Merging my old and new blog has left many internal links broken. You can figure out where any broken internal links should point by changing the URL (eg. /blog_archives/2012/01/01/123456.html to just the date - /2012/01/01). Entries might also be a day off from where you'd expect. As well, links to some content (eg. a few library school essays) are no longer working. Apologies for any inconvenience.
Fred Eaglesmith & Hawksley Workman Guitar Tabs
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Six years ago, a colleague and I spent an afternoon shooting a promotional video about Regina Public Library for a local cable TV company…
So I’ve been watching both the Democratic and Republican campaigns leading up to last week’s first caucus in Iowa and today’s first primary in New Hampshire very closely.
In all honesty, I might even be more engaged in the US elections then I was in last fall’s Canadian ones! I think this is because the US ones have some *very* interesting things happening in terms of candidates and larger themes. Plus the US primaries last forever so your interest can grow and grow over a longer time period as well.
Here are a few random thoughts grouped by candidate…
- It’ll be no surprise that Bernie Sanders is who I’m rooting for. I was highly involved in two of Ryan Meili’s campaigns for the leadership of the Saskatchewan NDP and there are many similarities – both are outsider, long shot candidates with strong progressive/socialist values and a lifelong focus on societal inequality. Both have a surplus of youthful, tech-savvy supporters. Both are running/ran very positive, aspirational campaigns and both are candidates with great integrity and humour. Ryan lost to an entrenched establishment candidate but others who share these characteristics are having success around the world (the article I link to mentions Corbyn in the US and Mulcair in Canada. Obviously, that turned out to be Trudeau who won with a very left wing, progressive campaign but as usual, it appears the Liberals ran left and are governing right and once again, the NDP, like Lucy pulling away the ball from Charlie Brown, got fooled again.) (Side note: Sanders inspires a dedicated following which reminds me of how supporters of other candidates called us Meili supporters “kool-aid drinkers”)
- I can’t do anything but laugh at anyone who says the “wild-eyed” things Bernie is proposing can’t happen – free post-secondary is very common across Europe and free healthcare is a reality pretty much everywhere in the industrialized world *except* the US. I find it rich (er, no pun intended) that many Americans will claim the US is the greatest country on earth yet won’t acknowledge how their country falls down in these areas. Or the basic math/logic failure that Sanders’ plan *will* increase taxes but lower costs in other ways that will save most people *thousands* of dollars yet people still claim it’s some sort of socialist/communist plot to financially ruin them.
- It’s also rich that people say Sanders is unelectable in a general election yet he tied the establishment candidate in Iowa and is projected to thump her in New Hampshire.
- Another point – a rule of thumb is that Democrats win when voters are excited and inspired and Republicans win when voters aren’t. And no doubt that’s what Sanders brings in bushels compared to Clinton.
- Sanders hasn’t really said out loud that he’s an atheist. But he admits he’s not involved with organized religion and definitely sounds like a secular humanist when he talks. During the speeches at the end of Iowa, I think he was the only candidate who didn’t mention god – which is yet another reason Sanders’ campaign is resonating with younger, more secular voters.
- In some of the back and forth between Clinton and Sanders (and their supporters), I hear echoes of the same debates we had in the Meili campaign – if you say you’re running a “positive” campaign, where do you draw the line? Is it going negative to point out factual truths about your opponent? (“Hillary has made $675,000 giving speeches to Goldman Sachs”). What if you imply this is unethical in a general sense? What if you say that it means the candidate herself is unethical? What about if you go even further and say that this basically means your opponent is not only unethical but corrupt and bought by moneyed interests? (Sanders hasn’t done this but Clinton’s “artful smears” defense makes it clear that’s what she’s hearing.)
- Sanders isn’t just up against the political establishment but the media establishment as well with “news” organizations showing their bias against Sanders in ways that are both big and small. The only saving grace is that the one thing mainstream media organizations value more than helping fellow members of the establishment is the dollars that will continue to flow if they can create a narrative of a close race.
- Elizabeth Warren is a well-known progressive and it’s interesting to wonder how the race would’ve been different had she announced instead of Bernie. She’s also a northeast Liberal but she’s probably the best known proponent of much of what Sanders is talking about so, at the risk of getting ahead of myself, I wonder if she would be his VP pick? (Or since he’s doing such a non-traditional campaign already, could he announce he plans to pick her as VP before he even get the nomination? And even that he only intends to serve one term so she can run in 2020? Would that swing some gender-voters his way? Or is that too cynical?)
- The parallels to her failed 2008 campaign are growing – Clinton as the early frontrunner but an upstart, unexpected candidate comes out of nowhere, inspires youth and other non-traditional voters, and after much disarray and lashing out by the Clinton campaign (including her husband), she ends up losing a nomination that was hers to win.
- One difference from 2008 is that Obama had a huge (YUGE!) advantage in that he strongly appealed to minorities and polls show Sanders hasn’t yet made those same in-roads…yet (though he’s making progress with African Americans as well once people find out he marched with Martin Luther King, was arrested for protesting in favour of equal rights for African Americans and against things that overwhelmingly affect the black community – from minimum wage to drug sentences to for-profit prisons.)
- Clinton also has an advantage presumably having learned from 2008 when she was out-maneuvered by Obama’s team (was it Texas where she won the popular vote but ended up losing the more significant delegate count?)
- One of Clinton’s arguments is that she’s more electable than an elderly socialist from a small northeastern state who has little name recognition. But, the flip side is how polarizing a figure she is (and has been for 20+ years) whereas Sanders, who is actually an independent that caucuses with the Democrats, might actually get more support from independents and even some Republicans, even if his politics are on the far-left of the US political spectrum. There’s a reason many voters, disenchanted with politics-as-usual are torn between far-right, self-financing Donald Trump and far-left, small-donor powered Bernie Sanders. Or that many supporters of libertarian Republican candidate, Rand Paul, are looking at Sanders after Paul dropped out. Yes, perhaps Clinton could bring in more incremental change (though she’ll likely face the same obstructionist Congress as Obama has) but Sanders idea of not just winning but creating a revolution where so many people are active and engaged that politicians can’t help but listen is just as likely to occur in my view as Clinton being able to achieve anything but the most minor improvements.
- The role of women has become an issue in Hillary’s campaign as well – I don’t know if Clinton’s regularly calling herself a feminist but she is definitely pointing out that she’d be the first female President (which is great!). But there are a couple dangers is that if you play up identity politics like this – taken to its logical conclusion, you might also say that all African Americans should vote for Ben Carson or Latinos should vote for Cruz or Rubio. Or how problematic it is to simply vote based on gender instead of taking a hard look at a candidate’s policy and history. Or you get more-harm-than-good situations where iconic second wave feminists like Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright belittle and bully younger, third wave feminists in (irony alert) some disturbingly misogynistic ways that speak as forcefully to generational differences between boomers and millennials as gender issues.
If anything concerns me at this pivotal moment, it’s not the revolutionary tremors of the youth. Given the Great American Trash Fire we have inherited, this rebellion strikes me as exceedingly reasonable. Pick a crisis, America: Child poverty? Inexcusable. Medical debt? Immoral. For-profit prison? Medieval. Climate change? Apocalyptic. The Middle East is our Vietnam. Flint, the canary in our coal mine. Tamir Rice, our martyred saint. This place is a mess. We’re due for a hard rain. – via
Lots of talk concerns whether Sanders supporters would move to Hillary if she wins the nomination. That will be interesting to see – there’s lots of overlap as Sanders and Clinton are, at least by voting record, 93% similar though in many ways, their battle is for the soul of the Democratic party itself.
- Like many, I’m surprised that Trump has stayed as high in the polls and lasted as long as he has. But the guy is a master manipulator of the media and even other candidates.
- At the same time, I still say that it’s 50-5o that this known pro wrestling fan is “working” people (in the carny sense of fooling) and is actually in the race to either expose the Republicans and/or to help the Democrats/Clinton!
- Like Hillary with her e-mail scandal, Cruz is the other candidate who faces a potential legal hurdle that could undermine each one’s front-runner status (and possibly even their ability to run for President.)
- He’s also strikes me as the “ickiest” candidate who gives off a really bad vibe of arrogance mixed with fakery (and you should hear from those who know him!)
- A badly mis-handled attempt to counter the criticism that he’s a Republican Obama – first term, visible minority Senator with few real achievements – may have doomed his campaign. You really have to see it to believe it…
- Trump is always calling Jeb “low energy” but this guy defines the term. In a field loaded with wingnuts and clowns, this guy might be the least qualified (and that’s saying something.) He has, however, provided what is easily the funniest moment of the campaign season so far (while also being symbolic of the GOP race)…
- Along with Clinton, Bush was a presumed front runner early (which perhaps shows journalist bias towards those they know?) but I’ve been very happy to see how much he’s struggled. Part of the reason I’m also opposed to Hillary Clinton is I don’t think the US Presidency should be a legacy thing within dynastic families.
- I keep thinking he’s going to take either Rubio or Bush’s lunch money.
- A real dark horse candidate in a field that has a number of candidates and a range of dynamics.
- Is she still in this (and who the hell is Jim Gilmore?) You get the sense that many Republicans are running to get a job with Fox News, a book deal and/or to be named as Vice-President.
A final note…
A friend recently posted a fairly graphic article about the brutal spectacle that was the half-time shows in Ancient Rome. I initially thought he was inspired to post this by the Super Bowl. But after reading it, I couldn’t help think of how many of the techniques outlined in the article – shock, hubris, arrogance, manipulation, etc. – apply to our modern politics and the media as well.
Tell me if this sounds like modern American politics and helps describe the parallel rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders…
The Roman Games and the work of the bestiarii may have reached their apex during the reign of Emperor Commodus, which began in 180 AD. By that time, the relationship between the emperors and the Senate had disintegrated to a point of near-complete dysfunction. The wealthy, powerful and spoiled emperors began acting out in such debauched and deluded ways that even the working class “plebs” of Rome were unnerved.
Music Monday – “Spread your tiny wings and fly away/And take the snow back with you/Where it came from on that day/The one I love forever is untrue/And if I could you know that I would/Fly away with you”
It’s weird the things you remember from your childhood.
I have no idea if teachers in other communities did this at the time (or if they still do? I’m pretty sure Pace hasn’t had this) but Mrs. Hancock brought in a local piano teacher once a week (?) and we learned all kinds of songs as part of our music education – pop songs, wartime songs, probably even <gasp> religious songs, etc.
We learned them so well that I still remember – and have a spot in my heart for – many of them including this one (which I recently came across in a cover version of the original Anne Murray version.)
“Snowbird” – Kathleen Edwards with Bahamas
ABOUT once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all.
– David Brooks
I recently read an article where American journalist and pundit, David Brooks, talked about his realization that we all live our lives via a mixture of “resume” values and “eulogy” values.
Resume values are the things you’d put on your resume – hard-working, ambitious, goal-oriented, etc. – while the eulogy values are the ones you (hope to) hear about at your funeral – kind, brave, generous, friendly, honest, loving.
A big part of Brooks’ epiphany was that the people who are often the most conventionally “successful” in life are good at the resume values but that they often also have a hole in their lives because they aren’t as good at the eulogy values. On the other hand, those who are most happy and contented excel at the eulogy values.
This was a timely article for me because, without having a name for it, I’ve been consciously trying to focus on doing a lot more to focus on my “eulogy” values, even at the expense of my “resume” values.
Although I think I’ve always had a strong undercurrent of eulogy values as part of my personal make-up, it’s well documented on this blog that I came out of library school fairly focused on the resume values – involved in committees, volunteering, publishing articles, attending and presenting at conferences, winning awards, etc. etc. etc. One classmate semi-seriously joked that I’d probably be a CLA President some day. Another was more blunt: “You’ve got a rocket strapped to your ass.”
But after heading in a certain direction for the first few years of my career, I’ve re-assessed my life and decided that I don’t need a lot of what the resume values approach gives you. Instead, I’ve become much more focused on doing things that reinforce and expand my eulogy values.
Here’s Brooks’ TED talk on the subject.
The Canadian Library Association recently voted to wind down their operations so they can be re-born as a new “federation of associations” from across Canada and also to re-focus on what they do best (national voice for libraries = yes; conferences = not as much, especially when OLA is widely regarded as “the” Canadian library conference.)
Although I’d really pulled back on my involvement lately, I’ve gotten a lot from CLA over the years.
Here are a few of the main things that jump to mind…
– drove a van of students from London to attend the CLA conference in Ottawa in 2006 while I was in library school
– attended a couple other conferences after I started working at RPL (Montreal, Edmonton)
– represented public libraries on a committee to redesign the CLA web site
– won 2nd Place in CLA’s Student Essay contest back in 2006 (or was it 2007?)
– a FIMS alum donated a $50 CLA gift certificate when I won the Spirit of Librarianship Award
– did I co-chair the CLA Emerging Members group or am I completely mis-remembering that? I think I was just heavily involved but not as a co-chair?
– was asked to present to the CLA Emerging Tech Group during the Montreal conference…
I consider myself pretty tech savvy so people were often surprised to hear/see that I was still using an iPhone 4S that I got in Fall 2011 as my smartphone.
There’s a few reasons for this but the main one is that the phone still worked well enough for the most part and I’m not a huge fan of the planned obsolescence that is built into so many of the devices we use these days (not just technology – everything from appliances to clothing seems designed to not last as long as it should.)
Funny enough, it was that move towards planned obsolescence that probably finalized my decision to get a new phone, something I’ve been thinking about for quite awhile. But when I read an article that Apple was facing a class action lawsuit for forcing people to upgrade their hardware to run newer versions of their operating system software and, as a result, they’d quietly built something into the latest update (iOS 9.2?) that actually made older phones run faster (quietly because if they admitted this, they’d be admitting guilt in their law suit), I decided that maybe I should upgrade my own iOS, something I’d stopped doing probably a couple major upgrade cycles ago.
But of course, given my crappy old phone, the upgrade got half-way finished then my phone crashed. When it came back up, the phone went into “Searching” mode but couldn’t find my carrier. I tried a couple things including a reset and a restore from backup but nothing fixed the issue. I went to SaskTel to see if a new SIM card would resolve things and that didn’t work either. So, even though I’d been thinking about it for awhile, I made a fairly spontaneous decision to upgrade.
I also did a couple different things – instead of going for the latest and greatest, I decided last year’s model (iPhone 6 instead of 6S) would be sufficient based on what I’d read of the differences between the two phones. I’ve also always been a fan of buying as much storage as you can – whether for desktops, laptops or now, smartphones – but again, they only had a 64GB in stock, no 128GBs and knowing I needed to walk out with a working phone, I rationalized both the cost saving and also that my life is increasingly moving to the cloud – most of my music coming via streaming services instead of local on iTunes, photos & videos stored in the cloud and optimized locally, not needing to have as many games apps on my phone since both kids essentially have their own devices now, etc. So perhaps I could get away with staying with a 64GB model (which is what my old phone had.)
I took the phone home, did a restore from backup and was pleasantly surprised how easy it was and how many settings came over as well (most apps just needed passwords re-entered). It also realised how many workarounds I’d been doing on my old phone that now worked…
- Apple Photos never worked properly with my old phone like it did with Shea’s newer iPhone 6 Plus (and Sasha’s new iPad Mini that Santa brought her for that matter)
- I’d stopped using Bluetooth with my Pebble smartwatch because it seemed to suck my phone battery dead really quickly (although the battery also died relatively quickly, even without bluetooth enabled)
- the 30-pin connector on the phone was “loose” and had to be connected just so to actually charge the phone
- I didn’t realise how small the iPhone 4S screen was until I started using the iPhone 6 (I didn’t go for the Plus like Shea did who has basically stopped using anything else and now uses her smartphone as her main computing device)
- That size has a trade-off and I still miss how the iPhone 4S “fit” into my hand and allowed me to easily reach every corner of it (I’m still not in the habit of using the double-touch feature to shrink the screen to better reach all parts of the screen.)
I’m sure there’s other advantages/disadvantages of the move but overall, very happy with the change and of course wondering why I put it off so long (tight-fisted Scottish heritage may play a *wee* part!) Of course, if I’d made the jump around Christmas when they were really good deals, I might’ve saved even a few more dollars.
Oh well, I’ll do another post on Boxing Day in 2020 after my next upgrade!