A chat with Lisa MacLeod

What interesting times we live in!

Tonight, Lisa MacLeod – the newly named Finance critic in Tim Hudak’s shadow cabinet – hosted a meet-and-greet with Tim Hudak.

It was very lovely.   Truly.

And while I spent most of my time talking with other attendees – especially with fellow immigrants to Canada – about our negative experiences with official Apartheid Multiculturalism policies (the latest honour dishonour killings made people – and not just us, immigrants – very, very angry), I did get to exchange a word or two with a few of the celebs there.

It’s been a very long day – and my stamina is still very low – so this will have to be a very brief post.  Yet, these little bits are well worth mentioning!

Mr. Pierre Poilievre was there and we exchanged a few words about the latest lawfare suit launched by one of ‘The Sock Puppets’ against Ezra Levant.  (Aside:  Wednesday, July 29th 2009, there will be an online fundraiser for Mr.Levant’s defense fund at Mark Steyn’s online store .  He is fighting this battle for all of us!  Thanks to BCF and 5’ofF for the tip!)

Then, I had a little chat with Lisa MacLeod, my host.  She was, well, to put it mildly, not impressed with what I have written about her in the past.  I can’t say I’m surprised, or that I blame her!  What can I say – she makes very lousy 1st impressions…which I did mention, unless I am much mistaken…

I must say that her reaction surprised me a little.  I was expecting her to be most upset by my criticism of her conduct as a politician…which we went into, very briefly.  Yes, the tention in the air was, as they say, palpable.

Still,  it was my criticism of her parenting that really, really upset her.  I must admit, I was not willing to  back down – I write what I see, as I see it;  no more, no less and I asked her if what I wrote was incorrect.  This seemed to upset Ms. MacLeod:  the anger seemed to dissipate and be replaced by a different kind of  ‘upset’.  That is good:  it showed me that beneath the ‘thick-skinned politician’ veneer (which I was so turned off by), there may be a truly genuine person who cares about the important things in life!

At this point, Ms. MacLeod excused herself and went  to watch her daughter play at the nearby playstructure.

Now, I am thinking that I may have been too quick to judge her:  that I fell for the image she tries to project (not one I would advise projecting) and failed to see the person behind it.  If she convinces me I was wrong about her, I’ll write about it.  

IF she convinces me!

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WHY did the ‘Wafergate’ ever become ‘A Story’?!?!?

In my last post, I voiced the opinion that the whole non-story of ‘what Prime Minister Steven Harper ‘ought to have done’ when, during a Roman Catholic funeral mass, a priest approached him where he was sitting in the front pew of the church and stuck a Communion Wafer into the surprised Prime Minister’s hand’ might have actually increased the PM’s popularity.

Since that post, several people from outside of Canada (some Roman Catholic themselves) expressed a surprise that this would ever become a news event, much less one which dominated headlines for over a week.  Following is my reply (and can be seen in the comments) as to how and why this non-story got the press coverage it did:

The whole ‘broo-ha-ha’ – in my never-humble-opinion – started because the RC church was trying to deflect attention from yet another child molestation scandal within The Church.  The news of the scandal broke the same day as the RC clerics started screeching ‘damn the sinner – he offended our religion!!!!’ against the PM.  I think they wanted to minimize the news coverage of the pedophilia arrests charges laid against some RC priests just then.

The ‘MSM’ news these days has very clear ‘slots’:  this ‘slot’ for ‘human interest’, that one for ‘scandal’, a little bit on ‘business’, and so on.  If The Church succeeded in making the ‘PM snubs Roman Catholics’ THE scandal of the day, then there would be minimal coverage of their own scandal.  The ‘main slot’ would already be filled…  AND – they succeeded!

The news-people do not like this PM – he does not treat them as ‘insiders with special privileges’…. so, they are offended that he thinks they are not better than other people – which they DO think they are!

After all, they have ‘access to power’!!!!  At least, they HAD access to power….. until this ‘newcomer’ PM refused to treat them as royalty.  Who did he think he was?  They were here longer than he – they KNEW ‘the ropes’!  And he refused to bow down to them?!?!?  Let them ‘take him under their wing’ and ‘show him how to get things done’?!?!?  In exchange for ‘inside info’, of course… (and free spots at expensive dinners, and other ‘perks’ they became accustomed to by the previous corrupt government, in exchange for not writing up the worst of the scandals….)

How dare he!!!

As a result, the vast majority (with exceptions, of course) of journalists – especially political ones – feel slighted by him and do their best to snub him back, put him down, make even positive things he does – even the ones they themselves like – surrounded by so many ‘backhanded compliments’ that despite the positive story, they make him look bad.  Or, they try to!

The political opposition – well, they would really, really like something to attack him for.  But… for all his faults (and he has those, of course), deep down, Steven Harper is a very honest man and he expects honest behaviour from his ministers.  So, there is actually very little that he can be attacked for by the opposition politicians!

His opponents have believed that Steven Harper’s support came from the ‘religious right’.  So, they thought any story which could be spun that he is ‘not sensitive’ to religion or religious people would erode his main support base.

I think that they miscalculated!

Most religious people – including Roman Catholics – shared YOUR reaction.  The attack has backfired on BOTH the RC church AND the PM’s opponents!

Still, this was not really ‘about’ the Communion Host:  it was cheap politicking!  And that, I suspect, is ‘universal’….

‘Communion scandal’ improves Harper’s image

Perhaps this is obvious to everyone, perhaps it has been written about and I have missed it…

Did the ‘Communion scandal‘ actually improved Prime Minister Harper‘s image?  Is that, at least partially, why the polls are saying his popularity is up by 7 points (as per Angus Reid poll, reported on CFRA today)?

Let me explain my reasoning…

Steven Harper is a lot of things:  an awesome economist (and, in these turbulent times, most of us prefer to have an economist rather than a lawyer or an academic without any experience outside the College campus.).  That is a big plus for Mr. Harper.

But, his political opponents have always successfully exploited the fact that, for ever, Steven Harper will be associated (in the minds of most urban Canadians, especially those in Ontario and Quebec) with the ‘Evangelical’ taint his Reform Party past brings.  Rightly or wrongly, the Reform Party could not shake the kind of ‘Sarah Palin-type- thingy’ (please excuse the technical jargon…):  right on so many things, but, kind of scary when it comes to ‘faith issues’….

In some places, politicians are ‘expected’ to be ‘religious’:  it ‘proves’ to the ‘little people’ that they are ‘humble’ and ‘pious’….  This is still true of ‘US conservatives’ – at least, this is more true of them than any other Western ‘group’.

Why these ought to be good qualities in a political leader, I don’t know!

As a matter of fact, I seriously question whether people who are willing to put religious faith above facts and reason – and, especially above the will of voters – ought to be in any positions of power whatsoever.  After all, I would like the laws governing my country to be reasonable – not faith based!

Here, it is important to note that this ‘faith’ could be religious or ideological – it does not make an iota of difference in the practical impact of ‘faith-based’ laws on our society!

Though Canadians are very poor in recognizing ‘ideological faith, we are very sensitive to ‘religious faith’. Therefore, any suggestions that a politician might be so religious as to obey the tenets of his religion over the will of his constituents when drafting laws and policies harms that politician.  It makes it very unlikely that he/she would get a majority, because the large urban areas will not take what they perceive as that big a risk.

And, more and more Canadians are aware of just how many religious leaders abuse their power.  This is not specific to any one faith – one could easily find examples of abuse from just about every religious sect.  Rather, more and more people suspect that the fault lies in allowing any man or woman to exercise power over another, using spirituality as the ultimate weapon:  obey, submit, behave this way and believe this dogma – or you will suffer eternal torture…

That is why most organized religions in Canada are loosing members:  dogmatization of spirituality is becoming more and more unacceptable to urbanized, mainstream Canadians!  And that includes Canadians of all political bends…

When the Roman Catholic Church said that priests ought to deny ‘Communion’ to any politician who does not vote to ban abortion, there was a serious backlash against the Roman Catholic Church.  This was widely understood to be ‘spiritual blackmail’ of the politician:  threatening him/her with eternal damnation of his’her soul UNLESS he/she placed the Papist dogma above the will of their constituents!

The ‘little ‘l’ liberal’ Canadians are loath of any erosion in the ‘secularity’ of our laws: they will never support a politician whom they suspect of having a religious agenda!

Perhaps not surprisingly, there are more and more ‘non-religious’ ‘little ‘c’ conservatives.  People who do support many core conservative values, but who are very uncomfortable with the ‘religious’ component of today’s Conservative movement.  Very, very, very uncomfortable!

Just remember John Tory!

Steven Harper – with all his good and bad points – had a problem shaking the ‘religious’ image of the old Reform Party.  And his political opponents exploited it very, very skilfully.

Now, to this ‘Communion scandal’:

Some Roman Catholic Cleric attacked Steven Harper for his conduct during a Catholic funeral mass which Steven Harper attended.  It would appear that the priest walked up to the people sitting in on the benches in the church.  Steven Harper offered him a hand for a handshake – that is what politicians do, they shake hands as a symbol of greeting or acceptance or a number of other things.

The priest, instead of shaking the offered hand, stuck a communion wafer in it.

Now, the PM was ‘damned if he did/damned if he did not’ do just about anything.

Had he rejected the wafer and tried to give it back to the priest, he would be committing a grave offense:  he would be ‘rejecting Jesus himself’!

Had he tried to minimize damage by pocketing the damned thing and giving it back to the priest later, he would create horrible offense:  one does not ‘stick Jesus in a pocket’!

And, had he committed ritual cannibalism and eaten the ‘literal flesh of Christ’ – as Roman Catholics believe they are doing when they consume a Communion Wafer – he would be giving great offense because non-Roman Catholic Christians are not allowed the salvation which eating the flesh of a dead guy is supposed to bring, according to the RC dogma.

The PM took the latest option.  And, was immediately attacked for not being a fine young cannibal!  A bunch of RC clerics attacked him, for ‘offending their faith’ – while not saying a peep about the latest child sex-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church became public that day!

Steven Harper’s political opponents – seeing an opening to attack – made the most of the story.  The one about the PM accepting a communion wafer – not the one about more RC priest pedophiles.  They ‘shouted it from the rooftops’!  They got it into all kinds of papers, so no Canadian could remain unaware that Steven Harper is insensitive to religion!

Wait a minute!

Steven Harper was trying to shake the ‘he’s too easily influenced by religion’ image – especially among the urban folk.  And now, his opponents are announcing to everyone that Steven Harper is not religious enough???

What an effective way to allay those fears of people who liked him, but worried he might be a religious freak!  He’s just a normal guy, after all!

No wonder that Steven Harper’s popularity went up!

Just Right: ‘Obama’s America ‘going Canadian’ on hate crime’

How many ways are there of saying:  NOT GOOD!  NOT GOOD!  NOT GOOD!

Just Right has the story – with the video:

Sneaking it in under cover of a defense authorization bill with debate scheduled for the wee hours of the morning the Democrats succeeded in passing sweeping new federal hate crimes legislation.

Just as the ‘general awareness’ of this intrusive oppression is rising in Canada, Americans are going to be blindsided by it!

Of course, the majority of Americans will remain oblivious to the danger, thinking their constitution will protect them and their rights… till one of these neo-fascists smiles primly at them, explaining that ‘Freedom of speech is not an American concept’…or some such thing.

They’ll never believe it could happen to them – even though it already has!

Ayayayayay!



Aspies and careers

Many parents of kids with Asperger Syndrome worry about what will happen to their child once they have to go out into the great, wide world and fend for themselves.

Ok, so all parents worry about this!

But parents of Aspie kids have some very particular concerns:  we tend to be ‘anything but middle ground’ people!

And, let’s face it:  our school systems are teaching a series of skills (a sort of a skills ‘tool set’) which will enable ‘middle ground’ kids to succeed.  And that is understandable – aiming at the ‘middle-ground majority’ will definitely provide a statistically successful outcome in that the most kids will learn how to succeed the most; the old ’80/20′ rule (80% of results are obtained by 20% of the effort, but the remaining 20% of results will demand 80% of the effort to get them ‘right’).

This is not at all helpful when you (or your kid) falls outside the proverbial ‘2 standard deviations from the mean’… and need to learn a very different set of tools in order to succeed in life!  Many Aspies have a difficult and frustrating time in school and they are not ‘getting as much’ out of it as their peers do.  Therefore, many parents worry.

Just today I was talking to a mom of an Aspie who is worried about his future.  She can see the potential in him – he is truly very, very intelligent!  But, his school marks are not reflecting his intelligence, he often gets sad and sometimes he becomes withdrawn.  To my untrained eye, that sounds like the Aspie (10 years old) might be slipping into depression:  it is very common for even child-Aspies to become clinically depressed when they see they are more intelligent and know more than their peers, yet they are not succeeding and people (parents, teachers) are disapointed in them (or their peers mock them for it).

This very intelligent mom (herself an educator) saw the potential in her son, both on the ‘good’ side as well as on the ‘bad’ side:  she could see him as either a professor or scientist – or homeless and destitute… depending on whether he learned to ‘fit in’ to the school system, or not!

That is not so!  Of course, Aspies could end up without marketable skills, poor and homeless!  But then again, everyone could…

There ARE non-academic careers where Aspies DO excel!

All kinds of artisans, or any kind of ‘specialists’ – skilled in a very particular thing – those are all things that Aspies can shine in!  Or, in the least, make a name for themselves and make a living at it.

Think about it:  if an Aspie finds a field in which they are interested, they will not stop before they learn everything there is to know about it, refine their knowledge, build specific rules and procedures which they have extensively tested and found to be most optimal.  They often see ‘solutions’ where others do not.  And, they are (usually) not afraid to tell people how to ‘do it right’…

From goldsmiths who craft the most beautiful jewelry to blacksmiths who make old-fashioned swords and armour (actually very popular these days), true to the ‘old methods’ – or who can make custom metal railing and chandeliers.  From chefs, who specialize in a narrow field of cooking and become most sought out for their skill and knowledge in how to prepare the best tasting bits of food to clothing designers, who look at a garment and see the pattern of how it was made. From cabinetmakers who can replicate period pieces using traditional tools and methods or make the best quality, modern pieces of furniture that ‘works’ or those who can make the most specialized custom kitchen cabitnets to landscapers who feel the best way to pattern interlock bricks and flowerbeds!

And that is just the tip of the iceberg!

Don’t get me wrong, many Aspies do succeed in the world of academics:  I suspect that more Math/Physics/Linguistics/Engineering professors are Aspies that not.  That is why ‘Aspergers’ is often called ‘the little professor syndrome’!  But academics are not the only options open to Aspies when it comes to careers!

We just have to find a field – and we CAN ‘own it’!  We just have to be told that we can…when we are young and before we give up trying to find ‘our field’.  Once we know we can, we WILL succeed:  after all, that IS ‘the rule’!

If we can stick with just one field long enough…

Cross-posted on ‘Xanthippa on Aspergers’

Joining ‘Technocrati’

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(Sorry – this is the admin stuff to prove this blog is my blog….)

Perhaps Bill Gates is not evil…

OK – we all know the guy’s image.

We all also know he’s thrown a lot of money around to change this image….with very little success.

But, with this one, he just might convince me!

Bill Gates is releasing all seven Messenger Lectures that Richard Feynman gave at Cornell in 1964.  With subtitles!!!  (And, let’s admit it – Richard Feynman’s accent was not all that easy to understand.  So, subtitles are a really, really good thing.)

Unless, of course, this is some trick to get us all to download some really invasive software in order to watch them:  ‘the Feynman lure’ would be iresistable to any mortal!

h/t:  The Reference Frame