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Category Archives: Change Management

An open letter to Justin Trudeau:

Image result for Light Armoured Vehicles

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

Why is our Canadian government, which represents all Canadian citizens to the world, still committed to sending billions of dollars worth of weaponized Light Armoured Vehicles to the morally bankrupt, terrorism exporting, Wahhabist regime in Saudi Arabia?

Yes, you inherited this appallingly brokered weapons sale from Crime Minister Harper but that should not be an excuse for us to forsake morality, neutrality as well as common sense and sensibility in the name of the almighty dollar. The LAVs in question are still under development so none have yet been shipped. i strongly urge you to uphold Canadian human rights policy, practice and law and deny export permits for arms sales to the misogynist, oppressive oligarchy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  If you do go ahead with this mephistophelian matter you can add Human Rights abuser to your CV when you’re looking for your next job.

Sincerely,

rob clément

110284_11897_fullToday i got an email from Super Shuttle asking me to fill out their survey. As i’m sitting at LHR, on an extended layover, i had the time and was more than willing to fill out the form. When i had filled out the form and clicked on submit i got this message:

The surveys.supershuttle.com page isn’t working

surveys.supershuttle.com didn’t send any data.

ERR_EMPTY_RESPONSE

So i decided to post the survey and my responses to my blog, for the sake of getting my message across to Super Shuttle, and some of their staff.

SSlogo

SuperShuttle Shared Ride Survey

  1. My SuperShuttle driver operated the vehicle safely.
  • Strongly agree *
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  1. My driver was helpful and friendly.
  • Strongly agree *
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  1. The van was clean and in good working order.
  • Strongly agree
  • Agree *
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  1. I was satisfied with the service SuperShuttle provided.
  • Highly Satisfied
  • Satisfied
  • Neutral
  • Dissatisfied *
  • Highly Dissatisfied
  1. I would recommend SuperShuttle to a friend or colleague.
  • Strongly agree
  • Agree *
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  1. Anything else you’d like to tell us? (optional)

Yeah the pick-up and drop off points were NOT the same. But i think that was because of the opening day for the Orioles. The Convention Center staff did not know where super shuttle picked up guests. (there are three different possible places.) i had to leave TESOL’s annual business meeting early as i was worried i would be left behind. i could have used the time to remain at the meeting but instead i used the time while waiting for the delayed Super Shuttle to literally take myself and my luggage around the 3 possible places where i could possibly have been picked up.

i think you picked me up WAY too early, but i understand your desire to deal with the possibilities of peak hour traffic. Francis, my driver, was stuck in the particularly messed up traffic downtown brought about by the Tampa Bay/Orioles game due to start at 7 pm. it was almost as bad as when i was dropped off on Monday evening. When you send your text telling me where i’m to be picked up you should send the actual physical address name i.e which one of the three BCC pickup locations. sending me directions to a map that i can’t open as i don’t have an internet enabled smartphone that functions in the USA is of no use.

The seat-belt, which if i am correct, i am legally obliged to wear, should not be twisted so that i have to twist it to get it to buckle up. i spent quite a bit of time getting the buckle on to the correct side of the belt.

Francis is great, courteous, helpful and very safe behind the wheel.  You have a friendly yet respectful driver there.

and that’s all i have to say about that.

pax,

frothquaffer

Who’s Gonna Stand Up

Protect the wild,
Tomorrow’s child.
Protect the land
From the greed of Man.

Take out the dams,
Stand up to Oil.
Protect the plants
And renew the soil

Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
Who’s gonna say that She’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the Big Machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
This all starts with you and me.

End fossil fuel.
Draw the line,
Before we build
One more pipeline.

End fracking now.
Let’s save the water
And build a life
For our sons and daughters.

Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
Who’s gonna say that She’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the Big Machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
This all starts with you and me.

Damn the dams.
Save the rivers.
Starve the takers
And feed the givers.

Let’s build the Green
And save the world.
We’re the people
Known as Earth.

Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
Who’s gonna say that She’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the Big Machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
This all starts with you and me.

© Neil Young 2014

The acoustic version of the song has a slightly different last verse:

Let’s build the Green.
Let’s save the world.
We’re the people
Known as Earth.

A live version with Crazy Horse has the 5th and 6th verses substituted for the 3rd and 4th verses and has a additional extended vamp at the end:

Who’s gonna stand up?
Who’s gonna stand up?
Who’s gonna stand up?
Who’s gonna stand up?
Who’s gonna stand up? (and save the Earth?)
You got to!

Russell Brand, in an interview with Jeremy Paxman on BBC’s Newsnight, recently called for “a revolultion, a socialist, egalitarian system based on the massive redistribution of wealth“.

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The complete accurate transcript.

Jeremy Paxman: “Russell Brand, who are you to edit a political magazine?”

Russell Brand: “Well, I suppose like a person who’s been politely asked by an attractive woman. I don’t know what the typical criteria is. I don’t know many people that edit political magazines. Boris [Johnson]..he used to do one, didn’t he? So I’m a kind of, a person with crazy hair, quite a good sense of humour, don’t know much about politics, I’m ideal.”

Paxman: “But is it true you don’t even vote?”

Brand:
 “Yeah, no, I don’t vote.”

Paxman: “Well how do you have any authority to talk about politics then?”

Brand: “Well I don’t get my authority from this pre-existing paradigm which is quite narrow and only serves a few people. I look elsewhere, for alternatives, that might be of service to humanity. Alternate means; alternate political systems.”

Paxman: “They being?”

Brand: “Well I’ve not invented it yet, Jeremy. I had to do a magazine last week. I’ve had a lot on me plate. But I say, but here’s the thing that you shouldn’t do. Shouldn’t destroy the planet; shouldn’t create massive economic disparity; shouldn’t ignore the needs of the people. The burden of proof is on the people with the power, not people, like, doing a magazine for a novelty.”

Paxman: “How do you imagine that people get power?”

Brand: “Well I imagine there are sort of hierarchical systems that have been preserved through generations…”

Paxman: “They get power by being voted in, that’s how they get power…”

Brand: “Well you say that Jeremy…”

Paxman: “You can’t even be arsed to vote?”

Brand: “It’s quite a narrow, quite a narrow prescriptive parameter that changes within in the ah…”

Paxman:
 “In a democracy that’s how it works.”

Brand: “Well I don’t think it’s working very well, Jeremy. Given that the planet is being destroyed. Given that there is economic disparity of a huge degree. What are you saying? There’s no alternative? There’s no alternative? Just this system?”

Paxman:
 “No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying if you can’t be arsed to vote why should we be asked to listen to your political point of view?”

Brand: “You don’t have to listen to my political point of view. But it’s not that I’m not voting out of apathy. I’m not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery, deceit of the political class, that has been going on for generations now. And which has now reached fever pitch where you have a disenfranchised, disillusioned, despondent underclass that are not being represented by that political system, so voting for it is tacit complicity with that system and that’s not something I’m offering up.”

Paxman: “Well why don’t you change it then?”

Brand: “I’m trying to.”

Paxman: “Well why don’t you start by voting?”

Brand: [Laughs] “I don’t think it works. People have voted already and that’s what’s created the current paradigm.”

Paxman: “When did you last vote?”

Brand:
 “Never.”

Paxman: “You’ve never, ever voted?”

Brand:
 “No. Do you think that’s really bad?”

Paxman: “So you struck an attitude, what, before the age of 18?”

Brand:
 “Well I was busy being a drug addict at that point, because I come from the kind of social conditions that are exacerbated by an indifferent system that, really, just administrates for large corporations and ignores the population that it was voted in to serve.”

Paxman:
 “You’re blaming the political class for the fact that you had a drug problem?”

Brand: “No, no, no. I’m saying I was part of a social and economic class that is underserved by the current political system. And drug addiction is one of the problems it creates when you have huge, underserved, impoverished populations, people get drug problems. And, also, don’t feel like they want to engage with the current political system because they see that it doesn’t work for them. They see that it makes no difference. They see that they’re not served. I say that the apathy…”

Paxman: “Of course it doesn’t work for them if they didn’t bother to vote.”

Brand: “Jeremy, my darling, I’m not saying…the apathy doesn’t come from us, the people. The apathy comes from the politicians. They are apathetic to our needs, they’re only interested in servicing the needs of corporations. Look at..ain’t the Tories going to court, taking the EU to court, because they’re trying to curtail bank bonuses? Isn’t that what’s happening at the moment in our country? It is, innit?”

Paxman:
 “Yeah.”

Brand:
 “So what am I gonna do, tune in for that?”

Paxman:
 “You don’t believe in democracy. You want a revolution don’t you?”

Brand:
 “The planet is being destroyed, we are creating an underclass, we’re exploiting poor people all over the world and the genuine, legitimate problems of the people are not being addressed by our political class.”

Paxman: “All of those things may be true.”

Brand: “They are true.”

Paxman: “But you took…I wouldn’t argue with you about many of them.”

Brand: “Well how come I feel so cross with you? It can’t just be because of that beard, it’s gorgeous.”

Paxman: “It’s possibly because…”

Brand: “And if the Daily Mail don’t want it, I do. Because I’m against them. Grow it longer. Tangle it into your armpit hair.”

Paxman: “You are a very trivial man.”

Brand: “What you think I am, trivial?”

Paxman: “Yes.”

Brand: “A minute ago you were having a go at me because I wanted a revolution now I’m trivial, I’m bouncing about all over the place.”

Paxman: “I’m not having a go at you because you want a revolution, many people want a revolution, but I’m asking you what it would be like.”

Brand: “Well I think what it won’t be like is a huge disparity between rich and poor where 300 Americans have the same amount of wealth as the 85 million poorest Americans, where there is an exploited and underserved underclass that are being continually ignored, where welfare is slashed while Cameron and Osbourne go to court to defend the rights of bankers to continue receiving their bonuses. That’s all I’m saying.”

Paxman: “What’s the scheme, that’s all I’m asking. What’s the scheme? You talked vaguely about a revolution, what is it?”

Brand: “I think a socialist egalitarian system, based on the massive redistribution of wealth, heavy taxation of corporations and massive responsibility for energy companies and any companies exploiting the environment… I think they should be taxed. I think the very concept of profit should be hugely reduced. David Cameron said profit isn’t a dirty word, I say profit is a filthy word. Because wherever there is profit there is also deficit. And this system currently doesn’t address these ideas. And so why would anyone vote for it? Why would anyone be interested in it?”

Paxman: “Who would levy these taxes?”

Brand:
 “I think we do need like… I think there needs to be a centralized administrative system but built on…”

Paxman: “A government?”

Brand: “Yes, well, maybe call it something else. Call them like the Admin Bods so they don’t get ahead of themselves.”

Paxman: “And how would they be chosen?”

Brand: “Jeremy, don’t ask me to sit here in an interview with you, in a bloody hotel room and devise a global, utopian system. I’m merely pointing out that the current…”

Paxman: “You’re calling for revolution!”

Brand: “Yeah, absolutely. I’m calling for change. I’m calling for genuine alternatives.”

Paxman:
 “There are many people who would agree with you..”

Brand: “Good.”

Paxman: “The current system is not engaging with all sorts of problems, yes. And they feel apathetic, really apathetic. But if they were to take you seriously, and not to vote…”

Brand: “Yeah, they shouldn’t vote, they should, that’s one thing they should do, don’t bother voting. Because when it reaches..there’s a point…You see these little valves, these, like, sort of cosy little valves of recycling and Prius and like you know turns up somewhere, it starts reaching the point where you think ‘oh this is enough now. Stop voting. Stop pretending. Wake up. Be in reality now. Time to be in reality now’. Why vote? We know it’s not going to make any difference? We know that already?”

Paxman: “It does make a difference.”

Brand: “I have more impact at West Ham United, cheering them on, and they lost to City, unnecessarily, sadly.”

Paxman:
 “Now you’re being facetious.”

Brand:
 “Facetiousness has as much value as seriousness, I think you’re making the mistake, of mistaking seriousness for solemnity”

Paxman: “You’re not going to solve world problems by facetiousness.”

Brand: “We’re not going to solve them with the current system. At least facetiousness is funny.”

Paxman: “Sometimes.”

Brand: “Yeah, sometimes, Jeremy. So listen. So let’s approach this optimistically. You’ve spent your whole career berating and haranguing politicians. And then when someone like me, a comedian, goes ‘they’re all worthless, what’s the point in engaging with any of them’, you sort of have a go at me because I’m not poor anymore. I’m sorry!”

Paxman: “I’m not having a go at you about that. I’m just asking why we should take you seriously when you’re so unspecific about what…?”

Brand: “You don’t have to take… Firstly, I don’t mind if you take me seriously. I’m here just to draw attention to a few ideas, I just want to have a little bit of a laugh. I’m saying there are people with alternative ideas that are far better qualified than I am, and far better qualified, more importantly, than the people that are currently doing that job. Because they’re not attempting to solve these problems. They’re not. They’re attempting to placate the population. Their measures that are currently being taken around climate change are indifferent, will not solve, will not solve the problem.”

Paxman: “You don’t think it’s possible that, as human beings, they’re simply overwhelmed by the scale of the problem?”

Brand: “Not really, well possibly. It might be that, but that’s all just semantics really, whether they’re overwhelmed by it or tacitly maintaining it because of habitual… I mean like, mate, this is what I noticed when I was in that Houses of Parliament. It’s decorated exactly the same as Eton, is decorated exactly the same as Oxford. So a certain type of people goes in there and thinks ‘this makes me nervous’ and then another type of people go in there and go ‘this is how it should be’. And I think that’s got to change now. We can no longer have erroneous, duplicitous systems held in place unless it’s for the serve…only systems that serve the planet and serve the population of the planet can be allowed to survive. Not ones that serve elites, be they political or corporate elites and this is what’s currently happening.”

Paxman: “You don’t really believe that.”

Brand: “I completely believe it. Don’t look at me all weary, like you’re at a fireside with your pipe and your beard.”

Paxman: “I mean Ed Miliband (inaudible)…”

Brand:
 “Well he went to the same primary school as Boris, didn’t he?”

Paxman: “He did but he then went to a comprehensive school in north London.”

Brand: “Well that’s very good. That’s all well and good. But what I’m saying is, within the existing paradigm, the change is not dramatic enough, not radical enough. So you can well understand public disturbances and public dissatisfaction, when there are not genuine changes and genuine alternatives being offered. I say when there is a genuine alternative, a genuine option, then vote for that. But until then, pffft, don’t bother. Why pretend? Why be complicit in this ridiculous illusion?”

Paxman:
 “Because by the time somebody comes along you might think it worth voting for, it may be too late.”

Brand: “I don’t think so because the time is now, this movement is already occurring, it’s happening everywhere, we’re in a time where communication is instantaneous and there are communities all over the world. The Occupy movement made a difference in, even if, only in that, it introduced, to the popular public lexicon, the idea of the 1% versus the 99%. People for the first time in a generation are aware of massive, corporate and economic exploitation. These things are not nonsense. And these subjects are not being addressed. No one is doing anything about tax havens, no one is doing anything about their political affiliations and financial affiliations of the Conservative Party, so until people start addressing things that are actually real, why wouldn’t I be facetious, why would I take it seriously? Why would I encourage a constituency of young people that are absolutely indifferent to vote? Why would we? Aren’t you bored? Aren’t you more bored than anyone? Ain’t you been talking to them year after year, listening to their lies, their nonsense. Then it’s this one that gets in, then it’s that one gets in but the problem continues. Why are we going to continue to contribute to this facade?”

Paxman: “I’m surprised you can be facetious when you’re that angry about it.”

Brand: “Yeah, I am angry, I am angry. Because for me it’s real, because for me it’s not just some peripheral thing that I just turn up to once in a while to a church féte for. For me, this is what I come from. This is what I care about.”

Paxman: “Do you see any hope?”

Brand: “Remember that…yeah, totally, there’s gonna be a revolution. It’s totally going to happen. I ain’t got a flicker of doubt. This is the end. This is time to wake up.
I remember I seen you in that programme, where you look at your ancestors, and you saw the way your grandmother were out to brass herself or got fucked over by the aristocrats who ran her gaff. You cried because you knew that it was unfair and unjust. And that was what? A century ago? That’s happening to people now. I just come from a woman who’s been treated like that. I’ve just been talking to a woman, today, who’s being treated like that. So if we can engage that feeling, instead of some moment of lachrymose sentimentality trotted out on the TV for people to pore over emotional porn. If we can engage that feeling and change things, why wouldn’t we? Why is that naive? Why is that not my right because I’m an actor? I mean I’ve taken the right. I don’t need the right from you. I don’t need the right from anybody. I’m taking it.”

Read Brand’s New Statesman guest editorial here.

Read Brand’s 05/11/13 The Guardian response to the backlash brought on by his Paxman interview here.

Dear Chris,

thanks very much for your thought provoking video. i’m an English teacher hoping to use your poetry in my English Literature course this coming semester. i’ve taken the liberty of editing your text for punctuation, grammar, and spelling and to make it conform more closely to the spoken word of your video. Please find my transcription below:

Peace,

rob

Black Does Not Equal Fear

Complete transcript:

George Zimmerman: (edited 911 call)

Hey, we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood and there’s a real suspicious guy… this guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around and looking about.

Dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?

GZ: Yeah. A dark hoodie, like a grey hoodie, and either jeans or sweatpants and white tennis shoes. He’s here now, he’s just staring…

Chris Beasley:

I am black.

Do you fear me?

Is it from what you’ve heard

Or what you see?

I wear sweatshirts, Polos, and white Ts,

But it’s not my clothes that indict me.

It’s not my actions, education, or personality;

It’s my nose, my lips and my ancestry.

Why does my skin speak louder that the words I say?

We don’t assume all whites are Timothy McVeigh.

If I plead the fifth and don’t add to my case

I can’t escape your ideas of my race.

It’s ok to infer, conclude, perceive.

As long as we know what we deduct can deceive.

Admit you could be wrong,

Cause you don’t know me.

That’s all that I ask, I’m begging you please.

If I have a ball you clap and cheer,

But outside the game you quiver in fear.

I see purses clutched closer, doors lock as I pass,

Words laced with curses. No wonder we clash.

Justice in court

Will always fall short

If we don’t begin to take a fresh start.

The judge tried to exclude race. That’s a fact.

But the jury could not forget that Trayvon was black.

No need to see race and then pick us apart

Cause we all look the same when we stand in the dark.

Now judge me simply by my diction.

Hear my emotion and conviction.

I want to enlighten not divide.

I want respect for your life and mine.

If fear is the cause, that’s something we share.

And fear is caused from not knowing what’s there.

So, like President Obama, let me be clear:

I’m a black man,

And I’m not going anywhere.

I’m part of some gangs you’ve heard all about.

I’m an Aggie alum,

And a proud Eagle Scout.

Entrepreneur starting a career.

I will identify myself so you’ll see there’s nothing to fear.

The idea of being black has been twisted so much.

We’re said to be savage, ghetto, and ratchet,

Threatening, and lazy, and sitting on our butts.

And those that know me still seem to judge.

You call me white cause I’m none of the above.

I’ve been called black, and I’ve been called white

Based on what you believe, neither is right.

I am Chris, one of a kind.

So don’t judge me by your experiences but by mine.

And I’m inclined to tell you, I’m not alone.

In moments like this we all can be strong.

Let our voices be heard. Let them relish the sound.

Cause how can we move forward, if we all stand our ground?

After that verdict, the value of my life seemed bleak.

What are my chances if they demonize me?

So we fear for our lives, to a certain extent,

But this video is our self-defense.

Chris Beasley, July 2013

The Harper Government released a terse statement at midnight EST that, effective immediately, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was resigning. Reasons stated were an overwhelming sense of malaise and hopelessness at having destroyed any hope for Canada’s and indeed the global environment by having completely gutted the Navigable Waters Protection Act, destroyed the Global Environmental Monitoring System and Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area. Image

Not to mention destroying any credibility and traction Canada had on the world stage by withdrawing from both the Kyoto Accord and the UN Desertification Accord. Harpy is said, by insiders, to be helplessly hoping that Canadian history will redeem him as something less that the Mephistophelean caricature of a political opportunist and sell out to oil interests he has created for himself.

Henceforth the Government will be referred to as the Hapless Government. Stepping up to fill in as interim PM will be Bev Oda.

-30-

A facebook friend posted this today: I am definitely unable to provide for Nick as a single mum.. 😦

i replied:

You basically have to provide for three things: Nick’s physical, mental and emotional needs.

Physically he needs good nutritious food, clean clothes and a roof or tent over his head. the food should not be junk food; rice, veg, fruit, protein, mother’s milk. the clothes do NOT need to be new, 2nd hand should be freely available, go to your local church/mosque and get, a roof? (well there’s always mama right?Image)

mental: speak to him in your mother tongue; that way he grows up bilingual, your language plus English which he’ll pick up on the street etc.; another thing to do for his mental well-being, if you’re not already on this page, is to read to him every night at bedtime, research shows that children who are read to will have a vocabulary 4-7 thousand words larger than a child who is not read to. the kids who are read to will have a head start at school that the others will never catch up to.

Emotionally, if you’re breast feeding him he already knows you love him, when you read to him at bedtime you further cement that love relationship + you build up a sense of a stable life with a set of rules and boundaries (invisible but nonetheless necessary) and you start building a life long love of books (should be freely available at your local library); basically you just have to love him, which i’m sure you’re doing. you can also help him by providing him with a strong sense of right and wrong, he’ll follow your lead; so don’t do anything you don’t want him parroting.

A lot happened in 2011. People around the world were affected to a greater or lesser degree by what occurred. i was struck by an, at times, overwhelming sense that i could not do anything to affect change or to help those working for change either here in Sohar, Oman or in the streets of the cities and towns around the world where people are trying to make a difference. In the end, i decided i could, in my small way, bear witness to what was happening and work towards small positive changes that i think i can impact. i would ask that you consider joining me in my New Year’s resolution.

Every year, Jamie Mackinnon, a friend from my Cuso Nigeria days sends out a “Noel News” missive. This year he opined,

“Historical analysis seems to show that, over the millennia (beginning with the rise of the state) and more so in recent decades, violence has been declining globally, and the dignity of the human individual (as seen through the prism of human rights) has been increasing.”

As i read that i reflected on 2011 and what i had witnessed either in real life or through the words and pictures of friends, acquaintances and colleagues. i decided i had to beg to differ with Jamie. i feel that violence is increasing, partly because, at 7 billion and counting, there are more of us human beings around and partly because we are becoming inured to violence, both casual and causal. Violent action and rhetoric are, it seems to me, constantly being ratcheted up in attempts to hold off change and secure the status quo.

Here in Sohar we experienced the worst aspects of the Arab Spring when a citizen was shot and killed as he photographed the nascent movement for change. my workplace was closed for a week while our students demonstrated for change. 

In Cairo twitter friend Mona Eltahawy had her left arm and right hand broken by military security forces while they sexually assaulted her. Mona writes of her experience in detail here.

Also from Cairo came this graphic image of a woman being singled out for gross abuse by the military. She was in the streets demonstrating for an end to rule by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. If ever a picture told a thousand words this was that occasion. The full story behind the picture can be read here. What is not told is the story of the Coptic Christian who attempted to save this Muslim demonstrator from the beating she was getting. He ended up being shot in the knee for his efforts.

In North America the quotidian use of violence against peaceful, non-violent demonstrators is best summed up by this now infamous picture of one sworn to protect and serve disabusing all and sundry of his role in life. Violence has become banal and utilized indiscriminately by authorities around the world to either maintain their power or the status quo. TIME magazine’s Person Of The Year issue featured The Protester; very fitting but the cover story missed several important protest actions in the MENA region and elsewhere.

If one thing has become crystal clear it’s that money talks. The upcoming election in the USA is up for grabs to the highest bidder. Occupiers are slowly changing the focus away from the 1% who control the pocketbooks to the 99% who should be controlling the streets.

At this time and place in my life i’ve decided that i can best effect change by watching how i spend my money. Going out on the streets while i have four kids in school isn’t a good idea. i won’t be able to help them if i’m occupying the inside of a jail cell.

As my New Year’s resolution i’m revisiting and renewing several of my long-standing consumer boycotts:

Nestlé because they are still illegally promoting their infant formulas as better than mother’s milk. i’ve been boycotting Nestlé ever since i was working in Nigeria in the late ’70s and i heard of their deadly practice which actually leads to mothers in developing countries inadvertently killing their infants. Maggi is also a Nestlé subsidiary and should be avoided like the plague.

Union Carbide since 1985 because they still haven’t paid full reparations for the Bhopal disaster.

Shell Oil since 1988 when i first started buy petrol/gasoline for their ongoing lousy environmental record in the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria.

i’ve been boycotting Kraft the longest, since 1973, when i attended a Perth County Conspiracy concert. Band members railed against this food processing behemoth which consistently twists the arms of its supplier farmers in its pursuit of profit. There are better quality foods from a host of other more socially responsibly producers.

McDonalds ever since i worked there in 1974. They serve a product; they do not serve food. Nutritional value? Forget it.  Working there, behind the grill, was eye-opening and disgusting.

Just two days ago i decided to add Chik-fil-A when i discovered that they are promoting homophobia. Not that there is any chance of my ever darkening their doors as my wife Kim and i decided to become vegetarians over a year and a half ago. It was, plainly put, the right thing to do, for ourselves and the environment. Meat production utilizes far too much resources.

So while you may feel there is nothing you can do there is. Occupy your wallet, spend your money where it won’t hurt others. Support a political party or politician whose views you agree with. Late last year i finally became a registered member of a Canadian political party despite never being either able or allowed to engage in the Federal political process through the ballot box in my home and native land. i’m now a proud member of the Green Party of Canada and will do what i can, from a distance, to see that we gain more seats in Parliament.

Stephen Harpy, his policies and his politics are the greatest threat to the Canada that i knew and loved growing up in the ’50s and ’60s. So i’ll rage against him and his, in this blog, on twitter and on a ballot if i’m ever allowed to vote as a non-resident Canadian citizen.

When i was 13 (in 1968) i clearly recall a friend’s father getting angry at his son when the lad switched the needle on their portable, battery powered, record player from mono to stereo when he put a 45 rpm single on the platter. Dad knew that singles were only issued in mono and that to use the diamond stereo needle which was only for LPs (long play records) on a mono recording would needlessly wear out the more expensive stylus. my friend’s Dad blew his cool but then had to quickly climb down off his high horse when his son showed him that the recently released Beatles single had been released in stereo. (The picture shows the setting for an LP, flip the lever 180 degrees and you get the mono needle.)

i learned a lesson that day: never argue about technological change, especially with a teenager. Change happens so fast that it seems the older generation just can’t keep up.

Recently we moved house and attempted to connect our wireless base station to our iMac desktop and our two Macbook Pro laptops. Last year when i lived in Sohar alone, i connected my Macbook Pro directly to the Nawras modem connected to the microwave roof-mounted receiver. Two weeks ago when i was unpacking our iMac i tried to connect it directly to the internet in the same fashion, i was unable to. i then tried to connect the modem to our wireless base station. i found that my MacBook Pro could connect but that the iMac could not, would not and didn’t care. (it connected to the base station but couldn’t connect to the internet).

At this point i spent quality time on the phone with Nawras technicians at their call center located in either Muscat or New Delhi (you guess). These qualified personel were flummoxed by the Apple OS, they took notes and said they’d be back in touch. True to their word they did get back in touch with someone who supposedly could rectify the problem. He didn’t.

Yesterday afternoon my 14 year old son Rining was able to solve the problem. He managed to trouble-shoot something or other and within minutes of our coming home had us all on the internet via the base station. i bow to his fearless ability to solve a technical problem which had confounded paid professionals!

Luddites, you have nothing to fear with technological change. You only need worry about your inability to keep pace with it.

Queen Elizabeth II rocks! On Thursday July 14, 2011 she met The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, during an audience at Buckingham Palace, London. She made her position on the current Malaysian political scene very plain, for all to see, by wearing bright yellow clothing during her audience with the Prime Minister.

Yellow is the colour of choice adopted by the popular anti-corruption Bersih (clean) campaign in Malaysia which last weekend attempted to hold a rally sanctioned by the Malaysian Agong (King). Queen Elizabeth is the head of The Commonwealth, of which Malaysia is a member. No doubt Najib will see the Queen’s sartorial shade selection as a slight and will seek to withdraw Malaysia from this august group of countries which help each other in times of need.

It is obvious that good Queen Bess is supporting her fellow royal the Malaysian King in his support of Bersih. After all royal families are becoming an endangered species.  It is also patently clear she is 100% behind the people of Malaysia and wanted to get into the P.M.’s face.

She made her point and made it loud and clear in canary yellow! As a citizen of another Commonwealth country i feel moved by QEII’s bold statement and will make sure i wear yellow when i visit my Malaysian family this summer. God save the Queen!