25 January 2009

“Mrs. Tulliver was what is called a good-tempered person – never cried when she was a baby on any slighter ground than hunger and pins, and from the cradle upwards had been healthy, fair, plump, and dull-witted, in short, the flower of her family for beauty and amiability. But milk and mildness are not the best things for keeping, and when they turn only a little sour they may disagree with young stomachs seriously. I have often wondered whether those early Madonnas of Raphael, with the blond faces and somewhat stupid expression, kept their placidity undisturbed when their strong-limbed strong-willed boys got a little too old to do without clothing. I think they must have been given to feeble remonstrance, getting more and more peevish as it became more and more ineffectual.”

-George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, Chapter 2, pg 62 in the 1979 Penguin edition.

This is the peril of the parent (moi) who has always gotten by by getting along. Your kids don’t care whether you’re amiable (although they do want you to be kind). The result is a parent whose remonstrances are feeble and who can’t understand why Johnny won’t try to get along himself. Growing increasingly frustrated with the ineffectualness of their corrections, they become frustrated and (great word!) peevish.

Peevish. Don’t let that be my epitaph.

(See also, Teaching, frustrations with)



8 January 2009

Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant.

-James Madison

Build an Igloo

6 January 2009

Wanna know how to build an igloo? This handy NFB doc shows it being done. This is radical simplicity in the service of practical needs.

A little bit less either/or

27 December 2008

A great insight by the always intriguing Micheal Pollan. The notion of wilderness is a beautiful thing but it has made it all too easy for us to dismiss the not-wilderness as beyond redemption – as outside the circle of care. What’s needed is an ethic of sustainability that applies to all the other part of nature not given wilderness status.

Here he is:

The Definition of Vice

9 December 2008

A vice is something that you repeatedly do even though you know it will make you unhappier in the long run.

Politics, capitalism, and morality

8 December 2008

The ever-brilliant  Jürgen Habermas reflecting on the proper role of politics and capitalism with respect to morality:

“Politics turns itself into a laughing stock when it resorts to moralising instead of relying upon the enforceable law of the democratic legislator. Politics, and not capitalism, is responsible for promoting the common good.”

It is not inherently the business of business to promote the public good and we abdicate our responsibility as political actors if we act as if it were. It’s the job of politics to enforce the public good and to pass and enforce legislation which compels business to do what needs to be done to achieve it.

Strange Brouhaha

3 December 2008

So there’s a bit of a political tempest going on up here north of the 49th parallel. The opposition parties have made a legal but highly unusual (unprecedented?)  move to replace the current government with a coalition.  Joey de V posts an excellent summary of the goings on in Ottawa.

Over on Making Light, Graydon does an excellent job of discussing the legal and tactical issues facing the Governor General in comments.

Typically, the PM requests proroguation when the business of the house has been concluded. That means that either the agenda laid out in the throne speech has been dealt with or the government no longer intends to complete it. When the house of commons returns after proroguing, the government is supposed to give a new speech from the throne which sets a new legislative agenda. So, proroguing is a process which sends parliament into recess in order to allow the government to figure out a new agenda.

If the PM’s entire purpose in proroguing the house is to avoid a confidence vote and thus the fall of his/her government then the Governor General should probably not grant this request. The government is only allowed to stay the government as long as it has the confidence of the house and the fact of the Liberal/NDP coalition establishes that it no longer has it. Proroguation doesn’t, therefore, serve the interests of Parliament or the people. It only serves the interests of the party which currently forms the government.

Canadians should remember what it is all too easy to forget. We don’t elect parties or governments directly. We elect representatives who then form the government and who may or may not become part of it.

Stop the Bridge

12 November 2008

The Powers-That-Be have all but decided that a bridge needs to cross the river from Gatineau and land on the front doorstep of our neighbourhood. Of all the options that could have been chosen, this one affects (negatively) the most people. Check out the fine purveyors of bridge-related information at Stop the Bridge.

It’s so simple

14 October 2008

It’s so simple that it’s difficult to fathom. One thing you do not want, enlightenment-wise, is to act like a zen master. The whole point is to stop acting and to be. Who are you supposed to be? Whoever you are and that includes you with all your failings. Once you stop trying to pretend that you are someone you are not, growth can happen.

Most people do, in fact, grow. And I imagine it happens because most of us don’t manage to pretend to be someone we’re not 100% of the time. When we fail at it, that’s when the growth gets to occur.

Vigo Mortenson on CBC Radio’s Q

12 September 2008

…quoted Shaw (as in George Bernard).

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”