Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Backlash: In Memory of Kamal

From the BBC:

Islamic Human Rights Commission chairman Massoud Shadjareh is monitoring the number attacks on Asian people not reported to the police.

He told BBC News the commission was "extremely concerned at the escalation of backlash attacks against Muslims since 7/7".

"Normally we get something in the region of between six and seven every week.

"Now in less than two weeks we have had 170 reported to us alone."

The attacks, across the whole of the UK, covered "everything" from verbal abuse and spitting to arson, Mr Shadjareh added.

Nine mosques had been attacked, a garage firebombed, people assaulted in the street, and homes had had their windows broken, he told BBC News.

"It is really very worrying."

Three days after the 7 July bombings, Kamal Butt, 48, from Pakistan was murdered outside a corner shop in Nottingham.

Eight juveniles and a man have been arrested.

From another BBC article today:

On Wednesday Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie, a top QC, warned against responding to terror "in a way that undermines commitment to our most deeply held values and convictions which cheapens our right to call ourselves a civilised nation".

She told a conference of 1,000 lawyers, civil servants and diplomats in Malaysia, that judges made rulings in a way that taught citizens and government about the "ethical responsibilities" of participating in a true democracy committed to "universal human rights standards".

Mrs Blair added: "Sometimes democracy must fight back with one hand tied behind its back. None the less it has the upper hand."

Later on Wednesday Mr Blair told reporters that he agreed that there was a balance to be struck between people's freedom and their security.

Why is the hair on the back of my neck standing up?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

London Commentary as a Vehicle to Discuss Civil Liberties

Michelle Mann writes (CBC News Viewpoint):

Undercover London police recently shot and killed a young Brazilian man, Jean Charles de Menezes, on the subway, having mistaken him for a suicide bomber. In issuing an apology for the killing, London Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair warned that more such deaths are possible.

The commissioner initially said Mr. de Menezes was "directly linked" to London's bombing investigations, but subsequently recanted, saying he had "no connection" to the attacks.
Going from "directly linked" to "no connection" within a matter of days serves to highlight the inherent risks of Britain's controversial shoot-to-kill policy on suspected terrorists and the quasi utilitarian language being employed in its defence.

What is the legal standard for "suspected" given that the death penalty can clearly accompany it? In the case of de Menezes it appears to have been living in the wrong building, wearing a heavy coat in warm weather (menopausal women watch out) and his unexplained running upon confrontation by plainclothes officers. Not to mention his brown skin.

But how does the shoot-to-kill policy square with the liberal House of Lords decision in December 2004, which moved England ahead of Canada in the protection of civil liberties of alleged foreign terrorists? In hearing the appeals of nine foreign nationals who had been detained without charge indefinitely on suspicions of terrorism, an eight to one majority of the House concluded that there was a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights…

But here's the kicker: we either believe in civil rights or we don't. In the same-sex marriage debate Prime Minister Paul Martin made much of the fact that we can't "cherry pick" rights; simultaneously we also can not cherry pick rights holders.

In both countries, citizens have some hard thinking to do concerning defining political values, chief among them the principle that civil liberties must belong to all if they are to have any meaning.

I'm still pondering where the middle ground might be...I'm still pissed that we have to have discussion regarding the above, at all.

Hugh Macleod does it again!

I swear, this man is a leader amoung bloggers.

His latest, and I quote:

"Here's where I think a lot of bloggers would like to be:
1. Let's say you needed a job. So you post a "looking for work" post on your blog, and within days another blogger e-mails you and offers you an interview.
2. Or let's say you wanted to hire somebody for your business. So you'd post something on your blog, and some other bloggers would e-mail you, and the next thing you know you'd have a few interviews set up.
3. You're moving to a new town. So you blog about it, and the next thing you know a couple of bloggers from that town with apartments to rent send you some details.
4. Your girlfriend and you broke up a few months ago and you're looking to date again. So you blog about it and the next thing you know a woman blogger e-mails you, and you two go meet up for coffee the following week.
5. You're looking to buy a car. So you blog about it and the next thing you know a blogger looking to sell his 1999 Honda sends you an e-mail.
6. You've got a nice little freelance business which you regularly talk about on your blog. Once a month or so a blogger e-mails you, offering you good, solid work...We'd like to be able to be more reliant on the blogger's market, and less reliant on other markets.
Because the blogosphere is a market that bloggers are comfortable with. And compared to dealing with the blogosphere (when it works), most other markets are anonymous and unpleasant.
So what is the answer? How does an average blogger, someone who doesn't have a lot of readers, make it happen?
I was very pleased with what happend on the
"Blog Designers Wanted" wiki page. I jut put up a simple, blank page on the wiki, and within 24 hours, about as comprehensive a list of good blog designers as you can find anywhere suddenly self-created, as if by magic.
But bloggers need more than just blog designers. We need all sorts: jobs, workers, furniture, love, sex, friendship, apartments, business opportunities, the information is endless.
But what we also need, when we scatter our pollen, is a place where our pollen can be seen easily by others. Just scattering it everywhere is no guarantee it will land where you want.
Ergo, "The Hughpage". An Open-Source "Craigslist" for Bloggers:
This wiki is designed to give bloggers a place where they can centrally collate their links for whatever reason: Work, jobs, love, sex, networking, friendship, apartments, furniture, cars, arranging geek dinners etc etc. Go ahead and build, design, improve and contribute to it as you see fit, in whatever manner works best for you. I'll pay for the bandwidth. -Hugh MacLeod
The Hughpage wiki is up and at your disposal.
Just blogged that you're looking for a job? Then go put the link in the jobs section. Just blogged that you're looking for a date? Then go put your link in the dating section. Just blogged about needing an apartment? The real estate section.
Just blogged about something that doesn't have a section? Then create a new section by yourself. No need to ask first. Exactly.
Feel free to go crazy. Thanks. [NB: You might want to go check out the
Blog Designer's page just to give you an idea of how it generally works etc.]"

Thank you Hugh, for this gift to all us small bloggers out there. I urge people to go out and use this (I myself, am thinking of promoting my little film on it.) When this really gets going, it will open up a whole new world of possibility for those of us in the blogosphere.

This relates directly to David's recent post on Ripples (again.) Too late to become a blogger? Well with new developments like this one, the time has never been better.

Here's to helping each other out!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Why Blogging is a full time job :)

I get back from vacation, and boy do I feel out of the loop.

All the postings that I'm used to reading, by all the talented citizen publishers out there turns out to be ALOT over the relatively short period of one week. Even my close friends, who I am used to checking several times a day for updates, have fallen by the wayside (sorry guys.) I will have to start fresh and catch up eventually.

Highlights from my scramble to bring myself up to date so far include:

- A nudge from Target Market at I'd like my crayons back too, to visit this beautiful site

- An interesting post on Ripples which dares to ask the question "Is it too late to become a blogger" (Never!)

- Another great post from Rosa about Running! (Run Rosa, Run!)

- An Epilogue for Mr. Scott, of Star Trek Fame, on American North

- Nigel's important updates and opinions on the London Tragedy (below, latest)

* * * *

Also occupying my time, don't forget RatBall Productions (T - 3 days, 2 hours til filming)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Back from Vacation

But still not working - unless you count homework. I have never felt so relaxed!

Props to Nigel, for keeping the posting going during my absence- and with a stressful work deadline looming as well. Nigel, you are a blogging saint :)

I was taken to the Kingfisher Spa: Courtenay, BC, Canada for my vacation. Aaaaaah! Highly recommended. If you ever make it there, try the hydropath and the aromatherapy massage. Tell them Jay sent you (to which they will say "...?...")

Current projects include:

getting ready to make a movie (see Ratball Productions). Trying to get ready to costume 16 people, and feed 25. Our budget is about $1.00 (canadian) so it's been fun and challenging. Click the ratball link to find out more.

Studying for school. I have some assignments due August 7 - before school even starts. I also have to read a really boring book entitled "Learning with Cases" I swear, reading this book is punishment for stealing in some countries...

I want to make a comemeorative video DVD for a friend of mine who is ending an important chapter in his life

I also have volunteer meetings.

Who needs work?

* * * * *

Currently on my mind:

How do I become kinder and gentler with myself?

Do I get a job one day a week (or accept a similar part time arrangement with my old company) while I'm in school, or do I get student loans? (still haven't heard back from scholarship people)

Do I leave my current living arrangement for one slightly more expensive, but psychologically better, or do I tough it out for one more year while in school (see also question 2 - as in how to pay for said arrangement)

Welcome Back Jay (and an update)

Good to read that Jay is back in town...I'm looking forward to a catch-up session over quickly scarfed dinner before our volunteer meeting. Due to many hours logged travelling up and down the island (less dramatic truth - only the most southern portion), I have proven that I can eat sushi while driving - using chopsticks no less - and probably carry on a conversation at the same time because I have been singing to my mix tape while eating. All in all, Jay if you are reading this, look forward to a drive out to Royal Roads reminiscent of the old Dukes of Hazzard road trips. My apologies ahead of time...


An update that is not as current as the 'real' news services provide but nonetheless important to include here because I have been posting bits and pieces on the London bombings.

From the BBC:
Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder, at Stockwell Tube station, south London, on Friday.

From the Globe and Mail:
As Londoners struggled to go about their business amid screaming sirens, constant rumours of new attacks and seemingly random shutdowns of stations and entire neighbourhoods, there was a new sense of fear — fear of fellow passengers since the images of the alleged bombers revealed their entirely prosaic nature, but also fear of a police operation that seems to be moving so quickly that some innocent people are almost bound to be caught in its web…

“I saw an Asian guy. He ran onto the train. He was hotly pursued by three plainclothes officers. One of them was wielding a black handgun,” said Mark Whitby, a passenger who had been sitting on the train.

“As he got onto the train I looked at his face, he looked sort of left and right, but he basically looked like a cornered rabbit, a cornered fox. He looked absolutely petrified. They couldn't have been any more than two or three feet behind him at this time, and he half-tripped and was half-pushed to the floor, and the policeman nearest to me had a black automatic pistol in his left hand. He held it down to the guy and unloaded five shots into him.”

The Explanation:
Prime Minister Tony Blair apologized for the police killing of a Brazilian electrician mistaken for a terrorist.

“We are all desperately sorry for the death of an innocent person, and I understand entirely the feelings of the young man's family, but we also have to understand the police are doing their job in very, very difficult circumstances,” Mr. Blair said.

“Had the circumstances been different and had this turned out to be a terrorist, and they had failed to take that action, they would have been criticized the other way.”

The British Broadcasting Corp. reported that the visa of electrician Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, had expired, suggesting that that may have been why he ran from police Friday before being shot. Mr. Menezes's cousin, however, said the visa was still valid.

Mr. Menezes was followed by plainclothes officers after he left an apartment bloc in Tulse Hill that was under surveillance. Wearing a padded jacket, he boarded a bus and travelled to the nearby Stockwell subway station. According to officials, his clothing and behaviour aroused the suspicions of the police who ordered him to stop.

Witnesses said Mr. Menezes then ran into a subway car, where officers shot him. It was unclear why Mr. Menezes, who spoke English, did not stop…

"Somebody else could be shot. But everything is done to make it right," he [Sir Ian Blair] said.

"This is a terrifying set of circumstances for individuals to make decisions."

If officers are dealing with someone suspected of carrying a bomb, they must be lethal, Sir Ian added. "The only way to deal with this is to shoot to the head. There is no point in shooting at someone's chest because that is where the bomb is likely to be."

Friday, July 22, 2005

Bad news Good News

Again I find myself skeptical of "good guy" motives and fearful of the momentum this cycle of violence is gaining...

From the BBC: A man has been shot dead by police at Stockwell Tube station in south London, as officers hunt four bombing suspects.

Met Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said officers fired after the man was challenged and refused to obey police.

The incident was "directly linked to the ongoing and expanding anti-terrorist operation", he said.

BBC crime correspondent Neil Bennett said the man shot dead was not thought to be one of four bomb suspects shown in CCTV images released by police…

Our correspondent says the man was under surveillance as a result of evidence gathered from the scenes of the four attempted bombings.

Stockwell passenger Mark Whitby told BBC News he had seen a man of Asian appearance shot five times by "plain-clothes police officers".

"One of them was carrying a black handgun - it looked like an automatic - they pushed him to the floor, bundled on top of him and unloaded five shots into him," he said...

The Muslim Council of Britain said Muslims were concerned about a possible "shoot to kill" policy.

Spokesman Inayat Bunglawala said: "There may well be reasons why the police felt it necessary to unload five shots into the man and shoot him dead, but they need to make those reasons clear.

"It's vital the police give a statement about what occurred and explain why the man was shot dead."

But I am still trying very hard to be in the present, etc. etc. and gatherings like Saturday's do help with infusing one with hope in the human animal...

Positive Community Events:

The sixth annual Luminara Victoria Lantern Festival takes place Saturday, July 23 at St. Ann's Academy and Beacon Hill Park.

Luminara is a free, family-oriented event presented by the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA). Luminara is inspired by the world-wide appeal of lantern festivals across the globe, Luminara Victoria speaks to everyone in the language of light. At Luminara, people from all walks of life gather together to celebrate the spirit of community, creativity and diversity.

Activities for Luminara Victoria get underway on the grounds of St. Ann's (835 Humboldt St. between Blanshard and Quadra), starting at 5:00pm and continue until 9:00pm. Light up in Beacon Hill Park begins at approximately 7:30, and displays and performances continue there until 11:00pm.

At St. Ann's, the early start time is geared towards families with small children, though all ages will enjoy the performances, displays, refreshment kisks and activities on the lanscaped grounds of this beautiful heritage building. Performers at St. Ann's include Axe Capoeira Victoria and Mufaro Marimba, as well as clowns, jugglers, stiltwalkers and magicians. A children's costume procession, led by beautifully costumed characters and marching musicians, will wind its way around the grounds of St. Ann's starting at about 6:30pm. In Beacon Hill Park, the pathways and waterways will sparkle with handmade lantern displays of every imaginable design, enhanced by dazzling performances of live music, giant puppets, stilt walkers, dancers and acrobats.

The magic of Luminara is in the discovery and delight of surprises that await around the next bend. Most of all, Luminara is all about participation! Everyone who attends is encouraged to make and bring a lantern to carry, to dress in costume, face paint or a glowrope - whatever it takes to get into the true spirit of Luminara Victoria.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Fear Injection

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Four small explosions have hit three London Underground stations and a bus two weeks after the July 7 terror attacks, the city's police chief has said.

Thursday's lunch-hour attacks in the UK capital came two weeks to the day after morning rush-hour bombs on three Tube trains and a bus killed 52 people and the four bombers.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair later told said the situation was "absolutely under control." He told reporters there had been "one confirmed casualty and that is not a fatality."

"We know that we've had four explosions or attempts at explosions. It is still pretty unclear as to what's happened.

"The bombs appear to be smaller than on the last occasion but we don't know the implications of all this yet and we're going to have to examine the scene very carefully…

Scotland Yard said initial examinations at all four sites -- Warren Street, Oval and Shepherd's Bush stations and a bus in Hackney -- showed no trace of chemical agents.

Police also said they deployed armed officers to investigate an "incident" at University College Hospital, near Warren Street, where an explosive device went off aboard a train…

A Scotland Yard spokesperson said two arrests were made in the Westminster area but said they were not necessarily linked to the attacks.

At a news conference, Prime Minister Tony Blair praised the police operation and urged Londoners to remain calm.

"We know why these things are done. They're done to scare people and to frighten them, to make them anxious and worried," he said.

Blair, who referred questions on operations to police and emergency services, told reporters: "Police and security services are pretty clear about what's happened.

"The police have done their very best and the security services, too, in this situation. And I think we just have got to react calmly and continue with our business as much as possible as normal."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Missing Jay: Unwelcome Bedfellows

I am still limping along with my report and therefore feel less inclined to post these days (I know – excuses, excuses), however, as Jay is currently enjoying much needed time away from our small city (and her work - finally) I suppose I must carry the torch – even though we all know I cannot take dear Jay’s place. Mainly because she posts… a lot…(see her other blog

That said, I really have very little to share.

I think I am learning to stress manage through this situation at work and I definitely know more about my job than when I started (i.e. it is perfectly acceptable to ignore inter and intra office emails as well as phone calls from those not directly involved with one’s current ‘hair-on-fire’ project). This is good. I also notice that there is carry over into other areas of my life…there is perspective. For example, I stayed at my parents’ house last night and upon tucking myself into bed felt something soft and wet roll on to my arm and then my leg. Excrement. Cat poop. Instead of seeing this as a problem I got out of bed (carefully), dealt with the alien entity between the sheets, stripped the sheets, cleaned myself, made the bed, and got back into it. Ta Dah. Mature behavior. I’ll be here all week.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Change (and Friday's take on the news)

Yesterday I ate what will probably be my last sushi lunch with is hard to imagine what life will be like working downtown knowing that I no longer have Jay two blocks over to meet me for a spicy tuna roll or coffee, when we are more interested in talking than eating. I suppose I will now find myself not using my incessant emails to Jay as a procrastination technique and I hope to see my work results become more focused (as well as my time with Jay become more than brief catch up sessions). So here's to change: painful but necessary for our evolution as individuals and friends.

In local news: do not forget if you are in Victoria, British Columbia tomorrow:

18th Annual Moss Street Paint-In
Saturday, July 16, 2005
Paint-In: 12:30 noon - 4:30 pm
Food & Beverage Garden: noon- 9 pm
Dancing to Kumbia: 4 - 9 pm

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria's Annual Moss Street Paint-In (a not-for-profit event) features invited professional and emerging artists from Victoria and Region who demonstrate their art to 30,000 visitors walking Moss Street from Fort to Dallas Road. The Paint-In offers visitors an opportunity to meet and discuss the artists' work and methods and to see an enormous variety of professional work at one time.

In national news: Canadian cattle are making the trip South again and I can't wait to read what Jape at American North has to say about it...

The border has been shut to most Canadian cattle since May 2003 when a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease was discovered...Cattle rancher John Capithorne says the decision makes the world seem a little brighter.

"The grass is growing, the flowers are blooming and all of a sudden we got some potential to move some cattle outside of our boundaries," he said.

"It puts a little strut in your stride and a grin on your face and it's easier to go to the coffee shop in the morning."

And in world news: because I am still reading everything I can about the London bombings and find it harder and harder to find more than just the sound bites offered by local media outlets...

An Egyptian chemistry expert sought by police over the London bombings has been arrested in Cairo, Egypt.

Magdi Mahmoud al-Nashar, 33, had not been seen by colleagues at Leeds University since early July.

British police are searching a house in Leeds linked to Mr al-Nashar, but have not formally named him as a suspect in their investigation.

Mr al-Nashar has denied having any role in the bombings and was on holiday, Egypt's Interior Ministry said...Met Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair said there was nothing connecting the man to the plot, but added that investigators expected to find evidence linking al-Qaeda to the attacks.

I have great concern that the "authorities" have a suspect profile list (bombers - check, chemist - check, strategist - ?) and are fitting individuals to it...but again I feel woefully under informed and have little evidence to back up my fears that some of these men may be victims of a witch hunt. It all just seems very convenient...

Last Day!

Last Day! Last Day! Last Day!

It doesn't feel real yet. After working here for 3+ years I don't have anymore the idea of what being without my steady paycheque will look like. I think you quickly get used to the routines in your working life:

The routine of getting up in the morning at a specific time.
The routine of getting $$ in your bank account every two weeks.
The routine of procrastinating, then stressing out to catch up at the last minute.
The routine of complaining about work.

Two out of four of the routines I just listed are negative habits. That's what happens when you start to get comfortable in a job, you pick up both good and bad habits. This is why it's good to make sure you don't get too comfortable. You don't necessarily need to leave your job (as I am doing) in order to break those bad work habits, but you do need to be aware of the things in your life that you could do a little differently for better results. If you do not, then you risk not only job security, but the potential of living a full life as well.

But you learn and you move on, you watch for opportunities, and also for potholes or traps along the way. If you start something and it doesn't work out for you, you don't let the setback destroy you. You meet new people and try to be a good friend/colleague. You live your life with integrity and heart. That's all that anyone can ask of you, or themselves.


Blogging light for the next week or so - I'm going on vacation. My grandmother is taking me to the spa :)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Slow Down or else....

From BBC News:

"We live in a world where instant gratification is not fast enough, in a world of not only speed dating, but even of speed yoga, said Mr Honoré.
The author of In Praise of Slowness decided to decelerate after he found himself speed reading bedtime stories to his son.
He even found himself excited when he read in the newspaper a story about one-minute bedtime stories.

But he caught himself: "Has it really come to this that I'm ready to fob off my son with a sound bite at the end of the day?"
People point to urbanisation, consumerism and globalisation as the cause of this "roadrunner culture", he said, but it is more fundamental.
"In our society, time is a scarce resource," he said. "We turn everything in race with the finish line but we never reach that finish line."
But around the world, there is a backlash against this culture, such as the slow food and slow city movement in Italy.
Across the world, people are slowing down, and they are finding that they "eat better, make love better, exercise better, work better". "

"We turn everything into a race to the finish line, but we never reach that finish line" How many times in your own life have you thought: "My life will be so much better when I acheive X" then when you achieve X only find yourself thinking "my life will be so much better when I acheive Y!" X and Y could be anything really, new house, girlfriend/boyfriend, promotion at work. Essentially we end up being in a race with ourselves where everybody loses! Not content with X or Y for very long, we rush to do the next thing that will make us happy, not realizing that true happiness comes from within.

I think the idea behind the slow movement described above is that when we slow down and turn off distractions in our lives, we suddenly have the time needed to see what will really make us happy. We acheive clarity, and gain energy. We invite ourselves to enjoy the process of achieving a goal, more than the goal itself, and we learn to appreciate the moment.


But worth striving for.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Three Days to Go...

and just when I'm trying to slow down, they give me EXTRA work :)

Partially because my clients want to see me before I go, and partially because when you need somebody to cover a shift - it doesn't matter if they've just got there or are on the way out. If they're there, they're yours.

I'm beginning to realize, as I reflect on the last few years how important a step this job was for me. I know that it wasn't a great fit all the time, and it isn't where I want to continue to build a career, but it has been an important experience for many reasons:

1) I have picked up some good business skills, and an insight to the workings of a large corporation (ask David St. Lawrence why this is important, I dare ya... buy his book here)

2) I have met so many like minded people (working in customer service/sales gives you ample opportunity to meet new people.) I know at least some of these people will form a valuable support network which will help me through many life challenges.

3) One of those people is Nigel - my partner in Blog :) Seriously N, I probably wouldn't have started blogging if you hadn't agreed to do it with me :)

4) I saved up enough money that I could consider the possibility of going back to school (not as much as I need, but it brought school into the realm of possibility for me)

5) My job forced me to learn how to communicate and LISTEN more effectively. In pursuing my communications degree as in life, I know that these skills will be invaluable.

6) I think I have even become a little more organized these past few years, definately attributable to my work environment.

I know I complain about the corporate lifestyle (and specifically MY corporate lifestyle) alot, and most of my complaints I feel are legitimate. However, now that my last few days are here I also think it is important to reflect on the positive, and share it with you. I have learned a great deal, now it is time to move on.

Monday, July 11, 2005

My Saga Continues...

Here we arrive at Monday of my last week full time at my current job. After this Friday I take a month off before returning to school. My emotions currently run the gamut from excited about going back and learning new things to stressed out about how I am going to pay the bills for the next year. I still have not heard back about my scholarship applications except for the one that I didn't get. I'm hoping this is a good sign. If I do not get the scholarships, I will be relying on a combination of my savings and what I can borrow to get me through. I'd rather not borrow, but sometimes you've gotta do what you've gotta do. I will work part time if I have to, but I've been informed by my school that it is almost impossible to work more than the smallest of part time jobs while in school. I guess that's what I get for trying to do an accelerated program.

Because I am finishing two years of school in one calendar year, I am also having to start thinking about graduate school. Do I want to go? What do I need to do to get my application ready? Who will write reference letters for me? Do I want to work first, or go straight on through? Do I need to go? Do I need to go right now? It's like trying to chart your whole life path. What am I going to want to do with my life? Well if I could answer that the rest would be easy.

Usually it's just a nebulous "I want to do something creative. I want my work to have a positive impact on my community and the world around me. I do not want to limit my upward mobility, and I want to feel like I have control over my own future." So saying "I want to be a _________" has always been difficult for me. I know what I don't want to be though. I don't want to be a corporate stooge. I don't want to see money as the only measure of a companies or a person's success. I don't want to work my life away at 75 hrs/week - I want time for what I feel is important. I don't want a job where creativity is considered a liability. I want to work somewhere where people are encouraged to be free-thinkers. I want to work somewhere that integrity and diversity are more than just lip-service.

Sometimes I think I will have to run my own business to get what I want.

It's a big week for me. It's an exciting/scary time.

Once more into the breach, dear friends...

Friday, July 08, 2005


I dug up an ineresting post from last november in Spiked:

"There is a 'rooted public perception of what al-Qaeda is', says Dolnik, who is currently carrying out research on the Terrorism and Political Violence Programme at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies in Singapore; but, he says, such perceptions are far from accurate. Dolnik argues that where many imagine that al-Qaeda is 'a super organisation of thousands of super-trained and super-secret members who can be activated any minute', in fact it is better understood as something like a 'global ideology that has not only attracted many smaller regional groups, but has also facilitated the boom of new organisations that embrace this sort of radical and violent thinking'. Dolnik and others believe that, in many ways, the thing we refer to as 'al-Qaeda' is largely a creation of Western officials.
'Bin Laden never used the term al-Qaeda prior to 9/11', Dolnik tells me. 'Nor am I aware of the name being used by operatives on trial. The closest they came were in statements such as, "Yes, I am a member of what you call al-Qaeda". The only name used by al-Qaeda themselves was the World Islamic Front for the Struggle Against Jews and Crusaders - but I guess that's too long to really stick.'....

...According to British journalist Jason Burke, in his authoritative Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror, 'Al-Qaeda is a messy and rough designation, often applied carelessly in the absence of a more useful term' (3). Burke points out that while many think al-Qaeda is 'a terrorist organisation founded more than a decade ago by a hugely wealthy Saudi Arabian religious fanatic', in fact the term 'al-Qaeda' has only entered political and mainstream discussion fairly recently:
'American intelligence reports in the early 1990s talk about "Middle Eastern extremists…working together to further the cause of radical Islam", but do not use the term "al-Qaeda". After the attempted bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, FBI investigators were aware of bin Laden but only "as one name among thousands". In the summer of 1995, during the trials of Islamic terrorists who had tried to blow up a series of targets in New York two years earlier, "Osam ben Laden" (sic) was mentioned by prosecutors once; "al-Qaeda" was not.'"

So there is much speculation as to whether Al Quaeda is even a real organization. It is perhaps more akin to the "red menace" of the cold war than it is to Nazi Germany or another real organized threat. Of course, there are many people eager to call themselves Al-Quaeda, blow up a few populated areas and strike fear into the hearts of Westerners everywhere in the name of misguided fundamentalism. But the question is which came first: an organized Al-Quaeda, or the perception of one? It almost brings to mind the 1995 John Candy movie "Canadian Bacon"in which The U.S. President, low in the opinion polls, gets talked into raising his popularity by trying to start a cold war against Canada. But Canada realistically would never work. Better to take the actions of a few scary terrorists and make it seem like an organized plot against Westerners everywhere - that's how you really start a cold war. In actuality though, responsibility does not rest entirely on the shoulders of the Western governments. Jeff Jarvis highlights an important point in his blog:

We're dancing around PC wording when we should be directly dealing with the problem here.
But today, Tom Friedman dances closer to the flames. He says that, indeed, this is a Muslim problem... because, if the Muslim world does not deal with it, the actions of the worst among them will affect them all :

Because there is no obvious target to retaliate against, and because there are not enough police to police every opening in an open society, either the Muslim world begins to really restrain, inhibit and denounce its own extremists - if it turns out that they are behind the London bombings - or the West is going to do it for them. And the West will do it in a rough, crude way - by simply shutting them out, denying them visas and making every Muslim in its midst guilty until proven innocent.

And because I think that would be a disaster, it is essential that the Muslim world wake up to the fact that it has a jihadist death cult in its midst. If it does not fight that death cult, that cancer, within its own body politic, it is going to infect Muslim-Western relations everywhere. Only the Muslim world can root out that death cult. It takes a village.
What do I mean? I mean that the greatest restraint on human behavior is never a policeman or a border guard. The greatest restraint on human behavior is what a culture and a religion deem shameful. It is what the village and its religious and political elders say is wrong or not allowed. Many people said Palestinian suicide bombing was the spontaneous reaction of frustrated Palestinian youth. But when Palestinians decided that it was in their interest to have a cease-fire with Israel, those bombings stopped cold. The village said enough was enough.

The Muslim village has been derelict in condemning the madness of jihadist attacks.... "

Call it what you will, I think it is important to dig deeply and wonder what is really going on. We do ourselves and others a disservice if we do not at least ask questions.

Big Breakfast

This morning it is gray but warm and there is only a skeleton crew presence in my office. I arrived15 minutes late due to some slow tooth brushing and I have been wanting to turn around, leave, buy a paper and settle into a big breakfast ever since. I am still stressing out over looming deadlines and a general malaise has taken up residence in my psyche. In short, I am looking forward to the weekend, some seriously deep sleeps, and no agendas.

From the BBC today:

More than 50 people died in the London bomb attacks, the head of the Metropolitan Police has said...

Politicians and police have paid tribute to the resilience of Londoners, with transport returning to a near-normal service on the Tube...

London Mayor Ken Livingstone said he had believed for some time that an attack on the city was inevitable and said the emergency operation had "worked like clockwork" because of the planning involved.

I cannot comprehend... not only living with the thought that my home is a target but then experiencing the "inevitable" attack and continuing on.

Rosa said it best yesterday: " ...this is... a day to pray for so many... in London, and for those elsewhere, who for some misguided reason do believe they can effect change by killing others."

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Swirling Red Double Decks

I just watched a red, double decker tour bus pass by my office window and thought I should put down some of the thoughts swirling in my head today.

Living in Victoria, B.C., a capital city desperately holding on to its English roots, it is hard not to view the bombings in London as being somewhat closer to "home" than the attacks perpetrated in New York and Washington, D.C. The coverage on September 11th was more intense by far but the targets seemed more distant - physically and emotionally.

Nothing feels as close as commuters on their way to work.

The death of unassuming, work bound, public transit riders is shocking and horrifying in and of itself but the lack of response I see in the crowds milling around our fair city today, and that of my colleagues around the water cooler, is also unsettling. Will today be as quickly brushed aside as March 11th of last year?

Madrid remembers its own dark day
Chilling echoes of commuter trains atrocity
Giles Tremlett in Madrid, Friday July 8, 2005 The Guardian

For the people of Madrid, yesterday's London bombings were a terrible reminder of what had happened to them on March 11 2004, when 191 people were killed on commuter trains.

Atleast the Canadian media is front page reporting on today's (July 7th, 2005) bombing in London. Unlike cases in the past...

Transport systems as terror targets
By Kathryn Westcott BBC News

Public transport networks in major cities are increasingly the target for terror attacks.

At a recent Rail Industry Safety Conference held in the US, experts noted that there had been more than 181 attacks on trains and related rail targets worldwide between 1998 and 2003, in such countries as Colombia, India, Spain, Pakistan, the UK, the US, and Venezuela.

Bombs were the most frequently used weapons in these attacks.

Last year, Moscow was rocked by two such blasts - one on a packed subway train that killed at least 39 people and injured more than 100, the other outside a central Moscow subway station which killed 12 people and injured more than 100. The Russian government blamed both attacks on Chechen rebels.

I cannot remember if I ever read about the above attacks, excepting those in Moscow.

And, to conclude, a little hypocrisy from our leader to the South:

Mr. Bush, speaking outside the Gleneagles Hotel, said that the contrast between a G8 summit focused on poverty in Africa and the environment and terror attacks was "incredibly vivid."

"We have people here who are working to alleviate poverty, and to help rid the world of the pandemic of AIDS, and they are working on ways to have a clean environment. And on the other hand you've got people killing innocent people. And the contrast couldn't be clearer," Mr. Bush said.

He attacked "those who've got such evil in their hearts that they would take the lives of innocent folks."

"We will not yield to the terrorists. We will find them, we will bring them to justice, and at the same time, we will spread an ideology of hope and compassion that will overwhelm their ideology of hate." (Campbell Clark, Globe and Mail)

ps [for President Bush's writers as context for, what I expect will be, a flurry of speeches to come supporting the continuation of "efforts" in the Middle East]

Statement claiming London attacks

The BBC has located an Islamist website that has published a 200-word statement issued by an organisation saying it carried out the London bombings.

The organisation calls itself the Secret Organisation Group of al-Qaeda [literally the base] of Jihad Organisation in Europe.

The group is previously unknown.

The website has previously carried statements purporting to be from al-Qaeda. It is not possible to verify such claims published on the web.

London Falling:

Shocked and Dismayed to find out about the London Underground bombings this morning. Supposedly an Al - Queada group is claiming responsibility for the blasts, but... we'll see.

I am deeply saddened that anybody would do this to innocent people on their way to work. I think that strong fundamentalists beliefs can be very dangerous, they seem to inspire violence against our brothers and sisters.

My heart goes out to all the people in London today, and I sincerely hope that this tragedy inspires people to be nicer to one another around the world.

Jeff Jarvis has many things to say about this. Also check the BBC and Guardian websites for up to date information, if only that we may try to make sense of the confusion.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Science vs. Ritual?

BBC News reports:

"After a legal battle that lasted nearly eight years, scientists will finally get to study the ancient skeleton known as Kennewick Man..."

"...The tribes who claimed Kennewick Man as an ancestor still do not want the remains studied, though.
"Our goal, our position has never changed," said Debra Croswell, a spokeswoman for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, one of the four tribes involved in the final court decision.
"We still want this individual reburied as soon as possible."
Dr Stafford does not agree: "If somebody else wants to look at it next week, next year, they should be able to come in just like we came in. This thing should be open. There should be no final opinion for maybe even years." "

This is clearly a case of heart vs. head, or science vs. ritual. I'm not sure whether to feel happy about the verdict or disappointed. Studying this skeleton will provide us with so many answers about where we come from, but if a tribe wants it's ancestors to be treated with respect and remain buried why should we say no?

What if scientists needed to exhume your great-grandmother in the name of study? Would you feel disrespected, or would dig up granny in the search for knowledge?

How much knowledge is enough? and will we really draw any important conclusive evidence from this skeleton, or is it just a case of scholars exercising their power in the name of information?

What if they're right and we do find some important conclusive evidence? I think it is important to know where we came from, and any information they do discover may be useful to the very tribes that are trying to prevent this study. Also, if we start putting limits on what people can or cannot study with respect to ritual or religious beliefs, are we not leaving ourselves open to onslaught by fundamentalists? "No, you can't study that monkey because it might contradict my belief in creationism!" I realize I am taking this line of thought to the extreme, but so few are moderate when belief comes into the equation.

In short, I don't know whether this lawsuit was ever a good thing. I really hope that studying this skeleton is worth it.

Monday, July 04, 2005


What if you got up one morning, and had nothing to eat in your house. You decide to go to the supermarket to pick up some groceries for the day, so you get into your car and drive to the local Food-E-Mart. When you get there, instead of being met with a range of choices you find 22 aisles of cereal. Different types of cereal, but nothing else. So you get back in your car, and you drive to the Bet-R-Mart down the road. Again 22 aisles of cereal. You sigh, buy your corn flakes and go home. After a while, you have visited every supermarket in your city, but still nothing but cereal. After a little more time, you begin to forget life with other foods. You start to think that a choice between cereal types represents choice in your life, and you stop dreaming of fruits and veggies, breads and muffins, meat and cake and all the things that used to enhance your diet...

What if you were living that scenario right now, only not with cereal?

There is something in the media industry today (particularily the music industry) which passes as choice, but is actually far removed. Spiked published a great essay on this a few days ago, talking about the ways that music has changed over the last 30 years. I believe the same thing can be said for other forms of entertainment as well. We have the illusion of choice, obscuring the reality of bland business decisions:

"And record companies in times past had very different understandings of A&R, or 'Artist and Repertoire'. Recently a friend and ex-A&R man told me that times had changed. 'A&R', he said, 'now stands for absent and redundant'. In times past, an A&R man - because they were, pretty much exclusively, male - would help an artist to find songs, perhaps put them with specific musicians and arrangers. The role was creative and at its best, led to relationships which fostered the performer's growth, over time. If a company had a great success with something, other people would look for someone to equal that success, sure, but they wouldn't be looking for something identical, because what was appreciated was difference. If you couldn't hear an artist's sound as distinctive, who would want it?
Add to this heady mix the present expertise of studio operators and the expansion of digital recording techniques, and what you have is the possibility to take voices and render them apparently in tune and significantly altered in tone. This is achieved by using the auto tuner, which effectively flattens out the vocal to the exact tonal pitch, removing all the idiosyncrasies that make a voice special into the bargain.
Then factor in a society where people in their mid-twenties live at home - for endless reasons, unable to make the steps into adulthood. A culture of fast-fix, where it seems that what is best required for commercial success is to be the most like, the closest to, the nearest approximation of, something already on the market. Add to that a reluctance to engage in real emotion, but to emulate what appears to be 'sound-alike' emotion, and what you get is a wall-to-wall carpet of similarity of either tone or vocal styling and increasing youthfulness.

Again I wonder, If we make our decisions based on incomplete information (media news) or choose what to buy based on the illusion of choice, are we not being influenced by the corporations in a very real way? These pseudo decisions are not our own, or rather not the ones we might make based on complete information. As long as corporations control the flow of information (or artist development, or flow of products into the stores) they also control our tastes.