had two autistic children, 5 learning disabled children, a gifted child, one child with neurofibromatosis and I benefited from an EA for a half day every day. To add yet another child needing a specific program, and another adult in the classroom, would weigh heavily on an already burdened classroom teacher. We are in the field of education not therapy. This child belongs in a setting which best meets his needs and the needs of all the other children in the classroom.

Special education funding is meant to be dispersed equally and fairly amongst all special needs students. It is not meant to benefit particular children. This funding goes towards an EA in a classroom to support a clustering of special needs students. Again, taxpayers do not want to fund any more than is already being spent. This woman’s child is being taken care of in a center, a perfect setting for a special needs child with lower class sizes and better trained specialists.

I am tired of these sad stories with little in the way of background, presented by someone seemingly lobbying on their behalf with little education and training in the field. We can only have a sob story that does not take into account the needs of those involved professionally, as this case, in particular, is before the courts.

Thursday 7 February 2008

Super Tuesday

Canadians have a profound interest in this election. We are all affected by American policy. In all the buzz I have yet to hear someone answer questions from a Canadian viewpoint.

While it is laudable to interview American pundits, where are those who can comment on what is going on as mirrored in Canada? Coverage seems rather focused on what is happening in the US, not what it will mean to us.

It was the Clinton's administration that was involved in the scandalous timber tariffs. Free Trade, and the undue influence on Canadian Copyright Laws are a couple of concerns. The American influence on our security systems is another concern. The collection of personal data is a HUGE issue for the average Canadian.

Am I missing comments in our media on these issues? This is our chance to highlight our concerns. I would like questions to be asked about the kind of impact this could have on Canada and take the debate a step further. The Clintons have a history that demonstrates their views. What about the others in the race?

Sunday 3 February 2008

Fact versus Fiction

I have been listening with great interest to the CBC Ideas program on How To Think About Science। I am tired of the Man in the Street interviews in which fiction is taken as fact and misinformation presented and held up as reality. This kind of information is delivered to an acquiescent public. How knowledge is produced, designed in social context, presented by mass markets, is not necessarily for scientific purposes. Even breast cancer websites are risk for the average consumer.

We know that social and economic interests shape research topics, methods and have bias, including ‘scientific’ research। Results are delivered to a public that does not examine it for accuracy. We believe a lot of what we see and read. Media owes a great responsibility to informing the public in a way that presents information, not heresay.

Reliability and validity are not buzzwords for any politicians I know. Nor do they factor into much of that which we read online. We know, too, that the Americans shape Canadian policies, or try to. Homeland Security has continued to direct Canadian transportation policy and procedures. I follow, with great interest, the Fair Copyright for Canada.

We must be vigilant and remain firm in our convictions. In Canada the geopolitical climate differs from that of the United States (Gwyn, 1995), and does not include the traditional ‘right to bear arms’, or ‘rugged individualism’, rampant in some areas of the country, with heavy-handed applications of either the Quran or the Bible affecting the values of business and government agencies and NGOs.

Canadian viewpoints must be presented in the Global Village. We think and act differently. That said, many of those who conduct interviews on some of my favourite media stations, tend to miss out the p oint of the interview. They like to talk explore issues about how a person ‘feels’ about an horrific event and talk around the topic. With no new information, the topic is pursued with the vigour of a dog and a bone. Some much presented as news is simply a reaction to news already broadcast. Is there nothing going on in the world that we must examine how one feels after losing a family member, or their house to disaster?

Saturday 2 February 2008

Lake Simcoe is a dangerous place

Much like the smaller Lake Muskoka, the smaller bays freeze, and the lake may appear frozen, but they are not.

Bodies Of Missing Snowmobilers Pulled From Lake Simcoe
The search for two missing snowmobilers came to a tragic end after their bodies were discovered in Lake Simcoe late Wednesday afternoon.

York Regional Police had been searching frantically for the two men, Stephen Docherty, 43 and William Cameron, 40, who were last seen around 12:30 Tuesday snowmobiling northbound on Sunkist Road toward Lake Simcoe in the Town of Georgina.