Passenger Rights For Ocean Cruisers Next?

I’ve thought much of the passengers stranded on cruise liners in the Orient over the past couple of weeks. I was definitely suspicious of the quarantine protocol thinking that these cruise vessels would not afford the degree of isolation required in order to prevent the transmission of a virus. Not that I’m an epidemiologist but in every piece that I’ve read since the threat of the coronavirus, it seemed that the health professionals didn’t have strong confidence in how exactly the virus spreads and they didn’t provide much assurance that healthy passengers on a quarantined cruise liner would be protected. It seems now that the rights of health cruisers were superseded by an overzealous quarantine effort and an obvious void in protocol perpetrated by an international lapse in cooperation.

When we elect leaders who lack a moral compass or who are irrationally swayed by ideology over practicality, we should expect the occasional debacle to arise. We should expect intransigence, indifference, and ambivalence. Great leaders have a knack for anticipating problems and establishing control mechanisms. Great leaders do not patronize administrative bodies designed for international cooperation (United Nations, World Health Organization). They seek ways to strengthen the foundation. Great leaders do not find themselves distracted by issues of personal accountability thereby compromising their attention toward matters of international importance. Great leaders do not find themselves isolated due to pettiness in their bargaining or vindictive with opponents. Great leaders do not find themselves enthralled in meetings over the mundane.     

Health workers fighting disease and treating patients on the front line need administrative competence as a pillar of their support. They need courageous leaders cognizant that the proliferation of international travel and trade has made nation to nation cooperation paramount in protecting lives and potentially fostering higher living standards.    

The Future of Work

I attended a U of A sponsored alumni event last night entitled “The Future of Work”. It was hosted at the newly restored old Calgary Science Center.

Economist Todd Hirsch from the Alberta Treasury Branch gave the talk with a power point presentation. This well spoken gentleman referenced topics which many of us maybe have thought about but haven’t really worked through logistically in terms of how exactly advancing technology will impact our working lives.

Todd suggests that advancing technology is going to in fact do away with certain job functions. His example illustrated the chronology of events required to fill a prescription for the elderly. He demonstrated that in Canada today it takes six working people contacts for an elder to have their prescription filled from the time he walks into a doctor’s office until the time medicine is dispensed. However; once an electronic medical bracelet with the capacity to monitor biological data is affixed to the wrist, a reduction in manpower inevitably can serve the individual as well and perhaps better. Imagine one pill instead of a cocktail delivered by drone. 

Another theme presented was the sociological effect of having less people serve us. Todd suggests that people will become more isolated with the deployment of technology. I wonder if robots in decades to come will be programmed to elicit emotion. 

In one provocative slide, Todd depicted the working timeline of people’s lives since the dawn of formalized agricultural to the onset of industrialization and into the digital age. Finally there was a forecast of decades new transformed by automation. He forecasts that a “Universal Basic Income” will be required to offset the improved efficiency brought on by automation. He also predicts that structured volunteerism will emerge as government programs collapse under their weight with government finances stretched. Continuous learning will be evident in a fast changing work place and the career profile of someone in 2030 and beyond will be starkly different from the “good job” espoused by baby boomers.        

Corruption In North America

We’ve been lucky in North America compared to most other parts of the world. We’ve historically had less corruption and in some comparative examples – a lot less.  Canada ranks 12th and the U.S. ranks 23rd of 180 nations as of 2019. We still cringe here upon witnessing acts of corruption whereas unfortunately in other countries such as Russia, Venezuela, Somalia, or Yeman, it’s all just yawn worthy.

Corruption correlates with morale of the citizenry. If meritorious conduct is penalized through acts of corruption, the incentive to perform in alignment with just values is compromised. Good natured benevolence can be repressed while witnessing rewards bestowed upon cheats. A cycle is established and new norms arise and transfer inter generationally.

Special interests are oftentimes not congruent with the common good.

Let’s turn to the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. An uncouth pragmatic populist with a never ending zeal to insult and lie has been put forward as President and his party faithful senators have been whipped into saving this man’s presidency amidst a court assembled with jurors biased through party politics unable to distinguish their party loyalty from a cerebral interpretation of facts. These senators voting to acquit the president of “obstruction of justice” and “abuse of power” have done so in lieu of obvious facts deeming Trump to be unfit. One reading of the Gordon Sondland transcript from the impeachment investigation proceedings would ground one in Trump’s self serving motives in withholding approved Ukrainian military aid. Despite obfuscation from the White House, the eloquently presented chronology of events via the impeachment investigation soundly illustrated Trump’s deviousness in provoking a dependent nation to comply with his request for an investigation of “Biden’s son”. The evidence was so clear despite the refusal of the White House to comply with subpoenas and documents that the Republican senior ranking member Devin Nunes serving as joint chair of the intelligence committee during investigation proceedings looked simply ridiculous in his futile efforts in combating the glaring undisputable evidence summarized by Adam Schiff and supported with revealing testimony from experienced diplomats tasked with administering Ukraine policy. Then there were those that directly heard the request made by Trump of Zelensky on the July 27, 2019 call, “The other thing. There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.” Zelensky didn’t get his White House visit and military aid was held up. Diplomats couldn’t get answers as to why aid was held up. A well respected and well intentioned Ambassador of Ukraine was fired and smeared right alongside the timeline of events.    

One then asks, in the face of indisputable evidence of Trump’s abuse of power and thwarting of justice through the repression of evidence, how in good conscience could an elected representative of the government and steward of the constitution vote to acquit him of impeachment? It’s simple. I believe these people to be corrupt. That is my opinion of them. They are too intelligent having reached their high office not to be able to distinguish party loyalty from a civic duty in administering justice. Hence; they’ve been influenced in such a way that their conscience, in my opinion, has been compromised.  Yes….that’s right, corruption in North America.

Pundits will be forecasting the fallout but they will pontificate in the political instead of the streets. They’ll be dissecting the electoral college instead of commercial contracts. They’ll be retweeting Trump instead of monitoring labor relations. In other words, the needle could change when it comes to the moral strength of civil discourse as a populous grasps the condoning of corruption at the highest level of a  government in North America.                  

Denial of Witnesses Trump Trial

Today at the very top of the United States’ justice system, there was a vote taken to admit or deny relevant witnesses to Trump’s impeachment trial. Those witnesses would have been central to the case presented by the prosecution and in what can only be viewed as a partisan decision, the witnesses were denied. Procedural law is supposed to be constructed in such a way that it deploys facilitative protocol in an effort to prevent bias by either side. This high court at the pinnacle of the U.S. justice system today failed in its duty. Its jurors (senators) acted with bias and with motive to prevent evidence fearing that such evidence would work in opposition to their desired partisan position.

Lawyers and politicians are supposed to be smart, right? Then wouldn’t the admission of evidence assist a cerebral mind come to more calculated decision with respect to guilt or innocence? If evidence is denied in lieu of the prospect that better decision making is congruent with additional evidence, then might one perceive that undue pressure may have been elicited upon jurors to behave in such a way the is contrary to an oath of unbiased deliberation?  If jurors at the highest level of a justice system cannot be relied upon to behave impartially, then what confidence can one bestow at the lower levels?

This issue at stake is whether the President of the United States abused his power in withholding military aid from Ukraine in the context of a request for a Ukrainian sponsored investigation of a political rival. If a direct link is made between the withholding of aid and the denial of an investigation request, then an absolute abuse of power would have occurred. The abuse of power would be impeachable because the behavior would be contrary to the oath of office. 

Logic follows that the act of repressing evidence restricts a body’s ability to formulate strong decisions in lieu of facts. Furthermore, such an act has the supplemental effect of marginalizing the ideal of a robust civil democracy unencumbered by prejudice and / or an autocratic influence.          

Modest Keith Corrigan

There was this accounting office where I spent a tax season in approximately 2004 here in Calgary. I showed up as a contractor and weaved my way into the inner fabric of a well established firm for this finite period. There was this guy on staff named Keith Corrigan. He struck me as kind of quirky but pleasant. I enjoyed his laid back approach to accounting and tax. He had an admirable confidence and he possessed supreme interpersonal skills. I didn’t have much to do with him since he was deployed on corporate work and I was tasked with personal returns. However; we had an unspoken agreement between us as we worked away in the office sharing the occasional witticisms. On April 30, while slaving away on the last couple of returns, in walks Keith looking for my invoice to get me settled up in anticipation of the wind up tax party. We took care of business, headed to the party, and subsequently lost contact with each other.

Fast forward to 2015, and I’m driving into the parking lot of the Smart Executive Centre and I see this slender fellow having a smoke and I’m thinking – “I know him”. We get reacquainted and I discover that he’s also taken up office residence here where I work. Our rapport is quickly reestablished and I begin to marvel at his experience and knack for story telling . We’ve had much in common with respect to tax and investing and together we would on occasion satirize unsavory positions taken by the CRA. Keith was a man fully blessed with common sense and deployed the trait eloquently with his subtle humor. 

He recently died suddenly at the age of 59. I attended his Celebration of Life today and the event was informal and modest akin to the way he carried himself every day.

His obituary:

https://calgaryherald.remembering.ca/obituary/keith-corrigan-1078330214

Tawdry Trump At Work

Now, it’s Sarah Huckabee Sanders needing to apologize for gesticulating at Joe Biden as a stutterer. Her company with Donald Trump has apparently rubbed off. You know that Trump would be chastising that Christian outlet which opined he should be removed from office. The only question was going to the quickness of his tweet. Would he be able to contain his response until morning or would his ego driven esteem stricken compulsion have him reach for his twitter account with immediacy?

The biggest question in my mind with respect to Trump is not the result of an impeachment trial but actually the forecasted sociological effect of his broadcasted depraved behavior in the context of his a position which one would think should attract virtuous citizens. In other words, if this kind of behavior is to be rewarded with the presidency, then what message does this send in the context of how the general populous may behave in their own personal and professional lives going forward? This is what stirs me.

Furthermore, what does it say about a democracy when elected representatives are so bound by the navel gazing machinations of a political system producing blind loyalty that they compromise their conscience in casting votes on behalf of constituents? 

Then there are the ramifications of a legal system tested at the very pinnacle. If faith in a legal system becomes imperiled due to a process obfuscated by partisan bias, how would any litigant in a civil action trust an investment in justice that has been compromised at the very top?   

Technology’s Incursion on Your Power

It’s happening whether you like it or not. The digital age is impacting your personal power and your ability to return fire. Here’s an example. Typically after a Uber ride, I will look to my phone so that I can acknowledge the tip request and send one. This morning I had a glaring message pop up with an “I understand” button having me acknowledge Uber’s reference to matters relevant to “behavior” as if my communication on my most recent ride did not meet their standard. It makes me think that my conversation with the driver was actually recorded without notifying me of such. I came to realize during the latter part of the ride that my driver may have been having difficulty understanding me given that English was his second language (he was wearing a turban). In humor, I had referenced the authoritative tone of the satellite guide woman giving directions and then gave her credit when she acknowledged me by name.  Could this have been the offending reference? It’s all I can imagine given the completeness of my conversation with the driver. 

You see, I used a little sarcasm during our ride to add color to the trip which may have been perceived as something different. I suspect this phenomenon will become less and less of a problem for people over time because people will just stop engaging in small talk flavored with witticism since it will be deemed too much trouble with a risk of negative consequences should banter be misunderstood. In other words, an experience of interpersonal connectedness will be extinguished due to an over sensitive culture awarded favor from daft elites lacking in common sense. After all, it was the Uber app that gave the final word in absence of a North American phone number on their website.          

Trump Goin’ Down

With all the testimony this week on Capitol Hill, believe it or not there are still pockets of republican law makers squealing with disbelief still that Trump is guilty as charged.  Jim Jordan may be the last man standing and late night stand up acts will certainly be targeting him for his formulation of logic. Devin Nunes was another Republican so stained in partisanship over facts that he thought that somehow by referencing “poor TV ratings” in an intelligence hearing he’d sway the argument. With all the history of Trump’s lies, deceit, attacks on the vulnerable, twitter tirades, spinning of a conspiracy theory (Obama’s birth), associations with criminals (Manafort for one), apparent deeds of sexual harassment according to some 16 women, countless civil court cases prior to Presidency, obfuscation of publicizing financial history (tax returns), personal attacks on citizens competing for presidential nomination, business intent to operate in corrupt Russia, Mr. Nunes somehow thought by referencing old newspaper headlines that conflating matters would help his defence of this sham of a man, Trump.    

It’s been a harrowing display of partisanship and very disappointing to witness this presidency along with Trump’s character to those who hold justice dear. It was a great experiment in populism projected onto the American people by voters contemptuous of being marginalized with powerlessness. Ironically, the man sent to Washington to address matters of the powerless has abused the power bestowed upon him and a lot of folks saw it coming including yours truly. 

 If one fails to exercise objective thought in the face of political philosophy in a democracy, there are implications. If one turns a blind eye, one will be caught. It may not be today or tomorrow, but the facts will emerge. A steadfast adherence to ideology is healthy but if the implementation of such ideology requires the suppression and disregard to basic values and human rights, then such implementation in democratic form will require a reset in order to extinguish such aberrant conduct. While the trait of loyalty has absolute merit in the context of executing team cause, blind loyalty tarnished with misdeed has inevitable negative consequences including collateral damage. As a result of this Trump debacle, it becomes apparent that the whistle blower provision worked and thankfully there was an American sharp enough to step forward for the good of country and his / her fellow patriot to out this reprehensible conduct of bargaining political gain with earmarked military aid.

Incredulously, there is still the remote possibility that Republicans will grasp at some kind of rationale for defending a no vote to impeachment if proceedings actually make it to trial in absence of Trump’s resignation. I am one conservative ideologue not blinded by partisan ideology but strident in articulating repercussions from being stubborn and outright indignant toward thoughtful discourse.    

Ron MacLean Bestowed U of A Honorary Degree

The University of Alberta is actually a pretty good school but continues to bestow honorary degrees. Despite Ron MacLean being a “good guy”, in my estimation he should not be awarded a “degree” from my Alma Mater if he has not earned it. Nor should have David Suzuki or any other recipient be awarded an “Honorary Degree”.

You see, the process of earning a degree requires work and sacrifice. One undertakes course work as an adult in pursuit of career knowledge. Course work may also entail studies of the humanities as supplemental to ones’ core discipline. In fact, at the end of a bachelor’s program, one is positioned to advance a discipline through post graduate studies and research. Those who make it through a Bachelor’s program have sacrificed finance in achieving a “parchment”, likely have undertaken debt, and have consequently have made a personal investment in their profession.  Awarding “honorary degrees” to individuals for accomplishments outside the realm of academic endeavour having not completed prescribed curriculum simply debases the degree and frankly offends those who sacrificed in actualizing the requirements set forth from day one. I speak for myself and obviously others but not all.

Do specific citizens deserve recognition aside from that obtained from community, family, and career compensation? Yes. I do not object to governments, charities, communities, and sports and arts associations from awarding its contributors. However; university honorary degrees are simply wrong.

The U of A will once again call me this year looking for a “donation”. Unfortunately, the first year student volunteering his / her time to make the call will be confronted with my indignant response. This individual in his / her youth and inexperience to much monetary and absolute in opinion will be perplexed that such a defined position will be taken.         

Kaepernick Debacle

Colin Kaepernick had a very good 2013 season with the San Francisco 49ers. It’s been tough to miss him through the news cycle since. Kaepernick rightfully latched onto the civil rights issue associated with the Rodney King incident and other precursors galvanizing support toward the Black Lives Matter movement. Unfortunately, he decided to use his celebrity as a football player on the sports field as a means for showing his support for the cause while connecting the matter with disloyalty toward his country. He got black balled and he should have seen that coming.  You see, employers in a free capitalist society have the right to hire based on their variables deemed important for success. Disloyalty toward country makes a character statement and potentially correlates with potential behaviour when it comes to “team interest”. When the going gets tough, are you going to fold up tent or fight within the means available to you under a constitution? He chose to whimper in the easiest form of protest conveniently available to him. I wish him well. He seems sharp and I suspect he will be able to translate his sporting competitiveness into another avenue of success.     

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