Crisis in Venezuela right now…media blackout…this needs to be shared.
Making sense of the Fair Elections Act…is impossible.
Originally posted on canada.com:
To make sense of the many disparate provisions in the Conservatives’ sprawling 242-page Fair Elections Act, the first question to ask of each is not whether it is good or bad but: what problem was this intended to solve?
God knows we have enough real problems with how we run elections. The bill was born of the mess of the 2011 election, with its multiple allegations of voter fraud, including but not limited to the infamous robocalls affair: still unsolved, two years later, despite a Federal Court judge’s finding that, indeed, mass fraud had occurred. A partial list would also include the vast and needless expense of modern election campaigns, and the consequent diversion of party energies, rhetoric and policy to the ceaseless quest to raise funds. And, despite or perhaps because of all of these frenetic efforts to “reach out” to the electorate, the constant decline in turnout.
But that is not, apparently, how the Tories see it. Rather, the bill seems motivated by an entirely different set of concerns.
I hope your new year is off to a promising start and you are optimistic, realistic and deterministic! Try not to be too pessimistic – a new year should not be a “reset”. It should build on the strengths of your past while addressing the challenges you faced along the way, step by step. It’s also a great idea to plan for your future – foresight is humanity’s greatest strength, after all!
For me this year will continue from what I learned in 2013, build a stronger set of goals for the year ahead and hopefully, lead to some bigger steps in life come 2015. You may have seen my blog post from last year and wondered where I wandered off to since then – you’re right in guessing that I haven’t kept to pace with blog posts like I wanted, but that will be addressed!
Indeed, 2013 – as seen in my previous goals, was full of change both fast, furious and fun. This post intends to continue the “tradition” of looking at my past resolutions and creating a solid set to further challenge and inspire me for the year ahead. I can’t continue without thanking the amazing group of friends of such breath-taking diversity and complexity around the world without which I would be far less fortunate and perhaps unable to reach the places I have come so far. My family of course plays a huge role, too – whether for better or worse, the daily struggles and rewards of life with family are a microcosm of my integrity and interaction with the world and the opportunity it provides. Never lose appreciation for everything you have.
Test time is over (literally). Below you will find my resolutions from last year, exactly as I wrote them in my January, 2013 blog post. I have given the “answer” to those 2013 resolutions, my best estimate of how far I got down my goal to set me up for – you guessed it – 2014! Below these past goals you will find my new list of resolutions for 2014, I hope it can inspire just a little if not motivate you to create a list as well!
2013 Resolutions and Results:
-Offset my carbon footprint through stewardship by atleast 100% => Realized I can’t conclusively prove or quantify this as trees need to be long-lived for the carbon sequestration to pan out, therefore this goal will be modified in 2014 to reflect progressive stewardship and reduction of carbon products usage, rather than offsetting (that is a band-aid solution, now that I think about it, like adding highway lanes to reduce congestion).
-Neutralize my transportation footprint => Same as above, I used a car less than 50 times this year, however, which I am very proud of!
-Eliminate OSAP debt => So close! Still have $2000 left as I had new finances to deal with…
-Get into a Masters program for Urban Planning => Yahoo, I got in! I am now a Masters candidate at the University of Waterloo studying in Urban Planning! :]
-Exercise with a passion => This goal didn’t stick, as it was poorly defined (my fault), I will give myself a targeted weekly goal of workouts instead.
-Double the backyard garden (again!) => Almost! While I haven’t measured it, I estimate my garden is now 1o square meters total, up from around 6 the previous year (this includes planting of 5 beautiful native shrubs!).
-Finish a half-marathon => Missed this one entirely, darnnit! Looking forward to trying again this year.
-Trip to Atlantic Canada and B.C => Wishful thinking, unfortunately! My budget isn’t ready for two big trips in one year just yet, the time will come but it’s a selfish goal!
-Read 15 non-school books => I thought I had aimed for 20 books so I nailed this one! Hit 19 fantastic reads – my top recommendation for everyone I know this year would be The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman. A VERY thoughtful and at times, sobering, read.
-Reach 10 000 combined views on my 2 blogs (currently 3 400) => While my blog posts were stable for most of the year, the views didn’t come as I had hoped, this is mostly due to my lack of overall posts! I only got to about 5000 views total so I have a lot of work to do!
-Create an invention to support global sustainability and try to bring to market => Still working on it hehe, it will take quite a bit longer than one year, expect this goal to return in 2015!
Some other news from 2013: I got my first cellphone (and plan!), my first credit card, supported my first Kickstarter and Dragon campaign (both successful), had my photographs used on postcards in a fundraiser, celebrated my champagne birthday and met Chris Hadfield! My first action of 2014 was to join LinkedIn, hope it’s worth it!
My 2014 Resolutions:
-Plant at least 100 native trees and shrubs myself
-Eliminate my OSAP debt…forever!
-Support local research on climate solutions in the Region of Waterloo and, if possible the Region of Peel
-Exercise for at least 30 minutes, 4 times a week (not including cycling)
-Increase the size of my total naturalized/garden space around my house by at least 4 square meters
-Create a naturalized/garden oasis all around my new Waterloo home
-Create an outdoor library where community members can share books at my new Waterloo home
-Run a half-marathon
-One trip outside Ontario this year!
-Earn $1000 that I wouldn’t have normally earned (this will be explained further if successful!)
-Read 20 non-school books
-Reach 10 000 combined views on my 2 blogs, as well as at least 40 new blog posts
Despite all these resolutions above, the most important thing is not to make a list, but to live your life joyfully while in respect of the world around you. Always try and find focus and peace in your life and stay positive, but don’t be afraid to show your other emotions, too! Use that most bountiful and renewable of resources to stay connected – in person especially – your network! Don’t let technology take over your life, community is where the heart is.
Originally posted on The Dirt:
“Here at MIT, we have the infinite flexibility to innovate,” said MIT landscape architecture professor Alan Berger, in a tour of the new Center for Advanced Urbanism (CAU), an ambitious program that seeks real-world impact. Berger said the role of the new CAU, which includes 27 different planning, landscape architecture, architecture, and engineering professors from five different MIT schools, would be to challenge existing notions about urban development through research into what’s actually happening.
At MIT, almost every faculty has a lab. Some of those labs form together into centers. The goal of the centers is to get students and professors to share research, to force “everyone to find out what’s behind all those closed doors.” As such, each project the new CAU will take on will be a “full-blown collaboration between disciplines.”
Berger and architecture professor Alexander D’Hooge co-direct the CAU, rooting it in a set of clear principles. First, the projects the center will take on must have real-world sponsors and aim for real-world impacts. Second, each project will be collaborative from the get-go, with a mix of architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, and planning professors. “Everyone brings equal knowledge.” He even said one assistant director’s role will be to simply ensure that true collaboration happens between the disciplines, and “no one is a sub-contractor.” Berger said that’s needed because collaborating on research is “really hard, time consuming, and socially complicated.” (Berger is one of four research-focused professors of landscape architecture at MIT, a school that interestingly doesn’t offer any landscape architecture degrees, but is rightly famous for their world-class planning school.)
“Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life.”
Originally posted on Mike DiMartino:
It was a long, at times difficult journey, but here we are at the end of Book 2: Spirits.
It’s hard to believe, but we wrote the scripts for Book 2 roughly between May, 2011 and May, 2012. We didn’t mix the last episode of Book 2 until Nov. 11, the monday before the show went up on Nick.com. We don’t usually cut it that close, but it was really down to the wire on this round of episodes.
It’s a relief to finally have Book 2 complete and out in the world. (And if you haven’t seen it all, there will be spoilers below…)
Some amazing thoughts from my new friend, Lexi Salt – lots to learn!
Originally posted on UWCSD:
This past weekend, I attended the Beyond Green Youth Summit in Toronto, organized by Earth Day Canada. There were many phenomenal speakers, one of whom was Tom Rand. For those of you who do not know him, Dr. Rand is a software entrepreneur turned Clean Energy Champion. He explained the reasons why many people are unable to accept climate change (never mind do anything about it) from a cognitive science perspective. This is the first time that anyone has ever explicitly explained this to me. I believe that it is essential information to know, which is why I want to share my new understandings.
Dr. Rand referred to “denial’s siren song”; how seducing it is to pretend that climate change does not exist, as the consequences are scary to face. Passive denial is the most impactful, “everyone is guilty of it, even me at some points”, he admits. He used the example of parents telling their kids to close their eyes and count to 10 if they think that they see a monster under the bed and when they open their eyes it will be gone. Society needs to stop closing its eyes and hoping that climate change is going to disappear- it is not going to happen!
Despite what conventional economics says, humans are not rational creatures! We don’t believe things based on data, we believe things based on what people say who are close to us in our lives (this is proven by research). Dr. Rand explained the current perspective that if you just provide people with the appropriate scientific facts on climate change, then people will clearly change their perspectives and behaviours; this is a fallacy! One’s unconscious mind plays a huge role in shaping one’s worldview (which predetermine one’s belief systems), and these unconscious connections are driven by emotions not rationality.
Originally posted on Price Tags:
Bicycle sales outpaced new-car sales last year in all of the 27 member countries of the European Union, except Belgium and Luxembourg, NPR reported on October 24. One reason is that car sales have slumped in the midst of the euro-zone crisis, NPR points out. But there are signs that this slump isn’t temporary. It’s a reflection, perhaps, of a larger change in how people are travelling.
The most beautiful thing I have ever heard. So wise beyond his years…or perhaps we have forgotten where we come from.
Thought on the eating of meat, I would love to hear your perspective.
Originally posted on Grist:
Listen, we’re not going to preach to you about vegetarianism. Meat is a very energy-intensive thing to farm, but unless you live on top of a pole and eat worms, you’re going to have an impact on the environment, so, you know … go ahead and prioritize however you want. That said, 2-year-old Luiz Antonio kind of has a point here: Animals have heads, and when you eat them they die. What’s THAT about?
Originally posted on canada.com:
Electoral fraud occurred during the last federal election, a federal court judge ruled on Thursday, but there is no proof that it affected the outcomes in six ridings at issue, so the elections will not be overturned.
The court challenge was brought by the Council of Canadians, which sought to overturn the election of six Conservative MPs who won close ridings where there was evidence that someone tried to affect the results by calling opposition supporters and telling them their polling stations had moved.
Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley ruled that the calls “struck at the integrity of the electoral process by attempting to dissuade voters from casting ballots for their preferred candidates. This form of ‘voter suppression,’ was, until the 41st General Election, largely unknown in this country.”
The reality of consumption might just be scarier than you think…soon the discussion will change from “will” to “must” in realizing our growing distance from a sustainable human system.
The big question is, how long will we wait?
Originally posted on Grist:
The notion of “externalities” has become familiar in environmental circles. It refers to costs imposed by businesses that are not paid for by those businesses. For instance, industrial processes can put pollutants in the air that increase public health costs, but the public, not the polluting businesses, picks up the tab. In this way, businesses privatize profits and publicize costs.
While the notion is incredibly useful, especially in folding ecological concerns into economics, I’ve always had my reservations about it. Environmentalists these days love speaking in the language of economics — it makes them sound Serious — but I worry that wrapping this notion in a bloodless technical term tends to have a narcotizing effect. It brings to mind incrementalism: boost a few taxes here, tighten a regulation there, and the industrial juggernaut can keep right on chugging. However, if we take the idea seriously, not just as an accounting phenomenon but as a deep description of current human practices, its implications are positively revolutionary.
To see what I mean, check out a recent report [PDF] done by environmental consultancy Trucost on behalf of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program sponsored by United Nations Environmental Program. TEEB asked Trucost to tally up the total “unpriced natural capital” consumed by the world’s top industrial sectors. (“Natural capital” refers to ecological materials and services like, say, clean water or a stable atmosphere; “unpriced” means that businesses don’t pay to consume them.)