Monthly Archives: January 2016

The politics of prophet and loss

alberta_pride_postcard-r56fb616fcdd7486dad694bc0884c30d6_vgbaq_8byvr_630Some of Alberta is having some difficulty seeing the writing on the wall. Some of Alberta uses the guise of religious tolerance to justify religious intolerance.

This feels like the Alberta version of Groundhog Day. I wake up every spring to see if the bigots cast a shadow and end up reliving the same tired old story.

I became active on twitter as a direct result of Bill 10. That was nearly a year ago, yet we are still struggling to make this province a safe and caring place for everyone. We are still struggling to let all of our children learn and grow with dignity and respect.

I think the NDP are making progress. The progress might seem slow, but it appears to me that they are using the time to methodically close all the loopholes the bigots can use to avoid being prevented from spreading their intolerance. This is constructuve, albeit not speedy. I am all for the government taking the time to make human decency the rule in the public sphere.

I don’t like catholic schools. I don’t think there should be two systems. I don’t think we should fund religious education. I respect private faith and a person’s private right to pass that faith on privately to their children. But when we include religion in the education system, the semantics of public and separate aside, it becomes public.

This is my issue:

Notice I didn’t say ‘when we fund the system it becomes public’. A lot of the call to arms right now centres on de-funding religious schools. I don’t support using finacial clout as a way to make groups conform with cultural norms of tolerance and inclusion. Using money and funding to achieve social conformity is what the right does, and it’s why Planned Parenthood is fighting right now.

Too often and in too many circumstances, money is used as a tool for political and social ends. De-funding the catholic school system would be the easiest way to enforce our political and social goals, but it is the wrong way to bring about a culture shift towards tolerance, compassion and inclusivity. Those must be taught and modelled, not enforced and bankrolled.

Money or no, we cannot allow intolerance to be included in our education system. No school, public or private, should be allowed to teach intolerance. I can’t do much to stop a parent at home from teaching poisonous ideas, but I can stop it from being disguised and presented as socially condoned curriculum material.

Bishop Henry is an old man with old ideas. He will die, and his hateful ideas will die with him because we will not let them spread, not because we refuse to finacially support them, but because we refuse to give them our passive support. We don’t need to take away their money, we need to take away their moral license.

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A pedant’s place (musings on work and work spaces)

A friend of mine recently posted a retrospective of the ‘typical’ office desk as it has changed over the last 30 years. It got me thinking about how what I do and why I do it has changed over the last 30 years.

I graduated highschool in 1986, 30 years ago. In 1986 I was expected to get a job, find a husband, buy a house, have some kids and blend into a suburban life. Post-secondary education was not on the radar in my family sphere but I bucked that trend and went to university, albeit it took me 5 years to do so.

Smith_Corona_4000DS_Word_Processor_Electric_TypewriterLiving on my own, my first ‘home office’ was in the unfinished basement by the hot water heater, furnace and washing machine. Half the desk top was cluttered with my art supplies. I remember writing term papers on my electric typewriter. In my second year of university I got a computer and I was able to word process. Aside from finishing the last term paper and graduating university, this is how my life stayed for the longest time. All my best laid plans sat in a dark corner of the basement gathering dust.

For the past 20 years my life has been more concerned more with my pay cheque and benefits and less with my dreams and ambitions.

Things have finally changed. What I want and what I will accept from both work and my free time has changed. I care a whole heck of a lot less about my pay cheque than I do about meaningful work. To be fair, my husband makes a good living so my priority shift is being financed by his desire to see me happy. We both choose to prioritize happiness and meaning for both of us, he just got there before me.

When I quit my government job to go back to school full time I made a conscious break. I re-trained for something new. I hated the old box. Hated being a cog in the big wheel. Hated the corporate speak. Hated the long sentences short on meaning. Hated, hated, hated, HATED every minute of it.

I loved my second round of term papers, and was giddy about my plan to reemerge into a world of meaningful, fulfilling employment. I got a contract right away and at the end I had a chance at full time employment, but I let it go.

Rent-Office-Cubicles-CharlotteIt turns out it wasn’t just the type of work (although it absolutely was the way they did the work), it was the work environment as well. Seriously, who the hell can be happy in a drab cubicle with no access to natural light for 7 hours?

Since letting that opportunity go I have applied for a few jobs. The few interviews I have had haven’t gone well because I chafed during them. I bloody hate the interview. I think I am just refusing to say what I know they want to hear. Three times now on my way out my interviewer has said “Thanks for your candor”. I’m pretty certain that’s code for “you went off our script”. Off script is good. It doesn’t equate to out of control, it equates to exploring new possibilities and thinking on your feet. The person who eventually hires me will want a person who thinks, and thinks a lot.

I have found some odd work here and there, and have lent my skills to some not-for-profit organizations. Oddly enough I communicate better with them because I think I just respect them more because they live outside the box by their very nature.

Long story short, I’m not working right now.

I’m OK with that because tof what has changed. I will work. But I will  not work in a box. I will be creative. I will take risks. I will make a difference. I will have access to natural light.

So that’s it, 2016 and 47 years of chasing ideas from a dingy, dark, dusty second hand desk wedged in a corner next to a furnace to this:

where i sitI think it’s an improvement. Certainly the office politics have improved. I think 2016 bodes well for outside the box.

 

2015 was a very good year…

So, 2015 was a heck of a year, huh?

On the provincial front, somehow our tired (no, that’s not a typo) and true conservative ruling class managed to squander the plunder of yet another boom cycle, and had no plan for the inevitable bust cycle. Our first female premier took the fall for her entire party’s entitlement and corruption, soprentice hot collar we were assigned a new leader from the federal conservative realm (which in hindsight may have been a federal election omen). Our new leader from the east then proceeded to blame Albertans for his party’s squanderousness and the fiscal frailty of the treasury that Albertans had hired them to manage. notley hands upAlbertans looked in the mirror and repeated bloody tories, bloody tories, bloody tories – three times – and the image of a petite blonde woman mathishardappeared, revealing our future. Once the votes were duly and properly added up it was clear that the reign of the conservative dynasty, was over and Alberta began the era of the philosopher queen.

notley laugh 3x

harper angryIn national politics, the end of the Alberta conservative dynasty so enraged our federal conservative overlords that they called an election out of spite and vanity, just so they could hit the road and tell all Canadians that Albertans we were idiots. But for some reason the politics of ‘my way or the highway’ failed, and the conservatives soon needed help: please fearmongerStephen Harper needed a courage, Chris Alexander needed a heart, Jason Kenney needed a brain and Rona Ambrose tagged along as the token female. The cons set down the road of no return to seek out the help of the Wizard of Oz. Turns out the wizard’s act was a hate and headscarves disappearing act, and all that mattered on election day Canadians was that as fast as you can say dial-a-racist our old leader was ousted. Although everyone thought he heir2canadawas too young and handsome to be a serious contender, a young prince strode in and pulled the poll from the conservative party‘s ass and the log from Jason Kenney’s eye to prove he alone was rightful heir to Canadian democracy.

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Yes, 2015 was a banner year; a very Canadian year of very Canadian revolution and Canadians progress. I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings.