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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Friday 15 March 2013

Hey Cornwall: What Ryan Gosling and I Have in Common

We both enjoy a good meme - and, of course, we both love our home town of Cornwall, Ontario, Canada

Lots of interesting people come out of there.  You gotta visit to understand why

Thursday 14 March 2013

What Children Value

I'm a student of humanity, in the truest sense of the world - so this stuff fascinates me. 

As does the hot new trend in Canadian Politics these days to try and own the concept of "Canadian Values."

Your values are determined by what you value - something we don't often think about.  What posessions do you value?  What do they say about you? 

Something to think about as you scroll through the pictures below.

Photos of Children From Around the World With Their Most Prized Possessions

by Amanda Gorence on March 12, 2013 · 223 comments

Chiwa – Mchinji, Malawi

Shot over a period of 18 months, Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti’s project Toy Stories compiles photos of children from around the world with their prized possesions—their toys. Galimberti explores the universality of being a kid amidst the diversity of the countless corners of the world; saying, “at their age, they are pretty all much the same; they just want to play.”
But it’s how they play that seemed to differ from country to country. Galimberti found that children in richer countries were more possessive with their toys and that it took time before they allowed him to play with them (which is what he would do pre-shoot before arranging the toys), whereas in poorer countries he found it much easier to quickly interact, even if there were just two or three toys between them.
There were similarites too, especially in the functional and protective powers the toys represented for their proud owners. Across borders, the toys were reflective of the world each child was born into—economic status and daily life affecting the types of toys children found interest in. Toy Stories doesn’t just appeal in its cheerful demeanor, but it really becomes quite the anthropological study.
Stella – Montecchio, Italy
Pavel – Kiev, Ukraine

Arafa & Aisha – Bububu, Zanzibar
Cun Zi Yi – Chongqing, China
Bethsaida – Port au Prince, Haiti
Botlhe – Maun, Botswana
Watcharapom – Bangkok, Thailand

Alessia – Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy
Norden – Massa, Morocco
Julia – Tirana, Albania
Keynor – Cahuita, Costa Rica
Shaira – Mumbai, India
Tangawizi – Keekorok, Kenya

Charting Pi

Happy Pi Day!

This makes me smile.  It also makes me think of my favourite pyramid scheme.
Bottom line is this - we instinctively look for meaning and patterns.  It's a glass half-full/half-empty kind of thing.
There's a difference between ascribing meaning and developing understanding, though.  Which is why science is, literally, counter-intuitive. 
It's the instinct, not the image, that matters - until you become conscious of the difference.

Blackberry Thumb - An Emerging Problem Worth Writing About

Repetitive stress injuries - they're a pain, they're restricting but worst of all, they're avoidable. 

BlackBerry Thumb: Real Illness or Just Dumb?

IC Pain 4U: Thumb Malady Said to Strike Frequent Text Messagers
WebMD Health News
Jan. 26, 2005 -- Do your thumbs hurt? If you're sending lots of text messages, you may have the trendiest new malady: "BlackBerry thumb."
Yes, you can peck out text messages with any finger. But users of popular wireless devices such as the BlackBerry type much faster by pecking out messages with their thumbs. Many people soon learn to type 40 words a minute.
Whatever your thumb-typing speed, lots of messages mean lots of repetitive thumb motions. And that could mean trouble, says Alan Hedge, PhD, director of the human factors and ergonomics research group at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
"The thumb is not a very dexterous part of the hand," Hedge tells WebMD. "It is really designed as a stabilizer for pinch gripping with a finger. That is why you only have two of them, not eight. It is the fingers that have dexterity, not the thumb."
The full-size keyboard was designed with this in mind. One uses one's dexterous fingers for lightning strikes on the letter keys. One reserves one's relatively clumsy thumbs for the humble task of striking the spacebar.
"When you switch that around, you put a lot of strain on the thumb," Hedge says. "So if you persist in typing a lot of information with your thumbs, you risk injury."
Hand surgeon Prosper Benhaim, MD, associate professor of orthopaedic and plastic surgery at UCLA, agrees that too much thumbing could be injurious.
"Anything that causes repeat motion can predispose someone to injuries of various sorts, whether it is tendinitis or aggravating underlying arthritis," Benhaim tells WebMD. "These things can be made worse or even initiated by overuse. But thumb typing is very repetitive, and the keys are so small it makes it difficult to navigate around easily. Because it is so small, people are likely to press harder vs. a larger keyboard. So the thumb on the BlackBerry does more than you would do with your fingers on a keyboard.'
What kinds of injuries are possible?
"BlackBerry users include a significant segment of the population old enough to be developing arthritis - and this can aggravate it," Benhaim says. "And there different types of tendinitis. One is trigger thumb.trigger thumb. The other is de Quervain's tenosynovitis, involving the tendons on the side of the wrist right where the forearm joins the wrist. These tendons participate in controlling the thumb and are very sensitive to repetitive motions."
These kinds of injuries are not new. Back in the 1980s, these injuries had a different name - and a different blame, says hand-injury specialist Gary McGillivary, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedics at Atlanta's Emory University.
"This is like what they used to write about Nintendo thumb - they called it nintendonitis," McGillivary tells WebMD.
Video game players have sometimes come down with rather serious injuries, says David A. Allan, MD, PhD, director of the repetitive strain injury center and supervisor of occupational medicine at the University of Pennsylvania's Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia.
"I saw one kid who just played and played video games for seven hours at a stretch," Allan tells WebMD. "His thumb was only a small portion of his problem - his whole arm was affected." Allen says the child had nerve damage in his shoulder as well.
But it's rare for repeat motion injuries to involve long-lasting nerve damage, Allan says.

The Marshmallow Test

My son was administered the marshmallow test when he was four years old.  After the administrator explained it to him, he looked up at her with a quizzical look and stated the following:
"But marshmallow's give you pirate teeth." 
In so doing, he was looking beyond the immediate reward stimulus and the potential disappointment of the administrator and instead, considering his own longer-term best interests.
Foresight is power - and it makes self-discipline a hell of a lot easier.
The Globe and Mail
How strong is your sense of self-control? Your brain patterns may hold the answer.
A study, published online by the journal Nature Communications, has found that people who are better at delaying gratification have more efficient brain-network activity than those who have less self-control. The findings offer a glimpse into the neural mechanisms that make some individuals better at resisting temptation than others, which researchers say may be an early step to developing ways to improve self-control.

Marc Berman, a postdoctoral fellow at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute in Toronto, and his team of fellow scientists examined a group of people who, 40 years earlier, had taken part in the famous “marshmallow test” at Stanford University’s Bing Nursery School. That earlier study, which took place between the late 1960s and early 1970s, tested the willpower of four-year-olds by seeing whether they could refrain from eating a marshmallow immediately if they were promised two marshmallows 15 minutes later. Subsequent follow-up research found that participants who showed restraint were more likely to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and higher Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores, and were less likely to use drugs in their adolescence and get divorced later in life.
Berman and his team used neuroimaging technology (functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI) to examine the brains of 24 of the original participants of the marshmallow-test study, including individuals who had demonstrated high self-control and those with low self-control.
The researchers found that when participants were given a simple task that required controlling their working memory, the brain patterns of those with strong self-control showed a more efficient, more direct route than the brain patterns of the low self-control group. Moreover, the neural patterns among the strong self-control group tended to be similar to one another, while the patterns among the low self-control group varied.
Berman says these findings suggest that there may be a single neural activation route for exercising willpower. “If we can understand the physiology behind self-control, maybe we design interventions and training regimens to get people to improve their self-control,” he says.
However, the study does not provide any information about how or whether the brains of the participants had changed over time.
“That’s like the million-dollar question,” Berman says, noting that it is unknown whether the brain network activity that indicates the strength of one’s willpower is inherent or learned over time. He says his hunch is that it is a combination of both.
A study released last year cast doubt on the efficacy of the marshmallow test, suggesting that whether children refrained from immediately eating the treat depended as much on environmental factors as it did on their actual ability to delay gratification. That study recreated the original experiment, but had researchers arouse suspicion among the some of the children beforehand by failing to give them art supplies as promised. Those children who had an untrustworthy experimenter ate their marshmallows far sooner.
But Berman says that while it is possible to manipulate the experiment in a variety of ways to influence whether children eat the marshmallow, the strength of the original test lies in the fact that self-control was found to be related to several indicators, such as BMI and SAT scores, over time. “What matters is that control over those urges [in childhood] predicted all these other behaviours,” he says.
Nevertheless, Berman emphasizes that participants of the original study should not be thought of as “winners” and “losers.” In fact, despite the differences in their specific self-control measures, all the participants are highly educated, have similar IQs and come from similar socio-economic backgrounds.
“It’s not to say that all self-control is good and lack of self-control is bad,” he says, noting that some impulsive behaviours, such as risk-taking, can be a positive trait.
How to train your child
How can you train children to strengthen their self-control? Adele Diamond, a Canadian Research Chair professor of developmental cognitive neuroscience at University of British Columbia, offers these tips:
One exercise from the early-education program Tools of the Mind encourages pairs of children to tell stories to each other. Since most children would rather be the storyteller than the listener, parents can delegate the roles by giving a picture of a mouth to the child who is telling the story and a picture of an ear to the one who should be listening. Holding the picture of the ear helps to remind the child to listen until it is his turn to talk.
A Montessori tactic has children walk along a line drawn on the floor. This can be a difficult task for young children as it requires concentration and attention. Once the child has mastered walking along the line, parents can increase the difficulty, such as making a game of having each child hold a bell and not make a sound as they move.
Any activity that improves concentration and attention will help to build self-control, from martial arts to playing a musical instrument, as long as the child enjoys it enough to keep at it. “The best way to improve something is to practise, practise, practise,” Diamond says. “What you need to do is to find something that you’re going to do a lot.”

E-Government: Progressively Winning Canada

Like it or not, a growing chunk of our lives are lived remotely, through keyboards and touchscreens.  Progressive thinkers like Don Tapscott look at the failings of our current service delivery models and the usage trends of youth and see opportunity.  Conservative thinkers like Andrew Keen fear an erosion of self and society. 
Those who see opportunity march forward to seize it.  Those who fear change put up walls and cling fast to the fading reality of yesterday.  If you were to chart this trend out, it would look like this:
Now, look at this trend through the lens of politics. 
The people on the far left - the innovators - are ahead of the curve, literally. If it's new, they're not only on it - they're trying to do one better.  Their hypomanic edge gives them the drive, the fearlessness and the sheer creative potential to build things that have never existed before.  These are the Mark Zuckerbergs, the Steve Jobs' and yes, the Chris Mazzas of the world, roman candles burning in the void, lighting the way forward.  These people chafe under restraint, rules, red tape, the yoke of consequence.  They want the freedom to do and if they vote, it's likely to be for whoever gives them space to build their legacy.
These are also the folk that produce dotcom bubble bursts and ORNGE.  Left completely to their own devices, they will fail the marshmellow test time and again, then use charm, deceit or threats to avoid accountability.
The people on the far right - the conservatives - are at the tail end of the curve, trying to wag the dog with their pleas for stasis.  They decry change as an erosion of the good world that has been and view Progress as synonymous with the Fall of Man.  There is no system to these social laggards, no evolution - just individuals in competition.  They want freedom to be, as they are, and if they vote, it'll be for whoever validates their silo-based world view and leaves them alone.
These are the people who fear not just change, but also difference.  Right off the bat, they will view the unfamiliar as threatening; their instinctive reaction to these perceived threats will  be to flee or fight.  If it comes to a fight, it'll be one to the finish - when you see the world as silos, you see others as alien, justifying whatever action is required to get the job done.  The marshmallow test?  Fear will almost always keep them from temptation.
Everyone between these poles, the so-called political mushy middle, are social consumers.  Depending on their genetics and life history, they can vacillate between the two extremes, generally looking to strike a balance between the bold, new and risky and the safe, static status quo. They won't want to be left behind, but they won't want to be first out the gate, either. They simply want the chance to participate in a meaningful, rewarding way.
 As they get on in life, these political centrists will become increasingly comfortable with the system they have grown up with, or fearful that change might bring uncomfortable uncertainty.  Unless, of course, that system is one prone to improvements, upgrades and a continuous series of status gold-stars that come with being an early adopter.
So what does this have to do with e-Government?
The Harper Government is emblematic of Canadian democratic institutions - it rests in the Late Majority phase of the spectrum, increasingly shifting from anything resembling bold towards shoring up its holdings.  An exanding amount of public resources are being allocated for that purpose, in fact. 
The same holds true of the Private Sector in Canada - hiring is decent on front-line service and widget-building positions but innovation - and as a result, productivity - is lagging.  Our social infrastructure is outdated, underfunded and unaccommodating.  Canada is becoming more conservative, which is why we are starting to fall behind other jurisdictions in terms of new potential.  As the world changes, it's becoming clear that the all-eggs-in-one-basket approach is going to fail, yet again, as it always does.
On the other end of the spectrum are the social entrepreneurs, the engineers of tomorrow's online infrastructure - they are pushing envelopes, diversifying, expanding, churning out new code for consumption.  When these folk get the financial traction to turn ideas into products, the people, also known as the voters, are buying it up.
They like the Internet.  They like new technology.  Increasingly, they want to use new technology and the Internet to access public services, with two caveats - they want it to be efficient and they want ownership of their own content.
At the front-end of this wave are the traditional early adapters, youth - people who aren't voting so much these days in no small part because they don't see their world reflected in the white-wig reality of our outdated political institutions.
How do progressives earn, entice, woo these youth votes?  How to they inspire the early and late majorities to hop on the progressive bandwagon?  Not by appealing to the laggards with the tribal approach and go-for-the-gut tactics that have fueled the conservative movement federally and in jurisdictions like Toronto - you don't win races by running backwards to the starting gate.
You do it by leading from the front.
So yeah - e-Government. 
Progressives need to stop seeing themselves as competing tribes and instead recognize progress itself as a movement that, when they push forward at just the right pace (but not so hard as to burn themselves out), they can lead.  This means offering competing visions of what Canada's Digital Future will look like and developing/beta-testing that future with their own internal infrastructure.  Online, map-based social service platforms are a good way to go.  So too is the Hub World model frequently found in video games.
These sorts of innovative approaches are fun, bold and by their very nature, require the support of innovators - who are looking to create new things, anyway.  That's the first slice of the market covered.  Then, start discussing how these online models can actually support and enhance private-sector innovation; like a garden, the role of government is to create the right infrastructure to allow sustainable growth, not to impede it.  Smart business folk understand this concept already and will be supportive of initiatives that demonstrably allow them to flourish.  Now, you're into the magic zone where a trickle of an idea becomes the tidal wave of a movement - the mushy middle will want to be part of the change, too - they'll be afraid not to. 
Those that are afraid of change in the first place?  Well, they're not progressives in the first place, are they?  Done correctly, e-government will benefit the laggards despite making them uncomfortable.  That's certainly better than what we have now, where the laggards lead and the majority get left behind.
For anyone reading the tea leaves, the emerging trend lines are clear, as are the causes behind them.  If progressives are really looking for a win, they have to get passed the queasiness they're feeling about the massive changes required of them in how they operate - not by breaking laws and spreading themselves out flat, but by breaking their self-imposed glass ceilings and reaching higher.
It's risky.  It's unprecedented.  It's uncomfortable.  But progress always is.
The question for progressive players in Canada, then, is who's content to be a RIM - and who wants to be the Apple?


Wednesday 13 March 2013

The Greatest Threat to Democracy

What does this remind me of... oh yeah this:
Of course, Harper is probably right.  Canadians consider themselves too busy, too otherwise-engaged to worry about the slow erosion of our democratic institutions.  We are at best indifferent to the even worse erosion happening steadily beyond our borders, even in supposedly "safe" countries like Hungary - and this, not for the first time
Have we not learned?  We can pretend not to see, we can pretend not to hear because we choose not to be responsible - but we are responsible.  Democracies at all levels require the proactive participation of their members.  Totalitarianism is a social cancer that recognizes no borders, but it doesn't happen out of the blue, on its own - the disaffection of the masses lets it happen.

The biggest threat to democracy isn't external terrorism or The Mule, but the indifference of its people.

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.
    -  Elie Wiesel

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Disability Training in Ontario:

In a service industry - any service industry?  Definitely worth a read.
Did you know that one in seven people in Ontario has a disability and this number will increase as the population ages? Think of how many people you interact with every day and think about how many of these people may be living with a disability.
This course will improve your interactions and communications with people with various kinds of disabilities.
Sometimes you will know a person has a disability because you can see it, but just think about how many people you have encountered who had a disability that you couldn’t see.
As a emergency responder, you tailor your communication to fit the situation. This course will provide you with tips and tools on improving your communications with people with all types of disabilities.
In this course you will learn:
  • about Ontario’s accessibility legislation
  • general tips for interacting with someone who has a disability
  • about different disability types and tips to communicating and interacting with someone who has a specific disability
  • where to find more information on specific disabilities
This course is designed for you, the emergency responder, and was developed by Emergency Management Ontario and the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario in consultation with a working group comprising of emergency responders and people with disabilities.
This course will also assist in fulfilling your part of the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), 2005.
The act is a provincial law that allows the government to develop specific standards of accessibility and to enforce them. The goal is to make Ontario accessible by 2025.
The purpose of the act is to develop, implement, and enforce standards in these areas:
Photo of fire truck
  • goods
  • services
  • facilities
  • accommodations
  • employment
  • buildings
  • structures, and
  • premises.
These standards address barriers to people with disabilities in these areas.
The standards are developed by committees that include people with disabilities, and representatives of various industries and sectors. People have an opportunity to review and comment on the standard before they are completed. The standards may be adopted as regulations under the act.
The customer service standard is the first standard developed under the act. Other standards are expected to cover:
  • transportation
  • information and communications
  • employment
  • the built environment. The built environment refers to physical things like the inside and outside of buildings.

Video Player Controls

Screen reader users:
Tab into the tool bar.
Then turn the virtual cursor/buffer off to enable pass-through mode.
For JAWS: Insert + Z.
For NVDA: Caps Lock + Space Bar.
For Window-Eyes: Ctrl + Shift + A.
Right and left arrow keys navigate tool bar controls.
Keyboard shortcuts are also available while in pass-through mode:
Alt Control P for play and pause.
Alt Control S for stop.
Alt control M for mute.
Alt control R doubles size of player.
Alt control T toggles focus between elapsed time and toolbar.
VoiceOver users: Use the Enable Player VoiceOver Access button to make the toolbar button text display and then use the Focus Toolbar button to jump into the toolbar. (VoiceOver with Safari 3, only. Safari 4 beta does not work with toolbar. Disable VoiceOver and use keyboard shortcuts.)

Begin Video Toolbar

Elapsed Time: Indeterminate

About the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service

The Accessibility Standards for Customer Service are now law in Ontario. Businesses and organizations in Ontario are now required to provide customer service that is accessible to people with disabilities.
The standard applies to businesses and organizations that:
  • provide goods or services either directly to the public or to third parties (for example to other businesses)
  • have one or more employees in Ontario.
Public sector organizations that are named or described in the standard must:
  • comply with the standard starting January 1, 2010
  • file accessibility reports starting in 2010.
Private sector, non-profit and non-designated public sector businesses and organizations must:
  • comply with the standard starting January 1, 2012
Photo of TPS car
Those organizations with 20 or more employees must also file accessibility reports starting in 2012.
There are a number of legal requirements under the standard. To comply, businesses and organizations (“providers”) must:
  • Set up policies, practices and procedures on providing goods or services to people with disabilities
  • Have a policy about the use of assistive devices by people with disabilities
  • Communicate with a person with a disability in a manner that takes into account his or her disability
  • Let people with disabilities bring their service animals onto the parts of the premises open to the public or other third parties when accessing goods or services except where the animal is otherwise excluded by law
  • Let people with disabilities bring their support persons with them when accessing goods or services on parts of the premises open to the public or other third parties
  • Let people know ahead of time what, if any, admission will be charged for a support person if an organization charges an admission fee
  • Let the public know when facilities or services that people with disabilities usually use to access their goods and services are temporarily not available
  • Ensure that staff receive training on how to serve people with disabilities, including staff involved in developing customer service policies, practices and procedures and people who deal with the public or other third parties on behalf of the provider.

If Confidence is King, then Humility is Queen

If you want to be a master of confidence (without falling into the trap of delusion) you gotta understand the psychology behind it.  Balance confidence with a bit of humility and you can put perfection, not yourself, at the top of the pedestal.

James Caan

James Caan

CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw

Ask any businessman or woman and they will tell you the same thing – confidence is a vital ingredient in the recipe for success. In other words, if you want to be really good at anything - no matter what walk of life you are involved in - you need to have belief in yourself and your abilities.
Not all of us are blessed with self-confidence. When I was starting out in business it was something that I personally had to work on to improve. I can still remember turning up for important meetings and interviews feeling incredibly nervous before walking into the room.
Of course, confidence improves with success and experience but there are various steps and measures you can take to make sure you are not put at a disadvantage by a lack of self-belief.
Preparation is everything. If you go into a meeting or interview not fully prepared then you are going to be on the back foot from the very outset. There is nothing worse than getting off to a bad start in an important meeting by not knowing that simple yet vital little detail.
To be honest, in these days of the internet and instant access to information there really is no excuse for being unprepared. It can make all the difference between a successful meeting and something which is a waste of time and effort. But more importantly, you will go into the meeting knowing that you personally have left no stone unturned. This is an excellent way of removing self-doubt.
Another good method is to think about positive outcomes you have achieved in the past. You may want to look back at case studies of clients you have worked with successfully, or sales that you have managed to close in the past. It does not even have to be business related – maybe you once gave a great speech in front of hundreds of people at a wedding! What you are doing is visualising past successes and this will put you in the right frame of mind for what is about to come.
Also, make sure you are resilient to criticism you get along the way. Rather than taking it as a negative, use it as a springboard for improvement. I have always said that it is the mistakes I’ve made which have given me the biggest lessons.
All of this has to come with a word of warning, because there can be a very thin line between confidence and arrogance. That is a characteristic that can very quickly get in the way of doing business.
It is a fact of life that we all prefer to work and deal with people we like and get on with. Just as importantly though, we also want to work with people that have total belief in what they are doing.

You Are Not Alone

This is a powerful little story about a girl with a condition unknown to most that, left untreated and unaccommodated, would destroy her life.  She is lucky to have the unwavering support of her parents and access to excellent medical care and practitioners at Sick Children.  I've taken my own kids there - they're the best.

Today I talked to a friend of mine who is profoundly deaf but, through assistive technology, is able to hear, speak and contribute her maximum potential to society.  Like Aaliyah, though, there's a great deal of personal bravery to this story, too.  My friend was sexually abused during her student years - she was the deaf kid, so an easy target.  She faces daily the stigma of a hearing world that sees her as abnormal.  If you doubt that, then answer this - would you want a profoundly deaf woman to be the mother of your grandkids?

Someone I haven't been able to reach recently is another young woman, a friend with co-morbid mental health conditions, including Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and Depression.  I wonder how many people are proactively trying to reach out to her - and if her feelings of perpetual loneliness are simply being reinforced by the cone of stigma she lives within in a world that shuns the abnormal.

These are three individuals who know what their restrictions are and have, at least to some degree, access to supports that help them function as normal people.  Still, it's tough.  What about the countless sufferers of chronic pain, physical impairment that's just not quite obvious or worse, a mental illness that gets interpreted by most as behaviour issues?

People are busy.  They don't have time for things that aren't essential.  The more important people are, the busier they get - and the more aggressive they need to be to get through their day, achieving whatever goals they have set out.  If you can't help them, you're either irrelevant or a hindrance.

The kid who won't play certain sports in class because they say it's ouchy?  They're the class-problem. 

The exasperating employee who's always stuttering or avoiding their manager?  Can 'em, they have no value.

The senior who's not quite all there?  Well, that's a sales opportunity waiting to happen.  It's a tough world, the strong survive and besides, if you don't hook the sale first, someone else will.  Some people, after all, are just marks.

Like my deaf friend who, funny enough, now works in HR.  A generation previous - and in most places, in her generation - she'd have never been seen as more than a target or a failed person.  With some technology and support, she's now making an organization work better.  Like I said, funny.

We are, each of us, flawed human beings - the would-be prey and predator both.  These inclusions of the body and mind give us each different challenges, differing opportunities that can never be fully mastered individually.  Why, even the predator is fruitless in the absence of prey. 

When we're transparent, though, we can reflect together and become conduits for a light the likes none of us can produce individually.  The telephone was created as an accommodation for deafness - now, we all benefit.  Challenges create opportunity that innovation solves and a good marketing mind will sell.  As for the disability itself - if you're too busy to delve deeper than an easy label, you never know what you could be missing.

Remember, though, that the reverse will also be true.

Monday 11 March 2013


Wonder if Stephen Harper is a fan of Tolkien?
Canadians are not as weak as he supposed. There is courage still, strength enough to perhaps challenge him. Harper fears this. He will not risk the progressives of Canada uniting under one banner.

A Contrast in Language

In Ontario:
Some bureaucrats are asking their staff to incorporate the language in both internal and external communications, including emails and correspondence to ministers.

But the cabinet office didn't order them to use the language, said a source in the premier's office.
Two different approaches.  The latter is about control, strength, owning the words that come out of everyone's mouths.  It sees bureaucrats as employees of the Government, not of the people, to be managed accordingly. 
The former is about empowerment, guidance, seeing the bureaucracy as a conduit between the vision and politicians chosen by the electorate and the people they all serve - the public.
Funny that its the first, not the second, approach that the Free Speechists and Libertarians seem to prefer. 

Common Wealth Through Common Cause

 Being signed today, by the Queen.

Is Canada part of the Commonwealth?  Is Canada itself a common wealth, shared by Canadians?  Is this reflected in our governance, in our civic engagement, in civil society?

Something to think about.

Charter of the Commonwealth

We the people of the Commonwealth:
Recognising that in an era of changing economic circumstances and uncertainty, new trade and economic patterns, unprecedented threats to peace and security, and a surge in popular demands for democracy, human rights and broadened economic opportunities, the potential of and need for the Commonwealth – as a compelling force for good and as an effective network for co-operation and for promoting development – has never been greater,
Recalling that the Commonwealth is a voluntary association of independent and equal sovereign states, each responsible for its own policies, consulting and co-operating in the common interests of our peoples and in the promotion of international understanding and world peace, and influencing international society to the benefit of all through the pursuit of common principles and values,
Affirming that the special strength of the Commonwealth lies in the combination of our diversity and our shared inheritance in language, culture and the rule of law; and bound together by shared history and tradition; by respect for all states and peoples; by shared values and principles and by concern for the vulnerable,
Affirming that the Commonwealth way is to seek consensus through consultation and the sharing of experience, especially through practical co-operation, and further affirming that the Commonwealth is uniquely placed to serve as a model and as a catalyst for new forms of friendship and co-operation in the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations,
Affirming the role of the Commonwealth as a recognised intergovernmental champion of small states, advocating for their special needs; providing policy advice on political, economic and social development issues; and delivering technical assistance,
Welcoming the valuable contribution of the network of the many intergovernmental, parliamentary, professional and civil society bodies which support the Commonwealth and which subscribe and adhere to its values and principles,
Affirming the validity of and our commitment to the values and principles of the Commonwealth as defined and strengthened over the years including: the Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles, the Harare Commonwealth Declaration, the Langkawi Declaration on the Environment, the Millbrook Action Programme, the Latimer House Principles, the Aberdeen Agenda, the Trinidad and Tobago Affirmation of Commonwealth Values and Principles, the Munyonyo Statement on Respect and Understanding, the Lake Victoria Commonwealth Climate Change Action Plan, the Perth Declaration on Food Security Principles, and the Commonwealth Declaration on Investing in Young People,
Affirming our core Commonwealth principles of consensus and common action, mutual respect, inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, legitimacy, and responsiveness,
Reaffirming the core values and principles of the Commonwealth as declared by this Charter:



We recognise the inalienable right of individuals to participate in democratic processes, in particular through free and fair elections in shaping the society in which they live. Governments, political parties and civil society are responsible for upholding and promoting democratic culture and practices and are accountable to the public in this regard. Parliaments and representative local governments and other forms of local governance are essential elements in the exercise of democratic governance.
We support the role of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group to address promptly and effectively all instances of serious or persistent violations of Commonwealth values without any fear or favour.


We are committed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights covenants and international instruments. We are committed to equality and respect for the protection and promotion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, for all without discrimination on any grounds as the foundations of peaceful, just and stable societies. We note that these rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated and cannot be implemented selectively.
We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.


We firmly believe that international peace and security, sustainable economic growth and development and the rule of law are essential to the progress and prosperity of all. We are committed to an effective multilateral system based on inclusiveness, equity, justice and international law as the best foundation for achieving consensus and progress on major global challenges including piracy and terrorism.
We support international efforts for peace and disarmament at the United Nations and other multilateral institutions. We will contribute to the promotion of international consensus on major global political, economic and social issues. We will be guided by our commitment to the security, development and prosperity of every member state.
We reiterate our absolute condemnation of all acts of terrorism in whatever form or wherever they occur or by whomsoever perpetrated, with the consequent tragic loss of human life and severe damage to political, economic and social stability. We reaffirm our commitment to work together as a diverse community of nations, individually, and collectively under the auspices and authority of the United Nations, to take concerted and resolute action to eradicate terrorism.


We emphasise the need to promote tolerance, respect, understanding, moderation and religious freedom which are essential to the development of free and democratic societies,


and recall that respect for the dignity of all human beings is critical to promoting peace and prosperity.
We accept that diversity and understanding the richness of our multiple identities are fundamental to the Commonwealth’s principles and approach.


We are committed to peaceful, open dialogue and the free flow of information, including through a free and responsible media, and to enhancing democratic traditions and strengthening democratic processes.


We recognise the importance of maintaining the integrity of the roles of the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. These are the guarantors in their respective spheres of the rule of law, the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights and adherence to good governance.


We believe in the rule of law as an essential protection for the people of the Commonwealth and as an assurance of limited and accountable government. In particular we support an independent, impartial, honest and competent judiciary and recognise that an independent, effective and competent legal system is integral to upholding the rule of law, engendering public confidence and dispensing justice.


We reiterate our commitment to promote good governance through the rule of law, to ensure transparency and accountability and to root out, both at national and international levels, systemic and systematic corruption.


We recognise that sustainable development can help to eradicate poverty by pursuing inclusive growth whilst preserving and conserving natural ecosystems and promoting social equity.
We stress the importance of sustainable economic and social transformation to eliminate poverty and meet the basic needs of the vast majority of the people of the world and reiterate that economic and social progress enhances the sustainability of democracy.
We are committed to removing wide disparities and unequal living standards as guided by internationally agreed development goals. We are also committed to building economic resilience and promoting social equity, and we reiterate the value in technical assistance, capacity building and practical cooperation in promoting development.
We are committed to an effective, equitable, rules-based multilateral trading system, the freest possible flow of multilateral trade on terms fair and equitable to all, while taking into


account the special requirements of small states and developing countries.
We also recognise the importance of information and communication technologies as powerful instruments of development; delivering savings, efficiencies and growth in our economies, as well as promoting education, learning and the sharing of culture. We are committed to strengthening its use while enhancing its security, for the purpose of advancing our societies.


We recognise the importance of the protection and conservation of our natural ecosystems and affirm that sustainable management of the natural environment is the key to sustained human development. We recognise the importance of multilateral cooperation, sustained commitment and collective action, in particular by addressing the adaptation and mitigation challenges of climate change and facilitating the development, diffusion and deployment of affordable environmentally friendly technologies and renewable energy, and the prevention of illicit dumping of toxic and hazardous waste as well as the prevention and mitigation of erosion and desertification.


We recognise the necessity of access to affordable health care, education, clean drinking water, sanitation and housing for all citizens and emphasise the importance of promoting health and well-being in combating communicable and non-communicable diseases.
We recognise the right of everyone to have access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food, consistent with the progressive realisation of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security.


We recognise that gender equality and women’s empowerment are essential components of human development and basic human rights. The advancement of women’s rights and the education of girls are critical preconditions for effective and sustainable development.


We recognise the positive and active role and contributions of young people in promoting development, peace, democracy and in protecting and promoting other Commonwealth values, such as tolerance and understanding, including respect for other cultures. The future success of the Commonwealth rests with the continued commitment and contributions of young people in promoting and sustaining the Commonwealth and its values and principles, and we commit to investing in and promoting their development, particularly through the creation of opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship.


We are committed to assisting small and developing states in the Commonwealth, including the particular needs of small island developing states, in tackling their particular economic,


energy, climate change and security challenges, and in building their resilience for the future.


We are committed to collaborating to find ways to provide immediate help to the poorest and most vulnerable including least developed countries, and to develop responses to protect the people most at risk.


We recognise the important role that civil society plays in our communities and countries as partners in promoting and supporting Commonwealth values and principles, including the freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and in achieving development goals.
We are committed to ensuring that the Commonwealth is an effective association, responsive to members’ needs, and capable of addressing the significant global challenges of the future.
We aspire to a Commonwealth that is a strong and respected voice in the world, speaking out on major issues; that strengthens and enlarges its networks; that has a global relevance and profile; and that is devoted to improving the lives of all peoples of the Commonwealth.
Dated this 14

th day of December 2012