Sean Chu on Hot seat

New Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek appears to be grandstanding right out of the gate with an indignant exclamation that she won’t swear in city councilor Sean Chu on Monday. I’ve heard the details from Chu regarding the specifics pertaining to the under aged woman whom he thought was of age since they met at a bar. He passed a polygraph test and claimed that he drove her home when it was determined by the woman that advances became uncomfortable for her. Now you’ve just had an election and you want him to resign. You might as well just stone him like it was the 14th century. This guy seems like he sincerely wants to serve Calgarians and he’s been convicted of no crime. Yet, it’s becoming clear that in this era of political correctness that some are starting to believe that a mere distaste for someone else’s conduct is in and of itself grounds for abrogating judicial discourse. It certainly will not look good on Gondek if she follows through on her apparent decision not to swear in her councilor thereby instilling dysfunction at city hall right at the administration’s outset and precisely at a time in the city’s history that it needs improved performance.

Misinformation Maelstrom

The cost of a college education in the U.S. has been beyond the reach of most Americans unless students were willing to take on large debt to finance. Do we now have a misinformation maelstrom? Consequently, the majority of Americans have not received an undergraduate degree. Access for Canadians has been better. Collegiate level courses do impose an investigative burden on students to undertake the meaning of research in a critical way. In accessing such research citing references for formulating thoughtful response, a logical representation of assertions are presented oftentimes via term papers. This proactive pursuit of analyzing research data in the context of any shortcomings of research parameters or controls lends credibility when drawing conclusions or recommendations as does any acknowledgment of bias by the academic.

Academics have come under intense scrutiny with the proliferation of social media platforms. Politicians lacking in integrity have capitalized on the majority of a populous who have not been through any formal process of scrutinizing research through higher education but are amenable to the convenient mechanism of messaging through social media. A scholarly approach is to embark openly with objectivity, candour, and transparency whereby a non-scholarly approach may infuse personal bias, undocumented study, unsubstantiated assumed external influence, or hearsay.

Unfortunately, society has taken a dark path of late and a case can be made that ignorance from a lack of access to higher education deserves some blame. We’ve been witness to a segment of the population which believes that evil lurks at every turn and that liberty is under threat by government and /or elite covert entity(s). After all, if elite high net worth families are accessing off shore corporate accounts in order to avoid tax with impunity while my politicians continually exercise poor judgement on behalf of the electorate, and the gap between the rich and poor forever widens, then shouldn’t the common one be suspicious of any vaccine?

It’s hard to blame one unaccustomed to the scientific process of discovery to have faith in procedure when the canvass of a society is tainted by corruption, deceit, and legal largesse. What price is now being paid for a society of which for the most part has been blocked from access to higher education? We seem to be facing issues not necessarily anticipated through social media technology as a perceived by a net negative. Such a perception will not be calming to the ears of executives at Facebook, Alphabet Inc. (Google), or Twitter.

Culture Void & Pandemic

Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders was interviewed in 2014 where she touched upon situational anecdotes, spontaneity, and setbacks during her rise to fame. Artists of the late 70’s and 80’s had more of life experience even in their youth to draw upon while creating their art. In fact physical art and modeling were in her background while forming the Pretenders which arose primarily as a result that no other band would have her.   

The interview got me thinking about listening to The Pretenders back in the 80s not knowing at the time band personnel behind the song “Back in The Chain Gang” and “Brass In Pocket”. There were so many pop ‘80s bands creating melody that we thought that this would always be the way. However; we’ve come to learn that the era was extraordinary for one hit wonders and catchy pop riffs. The scene was tight inspiring collaboration. Simple Minds had connected with Chrissie (in fact she had married front man Jim Kerr) while touring and the connection for me resolves with my everlasting affinity for Simple Mind’s “New Gold Dream”.

It’s been 18 months now and our youth have not had access to live events – musical or otherwise which are occasions which cement memories and this has been collateral damage of the pandemic. I really empathise with the opportunity cost in intangible terms. I recall such joy when going to see movie classics such as “Saturday Night Fever”, “Grease”, “Bad News Bears”, and “The Breakfast Club”. Concerts such as Tina Turner, John Cougar, and April Wine stirred the spirit. A bit later, there were the dance clubs playing New Order tracks from their double album “Substance” amidst the strobe lights and ambience. Disco still carried an influence and attire mattered out in the clubs. Friends would swap physical LPs and the actual vinyl would serve as reminders of the tracks for discussion. Some sleeves would even carry lyrics. College dorm lounges served as meet ups for night life forays.

From my viewpoint, culture was running stale pre-pandemic and now it’s naturally become worse. Despite initiatives with funding the few newer venues have lacked the warmth and appeal typified by a place engrained with history. Older venues haven’t been able to keep up the rent and too few philanthropists were quick enough to save old halls. Certainly urban planning decisions have also played a role in retracement of culture in Canada. Will there be a day when the suburbanites with their fenced yard and double attached garage look back and wonder what happened to their Friday and Saturday nights?           

Consequence of Distractions In Government (Afghanistan)

I need not tell you of the major international news today. Let me say this. Lives and enormous treasure were committed to overthrowing Afghanistan in 2001 via the ill conceived policy of George W. Bush following September 11th. Now the Taliban has it back and international security along with the liberty of Afghan citizens has been weakened. Strict Sharia Law will be re-imposed. The resolve of the G7 and the Afghan government with its militia was insufficiently strong and it should be considered a failure that the Taliban has regained control given the history.

What is the backdrop in which all this has taken place?

  1. Increased government debt
  2. An American populous justifiably concerned about funding the defence of a nation other than their own
  3. A Donald Trump presidency plagued by scandal, deceit, incompetence, and self interest over public interest along with mistrust by allies
  4.  A pandemic along with associated political haggling and resource uptake
  5. The weakening of NATO and the United Nations under the Trump administration
  6. An Afhani army equipped with 300,000 troops (trained and funded by G7 nations),an air force, special forces, and heavy equipment compared all compared to 175,000 Taliban fighters armed by means not fully verifiable

Intelligent Voices On Mute

Have you ever noticed that it’s the quiet ones oftentimes most cerebral and wise? Have the intelligent voices been put on mute? In this social media oriented environment, unfortunately society is not well served by having their voices “on mute”. The megaphones seem to be in the hands of the blasphemous and irrational.

My blog serves as a conduit to broadcast my occasional philosophical rants. I do so in the context of a politically correct theatre whereby professional organizations muzzle their members, stake holders are intimidated by the bureaucratic maze, government officials show up unimpassioned in the comfort of their home office. 

Then there are the news organizations keen to report a traffic accident or a tawdry affair of a public figure or the banality of a Stevie Nicks decision not to tour in the face of COVID but absent in the context is the reporting of the Taliban regaining a foothold in populous Afghanistan cities with the departure of G7 troops. The editorial boards frustrate public debate with their protective bias with a justification that contrasting opinions are tainted with a compromise of their community guidelines. Cutting opinion coloured with sarcasm and eloquence is mistaken for personal attack. Editorialists are now too daft to know the difference.       

The intelligent either puts up a blog like mine in appeasement of intellectual vigour or steps away with indifference in character of the disposition of prototypical Canadians. There’s always letters and emails I suppose if one possesses intense follow up protocol.  If you are a borne and bread Western Canadian in the middle of your life having not attended French immersion as a child during a time when so little of it was available – you most likely won’t be seeking federal political office.

The megaphones are abundant but you shake your head at what comes out of them. It is so bizarre that you need to possess through training – acumen for idling the rational mind instead of joining the chorus of folks now trumpeting the “mental health” mantra.     

Canada’s Conservative Movement Lost Forever?

The Conservative Party of Canada is in disarray facing a snap election. Could the movement be lost forever? I’ve seen one federal politician in Canada wearing the blue stripe whom has looked effective, namely Pierre Poilievre but I can’t say much for anyone else. It was Poilievre who showed up to work when while others stayed home in COVID fear.

Word is that the Conservatives are going to further engage in self sabotage by resisting the COVID travel passport concept. It’s shear idiocy with the vast majority of Canadians looking to get their life back on a normal path with some reward from their government having performed their duty to protect themselves and those around them.  If conservative politicians walk an idealistic line as opposed to a pragmatic one – this one issue could very well be central to the upcoming abbreviated election campaign thereby relegating critical issues to the backstage. 

Critical issues such as unsustainable government debt, the prospect of tax increases,, egregious pensions for public servants, the expanding welfare state, a declining quality of education, pathetic enforcement of the law, monopolistic incursion on consumer rights, poor and complex administration of the tax system, an inefficient and exorbitant legal system, an overregulated bureaucracy of the professions preventing immigrants from participating fully, and suspect foreign policy all exemplify topics inevitably gone amiss with a dialogue preoccupied with ideology around COVID.

This country right now is not being led. It is being drawn into and ideology of socialism and appeasement toward anyone or anyone’s ancestors who have encountered perceived “unfairness”. As of today jobs go unfilled because going to work has less realizable benefit than staying home while receiving a government cheque. Right now in Canada your government pays you to have children unless your family income is above the top 20 percentile. As of March 2020 just at the outset of the pandemic, government debt stood at $2.434 trillion which amounts to $64,087 per every individual in Canada. Imagine what’s happened to the debt given the COVID and wildfire spending! Are there consequences to carrying too much debt? Most definitely if debt servicing becomes a problem. Foreign creditors can become hostile toward Canada. Canada has had the luxury of low interest rates but is lacking industrial development amidst a highly burdensome regulatory regime in order to produce continued GDP to optimally support the debt. In other words, we are back tracking and this rudderless nation via ineffectual leadership is not what Canada needs at this critical juncture. If Canada fails to right the ship…tax increases are inevitable along with the ramifications of such.     

Word For The Unvaccinated COVID Paranoid

Your governments have spent oodles of money to get you free vaccines. For those unvaccinated covid paranoid…many of you who think you apparently know so much about physiology and medical science who have decided not to vaccinate and not heed your governments’ recommendation, the consequences of your decision are illuminating. Doctors in Alberta now whine about policy in lifting the vast majority of restrictions. Albertans have all had the chance to set appointments and vaccines have been available for all except children. Children have the best tolerance to handle an infection. Albertans have been looked after by governments with subsidies, vaccines, and work from home allowances. You doctors making the big bucks from the public purse having spent a ridiculous amount of time in school have most likely never operated a small business or been faced with managing a payroll. Now you whine. 

You see once we hit adulthood we get to deal directly with consequences of our conduct. If you choose not to vaccinate against a killer virus and you get infected and die…that is a consequence of your conduct. Society cannot go around protecting you from a decision which you take to risk your life in the face of arduous measures undertaken to protect you of which you reject.   

The New Mental Health Mantra

It’s all getting a bit ridiculous wouldn’t your say – this new mental health mantra. Suddenly there’s this new excuse for failing or missing the show. When nothing else sticks…just pull this one out of the hat because the whole internet universe has gravitated toward it and you know how politically incorrect it would be to call it out as “bull”.

You see few of us are ever faced with perfect circumstances when delivering the goods. There’s always something in the context of the playing field not to mention haunts from the past. That is what makes the show adrenaline filled and exciting. One is faced with the task at hand along with the context in which we present ourselves albeit the training and obstacles overcome. We may not meet a standard we expect of ourselves but a measure is taken at a point in time. It’s not a matter of win or go home. It’s a matter of doing our best.

If you put your name forward as a contestant, you have a duty to meet the obligation unless obvious unforeseen circumstances present themselves practically. If you don’t feel up to the task…then don’t put your name forward.

At Wimbledon, Naomi Osaka took an entry spot from an embattled tennis player who would have scrambled to qualify likely indebted using scarce resources to travel amidst COVID concerns. In the world of professional tennis there is much disparity in pay between players who consistently make it through to later rounds and players who qualify to make the draw.  Osaka is wealthy. Many of her tennis compatriots are not. She should have thought of them before deciding to contest the event if she was stricken with mental anxiety.

The Simone Biles situation is unfathomable in the context of my aforementioned. If she had thought that her mind was in such a state that she could not pull off the difficult dangerous manoeuvres, with the support of her coach she should have simply adjusted her routine accordingly in order to honor her commitments to her team, and her country. In my opinion, government funding should be withheld from athletes who fail to appear in the Olympic Arena having qualified citing a “mental health” concern. As far as I’m concerned, any individual who has demonstrated the characteristics and training necessary to qualify for international competition also possesses the mental acuity to perform.     

Calgary’s Plus 15 System Nowadays

It was quite the walk through today making my comparative to the2004 pulse as an example when I’d regularly spend time in the Calgary Plus 15 system for lunches and walks in the winter time while working downtown. 

For those not local, the “Plus 15” system encompasses passage ways connecting buildings in the downtown core at 15 feet in theory from ground (second level). Some of the passage ways are more elaborate and buildings will host space allocated for merchants on level two. 

At 3:30 in the afternoon on a Wednesday, half the shops and closed up and half are open and then there’s the deluge of “For Lease” signs. Very few people were around. Security guards are chatty ‘cause they’re so bored in spite of what should be increased demand in their duty associated with vagrancy. You see, in addition to their week day chores, the city has apparently passed a plebiscite requiring Plus 15s to be open now during weekends as a place of refuge for the homeless (could Calgary be the next Seattle?).

Back in ’04 people were dressed for the executive suite and corridors were jammed during lunch. There was excitement and people were poised for their next promotion. The middle management competitive ire was palpable. I remember thinking to myself back then as someone not making their salary….you just wait – these good times won’t last. I was right.   

The Cenovus takeover of Husky has emptied the Husky building and in viewing the concourse and centre square within, the view of emptiness is breathtaking. Apparently, the fine lunch counter on the third floor remains open just for the lunch hours. The Nexen building still seems empty as well.

What will come of all this office space? The largest vacancies will be in the A Class space and rest assured that the pension funds as large owners won’t be as flexible as they should be in the short term.

The government benefit programs are all at work subsidizing merchants. In fact, when everyone else is open for business in Calgary with few restrictions….these plus 15 merchants for some reason or another still have their hours restricted. It’s bizarre but not surprising given what I’ve seen of political leadership in Calgary and Ottawa.    

I’m not hearing enough about incentives to drive commerce to the downtown core. The new world wide initiative to impose a minimum corporate tax on corporations irrespective of headquarters could be a significant setback for office uptake in Calgary. Taxpayers should not be bailing out pension funds in lieu of malinvestment and ill thought urban planning.   

Stampede Bound

That’s right. I will visit the Stampede grounds in 2021 in lieu of the fact that I’ve done everything my governments have asked me to do in overcoming the pandemic along with the majority of others. Consequently, we’ve had success in Alberta and the health department has worked closely with the Stampede in adjusting to the landscape accordingly. Although, I am often suspicious of governments’ ability to perform, I actually believe on this front…they’ve done alright after failing to ground jets early and I give them credit. Professional musicians, vendors, entertainers deserve my support. The recording landscape for musicians is challenging and streaming platforms pay poorly. Live venues is where most musicians earn their bread and butter and you know what demographic has been hit hardest over the past sixteen months. The Stampede will employ hundreds of students this year many assigned to administering Alberta Health protocols.

There are some tremendous exhibits at the Stampede. I love the art exhibit and the trade booths filled with vendors selling the next best thing. The Big Four should have its stage running and there’s bound to be some great acts show up. In fact Blue Rodeo will appear on the Stampede Summer Stage (formerly the Coca Cola Stage) on closing night. The people watcher in me will be in tune while munching a corn dog and cracking a Coors (haven’t had a cool one in months).

You may not know that the Calgary Stampede Showband is a six time world champion in it’s discipline.

Hopefully, the Clydesdales show up. A great uncle was a trainer of these monster horses and mom would rail on about the majestic tranquility of these animals. I love seeing the reaction of children who may have just seen them for the first time.

On occasion my eyes will be peeled in awe of teenagers in glee twirling along in the Wave Swinger. There’s no mention of the slingshot making a return engagement but we’ll see.

Nashville North will impose the strictest of protocols given the big tent and it looks like the Cowboys Dance Hall will be a no go this year. 

 Incidentally, my new office is just down the street from the grounds. How convenient.     

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